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6/12/2018     Yesterday     Tomorrow
Deuteronomy 17     Psalm 104     Isaiah 44     Revelation 14


Deuteronomy 17

Deuteronomy 17:1 “You shall not sacrifice to the LORD your God an ox or a sheep in which is a blemish, any defect whatever, for that is an abomination to the LORD your God.

2 “If there is found among you, within any of your towns that the LORD your God is giving you, a man or woman who does what is evil in the sight of the LORD your God, in transgressing his covenant, 3 and has gone and served other gods and worshiped them, or the sun or the moon or any of the host of heaven, which I have forbidden, 4 and it is told you and you hear of it, then you shall inquire diligently, and if it is true and certain that such an abomination has been done in Israel, 5 then you shall bring out to your gates that man or woman who has done this evil thing, and you shall stone that man or woman to death with stones. 6 On the evidence of two witnesses or of three witnesses the one who is to die shall be put to death; a person shall not be put to death on the evidence of one witness. 7 The hand of the witnesses shall be first against him to put him to death, and afterward the hand of all the people. So you shall purge the evil from your midst.

Legal Decisions by Priests and Judges

8 “If any case arises requiring decision between one kind of homicide and another, one kind of legal right and another, or one kind of assault and another, any case within your towns that is too difficult for you, then you shall arise and go up to the place that the LORD your God will choose. 9 And you shall come to the Levitical priests and to the judge who is in office in those days, and you shall consult them, and they shall declare to you the decision. 10 Then you shall do according to what they declare to you from that place that the LORD will choose. And you shall be careful to do according to all that they direct you. 11 According to the instructions that they give you, and according to the decision which they pronounce to you, you shall do. You shall not turn aside from the verdict that they declare to you, either to the right hand or to the left. 12 The man who acts presumptuously by not obeying the priest who stands to minister there before the LORD your God, or the judge, that man shall die. So you shall purge the evil from Israel. 13 And all the people shall hear and fear and not act presumptuously again.

Laws Concerning Israel’s Kings

14 “When you come to the land that the LORD your God is giving you, and you possess it and dwell in it and then say, ‘I will set a king over me, like all the nations that are around me,’ 15 you may indeed set a king over you whom the LORD your God will choose. One from among your brothers you shall set as king over you. You may not put a foreigner over you, who is not your brother. 16 Only he must not acquire many horses for himself or cause the people to return to Egypt in order to acquire many horses, since the LORD has said to you, ‘You shall never return that way again.’ 17 And he shall not acquire many wives for himself, lest his heart turn away, nor shall he acquire for himself excessive silver and gold. 18 “And when he sits on the throne of his kingdom, he shall write for himself in a book a copy of this law, approved by the Levitical priests. 19 And it shall be with him, and he shall read in it all the days of his life, that he may learn to fear the LORD his God by keeping all the words of this law and these statutes, and doing them, 20 that his heart may not be lifted up above his brothers, and that he may not turn aside from the commandment, either to the right hand or to the left, so that he may continue long in his kingdom, he and his children, in Israel.


Psalm 104

O LORD My God, You Are Very Great

Psalm 104

1  Bless the LORD, O my soul!
O LORD my God, you are very great!
You are clothed with splendor and majesty,
2  covering yourself with light as with a garment,
stretching out the heavens like a tent.
3  He lays the beams of his chambers on the waters;
he makes the clouds his chariot;
he rides on the wings of the wind;
4  he makes his messengers winds,
his ministers a flaming fire.

5  He set the earth on its foundations,
so that it should never be moved.
6  You covered it with the deep as with a garment;
the waters stood above the mountains.
7  At your rebuke they fled;
at the sound of your thunder they took to flight.
8  The mountains rose, the valleys sank down
to the place that you appointed for them.
9  You set a boundary that they may not pass,
so that they might not again cover the earth.

10  You make springs gush forth in the valleys;
they flow between the hills;
11  they give drink to every beast of the field;
the wild donkeys quench their thirst.
12  Beside them the birds of the heavens dwell;
they sing among the branches.
13  From your lofty abode you water the mountains;
the earth is satisfied with the fruit of your work.

14  You cause the grass to grow for the livestock
and plants for man to cultivate,
that he may bring forth food from the earth
15  and wine to gladden the heart of man,
oil to make his face shine
and bread to strengthen man’s heart.

16  The trees of the LORD are watered abundantly,
the cedars of Lebanon that he planted.
17  In them the birds build their nests;
the stork has her home in the fir trees.
18  The high mountains are for the wild goats;
the rocks are a refuge for the rock badgers.

19  He made the moon to mark the seasons;
the sun knows its time for setting.
20  You make darkness, and it is night,
when all the beasts of the forest creep about.
21  The young lions roar for their prey,
seeking their food from God.
22  When the sun rises, they steal away
and lie down in their dens.
23  Man goes out to his work
and to his labor until the evening.

24  O LORD, how manifold are your works!
In wisdom have you made them all;
the earth is full of your creatures.
25  Here is the sea, great and wide,
which teems with creatures innumerable,
living things both small and great.
26  There go the ships,
and Leviathan, which you formed to play in it.

27  These all look to you,
to give them their food in due season.
28  When you give it to them, they gather it up;
when you open your hand, they are filled with good things.
29  When you hide your face, they are dismayed;
when you take away their breath, they die
and return to their dust.
30  When you send forth your Spirit, they are created,
and you renew the face of the ground.

31  May the glory of the LORD endure forever;
may the LORD rejoice in his works,
32  who looks on the earth and it trembles,
who touches the mountains and they smoke!
33  I will sing to the LORD as long as I live;
I will sing praise to my God while I have being.
34  May my meditation be pleasing to him,
for I rejoice in the LORD.
35  Let sinners be consumed from the earth,
and let the wicked be no more!
Bless the LORD, O my soul!
Praise the LORD!


Isaiah 44

Israel the LORD’s Chosen

Isaiah 44 “But now hear, O Jacob my servant,
Israel whom I have chosen!
2  Thus says the LORD who made you,
who formed you from the womb and will help you:
Fear not, O Jacob my servant,
Jeshurun whom I have chosen.
3  For I will pour water on the thirsty land,
and streams on the dry ground;
I will pour my Spirit upon your offspring,
and my blessing on your descendants.
4  They shall spring up among the grass
like willows by flowing streams.
5  This one will say, ‘I am the LORD’s,’
another will call on the name of Jacob,
and another will write on his hand, ‘The LORD’s,’
and name himself by the name of Israel.”

Besides Me There Is No God

6  Thus says the LORD, the King of Israel
and his Redeemer, the LORD of hosts:
“I am the first and I am the last;
besides me there is no god.
7  Who is like me? Let him proclaim it.
Let him declare and set it before me,
since I appointed an ancient people.
Let them declare what is to come, and what will happen.
8  Fear not, nor be afraid;
have I not told you from of old and declared it?
And you are my witnesses!
Is there a God besides me?
There is no Rock; I know not any.”


The Folly of Idolatry

9 All who fashion idols are nothing, and the things they delight in do not profit. Their witnesses neither see nor know, that they may be put to shame. 10 Who fashions a god or casts an idol that is profitable for nothing? 11 Behold, all his companions shall be put to shame, and the craftsmen are only human. Let them all assemble, let them stand forth. They shall be terrified; they shall be put to shame together.

12 The ironsmith takes a cutting tool and works it over the coals. He fashions it with hammers and works it with his strong arm. He becomes hungry, and his strength fails; he drinks no water and is faint. 13 The carpenter stretches a line; he marks it out with a pencil. He shapes it with planes and marks it with a compass. He shapes it into the figure of a man, with the beauty of a man, to dwell in a house. 14 He cuts down cedars, or he chooses a cypress tree or an oak and lets it grow strong among the trees of the forest. He plants a cedar and the rain nourishes it. 15 Then it becomes fuel for a man. He takes a part of it and warms himself; he kindles a fire and bakes bread. Also he makes a god and worships it; he makes it an idol and falls down before it. 16 Half of it he burns in the fire. Over the half he eats meat; he roasts it and is satisfied. Also he warms himself and says, “Aha, I am warm, I have seen the fire!” 17 And the rest of it he makes into a god, his idol, and falls down to it and worships it. He prays to it and says, “Deliver me, for you are my god!”

18 They know not, nor do they discern, for he has shut their eyes, so that they cannot see, and their hearts, so that they cannot understand. 19 No one considers, nor is there knowledge or discernment to say, “Half of it I burned in the fire; I also baked bread on its coals; I roasted meat and have eaten. And shall I make the rest of it an abomination? Shall I fall down before a block of wood?” 20 He feeds on ashes; a deluded heart has led him astray, and he cannot deliver himself or say, “Is there not a lie in my right hand?”

The LORD Redeems Israel

21  Remember these things, O Jacob,
and Israel, for you are my servant;
I formed you; you are my servant;
O Israel, you will not be forgotten by me.
22  I have blotted out your transgressions like a cloud
and your sins like mist;
return to me, for I have redeemed you.

23  Sing, O heavens, for the LORD has done it;
shout, O depths of the earth;
break forth into singing, O mountains,
O forest, and every tree in it!
For the LORD has redeemed Jacob,
and will be glorified in Israel.

24  Thus says the LORD, your Redeemer,
who formed you from the womb:
“I am the LORD, who made all things,
who alone stretched out the heavens,
who spread out the earth by myself,
25  who frustrates the signs of liars
and makes fools of diviners,
who turns wise men back
and makes their knowledge foolish,
26  who confirms the word of his servant
and fulfills the counsel of his messengers,
who says of Jerusalem, ‘She shall be inhabited,’
and of the cities of Judah, ‘They shall be built,
and I will raise up their ruins’;
27  who says to the deep, ‘Be dry;
I will dry up your rivers’;
28  who says of Cyrus, ‘He is my shepherd,
and he shall fulfill all my purpose’;
saying of Jerusalem, ‘She shall be built,’
and of the temple, ‘Your foundation shall be laid.’ ”


Revelation 14

The Lamb and the 144,000

Revelation 14 Then I looked, and behold, on Mount Zion stood the Lamb, and with him 144,000 who had his name and his Father’s name written on their foreheads. 2 And I heard a voice from heaven like the roar of many waters and like the sound of loud thunder. The voice I heard was like the sound of harpists playing on their harps, 3 and they were singing a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and before the elders. No one could learn that song except the 144,000 who had been redeemed from the earth. 4 It is these who have not defiled themselves with women, for they are virgins. It is these who follow the Lamb wherever he goes. These have been redeemed from mankind as firstfruits for God and the Lamb, 5 and in their mouth no lie was found, for they are blameless.

