1 Samuel 9
Saul Chosen to Be King1 Samuel 9 1 There was a man of Benjamin whose name was Kish, the son of Abiel, son of Zeror, son of Becorath, son of Aphiah, a Benjaminite, a man of wealth. 2 And he had a son whose name was Saul, a handsome young man. There was not a man among the people of Israel more handsome than he. From his shoulders upward he was taller than any of the people.
3 Now the donkeys of Kish, Saul’s father, were lost. So Kish said to Saul his son, “Take one of the young men with you, and arise, go and look for the donkeys.” 4 And he passed through the hill country of Ephraim and passed through the land of Shalishah, but they did not find them. And they passed through the land of Shaalim, but they were not there. Then they passed through the land of Benjamin, but did not find them.
5 When they came to the land of Zuph, Saul said to his servant who was with him, “Come, let us go back, lest my father cease to care about the donkeys and become anxious about us.” 6 But he said to him, “Behold, there is a man of God in this city, and he is a man who is held in honor; all that he says comes true. So now let us go there. Perhaps he can tell us the way we should go.” 7 Then Saul said to his servant, “But if we go, what can we bring the man? For the bread in our sacks is gone, and there is no present to bring to the man of God. What do we have?” 8 The servant answered Saul again, “Here, I have with me a quarter of a shekel of silver, and I will give it to the man of God to tell us our way.” 9 (Formerly in Israel, when a man went to inquire of God, he said, “Come, let us go to the seer,” for today’s “prophet” was formerly called a seer.) 10 And Saul said to his servant, “Well said; come, let us go.” So they went to the city where the man of God was.
11 As they went up the hill to the city, they met young women coming out to draw water and said to them, “Is the seer here?” 12 They answered, “He is; behold, he is just ahead of you. Hurry. He has come just now to the city, because the people have a sacrifice today on the high place. 13 As soon as you enter the city you will find him, before he goes up to the high place to eat. For the people will not eat till he comes, since he must bless the sacrifice; afterward those who are invited will eat. Now go up, for you will meet him immediately.” 14 So they went up to the city. As they were entering the city, they saw Samuel coming out toward them on his way up to the high place.
15 Now the day before Saul came, the LORD had revealed to Samuel: 16 “Tomorrow about this time I will send to you a man from the land of Benjamin, and you shall anoint him to be prince over my people Israel. He shall save my people from the hand of the Philistines. For I have seen my people, because their cry has come to me.” 17 When Samuel saw Saul, the LORD told him, “Here is the man of whom I spoke to you! He it is who shall restrain my people.” 18 Then Saul approached Samuel in the gate and said, “Tell me where is the house of the seer?” 19 Samuel answered Saul, “I am the seer. Go up before me to the high place, for today you shall eat with me, and in the morning I will let you go and will tell you all that is on your mind. 20 As for your donkeys that were lost three days ago, do not set your mind on them, for they have been found. And for whom is all that is desirable in Israel? Is it not for you and for all your father’s house?” 21 Saul answered, “Am I not a Benjaminite, from the least of the tribes of Israel? And is not my clan the humblest of all the clans of the tribe of Benjamin? Why then have you spoken to me in this way?”
22 Then Samuel took Saul and his young man and brought them into the hall and gave them a place at the head of those who had been invited, who were about thirty persons. 23 And Samuel said to the cook, “Bring the portion I gave you, of which I said to you, ‘Put it aside.’” 24 So the cook took up the leg and what was on it and set them before Saul. And Samuel said, “See, what was kept is set before you. Eat, because it was kept for you until the hour appointed, that you might eat with the guests.”
So Saul ate with Samuel that day. 25 And when they came down from the high place into the city, a bed was spread for Saul on the roof, and he lay down to sleep. 26 Then at the break of dawn Samuel called to Saul on the roof, “Up, that I may send you on your way.” So Saul arose, and both he and Samuel went out into the street.
27 As they were going down to the outskirts of the city, Samuel said to Saul, “Tell the servant to pass on before us, and when he has passed on, stop here yourself for a while, that I may make known to you the word of God.”
1 Samuel 10
Saul Anointed King1 Samuel 10 1 Then Samuel took a flask of oil and poured it on his head and kissed him and said, “Has not the LORD anointed you to be prince over his people Israel? And you shall reign over the people of the LORD and you will save them from the hand of their surrounding enemies. And this shall be the sign to you that the LORD has anointed you to be prince over his heritage. 2 When you depart from me today, you will meet two men by Rachel’s tomb in the territory of Benjamin at Zelzah, and they will say to you, ‘The donkeys that you went to seek are found, and now your father has ceased to care about the donkeys and is anxious about you, saying, “What shall I do about my son?”’ 3 Then you shall go on from there farther and come to the oak of Tabor. Three men going up to God at Bethel will meet you there, one carrying three young goats, another carrying three loaves of bread, and another carrying a skin of wine. 4 And they will greet you and give you two loaves of bread, which you shall accept from their hand. 5 After that you shall come to Gibeath-elohim, where there is a garrison of the Philistines. And there, as soon as you come to the city, you will meet a group of prophets coming down from the high place with harp, tambourine, flute, and lyre before them, prophesying. 6 Then the Spirit of the LORD will rush upon you, and you will prophesy with them and be turned into another man. 7 Now when these signs meet you, do what your hand finds to do, for God is with you. 8 Then go down before me to Gilgal. And behold, I am coming down to you to offer burnt offerings and to sacrifice peace offerings. Seven days you shall wait, until I come to you and show you what you shall do.”
9 When he turned his back to leave Samuel, God gave him another heart. And all these signs came to pass that day. 10 When they came to Gibeah, behold, a group of prophets met him, and the Spirit of God rushed upon him, and he prophesied among them. 11 And when all who knew him previously saw how he prophesied with the prophets, the people said to one another, “What has come over the son of Kish? Is Saul also among the prophets?” 12 And a man of the place answered, “And who is their father?” Therefore it became a proverb, “Is Saul also among the prophets?” 13 When he had finished prophesying, he came to the high place.
14 Saul’s uncle said to him and to his servant, “Where did you go?” And he said, “To seek the donkeys. And when we saw they were not to be found, we went to Samuel.” 15 And Saul’s uncle said, “Please tell me what Samuel said to you.” 16 And Saul said to his uncle, “He told us plainly that the donkeys had been found.” But about the matter of the kingdom, of which Samuel had spoken, he did not tell him anything.
