Put Not Your Trust in PrincesPsalm 146 Praise the Lord
1 Praise the LORD,
Praise the Lord O my soul!
2 I will praise the LORD as long as I live;
I will sing praises to my God while I have my being.
3 Put not your trust in princes,
in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation.
4 When his breath departs, he returns to the earth;
on that very day his plans perish.
5 Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob,
whose hope is in the LORD his God,
6 who made heaven and earth,
the sea, and all that is in them,
who keeps faith forever;
7 who executes justice for the oppressed,
who gives food to the hungry.
The LORD sets the prisoners free;
8 the LORD opens the eyes of the blind.
The LORD lifts up those who are bowed down;
the LORD loves the righteous.
9 The LORD watches over the sojourners;
he upholds the widow and the fatherless,
but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin.
10 The LORD will reign forever,
your God, O Zion, to all generations.
Praise the LORD!
He Heals the BrokenheartedPsalm 147
1 Praise the LORD!
For it is good to sing praises to our God;
for it is pleasant, and a song of praise is fitting.
2 The LORD builds up Jerusalem;
he gathers the outcasts of Israel.
3 He heals the brokenhearted
and binds up their wounds.
4 He determines the number of the stars;
he gives to all of them their names.
5 Great is our Lord, and abundant in power;
his understanding is beyond measure.
6 The LORD lifts up the humble;
he casts the wicked to the ground.
7 Sing to the LORD with thanksgiving;
make melody to our God on the lyre!
8 He covers the heavens with clouds;
he prepares rain for the earth;
he makes grass grow on the hills.
9 He gives to the beasts their food,
and to the young ravens that cry.
10 His delight is not in the strength of the horse,
nor his pleasure in the legs of a man,
11 but the LORD takes pleasure in those who fear him,
in those who hope in his steadfast love.
12 Praise the LORD, O Jerusalem!
Praise your God, O Zion!
13 For he strengthens the bars of your gates;
he blesses your children within you.
14 He makes peace in your borders;
he fills you with the finest of the wheat.
15 He sends out his command to the earth;
his word runs swiftly.
16 He gives snow like wool;
he scatters frost like ashes.
17 He hurls down his crystals of ice like crumbs;
who can stand before his cold?
18 He sends out his word, and melts them;
he makes his wind blow and the waters flow.
19 He declares his word to Jacob,
his statutes and rules to Israel.
20 He has not dealt thus with any other nation;
they do not know his rules.
Praise the LORD!
Praise the Name of the LordPsalm 148
1 Praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord from the heavens;
praise him in the heights!
2 Praise him, all his angels;
praise him, all his hosts!
3 Praise him, sun and moon,
praise him, all you shining stars!
4 Praise him, you highest heavens,
and you waters above the heavens!
5 Let them praise the name of the Lord!
For he commanded and they were created.
6 And he established them forever and ever;
he gave a decree, and it shall not pass away.
7 Praise the Lord from the earth,
you great sea creatures and all deeps,
8 fire and hail, snow and mist,
stormy wind fulfilling his word!
9 Mountains and all hills,
fruit trees and all cedars!
10 Beasts and all livestock,
creeping things and flying birds!
11 Kings of the earth and all peoples,
princes and all rulers of the earth!
12 Young men and maidens together,
old men and children!
13 Let them praise the name of the Lord,
for his name alone is exalted;
his majesty is above earth and heaven.
14 He has raised up a horn for his people,
praise for all his saints,
for the people of Israel who are near to him.
Praise the Lord!
Sing to the Lord a New SongPsalm 149
1 Praise the Lord!
Sing to the Lord a new song,
his praise in the assembly of the godly!
2 Let Israel be glad in his Maker;
let the children of Zion rejoice in their King!
3 Let them praise his name with dancing,
making melody to him with tambourine and lyre!
4 For the Lord takes pleasure in his people;
he adorns the humble with salvation.
5 Let the godly exult in glory;
let them sing for joy on their beds.
6 Let the high praises of God be in their throats
and two-edged swords in their hands,
7 to execute vengeance on the nations
and punishments on the peoples,
8 to bind their kings with chains
and their nobles with fetters of iron,
9 to execute on them the judgment written!
This is honor for all his godly ones.
Praise the Lord!
Let Everything Praise the LordPsalm 150
1 Praise the Lord!
Praise God in his sanctuary;
praise him in his mighty heavens!
2 Praise him for his mighty deeds;
praise him according to his excellent greatness!
3 Praise him with trumpet sound;
praise him with lute and harp!
4 Praise him with tambourine and dance;
praise him with strings and pipe!
5 Praise him with sounding cymbals;
praise him with loud clashing cymbals!
6 Let everything that has breath praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord!
What I'm Reading
Why Are You a Christian Believer?
By J. Warner Wallace 7/5/2017
I’ve been speaking around the country for a number of years now. I often address church groups of one nature or another, and when I do, I usually begin by asking a simple question: “Why are you a Christian?” The response I get is sometimes disappointing. Typically, attendees provide responses in one of the following broad categories:
Answer 1: “I was raised in the church” / “My parents were Christians” / “I’ve been a Christian as long as I can remember”
Answer 2: “I’ve had an experience that convinced me” / “The Holy Spirit confirmed it for me” / “God demonstrated His existence to me”
Answer 3: “I was changed by Jesus” / “I used to be [fill in your choice of immoral lifestyle], and God changed my life”
Answer 4: “Because I just know the Bible is true” / “Because God called me to believe”
As often as I ask this question, I seldom receive anything other than these four responses. If you were asked this question, which answer would you give? Some of these are good answers, but others are not. If you’re a Christian simply because you’ve been raised in the church, how can you be sure Christianity is true? If you’re a Christian because you’ve had a transformative experience, how do you know if this experience is truly from the God described on the pages of the New Testament?
J. Warner Wallace is a Cold-Case Detective, a Christian Case Maker, and the author of:
Well Pleased with Weakness
By Dave Zuleger 7/4/2017
Christians are runners.
The New Testament frequently uses the analogy of running a race to depict the Christian life lived in a broken world. We’re called to run to win the prize (1 Corinthians 9:24), while laying aside every weight and sin, and looking to Jesus (Hebrews 12:1–2).
I had this analogy in mind while I ran around the lake the other day. It was windy. My lower back ached. My knees were sore. My ankle hurt. I felt the effects of the limitations of my body. All I wanted to do was stop.
But I didn’t stop. I pressed through the pain. And as I was contemplating this running analogy, I began to realize something sinister about why I wasn’t stopping: I didn’t want to look weak.
The Reward of Running for Reputation | I take pleasure in those around me viewing me as strong. I delight when others think highly of me — as did some of the Pharisees.
Pursuing God intellectually: Being honest about our questions
By Travis Dickinson ?
In my last post, I gave an invitation to pursue God intellectually.
Jesus identified the greatest commandment as loving God with our all of who we are, and Jesus specifically included loving God with our minds. But what does this mean? I suggested that we understand this as pursuing God intellectually in a way that is consonant with other relational pursuits. When we love someone, we want to know things. We are intellectually curious about what makes them tick.
Now this was only intended as an analogy and all analogies break down somewhere. When it comes to God, we are not simply in the sort of love relationship as we are in, say, a marriage. Pursuing God intellectually has its own shape, its own approach.
What does this approach look like?
The first thing I want to suggest is that we be honest about where we are at intellectually on matters of faith. What I mean by this is that, we tend to act as if we have perfect confidence in all matters. Suppose you were asked, “when it comes to faith, what questions do you have?’ If there are not a ready handful of things that you are thinking about, then I want to suggest you are not intellectually pursuing God.
I LOVE to dialogue about big ideas, especially with those with whom I disagree. But the tone of most discussions are, let’s call it, unproductive. I’m really interested in helping people with the art of dialoguing well.
No one likes to doubt deeply cherished beliefs. However, I want to suggest that there is great value in our doubts. When handled properly, they lead to truth and knowledge, and even deeper faith.
I’m convinced that Christianity is true, good and beautiful. I’m convinced that Jesus is peerless. Though faith is often disparaged, caricatured and deeply misunderstood, I’m convinced that Christian faith is the primary way to flourish as a human being.
I am the author of Everyday Apologetics and co-author of Stand Firm: Apologetics and the Brilliance of the Gospel (B&H, forthcoming). He blogs at www.travisdickinson.com. You can also follow him on Twitter.
Professor Explains How His Study Of The Historical Jesus Made Him Leave Atheism
By Wintery Knight 11/28/2015
Dr. Michael F. Bird has a great article in Christianity Today. I’ve featured his debates with atheist historian James Crossley on this blog before, and I have the book they co-wrote.
