(ctrl) and (+) magnifies screen if type too small.              me         quotes             scripture verse             footnotes       Words of Jesus      Links

3/21/2018     Yesterday     Tomorrow
Exodus 32     John 11     Proverbs 8     Ephesians 1


Exodus 32

The Golden Calf

Exodus 32:1 When the people saw that Moses delayed to come down from the mountain, the people gathered themselves together to Aaron and said to him, “Up, make us gods who shall go before us. As for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.” 2 So Aaron said to them, “Take off the rings of gold that are in the ears of your wives, your sons, and your daughters, and bring them to me.” 3 So all the people took off the rings of gold that were in their ears and brought them to Aaron. 4 And he received the gold from their hand and fashioned it with a graving tool and made a golden calf. And they said, “These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!” 5 When Aaron saw this, he built an altar before it. And Aaron made a proclamation and said, “Tomorrow shall be a feast to the LORD.” 6 And they rose up early the next day and offered burnt offerings and brought peace offerings. And the people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play.

7 And the LORD said to Moses, “Go down, for your people, whom you brought up out of the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves. 8 They have turned aside quickly out of the way that I commanded them. They have made for themselves a golden calf and have worshiped it and sacrificed to it and said, ‘These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!’ ” 9 And the LORD said to Moses, “I have seen this people, and behold, it is a stiff-necked people. 10 Now therefore let me alone, that my wrath may burn hot against them and I may consume them, in order that I may make a great nation of you.”

11 But Moses implored the LORD his God and said, “O LORD, why does your wrath burn hot against your people, whom you have brought out of the land of Egypt with great power and with a mighty hand? Did you notice how Moses called the people God's people, but previously God referred to the people as belonging to Moses. 12 Why should the Egyptians say, ‘With evil intent did he bring them out, to kill them in the mountains and to consume them from the face of the earth’? Turn from your burning anger and relent from this disaster against your people. 13 Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, your servants, to whom you swore by your own self, and said to them, ‘I will multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven, and all this land that I have promised I will give to your offspring, and they shall inherit it forever.’ ” 14 And the LORD relented from the disaster that he had spoken of bringing on his people.

15 Then Moses turned and went down from the mountain with the two tablets of the testimony in his hand, tablets that were written on both sides; on the front and on the back they were written. 16 The tablets were the work of God, and the writing was the writing of God, engraved on the tablets. 17 When Joshua heard the noise of the people as they shouted, he said to Moses, “There is a noise of war in the camp.” 18 But he said, “It is not the sound of shouting for victory, or the sound of the cry of defeat, but the sound of singing that I hear.” 19 And as soon as he came near the camp and saw the calf and the dancing, Moses’ anger burned hot, and he threw the tablets out of his hands and broke them at the foot of the mountain. 20 He took the calf that they had made and burned it with fire and ground it to powder and scattered it on the water and made the people of Israel drink it. 21 And Moses said to Aaron, “What did this people do to you that you have brought such a great sin upon them?” 22 And Aaron said, “Let not the anger of my lord burn hot. You know the people, that they are set on evil. 23 For they said to me, ‘Make us gods who shall go before us. As for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.’ 24 So I said to them, ‘Let any who have gold take it off.’ So they gave it to me, and I threw it into the fire, and out came this calf.”

25 And when Moses saw that the people had broken loose (for Aaron had let them break loose, to the derision of their enemies), 26 then Moses stood in the gate of the camp and said, “Who is on the LORD’s side? Come to me.” And all the sons of Levi gathered around him. 27 And he said to them, “Thus says the LORD God of Israel, ‘Put your sword on your side each of you, and go to and fro from gate to gate throughout the camp, and each of you kill his brother and his companion and his neighbor.’ ” 28 And the sons of Levi did according to the word of Moses. And that day about three thousand men of the people fell. 29 And Moses said, “Today you have been ordained for the service of the LORD, each one at the cost of his son and of his brother, so that he might bestow a blessing upon you this day.”

30 The next day Moses said to the people, “You have sinned a great sin. And now I will go up to the LORD; perhaps I can make atonement for your sin.” 31 So Moses returned to the LORD and said, “Alas, this people has sinned a great sin. They have made for themselves gods of gold. 32 But now, if you will forgive their sin—but if not, please blot me out of your book that you have written.” 33 But the LORD said to Moses, “Whoever has sinned against me, I will blot out of my book. 34 But now go, lead the people to the place about which I have spoken to you; behold, my angel shall go before you. Nevertheless, in the day when I visit, I will visit their sin upon them.”

35 Then the LORD sent a plague on the people, because they made the calf, the one that Aaron made.


John 11

The Death of Lazarus

John 11:1 Now a certain man was ill, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. 2 It was Mary who anointed the Lord with ointment and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was ill. 3 So the sisters sent to him, saying, “Lord, he whom you love is ill.” 4 But when Jesus heard it he said, “This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.”

5 Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. 6 So, when he heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was. 7 Then after this he said to the disciples, “Let us go to Judea again.” 8 The disciples said to him, “Rabbi, the Jews were just now seeking to stone you, and are you going there again?” 9 Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours in the day? If anyone walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world. 10 But if anyone walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him.” 11 After saying these things, he said to them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I go to awaken him.” 12 The disciples said to him, “Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will recover.” 13 Now Jesus had spoken of his death, but they thought that he meant taking rest in sleep. 14 Then Jesus told them plainly, “Lazarus has died, 15 and for your sake I am glad that I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.” 16 So Thomas, called the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.”

I Am the Resurrection and the Life

17 Now when Jesus came, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb four days. 18 Bethany was near Jerusalem, about two miles off, 19 and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them concerning their brother. 20 So when Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, but Mary remained seated in the house. 21 Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you.” 23 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” 24 Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” 25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live,    See   "A Theology of Death and Dying"  below.    26 and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” 27 She said to him, “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.”

Jesus Weeps

28 When she had said this, she went and called her sister Mary, saying in private, “The Teacher is here and is calling for you.” 29 And when she heard it, she rose quickly and went to him. 30 Now Jesus had not yet come into the village, but was still in the place where Martha had met him. 31 When the Jews who were with her in the house, consoling her, saw Mary rise quickly and go out, they followed her, supposing that she was going to the tomb to weep there. 32 Now when Mary came to where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet, saying to him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” 33 When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in his spirit and greatly troubled. 34 And he said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Lord, come and see.” 35 Jesus wept. 36 So the Jews said, “See how he loved him!” 37 But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man also have kept this man from dying?”

Jesus Raises Lazarus

38 Then Jesus, deeply moved again, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay against it. 39 Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, “Lord, by this time there will be an odor, for he has been dead four days.” 40 Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?” 41 So they took away the stone. And Jesus lifted up his eyes and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. 42 I knew that you always hear me, but I said this on account of the people standing around, that they may believe that you sent me.” 43 When he had said these things, he cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out.” 44 The man who had died came out, his hands and feet bound with linen strips, and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.”

The Plot to Kill Jesus

45 Many of the Jews therefore, who had come with Mary and had seen what he did, believed in him, 46 but some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done. 47 So the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered the council and said, “What are we to do? For this man performs many signs. 48 If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.” 49 But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all. 50 Nor do you understand that it is better for you that one man should die for the people, not that the whole nation should perish.” 51 He did not say this of his own accord, but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation, 52 and not for the nation only, but also to gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad. 53 So from that day on they made plans to put him to death.

54 Jesus therefore no longer walked openly among the Jews, but went from there to the region near the wilderness, to a town called Ephraim, and there he stayed with the disciples.

55 Now the Passover of the Jews was at hand, and many went up from the country to Jerusalem before the Passover to purify themselves. 56 They were looking for Jesus and saying to one another as they stood in the temple, “What do you think? That he will not come to the feast at all?” 57 Now the chief priests and the Pharisees had given orders that if anyone knew where he was, he should let them know, so that they might arrest him.


Proverbs 8

The Blessings of Wisdom

Proverbs 8:1

Does not wisdom call?
Does not understanding raise her voice?
2  On the heights beside the way,
at the crossroads she takes her stand;
3  beside the gates in front of the town,
at the entrance of the portals she cries aloud:
4  “To you, O men, I call,
and my cry is to the children of man.
5  O simple ones, learn prudence;
O fools, learn sense.
6  Hear, for I will speak noble things,
and from my lips will come what is right,
7  for my mouth will utter truth;
wickedness is an abomination to my lips.
8  All the words of my mouth are righteous;
there is nothing twisted or crooked in them.
9  They are all straight to him who understands,
and right to those who find knowledge.
10  Take my instruction instead of silver,
and knowledge rather than choice gold,
11  for wisdom is better than jewels,
and all that you may desire cannot compare with her.

12  “I, wisdom, dwell with prudence,
and I find knowledge and discretion.
13  The fear of the LORD is hatred of evil.
Pride and arrogance and the way of evil
and perverted speech I hate.
14  I have counsel and sound wisdom;
I have insight; I have strength.
15  By me kings reign,
and rulers decree what is just;
16  by me princes rule,
and nobles, all who govern justly.
17  I love those who love me,
and those who seek me diligently find me.
18  Riches and honor are with me,
enduring wealth and righteousness.
19  My fruit is better than gold, even fine gold,
and my yield than choice silver.
20  I walk in the way of righteousness,
in the paths of justice,
21  granting an inheritance to those who love me,
and filling their treasuries.

22  “The LORD possessed me at the beginning of his work,
the first of his acts of old.
23  Ages ago I was set up,
at the first, before the beginning of the earth.
24  When there were no depths I was brought forth,
when there were no springs abounding with water.
25  Before the mountains had been shaped,
before the hills, I was brought forth,
26  before he had made the earth with its fields,
or the first of the dust of the world.
27  When he established the heavens, I was there;
when he drew a circle on the face of the deep,
28  when he made firm the skies above,
when he established the fountains of the deep,
29  when he assigned to the sea its limit,
so that the waters might not transgress his command,
when he marked out the foundations of the earth,
30  then I was beside him, like a master workman,
and I was daily his delight,
rejoicing before him always,
31  rejoicing in his inhabited world
and delighting in the children of man.