Saul Proclaimed King17 Now Samuel called the people together to the LORD at Mizpah. 18 And he said to the people of Israel, “Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, ‘I brought up Israel out of Egypt, and I delivered you from the hand of the Egyptians and from the hand of all the kingdoms that were oppressing you.’ 19 But today you have rejected your God, who saves you from all your calamities and your distresses, and you have said to him, ‘Set a king over us.’ Now therefore present yourselves before the LORD by your tribes and by your thousands.”
20 Then Samuel brought all the tribes of Israel near, and the tribe of Benjamin was taken by lot. 21 He brought the tribe of Benjamin near by its clans, and the clan of the Matrites was taken by lot; and Saul the son of Kish was taken by lot. But when they sought him, he could not be found. 22 So they inquired again of the LORD, “Is there a man still to come?” and the LORD said, “Behold, he has hidden himself among the baggage.” 23 Then they ran and took him from there. And when he stood among the people, he was taller than any of the people from his shoulders upward. 24 And Samuel said to all the people, “Do you see him whom the LORD has chosen? There is none like him among all the people.” And all the people shouted, “Long live the king!”
25 Then Samuel told the people the rights and duties of the kingship, and he wrote them in a book and laid it up before the LORD. Then Samuel sent all the people away, each one to his home. 26 Saul also went to his home at Gibeah, and with him went men of valor whose hearts God had touched. 27 But some worthless fellows said, “How can this man save us?” And they despised him and brought him no present. But he held his peace.
1 Samuel 11
Saul Defeats the Ammonites1 Samuel 11 1 Then Nahash the Ammonite went up and besieged Jabesh-gilead, and all the men of Jabesh said to Nahash, “Make a treaty with us, and we will serve you.” 2 But Nahash the Ammonite said to them, “On this condition I will make a treaty with you, that I gouge out all your right eyes, and thus bring disgrace on all Israel.” 3 The elders of Jabesh said to him, “Give us seven days’ respite that we may send messengers through all the territory of Israel. Then, if there is no one to save us, we will give ourselves up to you.” 4 When the messengers came to Gibeah of Saul, they reported the matter in the ears of the people, and all the people wept aloud.
5 Now, behold, Saul was coming from the field behind the oxen. And Saul said, “What is wrong with the people, that they are weeping?” So they told him the news of the men of Jabesh. 6 And the Spirit of God rushed upon Saul when he heard these words, and his anger was greatly kindled. 7 He took a yoke of oxen and cut them in pieces and sent them throughout all the territory of Israel by the hand of the messengers, saying, “Whoever does not come out after Saul and Samuel, so shall it be done to his oxen!” Then the dread of the LORD fell upon the people, and they came out as one man. 8 When he mustered them at Bezek, the people of Israel were three hundred thousand, and the men of Judah thirty thousand. 9 And they said to the messengers who had come, “Thus shall you say to the men of Jabesh-gilead: ‘Tomorrow, by the time the sun is hot, you shall have salvation.’” When the messengers came and told the men of Jabesh, they were glad. 10 Therefore the men of Jabesh said, “Tomorrow we will give ourselves up to you, and you may do to us whatever seems good to you.” 11 And the next day Saul put the people in three companies. And they came into the midst of the camp in the morning watch and struck down the Ammonites until the heat of the day. And those who survived were scattered, so that no two of them were left together.
The Kingdom Is Renewed12 Then the people said to Samuel, “Who is it that said, ‘Shall Saul reign over us?’ Bring the men, that we may put them to death.” 13 But Saul said, “Not a man shall be put to death this day, for today the LORD has worked salvation in Israel.” 14 Then Samuel said to the people, “Come, let us go to Gilgal and there renew the kingdom.” 15 So all the people went to Gilgal, and there they made Saul king before the LORD in Gilgal. There they sacrificed peace offerings before the LORD, and there Saul and all the men of Israel rejoiced greatly.
1 Samuel 12
Samuel’s Farewell Address1 Samuel 12 1 And Samuel said to all Israel, “Behold, I have obeyed your voice in all that you have said to me and have made a king over you. 2 And now, behold, the king walks before you, and I am old and gray; and behold, my sons are with you. I have walked before you from my youth until this day. 3 Here I am; testify against me before the LORD and before his anointed. Whose ox have I taken? Or whose donkey have I taken? Or whom have I defrauded? Whom have I oppressed? Or from whose hand have I taken a bribe to blind my eyes with it? Testify against me and I will restore it to you.” 4 They said, “You have not defrauded us or oppressed us or taken anything from any man’s hand.” 5 And he said to them, “The LORD is witness against you, and his anointed is witness this day, that you have not found anything in my hand.” And they said, “He is witness.”
6 And Samuel said to the people, “The LORD is witness, who appointed Moses and Aaron and brought your fathers up out of the land of Egypt. 7 Now therefore stand still that I may plead with you before the LORD concerning all the righteous deeds of the LORD that he performed for you and for your fathers. 8 When Jacob went into Egypt, and the Egyptians oppressed them, then your fathers cried out to the LORD and the LORD sent Moses and Aaron, who brought your fathers out of Egypt and made them dwell in this place. 9 But they forgot the LORD their God. And he sold them into the hand of Sisera, commander of the army of Hazor, and into the hand of the Philistines, and into the hand of the king of Moab. And they fought against them. 10 And they cried out to the LORD and said, ‘We have sinned, because we have forsaken the LORD and have served the Baals and the Ashtaroth. But now deliver us out of the hand of our enemies, that we may serve you.’ 11 And the LORD sent Jerubbaal and Barak and Jephthah and Samuel and delivered you out of the hand of your enemies on every side, and you lived in safety. 12 And when you saw that Nahash the king of the Ammonites came against you, you said to me, ‘No, but a king shall reign over us,’ when the LORD your God was your king. 13 And now behold the king whom you have chosen, for whom you have asked; behold, the LORD has set a king over you. 14 If you will fear the LORD and serve him and obey his voice and not rebel against the commandment of the LORD, and if both you and the king who reigns over you will follow the LORD your God, it will be well. 15 But if you will not obey the voice of the LORD, but rebel against the commandment of the LORD, then the hand of the LORD will be against you and your king. 16 Now therefore stand still and see this great thing that the LORD will do before your eyes. 17 Is it not wheat harvest today? I will call upon the LORD, that he may send thunder and rain. And you shall know and see that your wickedness is great, which you have done in the sight of the LORD, in asking for yourselves a king.” 18 So Samuel called upon the LORD, and the LORD sent thunder and rain that day, and all the people greatly feared the LORD and Samuel.
