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Deuteronomy 16     Psalm 103     Isaiah 43     Revelation 13


Deuteronomy 16

Passover

Deuteronomy 16:1 “Observe the month of Abib and keep the Passover to the LORD your God, for in the month of Abib the LORD your God brought you out of Egypt by night. 2 And you shall offer the Passover sacrifice to the LORD your God, from the flock or the herd, at the place that the LORD will choose, to make his name dwell there. 3 You shall eat no leavened bread with it. Seven days you shall eat it with unleavened bread, the bread of affliction—for you came out of the land of Egypt in haste—that all the days of your life you may remember the day when you came out of the land of Egypt. 4 No leaven shall be seen with you in all your territory for seven days, nor shall any of the flesh that you sacrifice on the evening of the first day remain all night until morning. 5 You may not offer the Passover sacrifice within any of your towns that the LORD your God is giving you, 6 but at the place that the LORD your God will choose, to make his name dwell in it, there you shall offer the Passover sacrifice, in the evening at sunset, at the time you came out of Egypt. 7 And you shall cook it and eat it at the place that the LORD your God will choose. And in the morning you shall turn and go to your tents. 8 For six days you shall eat unleavened bread, and on the seventh day there shall be a solemn assembly to the LORD your God. You shall do no work on it.

The Feast of Weeks

9 “You shall count seven weeks. Begin to count the seven weeks from the time the sickle is first put to the standing grain. 10 Then you shall keep the Feast of Weeks to the LORD your God with the tribute of a freewill offering from your hand, which you shall give as the LORD your God blesses you. 11 And you shall rejoice before the LORD your God, you and your son and your daughter, your male servant and your female servant, the Levite who is within your towns, the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow who are among you, at the place that the LORD your God will choose, to make his name dwell there. 12 You shall remember that you were a slave in Egypt; and you shall be careful to observe these statutes.

The Feast of Booths

13 “You shall keep the Feast of Booths seven days, when you have gathered in the produce from your threshing floor and your winepress. 14 You shall rejoice in your feast, you and your son and your daughter, your male servant and your female servant, the Levite, the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow who are within your towns. 15 For seven days you shall keep the feast to the LORD your God at the place that the LORD will choose, because the LORD your God will bless you in all your produce and in all the work of your hands, so that you will be altogether joyful.

16 “Three times a year all your males shall appear before the LORD your God at the place that he will choose: at the Feast of Unleavened Bread, at the Feast of Weeks, and at the Feast of Booths. They shall not appear before the LORD empty-handed. 17 Every man shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of the LORD your God that he has given you.

Justice

18 “You shall appoint judges and officers in all your towns that the LORD your God is giving you, according to your tribes, and they shall judge the people with righteous judgment. 19 You shall not pervert justice. You shall not show partiality, and you shall not accept a bribe, for a bribe blinds the eyes of the wise and subverts the cause of the righteous. 20 Justice, and only justice, you shall follow, that you may live and inherit the land that the LORD your God is giving you.


Psalm 103

Bless the LORD, O My Soul

Psalm 103 Of David.

1  Bless the LORD, O my soul,
and all that is within me,
bless his holy name!
2  Bless the LORD, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits,
3  who forgives all your iniquity,
who heals all your diseases,
4  who redeems your life from the pit,
who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
5  who satisfies you with good
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

6  The LORD works righteousness
and justice for all who are oppressed.
7  He made known his ways to Moses,
his acts to the people of Israel.
8  The LORD is merciful and gracious,
slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
9  He will not always chide,
nor will he keep his anger forever.
10  He does not deal with us according to our sins,
nor repay us according to our iniquities.
11  For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;
12  as far as the east is from the west,
so far does he remove our transgressions from us.
13  As a father shows compassion to his children,
so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear him.
14  For he knows our frame;
he remembers that we are dust.

15  As for man, his days are like grass;
he flourishes like a flower of the field;
16  for the wind passes over it, and it is gone,
and its place knows it no more.
17  But the steadfast love of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him,
and his righteousness to children’s children,
18  to those who keep his covenant
and remember to do his commandments.
19  The LORD has established his throne in the heavens,
and his kingdom rules over all.

20  Bless the LORD, O you his angels,
you mighty ones who do his word,
obeying the voice of his word!
21  Bless the LORD, all his hosts,
his ministers, who do his will!
22  Bless the LORD, all his works,
in all places of his dominion.
Bless the LORD, O my soul!


Isaiah 43

Israel’s Only Savior

Isaiah 43 1  But now thus says the LORD,
he who created you, O Jacob,
he who formed you, O Israel:
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name, you are mine.
2  When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
and the flame shall not consume you.
3  For I am the LORD your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.
I give Egypt as your ransom,
Cush and Seba in exchange for you.
4  Because you are precious in my eyes,
and honored, and I love you,
I give men in return for you,
peoples in exchange for your life.
5  Fear not, for I am with you;
I will bring your offspring from the east,
and from the west I will gather you.
6  I will say to the north, Give up,
and to the south, Do not withhold;
bring my sons from afar
and my daughters from the end of the earth,
7  everyone who is called by my name,
whom I created for my glory,
whom I formed and made.”

8  Bring out the people who are blind, yet have eyes,
who are deaf, yet have ears!
9  All the nations gather together,
and the peoples assemble.
Who among them can declare this,
and show us the former things?
Let them bring their witnesses to prove them right,
and let them hear and say, It is true.
10  “You are my witnesses,” declares the LORD,
“and my servant whom I have chosen,
that you may know and believe me
and understand that I am he.
Before me no god was formed,
nor shall there be any after me.
11  I, I am the LORD,
and besides me there is no savior.
12  I declared and saved and proclaimed,
when there was no strange god among you;
and you are my witnesses,” declares the LORD, “and I am God.
13  Also henceforth I am he;
there is none who can deliver from my hand;
I work, and who can turn it back?”

14  Thus says the LORD,
your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel:
“For your sake I send to Babylon
and bring them all down as fugitives,
even the Chaldeans, in the ships in which they rejoice.
15  I am the LORD, your Holy One,
the Creator of Israel, your King.”

16  Thus says the LORD,
who makes a way in the sea,
a path in the mighty waters,
17  who brings forth chariot and horse,
army and warrior;
they lie down, they cannot rise,
they are extinguished, quenched like a wick:
18  “Remember not the former things,
nor consider the things of old.
19  Behold, I am doing a new thing;
now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness
and rivers in the desert.
20  The wild beasts will honor me,
the jackals and the ostriches,
for I give water in the wilderness,
rivers in the desert,
to give drink to my chosen people,
21  the people whom I formed for myself
that they might declare my praise.

22  “Yet you did not call upon me, O Jacob;
but you have been weary of me, O Israel!
23  You have not brought me your sheep for burnt offerings,
or honored me with your sacrifices.
I have not burdened you with offerings,
or wearied you with frankincense.
24  You have not bought me sweet cane with money,
or satisfied me with the fat of your sacrifices.
But you have burdened me with your sins;
you have wearied me with your iniquities.

25  “I, I am he
who blots out your transgressions for my own sake,
and I will not remember your sins.
26  Put me in remembrance; let us argue together;
set forth your case, that you may be proved right.
27  Your first father sinned,
and your mediators transgressed against me.
28  Therefore I will profane the princes of the sanctuary,
and deliver Jacob to utter destruction
and Israel to reviling.


Revelation 13

The First Beast

Revelation 13 And I saw a beast rising out of the sea, with ten horns and seven heads, with ten diadems on its horns and blasphemous names on its heads. 2 And the beast that I saw was like a leopard; its feet were like a bear’s, and its mouth was like a lion’s mouth. And to it the dragon gave his power and his throne and great authority. 3 One of its heads seemed to have a mortal wound, but its mortal wound was healed, and the whole earth marveled as they followed the beast. 4 And they worshiped the dragon, for he had given his authority to the beast, and they worshiped the beast, saying, “Who is like the beast, and who can fight against it?”

5 And the beast was given a mouth uttering haughty and blasphemous words, and it was allowed to exercise authority for forty-two months. 6 It opened its mouth to utter blasphemies against God, blaspheming his name and his dwelling, that is, those who dwell in heaven. 7 Also it was allowed to make war on the saints and to conquer them. And authority was given it over every tribe and people and language and nation, 8 and all who dwell on earth will worship it, everyone whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slain. 9 If anyone has an ear, let him hear:

10  If anyone is to be taken captive,
to captivity he goes;
if anyone is to be slain with the sword,
with the sword must he be slain.

Here is a call for the endurance and faith of the saints.

The Second Beast

11 Then I saw another beast rising out of the earth. It had two horns like a lamb and it spoke like a dragon. 12 It exercises all the authority of the first beast in its presence, and makes the earth and its inhabitants worship the first beast, whose mortal wound was healed. 13 It performs great signs, even making fire come down from heaven to earth in front of people, 14 and by the signs that it is allowed to work in the presence of the beast it deceives those who dwell on earth, telling them to make an image for the beast that was wounded by the sword and yet lived. 15 And it was allowed to give breath to the image of the beast, so that the image of the beast might even speak and might cause those who would not worship the image of the beast to be slain. 16 Also it causes all, both small and great, both rich and poor, both free and slave, to be marked on the right hand or the forehead, 17 so that no one can buy or sell unless he has the mark, that is, the name of the beast or the number of its name. 18 This calls for wisdom: let the one who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man, and his number is 666.

The Reformation Study Bible




What I'm Reading

How (and Where) Did Judas Really Die?

By J. Warner Wallace 2/9/2015

     I’ve been writing intermittently about some of the alleged Gospel contradictions skeptics cite when arguing against the reliability of the New Testament. When two or more eyewitness accounts appear to disagree, we’ve either encountered an error on the part of one of the witnesses, are somehow misreading (or misinterpreting) the accounts, or have insufficient information to reconcile the descriptions. The death of Judas, as recorded in two places in the New Testament, appears to present us with a contradiction:

     Matthew 27:3-10 | Then when Judas, who had betrayed Him, saw that He had been condemned, he felt remorse and returned the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, saying, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.” But they said, “What is that to us? See to that yourself!” And he threw the pieces of silver into the temple sanctuary and departed; and he went away and hanged himself. The chief priests took the pieces of silver and said, “It is not lawful to put them into the temple treasury, since it is the price of blood.” And they conferred together and with the money bought the Potter’s Field as a burial place for strangers. For this reason that field has been called the Field of Blood to this day. Then that which was spoken through Jeremiah the prophet was fulfilled: “And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of the one whose price had been set by the sons of Israel; and they gave them for the Potter’s Field, as the Lord directed me.”

     Acts 1:15-20 | At this time Peter stood up in the midst of the brethren (a gathering of about one hundred and twenty persons was there together), and said, “Brethren, the Scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit foretold by the mouth of David concerning Judas, who became a guide to those who arrested Jesus. For he was counted among us and received his share in this ministry.” (Now this man acquired a field with the price of his wickedness, and falling headlong, he burst open in the middle and all his intestines gushed out. And it became known to all who were living in Jerusalem; so that in their own language that field was called Hakeldama, that is, Field of Blood.) “For it is written in the book of Psalms, ‘Let his homestead be made desolate, And let no one dwell in it’; and, ‘Let another man take his office.’””

     These accounts seem to differ in two important ways. How was the “blood money” spent? Did Judas use it to purchase a piece of property or did the chief priests use it to purchase the Potter’s Field? This first alleged contradiction seems rather simple to reconcile if we are willing to layer the two accounts (this is often necessary when examining two descriptions in my cold-case investigations, especially when I no longer have access to the original witnesses). Judas threw the money into the temple and departed. The chief priests retrieved the coins and decided to use the money to buy the potter’s field as a burial place for foreigners. Luke’s description of the purchase does not appear to be a direct quote from Peter linking Judas to the purchase, but is instead a tangential description intended for those who were not familiar with the details of the field or Judas’ death. Luke simply wanted us to know the acquisition of the field was made possible by the money Judas provided.