32  “And now, O sons, listen to me:
blessed are those who keep my ways.
33  Hear instruction and be wise,
and do not neglect it.
34  Blessed is the one who listens to me,
watching daily at my gates,
waiting beside my doors.
35  For whoever finds me finds life
and obtains favor from the LORD,
36  but he who fails to find me injures himself;
all who hate me love death.”



Ephesians 1

Greeting

Ephesians:1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God,
To the saints who are in Ephesus, and are faithful in Christ Jesus:
2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Spiritual Blessings in Christ

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, 4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love 5 he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. 7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, 8 which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight 9 making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ 10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.

11 In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, 12 so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. 13 In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.

Thanksgiving and Prayer

15 For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, 16 I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, 17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, 18 having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might 20 that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. 22 And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.

ESV Study Bible


What I'm Reading

When You’re Truly Broken Over Sin

By Vermon Pierre 9/18/2014

     My 4-year-old is already learning the lesson that, sadly, despite what his preschool might say, he will not be able to be anything he wants to be when he grows up. For instance, I'm fairly certain that a career as a professional poker player is off the list of possibilities. He's already developed a pretty big tell. If my son is not quite telling the truth he always looks away. And by “look away” I mean his whole head will turn and look at every direction except for his mother or me. His words might say, “Yes, Daddy, I'm sorry for what I did.” But his erratic head movements say, “I don't really mean what I’m saying right now. But you can't tell because of how I'm cleverly hiding my face from you.”

     Repentance is hard because pridefulness is easy. We don’t want to admit when we have sinned, and thus we have trouble truly confessing and then repenting of sin. How often have the words Yes, but . . . entered your thoughts when you have been confronted over sin?

     Sin, however, cannot be dealt with in any other way but head on, without any self-justifying excuses. We need to address it directly, with full honesty and little reservation, if we are to truly kill it.

Click here to go to source

     Vermon Pierre is the lead pastor for preaching and mission at Roosevelt Community Church in Phoenix, Arizona. A graduate of Princeton University and Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Vermon previously served as a pastoral intern at Camelback Bible Church. He is the author of Gospel Shaped Living, the latest installment in the Gospel Shaped Church curriculum published by The Good Book Company and TGC.

A Theology of Death and Dying

By Alistair Begg

     One of the great challenges we face at the turn of the millennium is to learn how to cope with the fact that we are living longer and that the process of death has become for many far more protracted than it was in an earlier time.

     We have to develop an approach to terminal care that allows the individual who is facing death to balance hope with reality. In hoping and praying for continuances of life we must learn to prepare for death. If we are not prepared for this “final journey,” then we are building castles in the air, constructing houses on sand instead of on the solid rock of Jesus’ words regarding resurrection and life.

     “To tell or not to tell,” that is the question when someone in the family is gravely ill. Should we confront our family member with abrupt and unguarded revelations about the imminence of his demise?

     Every circumstance will need to be considered on its own merits, but probably not. We will be the most help to the one facing a grave illness when we remind him of the uncertainty of his condition and and allow him to face the possibility—or even the probability—that he will not recover.

     When I sat at my father’s hospital bedside a few days before he passed away, I was in no doubt that he was aware of his circumstances.

     In dealing with death as a pastor over the years I observed that circumstances like my father’s are common. The human frame is increasingly alert to its demise. We do best by helping one another to face the prospect gradually rather than waiting until the pain medication takes the sufferer into a state that makes communication impossible.

     Let us beware of sharing platitudes with the dying that may ease our discomfort but do little for them. Honesty with wisdom and grace is always the best policy. The assistance we should provide is not that which shocks them into an untimely passing but that which enables them to rest in the promises of God’s Word.

     And what of you?

     Do you have a theology that prepares you for death? Let me suggest one. Any view of life and death that does not come to grips with John 11:25 is deficient. Jesus told His friend Martha, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.”

     We cannot really begin to live until we have faced with composure the reality of death and have prepared for it by faith in Jesus Christ. Are you prepared to die? If so, you are prepared to live.

     Dr. Alistair Begg | (Trent University; London School of Theology; Westminster Seminary) was born in Scotland and spent the first 30 years of life in the United Kingdom. Since September of 1983, he has been the senior pastor at Parkside Church in suburban Cleveland, Ohio. He is the daily speaker on the national radio program Truth For Life which stems from his weekly Bible teaching at Parkside. He and his wife, Susan, have three grown children.

Dr. Alistair Begg Books:

Read The Psalms In "1" Year

Psalm 32

Blessed Are the Forgiven
32 A Maskil Of David.

8 I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
I will counsel you with my eye upon you.
9 Be not like a horse or a mule, without understanding,
which must be curbed with bit and bridle,
or it will not stay near you.
10 Many are the sorrows of the wicked,
but steadfast love surrounds the one who trusts in the LORD.
11 Be glad in the LORD, and rejoice, O righteous,
and shout for joy, all you upright in heart!

ESV Study Bible

Jesus Didn't Become God; the Earliest Christians Believed Him to Be Divine

By Lenny Esposito 3/21/2017

     In his excellent new book, God among Sages: Why Jesus Is Not Just Another Religious Leader, Kenneth Samples has done a wonderful job in combining an apologetic showing the Gospel accounts reflect the historic person of Jesus of Nazareth and how the Jesus of the Gospels is markedly different from the founders of Eastern religions, such as Krishna, who was also thought to be a god taking on human form.

     The comparison is interesting, especially considering the charge made by many modern skeptics that the Christian belief of Jesus as God incarnate was foreign to Jesus's first followers and only grew as a later addition to the new religion. Bart Ehrman's book How Jesus Became God is one such challenge. Samples answers it well when he writes:

     But just what did the earliest Christians believe about the nature and person of Jesus Christ? A major textual breakthrough over the last couple of decades has al1owed scholars to see more dearly what the earliest Christians believed about Jesus Christ, particularly as expressed in their church services.

Click here to go to source

     Lenny Esposito is president and founder of Come Reason Ministries, a Christian apologetics organization, and author of the popular www.comereason.org Web site. He has taught apologetics and Christian worldview for over 17 years and has authored hundreds articles dealing with intellectually strenuous topics such as the existence of God, theology, philosophy, social issues and Biblical difficulties.

     Lenny is an in-demand speaker, teaching at conferences, churches, and schools across the nation. He is a contributor to the popular Apologetics Study Bible for Students and his articles have appeared in the Los Angeles Times and the Southern California Christian Times. He has debated many topics on faith and reason and the rationality of the Christian worldview; his most recent debate being against well-known atheists and author Dr. Richard Carrier on the question "Does God Exist?"

     Lenny is a pioneer in online ministry efforts when he began using the Web to reach others near its beginnings in 1995. He produces one of the top 16 apologetics podcasts according to Apologetics 315 and his site has been viewed millions of times by visitors from nearly every country in the world.

     Lenny is a member of the Evangelical Philosophical Society and the Evangelical Theological Society.

Exodus 32; John 11; Proverbs 8; Ephesians 1

By Don Carson 3/21/2018

     Exodus 32 is simultaneously one of the low points and one of the high points in Israel’s history.

     Only months out of slavery in Egypt, the Israelites prove so fickle that the delay of Moses on the mountain (a mere forty days) provides them with all the excuse they need for a new round of complaining. Moses’ delay does not prompt them to pray, but elicits callous ingratitude and disoriented syncretism. Even their tone is sneering: “As for this fellow Moses who brought us up out of Egypt, we don’ t know what has happened to him” (32:1).

     Aaron is revealed as a spineless wimp, unable or unwilling to impose any discipline. He is utterly without theological backbone — not even enough to be a thoroughgoing pagan, as he continues to invoke the name of the Lord even while he himself manufactures a golden calf (32:4-5). He is still a wimp when, challenged by his brother, he insists, rather ridiculously, “Then they gave me the gold, and I threw it into the fire, and out came this calf!” (32:24). Despite the covenantal vows they had made (24:7), many in the nation wanted all the blessings they could get from Yahweh, but gave little thought to the nature of their own sworn obligations to their Maker and Redeemer. It was a low moment of national shame — not the last in their experience, not the last in the confessing church.

     The high point? When God threatens to wipe out the nation, Moses intercedes. Not once does he suggest that the people do not deserve to be wiped out, or that they are not as bad as some might think. Rather, he appeals to the glory of God. Why should God act in such a way that the Egyptians might scoff and say that the Lord isn’t strong enough to pull off this rescue (32:12)? Besides, isn’t God obligated to keep his vows to the patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac, and Israel (32:13)? How could God go back on his solemn promises? His final appeal is simply for forgiveness (32:30-32), and if God cannot extend such mercy, then Moses does not want to begin a new race (as angry as he himself is, 32:19). He prefers to be blotted out with the rest of the people.

     Here is an extraordinary mediator, a man whose entire sympathies are with God and his gracious salvation and revelation, a man who makes no excuses for the people he is called to lead, but who nevertheless so identifies with them that if judgment is to fall on them he begs to suffer with them. Here is a man who “stands in the gap” (cf. Ezek. 13:3-5; 22:29-30).

Click here to go to source

Don Carson is research professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois, and co-founder (with Tim Keller) of The Gospel Coalition. He has authored numerous books, and recently edited The Enduring Authority of the Christian Scriptures (Eerdmans, 2016).

Don Carson Books:

The Spirit’s Internal Witness

By R.C. Sproul

     Nearly forty years ago, I was a part of a group known as the International Council on Biblical Inerrancy. Concerned about the impact of liberal higher criticism, we gathered to define what it means that the Bible does not teach any error and to articulate a defensible position on the trustworthiness of God’s Word that Christians could use to combat misunderstandings and misrepresentations of the church’s historic position on the Bible. The council developed the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy, which deals with many issues related to the inspiration and truthfulness of Scripture. Article XVII of this statement asserts, in part, that “the Holy Spirit bears witness to the Scriptures, assuring believers of the truthfulness of God’s written Word.”