19 And all the people said to Samuel, “Pray for your servants to the LORD your God, that we may not die, for we have added to all our sins this evil, to ask for ourselves a king.” 20 And Samuel said to the people, “Do not be afraid; you have done all this evil. Yet do not turn aside from following the LORD, but serve the LORD with all your heart. 21 And do not turn aside after empty things that cannot profit or deliver, for they are empty. 22 For the LORD will not forsake his people, for his great name’s sake, because it has pleased the LORD to make you a people for himself. 23 Moreover, as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the LORD by ceasing to pray for you, and I will instruct you in the good and the right way. 24 Only fear the LORD and serve him faithfully with all your heart. For consider what great things he has done for you. 25 But if you still do wickedly, you shall be swept away, both you and your king.”
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What Can Miserable Christians Sing?
By Carl R. Trueman
“Having experienced — and generally appreciated — worship across the whole evangelical spectrum, from Charismatic to Reformed — I am myself less concerned here with the form of worship than I am with its content. Thus, I would like to make just one observation: the psalms, the Bible’s own hymnbook, have almost entirely dropped from view in the contemporary Western evangelical scene. I am not certain about why this should be, but I have an instinctive feel that it has more than a little to do with the fact that a high proportion of the psalter is taken up with lamentation, with feeling sad, unhappy, tormented, and broken.
In modern Western culture, these are simply not emotions which have much credibility: sure, people still feel these things, but to admit that they are a normal part of one’s everyday life is tantamount to admitting that one has failed in today’s health, wealth, and happiness society. And, of course, if one does admit to them, one must neither accept them nor take any personal responsibility for them: one must blame one’s parents, sue one’s employer, pop a pill, or check into a clinic in order to have such dysfunctional emotions soothed and one’s self-image restored.
Now, one would not expect the world to have much time for the weakness of the psalmists’ cries. It is very disturbing, however, when these cries of lamentation disappear from the language and worship of the church. Perhaps the Western church feels no need to lament — but then it is sadly deluded about how healthy it really is in terms of numbers, influence and spiritual maturity. Perhaps — and this is more likely — it has drunk so deeply at the well of modern Western materialism that it simply does not know what to do with such cries and regards them as little short of embarrassing. Yet the human condition is a poor one — and Christians who are aware of the deceitfulness of the human heart and are looking for a better country should know this.
A diet of unremittingly jolly choruses and hymns inevitably creates an unrealistic horizon of expectation which sees the normative Christian life as one long triumphalist street party — a theologically incorrect and a pastorally disastrous scenario in a world of broken individuals. Has an unconscious belief that Christianity is — or at least should be — all about health, wealth, and happiness silently corrupted the content of our worship? Few Christians in areas where the church has been strongest over recent decades — China, Africa, Eastern Europe – would regard uninterrupted emotional highs as normal Christian experience.
Indeed, the biblical portraits of believers give no room to such a notion. Look at Abraham, Joseph, David, Jeremiah, and the detailed account of the psalmists’ experiences. Much agony, much lamentation, occasional despair — and joy, when it manifests itself — is very different from the frothy triumphalism that has infected so much of our modern Western Christianity. In the psalms, God has given the church a language which allows it to express even the deepest agonies of the human soul in the context of worship. Does our contemporary language of worship reflect the horizon of expectation regarding the believer’s experience which the psalter proposes as normative? If not, why not? Is it because the comfortable values of Western middle-class consumerism have silently infiltrated the church and made us consider such cries irrelevant, embarrassing, and signs of abject failure?
I did once suggest at a church meeting that the psalms should take a higher priority in evangelical worship than they generally do — and was told in no uncertain terms by one indignant person that such a view betrayed a heart that had no interest in evangelism. On the contrary, I believe it is the exclusion of the experiences and expectations of the psalmists from our worship — and thus from our horizons of expectation — which has in a large part crippled the evangelistic efforts of the church in the West and turned us all into spiritual pixies.
By excluding the cries of loneliness, dispossession, and desolation from its worship, the church has effectively silenced and excluded the voices of those who are themselves lonely, dispossessed, and desolate, both inside and outside the church. By so doing, it has implicitly endorsed the banal aspirations of consumerism, generated an insipid, trivial and unrealistically triumphalist Christianity, and confirmed its impeccable credentials as a club for the complacent. In the last year, I have asked three very different evangelical audiences what miserable Christians can sing in church. On each occasion my question has elicited uproarious laughter, as if the idea of a broken-hearted, lonely, or despairing Christian was so absurd as to be comical — and yet I posed the question in all seriousness. Is it any wonder that British evangelicalism, from the Reformed to the Charismatic, is almost entirely a comfortable, middle-class phenomenon?”
The Wages of Spin: Critical Writings on Historical and Contemporary Evangelicalism
Carl R. Trueman is Professor of Historical Theology and Church History at Westminster Theological Seminary (PA). He is the author of a number of books, including John Owen: Reformed Catholic, Renaissance Man (Ashgate, 2007) and Republocrat: Confessions of a Liberal Conservative (P and R, 2010).
A Painful Transgender Warning Against Transanity
By Michael Brown 3/24/2017
In response to my latest article on “transanity,” I received an email from an individual whom we’ll call Irene and who identifies as a transgender woman. The story Irene shared with me is poignant and painful. It’s a strong warning against transgender activism. It also presents a major moral dilemma.
Irene was born male, then had sex change surgery while running from God. Irene has now changed his legal identity to female and married a man. Since then, Irene has come to faith. Now both Irene and Irene’s husband want to follow Jesus together.
Irene’s Story / This is the first email Irene sent me:
Dr. Michael Brown (www.askdrbrown.org) is a Senior Contributor to The Stream, and the host of the nationally syndicated Line of Fire radio program. His latest book is Breaking the Stronghold of Food. Connect with him on Facebook or Twitter.
He became a believer in Jesus 1971 as a sixteen year-old, heroin-shooting, LSD-using Jewish rock drummer. Since then, he has preached throughout America and around the world, bringing a message of repentance, revival, reformation, and cultural revolution. He holds a Ph.D. in Near Eastern Languages and Literatures from New York University and has served as a visiting or adjunct professor at Southern Evangelical Seminary, Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary (Charlotte), Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Fuller Theological Seminary, Denver Theological Seminary, the King’s Seminary, and Regent University School of Divinity, and he has contributed numerous articles to scholarly publications, including the Oxford Dictionary of Jewish Religion and the Theological Dictionary of the Old Testament.
Dr. Brown is the author of more than 25 books, including Our Hands Are Stained with Blood, which has been translated into more than twelve languages, the highly acclaimed five-volume series, Answering Jewish Objections to Jesus Vol. 1-4 (1-4), a commentary on Jeremiah (part of the revised edition of the Expositor’s Bible Commentary), and several books on revival and the Jesus revolution. His newest books are Outlasting the Gay Revolution: Where Homosexual Activism Is Really Going and How to Turn the Tide and The Grace Controversy: Answers to 12 Common Questions.