In the article, Dr. Bird writes:
I grew up in a secular home in suburban Australia, where religion was categorically rejected—it was seen as a crutch, and people of faith were derided as morally deviant hypocrites. Rates for church attendance in Australia are some of the lowest in the Western world, and the country’s political leaders feel no need to feign religious devotion. In fact, they think it’s better to avoid religion altogether.
As a teenager, I wrote poetry mocking belief in God. My mother threw enough profanity at religious door knockers to make even a sailor blush.
Many years later, however, I read the New Testament for myself. The Jesus I encountered was far different from the deluded radical, even mythical character described to me. This Jesus—the Jesus of history—was real. He touched upon things that cut close to my heart, especially as I pondered the meaning of human existence. I was struck by the early church’s testimony to Jesus: In Christ’s death God has vanquished evil, and by his resurrection he has brought life and hope to all.
RE: Wintery Knight: For now, I prefer to keep anonymous, although I may add additional details to this page later.
My political views are a mixture of conservative and libertarian. I believe in free market capitalism and liberty, and especially in religious liberty. I favor a strong defense abroad, “peace through strength”, as Reagan would have it.
Theologically, I am a conservative evangelical Protestant Christian. I favor the old-earth (14 billion-year universe) perspective, and I am a firm supporter of intelligent design. Socially, I am pro-life, pro-chastity, pro-abstinence and pro-traditional-marriage.
You can read my story in more detail here.
A Literate Ministry
By T. David Gordon 5/1/2010
Consider, if you will, how difficult (and sometimes annoying) it is when you encounter computergenerated voice menus when you make telephone calls. The emphasis is almost always on the wrong syllable, the monotonic and a-rhythmic cadence is unnatural, and one would not care to listen to more than small amounts of it. If the present trends continue, all public speech may sound similar to this in the future.
In both 2004 and 2007, the National Endowment for the Arts released studies tracing the rise of aliteracy (not illiteracy) in the United States: the phenomenon of people who have the ability to read but choose not to. The second report said:
“The story the data tell is simple, consistent, and alarming. Although there has been measurable progress in recent years in reading ability at the elementary school level, all progress appears to halt as children enter their teenage years. There is a general decline in reading among teenage and adult Americans. Most alarming, both reading ability and the habit of regular reading have greatly declined among college graduates.”
To be an effective preacher, a certain kind of literacy is a necessity. But first, let me say what kind of literacy is not necessary. A sermon need not be flowery or “eloquent” in a manner that calls attention to its art; to the contrary, any sermonic habit, device, or art that calls attention to the style rather than the message is a liability, not an asset. This point was made ably a century ago both by Bishop J.C. Ryle and by the southern American theologian Robert Lewis Dabney.
Both Ryle and Dabney objected to the kinds of rhetorical ornamentation that caused people to notice the preacher’s style more than the message, and each suggested that such artifice necessarily intrudes upon earnestness and/or sincerity, which are hallmarks of all good preaching. So a minister need not and should not be literate in the showy, ostentatious, or obviously literary sense. A minister needs to be literate, however, in two other senses. To understand the Holy Scriptures, he must be literate in biblical content, history, and language. To communicate effectively, he must be literate in literature.
Expository Literacy: All true Christian preaching is expository. The minister’s words cannot be judged to be God’s proclaimed Word unless his words are manifestly derived from some text of Holy Scripture. Therefore, ministers need to be literate at reading texts carefully. Their preaching may be true, their exhortations proper, and their warnings appropriate, but if they are not based upon sound exposition of Scripture, all the hearer knows is the minister’s opinion. He has no way of knowing that the minister’s opinion is also God’s opinion. Such literacy is hard work and involves intricate questions of history, grammar, syntax, rhetoric, and even figures of speech. Moses Stuart, one of the early professors at Andover Seminary, recognized that expository literacy was utterly necessary for a minister: “How can we … listen to prophets and apostles, speaking Hebrew and Greek, without much learning and study? It is plainly impossible.”
In a culture such as ours, where even college graduates read very little, the NEA’s warnings about the culture are especially acute to the church. If we read little, and especially if we do not read ancient or difficult texts carefully, we are not likely to succeed in an expository calling.
Literary Literacy: Some readers of Tabletalk are familiar with the Levi P. Stone Lectures given annually at Princeton Seminary for over a century. In 1940, they were given by Charles Grosvenor Osgood, and later published as Poetry as a Means of Grace. Osgood did not argue that poetry was a “means of grace” in the technical, theological sense; rather, he argued that a minister’s usefulness in the pulpit would be determined in a substantial way by the poetry he would (or would not) read for the remainder of his life. Such reading, he argued, would have a profound influence on style (though not because a particular poet’s style would be imitated), but also on his perceptiveness and his vigor.
I cannot here reproduce everything Osgood said in his lectures, but I should remind that he gave the lectures fifteen years before the advent of commercial television. Sixty years before the NEA published its concerns regarding aliteracy, long before there were any serious cultural competitors with books, Osgood commended a life of poetry reading for those who wished to communicate well. One can only imagine what he would say today about our shallow vision, our infantile diction, our poorly-composed thoughts, or our pre-occupation with the trivial. Reading poetry cultivates both our sensibility of the significant and our instinctive appreciation and use of the aural properties of our language, since poets devote themselves to that very thing. Osgood’s counsel is more apt in our generation than it was in his. Ministers today, even more than in his generation, would do well to cultivate their literary sensibilities.
T. David Gordon Books:
Joshua 16-17; Psalm 148; Jeremiah 8; Matthew 22
By Don Carson 7/12/2018
All of the five closing Psalms begin with the single Hebrew word Hallelujah — “Praise the Lord.” This Psalm (Ps. 148) is remarkable for its emphasis on the sheer range and comprehensiveness of beings and things in the universe that unite the whole creation in praise. The first six verses begin with angels, sweeping down through unconscious participants in the heavens; the next six verses — mirror-images of the first six — begin with the unconscious participants on the earth, and rise to human beings (Ps. 148:77-12). The last two verses (Ps. 148:13-14) draw the people in covenant with him. Some notes:
(1) There have always been people who attach their affections and worship to angels (e.g., Col. 2:18), even though angels are our fellow servants (Rev. 22:8-9). Others foolishly think that their destinies are controlled by the stars, even though stars are nothing more than God’s creation. Both angels and stars — the one sentiently, the other not — bear witness to God’s greatness; in that sense they join together in worship (Ps. 148:2-3).
(2) The phrase “highest heavens” is literally “heaven of heavens,” a way of expressing the superlative (like “holy of holies”). The expression “waters above the skies” is a Hebrew poetic way of referring to rain (148:4). Whether one thinks of “the heavens” as the sphere in which the rain condenses out of the atmosphere, or as the abode of God Almighty, there is nothing that has not been created: “he commanded and they were created” (Ps. 148:5). So there is nothing that does not bear witness to the Creator-God.
(3) The denizens of the earth’s oceans, the varied precipitation that waters the ground, the fury of unleashed storms, the majesty and beauty of mountains and hills, the spectacular diversity and color and beauty of earth’s flora and fauna, the scarcely imaginable array of the earth’s births — all attest, mutely but powerfully, to the goodness and greatness of God. As part of that creation, human beings, in all their diversity of their ranks and stations in life, join this universal chorus of praise (Ps. 148:11-12), not simply because he is bigger than we are, but because no matter how highly we envisage his glorious splendor, it is higher yet, higher than anything and everything in all creation (Ps. 148:13).
(4) This unimaginably great God has not only called out his own people, but has raised up for them a “horn” (a symbol for a king), the praise of all his saints (Ps. 148:14). Living this side of Jesus’ incarnation, death, and resurrection, we know who the ultimate King in the Davidic line really is. And so our praise joins that of the rest of the universe with peculiar intensity and gratitude.
Don Carson is research professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois, and co-founder (with Tim Keller) of The Gospel Coalition. He has authored numerous books, and recently edited The Enduring Authority of the Christian Scriptures (Eerdmans, 2016).