     By this article we wanted to make it clear that the Bible is the Holy Spirit’s book. He is involved not only in the inspiration of Scripture, but is also a witness to Scripture’s truthfulness. This is what we call the “internal testimony” of the Holy Spirit. In other words, the Holy Spirit provides a testimony that takes place inside of us—He bears witness to our spirits that the Bible is the Word of God. Just as the Spirit bears witness with our spirits that we are children of God (Rom. 8:16), He assures us of the sacred truth of His Word.

     Despite its importance, the internal testimony of the Spirit is subject to misunderstanding. One of these misunderstandings relates to how we defend the truthfulness of the Bible. Do we need to provide an apologetic—a defense—for sacred Scripture that relies on evidence from archaeology and history, on demonstrating the Bible’s internal consistency, and on logical argumentation? Some misconstrue the doctrine of the internal testimony to mean that the presentation of evidence to the veracity of the Bible is unnecessary and even counterproductive. All we need to do is rest on the fact that the Holy Spirit tells us that the Bible is God’s Word both in direct biblical statements and in His internal work of confirming Scripture’s truthfulness.

     Those who hold this position usually want to stress that the authority of God’s Word depends on God Himself and believe that subjecting His Word to empirical testing is to make the Bible’s truthfulness dependent on our own authority to evaluate its truth claims. At one level, this concern is laudable. Scripture’s authority depends on its being the revelation of God, above whom there is no higher authority. But when we are talking about proof for the veracity of Scripture, we are not talking about the authority of God’s Word but about how we know which of the books that claim to be the Word of God are actually from Him. Here, subjective experience cannot be our only court of appeal. We need some sort of objective testimony to determine whether the Bible, Qur’an, or Bhagavad Gita is the Word of God because they all claim to be the Word of God.

     This is where what John Calvin called the indicia come into play. The indicia—indicators—are testable, analyzable, falsifiable, or verifiable aspects of proof. They include such things as archaeological evidence, Scripture’s conformity to what we know about history from other sources, its internal consistency, its majesty and beauty, and so forth. These things give us objective confidence that the Bible is indeed the Word of God. Both Calvin and the Westminster Confession of Faith tell us that these indicators are enough in themselves to convince people that Scripture alone is the Word of God.

Click here to go to source

Amazon says, "Dr. R.C. Sproul is founder and chairman of Ligonier Ministries, an international Christian education and discipleship organization located near Orlando, Fla. He is also copastor of Saint Andrew’s Chapel in Sanford, Fla., chancellor of Reformation Bible College, and executive editor of Tabletalk magazine. He can be heard on the radio program Renewing Your Mind, which is broadcast on hundreds of radio outlets in the United States and around the world. 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, including The Holiness of God, Faith Alone, and Everyone’s a Theologian. He also serves as general editor of the Reformation Study Bible."

R.C. Sproul Books:

The Institutes of the Christian Religion

Translated by Henry Beveridge

     4. Another end which the Lord has in afflicting his people is to try their patience, and train them to obedience--not that they can yield obedience to him except in so far as he enables them; but he is pleased thus to attest and display striking proofs of the graces which he has conferred upon his saints, lest they should remain within unseen and unemployed. Accordingly, by bringing forward openly the strength and constancy of endurance with which he has provided his servants, he is said to try their patience. Hence the expressions that God tempted Abraham (Gen. 21:1, 12), and made proof of his piety by not declining to sacrifice his only son. Hence, too, Peter tells us that our faith is proved by tribulation, just as gold is tried in a furnace of fire. But who will say it is not expedient that the most excellent gift of patience which the believer has received from his God should be applied to uses by being made sure and manifest? Otherwise men would never value it according to its worth. But if God himself, to prevent the virtues which he has conferred upon believers from lurking in obscurity, nay, lying useless and perishing, does aright in supplying materials for calling them forth, there is the best reason for the afflictions of the saints, since without them their patience could not exist. I say, that by the cross they are also trained to obedience, because they are thus taught to live not according to their own wish, but at the disposal of God. Indeed, did all things proceed as they wish, they would not know what it is to follow God. Seneca mentions (De Vit. Beata, cap. 15) that there was an old proverb when any one was exhorted to endure adversity, "Follow God;" thereby intimating, that men truly submitted to the yoke of God only when they gave their back and hand to his rod. But if it is most right that we should in all things prove our obedience to our heavenly Father, certainly we ought not to decline any method by which he trains us to obedience.

5. Still, however, we see not how necessary that obedience is, unless we at the same time consider how prone our carnal nature is to shake off the yoke of God whenever it has been treated with some degree of gentleness and indulgence. It just happens to it as with refractory horses, which, if kept idle for a few days at hack and manger, become ungovernable, and no longer recognize the rider, whose command before they implicitly obeyed. And we invariably become what God complains of in the people of Israel--waxing gross and fat, we kick against him who reared and nursed us (Deut. 32:15). The kindness of God should allure us to ponder and love his goodness; but since such is our malignity, that we are invariably corrupted by his indulgence, it is more than necessary for us to be restrained by discipline from breaking forth into such petulance. Thus, lest we become emboldened by an over-abundance of wealth; lest elated with honour, we grow proud; lest inflated with other advantages of body, or mind, or fortune, we grow insolent, the Lord himself interferes as he sees to be expedient by means of the cross, subduing and curbing the arrogance of our flesh, and that in various ways, as the advantage of each requires. For as we do not all equally labour under the same disease, so we do not all need the same difficult cure. Hence we see that all are not exercised with the same kind of cross. While the heavenly Physician treats some more gently, in the case of others he employs harsher remedies, his purpose being to provide a cure for all. Still none is left free and untouched, because he knows that all, without a single exception, are diseased.

6. We may add, that our most merciful Father requires not only to prevent our weakness, but often to correct our past faults, that he may keep us in due obedience. Therefore, whenever we are afflicted we ought immediately to call to mind our past life. In this way we will find that the faults which we have committed are deserving of such castigation. And yet the exhortation to patience is not to be founded chiefly on the acknowledgment of sin. For Scripture supplies a far better consideration when it says, that in adversity "we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world," (1 Cor. 11:32). Therefore, in the very bitterness of tribulation we ought to recognise the kindness and mercy of our Father, since even then he ceases not to further our salvation. For he afflicts, not that he may ruin or destroy but rather that he may deliver us from the condemnation of the world. Let this thought lead us to what Scripture elsewhere teaches: "My son, despise not the chastening of the Lord; neither be weary of his correction: For whom the Lord loveth he correcteth; even as a father the son in whom he delighteth," (Prov. 3:11, 12). When we perceive our Father's rod, is it not our part to behave as obedient docile sons rather than rebelliously imitate desperate men, who are hardened in wickedness? God dooms us to destruction, if he does not, by correction, call us back when we have fallen off from him, so that it is truly said, "If ye be without chastisement," "then are ye bastards, and not sons," (Heb. 12:8). We are most perverse then if we cannot bear him while he is manifesting his good-will to us, and the care which he takes of our salvation. Scripture states the difference between believers and unbelievers to be, that the latter, as the slaves of inveterate and deep-seated iniquity, only become worse and more obstinate under the lash; whereas the former, like free-born sons turn to repentance. Now, therefore, choose your class. But as I have already spoken of this subject, it is sufficient to have here briefly adverted to it.

7. There is singular consolation, moreover, when we are persecuted for righteousness' sake. For our thought should then be, How high the honour which God bestows upon us in distinguishing us by the special badge of his soldiers. By suffering persecution for righteousness' sake, I mean not only striving for the defence of the Gospel, but for the defence of righteousness in any way. Whether, therefore, in maintaining the truth of God against the lies of Satan, or defending the good and innocent against the injuries of the bad, we are obliged to incur the offence and hatred of the world, so as to endanger life, fortune, or honour, let us not grieve or decline so far to spend ourselves for God; let us not think ourselves wretched in those things in which he with his own lips has pronounced us blessed (Mt. 5:10). Poverty, indeed considered in itself, is misery; so are exile, contempt, imprisonment, ignominy: in fine, death itself is the last of all calamities. But when the favour of God breathes upon is, there is none of these things which may not turn out to our happiness. Let us then be contented with the testimony of Christ rather than with the false estimate of the flesh, and then, after the example of the Apostles, we will rejoice in being "counted worthy to suffer shame for his name," (Acts 5:41). For why? If, while conscious of our innocence, we are deprived of our substance by the wickedness of man, we are, no doubt, humanly speaking, reduced to poverty; but in truth our riches in heaven are increased: if driven from our homes we have a more welcome reception into the family of God; if vexed and despised, we are more firmly rooted in Christ; if stigmatised by disgrace and ignominy, we have a higher place in the kingdom of God; and if we are slain, entrance is thereby given us to eternal life. The Lord having set such a price upon us, let us be ashamed to estimate ourselves at less than the shadowy and evanescent allurements of the present life.

8. Since by these, and similar considerations, Scripture abundantly solaces us for the ignominy or calamities which we endure in defence of righteousness, we are very ungrateful if we do not willingly and cheerfully receive them at the hand of the Lord, especially since this form of the cross is the most appropriate to believers, being that by which Christ desires to be glorified in us, as Peter also declares (1 Pet. 4:11, 14). But as to ingenuous natures, it is more bitter to suffer disgrace than a hundred deaths, Paul expressly reminds us that not only persecution, but also disgrace awaits us, "because we trust in the living God," (1 Tim. 4:10). So in another passage he bids us, after his example, walk "by evil report and good report," (2 Cor. 6:8). The cheerfulness required, however, does not imply a total insensibility to pain. The saints could show no patience under the cross if they were not both tortured with pain and grievously molested. Were there no hardship in poverty, no pain in disease, no sting in ignominy, no fear in death, where would be the fortitude and moderation in enduring them? But while every one of these, by its inherent bitterness, naturally vexes the mind, the believer in this displays his fortitude, that though fully sensible of the bitterness and labouring grievously, he still withstands and struggles boldly; in this displays his patience, that though sharply stung, he is however curbed by the fear of God from breaking forth into any excess; in this displays his alacrity, that though pressed with sorrow and sadness, he rests satisfied with spiritual consolation from God.