The Messages of the Three Angels

6 Then I saw another angel flying directly overhead, with an eternal gospel to proclaim to those who dwell on earth, to every nation and tribe and language and people. 7 And he said with a loud voice, “Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come, and worship him who made heaven and earth, the sea and the springs of water.”

8 Another angel, a second, followed, saying, “Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great, she who made all nations drink the wine of the passion of her sexual immorality.”

9 And another angel, a third, followed them, saying with a loud voice, “If anyone worships the beast and its image and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand, 10 he also will drink the wine of God’s wrath, poured full strength into the cup of his anger, and he will be tormented with fire and sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. 11 And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever, and they have no rest, day or night, these worshipers of the beast and its image, and whoever receives the mark of its name.”

12 Here is a call for the endurance of the saints, those who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus.

13 And I heard a voice from heaven saying, “Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.” “Blessed indeed,” says the Spirit, “that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them!”

The Harvest of the Earth

14 Then I looked, and behold, a white cloud, and seated on the cloud one like a son of man, with a golden crown on his head, and a sharp sickle in his hand. 15 And another angel came out of the temple, calling with a loud voice to him who sat on the cloud, “Put in your sickle, and reap, for the hour to reap has come, for the harvest of the earth is fully ripe.” 16 So he who sat on the cloud swung his sickle across the earth, and the earth was reaped.

17 Then another angel came out of the temple in heaven, and he too had a sharp sickle. 18 And another angel came out from the altar, the angel who has authority over the fire, and he called with a loud voice to the one who had the sharp sickle, “Put in your sickle and gather the clusters from the vine of the earth, for its grapes are ripe.” 19 So the angel swung his sickle across the earth and gathered the grape harvest of the earth and threw it into the great winepress of the wrath of God. 20 And the winepress was trodden outside the city, and blood flowed from the winepress, as high as a horse’s bridle, for 1,600 stadia.

The Reformation Study Bible




What I'm Reading

Religious Liberty: More Than An Option

By J. Warner Wallace 5/1/2017

     In a recent article posted on the National Public Radio (NPR) website, Tom Gjelten wrote about the “collision of two core American values — freedom of religion and freedom from discrimination,” and predicted this collision would prompt a “showdown in legislatures and courts across the country.” This is undoubtedly true, as those who seek to live and work in a manner consistent with their Christian worldview, like Washington State florist, Barronelle Stutzman, have come under increasing scrutiny in our federal judicial system. As a Christian, I’m concerned with the growing tension between our eroding religious liberties and the emerging values of our nation, and I’m afraid that we, as Christians, have exacerbated the problem.

     There is a perception in our culture related to religious liberty. Many see it as nothing more than an effort on the part of believers to protect their subjective religious opinions.  When these opinions become unpopular and threaten the current cultural values (including notions related to marriage or sexuality), they are inevitably sacrificed. Worse yet, if a culture can somehow make the case for its evolving moral views from science or philosophy, these cultural values will gain a sure advantage over the antiquated opinions of religious people. Who, after all, would favor an outdated, subjective opinion over the most current, objective, “fact”?

     As Christians, we are partly to blame for this misperception related to religious beliefs.  I’ve been speaking in churches around the country for a number of years now. I usually begin by asking a simple question: “Why are you a Christian?” The answer I get is sometimes disappointing. The most common response I receive is related to upbringing: “I was raised in the church,” or “I’ve been a Christian as long as I can remember.” The second most repeated answer is usually grounded in an experience: “God demonstrated His existence to me,” or “I’ve had an experience that convinced me Christianity was true.” These kinds of answers, while they may be satisfying to those who offer them, are grounded in the personal, subjective experiences of individual believers. They are also common to every kind of believer, even though the religions and philosophies of the world often make competing and contradictory claims.

     We shouldn’t, therefore, be surprised when the faith of believers is viewed as an exercise in wishful thinking or personal piety based on subjective preferences. Consider, for example, the following definitions of “faith”:

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

Rejoice When God Uses Someone Else

By Stephen Miller 6/8/2017

     I have a friend named Tom who has been in ministry longer than I have been alive. This is a man who might as well have Psalm 115:1 tattooed on his forehead. He walks around saying it all the time. It permeates his life in prayer and practice.

     Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to your name give glory, for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness!

     Tom is a man consumed with God getting the glory. His passion for God to be in the spotlight is always on his mind. He is an incredibly gifted leader, who radiates with Christ and has had the opportunity to mentor some of the most influential people God has used to shape our generation. All the while, most people have never ever heard Tom’s name, and he is perfectly okay with that. He is humble and meek, and he knows his ministry is not about him. He doesn’t seek the attention or the applause: “Not to Tom, O Lord, but to your name give glory.”

     Why Them? | I think deep down most of us would look at Tom and think, “I want to be like that.” There is something undeniably appealing about someone who sees God’s hand on someone else’s life and ministry and wholeheartedly champions their efforts and rejoices in their successes — someone who is constantly on the lookout for the evidences of God’s grace at work in people’s gifting and accomplishments, and then generously gives out encouragement as if it was burning a hole in his pocket.

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     Stephen Miller serves as a worship pastor at Prestonwood in Dallas, Texas. He is a husband, father of five, songwriter, and author of two books, including

Liberating King: Breaking Free from the Tyranny of Sin
Worship Leaders, We Are Not Rock Stars

The Wow of Worship

By Stephen Miller 5/29/2016

     We were near the Grand Canyon.

     This past year, our band was leading worship for a church in Phoenix when we had this realization — and found out that none of us had ever visited the Canyon for ourselves. So on a whim, we decided to make the quick trip before heading home to Texas.

     As we stood around plotting our adventure, a nearby eavesdropper interrupted, “You don’t want to see the Grand Canyon. It’s not that great. It just looks like a painting. Just go check out Sedona, then head home.”

     And we did not regret it.

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     Stephen Miller serves as a worship pastor at Prestonwood in Dallas, Texas. He is a husband, father of five, songwriter, and author of two books, including

Liberating King: Breaking Free from the Tyranny of Sin
Worship Leaders, We Are Not Rock Stars

Worship God as Our Father

By Stephen Miller 5/24/2015

     See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. 1 John 3:1

     All true worship begins with our adoption. All prayer, all praise, all singing — all of our relating to God — begins with being able to come to him as his children. That’s what Jesus won for us. When he went to the cross, he paid the immeasurable price of our adoption, to make us sons and daughters of the living God.

     And so when he teaches us to pray in Matthew 6:9, he tells us come to God like this: “Our Father who art in heaven . . .”

     There is infinite intimacy in that statement. Father in heaven. There’s transcendence (he is in heaven), yet an utter accessibility that he gives us as he calls us his sons and daughters.

     Tim Keller says that when John, the author, says, “See what kind of love the Father has given,” he is asking, “From what planet or what world does this kind of love come?” It’s unlike anything we have ever seen. Unlike anything we could compare it to. It’s not from our world. It’s not like any love a human could give. It’s otherworldly, completely set apart.

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     Stephen Miller serves as a worship pastor at Prestonwood in Dallas, Texas. He is a husband, father of five, songwriter, and author of two books, including

Liberating King: Breaking Free from the Tyranny of Sin
Worship Leaders, We Are Not Rock Stars

Be Yourself in Prayer

By Stephen Miller 10/5/2014

     Sometimes it seems as if many believers feel the need to alter who they are when they come to God in prayer, particularly when others are around. As if God will not hear them if they are themselves, they play characters, hoping to be more acceptable to God and others.

     I have personally struggled over the years with what to say and how to say it when I pray. I’m in good company. Even the apostles asked Jesus to teach them to pray. And with kind, compassionate patience in his voice, he taught them to pray simply, humbly, confidently, according to God’s word, and for God’s glory.

     You could sum up Jesus’s teaching into a few guiding principles.

     1. Slow down and be okay with silence. | There is no need to use filler language to take up every ounce of space in prayer, as if the Lord can’t handle the silence or doesn’t have time to listen. You don’t have to speed through like an auctioneer.

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     Stephen Miller serves as a worship pastor at Prestonwood in Dallas, Texas. He is a husband, father of five, songwriter, and author of two books, including

Liberating King: Breaking Free from the Tyranny of Sin
Worship Leaders, We Are Not Rock Stars

Did Israel’s King Consult with a Witch?

By John Piper 6/9/2017

     Here is a good question that moves us into a discussion on what to think of things like fortune tellers, necromancers, palm readers, witches, and so on: “Hello Pastor John, my name is Kristine, a listener to the podcast in Norway. In 1 Samuel 28 Saul wants to contact Samuel through a medium, and he does. But how can this be possible? You cannot contact dead people. And all spirits, except the Holy Spirit, are from the devil. Why does not chapter 28 forbid it, and what are your thoughts on this passage?”

     Here’s the short answer to Kristine, and then I’ll say just a bit more. First Samuel 28 has lots to say about consulting with necromancers and mediums who interact with the dead, and all of it is negative. The point here, and throughout the Old Testament, is that God’s people should not consult with mediums, not because there’s no such thing as communication with the dead, but because it is an abomination to try to communicate with the dead. The point is never in the Old Testament that it’s impossible but that it is wicked and sinful and will bring down God’s judgment if we do it. That’s the short answer.

     The situation in 1 Samuel 28 is that Saul and David have been at odds for a long time, and David is rising in God’s favor to be the new king. Saul is becoming increasingly disobedient and unacceptable as God’s king. Back in chapter 15, Saul disobeyed God and failed to destroy the Amalekites. Samuel the prophet confronts him and says that God has now rejected him as being king. He’s torn the kingdom away from him. He’s going to give it to David.