Don Carson Books:
- 1 An Introduction to the New Testament
- 2 The Gospel according to John Pillar NT Commentary
- 3 The Gospel according to John Pillar NT Commentary
- 4 NIV Zondervan Study Bible, Hardcover: Built on the Truth of Scripture and Centered on the Gospel Message
- 5 Praying with Paul: A Call to Spiritual Reformation
- 6 Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament
- 7 Exegetical Fallacies
- 8 For the Love of God: A Daily Companion for Discovering the Riches of God's Word, Volume 1
- 9 Be Still, My Soul: Embracing God's Purpose and Provision in Suffering
- 10 Matthew (The Expositor's Bible Commentary)
- 11 The God Who Is There: Finding Your Place in God's Story
- 12 The Difficult Doctrine of the Love of God
- 13 How Long, O Lord?: Reflections on Suffering and Evil
- 14 New Testament Commentary Survey
- 15 For the Love of God, Volume 2: A Daily Companion for Discovering the Riches of God's Word
- 16 9: Matthew and Mark (The Expositor's Bible Commentary)
- 17 Showing the Spirit: A Theological Exposition of 1 Corinthians, 12-14
- 18 The Cross and Christian Ministry: Leadership Lessons from 1 Corinthians
- 19 The Enduring Authority of the Christian Scriptures
- 20 The Farewell Discourse and Final Prayer of Jesus: John 14-17
- 21 Introducing NT: A Short Guide to Its History and Message
- 22 Memoirs of an Ordinary Pastor: The Life and Reflections of Tom Carson
- 23 Preach the Word: Essays on Expository Preaching: In Honor of R. Kent Hughes
- 24 Jesus' Sermon on the Mount: An Exposition of Matthew 5-10
- 25 The Intolerance of Tolerance
- 26 From Sabbath to Lord's Day: A Biblical, Historical and Theological Investigation
- 27 Basics for Believers: An Exposition of Philippians
- 28 Divine Sovereignty and Human Responsibility: Biblical Perspective in Tension
- 29 The Expositor's Bible commentary : Matthew, Mark, Luke Vol. 8
- 30 Christ and Culture Revisited
- 31 NIV Zondervan Study Bible: Built on the Truth of Scripture and Centered on the Gospel Message
- 32 The King James Version Debate: A Plea for Realism
- 33 Don't Call It a Comeback: The Old Faith for a New Day
- 34 Gagging of God, The
- 35 The Gospel as Center: Renewing Our Faith and Reforming Our Ministry Practices
- 36 The God Who Is There Leader's Guide: Finding Your Place in God's Story
- 37 What Is the Gospel?
- 38 His Mission: Jesus in the Gospel of Luke
- 39 The Scriptures Testify about Me: Jesus and the Gospel in the OT
- 40 Love in Hard Places
- 41 Coming Home: Essays on the New Heaven and New Earth
- 42 God's Love Compels Us: Taking the Gospel to the World
- 43 Scandalous: The Cross and Resurrection of Jesus
- 44 Telling the Truth
- 45 God's Word, Our Story: Learning from the Book of Nehemiah
- 46 Becoming Conversant with the Emerging Church: Understanding a Movement and Its Implications
- 47 The Sermon on the Mount: An Evangelical Exposition of Matthew 5-7
- 48 Sunsets: Reflections for Life's Final Journey
- 49 God with Us: Themes from Matthew
- 50 A Model of Christian Maturity: An Exposition of 2 Corinthians 10-13
- 51 NIV Zondervan Study Bible, Built on the Truth of Scripture and Centered on the Gospel Message
- 52 The Pastor as Scholar and the Scholar as Pastor: Reflections on Life and Ministry
- 53 Teach Us to Pray: Prayer in the Bible and the World
- 54 Matthew, Vol.2 (Ch. 13-28), The Expositor's Bible Commentary
- 55 A Call to Spiritual Reformation: Priorities from Paul and His Prayers
- 56 The God Who Is There: Finding Your Place in God's Story
- 57 Entrusted with the Gospel: Pastoral Expositions of 2 Timothy
- 58 Divine Sovereignty and Human Responsibility: Biblical Perspectives in Tension
- 59 The Holy Spirit
- 60 The Plan
- 61 Collected Writings on Scripture
- 62 The Inclusive-Language Debate: A Plea for Realism
- 63 Matthew, Vol.1 (Ch. 1-12), The Expositor's Bible Commentary
- 64 Essential Evangelicalism: The Enduring Influence of Carl F. H. Henry
- 65 The Restoration of All Things
- 66 Reclaiming the Center: Confronting Evangelical Accommodation in Postmodern Times
- 67 Christ's Redemption
- 68 Exegetical Fallacies
- 69 Justification
- 70 Greek Accents: A Student's Manual
- 71 Gospel-Centered Ministry
- 72 The Cross and Christian Ministry: Leadership Lessons from 1 Corinthians
- 77 The Cross & Christian Ministry: An Exposition of Passages from 1 Corinthians
- 78 The Cross & Christian Ministry: An Exposition of Passages from 1 Corinthians
- 79 [(Christ and Culture Revisited)]
- 80 When Jesus Confronts the World: An Exposition of Matthew 8-10
- 81 The Church: God's New People
- 82 Letters Along the Way: A Novel of the Christian Life
- 83 Love in Hard Places
- 84 The God Who Is There: Finding Your Place In God'S Story
- 85 NT Commentary Survey
- 86 The Inclusive Language Debate
- 87 Exegetical Fallacies
- 88 The Farewell Discourse and Final Prayer of Jesus: An Exposition of John 14-17
- 89 NT Commentary Survey
- 90 How long, O Lord? (2nd edition): Reflections on Suffering and Evil
- 91 Holy Sonnets of the Twentieth Century
- 92 Basics for Believers: An Exposition of Philippians
- 93 By D. A. Carson - Gagging of God
- 94 Jesus the Son of God: A Christological Title Often Overlooked, Sometimes Misunderstood, and Currently Disputed
- 95 The Difficult Doctrine of the Love of God
- 96 A Call to Spiritual Reformation: Priorities from Paul and His Prayers
- 97 A Call to Spiritual Reformation
Read The Psalms In "1" Year
Psalm 74Arise, O God, Defend Your Cause
74 A Maskil Of Asaph.
1 O God, why do you cast us off forever?
Why does your anger smoke against the sheep of your pasture?
2 Remember your congregation, which you have purchased of old,
which you have redeemed to be the tribe of your heritage!
Remember Mount Zion, where you have dwelt.
3 Direct your steps to the perpetual ruins;
the enemy has destroyed everything in the sanctuary!
4 Your foes have roared in the midst of your meeting place;
they set up their own signs for signs.
5 They were like those who swing axes
in a forest of trees.
6 And all its carved wood
they broke down with hatchets and hammers.
7 They set your sanctuary on fire;
they profaned the dwelling place of your name,
bringing it down to the ground.
8 They said to themselves, “We will utterly subdue them”;
they burned all the meeting places of God in the land.
9 We do not see our signs;
there is no longer any prophet,
and there is none among us who knows how long.
10 How long, O God, is the foe to scoff?
The Institutes of the Christian Religion
Translated by Henry Beveridge
29. Since they put so much confidence in his hiding-place of invisible
presence, let us see how well they conceal themselves in it. First, they cannot produce a syllable from Scripture to prove that Christ is
invisible; but they take for granted what no sound man will admit, that
the body of Christ cannot be given in the Supper, unless covered with
the mask of bread. This is the very point in dispute; so far is it from
occupying the place of the first principle. And while they thus prate,
they are forced to give Christ a twofold body, because, according to
them, it is visible in itself in heaven, but in the Supper is
invisible, by a special mode of dispensation. The beautiful consistency
of this may easily be judged, both from other passages of Scripture,
and from the testimony of Peter. Peter says that the heavens must
receive, or contain Christ, till he come again (Acts 3:21). These men
teach that he is in every place, but without form. They say that it is
unfair to subject a glorious body to the ordinary laws of nature. But
this answer draws along with it the delirious dream of Servetus, which
all pious minds justly abhor, that his body was absorbed by his
divinity. I do not say that this is their opinion; but if it is
considered one of the properties of a glorified body to fill all things
in an invisible manner, it is plain that the corporeal substance is
abolished, and no distinction is left between his Godhead and his human
nature. Again, if the body of Christ is so multiform and diversified,
that it appears in one place, and in another is invisible, where is
there anything of the nature of body with its proper dimensions, and
where is its unity? Far more correct is Tertullian, who contends that
the body of Christ was natural and real, because its figure is set
before us in the mystery of the Supper, as a pledge and assurance of
spiritual life (Tertull. Cont. Marc. Lib. 4).  And certainly
Christ said of his glorified body, "Handle me, and see; for a spirit
hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have" (Luke 24:39). Here, by the
lips of Christ himself, the reality of his flesh is proved, by its
admitting of being seen and handled. Take these away, and it will cease
to be flesh. They always betake themselves to their lurking-place of
dispensation, which they have fabricated. But it is our duty so to
embrace what Christ absolutely declares, as to give it an unreserved
assent. He proves that he is not a phantom, because he is visible in
his flesh. Take away what he claims as proper to the nature of his
body, and must not a new definition of body be devised? Then, however
they may turn themselves about, they will not find any place for their
fictitious dispensation in that passage, in which Paul says, that "our
conversation is in heaven; from whence we look for the Saviour, the
Lord Jesus Christ: who shall change our vile body, that it may be
fashioned like unto his glorious body" (Phil. 3:20, 21). We are not to
hope for conformity to Christ in these qualities which they ascribe to
him as a body, without bounds, and invisible. They will not find any
one so stupid as to be persuaded of this great absurdity. Let them not,
therefore, set it down as one of the properties of Christ's glorious
body, that it is, at the same time, in many places, and in no place. In
short, let them either openly deny the resurrection of his flesh, or
admit that Christ, when invested with celestial glory, did not lay
aside his flesh, but is to make us, in our flesh, his associates, and
partakers of the same glory, since we are to have a common resurrection
with him. For what does Scripture throughout deliver more clearly than
that, as Christ assumed our flesh when he was born of the Virgin, and
suffered in our true flesh when he made satisfaction for us, so on
rising again he resumed the same true flesh, and carried it with him to
heaven? The hope of our resurrection, and ascension to heaven, is, that
Christ rose again and ascended, and, as Tertullian says (De Resurrect.