     But what about the manner of Judas’ death? Did he stumble to his death on that field or go off somewhere and hang himself? This aspect of the accounts can be reconciled if you know something about human anatomy and post-mortem bloating. Let me explain. The descriptions from Matthew and Luke are consistent with one another if Judas later “went away and hanged himself” in the very field purchased with the “blood money” he received from betraying Jesus. This location makes sense, given it was a permanent, public reminder of Judas’ action against Jesus. If he felt remorseful enough about his betrayal to kill himself, it is likely he might commit suicide in the one place demarking his betrayal. The “Potter’s Field” is exactly where I would expect Judas to hang himself.

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J. Warner Wallace is a Cold-Case Detective, a Christian Case Maker, and the author of:

Is Genesis History?

By Alex Aili 4/26/2017

     The evidence available to us today supports the historicity of Genesis. Del Tackett, the host of this feature, quite simply says that “Many things are pointing in one direction” regarding the veracity of the Biblical account. This project effectively illustrates how the Young Earth (YE) hypothesis holds weight. Incidentally, the film provides a robust apologetic for the existence of a Creator, which, given the evidence surveyed throughout the project, is quite an understatement.

     Since the majority of scientists hold to an Old Earth (OE) model, one would expect that more of their voices be present in a documentary defending the YE view (especially when the subtitle reads: “Two competing views; One compelling truth”). But they aren’t, and this was my chief grievance with Is Genesis History?

     I may be asking for too much, but each of the evidences given throughout the film could’ve had a feature-length documentary of their own, complete with views from all sides. Regardless, the YE view would’ve come out far stronger with the company of opposition.

     Grievances aside, this documentary excels in three ways:

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     Alex Aili: Story-dweller who tends to wander off the trail in search of the right word...and the better view. My goal is to encourage people to think deeper and grow in their love for God. I have a B.A. in Biblical Studies from Oak Hills Christian College.

Will We Have Free Will in Heaven?

By Nate Sala 5/3/2017

     “Essentially I am asking is there free will after we are raised to live with God for eternity?” – Reed Dolihite

     This is a good one, Reed, so thanks for the opportunity to interact! The question — Will we have free will in Heaven? — presupposes that we will be sinless in Heaven so maybe we should begin by establishing where we get this idea that we will be sinless in Heaven. There are a couple places in 1 John that support this notion:

     “Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.” (3:2)
     “No one who abides in him keeps on sinning..” (v. 6).
     “We know that everyone who has been born of God does not keep on sinning, but he who was born of God protects him, and the evil one does not touch him.” (5:18)


     But probably the clearest picture we get of this idea is in Revelation 21, which contrasts the sinful…

     “But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.” (v. 8)

     … and the sinless…

     “and nothing unclean, and no one who practices abomination and lying, shall ever come into it, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.” (v. 27)

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     English and Forensics Teacher. B.Sc., M.Ed. University of Nevada Las Vegas. Lives in Las Vegas with his wife, two sons, and dogs.

Putting Others First

     Philippians 2:3 ESV
Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.

     1 John 4:7-8 ESV
Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.

     Romans 12:10 ESV
Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.

     1 Timothy 5:8 ESV
But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.

     1 Corinthians 13:1-13 ESV
If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude.

     Matthew 20:26-27 ESV
It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave,

     Matthew 5:41 ESV
And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles.

     John 3:16-17 ESV
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.

     Luke 8:1-56 ESV
Soon afterward he went on through cities and villages, proclaiming and bringing the good news of the kingdom of God. And the twelve were with him, and also some women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, and Joanna, the wife of Chuza, Herod's household manager, and Susanna, and many others, who provided for them out of their means. And when a great crowd was gathering and people from town after town came to him, he said in a parable: “A sower went out to sow his seed. And as he sowed, some fell along the path and was trampled underfoot, and the birds of the air devoured it.

     Galatians 5:22 ESV
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,      Romans 12:2 ESV
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

     John 3:16 ESV
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

     Galatians 5:22-26 ESV
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.

     Mark 14:1-72 ESV
It was now two days before the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread. And the chief priests and the scribes were seeking how to arrest him by stealth and kill him, for they said, “Not during the feast, lest there be an uproar from the people.” And while he was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he was reclining at table, a woman came with an alabaster flask of ointment of pure nard, very costly, and she broke the flask and poured it over his head. There were some who said to themselves indignantly, “Why was the ointment wasted like that? For this ointment could have been sold for more than three hundred denarii and given to the poor.”

     John 1:3-16 ESV
All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.

     Genesis 1:1-31 ESV
In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night.

Looking Out for the Interests of Others

By John Piper 8/31/2008

     In the message that I gave just before leaving on vacation, I focused on my hope for a kind of relational culture at Bethlehem that would give rise to wisdom — the kind of wisdom that would help us discern how to cut through complex issues like the relationship between baptism and church membership.

     Wisdom: A Corporate and Relational Attainment | I argued from Colossians 3:16 and James 3:13–18 that wisdom is marked by meekness and freedom from selfish ambition and bitter jealousy and boasting. In other words, wisdom rises in relationships of humility and love and servanthood, rather than jealousy and selfishness. Wisdom is not a solitary attainment. It is a corporate and relational attainment. Loners are not wise. Wisdom is given and found and forged in the fires of committed relationships.

     Here’s a definition of wisdom that I think is biblical: Wisdom is the ability of the soul to perceive God-glorifying, Christ-exalting, gospel-fashioned, people-helping ways to live, with the knowledge God gives us. Wisdom is not the ability to memorize specific biblical rules of behavior. Wisdom is needed because so many of our decisions are not explicitly regulated by specific rules in the Bible.

     Take three examples: personal priorities, parenting, and politics.

     Wisdom in Personal Priorities, Parenting, and Politics | How do you decide how to apply your personal priorities in what you do with the minutes of your days — eating, working, exercising, sleeping, reading, entertainment, conversations, evangelism, praying? There are no specific rules in the Bible that dictate the proportion of your time that go into these things.

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     John Piper is founder and teacher of desiringGod.org and chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary. For 33 years, he served as pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis, Minnesota. He is author of more than 50 books, including Reading the Bible Supernaturally: Seeing and Savoring the Glory of God in Scripture.

If His name was Yeshua, why do we call Him Jesus?

By Got Questions.org

     Answer: Some people claim that our Lord should not be referred to as “Jesus.” Instead, we should only use the name “Yeshua.” Some even go so far as to say that calling Him “Jesus” is blasphemous. Others go into great detail about how the name “Jesus” is unbiblical because the letter J is a modern invention and there was no letter J in Greek or Hebrew.

     Yeshua is the Hebrew name, and its English spelling is “Joshua.” Iesous is the Greek transliteration of the Hebrew name, and its English spelling is “Jesus.” Thus, the names “Joshua” and “Jesus” are essentially the same; both are English pronunciations of the Hebrew and Greek names for our Lord. (For examples of how the two names are interchangeable, see Acts 7:45 and Hebrews 4:8 in the KJV. In both cases, the word Jesus refers to the Old Testament character Joshua.)

     Changing the language of a word does not affect the meaning of the word. We call a bound and covered set of pages a “book.” In German, it becomes a buch. In Spanish, it is a libro; in French, a livre. The language changes, but the object itself does not. As Shakespeare said, “That which we call a rose / By any other name would smell as sweet” (Romeo and Juliet, II:i). In the same way, we can refer to Jesus as “Jesus,” “Yeshua,” or “YehSou” (Cantonese) without changing His nature. In any language, His name means “The Lord Is Salvation.”

     As for the controversy over the letter J, it is much ado about nothing. It is true that the languages in which the Bible was written had no letter J. But that doesn’t mean the Bible never refers to “Jerusalem.” And it doesn’t mean we cannot use the spelling “Jesus.” If a person speaks and reads English, it is acceptable for him to spell things in an English fashion. Spellings can change even within a language: Americans write “Savior,” while the British write “Saviour.” The addition of a u (or its subtraction, depending on your point of view) has nothing to do with whom we’re talking about. Jesus is the Savior, and He is the Saviour. Jesus and Yeshuah and Iesus are all referring to the same Person.

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All of our answers are reviewed for biblical and theological accuracy by our staff. Our CEO, S. Michael Houdmann, is ultimately accountable for our content, and therefore maintains an active role in the review process. He possesses a Bachelor's degree in Biblical Studies from Calvary University and a Master's degree in Christian Theology from Calvary Theological Seminary (Kansas City, MO).

Friday to Sunday Not 3 days

By N.T. Wright

     The Bible does reveal what Jesus Christ was doing on the Friday before His resurrection — but the truth is not what most professing Christians today believe!

     We know from Scripture that Christ spent three full days and nights — 72 hours — in the grave. He had to do this in order to fulfill the biblical sign of Jonah, as He proclaimed to the scribes and Pharisees. “But He answered and said to them, ‘An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth’” (Matthew 12:39–40).

     This fact by itself proves that the widely assumed Good Friday to Easter Sunday chronology cannot be correct, since a Friday afternoon crucifixion would have kept Jesus in the grave until Monday afternoon. But when does Scripture say Christ was resurrected? Notice this account: “Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene went to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. Then she ran and came to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple, whom Jesus loved, and said to them, ‘They have taken away the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid Him’” (John 20:1–2).

     Her visit on the “first day of the week” means that Mary Magdalene went to Christ’s tomb in the night hours after the Sabbath — before the sun had risen on Sunday — and found that Jesus was not in the tomb. So, counting back 72 hours, there is no way Jesus could have been crucified on Friday at all! Scripture reveals that Jesus died at about 3:00 p.m. (Matthew 27:46–50).

     The Gospel of John gives us another vital detail about what happened immediately after His death. We read: “Therefore, because it was the Preparation Day, that the bodies should not remain on the cross on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was a high day), the Jews asked Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away” (John 19:31).

     The “Preparation Day” is the day before the Sabbath, when tasks are performed in anticipation of the coming Sabbath rest from workaday activities. But we have already seen that Friday cannot be the day of Christ’s death, since He had to have been dead for 72 hours before the end of the seventh day of the week! Is this an apparent contradiction in Scripture? No! Notice the description that the coming Sabbath was a “high day.” This is a reference to one of the “annual Sabbaths” (Leviticus 23:6–36). Christ was crucified in the hours immediately preceding the First Day of Unleavened Bread (v. 6). So, we know from Scripture that Jesus Christ was buried shortly before sunset, before the First Day of Unleavened Bread began. We know that 72 hours later, before the first day of the week had begun, He had risen. This means that He rose near the end of the weekly seventh-day Sabbath, so He must have been crucified on a Wednesday — not on “Good Friday” as many now believe.

     On “Good Friday,” Jesus was dead, in the grave, in fulfillment of prophecy. Churches that hold to the Good Friday and Easter Sunday traditions are denying not only the plain words of Scripture, but also the very sign Jesus gave of His being the Messiah. If you worship a Messiah who rose on Sunday after 36 hours in the grave, you are not worshiping the true Jesus Christ of the Bible, but rather a counterfeit invented by men who want to draw attention away from God and His Truth. To learn more about many false teachings that have been promoted in the name of “Christianity,” please request your free copy of our booklet, Satan’s Counterfeit Christianity.

     N.T. Wright

Three Days and Nights

By Paul F. Taylor 6/29/2009

     If Jesus was to be in the grave three days and nights, how do we fit those between Good Friday and Easter Sunday?

     [Editor’s note: This article was taken, with slight modification, from The New Answers Book 2 (New Answers (Master Books)).]