     Then Samuel says something very significant in 1 Samuel 15:22–23. It’s very relevant to what’s going to happen over in chapter 28. Saul had defended his disobedience by saying he intended to sacrifice some of the stolen things to God. Samuel says, “Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice. . . . For rebellion is as the sin of divination” — necromancy, mediums — “and presumption is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, he has also rejected you from being king.”

     Did you hear the reference to divination? Divination refers to trying to get revelation about the future and about God’s secret plans by using demonic means or means that involve transactions with the dead. Samuel says it is, in essence, rejecting the word of the Lord. The Lord’s word is not enough. Samuel says that Saul’s disobedience, therefore, is like divination. It’s like idolatry. He puts divination and idolatry in the same category, and that’s the root issue in using mediums and necromancers. It puts the mediums and the necromancers in the place where God belongs. God tells us as much as he wants us to know about the secret councils of his plans for the future.

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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.

Did Israel’s King Consult with a Witch?

By John Piper 6/9/2017

     Here is a good question that moves us into a discussion on what to think of things like fortune tellers, necromancers, palm readers, witches, and so on: “Hello Pastor John, my name is Kristine, a listener to the podcast in Norway. In 1 Samuel 28 Saul wants to contact Samuel through a medium, and he does. But how can this be possible? You cannot contact dead people. And all spirits, except the Holy Spirit, are from the devil. Why does not chapter 28 forbid it, and what are your thoughts on this passage?”

     Here’s the short answer to Kristine, and then I’ll say just a bit more. First Samuel 28 has lots to say about consulting with necromancers and mediums who interact with the dead, and all of it is negative. The point here, and throughout the Old Testament, is that God’s people should not consult with mediums, not because there’s no such thing as communication with the dead, but because it is an abomination to try to communicate with the dead. The point is never in the Old Testament that it’s impossible but that it is wicked and sinful and will bring down God’s judgment if we do it. That’s the short answer.

     The situation in 1 Samuel 28 is that Saul and David have been at odds for a long time, and David is rising in God’s favor to be the new king. Saul is becoming increasingly disobedient and unacceptable as God’s king. Back in chapter 15, Saul disobeyed God and failed to destroy the Amalekites. Samuel the prophet confronts him and says that God has now rejected him as being king. He’s torn the kingdom away from him. He’s going to give it to David.

     Then Samuel says something very significant in 1 Samuel 15:22–23. It’s very relevant to what’s going to happen over in chapter 28. Saul had defended his disobedience by saying he intended to sacrifice some of the stolen things to God. Samuel says, “Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice. . . . For rebellion is as the sin of divination” — necromancy, mediums — “and presumption is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, he has also rejected you from being king.”

     Did you hear the reference to divination? Divination refers to trying to get revelation about the future and about God’s secret plans by using demonic means or means that involve transactions with the dead. Samuel says it is, in essence, rejecting the word of the Lord. The Lord’s word is not enough. Samuel says that Saul’s disobedience, therefore, is like divination. It’s like idolatry. He puts divination and idolatry in the same category, and that’s the root issue in using mediums and necromancers. It puts the mediums and the necromancers in the place where God belongs. God tells us as much as he wants us to know about the secret councils of his plans for the future.

Click here to go to source

     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.

Deut. 17; Psalm 104; Isaiah 44; Revelation 14

By Don Carson 6/12/2018

     Moses envisages a time when the Israelite nation will choose a king (Deut. 17:14-20). He could not know that centuries later, when the Israelites would first ask for a king, they would do so for all the wrong motives — primarily so that they could be like the pagan nations around them. The result was Saul. But that is another story.

     If the people are to have a king, what sort of king should he be? (1) He must be the Lord’s own choice (Deut. 17:15). (2) He must be an Israelite, drawn “from among your own brothers” (Deut. 17:15), not some foreigner. (3) He must not acquire for himself great numbers of horses, i.e., amass great personal wealth and military might, and especially not if it means some sort of alliance with a power such as Egypt (Deut. 17:16). (4) He must not take many wives (Deut. 17:17). The issue was not simply polygamy. In the ancient Near East, the more powerful the king the more wives he had. This prohibition is therefore simultaneously a limit on the king’s power, and a warning that many wives will likely lead his heart astray (Deut. 17:17). This is not because wives are intrinsically evil; rather, a king on the hunt for many wives is likely to marry princesses and nobility from surrounding countries, and they will bring their paganism with them. Within that framework, the king’s heart will be led astray. That is exactly what happened to Solomon. (5) Upon accession to the throne, the first thing the king must do is write out for himself, in Hebrew, a copy of “this law” — whether the book of Deuteronomy or the entire Pentateuch. Then he is to read it every day for the rest of his life (Deut. 17:18-20). The multiple purposes of this task are explicit: that he may revere the Lord his God, carefully follow all his words, and in consequence not consider himself better than his fellow citizens, and not turn aside from the law. The result will be a long-lasting dynasty.

     It is not difficult to imagine how the entire history of Israel would have been radically different if these five criteria had been adopted by each king who came to the throne of David. It would be almost a millennium and a half before there would arise in Israel a king who would be the Lord’s chosen servant, someone “made like his brothers in every way” (Heb. 2:17), a mere craftsman without wealth or power, a man not seduced by beauty or power or paganism (despite the devil’s most virulent assaults), a man steeped in the Scriptures from his youth and who carefully followed all the words of God. How we need that king!

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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 63

My Soul Thirsts for You
63 A Psalm Of David, When He Was In The Wilderness Of Judah.

1 O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you;
my soul thirsts for you;
my flesh faints for you,
as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.
2 So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary,
beholding your power and glory.
3 Because your steadfast love is better than life,
my lips will praise you.
4 So I will bless you as long as I live;
in your name I will lift up my hands.

5 My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food,
and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips,
6 when I remember you upon my bed,
and meditate on you in the watches of the night;
7 for you have been my help,
and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy.
8 My soul clings to you;
your right hand upholds me.

ESV Study Bible

The Institutes of the Christian Religion

Translated by Henry Beveridge

     CHAPTER 11.

OF THE JURISDICTION OF THE CHURCH, AND THE ABUSES OF IT, AS EXEMPLIFIED IN THE PAPACY.

This chapter may be conveniently comprehended under two heads,--I. Ecclesiastical jurisdiction, its necessity, origin, description, and essential parts--viz. the sacred ministry of the word, and discipline of excommunication, of which the aim, use, and abuse are explained, sec. 1-8. II. Refutation of the arguments advanced by Papists in defence of the tyranny of Pontiffs, the right of both swords, imperial pomp and dignity, foreign jurisdiction, and immunity from civil jurisdiction, sec. 9-16.

Sections.

1. The power of the Church in regard to jurisdiction. The necessity, origin, and nature of this jurisdiction. The power of the keys to be considered in two points of view. The first view expounded.

2. Second view expounded. How the Church binds and looses in the way of discipline. Abuse of the keys in the Papacy.

3. The discipline of excommunication of perpetual endurance. Distinction between civil and ecclesiastical power.

4. The perpetual endurance of the discipline of excommunication confirmed. Duly ordered under the Emperors and Christian magistrates.

5. The aim and use of ecclesiastical jurisdiction in the primitive Church. Spiritual power was kept entirely distinct from the power of the sword.

6. Spiritual power was not administered by one individual, but by a lawful consistory. Gradual change. First, the clergy alone interfered in the judicial proceedings of the Church. The bishop afterwards appropriated them to himself.

7. The bishops afterwards transferred the rights thus appropriated to their officials, and converted spiritual jurisdiction into a profane tribunal.

8. Recapitulation. The Papal power confuted. Christ wished to debar the ministers of the word from civil rule and worldly power.

9. Objections of the Papists. 1. By this external splendour the glory of Christ is displayed. 2. It does not interfere with the duties of their calling. Both objections answered.

10. The commencement and gradual progress of the Papistical tyranny. Causes, 1. Curiosity; 2. Ambition; 3. Violence; 4. Hypocrisy; 5. Impiety.

11. Last cause, the mystery of iniquity, and the Satanic fury of Antichrist usurping worldly dominion. The Pope claims both swords.

12. The pretended donation of Constantine. Its futility exposed.

13. When, and by what means, the Roman Pontiffs attained to imperial dignity. Hildebrand its founder.

14. By what acts they seized on Rome and other territories. Disgraceful rapacity.

15. Claim of immunity from civil jurisdiction. Contrast between this pretended immunity and the moderation of the early bishops.

