O LORD, Do Not DelayPsalm 70 To The Choirmaster: Of David, For The Memorial Offering.
1 Make haste, O God, to deliver me!
O LORD, make haste to help me!
2 Let them be put to shame and confusion
who seek my life!
Let them be turned back and brought to dishonor
who delight in my hurt!
3 Let them turn back because of their shame
who say, “Aha, Aha!”
4 May all who seek you
rejoice and be glad in you!
May those who love your salvation
say evermore, “God is great!”
5 But I am poor and needy;
hasten to me, O God!
You are my help and my deliverer;
O LORD, do not delay!
Forsake Me Not When My Strength Is SpentPsalm 71
1 In you, O LORD, do I take refuge;
let me never be put to shame!
2 In your righteousness deliver me and rescue me;
incline your ear to me, and save me!
3 Be to me a rock of refuge,
to which I may continually come;
you have given the command to save me,
for you are my rock and my fortress.
4 Rescue me, O my God, from the hand of the wicked,
from the grasp of the unjust and cruel man.
5 For you, O Lord, are my hope,
my trust, O LORD, from my youth.
6 Upon you I have leaned from before my birth;
you are he who took me from my mother’s womb.
My praise is continually of you.
7 I have been as a portent to many,
but you are my strong refuge.
8 My mouth is filled with your praise,
and with your glory all the day.
9 Do not cast me off in the time of old age;
forsake me not when my strength is spent.
10 For my enemies speak concerning me;
those who watch for my life consult together
11 and say, “God has forsaken him;
pursue and seize him,
for there is none to deliver him.”
12 O God, be not far from me;
O my God, make haste to help me!
13 May my accusers be put to shame and consumed;
with scorn and disgrace may they be covered
who seek my hurt.
14 But I will hope continually
and will praise you yet more and more.
15 My mouth will tell of your righteous acts,
of your deeds of salvation all the day,
for their number is past my knowledge.
16 With the mighty deeds of the Lord GOD I will come;
I will remind them of your righteousness, yours alone.
17 O God, from my youth you have taught me,
and I still proclaim your wondrous deeds.
18 So even to old age and gray hairs,
O God, do not forsake me,
until I proclaim your might to another generation,
your power to all those to come.
19 Your righteousness, O God,
reaches the high heavens.
You who have done great things,
O God, who is like you?
20 You who have made me see many troubles and calamities
will revive me again;
from the depths of the earth
you will bring me up again.
21 You will increase my greatness
and comfort me again.
22 I will also praise you with the harp
for your faithfulness, O my God;
I will sing praises to you with the lyre,
O Holy One of Israel.
23 My lips will shout for joy,
when I sing praises to you;
my soul also, which you have redeemed.
24 And my tongue will talk of your righteous help all the day long,
for they have been put to shame and disappointed
who sought to do me hurt.
Give the King Your JusticePsalm 72 Of Solomon
1 Give the king your justice, O God,
and your righteousness to the royal son!
2 May he judge your people with righteousness,
and your poor with justice!
3 Let the mountains bear prosperity for the people,
and the hills, in righteousness!
4 May he defend the cause of the poor of the people,
give deliverance to the children of the needy,
and crush the oppressor!
5 May they fear you while the sun endures,
and as long as the moon, throughout all generations!
6 May he be like rain that falls on the mown grass,
like showers that water the earth!
7 In his days may the righteous flourish,
and peace abound, till the moon be no more!
8 May he have dominion from sea to sea,
and from the River to the ends of the earth!
9 May desert tribes bow down before him,
and his enemies lick the dust!
10 May the kings of Tarshish and of the coastlands
render him tribute;
may the kings of Sheba and Seba
11 May all kings fall down before him,
all nations serve him!
12 For he delivers the needy when he calls,
the poor and him who has no helper.
13 He has pity on the weak and the needy,
and saves the lives of the needy.
14 From oppression and violence he redeems their life,
and precious is their blood in his sight.
15 Long may he live;
may gold of Sheba be given to him!
May prayer be made for him continually,
and blessings invoked for him all the day!
16 May there be abundance of grain in the land;
on the tops of the mountains may it wave;
may its fruit be like Lebanon;
and may people blossom in the cities
like the grass of the field!
17 May his name endure forever,
his fame continue as long as the sun!
May people be blessed in him,
all nations call him blessed!
18 Blessed be the LORD, the God of Israel,
who alone does wondrous things.
19 Blessed be his glorious name forever;
may the whole earth be filled with his glory!
Amen and Amen!
20 The prayers of David, the son of Jesse, are ended.
God Is My Strength and Portion ForeverPsalm 73 A Psalm Of Asaph.
1 Truly God is good to Israel,
to those who are pure in heart.
2 But as for me, my feet had almost stumbled,
my steps had nearly slipped.
3 For I was envious of the arrogant
when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.
4 For they have no pangs until death;
their bodies are fat and sleek.
5 They are not in trouble as others are;
they are not stricken like the rest of mankind.
6 Therefore pride is their necklace;
violence covers them as a garment.
7 Their eyes swell out through fatness;
their hearts overflow with follies.
8 They scoff and speak with malice;
loftily they threaten oppression.
9 They set their mouths against the heavens,
and their tongue struts through the earth.
10 Therefore his people turn back to them,
and find no fault in them.
11 And they say, “How can God know?
Is there knowledge in the Most High?”
12 Behold, these are the wicked;
always at ease, they increase in riches.
13 All in vain have I kept my heart clean
and washed my hands in innocence.
14 For all the day long I have been stricken
and rebuked every morning.
15 If I had said, “I will speak thus,”
I would have betrayed the generation of your children.
16 But when I thought how to understand this,
it seemed to me a wearisome task,
17 until I went into the sanctuary of God;
then I discerned their end.
18 Truly you set them in slippery places;
you make them fall to ruin.
19 How they are destroyed in a moment,
swept away utterly by terrors!
20 Like a dream when one awakes,
O Lord, when you rouse yourself, you despise them as phantoms.
21 When my soul was embittered,
when I was pricked in heart,
22 I was brutish and ignorant;
I was like a beast toward you.
23 Nevertheless, I am continually with you;
you hold my right hand.
24 You guide me with your counsel,
and afterward you will receive me to glory.
25 Whom have I in heaven but you?
And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.
26 My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
27 For behold, those who are far from you shall perish;
you put an end to everyone who is unfaithful to you.
28 But for me it is good to be near God;
I have made the Lord GOD my refuge,
that I may tell of all your works.
What I'm Reading
Money From Nothing
By R.C. Sproul Jr. 8/1/2009
I’m connected to royalty. Granted, it’s a rather thin point of union. In less than six degrees, though through enough marriage links that there is no legal tie, I am connected with the king of the tropical island, Yap. Yap is best known not for its sandy beaches nor its pineapple harvest, but for its money. They do not traffic there in sea shells. Neither is their money pure gold. Instead their coinage is great wheel-shaped stones that are hollow in the middle, some as tall as a coconut tree. What can we learn from this about the people of Yap? First, that they are not given to hasty exchanges. It takes a commitment to trade goods and services for stones. As cumbersome as barter can be, it’s likely more easy than rolling a ton of rock down to the local bank. Second, while neither thieves nor robbers are apt to make off with the booty, it is likewise likely that there isn’t a great deal of foreign trade. That is, not many outside of Yap would want this money.
You can discern a great deal about a given people by studying their money. These United States, for roughly three fourths of our history, used gold for money. And we prospered like no other country before us. Granted, as the years went on, the connection between paper dollars and the gold that was supposed to be behind them grew more and more tenuous. Nevertheless, we used to be able to say that this thing or that was “solid as a dollar.” What we meant was that it was as solid as the gold behind a dollar. It could be counted on.
It was Nixon who fully and finally made the greenback truly a green back, that is, backed only by the ink with which it was printed. Since that time, our money has been as dishonest and unstable as we are. Now our money is debt backed by debt. Federal Reserve notes are not worth the paper they’re printed on. In more recent years we’ve gone high tech in our dishonesty. Paper “money” represents a tiny portion of the “money” we use every day. Instead our money today consists in the ethereal world of cyberspace as a simple collection of zeroes and ones, all of which in the end is worth nothing but zeroes.
In a perverse way, our folly makes perfect sense. That is, our understanding of wealth and money matches up nicely with how we view the whole universe. We live in a culture that believes it lives in a universe that just popped into existence. Why should not the god of our age, the state, pop more wealth into existence? If everything came from nothing, why not just make more? The tables turn on us, however, when we realize that’s exactly what we have — nothing — and mountains of it.
We in the church have drunk too deep of the “wisdom” of the world. We not only join in the feeding frenzy at the trough of the nanny state, but we spend our hours bickering over this or that policy proposal. If we are Democrats, then we hate the previous president who created money from nothing. If we are Republicans, we hate the current president for doing the same. We watch the headlines, putting our fingers to the wind, and sell each other on sundry schemes for profiting on the coming economic meltdown.
What we’re supposed to be doing, however, is seeking first the kingdom of God and His righteousness. What we’re supposed to be doing is simple enough — we’re supposed to be working. We’re supposed to be faithfully exercising dominion, bringing all things under subjection, ruling over all things. We’re not supposed to chase lying money but to do honest work. The wisest man, outside of our Lord, who ever lived told us: “Go, eat your bread with joy, and drink your wine with a merry heart, for God has already approved what you do. Let your garments always be white. Let not oil be lacking on your head. Enjoy life with the wife whom you love” (Eccl. 9:7–9a). This is honest living.
There is nothing new under the sun. The world around us, as it always does, is self-destructing. It is has built its culture on sand. And as the foundations of the city of man begin to crack, our hearts are troubled because we have forgotten where our citizenship lies. By all means we ought to pray for the peace of Babylon. By all means we ought to be a prophetic voice to the world around us. But, in the end, we do all of this from a position of peace. We are not only a people of unfathomable wealth but are immutably so. Our treasure is in heaven where it cannot be devalued. We have been given the pearl of great price, which is worth more than all the wealth in the world, whether it be measured by round, hollow stones or by trillions of dollars. Our wealth is not backed by the Federal Reserve. It is not backed by gold. Our currency is the Rock of Offense.
We are all connected to royalty, immediately. We are the bride of the King. His kingdom knows no end. And we reign with Him, seated in the heavenly realms.
R.C. Sproul Jr. has served previously as a pastor, professor, and teacher. He is author of numerous books. Some are listed below.
R.C. Sproul Jr. Books | Go to Books Page
Will Man Rob God?