Dr. Brown is a national and international speaker on themes of spiritual renewal and cultural reformation, and he has debated Jewish rabbis, agnostic professors, and gay activists on radio, TV, and college campuses. He is widely considered to be the world’s foremost Messianic Jewish apologist. He and his wife Nancy, who is also a Jewish believer in Jesus, have been married since 1976. They have two daughters and four grandchildren.
“But Jesus never said, ‘I am God.’ ”
By Eric Chabot 1/24/2017
Whenever the deity of Jesus comes up in conversations with people from different faiths, it is common to hear the standard objection, “But Jesus never said, ‘I am God.’” How might we approach this objection?
In his book The Case for the Real Jesus: A Journalist Investigates Current Attacks on the Identity of Christ (Case for ... Series), Lee Strobel says that if you search for Jesus at Amazon.com, you will find 175, 986 books on the most controversial figure in human history. The New Testament does not reveal Jesus as any ordinary prophet or religious teacher. Rather, it reveals Him as God incarnate (John 1:1; 8:58-59;10:29-31;14:8-9;20-28; Phil. 2:5-7; Col. 2:9; Titus 2:13; Heb. 1:8; 2 Pet. 1:1).
There are some good reasons as to why Jesus would never say “I am God.” The Jewish Scriptures forbids worshiping anyone other than the God of Israel (Ex. 20:1–5; Deut. 5:6–9). And for Jesus to ever say something so explicit would insinuate that he was calling upon his audience to believe in two “Gods”- the God of Israel and Jesus. Also, for Gentiles, such a claim would allow for Jesus to fit nicely into their polytheism (the belief in many gods).
Chab123 (Eric Chabot): Southern Evangelical Seminary, M.A. Religious Studies, 2010, Cross Examined, Apologetics Instructors Academy, Graduate, 2008, Memberships: The Evangelical Philosophical Society
Motivating God’s people to understand the need for outreach and apologetic training, contemporary issues in the culture, the need for Christians to engage the university, confronting the current intellectual crisis in the local congregation, philosophy of religion, epistemology, the resurrection, Christian origins, the relationship between early Christology and Jewish monotheism, the relationship between the Tanakh (acronym that is formed from the first three parts of the Hebrew Bible: Torah (the first five books of the Bible), Nevi’ im (the Prophets), and K’ tuvim (the Writings) and the New Testament, the relationship between Israel and the church, Christian theism and other worldviews, apologetic systems, historical method, the genre of the New Testament, the relationship between science and theology, and biblical hermeneutics.
Ministry Experience: Campus outreach minister since 2004.
Founder and Director of Ratio Christi, an apologetics ministry at the The Ohio State University. Website: http://ratiochristi.org/. We have had several well known speakers to the campus such as William Lane Craig, Frank Turek, Michael Licona, Michael Brown, Paul Nelson and others. We have also done students debates on the campus.
Marriage Doctrine Alone Disqualifies Pro-Gay Theology
By Alan Shlemon 3/28/2017
I really appreciate a point that Preston Sprinkle made when I interviewedhim on the Stand to Reason broadcast recently. Even if you set aside the (at least) five biblical texts that prohibit same-sex relations, you can still make a solid case against pro-gay theology by simply looking at Scripture’s teaching on marriage. 27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.
It turns out that 3,500 years of Judaic teaching and nearly 2,000 years of Christian teaching have univocally upheld that marriage is only between a man and a woman. The Genesis account of creation, where God establishes marriage as a heterosexual union (Gen. 1:27–28, 2:22–24), alone rules out the possibility of man-man or woman-woman marriage. Jesus even cited the Genesis definition and upheld this view during the New Testament era (Matt. 19:4–6). Since the closing of the canon, the Church uniformly taught that marriage was between a man and a woman.
28 And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” (Ge 1:27–28)
4 He answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, 5 and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? 6 So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” (Mt 19:4–6)
Preston also made the point that there aren’t a ton of theological topics that the entire Church has agreed on for two thousand years. There have been different understandings of the Lord’s supper, baptism, eschatology, etc. When it comes to marriage, however, there is universal agreement on its definition as a heterosexual union. That’s amazing and significant.
Alan Shlemon is an author and speaker for Stand to Reason and trains Christians to share their convictions in a persuasive, yet gracious manner. Known for teaching on some of the most controversial issues of our time, he tackles topics such as abortion, evolution, homosexuality, bioethics, and Islam. Alan has been a guest on both radio and television, and has spoken to thousands of adults and students across the country at churches, conferences, and college campuses.
27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.
Science, God, and Knowing
By Lenny Esposito 3/1/2014
Today, people look to scientists to find the answers to our problems in the world. But does science have limits? Are there other ways to know something as fact? And how are questions about God and religion tested scientifically? In this series of audio podcasts, Lenny shows why scientific objections to God fail.
- Science, God, and Knowing (Part 1)
- Science, God, and Knowing (Part 2)
- Science, God, and Knowing (Part 3)
- Science, God, and Knowing (Part 4)
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.
1 Samuel 9
By Don Carson 8-17-2018
Occasionally someone comes along who shows exceptional promise from his or her youth, and then lives up to that promise. But that does not seem to be the common way of things. Who would have thought that a minor painter from Vienna could become the monstrous colossus the world knows as Adolf Hitler? Who would have thought that a failed haberdasher from Missouri, a chap with a high-school education, would succeed Roosevelt, drop the atom bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, sack General Douglas MacArthur, and order the racial integration of the armed forces?
Consider Saul (1 Sam. 9). He was a Benjamite, and thus from the little tribe reduced in numbers and prestige by the horrible events recorded in Judges 19–21. He was not even from a major clan within that tribe (1 Sam. 9:21). Physically he was a strapping young man, getting on with the farming chores his father assigned him, with no pretensions—so far as we know—of glory or power. Indeed, in the next chapter he has to be cajoled from his hiding place in the luggage to come out and accept the acclaim the people wanted to give him.
It is not yet the time to trace all the things that went wrong—some of them will be mentioned in later meditations. But people with even a cursory knowledge of Scripture know what a mixed character Saul turned out to be, and how tragic his end. What should we learn?
(1) If we ourselves are on an upward curve of great promise, we must resolve to persevere in the small marks of fidelity and humility. A good beginning does not guarantee a good end.
(2) If we are responsible for hiring people, whether pastors and other Christian leaders or executives for a corporation, although some of us prove more insightful and farsighted than others, all of us make mistakes—for the simple reason that, quite apart from the bad choices we make, a good choice can turn into a bad choice (and vice-versa) because people change.