16. What end the early bishops aimed at in steadfastly resisting civil encroachment.

1. It remains to consider the third, and, indeed, when matters are well arranged, the principal part of ecclesiastical power, which, as we have said, consists in jurisdiction. Now, the whole jurisdiction of the Church relates to discipline, of which we are shortly to treat. For as no city or village can exist without a magistrate and government, so the Church of God, as I have already taught, but am again obliged to repeat, needs a kind of spiritual government. This is altogether distinct from civil government, and is so far from impeding or impairing it, that it rather does much to aid and promote it. Therefore, this power of jurisdiction is, in one word, nothing but the order provided for the preservation of spiritual polity. To this end, there were established in the Church from the first, tribunals which might take cognisance of morals, animadvert on vices, and exercise the office of the keys. This order is mentioned by Paul in the First Epistle to the Corinthians under the name of governments (1 Cor. 12:28): in like manner, in the Epistle to the Romans, when he says, "He that ruleth with diligence" (Rom. 12:8). For he is not addressing magistrates, none of whom were then Christians, but those who were joined with pastors in the spiritual government of the Church. In the Epistle to Timothy, also, he mentions two kinds of presbyters, some who labour in the word, and others who do not perform the office of preaching, but rule well (1 Tim. 5:17). By this latter class there is no doubt he means those who were appointed to the inspection of manners, and the whole use of the keys. For the power of which we speak wholly depends on the keys which Christ bestowed on the Church in the eighteenth chapter of Matthew, where he orders, that those who despise private admonition should be sharply rebuked in public, and if they persist in their contumacy, be expelled from the society of believers. Moreover, those admonitions and corrections cannot be made without investigation, and hence the necessity of some judicial procedure and order. Wherefore, if we would not make void the promise of the keys, and abolish altogether excommunication, solemn admonitions, and everything of that description, we must, of necessity, give some jurisdiction to the Church. Let the reader observe that we are not here treating of the general authority of doctrine, as in Mt. 21 and John 20, but maintaining that the right of the Sanhedrim is transferred to the fold of Christ. Till that time, the power of government had belonged to the Jews. This Christ establishes in his Church, in as far as it was a pure institution, and with a heavy sanction. Thus it behoved to be, since the judgment of a poor and despised Church might otherwise be spurned by rash and haughty men. And lest it occasion any difficulty to the reader, that Christ in the same words makes a considerable difference between the two things, it will here be proper to explain. There are two passages which speak of binding and loosing. The one is Mt. 16, where Christ, after promising that he will give the keys of the kingdom of heaven to Peter, immediately adds, "Whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven" (Mt. 16:19). These words have the very same meaning as those in the Gospel of John, where, being about to send forth the disciples to preach, after breathing on them, he says, "Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained" (John 20:23). I will give an interpretation, not subtle, not forced, not wrested, but genuine, natural, and obvious. This command concerning remitting and retaining sins, and that promise made to Peter concerning binding and loosing, ought to be referred to nothing but the ministry of the word. When the Lord committed it to the apostles, he, at the same time, provided them with this power of binding and loosing. For what is the sum of the gospel, but just that all being the slaves of sin and death, are loosed and set free by the redemption which is in Christ Jesus, while those who do not receive and acknowledge Christ as a deliverer and redeemer are condemned and doomed to eternal chains? When the Lord delivered this message to his apostles, to be carried by them into all nations, in order to prove that it was his own message, and proceeded from him, he honoured it with this distinguished testimony, and that as an admirable confirmation both to the apostles themselves, and to all those to whom it was to come. It was of importance that the apostles should have a constant and complete assurance of their preaching, which they were not only to exercise with infinite labour, anxiety, molestation, and peril, but ultimately to seal with their blood. That they might know that it was not vain or void, but full of power and efficacy, it was of importance, I say, that amidst all their anxieties, dangers, and difficulties, they might feel persuaded that they were doing the work of God; that though the whole world withstood and opposed them, they might know that God was for them; that not having Christ the author of their doctrine bodily present on the earth, they might understand that he was in heaven to confirm the truth of the doctrine which he had delivered to them. On the other hand, it was necessary that their hearers should be most certainly assured that the doctrine of the gospel was not the word of the apostles, but of God himself; not a voice rising from the earth, but descending from heaven. For such things as the forgiveness of sins, the promise of eternal life, and message of salvation, cannot be in the power of man. Christ therefore testified, that in the preaching of the gospel the apostles only acted ministerially; that it was he who, by their mouths as organs, spoke and promised all; that, therefore, the forgiveness of sins which they announced was the true promise of' God; the condemnation which they pronounced, the certain judgment of God. This attestation was given to all ages, and remains firm, rendering all certain and secure, that the word of the gospel, by whomsoever it may be preached, is the very word of God, promulgated at the supreme tribunal, written in the book of life, ratified firm and fixed in heaven. We now understand that the power of the keys is simply the preaching of the gospel in those places, and in so far as men are concerned, it is not so much power as ministry. Properly speaking, Christ did not give this power to men but to his word, of which he made men the ministers.

2. The other passage, in which binding and loosing are mentioned, is in the eighteenth chapter of Matthew, where Christ says, "If he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the Church: but if he neglect to hear the Church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican. Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven" (Mt. 18:17, 18). This passage is not altogether similar to the former, but is to be understood somewhat differently. But in saying that they are different, I do not mean that there is not much affinity between them. First, they are similar in this, that they are both general statements, that there is always the same power of binding and loosing (namely, by the word of God), the same command, the same promise. They differ in this, that the former passage relates specially to the preaching which the ministers of the word perform, the latter relates to the discipline of excommunication which has been committed to the Church. Now, the Church binds him whom she excommunicates, not by plunging him into eternal ruin and despair, but condemning his life and manners, and admonishing him, that, unless he repent, he is condemned. She looses him whom she receives into communion, because she makes him, as it were, a partaker of the unity which she has in Christ Jesus. Let no one, therefore, contumaciously despise the judgment of the Church, or account it a small matter that he is condemned by the suffrages of the faithful. The Lord testifies that such judgment of the faithful is nothing else than the promulgation of his own sentence, and that what they do on earth is ratified in heaven. For they have the word of God by which they condemn the perverse: they have the word by which they take back the penitent into favour. Now, they cannot err nor disagree with the judgment of God, because they judge only according to the law of God, which is not an uncertain or worldly opinion, but the holy will of God, an oracle of heaven. On these two passages, which I think I have briefly, as well as familiarly and truly expounded, these madmen, without any discrimination, as they are borne along by their spirit of giddiness, attempt to found at one time confession, at another excommunication, at another jurisdiction, at another the right of making laws, at another indulgences. The former passage they adduce for the purpose of rearing up the primacy of the Roman See. So well known are the keys to those who have thought proper to fit them with locks and doors, that you would say their whole life had been spent in the mechanic art.

3. Some, in imagining that all these things were temporary, as magistrates were still strangers to our profession of religion, are led astray, by not observing the distinction and dissimilarity between ecclesiastical and civil power. For the Church has not the right of the sword to punish or restrain, has no power to coerce, no prison nor other punishments which the magistrate is wont to inflict. Then the object in view is not to punish the sinner against his will, but to obtain a profession of penitence by voluntary chastisement. The two things, therefore, are widely different, because neither does the Church assume anything to herself which is proper to the magistrate, nor is the magistrate competent to what is done by the Church. This will be made clearer by an example. Does any one get intoxicated? In a well-ordered city his punishment will be imprisonment. Has he committed whoredom? The punishment will be similar, or rather more severe. Thus satisfaction will be given to the laws, the magistrates, and the external tribunal. But the consequence will be, that the offender will give no signs of repentance, but will rather fret and murmur. Will the Church not here interfere? Such persons cannot be admitted to the Lord's Supper without doing injury to Christ and his sacred institution. Reason demands that he who, by a bad example, gives offence to the Church, shall remove the offence which he has caused by a formal declaration of repentance. The reason adduced by those who take a contrary view is frigid. Christ, they say, gave this office to the Church when there were no magistrates to execute it. But it often happens that the magistrate is negligent, nay, sometimes himself requires to be chastised; as was the case with the Emperor Theodosius. Moreover, the same thing may be said regarding the whole ministry of the word. Now, therefore, according to that view, let pastors cease to censure manifest iniquities, let them cease to chide, accuse, and rebuke. For there are Christian magistrates who ought to correct these things by the laws and the sword. But as the magistrate ought to purge the Church of offences by corporal punishment and coercion, so the minister ought, in his turn, to assist the magistrate in diminishing the number of offenders. Thus they ought to combine their efforts, the one being not an impediment but a help to the other.

4. And indeed, on attending more closely to the words of Christ, it will readily appear that the state and order of the Church there described is perpetual, not temporary. For it were incongruous that those who refuse to obey our admonitions should be transferred to the magistrate--a course, however, which would be necessary if he were to succeed to the place of the Church. Why should the promise, "Verily I say unto you, What thing soever ye shall bind on earth," be limited to one, or to a few years? Moreover, Christ has here made no new enactment, but followed the custom always observed in the Church of his ancient people, thereby intimating, that the Church cannot dispense with the spiritual jurisdiction which existed from the beginning. This has been confirmed by the consent of all times. For when emperors and magistrates began to assume the Christian name, spiritual jurisdiction was not forthwith abolished, but was only so arranged as not in any respect to impair civil jurisdiction, or be confounded with it. And justly. For the magistrate, if he is pious, will have no wish to exempt himself from the common subjection of the children of God, not the least part of which is to subject himself to the Church, judging according to the word of God; so far is it from being his duty to abolish that judgment. For, as Ambrose says, "What more honourable title can an emperor have than to be called a son of the Church? A good emperor is within the Church, not above the Church" (Ambros. ad Valent. Ep. 32). Those, therefore, who to adorn the magistrate strip the Church of this power, not only corrupt the sentiment of Christ by a false interpretation, but pass no light condemnation on the many holy bishops who have existed since the days of the apostles, for having on a false pretext usurped the honour and office of the civil magistrate.

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


  • The 2 Beasts
  • Prelude To The Bowls
  • 7 Bowls Of Wrath

#1 Revelation 18 | Chuck Missler

 

#2 Revelation 19 | Chuck Missler

 

#3 Revelation 20 | Chuck Missler

 


     Devotionals, notes, poetry and more

coram Deo
     7/1/2011    A Generation of Heroes

     Satan watches for those vessels that sail without a convoy,” wrote Puritan pastor George Swinnock (1627–1673). Every individual knows he was created for community. Isolation is the Devil’s playground, and our Enemy is on the lookout for the Christian who thinks he can stand alone in independent isolation from the fellowship, accountability, and encouragement of faithful brothers and sisters.

     Before the fall of man, even though the Lord God walked in close communion with Adam in the garden, our gracious and triune God knew it was not good for man to be alone (Gen. 2:18), and so God created someone who would meet Adam’s needs and relate to Adam in a way that, by design, God Himself did not. In His often-overlooked grace, God blessed mankind with the most beautiful, intimate, and joyous relationship that exists between mere human beings: holy wedlock between a man and a woman, who by design and covenant become one flesh. Nevertheless, even from that glorious union, He called them to multiply themselves into communities of families that would populate and dominate creation to share life and glorify God together.

     God gave each of us an insatiable hunger to experience life together — life’s joys and passions and life’s sorrows and burdens. Men need men, and women need women. Younger men and women need to listen to and learn from the wisdom and experiences of older men and women. Older men and women need the passion and patience to sit down and tell their stories and lessons to the next generation. Women need authentic relationships with other women to form the enduring companionship of sisterhood that not only detests divisive gossip and grudges but defends, encourages, and bears the burdens of every woman so that no woman is left alone to fend for herself in serving the Lord in her many callings.