     If Jesus was to be in the grave three days and nights, how do we fit those between Good Friday and Easter Sunday?

     There are several solutions to this problem. Some have suggested that a special Sabbath might have occurred, so that Jesus was actually crucified on a Thursday. However, a solution, which seems to me to be more convincing, is that Jesus was indeed crucified on a Friday but that the Jewish method of counting days was not the same as ours.

     In Esther 4:16, we find Esther exhorting Mordecai to persuade the Jews to fast. “Neither eat nor drink for three days, night or day” (NKJV). This was clearly in preparation for her highly risky attempt to see the king. Yet just two verses later, in Esther 5:1, we read: “Now it happened on the third day that Esther put on her royal robes and stood in the inner court of the king’s palace.” If three days and nights were counted in the same way as we count them today, then Esther could not have seen the king until the fourth day. This is completely analogous to the situation with Jesus’s crucifixion and resurrection.

     For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth (Matthew 12:40; NKJV).

     Now after the Sabbath, as the first day of the week began to dawn, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb (Matthew 28:1; NKJV).

     Then, as they were afraid and bowed their faces to the earth, they said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen! Remember how He spoke to you when He was still in Galilee, saying, ‘The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again’” (Luke 24:5–7; NKJV).

     If the three days and nights were counted the way we count them, then Jesus would have to rise on the fourth day. But, by comparing these passages, we can see that in the minds of people in Bible times, “the third day” is equivalent to “after three days.”

     In fact, the way they counted was this: part of a day would be counted as one day. The following table, reproduced from the Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry (CARM) website, shows how the counting works.   1

Day One Day Two Day Three
FRI FRI SAT SAT SUN SUN
starts at ends at starts at ends at starts at ends at
sundown on sundown sundown on sundown sundown on sundown
Thursday   Friday   Saturday  
Night Day Night Day Night Day
Crucifixion Sabbath Resurrection

     This table indicates that Jesus died on Good Friday; that was day one. In total, day one includes the day and the previous night, even though Jesus died in the day. So, although only part of Friday was left, that was the first day and night to be counted. Saturday was day two. Jesus rose in the morning of the Sunday. That was day three. Thus, by Jewish counting, we have three days and nights, yet Jesus rose on the third day.

     It should not be a surprise to us that a different culture used a different method of counting days. As soon as we adopt this method of counting, all the supposed biblical problems with counting the days disappear.

Click here to go to source

     Paul Taylor (BSc, MEd) was a science teacher in a number of United Kingdom state comprehensive schools for almost 20 years, becoming a head of science in one post. In 2000, he left teaching and set up an ICT training and web development business before working for Answers in Genesis–UK/Europe for six years (2005–2011) as a speaker, writer, and head of media and communications. In 2011, he moved to the United States to work for the ministry Creation Today in Pensacola, Florida. Since October 2014, Paul and his wife, Geraldene, have been the directors of Mount St. Helen’s Creation Center in Washington State, near the famous volcano.

     Paul has authored nine books including The Six Days of Genesis, Itching Ears, and Don’t Miss the Boat. He continues to speak on creation and apologetics (and against evolution) across the United States in churches and at conferences. He has also spoken widely in the United Kingdom, Ireland, and other European countries.

Deut. 16; Psalm 103; Isaiah 43; Revelation 13

By Don Carson 6/11/2018

     It Is difficult to imagine a lovelier psalm than Psalm 103. When our children were growing up, the price they “paid” for their first leather-bound Bibles was memorizing Psalm 103. Across the centuries, countless believers have turned to these lines to find their spirits lifted, a renewed commitment to praise and gratitude, and incentive to prayer, a restoration of a God-centered worldview. This Psalm could easily claim our meditations for the rest of the month, for the rest of the year. Instead, we focus on three of its features.

     (1) The Psalm is bracketed by exhortations to praise. At the front end, David exhorts himself, and, by his example, his readers: “Praise the LORD, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name” (Ps. 103:1). Implicitly David recognizes that it is distressingly easy to preserve the externals of praise, with nothing erupting from within the heart of God’s image-bearers. This will not do: “all my inmost being, praise his holy name.” By the end of the Psalm, however honest and profound this individual’s worship, the framework for praising such a God is too small, for after all, God’s kingdom rules over all (Ps. 103:19): “Praise the LORD, you his angels, you mighty ones who do his bidding, who obey his word. Praise the LORD, all his heavenly hosts, you his servants who do his will. Praise the LORD, all his works, everywhere in his dominion. Praise the LORD, O my soul” (Ps. 103:20-22). Now the psalmist’s praise is one with the praise of heaven, with the praise of the entire created order.

     (2) When David starts to enumerate “all his benefits” (Ps. 103:2), he begins with the forgiveness of sins (Ps. 103:3). Here is a man who understands what is of greatest importance. If we have everything but God’s forgiveness, we have nothing of worth; if we have God’s forgiveness, everything else of value is also promised (cf. Rom. 8:32).

(Ro 8:32) 32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?   ESV

     (3) David soon moves from the blessings he enjoys as an individual believer to the Lord’s public justice (Ps. 103:6), to his gracious self-disclosure to Moses and the Israelites (Ps. 103:7-18). Here he stays the longest time, turning over and over in his mind the greatest blessings the Lord has granted to his people. Above all, he focuses once again on the sheer privilege of having sins forgiven, removed, forgotten. All of this, David perceives, stems from the character of God. “The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love” (Ps. 103:8). He deals with our sin — but compassionately, fully bearing in mind our weak frames. We may be creatures of time, but “from everlasting to everlasting the LORD’s love is with those who fear him” (Ps. 103:17).

Click here to go to source

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:

Read The Psalms In "1" Year

Psalm 62

My Soul Waits for God Alone
62 To The Choirmaster: According To Jeduthun. A Psalm Of David.

5 For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence,
for my hope is from him.
6 He only is my rock and my salvation,
my fortress; I shall not be shaken.
7 On God rests my salvation and my glory;
my mighty rock, my refuge is God.
8 Trust in him at all times, O people;
pour out your heart before him;
God is a refuge for us. Selah

9 Those of low estate are but a breath;
those of high estate are a delusion;
in the balances they go up;
they are together lighter than a breath.
10 Put no trust in extortion;
set no vain hopes on robbery;
if riches increase, set not your heart on them.

11 Once God has spoken;
twice have I heard this:
that power belongs to God,
12 and that to you, O Lord, belongs steadfast love.
For you will render to a man
according to his work.

ESV Study Bible

The Institutes of the Christian Religion

Translated by Henry Beveridge

     28. We have, therefore, a most excellent and sure mark to distinguish between those impious constitutions (by which, as we have said, true religion is overthrown, and conscience subverted) and the legitimate observances of the Church, if we remember that one of two things, or both together, are always intended--viz. that in the sacred assembly of the faithful, all things may be done decently, and with becoming dignity, and that human society may be maintained in order by certain bonds, as it were, of moderation and humanity. For when a law is understood to have been made for the sake of public decency, there is no room for the superstition into which those fall who measure the worship of God by human inventions. On the other hand, when a law is known to be intended for common use, that false idea of its obligation and necessity, which gives great alarm to the conscience, when traditions are deemed necessary to salvation, is overthrown; since nothing here is sought but the maintenance of charity by a common office. But it may be proper to explain more clearly what is meant by the decency which Paul commends, and also what is comprehended under order. And the object of decency is, partly that by the use of rites, which produce reverence in sacred matters, we may be excited to piety, and partly that the modesty and gravity which ought to be seen in all honourable actions may here especially be conspicuous. In order, the first thing is, that those who preside know the law and rule of right government, while those who are governed be accustomed to obedience and right discipline. The second thing is, that by duly arranging the state of the Church, provision be made for peace and tranquillity.

29. We shall not, therefore, give the name of decency to that which only ministers an empty pleasure: such, for example, as is seen in that theatrical display which the Papists exhibit in their public service, where nothing appears but a mask of useless splendour, and luxury without any fruit. But we give the name of decency to that which, suited to the reverence of sacred mysteries, forms a fit exercise for piety, or at least gives an ornament adapted to the action, and is not without fruit, but reminds believers of the great modesty, seriousness, and reverence, with which sacred things ought to be treated. Moreover, ceremonies, in order to be exercises of piety, must lead us directly to Christ. In like manner, we shall not make order consist in that nugatory pomp which gives nothing but evanescent splendour, but in that arrangement which removes all confusion, barbarism, contumacy, all turbulence and dissension. Of the former class we have examples (1 Cor. 11:5, 21), where Paul says, that profane entertainments must not be intermingled with the sacred Supper of the Lord; that women must not appear in public uncovered. And there are many other things which we have in daily practice, such as praying on our knees, and with our head uncovered, administering the sacraments of the Lord, not sordidly, but with some degree of dignity; employing some degree of solemnity in the burial of our dead, and so forth. In the other class are the hours set apart for public prayer, sermon, and solemn services; during sermon, quiet and silence, fixed places, singing of hymns, days set apart for the celebration of the Lord's Supper, the prohibition of Paul against women teaching in the Church, and such like. To the same list especially may be referred those things which preserve discipline, as catechising, ecclesiastical censures, excommunication, fastings, &c. Thus all ecclesiastical constitutions, which we admit to be sacred and salutary, may be reduced to two heads, the one relating to rites and ceremonies, the other to discipline and peace.

30. But as there is here a danger, on the one hand, lest false bishops should thence derive a pretext for their impious and tyrannical laws, and, on the other, lest some, too apt to take alarm, should, from fear of the above evils, leave no place for laws, however holy, it may here be proper to declare, that I approve of those human constitutions only which are founded on the authority of God, and derived from Scripture, and are therefore altogether divine. Let us take, for example, the bending of the knee which is made in public prayer. It is asked, whether this is a human tradition, which any one is at liberty to repudiate or neglect? I say, that it is human, and that at the same time it is divine. It is of God, inasmuch as it is a part of that decency, the care and observance of which is recommended by the apostle; and it is of men, inasmuch as it specially determines what was indicated in general, rather than expounded. From this one example, we may judge what is to be thought of the whole class--viz. that the whole sum of righteousness, and all the parts of divine worship, and everything necessary to salvation, the Lord has faithfully comprehended, and clearly unfolded, in his sacred oracles, so that in them he alone is the only Master to be heard. But as in external discipline and ceremonies, he has not been pleased to prescribe every particular that we ought to observe (he foresaw that this depended on the nature of the times, and that one form would not suit all ages), in them we must have recourse to the general rules which he has given, employing them to test whatever the necessity of the Church may require to be enjoined for order and decency. Lastly, as he has not delivered any express command, because things of this nature are not necessary to salvation, and, for the edification of the Church, should be accommodated to the varying circumstances of each age and nation, it will be proper, as the interest of the Church may require, to change and abrogate the old, as well as to introduce new forms. I confess, indeed, that we are not to innovate rashly or incessantly, or for trivial causes. Charity is the best judge of what tends to hurt or to edify: if we allow her to be guide, all things will be safe.