By R.C. Sproul 8/1/2009
In the last book of the Old Testament, God spoke through the prophet Malachi. He raised a provocative question: “Will man rob God?” This is somewhat startling because it suggests something that on the surface would appear to be impossible. How could anybody rob God of anything? Does it mean that we storm the ramparts of heaven and break into the inner sanctum of the divine treasury and help ourselves to things that God alone possesses? Such a thing is manifestly impossible. The strongest robber in the world could never scale the heights of heaven and defile the possessions of an omnipotent God, and so the very idea of robbing God seems absurd. Yet God gives answer to this question immediately dispelling any absurdity connected with it. He explains pointedly how indeed it is possible for human creatures to be guilty of theft against God. He answers his question, “Will man rob God?” saying, “Yet you are robbing me.” The Israelite response is: “How have we robbed you?” To which God replies, “In your tithes and contributions” (Malachi 3:8). God announces that to withhold the full measure of the tithe that He requires from His people is to be guilty of robbing God Himself. Because of this, He pronounces a curse upon the whole nation and commands them afresh to bring to Him all of the tithe.
When we think of tithing in Old Testament categories, we understand that the requirement involves returning to God the first fruits of one’s prosperity. We are required to give ten percent of our gross annual income or gain. If a shepherd’s flock produced ten new lambs, the requirement was that one of those lambs be offered to God. This offering is from the top. It is not an offering that is given after other expenses are met or after other taxes have been paid.
Recently, I read an article that gave an astonishing statistic that I find difficult to believe is accurate. It declared that of all of the people in America who identify themselves as evangelical Christians, only four percent of them return a tithe to God. If that statistic is accurate, it means that ninety-six percent of professing evangelical Christians regularly, systematically, habitually, and impenitently rob God of what belongs to Him. It also means that ninety-six percent of us are for this reason exposing ourselves to a divine curse upon our lives. Whether this percentage is accurate, one thing is certain — it is clear that the overwhelming majority of professing evangelical Christians do not tithe.
This immediately raises the question: “Why?” How is it possible that somebody who has given his life to Christ can withhold their financial gifts from Him? I have heard many excuses or explanations for this. The most common is the assertion that the tithe is part of the Old Testament law that has passed away with the coming of the New Testament. This statement is made routinely in spite of the complete lack of New Testament evidence for it. Nowhere in the New Testament does it teach us that the principle of the tithe has been abrogated. The New Testament does teach us, however, that the new covenant is superior to the old covenant. It is a covenant that gives more blessings to us than the old covenant did. It is a covenant that with its manifold blessings imposes greater responsibilities than the Old Testament did. If anything, the structure of the new covenant requires a greater commitment to financial stewardship before God than that which was required in the old covenant. That is to say, the starting point of Christian giving is the tithe. The tithe is not an ideal that only a few people reach but rather should be the base minimum from which we progress.
Church history also bears witness that many in the early church did not consider the tithe as having been abrogated in the new covenant. One of the earliest (turn of the second century) extrabiblical documents that survives to this day is the book of the The Didache: Text, Translation, Analysis, and Commentary. The Didache gives practical instruction for Christian living. In the Didache, the principle of the giving of the first fruits or the tithe is mentioned as a basic responsibility for every Christian.
A second argument that people give to avoid the tithe is that they “cannot afford it.” What that statement really means is that they cannot pay their tithe and pay all the other expenses they have incurred. Again, in their minds the tithe is the last resort in the budget. Their giving to God is something that is at the bottom of their list of priorities. It’s a weak argument before God to say, “Lord, I didn’t tithe because I couldn’t afford it” — especially when we consider that the poorest among us has a higher standard of living than ninety-nine percent of the people who have ever walked on the face of the earth.
There are many more excuses that people give to avoid this responsibility, yet the New Testament tells us: “Let the thief no longer steal” (Eph. 2:28a). If we have been guilty of stealing from God in the past by withholding our tithe from Him, that behavior must cease immediately and give way to a resolution to begin tithing at once, no matter what it costs. It’s an interesting phenomenon in the life of the church, that people who in 1960 gave a dollar to the offering plate every week, still give that same dollar today. Everything else in their living costs has been adjusted to inflation except their giving. We also have to remind ourselves that if we give gifts to God, we cannot call them tithes if these gifts fall beneath the level of ten percent.
One of the sad realities of failure to tithe is that in so doing we not only are guilty of robbing God, but we also rob ourselves of the joy of giving and of the blessings that follow from it. I have yet to meet a person who tithes who has expressed to me regret for being one who tithes. On the contrary, I hear from them not a sense of judgment towards those who don’t give but rather a sense of compassion toward them. Frequently, I hear tithers saying, “People who don’t tithe just don’t know what they’re missing.” It is a cliché and a truism that you can’t out-give God. That statement has become a cliché because it is so true. In the text in Malachi, we find something exceedingly rare coming from the lips of God. Here God challenges His people to put Him to a test: “Put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need” (3:10). Have you put God to that test? Have you tried Him to see if He will not open heaven itself and empty His own treasuries upon you? We need to stop robbing Him and thus receive from Him the blessing that He promises.
Robert Charles Sproul, 2/13/1939 – 12/14/2017 was an American theologian, author, and ordained pastor in the Presbyterian Church in America. Dr. R.C. Sproul was founder and chairman of Ligonier Ministries, an international Christian education and discipleship organization located near Orlando, Fla. He was also copastor of Saint Andrew’s Chapel in Sanford, Fla., chancellor of Reformation Bible College, and executive editor of Tabletalk magazine. Dr. Sproul has contributed dozens of articles to national evangelical publications, has spoken at conferences, churches, and schools around the world, and has written more than one hundred books. He also served as general editor of the Reformation Study Bible.R.C. Sproul Books | Go to Books Page
God Loves a Cheerful Giver
By James Harvey 8/1/2009
I love the movie Chariots of Fire. Now over twenty-five years old, the movie remains a compelling testimony of God blessing the faithful use of our gifts and talents. The film chronicles the life of Eric Liddell, a Scottish missionary who was an Olympic-caliber sprinter. At one point in the movie Eric discusses his love of running with his sister Jennie. She is concerned that running is interfering with his call to the mission field. Juxtaposing his own sense of purpose to serve with his love of running, he says to Jennie: “I believe that God made me for a purpose, but He also made me fast, and when I run, I feel His pleasure.” When we use the gifts God gives us for the purpose He intends, we do indeed feel His pleasure. Eric Liddell was made to run. We have been made — made new in Christ (2 Cor 5:17) — to give. When we use our money as God intends, giving a generous portion to His kingdom work regularly, we will feel God’s pleasure because we are doing what we are made to do. When we feel pleasure in giving, we will be cheerful givers. Paul tells us that God loves a cheerful giver. The beauty of the gospel is that God supplies the grace to achieve in us the very thing that He loves. God provides grace to us that we might give cheerfully, feeling His pleasure.
God’s grace abounds to us in every good work of giving (2 Cor. 9:8). Our Father’s ultimate goal for us is that we be conformed to the image of His Son (Rom. 8:29). Jesus is the supreme example of a cheerful giver. So when Paul urges the Corinthian church to support their impoverished brothers and sisters in Jerusalem, he turns to Jesus’ example: “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich” (2 Cor. 8:9).
God loves a cheerful giver because those who feel pleasure in giving display the glorious grace of His Son. His grace abounds to us in giving because in the act of giving we are being moved toward the image of Christ. Every time we give to a kingdom work, we can know a joy and peace in entrusting ourselves to the grace of our Father and being moved by grace toward the image of His Son. We shall not trade this joy for all the riches in the world.
God’s grace alleviates our fear of loss of value and dignity. Our flesh and our culture demand that we find our value and dignity in our material wealth. But we are freed from this bondage and are now being conformed to the image of Christ. Once again, Jesus is our example. In His incarnation Jesus was “born in a low condition.” In His life on earth He underwent “the miseries of this life, the wrath of God, and the cursed death of the cross” (WSC 27). Jesus voluntarily assumed a lower status. So, in following Him we do the same. We give that which we possess even when it requires that we assume a lower station in the eyes of the world (Phil. 2:6). We trade bigger cars, homes, and bank accounts for the work of God’s kingdom. The riches we possess we give away as needed for the kingdom because Christ’s goals have become our own — His gracious giving has become the pattern for our lives, and His everlasting inheritance has become our reward (1 Peter 1:4).
God’s grace blesses our giving with righteousness. Christ calls us to see our giving in terms of “sowing” and “reaping” (2 Cor. 9:6). We are to view our money as “seed” entrusted to us from God. He intends a portion of this seed to be sown in the service of His kingdom to generate gracious spiritual fruit — a “harvest of your righteousness” (v. 10). We sow money at the grocery store to reap an immediate harvest of food. We sow money to provide for our children’s needs. We sow money in investment accounts to reap (so we thought) future gains. Paul says that we are to sow money for the kingdom of God as well. And, just as in every other type of sowing, we will reap according to what we sow (v. 6). In contrast to so many of our other financial investments, our investments in God’s kingdom always bear fruit. God grants a harvest of righteousness when we give. He conforms us to Christ, the ultimate giver. Our giving results in praise to God for those who receive the gift, either directly or through the ministry of another. This harvest of righteousness is part of an enduring righteousness (v. 9), which lasts forever. We have a cheerful satisfaction in knowing that our investment in God’s kingdom will bear fruit according to His promise.
God’s grace is able to meet our future needs. We fear that if we give to the kingdom of God we will jeopardize our future (or our children’s future). We need not fear because God is sovereign. Paul reminds us that God is the one who supplies bread for food. He knows our need for daily sustenance. He will provide for us to have enough for our own needs and still have something to share with others (vv. 9–10). We need not fear the future. God’s grace abounds to provide for us.
We are made in Christ to give. As Calvin says, “For as we are not born for ourselves merely, so a Christian man ought neither to live to himself, nor lay out what he has, merely for his own use.” Start giving regularly and bountifully to the kingdom of God. When you give you will feel His pleasure, for “God loves a cheerful giver” (v. 7).
Rev. James L. Harvey III is senior pastor of Evangelical Presbyterian Church in Newark, Del.
Christ in the Old Testament
By Keith Mathison 9/1/2009
The relationship between the Mosaic covenant and the new covenant remains one of the most controversial and difficult topics in theology. As the notable American theologian Jonathan Edwards said, “There is perhaps no part of divinity attended with so much intricacy, and wherein orthodox divines do so much differ as stating the precise agreement and difference between the two dispensations of Moses and Christ.” There are those who so emphasize either discontinuity or continuity that the problem is solved by oversimplifying it. Most Christians, however, recognize that there are elements of continuity as well as discontinuity. The difficulty arises when we attempt to be more exact.