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



  • Suffering Sovereignty of God
  • 2010 West Coast Conference
  • 2010 ...

#1 Derek Thomas, R.C. Sproul | Ligonier

 

#2 Horton, MacArthur, and Sproul | Ligonier

 

#3 Ligonier

 


  Devotionals, notes, poetry and more

coram Deo
     6/2006    What’s the Problem?

     You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to know that evil exists. You don’t even have to be a theologian to know that evil exists. All that is necessary for you to know that evil exists is to exist. In this fallen world, we are bombarded with evil from every side — not only the evil of this world but the evil within our own hearts as well, and that is where the real problem exists. As fallen creatures who exist in this fallen world of sin and misery, we do not reflect the light of God’s glory as we should. We are but a dim and distorted shadow of the glorious light of Almighty God. For the Creator of the universe is neither the author nor approver of sin. However, in our rebellion, which was sovereignly permitted by God, we not only authored sin but approved it. Thus, the problem of evil is our problem, one that we created and one we have to live with until the Lord returns.

     When we understand the genesis of the problem of evil, we cease asking the Lord why so much evil exists. Having been confronted by our own guilt and shame before our holy and righteous Lord, we should realize the foolishness of the commonly uttered assertion: “If God is a good God, He would not allow so much evil to exist.” Instead, we would begin to ask the more appropriate question: “If God is a just God, why doesn’t more evil exist?” Why is there not more death and destruction on this earth? Why do we not struggle more than we do? Do we not justly deserve to experience more pain and misery in this world of sin? When we begin to ask such questions, we have just begun to understand our radical corruption, and in turn, we have just begun to understand the grace of God.

     Just as all glory was restored to Christ after He endured the cross, so we too must bear our crosses before we receive our crowns at the feet of our Savior. In his Golden Booklet of the True Christian Life, John Calvin comments: “We, therefore, truly profit from the discipline of the cross when we learn that this life, estimated in itself, is full of unrest, trouble, and misery…. In consequence of this, we should at once come to the conclusion that nothing in this world can be sought or expected but strife, and that we must raise our eyes to heaven to see a crown.” In truth, the problem of evil is only a problem for those who have never been confronted by the problem within their own hearts. However, as Christians, we have been confronted by the evil in our hearts and have been made to live coram Deo, by the wonderful grace of God.

     click here for article source

     Dr. Burk Parsons (@BurkParsons) is editor of Tabletalk magazine, senior pastor of Saint Andrew’s Chapel in Sanford, Fla., a visiting lecturer at Reformed Theological Seminary, and a Ligonier Ministries teaching fellow. He is editor of John Calvin: A Heart for Devotion, Doctrine, and Doxology.

Ligonier     coram Deo (definition)

American Minute
     by Bill Federer

     On this date, March 21, 1685, Johann Sebastian Bach was born. By the age of ten, both his parents had died. At eighteen he was appointed organist at a church, followed by positions in royal courts. Once he was imprisoned because the duke he worked for did not want him seeking employment elsewhere. Widowed with seven children, he remarried and had thirteen more. Bach composed hundreds of pieces, sometimes at the rate of one per week and influenced composers such as Mozart and Beethoven. John Sebastian Bach stated: “The aim… of all music should be none other than the glory of God and the refreshment of the soul.”

American Minute

Lean Into God
     Compiled by Richard S. Adams


A thing is not necessarily true because badly uttered, nor false because spoken magnificently.
--- Saint Augustine   The Confessions of St. Augustine

You can give without loving. But you cannot love without giving.
--- Amy Carmichael, missionary to India   Moral Makeover

Be assured, if you walk with Him and look to Him, and expect help from Him, He will never fail you.
--- George Mueller 1805-1898   Streams in the Desert

Ah, but a man's reach should exceed his grasp--or what's a heaven for?
--- Robert Browning   Robert Browning: Selected Poems (Longman Annotated English Poets)

... from here, there and everywhere

Journal of John Woolman 3/21
     University of Virginia Library 1994

     Nineteenth of sixth month and first of the week. -- This morning the Indian who came with the Moravian, being also a member of that society, prayed in the meeting, and then the Moravian spake a short time to the people. In the afternoon, my heart being filled with a heavenly care for their good, I spake to them awhile by interpreters; but none of them being perfect in the work, and I feeling the current of love run strong, told the interpreters that I believed some of the people would understand me, and so I proceeded without them; and I believe the Holy Ghost wrought on some hearts to edification where all the words were not understood. I looked upon it as a time of Divine favor, and my heart was tendered and truly thankful before the Lord. After I sat down, one of the interpreters seemed spirited to give the Indians the substance of what I said.

     Before our first meeting this morning, I was led to meditate on the manifold difficulties of these Indians who, by the permission of the Six Nations, dwell in these parts. A near sympathy with them was raised in me, and, my heart being enlarged in the love of Christ, I thought that the affectionate care of a good man for his only brother in affliction does not exceed what I then felt for that people. I came to this place through much trouble; and though through the mercies of God I believed that if I died in the journey it would be well with me, yet the thoughts of falling into the hands of Indian warriors were, in times of weakness, afflicting to me; and being of a tender constitution of body, the thoughts of captivity among them were also grievous; supposing that as they were strong and hardy they might demand service of me beyond what I could well bear. But the Lord alone was my keeper, and I believed that if I went into captivity it would be for some good end. Thus, from time to time, my mind was centred in resignation, in which I always found quietness. And this day, though I had the same dangerous wilderness between me and home, I was inwardly joyful that the Lord had strengthened me to come on this visit, and had manifested a fatherly care over me in my poor lowly condition, when, in mine own eyes, I appeared inferior to many among the Indians.

     When the last-mentioned meeting was ended, it being night, Papunehang went to bed; and hearing him speak with an harmonious voice, I suppose for a minute or two, I asked the interpreter, who told me that he was expressing his thankfulness to God for the favors he had received that day, and prayed that he would continue to favor him with the same, which he had experienced in that meeting. Though Papunehang had before agreed to receive the Moravian and join with them, he still appeared kind and loving to us.

     I was at two meetings on the 20th, and silent in them. The following morning, in meeting, my heart was enlarged in pure love among them, and in short plain sentences I expressed several things that rested upon me, which one of the interpreters gave the people pretty readily. The meeting ended in supplication, and I had cause humbly to acknowledge the loving-kindness of the Lord towards us; and then I believed that a door remained open for the faithful disciples of Jesus Christ to labor among these People. And now, feeling my mind at liberty to return, I took my leave of them in general at the conclusion of what I said in meeting, and we then prepared to go homeward. But some of their most active men told us that when we were ready to move the people would choose to come and shake hands with us. Those who usually came to meeting did so; and from a secret draught in my mind I went among some who did not usually go to meeting, and took my leave of them also. The Moravian and his Indian interpreter appeared respectful to us at parting. This town, Wehaloosing, stands on the bank of the Susquehanna, and consists, I believe, of about forty houses, mostly compact together, some about thirty feet long and eighteen wide, -- some bigger, some less. They are built mostly of split plank, one end being set in the ground, and the other pinned to a plate on which rafters are laid, and then covered with bark. I understand a great flood last winter overflowed the greater part of the ground where the town stands, and some were now about moving their houses to higher ground.

     We expected only two Indians to be of our company, but when we were ready to go we found many of them were going to Bethlehem with skins and furs, and chose to go in company with us. So they loaded two canoes in which they desired us to go, telling us that the waters were so raised with the rains that the horses should be taken by such as were better acquainted with the fording-places. We, therefore, with, several Indians, went in the canoes, and others went on horses, there being seven besides ours. We met with the horsemen once on the way by appointment, and at night we lodged a little below a branch called Tankhannah, and some of the young men, going out a little before dusk with their guns, brought in a deer.

     Through diligence we reached Wyoming before night, the 22d, and understood that the Indians were mostly gone from this place. We went up a small creek into the woods with our canoes, and, pitching our tent, carried out our baggage, and before dark our horses came to us. Next morning, the horses being loaded and our baggage prepared, we set forward, being in all fourteen, and with diligent travelling were favored to get near half-way to Fort Allen. The land on this road from Wyoming to our frontier being mostly poor, and good grass being scarce, the Indians chose a piece of low ground to lodge on, as the best for grazing. I had sweat much in travelling, and, being weary, slept soundly. In the night I perceived that I had taken cold, of which I was favored soon to get better.

John Woolman's Journal

Andrew Murray's Absolute Surrender
     Practical religion. The Christian life

     God Maintains Your Surrender

     That is the great difficulty with many. People say: "I have often been stirred at a meeting, or at a convention, and I have consecrated myself to God, but it has passed away. I know it may last for a week or for a month, but away it fades, and after a time it is all gone."

     But listen! It is because you do not believe what I am now going to tell you and remind you of. When God has begun the work of absolute surrender in you, and when God has accepted your surrender, then God holds Himself bound to care for it and to keep it. Will you believe that?

     In this matter of surrender there are two: God and I--I a worm, God the everlasting and omnipotent Jehovah. Worm, will you be afraid to trust yourself to this mighty God now? God is willing. Do you not believe that He can keep you continually, day by day, and moment by moment?

     Moment by moment I'm kept in His love;

     I am using the 1895 Public Domain version. Below is an Amazon link for a modern copy.