(3) It follows that every organization, not least the local church, needs some sort of mechanism for godly removal of leaders who turn out to be evil or woefully inadequate. That wasn’t possible in ancient Israel, so far as the king went. It is not only possible but mandated so far as New Testament leadership is concerned.
(4) Only God knows the end from the beginning. After we have exercised our best judgment, nothing is more important than that we should cast ourselves on God, seeking to please him, trying to conform our judgments to what he has disclosed of himself in his Word, trusting absolutely in the only One who knows the end from the beginning.
Don Carson is research professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois, and co-founder (with Tim Keller) of The Gospel Coalition. He has authored numerous books, and recently edited The Enduring Authority of the Christian Scriptures (Eerdmans, 2016).Don Carson Books | Go to Books Page
Read The Psalms In "1" Year
Psalm 35Great Is the LORD
35 OF DAVID.
7 For without cause they hid their net for me;
without cause they dug a pit for my life.
8 Let destruction come upon him when he does not know it!
And let the net that he hid ensnare him;
let him fall into it—to his destruction!
9 Then my soul will rejoice in the LORD,
exulting in his salvation.
10 All my bones shall say,
“O LORD, who is like you,
delivering the poor
from him who is too strong for him,
the poor and needy from him who robs him?”
The Institutes of the Christian Religion
Translated by Henry Beveridge
19. The reader now perceives with what fairness the Sophists of the
present day cavil at our doctrine, when we say that a man is justified
by faith alone (Rom. 4:2). They dare not deny that he is justified by
faith, seeing Scripture so often declares it; but as the word alone is
nowhere expressly used they will not tolerate its being added.  Is
it so? What answer, then will they give to the words of Paul, when he
contends that righteousness is not of faith unless it be gratuitous?
How can it be gratuitous, and yet by works? By what cavils, moreover,
will they evade his declaration in another place, that in the Gospel
the righteousness of God is manifested? (Rom. 1:17). If righteousness
is manifested in the Gospel, it is certainly not a partial or
mutilated, but a full and perfect righteousness. The Law, therefore,
has no part in its and their objection to the exclusive word alone is
not only unfounded, but is obviously absurd. Does he not plainly enough
attribute everything to faith alone when he disconnects it with works?
What I would ask, is meant by the expressions, "The righteousness of
God without the law is manifested;" "Being justified freely by his
grace;" "Justified by faith without the deeds of the law?" (Rom. 3:21,
24, 28). Here they have an ingenious subterfuge, one which, though not
of their own devising but taken from Origin and some ancient writers,
is most childish. They pretend that the works excluded are ceremonial,
not moral works. Such profit do they make by their constant wrangling,
that they possess not even the first elements of logic. Do they think
the Apostle was raving when he produced, in proof of his doctrine,
these passages? "The man that does them shall live in them," (Gal.
3:12). "Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things that are
written in the book of the law to do them," (Gal. 3:10). Unless they
are themselves raving, they will not say that life was promised to the
observers of ceremonies, and the curse denounced only against the
transgressors of them. If these passages are to be understood of the
Moral Law, there cannot be a doubt that moral works also are excluded
from the power of justifying. To the same effect are the arguments
which he employs. "By the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be
justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin," (Rom.
3:20). "The law worketh wrath," (Rom. 4:15), and therefore not
righteousness. "The law cannot pacify the conscience," and therefore
cannot confer righteousness. "Faith is imputed for righteousness," and
therefore righteousness is not the reward of works, but is given
without being due. Because "we are justified by faith," boasting is
excluded. "Had there been a law given which could have given life,
verily righteousness should have been by the law. But the Scripture has
concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ
might be given to them that believe," (Gal. 3:21, 22). Let them
maintain, if they dare, that these things apply to ceremonies, and not
to morals, and the very children will laugh at their effrontery. The
true conclusion, therefore, is, that the whole Law is spoken of when
the power of justifying is denied to it.
20. Should any one wonder why the Apostle, not contented with having named works, employs this addition, the explanation is easy. However highly works may be estimated, they have their whole value more from the approbation of God than from their own dignity. For who will presume to plume himself before God on the righteousness of works, unless in so far as He approves of them? Who will presume to demand of Him a reward except in so far as He has promised it? It is owing entirely to the goodness of God that works are deemed worthy of the honor and reward of righteousness; and, therefore, their whole value consists in this, that by means of them we endeavor to manifest obedience to God. Wherefore, in another passage, the Apostle, to prove that Abraham could not be justified by works, declares, "that the covenant, that was confirmed before of God in Christ, the law, which was four hundred and thirty years after, cannot disannul, that it should make the promise of none effect," (Gal. 3:17). The unskillful would ridicule the argument that there could be righteous works before the promulgation of the Law, but the Apostle, knowing that works could derive this value solely from the testimony and honor conferred on them by God, takes it for granted that, previous to the Law, they had no power of justifying. We see why he expressly terms them works of Law when he would deny the power of justifying to theme--viz. because it was only with regard to such works that a question could be raised; although he sometimes, without addition, excepts all kinds of works whatever, as when on the testimony of David he speaks of the man to whom the Lord imputeth righteousness without works (Rom. 4:5, 6). No cavils, therefore, can enable them to prove that the exclusion of works is not general. In vain do they lay hold of the frivolous subtilty, that the faith alone, by which we are justified, "worketh by love," and that love, therefore, is the foundation of justification. We, indeed, acknowledge with Paul, that the only faith which justifies is that which works by love (Gal. 3:6); but love does not give it its justifying power. Nay, its only means of justifying consists in its bringing us into communication with the righteousness of Christ. Otherwise the whole argument, on which the Apostle insists with so much earnestness, would fall. "To him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness." Could he express more clearly than in this word, that there is justification in faith only where there are no works to which reward is due, and that faith is imputed for righteousness only when righteousness is conferred freely without merit?
21. Let us now consider the truth of what was said in the definition--viz. that justification by faith is reconciliation with God, and that this consists solely in the remission of sins. We must always return to the axioms that the wrath of God lies upon all men so long as they continue sinners. This is elegantly expressed by Isaiah in these words: "Behold, the Lord's hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear: but your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear," (Isaiah 59:1, 2). We are here told that sin is a separation between God and man; that His countenance is turned away from the sinner; and that it cannot be otherwise, since, to have any intercourse with sin is repugnant to his righteousness. Hence the Apostle shows that man is at enmity with God until he is restored to favour by Christ (Rom. 5:8-10). When the Lord, therefore, admits him to union, he is said to justify him, because he can neither receive him into favor, nor unite him to himself, without changing his condition from that of a sinner into that of a righteous man. We add, that this is done by remission of sins. For if those whom the Lord has reconciled to himself are estimated by works, they will still prove to be in reality sinners, while they ought to be pure and free from sin. It is evident therefore, that the only way in which those whom God embraces are made righteous, is by having their pollutions wiped away by the remission of sins, so that this justification may be termed in one word the remission of sins.