Carnis), "Carried an earnest of our resurrection along with him into
heaven." Morever, how weak and fragile would this hope be, had not this
very flesh of ours in Christ been truly raised up, and entered into the
kingdom of heaven. But the essential properties of a body are to be
confined by space, to have dimension and form. Have done, then, with
that foolish fiction, which affixes the minds of men, as well as
Christ, to bread. For to what end this occult presence under the bread,
save that those who wish to have Christ conjoined with them may stop
short at the symbol? But our Lord himself wished us to withdraw not
only our eyes, but all our senses, from the earth, forbidding the woman
to touch him until he had ascended to the Father (John 20:17). When he
sees Mary, with pious reverential zeal, hastening to kiss his feet,
there could be no reason for his disapproving and forbidding her to
touch him before he had ascended to heaven, unless he wished to he
sought nowhere else. The objection, that he afterwards appeared to
Stephen, is easily answered. It was not necessary for our Saviour to
change his place, as he could give the eyes of his servant a power of
vision which could penetrate to heaven. The same account is to be given
of the case of Paul. The objection, that Christ came forth from the
closed sepulchre, and came in to his disciples while the doors were
shut (Mt. 28:6; John 20:19), gives no better support to their error.
For as the water, just as if it had been a solid pavement, furnished a
path to our Saviour when he walked on it (Mt. 14.), so it is not
strange that the hard stone yielded to his step; although it is more
probable that the stone was removed at his command, and forthwith,
after giving him a passage, returned to its place. To enter while the
doors were shut, was not so much to penetrate through solid matter, as
to make a passage for himself by divine power, and stand in the midst
of his disciples in a most miraculous manner. They gain nothing by
quoting the passage from Luke, in which it is said, that Christ
suddenly vanished from the eyes of the disciples, with whom he had
journed to Emmaus (Luke 24:31). In withdrawing from their sight, he did
not become invisible: he only disappeared. Thus Luke declares that, on
the journeying with them, he did not assume a new form, but that "
their eyes were holden." But these men not only transform Christ that
he may live on the earth, but pretend that there is another elsewhere
of a different description. In short, by thus trifling, they, not in
direct terms indeed, but by a circumlocution, make a spirit of the
flesh of Christ; and, not contented with this, give him properties
altogether opposite. Hence it necessarily follows that he must be
30. Granting what they absurdly talk of the invisible presence, it will still be necessary to prove the immensity, without which it is vain to attempt to include Christ under the bread. Unless the body of Christ can be everywhere without any boundaries of space, it is impossible to believe that he is hid in the Supper under the bread. Hence, they have been under the necessity of introducing the monstrous dogma of ubiquity. But it has been demonstrated by strong and clear passages of Scripture, first, that it is bounded by the dimensions of the human body; and, secondly, that its ascension into heaven made it plain that it is not in all places, but on passing to a new one, leaves the one formerly occupied. The promise to which they appeal, "I am with you always, even to the end of the world," is not to be applied to the body. First, then, a perpetual connection with Christ could not exist, unless he dwells in us corporeally, independently of the use of the Supper; and, therefore, they have no good ground for disputing so bitterly concerning the words of Christ, in order to include him under the bread in the Supper.  Secondly, the context proves that Christ is not speaking at all of his flesh, but promising the disciples his invincible aid to guard and sustain them against all the assaults of Satan and the world. For, in appointing them to a difficult office, he confirms them by the assurance of his presence, that they might neither hesitate to undertake it, nor be timorous in the discharge of it; as if he had said, that his invincible protection would not fail them. Unless we would throw everything into confusion, must it not be necessary to distinguish the mode of presence? And, indeed, some, to their great disgrace, choose rather to betray their ignorance than give up one iota of their error. I speak not of Papists, whose doctrine is more tolerable, or at least more modest; but some are so hurried away by contention as to say, that on account of the union of natures in Christ, wherever his divinity is, there his flesh, which cannot be separated from it, is also; as if that union formed a kind of medium of the two natures, making him to be neither God nor man. So held Eutyches, and after him Servetus. But it is clearly gathered from Scripture that the one person of Christ is composed of two natures, but so that each has its peculiar properties unimpaired. That Eutyches was justly condemned, they will not have the hardihood to deny. It is strange that they attend not to the cause of condemnation--viz. that destroying the distinction between the natures, and insisting only on the unity of person, he converted God into man and man into God.  What madness, then, is it to confound heaven with earth, sooner than not withdraw the body of Christ from its heavenly sanctuary? In regard to the passages which they adduce, "No man has ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven" (John 3:13); "The only-begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him" (John 1:18), they betray the same stupidity, scouting the communion of properties (idiomatum, koinoni'an), which not without reason was formerly invented by holy Fathers. Certainly when Paul says of the princes of this world that they "crucified the Lord of glory" (1 Cor. 2:8), he means not that he suffered anything in his divinity, but that Christ, who was rejected and despised, and suffered in the flesh, was likewise God and the Lord of glory. In this way, both the Son of man was in heaven because he was also Christ; and he who, according to the flesh, dwelt as the Son of man on earth, was also God in heaven. For this reason, he is said to have descended from heaven in respect of his divinity, not that his divinity quitted heaven to conceal itself in the prison of the body, but because, although he filled all things, it yet resided in the humanity of Christ coporeally, that is, naturally, and in an ineffable manner. There is a trite distinction in the schools which I hesitate not to quote. Although the whole Christ is everywhere, yet everything which is in him is not everywhere. I wish the Schoolmen had duly weighed the force of this sentence, as it would have obviated their absurd fiction of the corporeal presence of Christ. Therefore, while our whole Mediator is everywhere, he is always present with his people, and in the Supper exhibits his presence in a special manner; yet so, that while he is wholly present, not everything which is in him is present, because, as has been said, in his flesh he will remain in heaven till he come to judgment.
31. They are greatly mistaken in imagining that there is no presence of the flesh of Christ in the Supper, unless it be placed in the bread. They thus leave nothing for the secret operation of the Spirit, which unites Christ himself to us. Christ does not seem to them to be present unless he descends to us, as if we did not equally gain his presence when he raises us to himself. The only question, therefore, is as to the mode, they placing Christ in the bread, while we deem it unlawful to draw him down from heaven. Which of the two is more correct, let the reader judge. Only have done with the calumny that Christ is withdrawn from his Supper if he lurk not under the covering of bread. For seeing this mystery is heavenly, there is no necessity to bring Christ on the earth that he may be connected with us.