One of the most helpful books for those who are wrestling with the issues involved is Vern Poythress’ The Shadow of Christ in the Law of Moses. Dr. Poythress is professor of New Testament Interpretation at Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where he has taught since 1976. In The Shadow of Christ, Dr. Poythress looks at the relationship between the Old and New Testaments, explaining how the Mosaic law looks forward to Jesus Christ and how it is fulfilled by Him in His person and work.
The Shadow of Christ in the Law of Moses is divided into two major parts. Part one is titled “Understanding the Different Aspects of the Law,” and part two is titled “Understanding Specific Penalties of the Law.” After a brief introductory chapter on interpreting the Old Testament, the remaining chapters of part one deal with specific issues such as the tabernacle, the sacrifices, the priesthood, the land, and the Law, explaining how each prefigures Jesus Christ. The tabernacle, for example, was where God Himself dwelled with Israel (Ex. 25:8). In various ways it prefigured Christ’s coming to dwell with His people (John 1:14).
The Old Testament sacrifices, of course, foreshadowed Christ’s once-for-all sacrifice on the cross (Heb. 10:1–18), while the Old Testament priesthood prefigured Christ’s work as our one, true High Priest (Heb. 8). The land is a significant aspect of the Mosaic law, so understanding its place in the new covenant is crucial. Poythress explains that the land has symbolic connections in several directions. It is not only a shadow of the new earth, it is a paradigm for the entire present earth. Regarding the instructions of God found in the Law, Poythress spends a good amount of time explaining the difficulties of properly interpreting them and offers his own solutions to several typical examples.
Part two deals at length with various judicial penalties and punishments found in the Mosaic law. Some may find such a discussion off-putting, but the issues are relevant as modern states deal with crime and punishment in their own contexts. Does the Old Testament offer guidelines for modern states? Such questions rose to the level of controversy in American Reformed circles in the 1970s and 1980s with the rise of the Reconstructionist movement and theonomy. Poythress faces the relevant issues directly in the chapters of part two.
In these chapters Poythress addresses the nature of just penalties for crimes. He specifically deals with questions of justice in relation to crimes involving theft, sexual issues, and the taking of human life. He addresses questions concerning deterrence and rehabilitation and offers a persuasive critique of prisons as a just means of punishment in most criminal cases. In the final chapter of part two, Poythress offers a very helpful explanation of what Matthew teaches regarding the fulfillment of the Law by Christ (Matt. 5:17–20). The book concludes with three appendices. The first addresses the question whether the state should punish false worship. The second is a lengthy critique of theonomy, in particular the version espoused by Greg Bahnsen. The final appendix addresses the meaning of the Greek word translated “fulfill” in Matthew 5.
It is unlikely that any reader will agree with every detail of Poythress’ exegesis or every detail of his explanation of the Mosaic law. Those who emphasize continuity and those who emphasize discontinuity will both disagree at some point, as will most of those who fall somewhere in-between. Every reader, however, will be forced to think about the law of God and how it relates to the Christian believer. Every believer will be forced to meditate on the Law and think about how it reveals Christ. There are few books that will assist readers with these important issues as much as this one will. I encourage all who love Scripture to read it and learn from it.
Click here to go to source
Per Amazon, Keith A. Mathison (MA, Reformed Theological Seminary; PhD, Whitefield Theological Seminary) is dean of the Ligonier Academy of Biblical and Theological Studies and an associate editor of Tabletalk magazine at Ligonier Ministries. He is editor of When Shall These Things Be: A Reformed Response to Hyper-Preterism and associate editor of The Reformation Study Bible. He lives in Lake Mary, Florida, with his wife and children.Keith Mathison Books:
- 1 Postmillennialism: An Eschatology of Hope
- 2 The Shape of Sola Scriptura
- 3 Given for You: Reclaiming Calvin's Doctrine of the Lord's Supper
- 4 From Age to Age: The Unfolding of Biblical Eschatology
- 5 Dispensationalism: Rightly Dividing the People of God?
- 6 A Reformed Approach to Science and Scripture
- 7 Not a Chance: God, Science, and the Revolt against Reason
- 8 When Shall These Things Be?: A Reformed Response to Hyper-Preterism
Read The Psalms In "1" Year
Psalm 68God Shall Scatter His Enemies
68 To The Choirmaster. A Psalm Of David. A Song.
28 Summon your power, O God,
the power, O God, by which you have worked for us.
29 Because of your temple at Jerusalem
kings shall bear gifts to you.
30 Rebuke the beasts that dwell among the reeds,
the herd of bulls with the calves of the peoples.
Trample underfoot those who lust after tribute;
scatter the peoples who delight in war.
31 Nobles shall come from Egypt;
Cush shall hasten to stretch out her hands to God.
32 O kingdoms of the earth, sing to God;
sing praises to the Lord, Selah
33 to him who rides in the heavens, the ancient heavens;
behold, he sends out his voice, his mighty voice.
34 Ascribe power to God,
whose majesty is over Israel,
and whose power is in the skies.
35 Awesome is God from his sanctuary;
the God of Israel—he is the one who gives power and strength to his people.
Blessed be God!
Deut. 31; Psalm 119:97-120; Isaiah 58; Matthew 6
By Don Carson 6/26/2018
Reflect for a moment on the rich and diverse means that God granted to Israel to help them remember what he had done to deliver them, and the nature of the covenant they had pledged themselves to obey.
There was the tabernacle itself (later the temple), with its carefully prescribed rites and feasts: the covenant was not an abstract philosophical system, but was reflected in regular religious ritual. The nation was constituted in such a way that the Levites were distributed amongst the other tribes, and the Levites had the task of teaching the Law to the rest of the people. The three principal high feasts were designed to gather the people to the central tabernacle or temple, where both the ritual and the actual reading of the Law were to serve as powerful reminders (Deut. 31:11).
From time to time God sent specially endowed judges and prophets, who called the people back to the covenant. Families were carefully taught how to pass on the inherited history to their children, so that new generations that had never seen the miraculous display of God’s power at the time of the Exodus would nevertheless be fully informed of it and own it as theirs. Moreover, blessings from God would attend obedience, and judgment from God would attend disobedience, so that the actual circumstances of the community were supposed to elicit reflection and self-examination. Legislation was passed to foster a sense of separateness in the fledgling nation, erecting certain barriers so that the people would not easily become contaminated by the surrounding paganism. Unique events, like the antiphonal shouting at Mounts Gerizim and Ebal at the time of entering the land (see June 22 meditation), were supposed to foster covenant fidelity in the national memory.
But now God adds one more device. Precisely because God knows that in due course the people will rebel anyway, he instructs Moses to write a song of telling power that will become a national treasure — and a sung testimony against themselves (Deut. 31:19-22). Someone has said, “Let me write the songs of a nation, and I care not who writes its laws.” The aphorism is overstated, of course, but insightful nonetheless. That is the purpose of the next chapter, Deuteronomy 32. The Israelites will learn, as it were, a national anthem that will speak against them if they shut down all the other God-given calls to remember and obey.
What devices, in both Scripture and history, has God graciously given to help the heirs of the new covenant remember and obey? Meditate on them. How have you used them? What songs do we sing to put this principle into practice, that teach the people of God matters of irrevocable substance beyond mere sentimentalism?
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 | Go to Books Page
The Role Of The Law
By Sinclair Ferguson
All progressive revelation echoes and advances prior revelation. This broken law was given in a specific interim formulation at Sinai. Now the same law is written in our hearts, the fruit not of creating grace, or of the commands of Sinai, but of the shed blood of Jesus. That shed blood brought Mosaic ceremonies to an end by fulfilling them; it marked the finale of the civil laws of Israel as God’s people now entered a new epoch and became a spiritual nation in all lands, and no longer a socio-political people group preserved in one land.
This, then, seen from various angles, is how mainstream Reformed biblical theology saw the role of the law.
Paradoxically, today it is often statements like those of the Confession of Faith that are accused of a lack of biblical-theological perspective, for failing to understand the place of the law in redemptive history. But to this the Westminster Divines would surely be entitled to respond, “But how can you read the prophets and say they did not understand these distinctions? Were they not the mouthpieces of God, saying: ‘It is not sacrifice and burnt offering that come first, but obedience’? Did they not thereby distinguish ceremonial law from moral law?”
Here again we see a parallel between Old Testament prophecy and Old Testament law. The prophets predicted the Christ who would come to save his people. But it was only when those prophecies of his coming passed through the prism of his presence that the whole truth became clear. These “unified” prophecies were in fact always looking forward to a two-stage coming of his kingdom, the first at the incarnation and the second at the consummation. So it is with the law: only in the light of Christ do we clearly see its dimensions.
As the perfect embodiment of the moral law of God, Jesus Christ bids us come to him and find rest (a term loaded with exodus echoes). (See: Ex. 33:14; Deut. 12:9; Josh. 1:13, 15; Isa. 63:4) He also bids us be united to him through faith in the power of the Spirit, so that as he places his yoke (of law) on our shoulders we hear him say, “My yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
So we are Ephesians 2:15–16 Christians: the ceremonial law is fulfilled.
We are Colossians 2:14–17 Christians: the civil law distinguishing Jew and Gentile is fulfilled.
And we are Romans 8:3–4 Christians: the moral law has also been fulfilled in Christ. But rather than being abrogated, that fulfillment is now repeated in us as we live in the power of the Spirit. (Here it should be noted that the New Testament contrasts the letter with the Spirit but never the substance of the moral law with the Spirit.)
In Christ then, we truly see the telos of the law. And yet as Paul also says, “Do we abrogate the law by teaching faith in Christ? No. We strengthen it. For Christ did not come to abolish it but to fulfill it, so that it might in turn be fulfilled in us.” That is why in Romans 13:8–10, Ephesians 6:1, and in other places the apostle takes for granted the abiding relevance of the law of God for the life of the believer.
The Old Testament saint knew that while condemned by the law he had breached, its ceremonial provisions pointed him to the way of forgiveness. He saw Christ as really (if opaquely) in the ceremonies as he did in the prophecies. He also knew as he watched the sacrifices being offered day after day and year after year that this repetition meant these sacrifices could not fully and finally take away sin—otherwise he would not need to return to the temple precincts. He was able to love the law as his rule of life because he knew that God made provision for its breach, pointed to redemption in its ceremonies, and gave him direction through its commandments.
It should not, therefore, surprise us or grieve us to think that the Christian sees Christ in the law. He or she also sees it as a rule of life; indeed, sees with Calvin that Christ is the life of the law because without Christ there is no life in the law.
We appreciate the clarity of the law only when we gaze fully into Christ’s face. But when we do gaze there, we see the face of one who said, “Oh how I love your law; it is my meditation all the day” (Ps. 119:97.) —and we want to be like him.