     Even though many men are completely content with the community and companionship of images, games, and voices on a screen, men desperately need the camaraderie and fraternity of other men. Men are made to experience intimate and authentic, loyal and enduring friendships with other men — on the battlefield, in the foxhole, at the gates of the city, and at the coffee shop on the corner. And while no wise and truly humble man will ever consider himself a hero, each and every man of God by His grace is called to strive to conquer this world, his flesh, and the Devil, shoulder to shoulder with other men who together serve one another in a company of heroes as husbands and dads who serve by leading their wives, families, churches, and communities into fellowship with God.

     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 received the Distinguished Flying Cross for his service in the Pacific during World War II. He studied at Yale, was a congressman, ambassador to the U.N., CIA director and Vice-President under Ronald Reagan before becoming America's forty-first President. His name: George Bush, born this day, June 12, 1924. In his Inaugural Address, President Bush stated: "I have just repeated… the oath taken by George Washington 200 years ago, and the Bible on which I place my hand is the Bible on which he placed his…. And my first act as President is a prayer. I ask you to bow your heads."

American Minute

Lean Into God
     Compiled by Richard S. Adams

I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about him: I'm ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don't accept his claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic- on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg - or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon and you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.
--- C.S. Lewis
Mere Christianity

We may be statistics and numbers as far as the world’s computers are concerned, but we are precious individuals as far as our Shepherd is concerned. He knows his sheep personally.
--- Warren Wiersbe
Be What You Are

God promises to pardon, to receive into his favour, and finally to save all who believe the record which He has given of his Son. To believe, is therefore to believe this promise; and to appropriate this promise to ourselves is to believe that God is reconciled to us.
--- Charles Hodge
Systematic Theology - (3-Volume Set)

... from here, there and everywhere


The Shema: Spirituality and Law in Judaism
     CHAPTER 8 / “The Lord Is One”:
     “One” and Contemporary Science


     Eḥad is an issue not only for theologians and religious laymen but, in a non-theistic context, for scientists and philosophers as well—in fact, it ultimately concerns all human beings. Indeed, although starting out from totally different vantage points, religious and scientific considerations of unity run parallel; both acknowledge unifying forces in the universe—and perhaps beyond it. In this chapter, we will briefly discuss how the concept of divine unity is refracted through the two lenses of modernity. First, we will consider how contemporary physicists now view the natural universe. Then we will turn to the question of the psycho-cultural orientation of modern society and to its relation to God.

     Albert Einstein, after successfully developing his revolutionary theories—the special and the general theories of relativity—next turned his attention to discovering the underlying pattern of the entire universe, seeking a single theory that would embrace all physical phenomena from the cosmic to the subatomic. That ambition to formulate a “theory of everything” has so far proved elusive. Einstein died before he could find the great unified field theory of physics that could account for the four forces of Nature: gravitation, electromagnetism, and both the weak and strong nuclear forces within the atom. That unified theory has still not been discovered. Although proponents of a “super-string” theory have recently made claims for such a unifying concept within their models of the universe, many physicists are skeptical. This quest remains central to legions of nuclear physicists. Like the Jewish monotheistic intuition that one absolutely “simple” Creator is responsible for both the creation and governance of Nature, (1) modern scientists instinctively believe that a fundamental unity underlies all natural phenomena.

(1)     Eugene Borowitz has written about this briefly in his introductory chapter to the book he edited, Echad: The Many Meanings of God is One (New York: Sh’ma, 1988).

     However, not all physicists share this conviction that one unified theory can explain or describe all of Nature, that all natural phenomena are somehow reflections of an underlying cosmic unity. Some distinguished scientists, albeit a minority, believe that such an equation or theory will never be found, either because it is undiscoverable or—more significantly—because it simply doesn’t exist. In their view, the cosmos is composed of a multiplicity of unrelated forces. There is no underlying unity of all creation.

     Is it legitimate to draw an analogy between the creation—the physical universe—and the Creator, to assert that the unity of the one truly reflects the unity of the Other? And what of the contrary claim, that Nature is not characterized by an underlying unity? Would proving this claim true deny the unity of the Creator? Or might it do just the reverse?

     This controversy is not entirely new. Predating contemporary scientists by almost a thousand years, two of the greatest medieval Jewish philosophers debated the same questions with a similar degree of ardor and sophistication. Saadia (882–942) and Maimonides (1135–1204) both agree that this understanding of the natural universe flows from our affirmation of divine unity. (2) But they hold profoundly different views on what that understanding is.

(2)     I elaborate upon this divergence of views between Saadia and Maimonides in my article, “The Unity of God and the Unity of the World: Saadia and Maimonides,” in Torah and Wisdom: Studies in Jewish Philosophy, Kabbalah, and Halacha—Essays in Honor of Arthur Hyman, ed. Ruth Link-Salinger (New York: Sheugold Publishing, 1992), pp. 113–8.

     For Saadia, the unity of God is so exclusive that nothing else can lay claim to this attribute. Thus, the cosmos must necessarily be multiple. Were he alive today, Saadia undoubtedly would side with those physicists who argue against a unified field theory. Thus, he writes:

     [Inasmuch as] the Creator of the universe, exalted and magnified be He, is essentially one, it follows by logical necessity that His creatures be composed of many elements, as I have made clear in the foregoing.

     At this point, now, I would say that the thing that generally gives the appearance of constituting a unity, whatever sort of unity it be, is singular only in number. Upon careful consideration, however, it is found to be of a multiple nature. To reduce this generalization to simpler terms, when the substances of all beings are analyzed, they are found to be endowed with the attributes of heat and cold and moisture and dryness. When the substance of the tree is examined, it is found to include, in addition to the aforementioned, branches and leaves and fruits, and all that is connected therewith. When the human body, again, is examined, it is found to be composed, besides the elements listed above, of flesh and bones and sinews and arteries and muscles and all that goes with them. This is a matter about which no doubt can be entertained and the reality of which is not to be denied. All these phenomena are in accord with the laws of creation: namely, that the Creator, exalted and magnified be He, be One and His works manifold. That is also borne out by such statements of the Scriptures as, “How manifold are Thy works, O Lord! In wisdom hast Thou made them all” (
Ps. 104:24). (3)

(3)     Saadia, The Book of Beliefs and Opinions, trans. Samuel Rosenblatt (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1948), Treatise


  The Shema: Spirituality and Law in Judaism

History of the Destruction of Jerusalem
     Thanks to Meir Yona

     CHAPTER 18.

     How Herod And Sosius Took Jerusalem By Force; And What Death Antigonus Came To. Also Concerning Cleopatra's Avaricious Temper.

     1. Now the multitude of the Jews that were in the city were divided into several factions; for the people that crowded about the temple, being the weaker part of them, gave it out that, as the times were, he was the happiest and most religious man who should die first. But as to the more bold and hardy men, they got together in bodies, and fell a robbing others after various manners, and these particularly plundered the places that were about the city, and this because there was no food left either for the horses or the men; yet some of the warlike men, who were used to fight regularly, were appointed to defend the city during the siege, and these drove those that raised the banks away from the wall; and these were always inventing some engine or another to be a hinderance to the engines of the enemy; nor had they so much success any way as in the mines under ground.

     2. Now as for the robberies which were committed, the king contrived that ambushes should be so laid, that they might restrain their excursions; and as for the want of provisions, he provided that they should be brought to them from great distances. He was also too hard for the Jews, by the Romans' skill in the art of war; although they were bold to the utmost degree, now they durst not come to a plain battle with the Romans, which was certain death; but through their mines under ground they would appear in the midst of them on the sudden, and before they could batter down one wall, they built them another in its stead; and to sum up all at once, they did not show any want either of painstaking or of contrivances, as having resolved to hold out to the very last. Indeed, though they had so great an army lying round about them, they bore a siege of five months, till some of Herod's chosen men ventured to get upon the wall, and fell into the city, as did Sosius's centurions after them; and now they first of all seized upon what was about the temple; and upon the pouring in of the army, there was slaughter of vast multitudes every where, by reason of the rage the Romans were in at the length of this siege, and by reason that the Jews who were about Herod earnestly endeavored that none of their adversaries might remain; so they were cut to pieces by great multitudes, as they were crowded together in narrow streets, and in houses, or were running away to the temple; nor was there any mercy showed either to infants, or to the aged, or to the weaker sex; insomuch that although the king sent about and desired them to spare the people, nobody could be persuaded to withhold their right hand from slaughter, but they slew people of all ages, like madmen. Then it was that Antigonus, without any regard to his former or to his present fortune, came down from the citadel, and fell at Sosius's feet, who without pitying him at all, upon the change of his condition, laughed at him beyond measure, and called him Antigona. 26 Yet did he not treat him like a woman, or let him go free, but put him into bonds, and kept him in custody.

     3. But Herod's concern at present, now he had gotten his enemies under his power, was to restrain the zeal of his foreign auxiliaries; for the multitude of the strange people were very eager to see the temple, and what was sacred in the holy house itself; but the king endeavored to restrain them, partly by his exhortations, partly by his threatenings, nay, partly by force, as thinking the victory worse than a defeat to him, if any thing that ought not to be seen were seen by them. He also forbade, at the same time, the spoiling of the city, asking Sosius in the most earnest manner, whether the Romans, by thus emptying the city of money and men, had a mind to leave him king of a desert,—and told him that he judged the dominion of the habitable earth too small a compensation for the slaughter of so many citizens. And when Sosius said that it was but just to allow the soldiers this plunder as a reward for what they suffered during the siege, Herod made answer, that he would give every one of the soldiers a reward out of his own money. So he purchased the deliverance of his country, and performed his promises to them, and made presents after a magnificent manner to each soldier, and proportionably to their commanders, and with a most royal bounty to Sosius himself, whereby nobody went away but in a wealthy condition. Hereupon Sosius dedicated a crown of gold to God, and then went away from Jerusalem, leading Antigonus away in bonds to Antony; then did the axe bring him to his end, 27 who still had a fond desire of life, and some frigid hopes of it to the last, but by his cowardly behavior well deserved to die by it.