32. Now, should any one ask me as to the mode, I will not be ashamed to confess that it is too high a mystery either for my mind to comprehend or my words to express; and to speak more plainly, I rather feel than understand it. The truth of God, therefore, in which I can safely rest, I here embrace without controversy. He declares that his flesh is the meat, his blood the drink, of my soul; I give my soul to him to be fed with such food. In his sacred Supper he bids me take, eat, and drink his body and blood under the symbols of bread and wine. I have no doubt that he will truly give and I receive. Only, I reject the absurdities which appear to be unworthy of the heavenly majesty of Christ, and are inconsistent with the reality of his human nature. Since they must also be repugnant to the word of God, which teaches both that Christ was received into the glory of the heavenly kingdom, so as to be exalted above all the circumstances of the world (Luke 24:26), and no less carefully ascribes to him the properties belonging to a true human nature. This ought not to seem incredible or contradictory to reason (Iren. Lib. 4 cap. 34); because, as the whole kingdom of Christ is spiritual, so whatever he does in his Church is not to be tested by the wisdom of this world; or, to use the words of Augustine, "this mystery is performed by man like the others, but in a divine manner, and on earth, but in a heavenly manner." Such, I say, is the corporeal presence which the nature of the sacrament requires, and which we say is here displayed in such power and efficacy, that it not only gives our minds undoubted assurance of eternal life, but also secures the immortality of our flesh, since it is now quickened by his immortal flesh, and in a manner shines in his immortality. Those who are carried beyond this with their hyperboles, do nothing more by their extravagancies than obscure the plain and simple truth. If any one is not yet satisfied, I would have him here to consider with himself that we are speaking of the sacrament, every part of which ought to have reference to faith. Now by participation of the body, as we have explained, we nourish faith not less richly and abundantly than do those who drag Christ himself from heaven. Still I am free to confess that that mixture or transfusion of the flesh of Christ with our soul, which they teach, I repudiate, because it is enough for us that Christ, out of the substance of his flesh, breathes life into our souls, nay, diffuses his own life into us, though the real flesh of Christ does not enter us.  I may add, that there can be no doubt that the analogy of faith by which Paul enjoins us to test every interpretation of Scripture, is clearly with us in this matter. Let those who oppose a truth so clear, consider to what standard of faith they conform themselves: "Ever spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God" (1 John 4:3); 2 John ver. 7). These men, though they disguise the fact, or perceive it not, rob him of his flesh.
Christian Classics Ethereal Library / Public Domain Institutes of the Christian Religion
Devotionals, notes, poetry and more
1/1/2014 Interpreting Hermeneutics
My first appointment today was with a seminary student of mine who also attends our church. He is a sharp student in his early forties who left a lucrative career in order to pursue God’s call to pastoral ministry. He asked me to review his research paper and suggest ways he could improve it. In discussing his paper, he explained how his position on baptism had recently begun to change from a believer’s-baptist (credobaptist) position to an infant-baptist (paedobaptist) position. Even though I am a convinced paedobaptist, I urged him as a first-year seminary student to take extraordinary care in his study of baptism in particular and in his study of Scripture in general. I explained that his understanding of the recipients of baptism must come as a result of his serious study of Scripture itself and, what’s more, that his study of Scripture must be done with careful exegesis and a consistent hermeneutic (method of interpretation). Although I want him to affirm paedobaptism, I only want him to do so on account of careful biblical interpretation, not simply on account of the seminary and church he attends or the theologians and pastors he respects.
In my own four-year-long journey toward affirming paedobaptism—fighting against it all the way—I began to see that it wasn’t only my understanding of baptism that was changing but my understanding of biblical covenants, the continuity between covenants, the church, and, more foundationally, my understanding of hermeneutics. I came to see that the fundamental difference between credobaptists and paedobaptists is our hermeneutic in approaching certain passages of Scripture.
Although the word hermeneutic is intimidating, a proper hermeneutic is essential to all forms of communication. And whether we know it or not, everyone has a hermeneutic. The goal, however, is that our hermeneutic be biblically faithful and that we strive to apply it consistently without allowing any hermeneutical fallacies to corrupt our exegesis of Scripture. Our hermeneutic emerges from Scripture and, reciprocally, helps us to interpret Scripture, thus informing all our theology. All Christians, both credobaptist and paedobaptist, affirm the authority of Scripture, yet we sometimes disagree in our interpretation of it on account of our hermeneutical differences. Therefore, we do well to study hermeneutics and the fallacies that can unfortunately affect our interpretation of Scripture, to the end that we might rightly divide the Word of Truth as we all strive to glorify God in all we think, do, and say as we live coram Deo, before His face forever.
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Dr. Burk Parsons (@BurkParsons) is editor of Tabletalk magazine, senior pastor of Saint Andrew’s Chapel in Sanford, Fla., a visiting lecturer at Reformed Theological Seminary, and a Ligonier Ministries teaching fellow. He is editor of John Calvin: A Heart for Devotion, Doctrine, and Doxology.
Ligonier coram Deo (definition)
by Bill Federer
Born a slave around this date, July 12, 1864, George Washington Carver became a Black scientist of international renown. The U.S. Senate invited him to speak on uses of the peanut to improve Southern economy. After two captivating hours, the chairman asked: “Dr. Carver, how did you learn all of these things? ” Carver answered: “From an old book ” “What book? ” asked the Senator. Carver replied, “The Bible.” The Senator inquired, “Does the Bible tell about peanuts? ” “No, Sir ” Dr. Carver replied, “But it tells about the God who made the peanut. I asked Him to show me what to do with it and He did.”
Compiled by Richard S. Adams
But one thing is certain—the Bible meets the need of modern life. As a practical guide there is no book to touch it. There is not a problem you are called to face and not a duty you are called to do, there is not a cross you are compelled to carry and not a burden you are forced to bear but your strength for it all will be as the strength of ten — if you make a daily companion of your Bible.
--- George H. Morrison
Wings of the Morning, The (Kregel Classic Sermons)
It’s not how much or how little you have that makes you great or small, but how much or how little you are with what you have.
--- Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch
Horeb: A Philosophy of Jewish Laws and Observances
Faith is not a blind, irrational conviction. In order to believe, we must know what we believe, and the grounds on which our faith rests.
--- Charles Hodge
Systematic Theology, Volume 1
You have not lived today until you have done something for someone who can never repay you.
--- John Bunyan
The Complete Works of John Bunyan: With an Introduction (Classic Reprint)
... from here, there and everywhere
CHAPTER 17 / The Torah, the Heart,
“And You Shall Talk of Them …”
The antecedent of “them” in this verse refers either to the words of the Shema or those of the Torah in general (as was the case in the previous verse, “and these words shall be upon your heart”). The talmudic sources generally assume the former when they are discussing halakhic issues and the latter when they broaden their scope to include aggadic or non-halakhic matters.
Thus, a well-known passage in the Talmud expounds our verse:
Our Rabbis taught: “of them”—but not in prayer. “And you shall talk of them”—of them you have permission to talk, but not of other matters. R. Aḥa says: “And you shall talk of them”—make them a constant occupation, not something casual. Rava said: one who engages in profane (i.e., idle) talk violates a positive commandment, for it is written, “And you shall talk of them”—but not of other matters. (Yoma 19b)
It is not altogether clear what some of these cryptic comments mean. The earliest commentators offer a variety of interpretations.
“ ‘Of them’—but not in prayer.” For R. Aḥa, the gaonic author of Sheliltot, cited approvingly by Rashi, (17) the Rabbis are here making a technical point: the Shema may, and indeed should, be recited aloud (“talk of them”); not so prayer (specifically the Amidah, the central portion of the service), which must be recited softly. For Tosafot, however, this means that the distinction between the Shema and prayer is this: the Shema may be interrupted at certain points to greet a person who inspires either fear or reverence in the worshiper, but prayer must never be interrupted for any kind of “talk,” even for reasons of fear or respect. (18)
(17) Rashi, ad loc. See too in Rabbenu Ḥananel, ad loc.
(18) Tosafot, s.v. Bam. An earlier source is the Jerusalem Talmud, Berakhot 2:1, end, and 4:4.
“ ‘And you shall talk of them’—of them you have permission to talk, but not of other matters.” For Rashi, this injunction implies a blanket exclusion of childish talk and idle prattle; only Torah is worthy of our conversation. (19) Rabbenu Ḥananel, however, understands the text as more limited in scope: only Torah—i.e., Talmud and the entire halakhic literature of Torah—may be the source of halakhic decision, not extraneous sources. (20)
(19) Rashi, ad loc. The problem with Rashi’s interpretation is that it makes Rava’s statement redundant. See too Midrash Psalms, 39:4.
(20) Rabbenu Ḥananel, ad loc. This view is cited as well by R. Nathan of Rome in his Arukh, s.v. Bam; see Arukh ha-Shalem, p. 107.
“R. Aḥa says: ‘And you shall talk of them’—make them a constant occupation, not something casual.” The study of Torah must be established as basic to one’s regular program, not treated as a casual matter depending upon circumstances. The Sifre puts it even more radically: “Make them (i.e., the words of Torah) your major and not secondary occupation, so that your ‘business’ shall be exclusively them and you shall not blend in them other matters. Thus, you shall not say, ‘I have studied the wisdom of Israel, now I shall go and study the wisdom of the nations of the world.’ ” (21)
(21) Sifre to Va-et’ḥanan, 9. Apparently, the Sifre uses this verse to disapprove of any secular study. Yet, its formulation of Torah being major and not secondary would imply that profane or worldly study is permissible as long as it is secondary to Torah study. One must always study Torah; even if one engages in “the wisdom of the nations of the world,” Torah remains primary and must never be neglected or relegated to secondary status. Whatever the case, R. Aḥa’s statement in the Talmud is, as stated, milder and less radical.