Absolute Surrender (The Colportage Library)

Proverbs 13:3-4
     by D.H. Stern

3     He who guards his mouth preserves his life,
but one who talks too much comes to ruin.

4     The lazy person wants but doesn’t have;
the diligent get their desires filled.


Complete Jewish Bible : An English Version of the Tanakh (Old Testament) and B'Rit Hadashah (New Testament)
The Great Divorce - A Dream
     C.S. Lewis

          6

     The cool smooth skin of the bright water was delicious to my feet and I walked on it for about an hour, making perhaps a couple of hundred yards. Then the going became difficult. The current grew swifter. Great flakes or islands of foam came swirling down towards me, bruising my shins like stones if I did not get out of their way. The surface became uneven, rounded itself into lovely hollows and elbows of water which distorted the appearance of the pebbles on the bottom and threw me off my balance, so that I had to scramble to shore. But as the banks hereabouts consisted of great flat stones, I continued my journey without much hurt to my feet. An immense yet lovely noise vibrated through the forest. Hours later I rounded a bend and saw the explanation.

     Before me green slopes made a wide amphitheatre, enclosing a frothy and pulsating lake into which, over many-coloured rocks, a waterfall was pouring. Here once again I realised that something had happened to my senses so that they were now receiving impressions which would normally exceed their capacity. On Earth, such a waterfall could not have been perceived at all as a whole; it was too big. Its sound would have been a terror in the woods for twenty miles. Here, after the first shock, my sensibility ‘took’ both as a well-built ship takes a huge wave. I exulted. The noise, though gigantic, was like giants’ laughter: like the revelry of a whole college of giants together laughing, dancing, singing, roaring at their high works.

     Near the place where the fall plunged into the lake there grew a tree. Wet with the spray, half-veiled in foam-bows, flashing with the bright, innumerable birds that flew among its branches, it rose in many shapes of billowy foliage, huge as a fen-land cloud. From every point apples of gold gleamed through the leaves.

     Suddenly my attention was diverted by a curious appearance in the foreground. A hawthorn bush not twenty yards away seemed to be behaving oddly. Then I saw that it was not the bush but something standing close to the bush and on this side of it. Finally I realised that it was one of the Ghosts. It was crouching as if to conceal itself from something beyond the bush, and it was looking back at me and making signals. It kept on signing to me to duck down. As I could not see what the danger was, I stood fast.

     Presently the Ghost, after peering around in every direction, ventured beyond the hawthorn bush. It could not get on very fast because of the torturing grasses beneath its feet, but it was obviously going as fast as it possibly could, straight for another tree. There it stopped again, standing straight upright against the trunk as though it were taking cover. Because the shadow of the branches now covered it, I could see it better: it was my bowler-hatted companion, the one whom the Big Ghost had called Ikey. After it had stood panting at the tree for about ten minutes and carefully reconnoitred the ground ahead, it made a dash for another tree—such a dash as was possible to it. In this way, with infinite labour and caution, it had reached the great Tree in about an hour. That is, it had come within ten yards of it.

The Great Divorce

My Utmost For The Highest
     A Daily Devotional by Oswald Chambers

                Interest or identification?

I have been crucified with Christ. --- Gal. 2:20.

     The imperative need spiritually is to sign the death-warrant of the disposition of sin, to turn all emotional impressions and intellectual beliefs into a moral verdict against the disposition of sin, viz., my claim to my right to myself. Paul says—“I have been crucified with Christ”; he does not say, ‘I have determined to imitate Jesus Christ,’ or, ‘I will endeavour to follow Him,’ but, ‘I have been identified with Him in His death.’ When I come to such a moral decision and act upon it, then all that Christ wrought for me on the Cross is wrought in me. The free committal of myself to God gives the Holy Spirit the chance to impart to me the holiness of Jesus Christ.

     “… nevertheless I live …” The individuality remains, but the mainspring, the ruling disposition, is radically altered. The same human body remains, but the old satanic right to myself is destroyed.

     “And the life which I now live in the flesh …,” not the life which I long to live and pray to live, but the life I now live in my mortal flesh, the life which men can see, “I live by the faith of the Son of God.” This faith is not Paul’s faith in Jesus Christ, but the faith that the Son of God has imparted to him—“the faith of the Son of God.” It is no longer faith in faith, but faith which has overleapt all conscious bounds, the identical faith of the Son of God.


Teacher's Commentary
     Rejection of God’s appointed (Num. 12).

     Shortly afterward another incident of rebellion occurred. This time Miriam and Aaron, Moses’ sister and brother, resented the special role Moses was given by God. They were aware that God had used them as well as Moses. So they challenged Moses’ authority.

     God responded angrily, pointing out the special relationship that He Himself had chosen to have with Moses. “He is faithful in all My house[hold]” (v.
7). In judgment, Miriam was stricken with leprosy, and put out of the camp for seven days. Afterward she was healed in answer to Moses’ prayer. (Aaron, who served as high priest, would have been disqualified from his office if he had been similarly judged.) The entire nation was intended to learn by this experience. Everyone was forced to wait for Miriam for those seven days, and did not set out again until she was brought in healed.

     Why did God deal so harshly and so decisively with the people at fault in these three incidents? These things happened to them as examples. Israel was about to make a vitally important decision—one that would affect her future drastically. On the journey to the place of decision, God permitted these three incidents so that Israel might learn the lesson of responsibility. Notice the parallel in each situation:

     Circumstances, rather than God’s presence, were given priority by the people.

     God’s revealed will and purposes were rejected.

     The rejecting attitude was expressed in actions.

     Israel’s wrong choices led to judgment and to suffering.

     In unmistakable and dramatic ways Israel was shown that they were now responsible for their own choices. Whenever they chose to turn away from God, tragic results would inevitably follow.


The Teacher's Commentary

Psalm 90”
     Pulpit Commentary

     THE ascription of this psalm in the title to Moses must be admitted to be very remarkable. No other psalm is so ascribed. Nor indeed is a date given to any other earlier than the time of David. The psalm itself, however, when examined, is found to accord with the traditional date. Professor Cheyne notes in it a “roughness,” which is presumably a sign of antiquity. Ewald says of it, “The poem has in it something uncommonly striking, solemn, sinking into the depth of the Godhead. In contents and language it is throughout original and powerful; and, as it is undoubtedly very old, it would have been universally considered as correctly derived from Moses, had we known exactly the reasons which guided the collector.” Hengstenberg, Kay, Professor Alexander, and Dean Johnson accept unhesitatingly the Mosaic authorship.

     The psalm is termed, “A Prayer of Moses, the man of God.” It is, however, only in part a “prayer.” Meditation occupies the opening portion (vers.
1–6); complaint follows (vers. 7–11); it is only with ver. 12 that prayer begins. (For the application to Moses of the phrase, “man of God.” see Deut. 33:1; Josh. 14:6; Ezra 3:2.)

     Ver.
1.—Lord, thou hast been our Dwelling-place in all generations; or, “our habitation” (see Ps. 91:9); comp. Ps. 32:7, “Thou art my Hiding-place.” For well-nigh forty years Moses had had no fixed material dwelling-place.

     Ver.
2.—Before the mountains were brought forth (comp. Prov. 8:25). The “mountains” are mentioned as perhaps the grandest, and certainly among the oldest, of all the works of God. Or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world; literally, or thou gavest birth to the earth and the world (comp. Deut. 32:18). Even from everlasting to everlasting thou art God (comp. Ps. 93:2; Prov. 8:23; Micah 5:2; Hab. 1:12).

     Ver.
3.—Thou turnest man to destruction; or, “to dust” (comp. Gen. 3:19). And sayest, Return, ye children of men; i.e. “return once more, and replenish the earth.” There may be an allusion to the destruction of mankind by the Deluge, and the repeopling of the earth by the descendants of Noah, as Dr. Kay supposes; or the meaning may be that God is continually bringing one generation of men to an end, and then setting up another, having the same control over human life that he has over inanimate nature (ver. 2).

     Ver.
4.—For a thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday. Time has no relation to God; it does not exist for him. “One day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day” (2 Pet. 3:8). Therefore we must not judge his methods of working by our own. When it is past; rather, as it passes. And as a watch in the night. To the sleeper a nightwatch seems gone in a moment.

     Ver.
5.—Thou carriest them away as with a flood. This verse is to be connected with ver. 3, “Thou sweepest mankind away;” i.e. removest them from the earth, when it pleases thee. They are as a sleep. Fantastic, vague, forgotten as soon as it is over. In the morning they are like grass which groweth up (comp. Pss. 37:2; 72:16; 92:7; 103:15; Isa. 40:7).

     Ver.
6.—In the morning it flourisheth, and groweth up; in the evening it is cut down, and withered (comp. Pss. 102:4, 11; 103:15; Isa. 40:7; Jas. 1:10, 11).

     Ver.
7.—For we are consumed by thine anger. From the general reflections, and the general consideration of human weakness, which have hitherto occupied him, the psalmist proceeds to speak particularly of the weakness and sin of himself and his own people, which have brought upon them a painful visitation. God’s anger is hot upon them, and has “consumed” them—not utterly, but so that they are greatly “troubled” and cast down. By thy wrath are we troubled. The expressions used suit the time of the later wanderings in the wilderness, when the generation that had especially sinned was being gradually “consumed,” that it might not enter the Holy Land.

     Ver.
8.—Thou hast set our iniquities before thee. Instead of hiding his face from their iniquities, turning away from them and overlooking them, God has placed them steadily “before him,” in the full searching and scorching light of his own purity and holiness. And not only has he done this with the sins which they know of, and whereof their consciences are afraid; but he has set their secret sins also in the light of his countenance. (On man’s “secret sins,” comp. Ps. 19:12, and the comment ad loc.)

     Ver.
9.—For all our days are passed away in thy wrath; or, “under thy wrath”—“whilst thou art still angry with us” (comp. Deut. 32:15–25). We spend our years—rather, bring our years to an end (Hengstenberg, Kay, Revised Version) as a tale that is told; rather, as a reverie, or “as a murmur.”