31. Things which have been appointed according to this rule, it is the duty of the Christian people to observe with a free conscience indeed, and without superstition, but also with a pious and ready inclination to obey. They are not to hold them in contempt, nor pass them by with careless indifference, far less openly to violate them in pride and contumacy. You will ask, What liberty of conscience will there be in such cautious observances? Nay, this liberty will admirably appear when we shall hold that these are not fixed and perpetual obligations to which we are astricted, but external rudiments for human infirmity, which, though we do not all need, we, however, all use, because we are bound to cherish mutual charity towards each other. This we may recognise in the examples given above. What? Is religion placed in a woman's bonnet, so that it is unlawful for her to go out with her head uncovered? Is her silence fixed by a decree which cannot be violated without the greatest wickedness? Is there any mystery in bending the knee, or in burying a dead body, which cannot be omitted without a crime? By no means. For should a woman require to make such haste in assisting a neighbour that she has not time to cover her head, she sins not in running out with her head uncovered. And there are some occasions on which it is not less seasonable for her to speak than on others to be silent. Nothing, moreover, forbids him who, from disease, cannot bend his knees, to pray standing. In fine, it is better to bury a dead man quickly, than from want of grave-clothes, or the absence of those who should attend the funeral, to wait till it rot away unburied. Nevertheless, in those matters the custom and institutions of the country, in short, humanity and the rules of modesty itself, declare what is to be done or avoided. Here, if any error is committed through imprudence or forgetfulness, no crime is perpetrated; but if this is done from contempt, such contumacy must be disapproved. In like manner, it is of no consequence what the days and hours are, what the nature of the edifices, and what psalms are sung on each day. But it is proper that there should be certain days and stated hours, and a place fit for receiving all, if any regard is had to the preservation of peace. For what a seed-bed of quarrels will confusion in such matters be, if every one is allowed at pleasure to alter what pertains to common order? All will not be satisfied with the same course if matters, placed as it were on debateable ground, are left to the determination of individuals. But if any one here becomes clamorous, and would be wiser than he ought, let him consider how he will approve his moroseness to the Lord. Paul's answer ought to satisfy us, "If any man seem to be contentious, we have no such custom, neither the churches of God."

32. Moreover, we must use the utmost diligence to prevent any error from creeping in which may either taint or sully this pure use. In this we shall succeed, if whatever observances we use are manifestly useful, and very few in number; especially if to this is added the teaching of a faithful pastor, which may prevent access to erroneous opinions. The effect of this procedure is, that in all these matters each retains his freedom, and yet at the same time voluntarily subjects it to a kind of necessity, in so far as the decency of which we have spoken or charity demands. Next, that in the observance of these things we may not fall into any superstition, nor rigidly require too much from others, let us not imagine that the worship of God is improved by a multitude of ceremonies: let not church despise church because of a difference in external discipline. Lastly, instead of here laying down any perpetual law for ourselves, let us refer the whole end and use of observances to the edification of the Church, at whose request let us without offence allow not only something to be changed, but even observances which were formerly in use to be inverted. For the present age is a proof that the nature of times allows that certain rites, not otherwise impious or unbecoming, may be abrogated according to circumstances. Such was the ignorance and blindness of former times; with such erroneous ideas and pertinacious zeal did churches formerly cling to ceremonies, that they can scarcely be purified from monstrous superstitions without the removal of many ceremonies which were formerly established, not without cause, and which in themselves are not chargeable with any impiety.

__________________________________________________________________

[582] French, "entre le siege judicial de Dieu, qui est spirituel, et la justice terrestre des hommes;"--between the judgment-seat of God and the terrestrial justice of men.

[583] French, "Et de fait, tel a eté le sens de cette distinction vulgaire qu'on a tenue par toutes les ecoles; que c'est autre choses des jurisdictions humaines et politiques, que de celles qui touchent à la conscience;"--And in fact, such is the import of the common distincti has been held by all the schools, that human and civil jurisdictions are quite different from those which touch the conscience.

[584] Calvin on the Necessity of Reforming the Church.

[585] French, "Mais depuis sont survenus d'autres singes, qui ont eu une folle affectation de coudre piece sur piece, et ainsi ont composé tant les accoustremens du prestre, que les paremens de l'autel, et le badinage et jeu de farce que nous voyons à present à la Messe, avec tout le reste du borgage."--But other apes have since appeared, who have had a foolish affectation of sewing piece to piece, and thus have formed all the furnishings of the priests, as well as altar ornaments, the trifling and farce play which we now see in the Mass, with all the other garniture.

__________________________________________________________________

     Christian Classics Ethereal Library / Public Domain      Institutes of the Christian Religion


  • Divine & Human Community
  • History Matters
  • Jesus' Divinity

#1   Richard Bauckham

 

#2    Richard Bauckham

 

#3    Richard Bauckham

 


     Devotionals, notes, poetry and more

coram Deo
     6/1/2011    Keeping the Lord’s Day

     In the summer of 1999, I was studying the Lutheran Reformation in eastern Germany with a group of fellow American graduate students. After attending a Sunday morning worship service at the Stadtkirche in Wittenberg, where Martin Luther often preached, we made our way south to Halle, the birthplace of G. F. Handel and seventeenth-century German pietism. Just ten years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, eastern Germany was at the height of its revitalization efforts, the Deutsche Mark was still the currency, and on Sundays most of the small-town shops and restaurants were closed in observance of the Lord’s Day. After I stepped off the train in Halle, I saw signs of protest everywhere I looked. The people of Halle were protesting the opening of a city-sanctioned, public marketplace on the Lord’s Day. What for centuries had been a quiet town square on Sundays was now a busy marketplace, and many of the citizens, whose heritage was being threatened, were protesting.

     I don’t offer this account of my experience in order to reveal my sympathies with Halle’s citizens but simply to provide a point of reference concerning a real issue with which many people continue to struggle as they attempt to understand and apply what the Word of God teaches about the Christian Sabbath.

     Some Christians might be tempted to think that the entire Sabbath issue is an irrelevant discussion among old-fashioned traditionalists that has little bearing on our enlightened, twenty-first century lives. However, with our continued quest for that which most quickly and instantly gratifies, along with the emergence of the personal home computer, the portable laptop, the smart phone, and our increasingly entertainmentfueled societies, there has perhaps never been a better time for us to stop and revisit the most basic biblical questions about our most practical, biblical theology of work, worship, mercy, fellowship, and rest.

     From God’s rest and blessing of the seventh day in Genesis to John’s account of being in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day in the book of Revelation, the Bible is full of references to the Sabbath. Nevertheless, careful students of Scripture throughout the ages, from Augustine to Luther to John Calvin to John Knox to John Owen to Jonathan Edwards, have not always agreed in their interpretation and, thus, their application of what the Bible teaches about this most fundamental theological issue. Therefore, in this issue of Tabletalk, we offer Christians a theological forum on the Lord’s Day in order to help us to more rightly handle and live according to the Word of Truth for our good and God’s glory.

     click here for article source

     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)

American Minute
     by Bill Federer

     He sent Paul Revere on his midnight ride to warn Lexington that the British were coming. A Harvard graduate, he was a successful doctor in Boston, but left his comfortable career when the British passed the hated "Stamp Act." With Samuel Adams, he organized the Provincial Congress to protest. Courageously fighting in the Battle of Bunker Hill, a monument marks the spot where he died. His name was Joseph Warren, born this day, June 11, 1741. Warren stated: "If you perform your part, you must have the strongest confidence that the same Almighty Being who protected your… forefathers… will still be mindful of you."

American Minute

Lean Into God
     Compiled by Richard S. Adams

All that I have seen
teaches me to trust God
for all I have not seen.
--- Author Unknown
Expecting: Praying for Your Child's Development_Body and Soul

He who kneels before God
can stand before anyone.
--- Author Unknown
Random Thoughts Of An Old Man

Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just.
--- Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson Himself: The Personal Narrative of a Many-Sided American

... from here, there and everywhere


The Shema: Spirituality and Law in Judaism
     CHAPTER 7 / “The Lord Is One”:
     Kabbalistic Interpretations


     Hence, when we recite the Shema, what we must meditate on is this two-part notion that the “Higher Unification,” is “from His side,” while the “Lower Unification” is “from our side.” This must be our kavvanah, what we must bear in mind with all the powers of concentration at our command, when we recite the Shema, in keeping with the Talmud’s dictum, “Once you have declared Him king over (all that is) above and below and the four corners of the heavens, no more is required” (Berakhot 13b).

     The virtue of the above interpretation is that it reconciles two divergent tendencies: the philosophical-mystical concept of divinity, which is so rarefied and abstract, so genuinely radical, that it cannot be compared or connected to the material world; and the dialogic nature of divinity expressed in the Torah, which focuses on the personality of God rather than on His existence, on relationship rather than on ontology. Or put another way, the biblical verse of the Shema that denies ontological validity (i.e., “reality”) to the rest of the phenomenal world—including human beings—envisions God as beyond personality, beyond relationship; indeed, if God alone is real and all else is but illusion, then the whole notion of “personality” is meaningless. In contrast, the verse Barukh shem kevod affirms and validates both human and divine personality; what this perspective loses in the realm of pure unity it gains in the vitality of dynamic relationship.

     Strongly opposed to R. Shneur Zalman and R. Ḥayyim’s interpretation is the view of the Ziditchover. (5) He faults their acosmic concept as too recondite, too “philosophical”—a term that, in those days and in those circles, was tantamount to a charge of heresy. He is clearly very uncomfortable with the pantheism that is the other side of the coin of acosmism: “there is nothing but God” points the way to “everything is God.” Hasidic immanentism (or panentheism) (6) always had to combat this charge of pantheism leveled at it by mitnagdic circles; with this metaphysical debate, it now emerges in intra-hasidic polemics as well.

(5)     On the Ziditchover, see my The Religious Thought of Hasidism (Hoboken, N.J.: Ktav Publishing, in progress), chapter I, selection 4, and notes thereto.

(6)     From pan-en-theos, “all is in God” instead of pantheism, that “all is God.” Pantheism denies any divine existence outside the universe because it identifies Him with the cosmos. Panentheism grants His immanence in the cosmos, and certainly holds Him to be the Cause of the world and its ontological anchor, but asserts that His existence is not limited to the world. The concept is strikingly similar to the dictum of R. Ami in the Midrash (Genesis Rabbah, 68:9; see too Exodus Rabbah, 45:6 and Tanḥuma to Ki Tissa), “He is the place of the world, but the world is not His place.”

     But one gathers from the Ziditchover’s critique that he opposes his colleagues’ radical interpretation of divine unity not only because it courts heretical notions of God, but also because it veers too far from ordinary experience to be religiously compelling; indeed, by denying ordinary daily experience, it distances the notion of divine Oneness from all but the most sophisticated worshiper. The warmth, the passion, the all-absorbing commitment to God that we ought to feel when reciting the Shema fails to stir within us; instead, we only experience such sentiments when reciting the non-biblical verse, the Barukh shem kevod. Thus, even the most learned worshiper is thereby estranged from the Shema itself.

     How then does the Ziditchover distinguish between the two terms of the Zohar and the two verses of the Shema? He points to the different directions that each of the two verses implies. The biblical verse, he says, points upward, “from below to above”; the traditional verse points to the reverse direction, “from above to below.” Of course, “direction” must not be taken literally. In kabbalistic usage, “above” indicates the cause, and “below,” the effect. So, when we recite the Shema and proclaim the “Higher Unification,” we proceed from below to above, elevating our thoughts from the realm of multiplicity and fragmentation to the pure unity of the First Cause. We ascend mentally from world to world, toward greater oneness, purity, and holiness, from effect to cause, until we attain the highest of the empyrean worlds.

     The “Higher Unification” is identified with the Tetragrammaton, the divine Four-Letter Name translated as “the Lord” and conventionally referred to as Hashem. This Name represents pure unity and also denotes kelaliut, or comprehensiveness. The “Lower Unification” is signified by the Name Elohim, “God,” and denotes the active principle of the world—representing only a perat, or detail, within the comprehensiveness of “the Lord.”