This is not—as the antinomian feared—bondage. It is freedom. The Christian rejoices therefore in the law’s depth. He seeks the Spirit’s guidance for its application, because he can say with Paul that in Christ through the gospel he has become an “in-law.” (Again the principle is that he is ennomos Christou, “in-law” through his marriage to Christ. One might think here of the way in which, for example, the Rules of Golf, authoritatively issued by the United States Golf Association and The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews, are never regarded as “legalistic” by those who play golf. And to be an “antinomian” golfer and ignore the rules leads to disqualification. Fascinatingly, the governing bodies of golf publish a surprisingly large book giving guidance on the details of the application of the rules to every conceivable situation on a golf course—and to some that are virtually inconceivable! The rules, and their detailed application, are intended to enhance the enjoyment of the game. My edition (2010–2011) extends to 578 pages with a further 131 pages of index. The person who loves the game of golf finds great interest and pleasure, even delight, in browsing through these applications of the Rules of Golf. It should therefore not greatly stretch the imagination that the Old Testament believer took far greater pleasure at a higher level in meditating on and walking in the ways of God’s law. It is passing strange that there should be so often among Christians a sense of heart irritation against the idea that God’s law should remain our delight. Our forefathers from Luther onward grasped this principle, and, as a result, through the generations those who made use of the standard catechisms learned how to apply God’s Word and law to the daily details of life. It is a mysterious paradox that Christians who are so fascinated by rules and principles that are necessary or required in their professions or avocations respond to God’s ten basic principles with a testy spirit. Better, surely, to say, “Oh how I love your law!” It should be no surprise that there appears to be a correlation between the demise of the law of God in evangelicalism and the rise of a plethora of mystical ways of pursuing guidance, detaching the knowledge of God’s will from knowledge of and obedience to God’s Word.)
At the end of the day the antinomian who regards the moral law as no longer binding is forced into an uncomfortable position. He must hold that an Old Testament believer’s passionate devotion to the law (of which devotion, curiously, the majority of Christians feel they fall short) was essentially a form of legalism. But it is Jesus himself who shows an even deeper intensity in the law by expounding its deep meaning and penetration into the heart. (Matt. 5:17–48)
Neither the Old Testament believer nor the Savior severed the law of God from his gracious person. It was not legalism for Jesus to do everything his Father commanded him. Nor is it for us.
Dr. Sinclair B. Ferguson is a Ligonier teaching fellow and distinguished visiting professor of systematic theology at Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia. Sinclair Ferguson Books | Go to Books Page
The Institutes of the Christian Religion
Translated by Henry Beveridge
17. Wherefore, let it be a fixed point, that the office of the
sacraments differs not from the word of God; and this is to hold forth
and offer Christ to us, and, in him, the treasures of heavenly grace.
They confer nothing, and avail nothing, if not received in faith, just
as wine and oil, or any other liquor, however large the quantity which
you pour out, will run away and perish unless there be an open vessel
to receive it. When the vessel is not open, though it may be sprinkled
all over, it will nevertheless remain entirely empty. We must be aware
of being led into a kindred error by the terms, somewhat too
extravagant, which ancient Christian writers have employed in extolling
the dignity of the sacraments. We must not suppose that there is some
latent virtue inherent in the sacraments by which they, in themselves,
confer the gifts of the Holy Spirit upon us, in the same way in which
wine is drunk out of a cup, since the only office divinely assigned
them is to attest and ratify the benevolence of the Lord towards us;
and they avail no farther than accompanied by the Holy Spirit to open
our minds and hearts, and make us capable of receiving this testimony,
in which various distinguished graces are clearly manifested. For the
sacraments, as we lately observed (chap. 13 sec. 6; and 14 sec. 6, 7),
are to us what messengers of good news are to men, or earnests in
ratifying pactions. They do not of themselves bestow any grace, but
they announce and manifest it, and, like earnests and badges, give a
ratification of the gifts which the divine liberality has bestowed upon
us. The Holy Spirit, whom the sacraments do not bring promiscuously to
all, but whom the Lord specially confers on his people, brings the
gifts of God along with him, makes way for the sacraments, and causes
them to bear fruit. But though we deny not that God, by the immediate
agency of his Spirit, countenances his own ordinance, preventing the
administration of the sacraments which he has instituted from being
fruitless and vain, still we maintain that the internal grace of the
Spirit, as it is distinct from the external ministration, ought to be
viewed and considered separately. God, therefore, truly performs
whatever he promises and figures by signs; nor are the signs without
effect, for they prove that he is their true and faithful author. The
only question here is, whether the Lord works by proper and intrinsic
virtue (as it is called), or resigns his office to external symbols? We
maintain, that whatever organs he employs detract nothing from his
primary operation. In this doctrine of the sacraments, their dignity is
highly extolled, their use plainly shown, their utility sufficiently
proclaimed, and moderation in all things duly maintained; so that
nothing is attributed to them which ought not to be attributed, and
nothing denied them which they ought to possess. Meanwhile, we get rid
of that fiction by which the cause of justification and the power of
the Holy Spirit are included in elements as vessels and vehicles, and
the special power which was overlooked is distinctly explained. Here,
also, we ought to observe, that what the minister figures and attests
by outward action, God performs inwardly, lest that which God claims
for himself alone should be ascribed to mortal man. This Augustine is
careful to observe: "How does both God and Moses sanctify? Not Moses
for God, but Moses by visible sacraments through his ministry, God by
invisible grace through the Holy Spirit. Herein is the whole fruit of
visible sacraments; for what do these visible sacraments avail without
that sanctification of invisible grace?"
18. The term sacrament, in the view we have hitherto taken of it, includes, generally, all the signs which God ever commanded men to use, that he might make them sure and confident of the truth of his promises. These he was pleased sometimes to place in natural objects--sometimes to exhibit in miracles. Of the former class we have an example, in his giving the tree of life to Adam and Eve, as an earnest of immortality, that they might feel confident of the promise as often as they ate of the fruit. Another example was, when he gave the bow in the cloud to Noah and his posterity, as a memorial that he would not again destroy the earth by a flood. These were to Adam and Noah as sacraments: not that the tree could give Adam and Eve the immortality which it could not give to itself; or the bow (which is only a reflection of the solar rays on the opposite clouds) could have the effect of confining the waters; but they had a mark engraven on them by the word of God, to be proofs and seals of his covenant. The tree was previously a tree, and the bow a bow; but when they were inscribed with the word of God, a new form was given to them: they began to be what they previously were not. Lest any one suppose that these things were said in vain, the bow is even in the present day a witness to us of the covenant which God made with Noah (Calv. in Gen. 9:6). As often as we look upon it, we read this promise from God, that the earth will never be destroyed by a flood. Wherefore, if any philosophaster, to deride the simplicity of our faith, shall contend that the variety of colours arises naturally from the rays reflected by the opposite cloud, let us admit the fact; but, at the same time, deride his stupidity in not recognising God as the Lord and governor of nature, who, at his pleasure, makes all the elements subservient to his glory. If he had impressed memorials of this description on the sun, the stars, the earth, and stones, they would all have been to us as sacraments. For why is the shapeless and the coined silver not of the same value, seeing they are the same metal? Just because the former has nothing but its own nature, whereas the latter, impressed with the public stamp, becomes money, and receives a new value. And shall the Lord not be able to stamp his creatures with his word, that things which were formerly bare elements may become sacraments? Examples of the second class were given when he showed light to Abraham in the smoking furnace (Gen. 15:17), when he covered the fleece with dew while the ground was dry; and, on the other hand, when the dew covered the ground while the fleece was untouched, to assure Gideon of victory (Judges 6:37); also, when he made the shadow go back ten degrees on the dial, to assure Hezekiah of his recovery (2 Kings 20:9; Isa. 38:7). These things, which were done to assist and establish their faith, were also sacraments.
19. But my present purpose is to discourse especially of those sacraments which the Lord has been pleased to institute as ordinary sacraments in his Church, to bring up his worshippers and servants in one faith, and the confession of one faith. For, to use the words of Augustine, "In no name of religion, true or false, can men be assembled, unless united by some common use of visible signs or sacraments" (August. cont. Faustum, Lib. 9 c. 11). Our most merciful Father, foreseeing this necessity, from the very first appointed certain exercises of piety to his servants; these, Satan, by afterwards transferring to impious and superstitious worship, in many ways corrupted and depraved. Hence those initiations of the Gentiles into their mysteries, and other degenerate rites. Yet, although they were full of error and superstition, they were, at the same time, an indication that men could not be without such external signs of religion. But, as they were neither founded on the word of God, nor bore reference to that truth which ought to be held forth by all signs, they are unworthy of being named when mention is made of the sacred symbols which were instituted by God, and have not been perverted from their end--viz. to be helps to true piety. And they consist not of simple signs, like the rainbow and the tree of life, but of ceremonies, or (if you prefer it) the signs here employed are ceremonies. But since, as has been said above, they are testimonies of grace and salvation from the Lord, so, in regard to us, they are marks of profession by which we openly swear by the name of God, binding ourselves to be faithful to him. Hence Chrysostom somewhere shrewdly gives them the name of pactions, by which God enters into covenant with us, and we become bound to holiness and purity of life, because a mutual stipulation is here interposed between God and us. For as God there promises to cover and efface any guilt and penalty which we may have incurred by transgression, and reconciles us to himself in his only begotten Son, so we, in our turn, oblige ourselves by this profession to the study of piety and righteousness. And hence it may be justly said, that such sacraments are ceremonies, by which God is pleased to train his people, first, to excite, cherish, and strengthen faith within; and, secondly, to testify our religion to men.
20. Now these have been different at different times, according to the dispensation which the Lord has seen meet to employ in manifesting himself to men. Circumcision was enjoined on Abraham and his posterity, and to it were afterwards added purifications and sacrifices, and other rites of the Mosaic Law. These were the sacraments of the Jews even until the advent of Christ. After these were abrogated, the two sacraments of Baptism and the Lord's Supper, which the Christian Church now employs, were instituted. I speak of those which were instituted for the use of the whole Church. For the laying on of hands, by which the ministers of the Church are initiated into their office, though I have no objection to its being called a sacrament, I do not number among ordinary sacraments. The place to be assigned to the other commonly reputed sacraments we shall see by-and-by. Still the ancient sacraments had the same end in view as our own--viz. to direct and almost lead us by the hand to Christ, or rather, were like images to represent him and hold him forth to our knowledge. But as we have already shown that sacraments are a kind of seals of the promises of God, so let us hold it as a most certain truth, that no divine promise has ever been offered to man except in Christ, and that hence when they remind us of any divine promise, they must of necessity exhibit Christ. Hence that heavenly pattern of the tabernacle and legal worship which was shown to Moses in the mount. There is only this difference, that while the former shadowed forth a promised Christ while he was still expected, the latter bear testimony to him as already come and manifested.