     4. Hereupon king Herod distinguished the multitude that was in the city; and for those that were of his side, he made them still more his friends by the honors he conferred on them; but for those of Antigonus's party, he slew them; and as his money ran low, he turned all the ornaments he had into money, and sent it to Antony, and to those about him. Yet could he not hereby purchase an exemption from all sufferings; for Antony was now bewitched by his love to Cleopatra, and was entirely conquered by her charms. Now Cleopatra had put to death all her kindred, till no one near her in blood remained alive, and after that she fell a slaying those no way related to her. So she calumniated the principal men among the Syrians to Antony, and persuaded him to have them slain, that so she might easily gain to be mistress of what they had; nay, she extended her avaricious humor to the Jews and Arabians, and secretly labored to have Herod and Malichus, the kings of both those nations, slain by his order.

     5. Now is to these her injunctions to Antony, he complied in part; for though he esteemed it too abominable a thing to kill such good and great kings, yet was he thereby alienated from the friendship he had for them. He also took away a great deal of their country; nay, even the plantation of palm trees at Jericho, where also grows the balsam tree, and bestowed them upon her; as also all the cities on this side the river Eleutherus, Tyre and Sidon 28 excepted. And when she was become mistress of these, and had conducted Antony in his expedition against the Parthians as far as Euphrates, she came by Apamia and Damascus into Judea and there did Herod pacify her indignation at him by large presents. He also hired of her those places that had been torn away from his kingdom, at the yearly rent of two hundred talents. He conducted her also as far as Pelusium, and paid her all the respects possible. Now it was not long after this that Antony was come back from Parthia, and led with him Artabazes, Tigranes's son, captive, as a present for Cleopatra; for this Parthian was presently given her, with his money, and all the prey that was taken with him.

     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 19:8-9
     by D.H. Stern

8     To acquire good sense is to love oneself;
to treasure discernment is to prosper.

9     A false witness will not go unpunished;
whoever breathes out lies will perish.


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 self-interest sleeps and the real interest awakens: Master, where dwellest Thou?… Come and see.… Come with Me.
--- John 1:39.

     “They abode with Him that day.” That is about all some of us ever do, then we wake up to actualities, self-interest arises and the abiding is passed. There is no condition of life in which we cannot abide in Jesus.

     “Thou art Simon, thou shalt be called Cephas.” God writes the new name on those places only in our lives where He has erased the pride and self-sufficiency and self-interest. Some of us have the new name in spots only, like spiritual measles. In sections we look all right. When we have our best spiritual mood on, you would think we were very high-toned saints; but don’t look at us when we are not in that mood. The disciple is one who has the new name written all over him; self-interest and pride and self-sufficiency have been completely erased.

     Pride is the deification of self, and this to-day in some of us is not of the order of the Pharisee, but of the publican. To say ‘Oh, I’m no saint,’ is acceptable to human pride, but it is unconscious blasphemy against God. It literally means that you defy God to make you a saint. ‘I am much too weak and hopeless, I am outside the reach of the Atonement.’ Humility before men may be unconscious blasphemy before God. Why are you not a saint? It is either that you do not want to be a saint, or that you do not believe God can make you one. It would be all right, you say, if God saved you and took you straight to heaven. That is just what He will do! “We will come unto Him, and make our abode with Him.” Make no conditions, let Jesus be everything, and He will take you home with Him not only for a day, but for ever.


My Utmost for His Highest

Night and Morning
     the Poetry of RS Thomas


                Night and Morning

One night of tempest I arose and went
  Along the Menai shore on dreaming bent;
  The wind was strong, and savage swung the tide,
  And the waves blustered on Caernarfon side.

  But on the morrow, when I passed that way,
  On Menai shore the hush of heaven lay;
  The wind was gentle and the sea a flower
  And the sun slumbered on Caernarfon tower.
          (From the Welsh Traditional)


Selected Poems, 1946-68

Searching For Meaning In Midrash
     How to use this book—a sample entry


     Just as a hammer splits [a rock] into many pieces, so will one verse have many meanings.

     (A פִּתְגָּם/pitgam, or "maxim," will headline each of the entries in this book. These Rabbinic proverbs are to be found in the body of the midrashic texts that we will study. Many of these pitgamim [plural of pitgam] have found their way into the collective Jewish consciousness and are often quoted in both religious and secular contexts.)

     "BIBLE TEXT / Jeremiah 23:28–29 / Let the prophet who has a dream tell the dream; and let him who has received My word report My word faithfully! How can straw be compared to grain?—says the Lord. Behold, My word is like fire—declares the Lord—and like a hammer that shatters rock!

     "(Each entry in this book will quote a few verses from the Bible or, to be more precise, the Torah [the first five books of the Bible, often referred to as the Five Books of Moses]. For the purposes of this sample entry, we have chosen verses from the Prophets, since the Midrash on these verses speaks to the process of interpretation. While there are midrashic commentaries to the entire Bible, in this book we have chosen to concentrate on what the Rabbis had to teach about selected verses from Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy.

     "Biblical quotations are cited by book, chapter, and—following a colon—the verses. Thus, Jeremiah 23:28–29 means the biblical Book of Jeremiah (from the Prophets section of the Bible), chapter 23, verses 28–29. To help the reader differentiate the Bible from the Midrash, we have adopted the convention of printing the biblical texts in italics).

     "MIDRASH TEXT / Sanhedrin 34a / One biblical verse may have many meanings, but a single meaning does not emerge from several biblical verses. In the School of Rabbi Yishmael it was taught: " '… like a hammer that shatters rock' (Jeremiah 23:29). Just as a hammer splits [a rock] into many pieces, so will one verse have many meanings."

     "(Citations to the Midrash texts are by the book of Midrash, chapter, and—following a comma—section. [In this case, the Midrash is quoted from the Talmud, which is cited by tractate, page, and side a or b of the page]. Thus, Genesis Rabbah 19, 6 means that the Midrash is taken from the collection called Genesis [or Bereshit] Rabbah, chapter 19, section 6. To assist the reader, when the "Midrash Text" quotes from the "Bible Text," we have set that quote in italics.)

     "CONTEXT / The passage in Sanhedrin deals with the judicial procedures in capital cases. The question is raised why the arguments for acquittal must be recorded. The answer given is that it is to make sure that two different judges, in rendering a decision, don't base the same argument on two separate biblical verses. The Talmud then states the general principle that one biblical verse may have many meanings, but a single meaning does not emerge from several biblical verses. We then learn that the school of Rabbi Yishmael derived this principle from a verse in the Book of Jeremiah.

     "The פְּשָׁט/P'shat, or "contextual meaning," of the passage from Jeremiah concerns false prophets. Jeremiah, a true prophet, brings a message that God is angered by individuals who have dreams and then try to pass them off as the word of God. Dreams, as compared with the true words of the Lord, are like straw compared to grain: Straw is worthless; God's word, on the other hand, is as nutritious as grain and as powerful as fire or as a hammer blow.

     "In the דְּרָשׁ/D'rash, the "interpretive meaning," the verse has a very different sense: The hammer blow smashes a single rock into many pieces, just as the Rabbis could deduce multiple meanings from one verse. The Rabbis believed that the finite verses in the Bible could be interpreted and understood in an almost infinite number of ways. This provided them with the flexibility to find in the Bible a lesson or teaching to cover almost every possible circumstance. The corollary, however, was that two different verses would never mean the very same thing. Thus, "You shall not steal" in Exodus 20:13 and "You shall not steal" in Leviticus 19:11 cannot both be about robbery. The Rabbis interpreted the former to be about kidnapping, the latter about the theft of property.

     "(In the Context section, we explain the Midrash text. It will quickly become apparent to the reader that much more than a translation is required to understand Rabbinic teachings. Midrash and Talmud almost always assume that the reader knows what the teacher is thinking. We will provide the background material that is left out. We will also attempt to show not only what the Rabbis thought [and didn't say] but also how they thought [and the forms and functions of the midrashic process]. We shall endeavor to explain what the Rabbis said, as well as what they meant. In this section, we may give a running commentary on the Midrash text; when we quote the actual words of the text, they will appear in bold print.)


Searching for Meaning in Midrash: Lessons for Everyday Living

Hosea 11–14 Love So Amazing
     W. W. Wiersbe

     "How could Hosea's unfaithful wife Gomer ever question her husband's love? Didn't he demonstrate it by seeking her out, pleading with her to come home, and paying the price to set her free?

     How could Israel ever question God's love and refuse to respond to it? After all, the nation had not only broken the Law of God; they had broken the heart of God. In the closing chapters of this book, Hosea reminded them of God's compassion for His people, and he did it by presenting three clear evidences of God's love.

     1. God's Mercies in the Past (Hosea 11:1–12)

     At least fourteen times in the Book of Deuteronomy, Moses used the word remember. Deuteronomy is Moses' farewell address to the new generation of Israelites as they were preparing to enter the Promised Land. But why would Moses ask these young people to look back when they were getting ready to move forward? Because a correct understanding of God's dealings in the past is the best way to be certain of success in the future. Philosopher George Santayana expressed this truth succinctly: "Those who do not remember the past are condemned to relive it." (The prophet Hosea was very familiar with Jewish history, not only what happened but why it happened and how it related to the present and the future of his People. He refers to the Exodus (2:15; 11:11; 12:9, 13; 13:4), the events surrounding Jehu and Jezreel (1:4, 11; 2:22), Achan and the Valley of Achor (2:15), the wickedness of Gibeah (9:9; 10:9), Israel's sins at Baal-Peor (9:10), the destruction of the cities of the plain (11:8), and events in the life of Jacob (12:3–4, 12).

     God's love demonstrated at the Exodus (Hosea 11:1–2). God sent Joseph ahead into Egypt to prepare the way for Jacob and his sons. What Joseph's brothers did to their brother was meant for evil, but God used it for good (Gen. 50:20). Because of Joseph, the people of Israel were kept alive during the severe famine and were able to multiply in the ensuing years. From this humble beginning, God formed a nation; Moses led that nation out of Egypt in great power and triumph (Ex. 12–15).

     Hosea pictures the God of the Exodus as a tender father who freed his son from bondage. The emphasis here is not on Israel, the unfaithful wife, but on Israel, the ungrateful son. (For God as "Father" and Israel as a "son," see
Ex. 4:22–23
; Isa. 1:2–4; and Deut. 32:5). After all God did for His son, he will refuse to return His love or obey His will.