“Rava said: one who engages in profane (i.e., idle) talk violates a positive commandment, for it is written, ‘And you shall talk of them’—but not of other matters.” This dictum by Rava seems rather severe: if you have nothing to say in the way of Torah, then you should keep silent altogether. However, R. Nathan of Rome interprets this not as a general proscription of non-Torah conversation, but rather as a specific halakhic rule that when studying Torah, one may interrupt his studies only for the Reading of the Shema, but not for idle talk. (22) Much later, the Maharal of Prague cautions us that complete silence and refraining from any social conversation are improper, for this shows contempt for other people. What is banned is purposeless and aimless talk, not practical and useful conversation. (23)
(22) Arukh, s.v. Bam; see Arukh ha-Shalem, p. 107.
(23) Netivot Olam, II, p. 98; Netiv ha-Shetikah, chapter I.
Taken together, these rabbinic interpretations teach us that in the course of our daily lives, particularly in conversation (“talk”), we must accord Torah primacy of place.
The Shema: Spirituality and Law in Judaism
Thanks to Meir Yona
Archelaus's Ethnarchy Is Reduced Into A [Roman] Province. The Sedition Of Judas Of Galilee. The Three Sects.
1. And now Archelaus's part of Judea was reduced into a province, and Coponius, one of the equestrian order among the Romans, was sent as a procurator, having the power of [life and] death put into his hands by Caesar. Under his administration it was that a certain Galilean, whose name was Judas, prevailed with his countrymen to revolt, and said they were cowards if they would endure to pay a tax to the Romans and would after God submit to mortal men as their lords. This man was a teacher of a peculiar sect of his own, and was not at all like the rest of those their leaders.
2. For there are three philosophical sects among the Jews. The followers of the first of which are the Pharisees; of the second, the Sadducees; and the third sect, which pretends to a severer discipline, are called Essens. These last are Jews by birth, and seem to have a greater affection for one another than the other sects have. These Essens reject pleasures as an evil, but esteem continence, and the conquest over our passions, to be virtue. They neglect wedlock, but choose out other persons children, while they are pliable, and fit for learning, and esteem them to be of their kindred, and form them according to their own manners. They do not absolutely deny the fitness of marriage, and the succession of mankind thereby continued; but they guard against the lascivious behavior of women, and are persuaded that none of them preserve their fidelity to one man.
3. These men are despisers of riches, and so very communicative as raises our admiration. Nor is there any one to be found among them who hath more than another; for it is a law among them, that those who come to them must let what they have be common to the whole order,—insomuch that among them all there is no appearance of poverty, or excess of riches, but every one's possessions are intermingled with every other's possessions; and so there is, as it were, one patrimony among all the brethren. They think that oil is a defilement; and if any one of them be anointed without his own approbation, it is wiped off his body; for they think to be sweaty is a good thing, as they do also to be clothed in white garments. They also have stewards appointed to take care of their common affairs, who every one of them have no separate business for any, but what is for the uses of them all.
4. They have no one certain city, but many of them dwell in every city; and if any of their sect come from other places, what they have lies open for them, just as if it were their own; and they go in to such as they never knew before, as if they had been ever so long acquainted with them. For which reason they carry nothing at all with them when they travel into remote parts, though still they take their weapons with them, for fear of thieves. Accordingly, there is, in every city where they live, one appointed particularly to take care of strangers, and to provide garments and other necessaries for them. But the habit and management of their bodies is such as children use who are in fear of their masters. Nor do they allow of the change of garments or of shoes till be first torn to pieces, or worn out by time. Nor do they either buy or sell any thing to one another; but every one of them gives what he hath to him that wanteth it, and receives from him again in lieu of it what may be convenient for himself; and although there be no requital made, they are fully allowed to take what they want of whomsoever they please.
5. And as for their piety towards God, it is very extraordinary; for before sun-rising they speak not a word about profane matters, but put up certain prayers which they have received from their forefathers, as if they made a supplication for its rising. After this every one of them are sent away by their curators, to exercise some of those arts wherein they are skilled, in which they labor with great diligence till the fifth hour. After which they assemble themselves together again into one place; and when they have clothed themselves in white veils, they then bathe their bodies in cold water. And after this purification is over, they every one meet together in an apartment of their own, into which it is not permitted to any of another sect to enter; while they go, after a pure manner, into the dining-room, as into a certain holy temple, and quietly set themselves down; upon which the baker lays them loaves in order; the cook also brings a single plate of one sort of food, and sets it before every one of them; but a priest says grace before meat; and it is unlawful for any one to taste of the food before grace be said. The same priest, when he hath dined, says grace again after meat; and when they begin, and when they end, they praise God, as he that bestows their food upon them; after which they lay aside their [white] garments, and betake themselves to their labors again till the Evening; then they return home to supper, after the same manner; and if there be any strangers there, they sit down with them. Nor is there ever any clamor or disturbance to pollute their house, but they give every one leave to speak in their turn; which silence thus kept in their house appears to foreigners like some tremendous mystery; the cause of which is that perpetual sobriety they exercise, and the same settled measure of meat and drink that is allotted them, and that such as is abundantly sufficient for them.
The War of the Jews: The History of the Destruction of Jerusalem (complete edition, 7 books)
by D.H. Stern
is more pleasing to ADONAI than sacrifice.
4 Haughty looks, a proud heart—
what the wicked plow is sin.
Complete Jewish Bible : An English Version of the Tanakh (Old Testament) and B'Rit Hadashah (New Testament)
A Daily Devotional by Oswald Chambers
The spiritual society
Till we all come … unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ. --- Eph. 4:13.
Rehabilitation means the putting back of the whole human race into the relationship God designed it to be in, and this is what Jesus Christ did in Redemption. The Church ceases to be a spiritual society when it is on the look-out for the development of its own organization. The rehabilitation of the human race on Jesus Christ’s plan means the realization of Jesus Christ in corporate life as well as in individual life. Jesus Christ sent apostles and teachers for this purpose—that the corporate Personality might be realized. We are not here to develop a spiritual life of our own, or to enjoy spiritual retirement; we are here so to realize Jesus Christ that the Body of Christ may be built up.
Am I building up the Body of Christ, or am I looking for my own personal development only? The essential thing is my personal relationship to Jesus Christ—“That I may know Him. “To fulfil God’s design means entire abandonment to him. Whenever I want things for myself, the relationship is distorted. It will be a big humiliation to realize that I have not been concerned about realizing Jesus Christ, but only about realizing what He has done for me.
My goal is God Himself, not joy nor peace,
Nor even blessing, but Himself,
Am I measuring my life by this standard or by anything less?
My Utmost for His Highest
the Poetry of RS Thomas
At fifty he was still trying to deceive
Himself. he went out at night,
Imagining the dark country
Between the border and the coast
Was still Wales; the old language
Came to him on the wind's lips;
There were intimations of farms
Whose calendar was a green hill.
And yet under such skies the land
Had no more right to its name
Than a corpse had; self-given wounds
Wasted it. It lay like a bone
Thrown aside and of no use
For anything except shame to gnaw.
Selected poems, 1946-1968
What’s under your head is yours.
BIBLE TEXT / Genesis 28:10–14 / Jacob left Beer-sheba, and set out for Haran. He came upon a certain place and stopped there for the night, for the sun had set. Taking one of the stones of that place, he put it under his head and lay down in that place. He had a dream; a stairway was set upon the ground and its top reached to the sky, and angels of God were going up and down on it. And the Lord was standing beside him and He said, “I am the Lord, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac: the ground on which you are lying I will assign to you and to your offspring. Your descendants shall be as the dust of the earth; you shall spread out to the west and to the east, to the north and to the south.”