     Ver.
10.—The days of our years are three score years and ten. This seems a low estimate for the time of Moses, since he himself died at the age of a hundred and twenty (Deut. 34:7), Aaron at the age of a hundred and twenty-three (Numb. 33:39), and Miriam at an age which was even more advanced (Numb. 20:1; comp. Exod. 2:4). But these may have been exceptional cases, and we have certainly no sufficient data for determining what was the average length of human life in the later period of the wanderings. The suggestion has been made that it was probably even shorter than that here mentioned. And if by reason of strength they be four score years; i.e. “if, through exceptional strength in this or that individual, they occasionally mount up to four score years.” Yet is their strength labour and sorrow; rather, yet is their pride then but labour and vanity. They may boast of their age; but what real advantage is it to them? After seventy, the years draw nigh when each man is forced to say, “I have no pleasure in them” (Eccles. 12:1). For it is soon cut off, and we fly away. Moreover, even if we live to eighty, our life seems to us no more than a span, so soon does it pass away, and we take our departure.

     Ver.
11.—Who knoweth the power of thine anger? Who can duly estimate the intensity of God’s anger against such as have displeased him? Even according to thy fear, so is thy wrath; rather, or who can estimate thy fury as the fear of thee (i.e. the proper fear) requires? The verse is exegetical of ver. 9, and is intended to impress on man the terribleness of God’s anger.

     Vers.
12–17.—From complaint the psalmist, in conclusion, turns to prayer—prayer for his people rather than for himself. His petitions are, (1) that God will enable his people to take to heart the lessons which the brevity of life should teach (ver. 12); (2) that he will cease from his anger, and relent concerning them (ver. 13); (3) that he will once more shower his mercies upon them, and cause their affliction to be swallowed up in gladness (vers. 14, 15); (4) that he will show his glorious doings to them and to their children (ver. 16); (5) that he will let his beauty rest upon them (ver. 17); and (6) that he will bless their doings, and establish them (ver. 17).

     Ver.
12.—So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom. “Teach us,” that is, “so to reflect on the brevity of life, that we may get to ourselves a heart of wisdom,” or a heart that is wise and understanding.

     Ver.
13.—Return, O Lord, how long? rather, turn, O Lord; i.e. “turn from thy anger—how long will it be ere thou turnest?” And let it repent thee concerning thy servants. God “is not a man, that he should repent” (Numb. 23:19); and yet from time to time “it repents him concerning his servants” (Deut. 32:36; Ps. 135:14). He relents, that is, from his fierce anger, allows himself to be appeased, and has compassion upon those who have provoked him.

     Ver.
14.—Oh satisfy us early with thy mercy; literally, satisfy us in the morning with thy mercy; i.e. “after a night of trouble, give us a bright morning of peace and rest.” That we may rejoice and be glad all our days; rather, and we will rejoice and be glad, etc.

     Ver.
15.—Make us glad according to the days wherein thou hast afflicted us. Proportion our time of joy to our time of sorrow; as the one has lasted many long years, so let the other. And the years wherein we have seen evil; or, “suffered adversity.”

     Ver.
16.—Let thy work appear unto thy servants, and thy glory unto their children. The “work” and the “glory” are the same thing—some vast exertion of the Divine power and majesty, which will result in great good to his people. If we accept the Mosaic authorship of the psalm, the establishment of Israel in the land of Canaan may reasonably be taken as the “work” spoken of.

     Ver.
17.—And let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us (comp. Ps. 45:2, “Thou art fairer than the children of men;” Ps. 27:4, “To behold the beauty of the Lord;” Isa. 33:17, “Thine eyes shall see the King in his beauty”). The “beauty of God” is upon us when we see and realize the loveliness of his character. And establish thou the work of our hands upon us; yea, the work of our hands establish thou it. The repetition adds nothing, except it be emphasis. God is asked, finally, to “establish the work” in which his servants are engaged—to bless it; that is, to advance it and prosper it. The nature of the “work” is not mentioned.

The Pulpit Commentary (23 Volume Set)

Swimming In The Sea of Talmud
     Shabbat 104b

     D’RASH

     A teenager boils a pot of water to make hot chocolate. After the water is ready and the drink is made, the youngster puts the kettle back on the flame and leaves the house. The water eventually boils off, the pot burns, and the kitchen catches fire. When the parents question the teen on the lack of responsibility, the reply is: “What did I do wrong? All I did was put water on the stove. Is that a crime?” By itself, of course not. But an unwatched pot of water will always boil off and then burn.

     A laborer from the Department of Public Works digs a three-foot hole in the sidewalk, trying to get to some gas lines. At the end of the day, he leaves the pit uncovered, without warning signs or barricades. After dark, an elderly woman falls into the pit and is severely injured. The worker asks: “What did I do wrong? I just dug a pit! That’s what I’m paid to do.” Combine the innocent digging of a pit with the lack of protection and the coming of darkness, and there is a real disaster in the making.

     Physicists in Germany during World War II are engaged by the government to experiment with rocket science. They turn over their research, which is used by Germany to build missiles that deliver payloads of death and destruction hundreds of miles away. After Germany’s defeat, these scientists are tried for war crimes. They plead not guilty. “We were only involved in theoretical scientific issues. What the government and the army did with it is not our fault and not our responsibility.”

     The Rabbis take a tougher stance. One cannot avoid responsibility by saying: “It’s not my fault! What I did was okay. I’m not to blame if something else happened. I never intended that. I never in a million years thought …” It’s ludicrous to say, “I cut off its head, but I never meant it to die!” Just as ludicrous is the way that so many people refuse to see the consequences of their actions.

     We do not bring proof from fools!

     Text / Mishnah (12:4): One who writes in one act of forgetfulness is liable. If he wrote with ink, paint, red paint, gum, vitriol, or anything else that leaves a mark, on two corner walls or on two pages of a tablet which are read together, he is liable. He who writes on his flesh is liable. He who scratches on his flesh—Rabbi Eliezer makes him liable for a sin offering, while the Sages exempt him.

Gemara: “He who scratches on his flesh.” It was taught: Rabbi Eliezer said to the Sages: “Didn’t Ben S’tada bring witchcraft from Egypt using scratches on his flesh?” They said to him: “He was a fool, and we do not bring proof from fools!”


     Context / Ben S’tada is an obscure figure mentioned several times in the Talmud. In Sanhedrin 67a, we are told that he was taken out from Lydda on Pesaḥ eve and hanged. His mother is identified as Miriam. Given these two facts, some have speculated that Ben S’tada is another name for Jesus, though this seems impossible based on the chronology: Ben S’tada lived a century after Jesus. Apparently, he was a figure known in rabbinic circles for having stolen some of the secrets of Egyptian sorcery and witchcraft on an ancient version of a “crib sheet.” He was also not very well respected; the Gemara in Sanhedrin describes his lineage in particularly crude terms. These few particulars leave more unknown than known about Ben S’tada—except for the fact that the Rabbis were sure that he was a fool!

     The Mishnah reaches who is liable to bring a sin offering, a type of sacrifice given for an accidental transgression, in this case, of the Shabbat. For example, what if one forgot that it was Shabbat and wrote something, in violation of a Shabbat prohibition? Is that person liable to bring a sin offering? First, it must be “one act of forgetfulness,” that is, writing at least two letters at once. (Two letters are the equivalent of the shortest possible Hebrew word and, thus, the minimal requirement for breaking the law of Shabbat.) The next Mishnah will teach that the Rabbis exempt from bringing a sin offering one who forgot that it was Shabbat early in the day and wrote a letter, and then later in the day forgot again and wrote another letter.

     Second, one is liable for a Shabbat violation only for writing that is permanent. Thus, all of the writing materials—“ink, paint, red paint, gum, vitriol, or anything else that leaves a mark”—are mentioned. Each leaves a specific type of permanent mark.

     What if someone wrote on two adjoining walls, one letter on each wall? (Rashi says, for example, one on the eastern and one on the northern.) In such a case, that person is “liable” and must bring a sin offering. The same is true in the case of two leaves of a tablet (like a sales ledger).

     This leads to the disagreement between Rabbi Eliezer and the Rabbis over writing on one’s flesh (as opposed to writing on paper or parchment with a type of ink). Is such scratching considered permanent writing? Rabbi Eliezer says that it is, bringing proof from Ben S’tada, a man who (supposedly) smuggled the secrets of Egyptian witchcraft out of that country by scratching the words onto his skin. The Rabbis respond to Rabbi Eliezer that Ben S’tada’s actions are no proof, for it was known that Ben S’tada was a fool.

Swimming in the Sea of Talmud: Lessons for Everyday Living

The Imitation Of Christ
     Thomas A Kempis

     Book Three - Internal Consolation

     The Twelfth Chapter / Acquiring Patience In The Fight Against Concupiscence

          The Disciple

     PATIENCE, O Lord God, is very necessary for me, I see, because there are many adversities in this life. No matter what plans I make for my own peace, my life cannot be free from struggle and sorrow.

     THE VOICE OF CHRIST

     My child, you are right, yet My wish is not that you seek that peace which is free from temptations or meets with no opposition, but rather that you consider yourself as having found peace when you have been tormented with many tribulations and tried with many adversities.

     If you say that you cannot suffer much, how will you endure the fire of purgatory? Of two evils, the lesser is always to be chosen. Therefore, in order that you may escape the everlasting punishments to come, try to bear present evils patiently for the sake of God.

     Do you think that men of the world have no suffering, or perhaps but little? Ask even those who enjoy the most delights and you will learn otherwise. “But,” you will say, “they enjoy many pleasures and follow their own wishes; therefore they do not feel their troubles very much.” Granted that they do have whatever they wish, how long do you think it will last? Behold, they who prosper in the world shall perish as smoke, and there shall be no memory of their past joys. Even in this life they do not find rest in these pleasures without bitterness, weariness, and fear. For they often receive the penalty of sorrow from the very thing whence they believe their happiness comes. And it is just. Since they seek and follow after pleasures without reason, they should not enjoy them without shame and bitterness.