22. Both of these become perfectly clear from the words of Paul: "God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and has committed unto us the word of reconciliation." He then subjoins the sum of his embassy: "He has made him to be sin for us who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him," (2 Cor. 5:19-21). He here uses righteousness and reconciliation indiscriminately, to make us understand that the one includes the other. The mode of obtaining this righteousness he explains to be, that our sins are not imputed to us. Wherefore, you cannot henceforth doubt how God justifies us when you hear that he reconciles us to himself by not imputing our faults. In the same manner, in the Epistle to the Romans, he proves, by the testimony of David, that righteousness is imputed without works, because he declares the man to be blessed "whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered," and "unto whom the Lord imputeth not iniquity," (Rom. 4:6; Ps. 32:1, 2). There he undoubtedly uses blessedness for righteousness; and as he declares that it consists in forgiveness of sins, there is no reason why we should define it otherwise. Accordingly, Zacharias, the father of John the Baptist, sings that the knowledge of salvation consists in the forgiveness of sins (Luke 1:77). The same course was followed by Paul when, in addressing the people of Antioch, he gave them a summary of salvation. Luke states that he concluded in this way: "Through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins, and by him all that believe are justified from all things from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses," (Acts 13:38, 39). Thus the Apostle connects forgiveness of sins with justification in such a way as to show that they are altogether the same; and hence he properly argues that justification, which we owe to the indulgence of God, is gratuitous. Nor should it seem an unusual mode of expression to say that believers are justified before God not by works, but by gratuitous acceptance, seeing it is frequently used in Scripture, and sometimes also by ancient writers. Thus Augustine says: "The righteousness of the saints in this world consists more in the forgiveness of sins than the perfection of virtue," (August. de Civitate Dei, lib. 19, cap. 27). To this corresponds the well-known sentiment of Bernard: "Not to sin is the righteousness of God, but the righteousness of man is the indulgence of God," (Bernard, Serm. 22, 23 in Cant). He previously asserts that Christ is our righteousness in absolution, and, therefore, that those only are just who have obtained pardon through mercy.
23. Hence also it is proved, that it is entirely by the intervention of Christ's righteousness that we obtain justification before God. This is equivalent to saying that man is not just in himself, but that the righteousness of Christ is communicated to him by imputation, while he is strictly deserving of punishment. Thus vanishes the absurd dogma, that man is justified by faith, inasmuch as it brings him under the influence of the Spirit of God by whom he is rendered righteous. This is so repugnant to the above doctrine that it never can be reconciled with it. There can be no doubt that he who is taught to seek righteousness out of himself does not previously possess it in himself.  This is most clearly declared by the Apostle, when he says, that he who knew no sin was made an expiatory victim for sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him (2 Cor. 5:21). You see that our righteousness is not in ourselves, but in Christ; that the only way in which we become possessed of it is by being made partakers with Christ, since with him we possess all riches. There is nothing repugnant to this in what he elsewhere says: "God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin condemned sin in the flesh: that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us," (Rom. 8:3, 4). Here the only fulfillment to which he refers is that which we obtain by imputation. Our Lord Jesus Christ communicates his righteousness to us, and so by some wondrous ways in so far as pertains to the justice of Gods transfuses its power into us. That this was the Apostle's view is abundantly clear from another sentiment which he had expressed a little before: "As by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous," (Rom. 5:19). To declare that we are deemed righteous, solely because the obedience of Christ is imputed to us as if it where our own, is just to place our righteousness in the obedience of Christ. Wherefore, Ambrose appears to me to have most elegantly adverted to the blessing of Jacob as an illustration of this righteousness, when he says that as he who did not merit the birthright in himself personated his brother, put on his garments which gave forth a most pleasant odour, and thus introduced himself to his father that he might receive a blessing to his own advantage, though under the person of another, so we conceal ourselves under the precious purity  of Christ, our first-born brother, that we may obtain an attestation of righteousness from the presence of God. The words of Ambrose are,--"Isaac's smelling the odour of his garments, perhaps means that we are justified not by works, but by faith, since carnal infirmity is an impediment to works, but errors of conduct are covered by the brightness of faith, which merits the pardon of faults," (Ambrose de Jacobo et Vita Beats, Lib. 2, c. 2). And so indeed it is; for in order to appear in the presence of God for salvation, we must send forth that fragrant odour, having our vices covered and buried by his perfection.
 See Institutes, Book 2 chap. 6 and 7, and Book 3 from the commencement to the present chapter.
 Latin, "etiam dum Latine legitur."--French, "mesme en Grec et en Latin;" even in Greek and Latin
 French, "Dont il appert qu'il note ces deux choses comme opposites, Estre justifies et Estre tenu coulpable; à ce que le proces soit fait à l'homme qui aura failli;"--whence it appears that he sets down as oppopsites the two things, To be justified, and To be held guilty, in that the process is brought against man who has failed.
 French "Que les poures ames ne sauroyent comprendre en telle obscurité la grace de Christ;"--that poor souls cannot in such obscurity comprehend the grace of Christ.
 French, "C'est, que l'ame est de l'essence de Dieu;"--that is, that the soul is of the essence of God.
 French, "Mais comme le principe qu'il prend est comme une seche, laquelle en jettant son sang qui est noir comme encre, trougle l'eau d'alentour pour cacher une grande multitude de queuse;"--But as the principle which he adopts is like a cuttlefish, which, casting out its blood, which is black as ink, troubles the water all around, to hide a great multitude of tails.
 French, "Quant à d'autres folies extravangantes d'Osiander, tout homme de sain jugement les rejettera; comme quand il dit que la foy est Jesus Christ, autant que s'il disoit, qu'un pot de terre est le thresor qui est caché dedans;"--As to the other extravagant follies of Osiander, every man of sound judgment will reject them; for instance, when he says that faith is Jesus Christ, as much as if he said, that an earthen pot is the treasure which is hidden in it.
 French, "Faisant samblant de les rauir à la divinité d'icelui;"--under pretence of leading them to his divinity.
 French, "Il magnifie la justice de Dieu tant et plus; mais c'est pour triompher comme s'il auoit gagné ce poinct, que la justice de Dieu nous est essencielle;"--He magnifies the righteousness of God above measure; but it is to triumph, as if he had gained this point, that the righteousness of God is essential to us.