MIDRASH TEXT / Genesis Rabbah 69, 4 / Rabbi Ḥanina said in the name of Rabbi Pinḥas, “The patriarchs are mentioned eighteen times in the Torah, and correspondingly the Sages set up eighteen blessings in the Tefillah. And if someone says to you, ‘It’s nineteen,’ say to him, ‘And the Lord was standing beside him’ is not included in the number. And if one says, ‘It’s seventeen,’ say to him, ‘And the names of my fathers Abraham and Isaac’
(Genesis 48:16) is one of them.” The ground on which you are lying I will assign to you and to your offspring. Rabbi Shimon said in the name of Bar Kapara, “He [God] folded it all up like a writing tablet and put it under his head, as people say, ‘What’s under your head is yours.’ ” Rav Huna said in the name of Rabbi Elazar, “He [God] said, ‘Provided that you are buried there.’ ”
CONTEXT / This section begins with a commentary on the daily prayers. Rabbi Ḥanina, quoting Rabbi Pinḥas, says that there are eighteen blessings in the Amidah because the patriarchs—Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as a group—are mentioned eighteen times in the Torah. Therefore, the Sages set up eighteen blessings in the Tefillah. We call this prayer the עֲמִידָה/Amidah (the “standing” prayer) or the שְׁמוֹנֶה עֶשְׂרֵה/Shemoneh Esrei (the “eighteen” blessings, though now there are nineteen). The Rabbis, however, preferred to call it הַתְּפִלָּה/ha-Tefillah, “the prayer” par excellence. Exactly how many times the patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob are mentioned together, in a single phrase, in the Torah is debatable. Rabbi Ḥanina continues, And if someone says to you, “It’s nineteen times that they’re cited,” say to him, “And the Lord was standing beside him,” the verse on which this Midrash is based, is not included in the number, because God says “I am the Lord, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac,” but does not say all three patriarchs together. (Jacob, to whom God is talking, is not specifically mentioned by name in this verse.) The Midrash Tanḥuma explicitly says, “for Jacob is not enumerated among them.” And if one says, “It’s seventeen,” that is, one of the references to the patriarchs in the Torah really doesn’t count, say to him, “One of those references—And the names of my fathers Abraham and Isaac”
(Genesis 48:16)—is included in the count. While Jacob’s name is not mentioned in this verse, at its beginning Jacob does refer to himself: “In them may my name be recalled.” The Rabbis saw this as a specific citing of Jacob in the verse. (It seems that the Rabbis were determined to find eighteen citations of the patriarchs, one way or the other, because this is the exact number they wanted to specify.)
The Midrash continues with the next verse in Genesis 28: “The ground on which you are lying I will assign to you and to your offspring.” Rabbi Shimon said in the name of Bar Kapara, this verse, which tells us that Jacob lay on the ground of the land of Israel, is there to teach us that God folded it, the land of Israel, up like a writing tablet, a diptych, a document folded in half, the way we would fold up a map, and put it under his, Jacob’s, head. God promises Jacob “the ground on which you are lying.” The Rabbis understood this not just as a plot of land the size of his body, but as referring to the entire land of Israel. The only way to derive this broader meaning from these specific words was to attribute a miracle to God. God took the entire land of Israel, folded it up, and placed it under Jacob’s head. Thus, “the ground on which you are lying I will assign to you and to your offspring” means “the entire land of Israel, on which you are now lying.” As people say, apparently a well-known adage, “What’s under your head is yours.”
Rav Huna, in the name of Rabbi Elazar, gives a second understanding of “the ground on which you are lying”: “He [God] said, ‘Providing that you are buried there.’ ” The words “on which you are lying” could also be understood as “where you will one day lie,” that is, be buried. This leads to the reading: If you lie there permanently, then your people will possess it. The Rabbis knew that Jacob would eventually be buried in Israel by Joseph (Genesis 50).
Searching for Meaning in Midrash: Lessons for Everyday Living
Yet he saved them for his name’s sake.
--- Psalm 106:8.
[Here are] some reasons why God saves for his name’s sake. (Ralph Erskine, “God’s Great Name, the Ground and Reason of Saving Great Sinners,” preached at Carnock, July 18, 1730, before the administration of the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper, downloaded from Fire and Ice, Puritan and Reformed Writings, at www.puritanRS Thomas.com, accessed Aug. 21, 2001.)
1. If he did not, he would save none of Adam’s race. The best saints on earth cannot deserve mercy; the salvation of the most righteous is an act of grace. He could save none, if he did not save them for his name’s sake.
2. He saves for his name’s sake that sinners may hope in his name, that they may turn to him and call on him for mercy. Could not God be more feared if he had no mercy and forgiveness? True; humanity, in that case, could fear as devils do—despairingly—but not with any penitential fear. None could trust in his name, if he did not save for his name’s sake.
3. He saves for his name’s sake that sinners may adore his name, that they may admire his mercy. O wonder-working God who can show mercy when nothing is deserved but misery!
4. He saves for his name’s sake so that sinners who will not flee to his name may be left inexcusable in their sins. The glory of God’s justice will be conspicuous in those who have slighted his mercy.
5. He saves for his name’s sake because it is the only fit way for us to be saved. If God should offer to save us for our own sakes, for our righteousness’ sake—we might think God were mocking us, because we have nothing but sin and hell about us, and our best righteousness deserves damnation. But when he offers salvation for his own name’s sake, then it appears to be a fit offer. We cannot think God is mocking us—would he thus affront himself when his own name is the ground of faith laid before us?
6. He saves for his name’s sake because it is the only way of salvation suitable to his infinite excellence—God’s glory requires that no salvation should be found except in his name. Why has he told us of mercy in the new covenant? Why has he told us that justice itself is on the sinner’s side, inasmuch as he can be justified in forgiving sinners? Why has he displayed so much wisdom in judgment and mercy—wisdom in punishing sin and yet saving the sinner? Why? So that he might be glorified, that human pride might be brought down and arrogance laid low and that the Lord alone may be exalted. This way of saving suits his nature.
--- Ralph Erskine
Take Heart: Daily Devotions with the Church's Great Preachers
Thomas Guthrie was born on July 12, 1803 to a prosperous merchant and his devout wife. He entered the University of Edinburgh at age 12, devoured the physical sciences, and graduated at 16. He followed his inclinations toward theological studies, and in 1830 assumed the pastorate of a small congregation of farmers and weavers in Arbirlot, Scotland. He started with a rush, forming cottage prayer meetings, Sunday schools, and a parish library. His preaching was relentless, warm, and well received.
After seven years, Guthrie was made minister of Old Gray Friars Church in Edinburgh, then of St. John’s Church in Edinburgh’s slums. He established ministries to the poor, whom he frequently visited, talking with them about their feelings and needs. He continually innovated. His best-known program was the “Ragged Schools” for juvenile delinquents. He fiercely promoted total abstinence, seeing daily the effects of alcohol on the unfortunate. The poor loved him. Yet his outgoing personality, intense passion, and colorful RS Thomas appealed to the higher classes of society, and Guthrie soon became the most popular minister in Scotland.
When his health failed, he turned from pastoring to spend his remaining years editing a Christian magazine. On February 24, 1873, while resting in the arms of his son, he looked up and said, “I am as helpless now in your arms as you were in mine when you were a baby.” With that, he died. His funeral procession wound through a crowd of 30,000 spectators which included 230 children from the original “Ragged School.”
The success of his preaching is best explained in his own words: When I went to Arbirlot I knew pretty well how to speak RS Thomas, but very little about how to compose them; so I set myself vigorously to study how to illustrate the great truths of the Gospel, so that there should be no sleepers in the church, no wandering eyes; but everywhere an eager attention. To convert my hearers was not within my power; but to command their attention, to awaken their interest, to touch their feelings and instruct their minds, was—and I determined to do it.
Be pleasant and hold their interest when you speak the message. Choose your words carefully and be ready to give answers to anyone who asks questions.
--- Colossians 4:6.
On This Day 365 Amazing And Inspiring Stories About Saints, Martyrs And Heroes
Daily Readings / CHARLES H. SPURGEON
Morning - July 12
“Sanctified by God the Father.” -—Jude 1
“Sanctified in Christ Jesus.” —1 Corinthians 1:2
“Through sanctification of the Spirit.” —1 Peter 1:2
Mark the union of the Three Divine Persons in all their gracious acts. How unwisely do those believers talk who make preferences in the Persons of the Trinity; who think of Jesus as if he were the embodiment of everything lovely and gracious, while the Father they regard as severely just, but destitute of kindness. Equally wrong are those who magnify the decree of the Father, and the atonement of the Son, so as to depreciate the work of the Spirit. In deeds of grace none of the Persons of the Trinity act apart from the rest. They are as united in their deeds as in their essence. In their love towards the chosen they are one, and in the actions which flow from that great central source they are still undivided. Specially notice this in the matter of sanctification. While we may without mistake speak of sanctification as the work of the Spirit, yet we must take heed that we do not view it as if the Father and the Son had no part therein. It is correct to speak of sanctification as the work of the Father, of the Son, and of the Spirit. Still doth Jehovah say, “Let us make man in our own image after our likeness,” and thus we are “his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” See the value which God sets upon real holiness, since the Three Persons in the Trinity are represented as co-working to produce a Church without “spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing.” And you, believer, as the follower of Christ, must also set a high value on holiness—upon purity of life and godliness of conversation. Value the blood of Christ as the foundation of your hope, but never speak disparagingly of the work of the Spirit which is your meetness for the inheritance of the saints in light. This day let us so live as to manifest the work of the Triune God in us.