     God's love demonstrated in the wilderness
(Hosea 11:3–4). The loving father not only carried His son out of bondage, but He taught him to walk and tenderly cared for him during the wilderness journey. When a child stumbles and gets bruised, mother and father are there to give healing and encouragement, and that's what God did for His people. He taught them, healed them, and led them; He was careful to lead them as you would a child and not as you would an animal. He bound Himself to them with cords of love, not with bit and bridle (Ps. 32:8–9) or a galling yoke.

     Read Hosea 11:1–4 again, but instead of noting what God did for Israel, notice how Israel treated God. Like spoiled children, they rebelled against their Father and turned to idols. God spoke to them through His prophets, but the more God called to Israel, the more they strayed from Him! They were happy to enjoy His gifts, but they didn't want to obey the Giver. He sought to lead them with ties of love, but they said, "Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us" (Ps. 2:3, KJV).

     Throughout history, whether Jewish or Gentile, human nature is pretty much the same, and all of us are prone to do what Israel did: enjoy God's blessings, but take God for granted. "My people are determined to turn from me"
(Hosea 11:7, NIV). "Also, sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a brood of evildoers, children who are corrupters!" (Isa. 1:4, NKJV) God set them free and guided them to their inheritance, but within one generation after the death of Joshua, the nation turned to idolatry and forsook the Lord (Jud. 2:7ff).

     God's love demonstrated by His long-suffering
(Hosea 11:5–7). On more than one occasion, God could have destroyed the nation and started over again
(Ex. 32:10), but He chose to be long-suffering. When the journey became difficult, the Jews wanted to go back to Egypt; they complained when they should have been praying and giving thanks for God's mercies.

     We have already seen that some of the references to Egypt in this book refer to the "new bondage" in Assyria (Hosea 11:5). Israel refused to repent, so the nation had to go into captivity. They made plans without consulting God, so their defenses would fall before the invaders. The only time they called on God was when they were in trouble, and God graciously helped them; but now the end had come.

     God's love demonstrated by His faithfulness to His promises (Hosea 11:8–9). What a revelation we have in 11:8 of the compassionate heart of God! According to Jewish law, a rebellious son was supposed to be turned over to the elders of the city and stoned to death
(Deut. 21:18–21), but how could God do this to His beloved son, Israel? (Centuries later, His innocent, only-begotten Son would suffer for the sins of the whole world.) God destroyed the cities of the plain because of their sins
(Gen. 18:16–19:29), and those people didn't have the same privileges of learning about God that Israel had. What right did Israel have to expect God to spare them, especially since they were sinning against a flood of light.

     What motivated God to spare Israel from total destruction? Not only His deep compassion, but also His faithfulness to His covenant. "For I am God, and not man" (Hosea 11:9, KJV). "God is not a man, that He should lie, nor a son of man that He should repent. Has He said, and will He not do it? Or has He spoken, and will he not make it good?" (Num. 23:19)

     God's covenant with Abraham (Gen. 12:1–3) is unconditional and will not change; therefore, the nation of Israel is preserved. But His covenant with Israel at Sinai had conditions attached, and if the people failed to meet those conditions, God was obligated to withdraw His blessings. Israel's possession of the land and its blessings is based on the Abrahamic Covenant, but their enjoyment of the land and its blessings is based on the Mosaic Covenant. God was faithful to both covenants: He preserved the nation, but He disciplined them for their sins.

     God's love demonstrated by the hope of future restoration (Hosea 11:10–12). Often in Scripture you will find a declaration of judgment immediately followed by a promise of hope, and that's the case here. Hosea looks ahead to the end times when Israel will be gathered together from all the nations, brought to their own land, cleansed of their sins, and established in their kingdom. In the past, God roared like a lion when He judged the nation (5:14; 13:7, but in the future, His "roar" will call His people to come back to their land. Like birds turned loose from their cages, the people of Israel will swiftly fly to their own land, and God will "settle them in their homes" (11:11, NIV).

     Meanwhile, God is long-suffering with His people, as He is with all sinners (2 Peter 3:9), even though they lie to Him and rebel against Him (Hosea 11:12). What Jesus said to Jerusalem in His day, God was saying through Hosea to the people of that day: "How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!" (Matt 23:37, NKJV)

     God's mercies in the past certainly proved His love, but Hosea offered a second evidence that God loved His people.


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

The Evidence from Qumran for the Process toward Canon
     Eerdmans Dictionary of Early Judaism

     In the absence of clear early written discussion, surveying the Qumran evidence can be somewhat illuminating, especially since it generally agrees with the New Testament evidence. Criteria of varying strengths for canon or scriptural status would be: (a) a title of the canon or its parts, or a list of its books; (b) formulas that introduce explicit quotations of Scripture; (c) books explicitly quoted as Scripture; (d) multiple copies of a book; (e) books on which commentaries were written; and (f) books that were translated into the vernacular languages.

     Unfortunately, the Dead Sea Scrolls provide no conclusive evidence for determining the exact contents of the collection that the covenanters considered the authoritative books of Scripture or whether they even discussed the question. But that they regarded the Law and the Prophets as divinely revealed Scripture is clear from statements such as “[God] commanded through Moses and all his servants the prophets” (1QS 1:1–3), “As you said through Moses” (1QM 10:6), and “As God said through Isaiah the prophet” (CD 4:13). Thus, there is (a) no clear evidence for a canon of Scripture, but (b) certitude regarding the Law and the Prophets as Scripture. (c) Isaiah and the Minor Prophets are quoted nine times, pentateuchal books (but not Genesis) and Ezekiel 1–5 times; the only others are Psalms and Daniel 2, and one each for Jeremiah, Proverbs, and Jubilees. The Former Prophets and the remainder of the Writings are never quoted (except for the prophetic oracle in 2 Samuel 7). (d) There are thirty-six Hebrew copies of the Psalms, thirty of Deuteronomy, twenty-one of Isaiah, twenty of Genesis, seventeen of Exodus, fourteen of Jubilees, thirteen of Leviticus, twelve (or twenty?) of 1 Enoch, eight of the Minor Prophets and Daniel, seven of Numbers, six of Jeremiah and Ezekiel, and five of Tobit. The Former Prophets and the Writings all have four or fewer copies—fewer than the Community Rule, the Damascus Document, the Hodayot, and the War Scroll. (e) Exegetical commentaries treat only the Law and the Prophets (Isaiah, the Minor Prophets, and Psalms). Finally, (f) the Qumran texts show only the Torah (and possibly 1 Enoch) translated into Greek, while Aramaic targums were rare: one for Leviticus and two for Job. The Greek Minor Prophets scroll from Naḥal Ḥever, however, adds valuable evidence. Since this scroll from the turn of the era is already in revised Greek form, it indicates that the original Greek translation of the main prophetic books had also been accomplished at least by the first century B.C.E.

     Admittedly, the evidence for each criterion is only suggestive; but the combination is quite persuasive. It is clear that the books of the Torah and the Prophets (including Psalms and Daniel) were considered Scripture. Jubilees and 1 Enoch have a strong claim. Job and possibly Proverbs might qualify. But regarding the Former Prophets and the remainder of the Writings, it can only be claimed that the literature was known to the Qumran covenanters; it may or may not have been considered Scripture, though the presence of four copies of Canticles presumably indicates that it was read at least as spiritual allegory.


The Eerdmans Dictionary of Early Judaism

Take Heart
     June 12

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

     There is a fourth beam of light, the awakening of the human conscience. (Classic Sermons on Suffering (Kregel Classic Sermons Series))

     One main function of the face of the suffering that we encounter all around us is to be a perpetual challenge to us to be cooperating with a burden-bearing God and to be giving ourselves in consecrated service for the healing of this broken earth.

     If poverty, unemployment, and war were the will of God, there would be no call for us to stir a finger to remove the sufferings they bring. But if these things are not the will of God at all but simply the product of human bungling and selfishness and sin, and if, accordingly, God’s mind and program for the race is that [these things] should one day be banished from the earth, then clearly we are not meant to lie down under them.

     He means us to be the agents of his purpose and the channels of his providence to one another.

     Yet we admit quite frankly that if these gleams of light were the sum-total of the comfort to be offered, one would hardly have the heart to dwell on it at all. For what men and women want most in the hour of trouble is not an answer to a problem but a power to carry them through. And, indeed, even if the best and most completely satisfying solution of the mystery of suffering were available, that would not alter the fact that the actual suffering itself—the grim reality in experience—would still be there to be endured.

     So we begin to see that there is a deeper question. The ultimate demand is not “Why has this happened to me?” but “How, seeing it has happened, am I to face it?” And when you see that, suddenly the New Testament comes right in. The New Testament is not much concerned about Why? But it is desperately and magnificently concerned about How? It does not offer you a theory and an explanation—it offers you a power and a victory.

     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.

     Now we must press right in, until we reach the Holy Place, and there we shall see, coming forth to meet us, God’s answer—when we lift our eyes and gaze on a cross.
--- James S. Stewart


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

On This Day
     I Can Plod  June 12

     At nine o’clock on Thursday night, June 12, 1806, pioneer missionary William Carey, weary from the day’s labors, sat at his desk and wrote this letter in the flickering light of his oil lamp:

     I rose this day at a quarter before six, read a chapter in the Hebrew Bible, and spent the time till seven in private addresses to God and then attended family prayer with the servants in Bengalee. While tea was pouring out, I read a little in Persian with a Moonshi [a native assistant] who was waiting when I left my bedroom. Read also before breakfast a portion of the Scriptures in Hindoosthanee. The moment breakfast was over sat down to the translation of the Ramayuna [an Indian epic] from Sangskrit, with a Pundit … continued this translation till ten o’clock, at which time I went to College (Fort William), and attended the duties there (teaching Bengali, Sanskrit, and Marathi) till between one and two o’clock—When I returned home I examined a proof sheet of the Bengalee translation of Jeremiah, which took till dinner time. … After dinner translated with the assistance of the chief Pundit of the College, greatest part of the 8th Chap. of Matthew, into Sangskrit—this employed me till six o’clock, after six sat down with a Tilingua Pundit … to learn that Language. Mr. Thomas (son of the Rev. Tho. Thomas of London) called in the Evening; I began to collect a few previous thoughts into the form of a Sermon, at seven o’clock, and preached in English at half past seven. … The Congregation was gone by nine o’clock. I then sat down to write to you, after this I conclude the Evening by reading a Chapter in the Greek testament, and commending myself to God. I have never more time in a day than this, though the exercises vary.