21. When these things are explained singly and separately, they will be much clearer. Circumcision was a sign by which the Jews were reminded that whatever comes of the seed of man--in other words, the whole nature of man--is corrupt, and requires to be cut off; moreover, it was a proof and memorial to confirm them in the promise made to Abraham, of a seed in whom all the nations of the earth should be blessed, and from whom they themselves were to look for a blessing. That saving seed, as we are taught by Paul (Gal. 5:16), was Christ, in whom alone they trusted to recover what they had lost in Adam. Wherefore circumcision was to them what Paul says it was to Abraham--viz. a sign of the righteousness of faith (Rom. 9:11):--viz. a seal by which they were more certainly assured that their faith in waiting for the Lord would be accepted by God for righteousness. But we shall have a better opportunity elsewhere (chap. 16 sec. 3, 4) of following out the comparison between circumcision and baptism.  Their washings and purifications placed under their eye the uncleanness, defilement, and pollution with which they were naturally contaminated, and promised another laver in which all their impurities might be wiped and washed away. This laver was Christ, washed by whose blood we bring his purity into the sight of God, that he may cover all our defilements. The sacrifices convicted them of their unrighteousness, and at the same time taught that there was a necessity for paying some satisfaction to the justice of God; and that, therefore, there must be some high priest, some mediator between God and man, to satisfy God by the shedding of blood, and the immolation of a victim which might suffice for the remission of sins. The high priest was Christ: he shed his own blood, he was himself the victim: for in obedience to the Father, he offered himself to death, and by this obedience abolished the disobedience by which man had provoked the indignation of God (Phil. 2:8; Rom. 5:19).
22. In regard to our sacraments, they present Christ the more clearly to us, the more familiarly he has been manifested to man. ever since he was exhibited by the Father, truly as he had been promised. For Baptism testifies that we are washed and purified; the Supper of the Eucharist that we are redeemed. Ablution is figured by water, satisfaction by blood. Both are found in Christ, who, as John says, "came by water and blood;" that is, to purify and redeem. Of this the Spirit of God also is a witness. Nay, there are three witnesses in one, water, Spirit, and blood. In the water and blood we have an evidence of purification and redemption, but the Spirit is the primary witness who gives us a full assurance of this testimony. This sublime mystery was illustriously displayed on the cross of Christ, when water and blood flowed from his sacred side (John 19:34); which, for this reason, Augustine justly termed the fountain of our sacraments (August. Hom. in Joann. 26). Of these we shall shortly treat at greater length. There is no doubt that, it you compare time with time, the grace of the Spirit is now more abundantly displayed. For this forms part of the glory of the kingdom of Christ, as we gather from several passages, and especially from the seventh chapter of John. In this sense are we to understand the words of Paul, that the law was "a shadow of good things to come, but the body is of Christ" (Col. 2:17). His purpose is not to declare the inefficacy of those manifestations of grace in which God was pleased to prove his truth to the patriarchs, just as he proves it to us in the present day in Baptism and the Lord's Supper, but to contrast the two, and show the great value of what is given to us, that no one may think it strange that by the advent of Christ the ceremonies of the law have been abolished.
Christian Classics Ethereal Library / Public Domain
Institutes of the Christian Religion
Devotionals, notes, poetry and more
9/1/2012 The Dawn of Reformation
It is one thing to believe that the Bible is the Word of God, but it is another to believe, or trust, the Bible as the Word of God. We’re called not only to believe in God and His Word but to believe God—to trust God—and His Word. Throughout history, the visible church has always professed her belief that the Bible is God’s Word. Yet, a cursory study of church history reveals that many popes, priests, and parishioners neglected to read the Bible themselves, and many didn’t believe, or trust, the Bible as the final, authoritative Word of God.
Such widespread unbelief didn’t happen all at once, but gradually. As men gained political and ecclesiastical power throughout the medieval period, they established themselves as the only authoritative interpreters of God’s Word and, eventually, albeit inevitably, as authoritative equals with God’s Word. As a result, God’s Word was deemed superfluous, chained to the pulpit, and recited solely in Latin, ensuring that common, uneducated (poor and powerless) Christians could never access God’s Word for themselves and, therefore, never question the authority of the powerful elite. Nevertheless, men cannot silence God’s Word, nor can they contain the Holy Spirit or extinguish the power of the gospel. God’s truth will always shine, however dark the age.
The light of the sixteenth-century Reformation was the reflection of the light of the Word of God as our final, infallible authority. The great Reformation slogan, post tenebras, lux (“after darkness, light”), captured the heart of the Reformation—the light of God’s Word and the light of the gospel of Jesus Christ, who is the light of the world. This light of the gospel that shone brilliantly in Wittenberg and Geneva and throughout Europe in the sixteenth century had been steadily shining throughout all of history through the faithful remnant of those whom God had raised up to proclaim His Word and His gospel to His people.
We can trace the dawn of the Reformation back through the centuries, from John Hus in the fifteenth century to John Wycliffe in the fourteenth century to Peter Waldo in the twelfth century. Waldo preached the authority of Scripture and worked diligently for a common translation of the Bible and its use among all people; for the ability of all Christians, not just the clergy, to teach the gospel to their children; and for the right of all men to obey God and His Word as their final, infallible authority for all of faith and life. By God’s grace, he strove to live all of life coram Deo, looking to God’s Word as the lamp to his feet and the light to his path, a path that led to excommunication but, eventually, to reformation.
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Dr. Burk Parsons (@BurkParsons) is editor of Tabletalk magazine, senior pastor of Saint Andrew’s Chapel in Sanford, Fla., a visiting lecturer at Reformed Theological Seminary, and a Ligonier Ministries teaching fellow. He is editor of John Calvin: A Heart for Devotion, Doctrine, and Doxology.
Ligonier coram Deo (definition)
by Bill Federer
The United Nations Charter was signed this day, June 26, 1945, in San Francisco by the 51 original member nations. Herbert Hoover, America’s thirty-first President, stated in a radio address: “I suggest… the United Nations… be reorganized… [with] those peoples who disavow communism… stand for morals and religion, and who love freedom…. What the world needs today is a… mobilization of the nations who believe in God against this tide of Red agnosticism.” Hoover concluded: “It is a proposal for… spiritual cooperation of God-fearing free nations… rejecting an atheistic other world.”
Compilation by RickAdams7
Before me, even as behind,
and all is well.
--- John Greenleaf Whittier
The complete poetical works of John Greenleaf Whittier with illustrations
Walk with the Lord!
--- Author Unknown
Random Thoughts Of An Old Man
I venture to suggest that the one vital quality which they had in common was spiritual receptivity. Something in them was open to Heaven, something which urged them Godward. Without attempting anything like a profound analysis, I shall simply say that they had spiritual awareness and that they went on to cultivate it until it became the biggest thing in their lives. They differed from the average person in that when they felt the inward longing they did something about it. They acquired the lifelong habit of spiritual response. They were not disobedient to the Heavenly vision. As David put it neatly, “When Thou saidst, Seek ye My Face; my heart said unto Thee, Thy Face, Lord, will I seek”.
--- A. W. Tozer
The Pursuit of God (The Definitive Classic)
We say that the hour of death cannot be forecast, but when we say this we imagine that hour as placed in an obscure and distant future. It never occurs to us that it has any connection with the day already begun or that death could arrive this same afternoon, this afternoon which is so certain and which has every hour filled in advance. --- Marcel Proust
Mourning in the Mountains
... from here, there and everywhere
CHAPTER 14 / R. Samuel David Luzzatto on
“You Shall Love”
Having dismissed the various forms of rationalism in interpreting ahavat Hashem, Shadal declares that instead of merging Torah and philosophy in an incomplete and unnatural synthesis, we should understand that philosophy and Torah have different goals. Philosophy is the search for truth; Torah is the pursuit of good deeds and moral behavior. If the Torah, for instance, teaches us about the unity of God or the creation of the world, such teachings are not meant to impart either theoretical or scientific truths to us; rather, they should inspire within us the desire to act properly, nobly, obediently. This is why the Torah uses anthropomorphisms (depicting God in corporeal terms) and, especially, anthropopathisms (attributing to Him human emotions): by attributing to God such human affects as anger and love and will and joy, the Torah encourages us to develop a bond with Him. While philosophy appeals to our intellectual faculties, the Torah addresses our innermost feelings; and since humans are composed of both elements, the mental and the emotional, both Torah and philosophy are natural to us. Neither one is invalid; each belongs in its proper sphere. Each is “true” in its own individual context.
When it comes to loving God, therefore, we must engage the Torah on its own terms. Just as love is ascribed to God so that we can encounter and bond with Him in terms we can understand, so does the commandment to love God encourage us to respond to God lovingly by obeying His commandments. For love for God, says Shadal, is not a specific positive commandment, but a collective or general mitzvah very much like the mitzvah of “you shall love the stranger” (Deut. 10:19) or “you shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Lev. 19:18). Such a directive must be understood behaviorally: we are commanded to act lovingly, not to love emotionally, for the emotions are in any event not subject to commandment.
Shadal’s position is not immune to criticism. Although this is not the place to analyze his views on the relation of Torah and philosophy, the issue is sufficiently related to an understanding of “You shall love the Lord your God” to warrant the comment that his dichotomy between Torah and philosophy is far too neat. In fact, the borderline between them is rather messy and often quite indistinct and cannot be dismissed so airily. Furthermore, his interpretation of ahavat Hashem lacks theological force: declaring love a useful fiction hardly inspires religious fervor or the performance of the mitzvot. And on a technical halakhic level, he fails to explain the difference between the specific actional mitzvot and the more generalized commandments, as well as inform us why these latter mitzvot should be reckoned among the 613.
Finally, his behavioral conception of ahavat Hashem leaves one uneasy. By contrast, Maimonides, in offering a more affective exegesis of the verse, not only presents us with a more emotionally satisfying explanation of one of the most significant verses in all of Torah, but also one that accords with the literal sense of the passage. Although we find antecedents to Shadal’s interpretation of ahavat Hashem in Naḥmanides’ (Ramban) commentary to our verse, that is not enough to exempt Shadal’s views from criticism. That ahavat Hashem must have pragmatic application goes without saying, but divorcing its expression from genuine religious emotions and profound spiritual sensibilities does an injustice to the peshuto shel mikra, the plain sense of the scriptural passage, as well as to generations of saintly Jews who remain enduring models of Jewish piety and ethical conduct.