Evening - July 12
"His heavenly kingdom.” -2 Timothy 4:18
Yonder city of the great King is a place of active service. Ransomed spirits serve him day and night in his temple. They never cease to fulfil the good pleasure of their King. They always “rest,” so far as ease and freedom from care is concerned; and never “rest,” in the sense of indolence or inactivity. Jerusalem the golden is the place of communion with all the people of God. We shall sit with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, in eternal fellowship. We shall hold high converse with the noble host of the elect, all reigning with him who by his love and his potent arm has brought them safely home. We shall not sing solos, but in chorus shall we praise our King. Heaven is a place of victory realized. Whenever, Christian, thou hast achieved a victory over thy lusts—whenever after hard struggling, thou hast laid a temptation dead at thy feet—thou hast in that hour a foretaste of the joy that awaits thee when the Lord shall shortly tread Satan under thy feet, and thou shalt find thyself more than conqueror through him who hath loved thee. Paradise is a place of security. When you enjoy the full assurance of faith, you have the pledge of that glorious security which shall be yours when you are a perfect citizen of the heavenly Jerusalem. O my sweet home, Jerusalem, thou happy harbour of my soul! Thanks, even now, to him whose love hath taught me to long for thee; but louder thanks in eternity, when I shall possess thee.
“My soul has tasted of the grapes,
And now it longs to go
Where my dear Lord his vineyard keeps
And all the clusters grow.
“Upon the true and living vine,
My famish’d soul would feast,
And banquet on the fruit divine,
An everlasting guest.”
Morning and Evening
in His Time
W. W. Wiersbe
The name Malachi means “My messenger” (3:1). He was the last of the writing prophets but wrote nothing about himself. We have no biblical information about his ancestry, call, or personal life. But the important thing about messengers is the message they bring, not who they are or where they came from.
In 538 B.C., Cyrus issued a decree that the Jews exiled in Babylon could return to their land and rebuild their temple
(2 Chron. 36:22–23; Ezra 1). About 50,000 of them accepted the challenge, and in 515, after much delay, they completed the temple. Ezra visited them in 458, and in 445 Nehemiah became their governor and served for twelve years
While Nehemiah was back at his post in Shushan
(Neh. 13:6–7), things began to fall apart in Jerusalem; and when he returned, he had to take some drastic steps to reform the nation. It’s possible that the Prophet Malachi was called at that time to expose the sins of the people and call them back to God.
The conditions described in the Book of Nehemiah are the very things Malachi deals with in his book: poor crops and a faltering economy (Mal. 3:11), intermarriage with the heathen (2:11), defilement of the priesthood (1:6ff), oppression of the poor (3:5), lack of support for the temple
(vv. 8–10), and a general disdain of religion (v. 13ff). It was a low time spiritually for Judah, and they needed to hear the Word of God.
Malachi was the last prophet Judah heard until John the Baptist came and the prophecy of 3:1 was fulfilled. His messages against “the sins of the saints” need to be heeded today.
A Suggested Outline of the Book of Malachi
Note that the Book of Malachi is written as a dialogue between God and the people: God accuses and they answer to defend themselves. See 1:2, 6–7, 12–13; 2:14, 17; 3:7–8, 13–14. Note also Malachi’s emphasis on the name of God (1:6, 11, 14; 2:2, 5; 3:16; 4:2) and his reminder that God wants His name to be known by the Gentiles (1:11; 3:12).
Key theme: Honoring the name of God by living godly lives
Key verse: Malachi 1:11
|I.||Doubting God’s love||1:1–5|
|1||God’s electing grace||1:02|
|2||God’s blessing on Israel||1:3–5|
|II.||Dishonoring God’s name||1:6–2:9|
|1||Offering defiled sacrifices||1:6–14|
|2||Despising divine privileges||2:1–9|
|III.||Profaning God’s covenant||2:10–16|
|1||Marrying heathen women||2:10–12|
|3||Divorcing their wives||2:14–16|
|IV.||Questioning God’s justice||2:17–3:6|
|1||Where are promised blessings?||2:17|
|2||The first messenger||3:1a|
|—John the Baptist|
|3||The second messenger||3:1b–6|
|V.||Robbing God’s house||3:7–12|
|VI.||Despising God’s service||3:13–4:6|
HIDING IN THEE
William O. Cushing, 1823–1902
But the Lord has become my fortress, and my God the rock in whom I take refuge. (Psalm 94:22)
In childhood when we were frightened we wanted to run and hide in our mother’s or father’s arms until we felt the danger had passed. In the same way when trouble and sorrow disturb our adult lives, we look for a place of consolation or escape. But we can only find the deep satisfying peace of God in the midst of our storms when we are relying on the God of all peace.
William O. Cushing said that, when he wrote this hymn text in 1876, “it was the outgrowth of many tears, many heart conflicts and yearnings of which the world could know nothing.” After the death of his wife in middle age, Cushing was forced to retire from an active ministry because of poor health. He had been a successful pastor in the eastern areas of the United States. He began to be intensely interested in writing hymns, collaborating with many of the leading Gospel musicians of that time. One day when Ira Sankey made a special request for a song in his Gospel work, Cushing felt it was a direct call from God. He explained:
I prayed, “Lord, give me something that may glorify Thee.” It was while thus waiting that “Hiding in Thee” pressed to make itself known. Mr. Sankey called forth the tune and by his genius gave the hymn wings, making it useful in the Master’s work.
William Cushing knew personally the sorrows and turmoil of life, but he also knew where he could find safety and rest—in the “blest Rock of Ages.” When this hymn was first published, the author prefaced it with Psalm 31:2—“Be my rock of refuge, a strong fortress to save me.”
O safe to the Rock that is higher than I my soul in its conflicts and sorrows would fly. So sinful, so weary—Thine, Thine would I be: Thou blest “Rock of Ages,” I’m hiding in Thee.
In the calm of the noon-tide, in sorrow’s lone hour, in times when temptation casts o’er me its pow’r, in the tempests of life, on its wide, heaving sea, Thou blest “Rock of Ages,” I’m hiding in Thee.
How oft in the conflict, when pressed by the foe, I have fled to my Refuge and breathed out my woe. How often, when trials like sea billows roll, have I hidden in Thee, O Thou Rock of my soul.
Chorus: Hiding in Thee, Thou blest “Rock of Ages,” I’m hiding in Thee.
For Today: Psalm 4:8; Psalm 31:2; Isaiah 26:3, 4; 2 Corinthians 1:9, 10.
Whenever tempests arise in your sea of life, do not hesitate to fly for refuge to the safety of your “Rock of Ages,” and rest peacefully there. Sing this musical truth as you go ---
Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions
Martin Luther | (1483-1546)
Sect. LXXXIII. — AS to the other point — ‘that those things which God has made, are very good: and that God did not say, for this purpose have I made thee, but “For this purpose have I raised thee up.”’ —
I observe, first of all, that this, Gen. i., concerning the works of God being very good, was said before the fall of man. But it is recorded directly after, in Gen. iii. how man became evil, — when God departed from him and left him to himself. And from this one man thus corrupt, all the wicked were born, and Pharaoh also: as Paul saith, “We were all by nature the children of wrath even as others.” (Eph. ii. 8). Therefore God made Pharaoh wicked; that is, from a wicked and corrupt seed: as He saith in the Proverbs of Solomon, xvi. 4, “God hath made all things for Himself, yea, even the wicked for the day of evil:” that is, not by creating evil in them, but fly forming them out of a corrupt seed, and ruling over them. This therefore is not a just conclusion — God made man wicked: therefore, he is not wicked. For how can he not be wicked from a wicked seed? As Ps. li. 5, saith, “Behold I was conceived in sin.” And Job xiv. 4, “Who can make that clean which is conceived from unclean seed?” For although God did not make sin, yet, He ceases not to form and multiply that nature, which, from the Spirit being withdrawn, is defiled by sin. And as it is, when a carpenter makes statues of corrupt wood; so such as the nature is, such are the men made, when God creates and forms them out of that nature. Again: If you understand the words, “They were very good,” as referring to the works of God after the fall, you will be pleased to observe, that this was said, not with reference to us, but with reference to God. For it is not said, Man saw all the things that God had made, and behold they were very good. Many things seem very good unto God, and are very good, which seem unto us very evil, and are considered to be very evil. Thus, afflictions, evils, errors, hell, nay, all the very best works of God, are, in the sight of the world, very evil, and even damnable. What is better than Christ and the Gospel? But what is more execrated by the world? And therefore, how those things are good in the sight of God, which are evil in our sight, is known only unto God and unto those who see with the eyes of God; that is, who have the Spirit. But there is no need of argumentation so close as this, the preceding answer is sufficient.
The Bondage of the Will or Christian Classics Ethereal Library