     Therefore, when we recite the Shema, we encounter the “Higher Unification” of which the Zohar speaks, ascending from Elohim to Hashem, from “God” to “the Lord,” uniting the former with the latter as we ascend from a lowel to a higher level. We move from “below to above,” our mind striving to comprehend the utter unity of the divine First Cause, as we affirm a unity in which the dynamic principle of the non-divine realms, the “detail,” expressed in the Name Elohim, is absorbed into the cosmic comprehensiveness of the Tetragrammaton. We include ourselves along with human souls, with all things living and inanimate, with all the worlds both astronomical and spiritual—in an awesome and loving fellowship of all existence, elevating them with us to the One, the Cause of all causes, “He who is One and not part of counting.” In this way the Name Elohim is united with the Ineffable Name, the Tetragrammaton, and in their unity they reach to Eḥad, the First Cause. This, then, is the expression of the “Higher Unification”: the elevation of all worlds to the Ein Sof, an ascending spiritual movement driven by the profound yearning (8) of the soul to unite with the Ein Sof, a soul ready to abandon all and to sacrifice all for the sake of that union.

(8)     In kabbalistic language, this yearning is referred to as mayyim nukvin, “female waters.”

     As for the “Lower Unification,” we reverse direction moving from above to below:

     After we have raised and have ourselves risen to be united with the “One” in truth, then we draw down, by virtue of the unification that pertains to Barukh shem kevod, the effluence (shefa) of His will, [opening] the channels of the blessing from the One (9) … and drawing down His love from its source in the ineffable Name (“the Lord”) to this world.… This is known as the “Lower Unification,” for we draw down the Ancient of Ancients to be with and unite with us here below … in the world of Malkhut (“kingdom”) … the Above uniting with the Below.

(9)     In kabbalistic language, mayyim dukhrin, “male waters,” the divine desire to give—the counterpart of the “female waters,” the human desire to receive and be accepted.

     According to the Ziditchover, when we recite the Shema, we acknowledge that our lives, normally so fragmented and atomized, so disconnected and chaotic—can become integrated, along with all the rest of the created world, only in the unity of the Creator Himself. Thus, in reciting Barukh shem kevod, we pray that the shefa, the divine fullness of relationship, an effluence of sanctity and blessing, flows down from God in His perfect unity, until it unites with us in this World of Fragmentation, the alma de’peruda.

     Not only does the Ziditchover’s meditation help effect divine unification; it also aids in healing the human soul, which is so frequently fractured as a consequence of sin. For sin introduces the element of incoherence into an individual’s personality. When I sin, theory and practice, rhetoric and praxis, go in opposite directions. Although I firmly believe one way, I conduct myself otherwise. Sin causes dissonance within me; it disrupts the integrity and rhythm of my character. In sinning, I find myself in opposition to divine Oneness. But the Ziditchover’s meditation summons me to restore the unity of my own soul.

     For R. Shneur Zalman and R. Ḥayyim, the two first verses of the Shema are complementary, one issuing from the divine and the other from the human perspective and both dealing with the theme of Oneness. For the Ziditchover, they are different thematically: the biblical verse affirms oneness as we elevate ourselves and, along with ourselves, all of creation by reaching out to the holy and pure One; the following verse is a plea, a petition, to that One to open the channels of His love and blessing to those who inhabit His earthly domain. The Ziditchover’s interpretation runs no risk of pantheistic deviation, and it is assumed to be “non-philosophical.” God’s unity remains the primary theme of the Shema; the inserted traditional verse then serves as a prayer to God rather than an affirmation about Him. (12)

(12)     Hence, for the Ziditchover it is quite legitimate to think of reciting the Shema without necessarily adding immediately the Barukh shem kevod, since the two are independent of each other. The tradition concerning Jacob’s recital of the Barukh shem kevod is a historic coincidence, but that inserted verse has no inherent connection to the Shema verse. For the acosmists, however, the two are intimately linked and of necessity must appear together at every liturgical mention of the Shema. Given this difference between them, the recitation of the Shema verse during the Kedushah of the Sabbath Musaf service, without the concomitant Barukh shem kevod, is understandable according to the Ziditchover but poses a problem of sorts for R. Shneur Zalman and R. Ḥayyim.

     One of the significant corollaries to the theology of R. Shneur Zalman and R. Ḥayyim Volozhiner is the high value placed on bittul ha-yesh, the mental nullification of one’s very being. The spiritual annihilation of the ego has always been advocated in the quietistic trends of the Kabbalah, which emphasize and value human passivity before God. Such a belief articulates especially well with a theology nullifying all non-divine existence, as in the radical interpretation of the first verse of the Shema.

     Both R. Shneur Zalman and R. Ḥayyim were strongly influenced by the Lurianic tradition of Kabbalah that is characterized by a generalized asceticism. While the theme of self-abnegation and a streak of asceticism run throughout much of rabbinic thinking in post-Lurianic generations, (13) this was by no means unanimously accepted. Thus, for example, R. Zadok Hakohen writes:

(13)     Max Kadushin has pointed out that in the Talmud, wherever we find ascetic references they are not meant for their own sake as a way of attaining the spiritual by suppressing the corporeal but, rather, for the sake of the study of Torah. See his Organic Thinking (New York: Bloch Publishing, 1938), pp. 53–7.

     Just as a man must believe in God, so must he, afterwards, believe in himself, that is, [he must believe] that God relates to him, that he is not an idle laborer who is here today and gone tomorrow. He must believe that his soul issues from the [divine] Source of all Life, and that God delights in him and derives pleasure from him when he carries out His will.

     For R. Zadok, we reach the acme of our spiritual development not by negating our existence but, on the contrary, by affirming our autonomous selfhood as creatures worthy of confronting our Creator and serving Him out of that conviction.

     Although other hasidic thinkers as well were opposed to this radical interpretation of the Shema, Ḥabad Hasidism understandably supports this view articulated by its founder, the author of the Tanya. Indeed, R. Shneur Zalman’s view is sometimes affirmed in hyperbolic, often presumptuous terms, to the point of declaring the opposing view halakhically invalid, even though halakhic judgment on this matter remains ambiguous. (15) But an occasional expression of ideological jingoism should not blind us to the sophistication of R. Shneur Zalman and R. Ḥayyim’s interpretation, though it is not easily accessible to minds unaccustomed to thinking dialectically. Their paradoxical explanation of the Zohar’s “Higher Unification” and “Lower Unification” is truly admirable.

(15)     Thus, Rabbi Avraham Chanoch Glitzenstein (Or ha-Ḥasidut [Brooklyn: Kehat Otzar Hachasidim, 1965], p. 34f) regards the standard, i.e., non-acosmic, view as heresy. But how can one regard as heretical that which so many generations before the end of the eighteenth century accepted as genuine Jewish doctrine? The all-too-easy answer offered is that novel interpretations of the Oral Law obligate only the future, not the past; for just as in strictly halakhic matters once a ruling is universally accepted, all other views remain outside the pale of Halakha, so with regard to theological issues, specifically those that were “revealed” in Hasidism.

     Yet despite the intellectual appeal of their view, it lacks the emotional satisfaction and spiritual uplift of the Ziditchover interpretation. The latter is religious rather than theological. To identify ourselves with all the human fraternity and all of creation is a particularly inspiring experience. And as we ascend in our prayer to the absolute One who opens up for us the channels of His relatedness, of His divine blessing and healing, we feel that our broken and incoherent lives are made whole as we join in declaring God’s unity. In the divine yiḥud, we ourselves become one.


  The Shema: Spirituality and Law in Judaism

History of the Destruction of Jerusalem
     Thanks to Meir Yona

     5. Now as Antigonus had a mind to appear to exceed Herod, not only in the courage, but in the number of his men, he sent Pappus, one of his companions, with an army against Samaria, whose fortune it was to oppose Machaerus; but Herod overran the enemy's country, and demolished five little cities, and destroyed two thousand men that were in them, and burned their houses, and then returned to his camp; but his head-quarters were at the village called Cana.

     6. Now a great multitude of Jews resorted to him every day, both out of Jericho and the other parts of the country. Some were moved so to do out of their hatred to Antigonus, and some out of regard to the glorious actions Herod had done; but others were led on by an unreasonable desire of change; so he fell upon them immediately. As for Pappus and his party, they were not terrified either at their number or at their zeal, but marched out with great alacrity to fight them; and it came to a close fight. Now other parts of their army made resistance for a while; but Herod, running the utmost hazard, out of the rage he was in at the murder of his brother, that he might be avenged on those that had been the authors of it, soon beat those that opposed him; and after he had beaten them, he always turned his force against those that stood to it still, and pursued them all; so that a great slaughter was made, while some were forced back into that village whence they came out; he also pressed hard upon the hindermost, and slew a vast number of them; he also fell into the village with the enemy, where every house was filled with armed men, and the upper rooms were crowded above with soldiers for their defense; and when he had beaten those that were on the outside, he pulled the houses to pieces, and plucked out those that were within; upon many he had the roofs shaken down, whereby they perished by heaps; and as for those that fled out of the ruins, the soldiers received them with their swords in their hands; and the multitude of those slain and lying on heaps was so great, that the conquerors could not pass along the roads. Now the enemy could not bear this blow, so that when the multitude of them which was gathered together saw that those in the village were slain, they dispersed themselves, and fled away; upon the confidence of which victory, Herod had marched immediately to Jerusalem, unless he tad been hindered by the depth of winter's [coming on]. This was the impediment that lay in the way of this his entire glorious progress, and was what hindered Antigonus from being now conquered, who was already disposed to forsake the city.

     7. Now when at the Evening Herod had already dismissed his friends to refresh themselves after their fatigue, and when he was gone himself, while he was still hot in his armor, like a common soldier, to bathe himself, and had but one servant that attended him, and before he was gotten into the bath, one of the enemies met him in the face with a sword in his hand, and then a second, and then a third, and after that more of them; these were men who had run away out of the battle into the bath in their armor, and they had lain there for some time in, great terror, and in privacy; and when they saw the king, they trembled for fear, and ran by him in a flight, although he was naked, and endeavored to get off into the public road. Now there was by chance nobody else at hand that might seize upon these men; and for Herod, he was contented to have come to no harm himself, so that they all got away in safety.

     8. But on the next day Herod had Pappus's head cut off, who was the general for Antigonus, and was slain in the battle, and sent it to his brother Pheroras, by way of punishment for their slain brother; for he was the man that slew Joseph. Now as winter was going off, Herod marched to Jerusalem, and brought his army to the wall of it; this was the third year since he had been made king at Rome; so he pitched his camp before the temple, for on that side it might be besieged, and there it was that Pompey took the city. So he parted the work among the army, and demolished the suburbs, end raised three banks, and gave orders to have towers built upon those banks, and left the most laborious of his acquaintance at the works. But he went himself to Samaria, to take the daughter of Alexander, the son of Aristobulus, to wife, who had been betrothed to him before, as we have already said; and thus he accomplished this by the by, during the siege of the city, for he had his enemies in great contempt already.

     9. When he had thus married Mariamne, he came back to Jerusalem with a greater army. Sosius also joined him with a large army, both of horsemen and footmen, which he sent before him through the midland parts, while he marched himself along Phoenicia; and when the whole army was gotten together, which were eleven regiments of footmen, and six thousand horsemen, besides the Syrian auxiliaries, which were no small part of the army, they pitched their camp near to the north wall. Herod's dependence was upon the decree of the senate, by which he was made king; and Sosius relied upon Antony, who sent the army that was under him to Herod's assistance.

     The Project Gutenberg EBook of The Wars of the Jews or History of the Destruction of Jerusalem, by Flavius Josephus Translator: William Whiston

The War of the Jews: The History of the Destruction of Jerusalem (complete edition, 7 books)

Proverbs 19:7
     by D.H. Stern

7     A poor man’s relatives all hate him;
even more his friends stay away from him.
He may pursue them with entreaties,
but they aren’t there to be found.


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

                Getting there

     
Where the sin and the sorrow cease, and the song and the saint commence. Come unto Me. --- Matthew 11:28.