     How brief, how false, how unreasonable and shameful all these pleasures are! Yet in their drunken blindness men do not understand this, but like brute beasts incur death of soul for the miserly enjoyment of a corruptible life.

     Therefore, My child, do not pursue your lusts, but turn away from your own will. “Seek thy pleasure in the Lord and He will give thee thy heart’s desires.”33 If you wish to be truly delighted and more abundantly comforted by Me, behold, in contempt of all worldly things and in the cutting off of all base pleasures shall your blessing be, and great consolation shall be given you. Further, the more you withdraw yourself from any solace of creatures, the sweeter and stronger comfort will you find in Me.

     At first you will not gain these blessings without sadness and toil and conflict. Habit already formed will resist you, but it shall be overcome by a better habit. The flesh will murmur against you, but it will be bridled by fervor of spirit. The old serpent will sting and trouble you, but prayer will put him to flight and by steadfast, useful toil the way will be closed to him.

The Imitation Of Christ

Take Heart
     March 21

     They are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name …so that they may be one as we are one. --- John 17:11.

     With what [final] arguments [does] he plead with the Father? ( The Whole Works of the Reverend Mr. John Flavel ... )

     He adds [a fifth] argument in the words,
“I am coming to you.” As his leaving them was an argument, so his going to the Father is a mighty argument also. There is much in these words, “I am coming to you”—“I, your beloved Son, in whom your soul delights; to whom you never denied anything. It is I who come to you, swimming through a bloody ocean. I come, treading every step to you in blood and unspeakable sufferings—all this for the sake of those dear ones I now pray for. Yes, the design and purpose of my coming to you is for them. I am coming to heaven in the capacity of an advocate to plead with you for them, my Father and their Father, my God and their God. Since I who am so dear come through such bitter pangs to you, so tenderhearted a Father, and all this on their account, since I now give them a little taste of that intercession work that I shall forever perform for them in heaven, Father, grant what I request. I know you will not deny me.”

     And [sixth,] to close up all, he tells the Father how careful he had been to observe and perform that trust which was committed to him:
“While I was with them, I protected them and kept them safe by that name you gave me. None has been lost except the one doomed to destruction”
--- (John 17:12).

     And thus lies the argument: “You committed to me a certain number of souls. I undertook the trust and said, if any of these are lost, I will answer for them. In pursuing this trust I am now here on the earth in a body of flesh. I have been faithful. I have redeemed them” (for he speaks of that as finished and done which was now ready to be done). “I have kept them also and confirmed them until now, and now, Father, I commit them to your care. Do not let them fail now, do not let one of them perish.”

      Thus you see what a muscular, argumentative, pleading prayer Christ poured out to the Father for them at parting.
--- John Flavel


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

On This Day   March 21
     He Is Risen!

     Easter is the greatest of Christian holidays. But what does the word Easter mean? Where and when was it first celebrated?

     The origin of the word Easter is uncertain, but the Venerable Bede claimed that the Christian resurrection festival displaced ancient pagan celebrations involving the Anglo-Saxon spring goddess “Eostre.” That, he said, occasioned the term. Others believe the word derives from an old German term meaning sunrise.

     Whatever its meaning, it is the oldest celebration of Christianity. The earliest written reference to Easter comes from the mid-second century. A controversy arose about the dating of Easter, causing Polycarp to visit Rome’s bishop Anicetus. The two were unable to settle the controversy, and it became a hotly debated issue threatening to split the church. Believers in Asia celebrated one day, Christians in Europe another. Books, tracts, sermons, and harangues were devoted to the topic. Synods and councils were called. Tempers flared. Clergy excommunicated one another. Irenaeus wrote, “The apostles ordered that we should judge no one in respect to a feast day or a holy day. Whence then these wars? Whence these schisms?”

     The issue came to a vote at the famous Council of Nicaea in 325. Easter, declared the council, should be celebrated on the first Sunday following the first full moon after March 21, the vernal equinox. Easter then is a “movable feast” that may occur as early as March 22 or as late as April 25. The matter wasn’t entirely settled, but believers seemed to realize that it wasn’t the date, but the significance, that gave Easter its magnificence.

     A custom arose among early worshipers to keep watch the Saturday night preceding Easter morning, and many believed that Christ would return at the breaking of this day. New converts kept watch and prayed throughout the night, then were baptized at sunrise. Another custom, still widely practiced, finds the pastor addressing the congregation with the glorious words: He is risen! The assembled worshipers shout in return: He is risen indeed! For 2,000 years the foundation of Christianity has rested securely on this simple yet unfathomable truth.

     The angel said to the women, “Don’t be afraid! I know you are looking for Jesus, who was nailed to a cross. He isn’t here! God has raised him to life, just as Jesus said he would.
--- Matthew 28:5,6a.


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

Morning and Evening
     Daily Readings / CHARLES H. SPURGEON

          Morning - March 21

     
“Ye shall be scattered, every man to his own, and shall leave me alone.”
--- John 16:32.

     Few had fellowship with the sorrows of Gethsemane. The majority of the disciples were not sufficiently advanced in grace to be admitted to behold the mysteries of “the agony.” Occupied with the passover feast at their own houses, they represent the many who live upon the letter, but are mere babes as to the spirit of the gospel. To twelve, nay, to eleven only was the privilege given to enter Gethsemane and see “this great sight.” Out of the eleven, eight were left at a distance; they had fellowship, but not of that intimate sort to which men greatly beloved are admitted. Only three highly favoured ones could approach the veil of our Lord’s mysterious sorrow: within that veil even these must not intrude; a stone’s-cast distance must be left between. He must tread the wine-press alone, and of the people there must be none with him. Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, represent the few eminent, experienced saints, who may be written down as “Fathers;” these having done business on great waters, can in some degree measure the huge Atlantic waves of their Redeemer’s passion. To some selected spirits it is given, for the good of others, and to strengthen them for future, special, and tremendous conflict, to enter the inner circle and hear the pleadings of the suffering High Priest; they have fellowship with him in his sufferings, and are made conformable unto his death. Yet even these cannot penetrate the secret places of the Saviour’s woe. “Thine unknown sufferings” is the remarkable expression of the Greek liturgy: there was an inner chamber in our Master’s grief, shut out from human knowledge and fellowship. There Jesus is “left alone.” Here Jesus was more than ever an “Unspeakable gift!” Is not Watts right when he sings ---

     “And all the unknown joys he gives,
     Were bought with agonies unknown.”



          Evening - March 21

     "Canst thou bind the sweet influences of Pleiades, or loose the bands of Orion?"Job 38:31.

     If inclined to boast of our abilities, the grandeur of nature may soon show us how puny we are. We cannot move the least of all the twinkling stars, or quench so much as one of the beams of the morning. We speak of power, but the heavens laugh us to scorn. When the Pleiades shine forth in spring with vernal joy we cannot restrain their influences, and when Orion reigns aloft, and the year is bound in winter’s fetters, we cannot relax the icy bands. The seasons revolve according to the divine appointment, neither can the whole race of men effect a change therein. Lord, what is man?

     In the spiritual, as in the natural world, man’s power is limited on all hands. When the Holy Spirit sheds abroad his delights in the soul, none can disturb; all the cunning and malice of men are ineffectual to stay the genial quickening power of the Comforter. When he deigns to visit a church and revive it, the most inveterate enemies cannot resist the good work; they may ridicule it, but they can no more restrain it than they can push back the spring when the Pleiades rule the hour. God wills it, and so it must be. On the other hand, if the Lord in sovereignty, or in justice, bind up a man so that he is in soul bondage, who can give him liberty? He alone can remove the winter of spiritual death from an individual or a people. He looses the bands of Orion, and none but he. What a blessing it is that he can do it. O that he would perform the wonder to-night. Lord, end my winter, and let my spring begin. I cannot with all my longings raise my soul out of her death and dulness, but all things are possible with thee. I need celestial influences, the clear shinings of thy love, the beams of thy grace, the light of thy countenance, these are the Pleiades to me. I suffer much from sin and temptation, these are my wintry signs, my terrible Orion. Lord, work wonders in me, and for me. Amen.

Morning and Evening

Amazing Grace
     March 21

          REDEEMED

     Fanny J. Crosby, 1820–1915

     Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; His love endures forever. Let the redeemed of the Lord say this ---
(Psalm 107:1, 2)


     All my theology is reduced to this narrow compass—Christ Jesus came into this world to save sinners.
--- Archibald Alexander

     The word redeemed implies the idea of a slave standing on the trader’s auction block being offered to the highest bidder. At last the price is paid by a compassionate new owner, who then gives the slave his unconditional freedom. But the freed slave, out of gratitude to his new owner, offers himself as a loving bond servant for life to his redeemer.

     Man has been separated from God by sin and has become a slave of Satan. But man has been redeemed. Because Christ paid the ransom we owed to divine justice, we have been freed from the shackles of sin’s bondage and God’s eternal wrath. Out of gratitude for this deliverance, we cling to our new master and lovingly determine to serve Him forever. A realization of redemption causes the ransomed to sing repeatedly, “Redeemed—how I love to proclaim it, redeemed by the blood of the Lamb …”

     This popular gospel song by Fanny Crosby first appeared with William Kirkpatrick’s jubilant tune in the hymnal Songs of Redeeming Love, published in 1882. It is another of the more than 8,000 hymns by the blind American poetess, Fanny Jane Crosby, the most important writer of gospel hymn texts in American history.

     Redeemed—how I love to proclaim it! Redeemed by the blood of the Lamb; redeemed thru His infinite mercy —His child, and forever, I am.
     Redeemed and so happy in Jesus; no language my rapture can tell; I know that the light of His presence with me doth continually dwell.
     I think of my blessed Redeemer. I think of Him all the day long; I sing, for I cannot be silent; His love is the theme of my song.
     I know I shall see in His beauty the King in whose law I delight, who lovingly guardeth my footsteps and giveth me songs in the night.
     Chorus: Redeemed, redeemed, redeemed by the blood of the Lamb; redeemed, redeemed, His child, and forever, I am.