     Eustace Carey said that her uncle never displayed resentment at interruptions. He could give visitors his undivided attention then return immediately to his work. And he never took a furlough from missionary service, living and working in India for nearly 41 years.

     “I can plod,” he once said. “To this I owe everything.”

     Teach us to use wisely all the time we have. --- Psalm 90:12.


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

Morning and Evening
     Daily Readings / CHARLES H. SPURGEON

          Morning - June 12

     “Thou art weighed in the balances and art found wanting.”
--- Daniel 5:27.

     It is well frequently to weigh ourselves in the scale of God’s Word. You will find it a holy exercise to read some psalm of David, and, as you meditate upon each verse, to ask yourself, “Can I say this? Have I felt as David felt? Has my heart ever been broken on account of sin, as his was when he penned his penitential Psalms? Has my soul been full of true confidence in the hour of difficulty as his was when he sang of God’s mercies in the cave of Adullam, or in the holds of Engedi? Do I take the cup of salvation and call upon the name of the Lord?” Then turn to the life of Christ, and as you read, ask yourselves how far you are conformed to his likeness. Endeavour to discover whether you have the meekness, the humility, the lovely spirit which he constantly inculcated and displayed. Take, then, the epistles, and see whether you can go with the apostle in what he said of his experience. Have you ever cried out as he did—“O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” Have you ever felt his self-abasement? Have you seemed to yourself the chief of sinners, and less than the least of all saints? Have you known anything of his devotion? Could you join with him and say, “For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain”? If we thus read God’s Word as a test of our spiritual condition, we shall have good reason to stop many a time and say, “Lord, I feel I have never yet been here, O bring me here! give me true penitence, such as this I read of. Give me real faith; give me warmer zeal; inflame me with more fervent love; grant me the grace of meekness; make me more like Jesus. Let me no longer be ‘found wanting,’ when weighed in the balances of the sanctuary, lest I be found wanting in the scales of judgment.” “Judge yourselves that ye be not judged.”


          Evening - June 12

     “Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling.”
--- 2 Timothy 1:9.

     The apostle uses the perfect tense and says, “Who hath saved us.” Believers in Christ Jesus are saved. They are not looked upon as persons who are in a hopeful state, and may ultimately be saved, but they are already saved. Salvation is not a blessing to be enjoyed upon the dying bed, and to be sung of in a future state above, but a matter to be obtained, received, promised, and enjoyed now. The Christian is perfectly saved in God’s purpose; God has ordained him unto salvation, and that purpose is complete. He is saved also as to the price which has been paid for him: “It is finished” was the cry of the Saviour ere he died. The believer is also perfectly saved in his covenant head, for as he fell in Adam, so he lives in Christ. This complete salvation is accompanied by a holy calling. Those whom the Saviour saved upon the cross are in due time effectually called by the power of God the Holy Spirit unto holiness: they leave their sins; they endeavour to be like Christ; they choose holiness, not out of any compulsion, but from the stress of a new nature, which leads them to rejoice in holiness just as naturally as aforetime they delighted in sin. God neither chose them nor called them because they were holy, but he called them that they might be holy, and holiness is the beauty produced by his workmanship in them. The excellencies which we see in a believer are as much the work of God as the atonement itself. Thus is brought out very sweetly the fulness of the grace of God. Salvation must be of grace, because the Lord is the author of it: and what motive but grace could move him to save the guilty? Salvation must be of grace, because the Lord works in such a manner that our righteousness is for ever excluded. Such is the believer’s privilege—a present salvation; such is the evidence that he is called to it—a holy life.

Morning and Evening

Amazing Grace
     June 12

          THE NINETY AND NINE

     Elizabeth C. Clephane, 1830–1869

     There will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent. (Luke 15:7)

     The Bible teaches that man does not seek after God, but that God initiates the search for lost man. “The Ninety and Nine,” based on the parable in Luke 15:3–7, presents a vivid picture of this scriptural truth.

     Written for children by an invalid woman named Elizabeth Clephane in Melrose, Scotland, the text appeared in a newspaper and caught the attention of Ira Sankey, the well-known music associate of evangelist D. L. Moody. Since he was on the way to their next evangelistic meetings in Edinburgh, Scotland, Mr. Sankey simply tucked the poem in his vest pocket and thought no more of it. During the service that afternoon, Mr. Moody concluded his stirring message on the Good Shepherd and abruptly asked Ira to close with an appropriate solo. Startled, Sankey suddenly remembered the poem in his pocket. He related that he breathed a quick prayer for divine help, struck the chord of A flat on his little pump organ, and began to sing, composing the melody as he went. When Sankey reached the end of the song, both he and Mr. Moody were in tears. During the invitation, many “lost sheep” responded to the call of Christ.

     During their series of evangelistic meetings in Great Britain, Moody and Sankey held a service in Melrose, Scotland. The two sisters of Elizabeth Clephane were in the audience. To their surprise and delight, they heard their departed sister’s poem set to a melody and delivered by the noted Ira Sankey with great spiritual impact.

     There were ninety and nine that safely lay in the shelter of the fold, but one was out on the hills away, far off from the gates of gold—Away on the mountains wild and bare, away from the tender Shepherd’s care, away from the tender Shepherd’s care.

     “Lord, Thou hast here Thy ninety and nine; are thy not enough for Thee?” but the Shepherd made answer: “This of Mine has wandered away from Me. And altho’ the road be rough and steep, I go to the desert to find my sheep; I go to the desert to find My sheep.”

     But all thro’ the mountains, thunder-riv’n, and up from the rocky steep, there arose a glad cry to the gate of heav’n, “Rejoice! I have found My sheep!” And the angels echoed around the throne, “Rejoice, for the Lord brings back His own! Rejoice, for the Lord brings back His own.”


     For Today: Isaiah 55:7; Mark 2:17; Luke 15:3–7; 2 Peter 3:9.

     Lift your heart and voice in praise to God for sending His son to seek and find you when you were lost and indifferent to Him. Sing this portion of the hymn as you go ---

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. LIII. — BUT I will attack the Diatribe itself. If thou really think, O Madam Reason! that these conclusions stand good, ‘If thou wilt — therefore thou hast a free power,’ why dost thou not follow the same thyself? For thou sayest, according to that ‘probable opinion,’ that “Free-will” cannot will any thing good. By what conclusion then can such a sentiment flow from this passage also, ‘if thou wilt keep,’ when thou sayest that the conclusion flowing from this, is, that man can will and not will freely? What! can bitter and sweet flow from the same fountain? Dost thou not here much more deride man thyself, when thou sayest, that he can keep that, which he can neither will nor choose? Therefore, neither dost thou, from thy heart, believe that this is a just conclusion, ‘if thou wilt — therefore thou hast a free power,’ although thou contendest for it with so much zeal, or, if thou dost believe it, then thou dost not, from thy heart, say, that that opinion is ‘probable,’ which holds that man cannot will good. Thus, reason is so caught in the conclusions and words of her own wisdom, that she knows not what she says, nor concerning what she speaks: nay, knows nothing but that which it is most right she should know — that “Free-will” is defended with such arguments as mutually devour, and put an end to each other; just as the Midianites destroyed each other by mutual slaughter, when they fought against Gideon and the people of God. Judges vii.

     Nay, I will expostulate more fully with this wisdom of the Diatribe. Ecclesiasticus does not say, ‘if thou shalt have the desire and the endeavour of keeping,’ (for this is not to be ascribed to that power of yours, as you have concluded) but he says, “if thou wilt keep the commandments they shall preserve thee.” Now then, if we, after the manner of your wisdom, wish to draw conclusions, we should infer thus: — therefore, man is able to keep the commandments. And thus, we shall not here make a certain small degree of desire, or a certain little effort of endeavour to be left in man, but we shall ascribe unto him the whole, full, and abundant power of keeping the commandments. Otherwise, Ecclesiasticus will be made to laugh at the misery of man, as commanding him to ‘keep,’ who, he knows, is not able to ‘keep.’ Nor would it have been sufficient if he had supposed the desire and the endeavour to be in the man, for he would not then have escaped the suspicion of deriding him, unless he had signified his having the full power of keeping.

     But however, let us suppose that that desire and endeavour of “Free-will” are a real something. What shall we say to those, (the Pelagians, I mean) who, from this passage, have denied grace in toto, and ascribed all to “Free-will?” If the conclusion of the Diatribe stand good, the Pelagians have evidently established their point. For the words of Ecclesiasticus speak of keeping, not of desiring or endeavouring. If, therefore, you deny the Pelagians their conclusion concerning keeping, they, in reply, will much more rightly deny you your conclusion concerning endeavouring. And if you take from them the whole of “Free-will,” they will take from you your remnant particle of it: for you cannot assert a remnant particle of that, which you deny in toto. In what degree soever, therefore, you speak against the Pelagians, who from this passage ascribe the whole to “Freewill,” in the same degree, and with much more determination, shall we speak against that certain small remnant desire of your “Free-will.” And in this, the Pelagians themselves will agree with us, that, if their opinion cannot be proved from this passage, much less will any other of the same kind be proved from it: seeing, that if the subject be to be conducted by conclusions, Ecclesiasticus, above all makes the most forcibly for the Pelagians: for he speaks in plain words concerning keeping only, “If thou wilt keep the commandments:” nay, he speaks also concerning faith, “If thou wilt keep the faith:” so that, by the same conclusion, keeping the faith ought also to be in our power, which, however, is the peculiar and precious gift of God.

     In a word, since so many opinions are brought forward in support of “Free-will,” and there is no one that does not catch at this passage of Ecclesiasticus in defence of itself; and since they are diverse from, and contrary to each other, it is impossible but that they must make Ecclesiasticus contradictory to, and diverse from themselves in the self same words; and therefore, they can from him prove nothing. Although, if that conclusion of yours be admitted, it will make for the Pelagians against all the others; and consequently, it makes against the Diatribe; which, in this passage, is stabbed by its own sword!


The Bondage of the Will   or   Christian Classics Ethereal Library


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