     Do I want to get there? I can now. The questions that matter in life are remarkably few, and they are all answered by the words—“Come unto Me.” Not—‘Do this, or don’t do that’; but—“Come unto Me.” If I will come to Jesus my actual life will be brought into accordance with my real desires; I will actually cease from sin, and actually find the song of the Lord begin.

     Have you ever come to Jesus? Watch the stubbornness of your heart, you will do anything rather than the one simple childlike thing—“Come unto Me.” If you want the actual experience of ceasing from sin, you must come to Jesus.

     Jesus Christ makes Himself the touchstone. Watch how He used the word ‘Come.’ At the most unexpected moments there is the whisper of the Lord—“Come unto Me.” and you are drawn immediately. Personal contact with Jesus alters everything. Be stupid enough to come and commit yourself to what He says. The attitude of coming is that the will resolutely lets go of everything and deliberately commits all to Him.

     “and I will give you rest,” i.e., I will stay you. Not—I will put you to bed and hold your hand and sing you to sleep; but—I will get you out of bed, out of the languor and exhaustion, out of the state of being half dead while you are alive; I will imbue you with the spirit of life, and you will be stayed by the perfection of vital activity. We get pathetic and talk about ‘suffering the will of the Lord!’ Where is the majestic vitality and might of the Son of God about that?


My Utmost for His Highest

Never Despair
     the Poetry of RS Thomas


                Never Despair

Do you despair with all
     these conurbations above you?

     They are the legions the God-
     Man was unwilling to summon.

     After the last symphony, the last
     painting, electricity will continue.

     There are new forms and new media
     the brilliance of his mind blinds us to.

     When from the human tree the last
     leaf will have fallen on the last grave.

     the tree of heaven will be alive still
     with thoughts resting momentarily
          on migration.

Selected Poems, 1946-68

Searching For Meaning In Midrash
     OUTLINE OF MIDRASH COLLECTIONS
     USED IN THIS BOOK


     By and large, most of the Midrash was composed in the land of Israel. There is a core of material that goes back to the second and third centuries. Midrashim may have originally been delivered orally in the synagogue, on Shabbat, as RS Thomas, or they may have been taught as lessons or written down in the beit midrash, the study house. Decades or centuries later that same material may have been compiled, reworked, and edited, with later teachings added, into the written form that has come down to us.

     The earliest material goes back to the Tanna'im, the Rabbis who taught until the codification of the Mishnah, around the year 220 C.E. Some scholars have held that during this period there were two main schools of Midrash, that of Rabbi Akiva, and that of Rabbi Yishmael. Those two schools have been identified not only by the teachers associated with them but also by methodology and use of technical terms. Scholars today attempt to date Midrash collections by their language and use of foreign words, allusion to datable historic events, and by the earlier material that is quoted.

     "As was noted above, the content of midrashim falls into two broad categories: הֲלָכָה/halakhah (legal matters) and אַגָּדָה/aggadah (nonlegal matters, including RS Thomas, legends, stories, and folklore). In terms of form, there are also two main divisions. The first kind of Midrash, including the earliest texts, are exegetic. Exegesis (from the Greek "to guide out") refers to the interpretation of a biblical passage. In the exegetic midrashim, we see a chapter-by-chapter, verse-by-verse explanation of a biblical book. This type of material seems to have originated in the academic environment of the beit midrash. The second type of Midrash is homiletic. A homily (from the Greek meaning "assembly") is a sermon. Some scholars hold that a sermon was developed from a verse at the beginning of the weekly Torah reading. (While current practice is to divide the Torah into 54 weekly parashot or parashiyot, or portions, and to complete the reading cycle in a year, in Israel during the Rabbinic period the custom was to divide the Torah into over 150 sedarim, or sections, which were completed in a little over three years.) Thus, some homilies may have originated at the Shabbat synagogue service, though even if they did, they were later reworked into sophisticated literary creations.

     "Midrashim developed formal structures over time, with several possible elements. There was the פְּתִיחָה/petiḥah (the introduction, which scholars call the proem). This was a formal "opening" to the Midrash; it began by quoting a different verse from the one that was being interpreted. This verse was often from Kethuvim (the "Writings"), the third section of the Hebrew Bible. Part of the artistry of the darshan (the one delivering or teaching the sermon) was to tie together creatively the verse beginning the petiḥah and the Torah verse being explicated.

     "Another element in some midrashim was the יְלַמְּדֵנוּ/Yelammedenu ([Our Masters,] teach us …), a halakhic question that served as the introduction to the sermon. Following the body of the Midrash, many of these RS Thomas ended with a חֲתִימָה/ḥatimah, a "closing" that concluded with a message of hope for the messianic deliverance.

     "It should be noted that there are many other collections of Midrash and that midrashic material is found extensively throughout the Talmud. The Midrash texts presented in this book are new translations from the original Hebrew and Aramaic. We have attempted to capture as genuinely as possible the authentic words and thoughts of the Rabbis. Occasionally, for the sake of clarity, we have added a word or phrase in brackets. Furthermore, while traditional Midrash collections are printed unpunctuated, our translation has added punctuation. Here are brief descriptions of the collections of Midrash that have been used in this volume.

     "GENESIS RABBAH (HEBREW: בְּרֵאשִׁית רַבָּה/BERESHIT RABBAH)

     "An exegetic Midrash to the Book of Genesis, arranged in its current form in the first half of the fifth century. There are one hundred parashiyot, which are characterized by the petiḥot (many sections have more than one). This was the first collection to have the title "Rabbah" ("great"). Some say it comes from the name of the first Rabbi mentioned in the opening line (Oshaya Rabbah); others claim the title designates the "great" collection of Midrash, as opposed to a lesser book. The other Rabbah midrashim (Exodus, Leviticus, etc.) are not related but took on the title when they were compiled.

     "EXODUS RABBAH (HEBREW: שְׁמוֹת רַבָּה/SHEMOT RABBAH)

     "There are two distinct parts to this Midrash. Part I (encompassing sections 1–14) is an exegetic commentary to the first ten chapters of the Book of Exodus. It was redacted after the tenth century. Part II (sections 15–52) is a homiletic Midrash on Exodus 12–40, compiled in the ninth century. It has halakhic petiḥot, which introduce aggadic homilies. The two parts were combined sometime in the eleventh or twelfth centuries.

     "MEKHILTA DE-RABBI YISHMAEL (HEBREW: מְכִילְתָא דְּרַבִּי יִשְׁמָעֵאל)

     "An exegetic halakhic Midrash to the legal sections of Exodus (chapters 12–23, 31, 35), with much, aggadah added. It includes tannaitic material, with many subsequent additions and redactions. It has been attributed to the school of Rabbi Yishmael and is dated to the first half of the third century.

     "LEVITICUS RABBAH (HEBREW: וַיִּקְרָא רַבָּה/VA-YIKRA RABBAH)

     "A collection of interpretations based on the third book of the Torah. The sections are all introduced by petiḥot, and some conclude with a ḥatimah. Given the subject matter of much of Leviticus (sacrifices and purity), this Midrash remarkably avoids dealing with ritual matters. It was composed in the fifth century.

     "SIFRA (HEBREW: סִפְרָא/SIFRA [DEBERAV], also known as סִפְרָא דְּבֵי רָב/SIFRA DEVEI RAV)

     "A halakhic, exegetic Midrash to the Book of Leviticus seen by some as emanating from the school of Rabbi Akiva. The core goes back to the second century, and the work was redacted in the early third century.

     "NUMBERS RABBAH (HEBREW: בְּמִדְבַּר רַבָּה/BE-MIDBAR RABBAH)

     "This collection is composed of two different sections. Part I (sections 1–14) begins as an exegetic Midrash to the first seven chapters of the Book of Numbers, but contains homiletic sections as well. It may have been compiled in the middle of the twelfth century and is seen by some as based on the work of Moshe ha-Darshan (eleventh and twelfth centuries, Narbonne). Part II (sections 15–23) is a homiletic Midrash to Numbers 8–36, which may have been compiled in the ninth century. The two parts were combined by the beginning of the thirteenth century.

     "SIFREI NUMBERS (HEBREW: סִפְרֵי בְּמִדְבַּר/SIFREI BE-MIDBAR)

     "An exegetic halakhic commentary to the Book of Numbers. It begins with the fifth chapter of Numbers and omits the narrative portions. Attributed to the school of Rabbi Yishmael, it was edited sometime in the early third century (and possibly not before the end of the fourth century).

     "DEUTERONOMY RABBAH (HEBREW: דְּבָרִים רַבָּה/DEVARIM RABBAH)

     "A collection of twenty-seven homilies that are tied to the triennial cycle of the Torah reading. The homily begins with a halakhic question that is followed by a פְּתִיחָה/petiḥah; this leads into the body of the sermon, which is often concluded with words of comfort. Deuteronomy Rabbah is dated somewhere between 450 and 1100 C.E.

     "SIFREI DEUTERONOMY (HEBREW: סִפְרֵי דְּבָרִים/SIFREI DEVARIM)

     "An exegetic commentary to the Book of Deuteronomy attributed by some to the school of Rabbi Akiva, though it is clear that the book is a composite. It was edited in the early third century.

     "TANḤUMA (HEBREW: תַּנְחוּמָא)

     "A style or genre of Midrash. There are many Tanḥuma midrashim. The most famous is a collection of homiletic midrashim on all five books of the Torah. The name comes from the frequent mention of Rabbi Tanḥuma bar Abba (second half of the fourth century). It is also referred to as Yelammedenu—the opening word in many of its sections, which means "[Our Masters] teach us.…" This introduced a halakhic petiḥah to the aggadic homily. Tanḥuma was edited around the year 800 C.E.

     "YALKUT SHIMONI (HEBREW: יַלְקוּט שִׁמְעו̇נִי)

     "An anthology of midrashim to the entire Bible, compiled from more than fifty works. The first part (963 sections) deals with the Torah; the second part (1,085 sections) covers the Prophets and the Writings. The author is thought to be Shimon ha-Darshan, who lived in Frankfort in the thirteenth century.


Searching for Meaning in Midrash: Lessons for Everyday Living

3. God Pronounces the Sentence (Hosea 8:1–10:15)
     W. W. Wiersbe

     "For the second time, Hosea calls for the trumpet to be blown (8:1; 5:8). According to Numbers 10, the Jews used trumpets to announce special occasions, to sound alarms, to gather the people for assemblies, and to proclaim war. This call was a trumpet of alarm because the enemy was coming and God was giving His people opportunity to repent. Hosea again used a number of familiar images to show the people what God would do to them because of their sin.

     The eagle (Hosea 8:1–6). "The house of the Lord" refers to the nation of Israel, for the people were God's dwelling-place (9:15; Ex. 15:17; Num. 12:7). The Assyrian eagle was about to swoop down and destroy God's house because the nation was given over to idolatry, and the leaders were not seeking God's will in their decisions. They made kings and removed kings to satisfy their own desires, and they manufactured gods (especially the golden calves at Bethel and Dan) that could not help them. (Dr. Leon Wood translates Hosea 8:5, "Your calf stinks!" The Expositor's Bible Commentary: Daniel and the Minor Prophets (Volume 7))

     Sowing and reaping (Hosea 8:7). The concept of sowing and reaping as it relates to conduct is often used in Scripture (Job 4:8; Prov. 22:8; Jer. 12:13; Gal. 6:7–8), and Hosea used it twice (Hosea 8:7; 10:12–13). In their idolatry and political alliances, the Israelites were trying to sow seeds that would produce a good harvest, but they were only sowing the wind—vanity, nothing—and would reap the whirlwind. Nothing could stop the force of the Assyrian army. The harvest would be more powerful than the seed!