     For Today: Romans 3:24–26; Ephesians 1:7; Colossians 1:12–14; 1 Peter 1:18, 19.

     One of the strongest evidences for the validity of the gospel is a redeemed, vibrant life. Determine with the Holy Spirit’s help to be such a demonstration. Carry this musical testimony with you as you go ---

Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions

A Guide to Fervent Prayer
     A.W. Pink | (1886-1952)


          God’s Resurrection of Christ Our Plea

     “Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant” (Hebrews 13:20). This reference to the deliverance of Christ from the tomb I regard as the plea on which the apostle bases the request that follows. Since I consider this to be one of the most important verses in the New Testament, I shall give my best attention to every word in it, the more so since part of its wondrous contents is so little comprehended today. We should observe, first, the character in which the Savior is here viewed; secondly, the act of God in bringing him forth from the dead; thirdly, the connection between that act and His office as “the God of peace”; fourthly, how that the meritorious cause of the same was “the blood of the everlasting covenant;” and fifthly, the powerful motive that the meritorious cause provides to encourage the saints to come boldly to the throne of grace where they may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. May the Holy Spirit deign to be our Guide as we prayerfully ponder this portion of the Truth.

          That Great Shepherd of the Sheep

     This title of Christ’s was most pertinent and appropriate in an Epistle to Jewish converts, for the Old Testament had taught them to look for the Messiah in that specific function. Moses and David, eminent types of Him, were shepherds. Concerning the first it is said, “Thou leddest thy people like a flock by the hand of Moses and Aaron” (Ps. 77:20). Under the name of the second God promised the Messiah to Israel: “And I will set up one shepherd over them, and he shall feed them, even my servant [the antitypical] David; he shall feed them, and he shall be their shepherd” (Ezek. 34:23). That Paul here made reference to that particular prophecy is clear from what it went on to say: “And I will make with them a covenant of peace” (Ezek. 34:25). Here in Hebrews 13:20, the same three things are brought together: the God of peace, the great Shepherd, the everlasting covenant, and in a manner (in perfect accord with the theme of the Epistle) that refuted the erroneous conception that the Jews had formed of their Messiah. They imagined that He would secure for them an external deliverance as Moses had done and a prosperous national state as David had set up. They had no idea that He would shed His precious blood and be brought down into the grave, though they should have known and understood it in the light of prophetic revelation.

     When Christ appeared in their midst, He definitely presented Himself to the Jews in this character. He not only declared, “I am the good shepherd:” but added this: “the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep” (John 10:11). John the Baptist, Christ’s forerunner, heralded His public manifestation in this wise: “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). In this dual character, or under this twofold revelation, the Lord Jesus had been prophesied in Isaiah 53 (as viewed against the backdrop of Ezek. 34): “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him [i.e. the Shepherd, whose the sheep are!] the iniquity of us all” (Isa. 53:6, cf. Zech. 13:7). Note a wonderful congruity of expression between the next verse of Isaiah’s prophecy (Isaiah 53:7) and the prayer we are studying. Isaiah prophesies, “he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.” Notice how the same Spirit who inspired Isaiah prompts Paul to say in Hebrews 13:20 that God—not “raised,” but—“brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep”. The fact that God brought back again from the dead this great Shepherd signifies that the Father had previously brought Him into death as a Substitute, a propitiatory Lamb, for the sins of His sheep. How minutely accurate is the language of Holy Writ and how perfect the harmony— verbal harmony —of the Old and New Testaments!

     Peter, in his first Epistle, under the Spirit, appropriated the same wonderful prophecy concerning the Lord Jesus. After referring to Him as the “lamb without blemish and without spot:” by Whom we are redeemed (1 Peter 1:18, 19), he goes on to cite some of the predictive expressions of Isaiah 53: that which speaks of us “as sheep going astray”; that which refers to the saving virtue of Christ’s expiatory passion—“by whose stripes ye were healed”; and the general teaching of the prophecy, that in bearing our sins in His own body on the tree Christ was transacting heavenly business with the righteous Judge as “the Shepherd and Bishop of your [our] souls” (1 Peter 2:24, 25). Thus he was led to expound Isaiah portraying the Savior as a Lamb in death and a Shepherd in resurrection. The excuselessness of the Jews’ ignorance of Christ in this particular office appears still further in that, through yet another of their prophets, it had been announced that God would say, “Awake, O sword, against my shepherd, against the man that is my fellow, saith the LORD of hosts: smite the Shepherd. . . “ (Zech. 13:7). There God is viewed in His judicial character as being angry with the Shepherd for our sakes: since He bore our sins, justice must take satisfaction from Him. Thus was “the chastisement of our peace” laid upon Him, and the good Shepherd gave His life for the sheep as a satisfaction for the righteous claims of God.

          That Great Shepherd

     From what has been set forth above, we may the better perceive why it was that the Apostle Paul designated Him “that great shepherd”: the One not only foreshadowed by Abel, by the patriarchal shepherds; typified by David, but also portrayed as the Shepherd of Jehovah in the Messianic predictions. We should note that both of His natures were contemplated under this appellation: “my Shepherd,. . . the man that is my fellow, saith the LORD” (Zech. 13:7). As the profound Goodwin pointed out centuries ago, this title also implies all of Christ’s offices: His prophetic office—“He shall feed his flock like a shepherd” (Isa. 40:11; cf. Ps. 23:1, 2); His priestly office—“the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep” (John 10:11); His royal office—for the same passage that announced that He should be Shepherd over God’s people also denominated Him a “prince” (Ezek. 34:23, 24). Christ Himself points out the connection between His kingly office and His being described as a Shepherd: “When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: And before him shall be gathered all nations; and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats” (Matthew 25:31, 32). He is indeed that “great Shepherd,” all-sufficient for His flock.

          A Shepherd Must Have Sheep

     “Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep.” See there the relation of the Redeemer to the redeemed. Shepherd and sheep are correlative terms: one cannot properly term any man a shepherd if he has no sheep. The idea of Christ as Shepherd necessarily implies that there is a chosen flock. Christ is the Shepherd of the sheep, and not of the wolves (Luke 10:3), nor even of the goats (Matthew 25:32, 33), for He has received no charge from God to save them. How the basic truth of particular redemption stares us in the face in innumerable passages throughout the Scriptures! “He did not lay down His life for the whole herd of mankind, but for the flock of the elect which was given to Him by the Father, as He declared in John 10:14-16, 26” (John Owen).

     Observe, too, how this title intimates His Mediatorship: as the Shepherd He is not the ultimate Lord of the flock, but the Father’s Servant who takes charge of and cares for it: “thine they were, and thou gavest them me” (John 17:6). Christ’s relation to us is further seen in the phrase “our [not the] Lord Jesus.” He is therefore our Shepherd: ours in His pastoral office, which He is still discharging; ours, as brought from the dead, for we rose in Him (Col. 3:1).

          The Superiority of Christ the Great Shepherd

     The words “that great shepherd of the sheep” emphasize Christ’s immeasurable superiority over all the typical and ministerial shepherds of Israel, just as the words “a great high priest” (Heb. 4:14) stress His eminency over Aaron and the Levitical priests. In like manner, it denotes His authority over the pastors He sets over His churches, for He is “the chief Shepherd” (1 Peter 5:4) in relation to all undershepherds. He is the Shepherd of souls; and one of them is worth far more than the whole world, which is the value He sets upon them by redeeming them with His own blood. This adjective also looks at the excellence of His flock: He is the great Shepherd over an entire, indivisible flock composed both of Jews and Gentiles. Thus He declared, “And other sheep I have, which are not of this [Jewish] fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd” (John 10:16, brackets mine). This “one fold,” a single flock, comprehends all the saints both of the Old Testament and the New Testament (see also how the Apostle Paul sets forth this unity of the people of God by his metaphor of the olive tree in Rom. 11). The phrase “that great Shepherd” also has respect to His abilities: He has a particular knowledge of each and every one of His sheep (John 10:3); He has the skill to gather, to feed, and to heal them (Ezek. 34:11-16); and He has the power to effectually preserve them. “And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any pluck them out of my hand” (John 10:28). Then how greatly should we trust, love, honor, worship, and obey Him!


     Tomorrow starts Chapter 2

A Guide to Fervent Prayer


Dever, Duncan, Thomas, and Sproul

2005 National Conference | Ligonier





Jones, Sproul, and Sproul Jr.

2006 National Conference | Ligonier






Duncan, MacArthur, and Sproul

2006 National Conference | Ligonier





Duncan, Ferguson, and Sproul

2006 National Conference | Ligonier






Mohler, Sproul, Sproul Jr., and Zacharias

2007 National Conference | Ligonier





Duncan, Mohler, Sproul, and Zacharias

2007 National Conference | Ligonier






Lawson, Sproul, Sproul Jr., and Tada

2008 National Conference | Ligonier





Duncan, Ferguson, Mahaney, and Sproul

2008 National Conference | Ligonier






Duncan, MacArthur, and Sproul

2008 National Conference | Ligonier





Duncan, MacArthur, and Sproul 2

2008 National Conference | Ligonier






Ferguson, Begg, Lawson, Sproul, and Sproul Jr

2009 National Conference | Ligonier





Anyabwile, Carson, Godfrey, and Thomas

2009 National Conference | Ligonier






Ferguson, Lawson, Mohler, and Duncan

2009 National Conference | Ligonier





Is There Life After Death?&A

2009 National Conference | Ligonier






Is There Life After Death? 2

2009 National Conference | Ligonier





Duncan, Ferguson, Lawson, and Sproul

2009 National Conference | Ligonier






Suffering and the Sovereignty of God

Ligonier 2010 Winter Academy Conference | Ligonier