Yet Shadal has much to teach us in cautioning us against making too easy a synthesis of Torah and whatever is the regnant philosophy of the times. We should especially heed his teaching that Torah endures, whereas secular philosophical thought and scientific theories prove ephemeral. Such warnings can guide us to the proper kavvanah as we recite this key verse in the Shema.
The Shema: Spirituality and Law in Judaism
Thanks to Meir Yona
How Antipater Is Hated Of All Men; And How The King Espouses The Sons Of Those That Had Been Slain To His Kindred; But That Antipater Made Him Change Them For Other Women. Of Herod's Marriages, And Children.
1. But an intolerable hatred fell upon Antipater from the nation, though he had now an indisputable title to the succession, because they all knew that he was the person who contrived all the calumnies against his brethren. However, he began to be in a terrible fear, as he saw the posterity of those that had been slain growing up; for Alexander had two sons by Glaphyra, Tigranes and Alexander; and Aristobulus had Herod, and Agrippa, and Aristobulus, his sons, with Herodias and Mariamne, his daughters, and all by Bernice, Salome's daughter. As for Glaphyra, Herod, as soon as he had killed Alexander, sent her back, together with her portion, to Cappadocia. He married Bernice, Aristobulus's daughter, to Antipater's uncle by his mother, and it was Antipater who, in order to reconcile her to him, when she had been at variance with him, contrived this match; he also got into Pheroras's favor, and into the favor of Caesar's friends, by presents, and other ways of obsequiousness, and sent no small sums of money to Rome; Saturninus also, and his friends in Syria, were all well replenished with the presents he made them; yet the more he gave, the more he was hated, as not making these presents out of generosity, but spending his money out of fear. Accordingly, it so fell out that the receivers bore him no more good-will than before, but that those to whom he gave nothing were his more bitter enemies. However, he bestowed his money every day more and more profusely, on observing that, contrary to his expectations, the king was taking care about the orphans, and discovering at the same time his repentance for killing their fathers, by his commiseration of those that sprang from them.
2. Accordingly, Herod got together his kindred and friends, and set before them the children, and, with his eyes full of tears, said thus to them: "It was an unlucky fate that took away from me these children's fathers, which children are recommended to me by that natural commiseration which their orphan condition requires; however, I will endeavor, though I have been a most unfortunate father, to appear a better grandfather, and to leave these children such curators after myself as are dearest to me. I therefore betroth thy daughter, Pheroras, to the elder of these brethren, the children of Alexander, that thou mayst be obliged to take care of them. I also betroth to thy son, Antipater, the daughter of Aristobulus; be thou therefore a father to that orphan; and my son Herod [Philip] shall have her sister, whose grandfather, by the mother's side, was high priest. And let every one that loves me be of my sentiments in these dispositions, which none that hath an affection for me will abrogate. And I pray God that he will join these children together in marriage, to the advantage of my kingdom, and of my posterity; and may he look down with eyes more serene upon them than he looked upon their fathers."
3. While he spake these words he wept, and joined the children's right hands together; after which he embraced them every one after an affectionate manner, and dismissed the assembly. Upon this, Antipater was in great disorder immediately, and lamented publicly at what was done; for he supposed that this dignity which was conferred on these orphans was for his own destruction, even in his father's lifetime, and that he should run another risk of losing the government, if Alexander's sons should have both Archelaus [a king], and Pheroras a tetrarch, to support them. He also considered how he was himself hated by the nation, and how they pitied these orphans; how great affection the Jews bare to those brethren of his when they were alive, and how gladly they remembered them now they had perished by his means. So he resolved by all the ways possible to get these espousals dissolved.
4. Now he was afraid of going subtlely about this matter with his father, who was hard to be pleased, and was presently moved upon the least suspicion: so he ventured to go to him directly, and to beg of him before his face not to deprive him of that dignity which he had been pleased to bestow upon him; and that he might not have the bare name of a king, while the power was in other persons; for that he should never be able to keep the government, if Alexander's son was to have both his grandfather Archelaus and Pheroras for his curators; and he besought him earnestly, since there were so many of the royal family alive, that he would change those [intended] marriages. Now the king had nine wives, 42 and children by seven of them; Antipater was himself born of Doris, and Herod Philip of Mariamne, the high priest's daughter; Antipas also and Archelaus were by Malthace, the Samaritan, as was his daughter Olympias, which his brother Joseph's 43 son had married. By Cleopatra of Jerusalem he had Herod and Philip; and by Pallas, Phasaelus; he had also two daughters, Roxana and Salome, the one by Phedra, and the other by Elpis; he had also two wives that had no children, the one his first cousin, and the other his niece; and besides these he had two daughters, the sisters of Alexander and Aristobulus, by Mariamne. Since, therefore, the royal family was so numerous, Antipater prayed him to change these intended marriages.
5. When the king perceived what disposition he was in towards these orphans, he was angry at it, and a suspicion came into his mind as to those sons whom he had put to death, whether that had not been brought about by the false tales of Antipater; so that at that time he made Antipater a long and a peevish answer, and bid him begone. Yet was he afterwards prevailed upon cunningly by his flatteries, and changed the marriages; he married Aristobulus's daughter to him, and his son to Pheroras's daughter.
6. Now one may learn, in this instance, how very much this flattering Antipater could do,—even what Salome in the like circumstances could not do; for when she, who was his sister, and who, by the means of Julia, Caesar's wife, earnestly desired leave to be married to Sylleus the Arabian, Herod swore he would esteem her his bitter enemy, unless she would leave off that project: he also caused her, against her own consent, to be married to Alexas, a friend of his, and that one of her daughters should be married to Alexas's son, and the other to Antipater's uncle by the mother's side. And for the daughters the king had by Mariamne, the one was married to Antipater, his sister's son, and the other to his brother's son, Phasaelus.
The Project Gutenberg EBook of The Wars of the Jews or History of the Destruction of Jerusalem, by Flavius Josephus Translator: William Whiston
The War of the Jews: The History of the Destruction of Jerusalem (complete edition, 7 books)
by D.H. Stern
for any fool can explode in anger.
4 A lazy person won’t plow in winter;
so at harvest-time, when he looks, there is nothing.
Complete Jewish Bible : An English Version of the Tanakh (Old Testament) and B'Rit Hadashah (New Testament)
A Daily Devotional by Oswald Chambers
We … beseech you that ye receive not the grace of God in vain. --- 2 Cor. 6:1.
The grace you had yesterday will not do for to-day. Grace is the overflowing favour of God; you can always reckon it is there to draw upon. “In much patience, in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses”—that is where the test for patience comes. Are you failing the grace of God there? Are you saying—‘Oh, well, I won’t count this time?’ It is not a question of praying and asking God to help you; it is taking the grace of God now. We make prayer the preparation for work, it is never that in the Bible. Prayer is the exercise of drawing on the grace of God. Don’t say—‘I will endure this until I can get away and pray.’ Pray now; draw on the grace of God in the moment of need. Prayer is the most practical thing, it is not the reflex action of devotion. Prayer is the last thing in which we learn to draw on God’s grace.
“In stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labours,”—in all these things manifest a drawing upon the grace of God that will make you a marvel to yourself and to others. Draw now, not presently: The one word in the spiritual vocabulary is Now. Let circumstances bring you where they will, keep drawing on the grace of God in every conceivable condition you may be in. One of the greatest proofs that you are drawing on the grace of God is that you can be humiliated without manifesting the slightest trace of anything but His grace.
“Having nothing …” Never reserve anything. Pour out the best you have, and always be poor. Never be diplomatic and careful about the treasure God gives. This is poverty triumphant.
My Utmost for His Highest
the Poetry of RS Thomas
Monet- Roen Cathedral, Full Sunshine
But deep inside
are the chipped figures
with their budgerigar faces,
a sort of divine
humour in collusion
with time.Who but
God can improve
a stonre twittering in
the cathedral branches,
the excitement of migrants
newly arrived from a tremendous
We have no food
for them but our
prayers.Kneeling we drop our
for their dryness, afraid
to look up in the ensuing
silence in case they have flown.
Between here and now
What causes people to do wrong—their heart/emotions or their mind/intellect? “The wicked are controlled by their hearts … but the righteous control their hearts.” But what is the heart? We assume that it means the emotions. However, it is clear that the Bible saw the heart as the seat of thought:
Many thoughts are in a man’s mind, lit. “heart”],
But it is the Lord’s plan that is accomplished.
--- (Proverbs 19:21, author’s translation)
Thus, the Bible has one understanding of the heart, while we have another. Where did the Rabbis stand? What does our Midrash tell us about the question of what part of a human being controls behavior—the heart or the mind, the emotions or the intellect?
Perhaps they meant a bit of both—lev/heart in the biblical sense of “thought” and lev/heart in the modern sense of “emotion.” What is clear is that the Rabbis understood the issue less as heart versus mind and more as control versus chaos. The righteous person controls; the wicked is controlled.
• One woman speaks whatever is in her heart. Her
emotions control her. Another woman thinks before she
speaks, judging the implications of her feelings on
others, thus causing less harm along the way. She
controls her emotions.
• A man does whatever comes to mind, acting in ways
that often make friends and family uncomfortable.
His mind runs out of control and controls him. Another
man has a clearer thought process. He is able to think
through the possible results of his actions, and thus he
doesn’t act on the first thought that comes to mind.
In the end, he controls his thoughts and his actions.
• One teenager is rash and impetuous, often seeming
controlled by the hormones that are raging in the
teenage body. Another is calmer and more calculated,
allowing the hormonal rush to dissipate before making
The Rabbis were not proposing that we become controlling personalities. They did not expect us to repress our feelings or thoughts. Rather, their goal was that we not allow the processes of thought and emotion to dictate the way we act. We should be in control of our minds and our hearts so that we can be the most pensive, sensitive human beings possible.
Searching for Meaning in Midrash: Lessons for Everyday Living
W. W. Wiersbe
"From a human perspective, this entire enterprise appears ridiculous. How could one man, claiming to be God’s prophet, confront thousands of people with this strange message, especially a message of judgment? How could a Jew, who worshiped the true God, ever get these idolatrous Gentiles to believe what he had to say? For all he knew, Jonah might end up impaled on a pole or skinned alive! But, in obedience to the Lord, Jonah went to Nineveh.
Jonah’s message to Nineveh (Jonah 3:3–4). “Three days’ journey” means either that it would take three days to get through the city and its suburbs or three days to go around them. The NIV translation of verse 3 suggests that it would take three days to visit all of the area. According to Genesis 10:11–12, four cities were involved in the “Nineveh metroplex”: Nineveh, Rehoboth Ir, Calah, and Resen (NIV). However you interpret the “three days,” one thing is clear: Nineveh was no insignificant place.