     The sowing/reaping image continues with the picture of a blighted crop of grain. The rulers of Israel thought their worship of Baal and their foreign alliances would produce a good crop of peace and prosperity; but when the time came for the harvest, there was nothing to reap. And even where heads of grain did appear, the enemy reaped the harvest and Israel gained nothing. In the image of the wind, Hosea said, "You will reap far more than you sowed, and it will be destructive!" In the image of the grain, he said, "You will reap nothing at all, and your enemies will get the benefit of all the promises you made."

     Worthless pottery (Hosea 8:8). There was no grain for Israel to swallow, but she herself would be "swallowed up" by Assyria. She was a useless vessel "in which no one delights" (NASB). Their compromise had so cheapened them that Israel was of no value to the community of nations. Nobody feared them, nobody courted them, nobody wanted them.

     A stupid donkey (Hosea 8:9a) Israel wanted to be a part of the alliances that were forming to fight Assyria, but she was actually very much alone. She was like a dumb animal that had lost its way in the wilderness. Israel had forsaken her God, and she had been forsaken by her allies, so she was abandoned to face a terrible future alone.

     A prostitute (Hosea 8:9b–10). In negotiating with the Gentile nations for protection, Ephraim (Israel) acted like a common prostitute selling herself for money. Israel's kings paid tribute to the king of Assyria and also sent gifts to Egypt (12:1). Instead of being faithful to her Husband, Jehovah God, Israel prostituted herself to the Gentile nations—and lost everything. God promised to gather them together for judgment and they would "waste away" (NIV) under the ruthless hand of the Assyrian king.

     Egyptian bondage (Hosea 8:11–9:9). Hosea mentions Egypt thirteen times in his book, and these references fall into three distinct categories: past—the Exodus of the Jews from Egypt (2:15; 11:1; 12:9, 13; 13:4); present—Israel's unholy alliances with Egypt (7:11, 16; 12:1); future—Egypt as a symbol of their impending bondage to Assyria (8:13; 9:3, 6; 11:5, 11). Three times in this section, the prophet announces, "They shall go to Egypt" (8:13; 9:3, 6); but 11:5 makes it clear that "Egypt" is a symbol for Assyrian bondage: "He shall not return to the land of Egypt; but the Assyrian shall be his king" (NKJV).

     The prophet contrasts the past Exodus from the bondage of Egypt with the impending "exodus" into bondage of Assyria, the new "Egypt." When the Jews left Egypt, they had not yet received the Law nor did they have the tabernacle and its system of sacrifices. But now the Jews had heard the Law for centuries, and the temple had been standing since Solomon's time. Yet they ignored the Law, and the priesthood became corrupt. The NIV catches the irony in 8:11, "Though Ephraim built many altars for sin offerings, these have become altars for sinning."

     Instead of trusting the Lord to protect her from Assyria, Israel fortified her towns and sought help from foreign nations, and from a spiritual point of view, this was like prostitution. (During the harvest season, prostitutes frequented the threshing floors where the men slept to guard the grain.) The harvest season was a time of great joy (Isa. 9:3), but there would be no joy in Israel. And when the people ended up in a foreign land, everything would be unclean to them, but they were an unclean people anyway, so what difference would it make?

     Agriculture (Hosea 9:10–10:10). God reviews the history of His relationship with the Jews. You don't find grapes in the desert, but if you did, it would thrill you. That's how God felt when He called Israel. The early fruit of the fig tree is especially good, and Israel was special to the Lord. But this joyful experience didn't last, for King Balak gave Israel her first taste of Baal worship, and the nation indulged in idolatry and immorality with its neighbors (Num. 25).

     God planted His people in a special land, but they polluted the land with their idols (Hosea 9:13). The more prosperous they became, the more they turned away from God. Now they must suffer a bitter harvest for their sins, they and their children. (The adults sin and the children have to suffer: "Ephraim shall bring forth his children to the murderer" (9:13, KJV). When Hosea speaks in verse 14, he asks God to keep the women from having children so they won't be murdered. He is pleading for mercy for the innocent.) The nation is blighted, having no roots and bearing no fruits. She was a "spreading vine" (10:1, niv), but now she is without fruit. (The vine as a symbol of the Jewish nation is also found in Deuteronomy 32:32; Psalm 80:8–11; Isaiah 5:1–7; and Jeremiah 2:21. The vine also pictures Christ and His church (John 15) and the Gentile world system ripening for judgment in the last days (Rev. 14:17–20).) These agricultural images remind us that we reap what we sow.

     There's an interesting agricultural image in 10:4, "Therefore lawsuits spring up like poisonous weeds in a plowed field" (NIV). People couldn't trust one another and few were keeping their promises; therefore, they had to sue one another to get what they deserved. The multiplying of laws and lawsuits is one evidence that integrity and credibility are vanishing from society.

     The final agricultural image is in verse 8: the idolatrous shrines will become nothing but clumps and weeds, and the people will beg the Lord to destroy them quickly (v. 8; see Luke 23:30 and Rev. 6:16).

     Twice in this passage, Hosea mentions "the days of Gibeah" (Hosea 9:9; 10:9). The reference is to the awful sins of the men of Gibeah and the tragic civil war that followed (Jud. 19–21). The men of Gibeah practiced unnatural lust and killed an innocent woman in a gang rape episode. The city would not punish the offenders, so the whole nation attacked Benjamin and almost destroyed the tribe. In Hosea's day, all the ten tribes of Israel were practicing these abominable things, but God would judge them and they would reap what they had sown.(The references to Israel's past history —Baal-Peor (Hosea 9:10) and Gibeah (9:9; 10:9)—show that "the only thing we learn from history is that we don't learn from history." Both of these events brought the judgment of God on the nation, yet later generations turned a blind eye to this fact. The sins of the fathers are committed by their children—and grandchildren.)

     The chapter closes (Hosea 10:11–15) by comparing Israel to a young heifer that enjoys treading out the grain because she can eat and work at the same time. But then she is yoked to another beast and forced to do the hard work of plowing. Israel's "salad days' were over and she would feel the Assyrian yoke.

     In verse 12, the prophet gives one more appeal to the nation to repent and seek the Lord. "Fallow ground" is land that has lain idle and become hard and full of weeds. This appeal sounds like the preaching of John the Baptist: "Repent! Bear fruits worthy of repentance!" (Matt. 3:1–12) The plow of conviction must first break up hard hearts before the seed of the Word can be planted and the gracious rain be sent from heaving.

     The nation did not repent, and judgment fell. In 722 B.C., the Assyrian army invaded the land, and the ten tribes as a nation vanished from the pages of history. (Any group that calls itself "the lost tribes of Israel" is suspect, for only God knows where all the tribes are. See Acts 26:7; James 1:1; and Revelation 7:1–8.

     Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people" (Prov. 14:34, NKJV).

     "Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord" (Ps. 33:12, NKJV).


Be Amazed (Minor Prophets): Restoring an Attitude of Wonder and Worship (The BE Series Commentary)

Terminological Distinctions
     Eerdmans Dictionary of Early Judaism

     For clarity and to avoid maximalist overinterpretation, it is essential to distinguish between terms or realities that are closely associated with the concept of canon but are not identical with it. An authoritative work is one which a group, whether secular or religious, recognizes and accepts as determinative for its conduct, and as of a higher order than can be overridden by the power or will of the group or any member. An example would be a constitution or law code. A book of Scripture is a sacred authoritative work believed to have God as its ultimate author, which the community recognizes and accepts as determinative for its belief and practice; it is not necessarily a fixed text but may be still developing and circulating in several textual forms. A collection of authoritative Scriptures, as opposed to a canon, is an open collection to which more books can be added. Certainly such a collection was recognized as fundamental to the Jewish religion from sometime in the first half of the Second Temple period; at that time it was probably confined to the Law of Moses, as attested by the OG translation of the Pentateuch and the Samaritan canon. According to the distinction between “a collection of authoritative books” and “an authoritative collection of books,” throughout the Second Temple period the collection was growing and thus there was not yet a canon.

     A canon, as defined above, is a religious body’s official, definitively debated and permanently decided, exclusive list of inspired, authoritative books that constitute its recognized corpus of sacred Scripture. The Bible, in the singular, denotes a textual form of the collection of canonical books. In contrast to the canon, which is the normative list of the books, the Bible is the text of that collection of books, conceived of as a single anthology, and usually presented physically as such. Thus, the term is probably anachronistic prior to the codex format of the collection. “The Scriptures” can be an open collection, but the “Bible” connotes an already closed collection.

     The canonical process is the journey of the many disparate works of literature within the ongoing community from their early stages when they began to be considered as somehow authoritative, through the sifting and endorsement process, to the final judgment concerning their inspired character as the unified and defined collection of Scripture—that is, until the reflective judgment of recognition that officially constituted the canon. Canon as such is a static concept, the result of a retrospective conclusion that something has come to be. Until that final decision is reached, process toward canon or canonical process is preferable. Some speak of an “open canon” or of “adaptability” as the primary characteristic of the canon; but the canon is by definition closed, and so an “open collection” is preferable; and adaptability is a function, not the essence, of the canon—how it is used, not what it is.


The Eerdmans Dictionary of Early Judaism

Take Heart
     June 11

     Even in darkness light dawns for the upright. --- Psalm 112:4.

     If someone inquired, “Do you see the answer to the riddle of life and the mystery of sorrow?” we would answer “No, I do not see it.” (Classic Sermons on Suffering (Kregel Classic Sermons Series)) But if the inquirer went on to ask, “Do you see any points of light, any places where the mystery is not quite so dark?” some of us would reply, “I think I do.” Consider now some of these beams of light. For the darkness in which we walk is not impenetrable gloom, and the night—thank God—has stars.

     The first beam of light is the goodness of unbending law. Even though the physical laws of the universe may work out tragically for people, yet if we could choose to live in a world without these laws, our predicament would be infinitely worse.

     Sometimes it would facilitate things vastly if the laws of nature would bend back and let us dodge them. We all wish feverishly that they would do that sometimes. And yet, what kind of universe would it be in which nature were erratic and capricious? It would be a madhouse of a world.

     The second beam of light is what the apostle Paul described as our membership of one another. If one person plays the fool, a dozen or a score or a thousand may be ruined. If one country breaks faith, the whole world may be plunged in cataclysm. But over against it you have to set this compensating consideration, that our mutual interdependence—which is responsible for so much of the sheer tragedy of life, is also responsible for life’s greatest glory.

     Think what you owe to this perilous fact of belonging to the human community. You cannot share the blessings and shirk the risks.

     The third beam of light is the wisdom of the divine impartiality.

     Most of us would say that the real crux of the whole problem of evil, the cruel sting of the thing, is the absolutely indiscriminate way in which trouble aims its blows with appalling indifference at those who deserve them and at those who do not deserve them in the least.

     If a Christian escaped the troubles that visit other folk, if religion “got you off,” religion would become a commercial transaction. And that would be the ruin of religion and character forever. No, far better that troubles should come and the heavens crash and fall than that righteousness should be sought for any reason except for righteousness’ sake alone.
--- James S. Stewart


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

On This Day
     Parents’ Footprints  June 11

     In 1907 missionary Jesse Brand, young and unmarried, left for India, settling in the disease-ridden Chat Mountains. His friends shuddered at his descriptions of flea-covered rats swarming through the hills and spreading plagues with abandon. But one supporter longed to join him—Evelyn Harris, belle of a fashionable London suburb. She journeyed to India and married him in 1913.

     The Brands labored tirelessly, giving medical aid to thousands. Jesse organized economic assistance and cooperative programs so farmers could get ahead. He negotiated with government officials to use unemployed workers for labor. He took every opportunity to share Christ, in one year preaching 4,000 times in 90 villages. Churches were established. Congregations grew.