 The French adds "signifiant, que ceux desquels il parle ont nagé entre deux eaux; pource qu'ils aimoyent mieux garder leur bonne reputation au monde, qu d'etre priser devant Dieu;"--meaning, that those of whom he speaks were swimming between two streams; that they preferred keeping their good reputation in the world, to being prized in the sight of God.
 French, "Pour ceste cause j'ay accoustume de dire que Christ nous est comme une fontaine, dont chacun peut puiser et boire à son aise et à souhait; et que par son moyen les biens celestes sourdent et decoulent à nous, lesquels ne nous profiteroyent rien demeurans en la majesté de Dieu, qui est comme une source profonde;"--For this cause I am accustomed to say, that Christ is to us like a fountain, of which every man may draw and drink at his ease, and to the fill; and that by his means heavenly blessings rise and flow to us, which blessings would profit us nothing, remaining in the majesty of God, which is, as it were, a profound abyss.
 The Latin, "ideo Zuinglianos odiose nominat;" is in the French simply, "condamne furieusement;"--furiously condemns.
 Latin, "crassa mixtura;"--French, "mixtion telle que les viandes qu nous mangeons;"--mixture such as the victuals we eat.
 The French adds, "Osiander tire de la que Dieu a meslée son essence avec la nostre;"--Osiander implies from this that God has mingled his essence with ours.
 French, "Ainsi ils disent que cela n'appartient de rien aux bonnes oeuvres des fideles qui se font par la vertu du Sainct Esprit;"--Thus they say that has no reference at all to the good works of believers, which are done by the power of the Holy Spirit.
 French, "Mais pource que ce mot Seule, n'y est point exprimé, ils nous reprochent qu'il est adjousté du notre;"--but because this word Alone is not expressed, they upbraid us with having it added of our own accord.
 French, "Ceci est fort contraire a la doctrine ci dessus mise: car il n'y a nulle doute que celui qui doit cercher justice hors de soy-mesme, ne soit desnué de la sienne propre;"--This is quite contrary to the doctrine above laid down; for there is no doubt, that he who is to seek righteousness out of himself, is devoid of righteousness in himself.
 French, "Sous la robbe;"--under the robe.
Christian Classics Ethereal Library / Public Domain
Institutes of the Christian Religion
The Coming Prince
By Sir Robert Anderson 1841-1918
Chapter 7 The Mystic Era Of The WeeksThe conclusions arrived at in the preceding chapter suggest a striking parallel between Daniel's earlier visions and the prophecy of the seventy weeks. History contains no record of events to satisfy the predicted course of the seventieth week. The Apocalypse was not even written when that period ought chronologically to have closed, and though eighteen centuries have since elapsed, the restoration of the Jews seems still but a chimera of sanguine fanatics. But May 14, 1948 did come and what God said in the Scriptures came true. Why doesn't the world take notice? And be it remembered that the purpose of the prophecy was not to amuse or interest the curious. Of necessity some mysticism must characterize prophetic utterances, otherwise they might be "fulfilled to order" by designing men; but once the prophecy comes side by side with the events of which it speaks, it fails of one of its chief purposes if its relation to them be doubtful. If any one will learn the connection between prophecy and its fulfillment, let him read the fifty-third chapter of Isaiah, and compare it with the story of the Passion: so vague and figurative that no one could have acted out the drama it foretold; but yet so definite and clear that, once fulfilled, the simplest child can recognize its scope and meaning. If then the event which constitutes the epoch of the seventieth week must be as pronounced and certain as Nehemiah's commission and Messiah's death, it is of necessity still future.
And this is precisely what the study of the seventh chapter of Daniel will have led us to expect. All Christian interpreters are agreed that between the rise of the fourth beast and the growth of the ten horns there is a gap or parenthesis in the vision; and, as already shown, that gap includes the entire period between the time of Christ and the division of the Roman earth into the ten kingdoms out of which the great persecutor of the future is to arise. This period, moreover, is admittedly unnoticed also in the other visions of the book. There is therefore a strong a priori probability that it would be overlooked in the vision of the ninth chapter.
More than this, there is not only the same reason for this mystic foreshortening in the vision of the seventy weeks, as in the other visions,  but that reason applies here with special force. The seventy weeks were meted out as the period during which Judah's blessings were deferred. In common with all prophecy, the meaning of this prophecy will be unmistakable when its ultimate fulfillment takes place, but it was necessarily conveyed in a mystical form in order to shut up the Jews to the responsibility of accepting their Messiah. St. Peter's inspired proclamation to the nation at Jerusalem, recorded in the third chapter of Acts, was in accordance with this. The Jews looked merely for a return of their national supremacy, but God's first purpose was redemption through the death of the great Sin-bearer. Now, the sacrifice had been accomplished, and St. Peter pointed to Calvary as the fulfillment of that "which God before had showed by the mouth of all His prophets;" and he added this testimony, "Repent ye therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out, that so there may come seasons of refreshing from the presence of the Lord; and that He may send the Christ, who hath been appointed for you, even Jesus." (Acts 3:19-20, R.V.) The realization of these blessings would have been the fulfillment of Daniel's prophecy, and the seventieth week might have run its course without a break. But Judah proved impenitent and obdurate, and the promised blessings were once again postponed till the close of this strange era of the Gentile dispensation.
 See pp. 44-47, ante.But it may be asked, was not the Cross of Christ the fulfillment of these blessings? A careful study of the Angel's words (Daniel 9:24) will show that not so much as one of them has been thus accomplished. The sixty-ninth week was to end with Messiah's death; the close of the seventieth week was to bring to Judah the full enjoyment of the blessings resulting from that death. Judah's transgression has yet to be restrained, and his sins to be sealed up. The day is yet future when a fountain shall be opened for the iniquity of Daniel's people, (Zechariah 13:1) and righteousness shall be ushered in for them. In what sense were vision and prophet sealed up at the death of Christ, considering that the greatest of all visions was yet to be given, (The Revelation.) and the days were still to come when the words of the prophets were to be fulfilled? (Luke 21:22) And whatever meaning is to be put upon "anointing the most holy," it is clear that Calvary was not the accomplishment of it. 