When Jonah was one day into the city, he began to declare his message: “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown.” Throughout Scripture, the number forty seems to be identified with testing or judgment. During the time of Noah, it rained forty days and forty nights (Gen. 7:4, 12, 17). The Jewish spies explored Canaan forty days (Num. 14:34), and the nation of Israel was tested in the wilderness forty years (Deut. 2:7). The giant Goliath taunted the army of Israel forty days (1 Sam. 17:16), and the Lord gave the people of Nineveh forty days to repent and turn from their wickedness.
At this point, we must confess that we wish we knew more about Jonah’s ministry to Nineveh. Was this the only message he proclaimed? Surely he spent time telling the people about the true and living God, for we’re told, “The people of Nineveh believed God” (Jonah 3:5). They would have to know something about this God of Israel in order to exercise sincere faith (see Acts 17:22ff). Did Jonah expose the folly of their idolatry? Did he recount his own personal history to show them that his God was powerful and sovereign? We simply don’t know. The important thing is that Jonah obeyed God, went to Nineveh, and declared the message God gave him. God did the rest.
Nineveh’s message to God (Jonah 3:5–9). In the Hebrew text, there are only five words in Jonah’s message; yet God used those five words to stir the entire population, from the king on the throne to the lowest peasant in the field. God gave the people forty days of grace, but they didn’t need that long. We get the impression that from the very first time they saw Jonah and heard his warning, they paid attention to his message. Word spread quickly throughout the entire district and the people humbled themselves by fasting and wearing sackcloth.
When the message got to the king, he too put on sackcloth and sat in the dust. He also made the fast official by issuing an edict and ordering the people to humble themselves, cry out to God, and turn from their evil ways. Even the animals were included in the activities by wearing sackcloth and abstaining from food and drink. The people were to cry “mightily” (“urgently,” NIV) to God, for this was a matter of life and death.
When Jonah was in dire straits, he recalled the promise concerning Solomon’s temple (Jonah 2:4, 7; 1 Kings 8:38–39; 2 Chron. 6:36–39), looking toward the temple, and called out for help. Included in Solomon’s temple prayer was a promise for people outside the nation of Israel, and that would include the Ninevites. “As for the foreigner who does not belong to your people Israel … when he comes and prays toward this temple, then hear from heaven, Your dwelling place, and do whatever the foreigner asks of You, so that all the peoples of the earth may know Your name and fear You” (2 Chron. 6:32–33). Jonah certainly knew this promise, and perhaps it was the basis for the whole awakening.
Like the sailors in the storm, the Ninevites didn’t want to perish (Jonah 3:9; 1:6, 14). That’s what witnessing is all about, “that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life’ (John 3:16, NKJV). Their fasting and praying, and their humbling of themselves before God, sent a message to heaven, but the people of Nineveh had no assurance that they would be saved. They hoped that God’s great compassion would move Him to change His plan and spare the city. Once again, how did they know that the God of the Hebrews was a merciful and compassionate God? No doubt Jonah told them, for this was a doctrine he himself believed (Jonah 4:2).
God’s message (Jonah 3:10). At some point, God spoke to Jonah and told Him that He had accepted the people’s repentance and would not destroy the city. The phrase “God repented” might better be translated “God relented,” that is, changed His course. From the human point of view, it looked like repentance, but from the divine perspective, it was simply God’s response to man’s change of heart. God is utterly consistent with Himself; it only appears that he is changing His mind. The Bible uses human analogies to reveal the divine character of God (Jer. 18:1–10).
How deep was the spiritual experience of the people of Nineveh? If repentance and faith are the basic conditions of salvation (Acts 20:21), then we have reason to believe that they were accepted by God; for the people of Nineveh repented and had faith in God (Jonah 3:5). The fact that Jesus used the Ninevites to shame the unbelieving Jews of His day is further evidence that their response to Jonah’s ministry was sincere (Matt. 12:38–41).)
Be Amazed (Minor Prophets): Restoring an Attitude of Wonder and Worship (The BE Series Commentary)
The Bible Unscientific and Unhistorical
The objection is raised that the Bible contains statements contrary to the facts of natural science. In the first place, the Bible was not written as a handbook on geology or astronomy; its language is suited to the minds of ordinary people. It was the Son of God who said, “When the sun was up, they were scorched.” He who knew all about these things, which He Himself had fashioned, to be accused of inaccuracy for speaking thus? That Scripture is not precisely technical does not disprove its accuracy or veracity. When the Astronomer Royal speaks of the sun’s rising and setting, no one accuses him of unscientific language. He is speaking in everyday speech and describing subjects just as they appear. So with the Scriptures. But while the Bible was not written in order to teach science, neither was it written so as to mislead us in science. Evidences abound that the language is wonderfully scientific when the Bible touches upon scientific matters. Never yet has it been inarguably proved that the Bible contains any statement that contradicts the known facts of science.
We are told that there are statements in the Scripture contrary to historical facts, and that these cannot be verbally inspired. Not a single case of this, however, has been irrefutably proved. The supposed cases have been greatly diminished in number under the processes of modern research. The increase of discovery only tends to confirm the accuracy of the Bible. As to the fact that uninspired history is found to disagree with Bible history, the results of research make it safer to rely on the Scripture records, or at least to wait for further light. There are instances of minor details of discrepancy in extant manuscripts which clearly indicate errors on the part of copyists. Possession of the originals would no doubt remove these difficulties. A critic must be hard put to it for a point of attack if he seeks to impugn the veracity of the Word of God on this ground.
Some of the statements of Scripture are said to be incredible. It so happens that the chief cases usually referred to, such, for instance, as the temptation of man, the utterance of Balaam’s ass, the swallowing of Jonah, are those which Christ and His apostles speak of as facts to serve. Were they likely to relate fables as facts to serve their own ends? There were plenty of hostile critics in their times who would have been the first to hold them up to scorn if it had been possible to find a means of proving their inconsistency or unreliability.
Some of the details of Scripture are considered as too trifling to be inspired. No valid proof, however, has yet been produced to show that anything in the Bible is insignificant. The smallest details in the records are found on careful study to contain a deep significance, either in the matter of doctrine or in substantiating the authenticity of the writings, or in some other way. The apostle Paul’s words will be found to be accurate that “every Scripture … is profitable for reproof, for correction, for instruction which is in righteousness.”
Another objection, that the Bible records sentiments which are foolish and inconsistent with its teachings, is due to an illogical conception of what Inspiration really is. The mistaken utterances of Job’s friends, the falsehoods told by Peter in his denial of the Lord, the speech of the town clerk in Ephesus, the oration of Tertullus, and many similar statements were certainly not inspired in the lips of those who made them, but the records of their words by the writers of Scripture are inspired, and that these records are faithful and accurate has not been disproved.
Exception is taken to the Inspiration of the language of the Apocalypse on the ground of its deviations from conformity to grammatical rules. Now while adherence to the laws of grammar may not be regarded as a mark of Inspiration, yet it may be pointed out that there are evidences of a design in such deviations. That John knew the grammar of the language in which he was writing is clear from the fact of his general adherence to grammatical laws. The special character of his subject matter led him upon occasion to run counter to them. Moreover, he is not alone in this. Paul, as we shall see, does the same thing. Some of the instances in the Apocalypse may be put down to the errors of copyists. Where the text is obviously an accurate copy of the original, the departure from grammatical law is purposive. Take the first case, in chapter 1:4. The nominative case follows the preposition, apo, instead of the genitive, because “Him which is, and which was, and which is to come,” is an appellation of God. In the next sentence the preposition is made to govern its normal case. This is accordingly not a case of a slip or carelessness or even lack of scholarship, whatever may be said of the writer’s qualifications in this latter respect. The remark about the divine appellation in verse 4 applies still more strikingly in verse 5, where the titles “Jesus Christ” are in the genitive case, according to rule, but the titles which follow, “The Faithful Witness,” “The Firstborn,” “The Ruler,” instead of following in apposition are in the nominative. They need not have been, grammatically, nor can they be said to be proper names (which are sometimes indeclinable). The nominative is purposely adhered to in order to lend dignity to the description.
We might multiply instances, but these must be left to the student to consider. In some places the majesty of the symbolism, which is one of the chief features of the book, is accountable for the deviations, but in every case there is an explanation, and it well repays the careful student of the Greek Testament to go into them. They will afford striking evidence of the divine inspiration of the phraseology. Moreover, solecisms neither affect the veracity of the writer, nor indeed do they affect Divine Inspiration at all.
There are two examples in Paul’s Epistles of departure from grammatical law with the obvious design of bringing out a point of doctrine. The simple rule that the verb agrees with its subject in number and person is ignored in two passages. When the apostle says, “Now our God and Father Himself, and our Lord Jesus direct our way unto you” (1 Thess. 3:11), he puts the verb “direct” into the singular number, although grammatically the subject is plural. This gives a striking evidence of the unity of the two Persons of the Father and the Son in the Godhead. The other instance is in 2 Thessalonians 2:16, 17, where he says, “Now our Lord Jesus Christ Himself; and God our Father … comfort (singular number) your hearts and stablish you.” The verb “stablish” is again in the singular. As in the Apocalypse, these breaches of grammatical law are designed.
There are other difficulties in Scripture which have been brought forward from time to time by critics, such as the alleged errors in the book of Daniel. These, and other similar objections, have been capably dealt with in recent years by competent writers, and to take them up adequately in these pages would extend the work beyond its designed limits. One of the most cogent articles on the book of Daniel is given in the report of the meeting of the Victoria Institute held in the Central Hall, Westminster, on 23rd May, 1921. The scholarly handling of the subject in D. St. Clair Tisdall’s paper read on that occasion, and in the discussion which followed, explodes the higher critical view, and goes far to confirm the early date and authenticity of the book of Daniel.
The Collected Writings of W.E. Vine: Boxed Five Volume Set
Jehovah of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. --- Psalm 46:7, 11 ASV
The God of the stars will fight for me against the foes that hinder me as I climb toward the home of God. ( Classic Sermons on the Names of God (Kregel Classic Sermons Series) ) He will command the whole universe for the making of a soul. Do you doubt me? Then let me remind you that for the purchase of my soul and yours, for our reconciliation and redemption, he gave one supreme gift that was infinitely superior to all the stars—the One by whose word they were made and in whose might they have consisted through the ages. He gave him for the remaking of my broken, spoiled life. The stars, the host of God if need be, will be pressed into the service of the making of the saint and into the service of the saints as they go forth in toil for God.
What did he do for Jacob? Think of his history. See at what infinite pains God was to make something out of him. Oh, the patience of God!