     And so did the Brand family. Son Paul was born and taught by his mother under a tamarind tree. His nature-loving dad showed him the wonders of nature. At age nine Paul was sent to England for formal education, and his parents pressed on alone.

     In the spring of 1928 Jesse contracted blackwater fever. His condition worsened, but he continued working. In early June, his fever reached 104. On June 9, he preached from Isaiah 60: Stand up! Shine! Your new day is dawning. On June 11, 1928 his temperature reached 106 and he was forced to bed. Evelyn sat by him day after day, watching his skin parch, his color yellow, and his life drain away. Local Indians wrapped his body in a mat and carried it on their shoulders to a hillside grave.

     Word was flashed to 14-year-old Paul. Two days later Paul received a letter from his dad, mailed by boat before his death. It ended: … and always be looking to God with thankfulness and worship for having placed you in such a delightful corner of the universe as the planet Earth.

     Evelyn remained in India, becoming a legend hiking over the mountains with her walking stick, doing the Lord’s work. “Granny Brand” lived to see her son, Dr. Paul Brand, become a famed missionary physician excelling in the treatment of leprosy.

     Stand up! Shine! Your new day is dawning. The glory of the LORD shines brightly on you. The earth and its people are covered with darkness, But the glory of the LORD is shining upon you. Nations and kings will come to the light Of your dawning day.
--- Isaiah 60:1-3.


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

Morning and Evening
     Daily Readings / CHARLES H. SPURGEON

          Morning - June 11

     “We love him because he first loved us.” --- 1 John 4:19.

     There is no light in the planet but that which proceedeth from the sun; and there is no true love to Jesus in the heart but that which cometh from the Lord Jesus himself. From this overflowing fountain of the infinite love of God, all our love to God must spring. This must ever be a great and certain truth, that we love him for no other reason than because he first loved us. Our love to him is the fair offspring of his love to us. Cold admiration, when studying the works of God, anyone may have, but the warmth of love can only be kindled in the heart by God’s Spirit. How great the wonder that such as we should ever have been brought to love Jesus at all! How marvellous that when we had rebelled against him, he should, by a display of such amazing love, seek to draw us back. No! never should we have had a grain of love towards God unless it had been sown in us by the sweet seed of his love to us. Love, then, has for its parent the love of God shed abroad in the heart: but after it is thus divinely born, it must be divinely nourished. Love is an exotic; it is not a plant which will flourish naturally in human soil, it must be watered from above. Love to Jesus is a flower of a delicate nature, and if it received no nourishment but that which could be drawn from the rock of our hearts it would soon wither. As love comes from heaven, so it must feed on heavenly bread. It cannot exist in the wilderness unless it be fed by manna from on high. Love must feed on love. The very soul and life of our love to God is his love to us.

     “I love thee, Lord, but with no love of mine,
     For I have none to give;
     I love thee, Lord; but all the love is thine,
     For by thy love I live.
     I am as nothing, and rejoice to be
     Emptied, and lost, and swallowed up in thee.”



          Evening - June 11

     “There brake he the arrows of the bow, the shield, and the sword, and the battle.” --- Psalm 76:3.

     Our Redeemer’s glorious cry of “It is finished,” was the death-knell of all the adversaries of his people, the breaking of “the arrows of the bow, the shield, and the sword, and the battle.” Behold the hero of Golgotha using his cross as an anvil, and his woes as a hammer, dashing to shivers bundle after bundle of our sins, those poisoned “arrows of the bow;” trampling on every indictment, and destroying every accusation. What glorious blows the mighty Breaker gives with a hammer far more ponderous than the fabled weapon of Thor! How the diabolical darts fly to fragments, and the infernal bucklers are broken like potters’ vessels! Behold, he draws from its sheath of hellish workmanship the dread sword of Satanic power! He snaps it across his knee, as a man breaks the dry wood of a fagot, and casts it into the fire. Beloved, no sin of a believer can now be an arrow mortally to wound him, no condemnation can now be a sword to kill him, for the punishment of our sin was borne by Christ, a full atonement was made for all our iniquities by our blessed Substitute and Surety. Who now accuseth? Who now condemneth? Christ hath died, yea rather, hath risen again. Jesus has emptied the quivers of hell, has quenched every fiery dart, and broken off the head of every arrow of wrath; the ground is strewn with the splinters and relics of the weapons of hell’s warfare, which are only visible to us to remind us of our former danger, and of our great deliverance. Sin hath no more dominion over us. Jesus has made an end of it, and put it away for ever. O thou enemy, destructions are come to a perpetual end. Talk ye of all the wondrous works of the Lord, ye who make mention of his name, keep not silence, neither by day, nor when the sun goeth to his rest. Bless the Lord, O my soul.

Morning and Evening

Amazing Grace
     June 11

          I HEARD THE VOICE OF JESUS SAY

     Horatius Bonar, 1808–1889

     Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the water; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost. (Isaiah 55:1)

     Thy grace first made me feel my sin; it taught me to believe. Then in believing, I found—and now I live, I live!
--- Horatius Bonar

     The heart of the Christian Gospel is the gentle word “come.” From the moment of a person’s conversion until he or she is ushered into eternal glory, the Savior beckons with the gracious invitation “come.” This word appears more than 500 times throughout the Scriptures.

     The beautiful lines of this hymn by Horatius Bonar fill us with peace and buoyant joy. They calm us as we contemplate walking in the divine light of life that is shed on our ways as we respond in personal faith to the voice of Jesus.

     Horatius Bonar was one of Scotland’s most gifted and influential ministers and writers of the 19th century. He wrote more than 600 hymn texts throughout his life. “I Heard the Voice of Jesus Say” is generally considered to be his finest. Bonar wrote the lines while pastoring the Presbyterian church at Kelso, Scotland. He actually intended the hymn to be used by the children since he was always concerned that they learn the truths of the person and work of Christ. The text with its theme of revived life and joyous rest in Jesus has had universal appeal since its first publication in 1846.

     I heard the voice of Jesus say, “Come unto Me and rest; lay down, thou weary one, lay down thy head upon My breast.” I came to Jesus as I was, weary and worn and sad; I found in Him a resting place, and He has made me glad.

     I heard the voice of Jesus say, “Behold, I freely give the living water—thirsty one, stoop down and drink, and live.” I came to Jesus, and I drank of that life-giving stream; my thirst was quenched, my soul revived, and now I live in Him.

     I heard the voice of Jesus say, “I am this dark world’s Light; look unto Me—thy morn shall rise, and all thy day be bright.” I looked to Jesus, and I found in Him my Star, my Sun; and in that Light of life I’ll walk, till trav’ling days are done.


     For Today: Isaiah 55:1–3; Matthew 11:28; John 4:14; 8:12; Revelation 3:20; 22:17.

     Truly rest and be glad in the love of Jesus no matter what your concerns may be. Thank Him for the “Light of Life” that He has promised to shine on your path. Rejoice in the truth of this musical testimony ---

Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions

De Servo Arbitrio “On the Enslaved Will” or The Bondage of the Will
     Martin Luther | (1483-1546)


     Sect. LII. — BUT here the Diatribe will sharply retort — “Ecclesiasticus by saying, “if thou wilt keep,” signifies that there is a will in man, to keep, and not to keep: otherwise, what is the use of saying unto him who has no will, “if thou wilt?” Would it not be ridiculous if any were to say to a blind man, if thou wilt see, thou mayest find a treasure? Or, to a deaf man, if thou wilt hear, I will relate to thee an excellent story? This would be to laugh at their misery” – .

I answer: These are the arguments of human reason, which is wont to shoot forth many such sprigs of wisdom. Wherefore, I must dispute now, not with Ecclesiasticus, but with human reason concerning a conclusion; for she, by her conclusions and syllogisms, interprets and twists the Scriptures of God just which way she pleases. But I will enter upon this willingly, and with confidence, knowing, that she can prate nothing but follies and absurdities; and that more especially, when she attempts to make a shew of her wisdom in these divine matters.

First then, if I should demand of her how it can be proved, that the freedom of the will in man is signified and inferred, wherever these expressions are used, ‘if thou wilt,’ ‘if thou shalt do,’ ‘if thou shalt hear;’ she would say, because the nature of words, and the common use of speech among men, seem to require it. Therefore, she judges of divine things and words according to the customs and things of men; than which, what can be more perverse; seeing that, the former things are heavenly, the latter earthly. Like a fool, therefore, she exposes herself, making it manifest that she has not a thought concerning God but what is human.

But, what if I prove, that the nature of words and the use of speech even among men, are not always of that tendency, as to make a laughing stock of those to whom it is said, ‘if thou wilt,’ ‘if thou shalt do it.’ ‘if thou shalt hear?’ — How often do parents thus play with their children, when they bid them come to them, or do this or that, for this purpose only, that it may plainly appear to them how unable they are to do it, and that they may call for the aid of the parent’s hand? How often does a faithful physician bid his obstinate patient do or omit those things which are either injurious to him or impossible, to the intent that, he may bring him, by an experience, to the knowledge of his disease or his weakness? And what is more general and common, than to use words of insult or provocation, when we would show either enemies or friends, what they can do and what they cannot do?

I merely go over these things, to shew Reason her own conclusions, and how absurdly she tacks them to the Scriptures: moreover, how blind she must be not to see, that they do not always stand good even in human words and things. But the case is, if she see it to be done once, she rushes on headlong, taking it for granted, that it is done generally in all the things of God and men, thus making, according to the way of her wisdom, of a particularity an universality.

If then God, as a Father, deal with us as with sons, that He might shew us who are in ignorance our impotency, or as a faithful physician, that He might make our disease known unto us, or that He might insult His enemies who proudly resist His counsel; and for this end, say to us by proposed laws (as being those means by which He accomplishes His design the most effectually) ‘do,’ ‘hear,’ ‘keep,’ or, ‘if thou wilt,’ ‘if thou wilt do,’ ‘if thou wilt hear;’ can this be drawn herefrom as a just conclusion — therefore, either we have free power to act, or God laughs at us? Why is this not rather drawn as a conclusion — therefore, God tries us, that by His law He might bring us to a knowledge of our impotency, if we be His friends; or, He thereby righteously and deservedly insults and derides us, if we be His proud enemies.’ For this, as Paul teaches, is the intent of the divine legislation. (Rom. iii. 20; v. 20. Gal. iii. 19, 24.) Because human nature is blind, so that it knows not its own powers, or rather its own diseases. Moreover, being proud, it self-conceitedly imagines, that it knows and can do all things. To remedy which pride and ignorance, God can use no means more effectual than His proposed law: of which we shall say more in its place: let it suffice to have thus touched upon it here, to refute this conclusion of carnal and absurd wisdom: — ‘if thou wilt’ — therefore thou art able to will freely.

The Diatribe dreams, that man is whole and sound, as, to human appearance, he is in his own affairs; and therefore, from these words, ‘if thou wilt,’ ‘if thou wilt do,’ ‘if thou wilt hear,’ it pertly argues, that man, if his will be not free, is laughed at. Whereas, the Scripture describes man as corrupt and a captive; and added to that, as proudly contemning and ignorant of his corruption and captivity: and therefore, by those words, it goads him and rouses him up, that he might know, by a real experience, how unable he is to do any one of those things.


The Bondage of the Will   or   Christian Classics Ethereal Library


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Gospels as History from Below 2
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Gospels as Micro History
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Gospels as Historical Biography
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Rise Of Christianity
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Revelation 01 Introduction
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Revelation 02 Chapter
The Things Which Thou Hast Seen
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Revelation 03 The Letter To The Church
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Revelation 04 The Letter To The Church
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Revelation 05 The Letter To The Church
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Revelation 06 The Letter To The Church
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