And he went down over the Jabbok, and God met with him and crippled him to make him. It was a wonderful night, only do not let us misinterpret it. Do not talk as though Jacob wrestled with God and overcame him. It is not true. With strong crying and tears he said, “I will not let you go unless you bless me” (Gen. 32:26). It was a voice choked with sorrow, the voice of someone being beaten, being crippled, in the last agony of despair as he went down beneath the pressure of that mysterious hand. He won when he was beaten; he triumphed when he yielded, and God never let him alone until, that night, by crippling him he broke him.
Oh, you who are conscious of your own weakness, you who are conscious of the evil within you that baffles, beats, and spoils you, “the God of Jacob is our refuge.” When the only pillow we have is a hard, unsympathetic stone, he will open his heaven so that his hosts may teach us that those with us are more than those who are against us, and he will put his hands on us and, it may be, wound us, but the wounding is only for the deeper healing.
Oh, dear heart, tried as by fire, sing while the fire burns, sing while the pain is hot. If you trust him, he breaks to make, he cripples to crown. By God’s grace we go on, not thinking of resigning or giving this fight or anything up except sin. “The LORD of hosts,” marshaling all for our making, “is with us.” We will follow, we will trust, we will fight—God helping us.
--- G. Campbell Morgan
Take Heart: Daily Devotions with the Church's Great Preachers
A Great Love Story June 26
Few couples have worked with greater harmony of heart and aim than Francis and Edith Schaeffer, missionaries to the intellectuals of the twentieth century. The Schaeffers set out as overseas evangelists right after World War II, and they were soon attracting hoards of university students to their chalet in the village of Huemoz in the Swiss Alps. From this came L’Abri Fellowship, founded in 1955, a study center and refuge for students and skeptics seeking answers to the great philosophical questions of life.
How the Lord brought Francis and Edith together makes a great love story. Francis grew up in Germantown in northwest Philadelphia. His parents weren’t believers, and he had little exposure to Christianity. But at age 17 he began teaching English to a Russian immigrant, and he went to a bookstore to purchase an English grammar book. When he returned home, he found the sales clerk had wrapped the wrong book, an introduction to Greek philosophy. As Francis studied the book, he discovered the basic philosophical questions about the meaning of life. But he found no answers until he decided to read the Bible straight through. The Scripture brought him to faith in Christ.
On Sunday night, June 26, 1932, he attended a service at a nearby Presbyterian church. A Unitarian came to speak on why he denied the Bible and its teachings about God, Christ, and other vital truths. A young lady in the audience had prepared herself in advance to stand and refute the man’s comments. When he finished his talk, Edith gripped her notes and prepared to challenge him. Before she could rise to her feet, Francis jumped up and began shredding the speaker’s arguments. Edith listened in amazement. Until that moment she had not known of anyone else in the church who believed as she did. When Francis finished, she rose and made her comments. Francis was equally impressed. After the service, he insisted on accompanying Edith home.
Thus began a lifelong partnership in taking the Gospel of Jesus Christ to students and scholars in America, Europe, and among the nations.
People will come to you from distant nations and say,
“Our ancestors worshiped false and useless gods,
Worthless idols made by human hands.”
Then the LORD replied,
“That’s why I will teach them about my power,
And they will know that I am the true God.”
--- Jeremiah 16:19b-21.
On This Day 365 Amazing And Inspiring Stories About Saints, Martyrs And Heroes
Daily Readings / CHARLES H. SPURGEON
Morning - June 26
“Art thou become like unto us?” --- Isaiah 14:10.
What must be the apostate professor’s doom when his naked soul appears before God? How will he bear that voice, “Depart, ye cursed; thou hast rejected me, and I reject thee; thou hast played the harlot, and departed from me: I also have banished thee for ever from my presence, and will not have mercy upon thee.” What will be this wretch’s shame at the last great day when, before assembled multitudes, the apostate shall be unmasked? See the profane, and sinners who never professed religion, lifting themselves up from their beds of fire to point at him. “There he is,” says one, “will he preach the Gospel in hell?” “There he is,” says another, “he rebuked me for cursing, and was a hypocrite himself!” “Aha!” says another, “here comes a psalm-singing Methodist—one who was always at his meeting; he is the man who boasted of his being sure of everlasting life; and here he is!” No greater eagerness will ever be seen among Satanic tormentors, than in that day when devils drag the hypocrite’s soul down to perdition. Bunyan pictures this with massive but awful grandeur of poetry when he speaks of the back-way to hell. Seven devils bound the wretch with nine cords, and dragged him from the road to heaven, in which he had professed to walk, and thrust him through the back-door into hell. Mind that back-way to hell, professors! “Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith.” Look well to your state; see whether you be in Christ or not. It is the easiest thing in the world to give a lenient verdict when oneself is to be tried; but O, be just and true here. Be just to all, but be rigorous to yourself. Remember if it be not a rock on which you build, when the house shall fall, great will be the fall of it. O may the Lord give you sincerity, constancy, and firmness; and in no day, however evil, may you be led to turn aside.
Evening - June 26
"Having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust." --- 2 Peter 1:4.
Vanish for ever all thought of indulging the flesh if you would live in the power of your risen Lord. It were ill that a man who is alive in Christ should dwell in the corruption of sin. “Why seek ye the living among the dead?” said the angel to Magdalene. Should the living dwell in the sepulchre? Should divine life be immured in the charnel house of fleshly lust? How can we partake of the cup of the Lord and yet drink the cup of Belial? Surely, believer, from open lusts and sins you are delivered: have you also escaped from the more secret and delusive lime-twigs of the Satanic fowler? Have you come forth from the lust of pride? Have you escaped from slothfulness? Have you clean escaped from carnal security? Are you seeking day by day to live above worldliness, the pride of life, and the ensnaring vice of avarice? Remember, it is for this that you have been enriched with the treasures of God. If you be indeed the chosen of God, and beloved by him, do not suffer all the lavish treasure of grace to be wasted upon you. Follow after holiness; it is the Christian’s crown and glory. An unholy church! it is useless to the world, and of no esteem among men. It is an abomination, hell’s laughter, heaven’s abhorrence. The worst evils which have ever come upon the world have been brought upon her by an unholy church. O Christian, the vows of God are upon you. You are God’s priest: act as such. You are God’s king: reign over your lusts. You are God’s chosen: do not associate with Belial. Heaven is your portion: live like a heavenly spirit, so shall you prove that you have true faith in Jesus, for there cannot be faith in the heart unless there be holiness in the life.
“Lord, I desire to live as one
Who bears a blood-bought name,
As one who fears but grieving thee,
And knows no other shame.”
Morning and Evening
NO ONE EVER CARED FOR ME LIKE JESUS
Words and Music by Charles F. Weigle, 1871–1966
… Where is God my Maker, who gives songs in the night? (Job 35:10)
It is not difficult to sing when all is going well. But often God gives a special song to one of his hurting children during the night times of their life. Believers find new joys in their nights of sorrow and despair, and they discover a greater closeness with their Lord during times of deep need. The apostle John wrote the book of Revelation while on the barren island of Patmos; John Bunyan completed the classic The Pilgrim's Progress while in the Bedford jail; Beethoven composed his immortal 9th Symphony while totally deaf; and Fanny Crosby once remarked, “If I had not lost my sight, I could never have written all the hymns God gave me.”
Charles Weigle’s song, “No One Ever Cared For Me Like Jesus,” was the product of one of the darkest periods of his life. Weigle spent most of his life as an itinerant evangelist and Gospel songwriter. One day after returning home from an evangelistic crusade, he found a note left by his wife of many years. The note said she had had enough of an evangelist’s life. She was leaving him. Weigle later said that he became so despondent during the next several years that there were even times when he contemplated suicide. There was the terrible despair that no one really cared for him anymore. Gradually his spiritual faith was restored, and he once again became active in the Christian ministry. Soon he felt compelled to write a song that would be a summary of his past tragic experience. From a heart that had been broken came these choice words that God gave to Charles Weigle:
I would love to tell you what I think of Jesus since I found in Him a friend so strong and true; I would tell you how He chang’d my life completely—He did something that no other friend could do.
All my life was full of sin when Jesus found me; all my heart was full of misery and woe; Jesus placed His strong and loving arms around me, and He led me in the way I ought to go.
Ev’ry day He comes to me with new assurance, more and more I understand His words of love; but I’ll never know just why He came to save me, till some day I see His blessed face above.
Chorus: No one ever cared for me like Jesus; there’s no other friend so kind as He; no one else could take the sin and darkness from me—O how much He cared for me!
For Today: Psalm 144:3, 4; Jeremiah 31:2, 3; Ephesians 3:18, 19; 1 John 3:1.
With God’s help, determine to rise above the problems and hurts that you may be experiencing and turn them into a blessing. Reaffirm your confidence in God’s love and care for you by singing this musical truth as you go ---
Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions
Martin Luther | (1483-1546)
Sect. LXVII. — BUT here Reason, who is always very knowing and loquacious, will say, — This is an excellently invented scape-gap; that, as often as we are pressed close by the force of arguments, we might run back to that to-be-revered will of Majesty, and thus silence the disputant as soon as he becomes troublesome; just as astrologers, do, who, by their invented epicycles, elude all questions concerning the motion of the whole heaven. —
I answer: It is no invention of mine, but a command supported by the Holy Scriptures. Paul, (Rom. ix. 19,) speaks thus: “Why therefore doth God find fault; for who hath resisted His will? Nay, but O man, who art thou that contendest with God?” “Hath not the potter power?” And so on. And before him, Isaiah lviii. 2, “Yet they seek Me daily, and desire to know My ways, as a nation that did righteousness: they ask of Me the ordinances of justice, and desire to approach unto God.”
From these words it is, I think, sufficiently manifest that it is not lawful for men to search into that will of Majesty. And this subject is of that nature, that perverse men are here the most led to pry into that to-be-revered will, and therefore, there is here the greatest reason why they should be exhorted to silence and reverence. In other subjects, where those things are handled for which we can give a reason, and for which we are commanded to give a reason, we do not this. And if any one still persist in searching into the reason of that will, and do not choose to hearken to our admonition, we let him go on, and, like the giants, fight against God; while we look on to see what triumph he will gain, persuaded in ourselves, that he will do nothing, either to injure our cause or to advance his own. For it will still remain unalterable, that he must either prove that “Free-will” can do all things, or that the Scriptures which he adduces must make against himself. And, which soever of the two shall take place, he vanquished, lies prostrate, while we as conquerors “stand upright!”
The Bondage of the Will or Christian Classics Ethereal Library
Dr. James Rosscup | The Master's Seminary