 All these words point to practical benefits to be conferred in a practical way upon the people, at the second advent of Christ. Isaiah 1:26 is a commentary on "bringing in righteousness." To take it as synonymous with declaring God's righteousness (Romans 3:25) is doctrinally a blunder and an anachronism. To any whose views of "reconciliation" are not based on the use of the word in Scripture, "making reconciliation for iniquity" will seem an exception. The Hebrew verb caphar (to make atonement or reconciliation) means literally "to cover over" sin (see its use in Genesis 6:14), to do away with a charge against a person by means of bloodshedding, or otherwise (ex. gr. by intercession, Exodus 32:30), so as to secure his reception into Divine favor. The following is a list of the passages where the word is used in the first three books of the Bible: Genesis 6:14 (pitch); 32:20 (appease); Exodus 29:33, 36, 37; 30:10, 15, 16; 32:30; Leviticus 1:4; 4:20, 26, 31, 35; 5:6, 10, 13, 16, 18; 6:7, 30; 7:7; 8:15, 34; 9:7; 10:17; 12:7, 8;14:18, 19, 20, 21, 29, 31, 53; 15:15, 30; 16:6, 10, 11, 16, 17, 18, 20, 24, 27, 32, 33, 34; 17:11; 19:22; 23:28. It will be seen that caphar is never used of the expiation or bloodshedding considered objectively, but of the results accruing from it to the sinner, sometimes immediately on the victim's death, sometimes conditional upon the action of the priest who was charged with the function of applying the blood. The sacrifice was not the atonement, but the means by which atonement was made. Therefore "the preposition which marks substitution is never used in connection with the word caphar" (Girdlestone's Synonyms O. T., p. 214.) Making reconciliation, or atonement, therefore, according to the Scriptural use of the word, implies the removal of the practical estrangement between the sinner and God, the obtaining forgiveness for the sin; and the words in Daniel 9:24 point to the time when this benefit will be secured to Judah. "In that day there shall be a fountain opened to the inhabitants of Jerusalem for sin and uncleanness" ( Zechariah 13:1 ); that is, the blessings of Calvary will be theirs; reconciliation will be accomplished for the people. In keeping with this, transgression will be restrained (see use of the word in Genesis 8:2; Exodus 36:6); i. e., they will cease to transgress; sins will be sealed up, — the ordinary word for securing a letter (1 Kings 21:8), or a purse or bag of treasure ( Job 14:17 ); i. e., sins will be done with and put away in a practical sense; and vision and prophet will likewise be sealed up, i. e., their functions will be at an end, for all will have been fulfilled.But is it consistent with fair argument or common-sense to urge that an era thus chronologically defined should be indefinitely interrupted in its course? The ready answer might be given, that if common-sense and fairness — if human judgment, is to decide the question, the only doubt must be whether the final period of the cycle, and the blessings promised at its close, be not for ever abrogated and lost by reason of the appalling guilt of that people who "killed the Prince of life." (Acts 3:15) There exists surely no presumption against supposing that the stream of prophetic time is tided back during all this interval of the apostasy of Judah. The question remains, whether any precedent for this can be discovered in the mystical chronology of Israel's history.
According to the book of Kings, Solomon began to build the temple in the 480th year after the children of Israel were come out of the land of Egypt. (1 Kings 6:1) This statement, than which none could, seemingly, be more exact, has sorely puzzled chronologers. By some it has been condemned as a forgery, by others it has been dismissed as a blunder; but all have agreed in rejecting it. Moreover, Scripture itself appears to clash with it. In his sermon at Pisidian Antioch (Acts 13:18-21) St. Paul epitomizes thus the chronology of this period of the history of his nation: forty years in the wilderness; 450 years under the judges, and forty years of the reign of Saul; making a total of 530 years. To which must be added the forty years of David's reign and the first three years of Solomon's; making 573 years for the very period which is described in Kings as 480 years. Can these conclusions, apparently so inconsistent, be reconciled? 
 According to Browne (Ordo Saec., §§. 254 and 268) the Exodus was on Friday the 10th April, B. C. 1586; the passage of Jordan was the 14th April, B. C. 1546; the accession of Solomon was B. C. 1016, and the foundation of the Temple was the 20th April, B. C. 1013. He therefore accepts St. Paul's statements unreservedly. Clinton conjectures that there was an interval of about twenty-seven years before the time of the Judges, and another of twelve years before the election of Saul, thus fixing on B. C. 1625 as the date of the Exode, extending the whole period to 612 years. Josephus reckons it 621 years, and this is adopted by Hales, who calls the statement in Kings "a forgery." Other chronologers assign periods varying from the 741 years of Julius Africanus to the 480 years of Usher, whose date for the Exode — B. C. 1491 — has been adopted in our Bible, though clearly wrong by ninety-three years at least. The subject is fully discussed by Clinton in Fasli Hell., vol. 1., pp. 312-313, and by Browne, reviewing Clinton's arguments, in Ordo Scec., §. 6, etc. Browne's conclusions have much to commend them. But if others are right in inserting conjectural periods, my argument remains the same, for any such periods, if they existed, were obviously excluded from the 480 years on the same principle as were the eras of the servitudes. (This subject is discussed further in App. 1.)If we follow the history of Israel as detailed in the book of Judges, we shall find that for five several periods their national existence as Jehovah's people was in abeyance. In punishment for their idolatry, God gave them up again and again, and "sold them into the hands of their enemies." They became slaves to the king of Mesopotamia for eight years, to the king of Moab for eighteen years, to the king of Canaan for twenty years, to the Midianites for seven years, and finally to the Philistines for forty years.  But the sum of 8 +18+ 20+ 7+ 40 years is 93 years, and if 93 years be deducted from 573 years, the result is 480 years. It is obvious, therefore, that the 480 years of the book of Kings from the Exodus to the temple is a mystic era formed by eliminating every period during which the people were cast off by God.  If, then, this principle were intelligible to the Jew in regard to history, it was both natural and legitimate to introduce it in respect of an essentially mystic era like that of the seventy weeks.
 Judges 3:8, 14; 4:2, 3; 6:1; 13:1. The servitude of Judges 10:7, 9 affected only the tribes beyond Jordan, and did not suspend Israel's national position.But this conclusion does not depend upon argument however sound, or inference however just. It is indisputably proved by the testimony of Christ Himself. "What shall be the sign of Thy coming, and of the end of the world?" the disciples inquired as they gathered round the Lord on one of the last days of His ministry on earth. (Matthew 24:3) In reply he spoke of the tribulation foretold by Daniel,  and warned them that the signal of that fearful persecution was to be the precise event which marks the middle of the seventieth week, namely, the defilement of the holy place by the "abomination of desolation," — some image of himself probably, which the false prince will set up in the temple in violation of his treaty obligations to respect and defend the religion of the Jews  That this prophecy was not fulfilled by Titus is as certain as history can make it;  but Scripture itself leaves no doubt whatever on the point.
 The Israelites were nationally God's people as no other nation ever can be; therefore they were dealt with in some respects on principles similar to those which obtain in the case of individuals. A life without God is death. Righteousness must keep a strict account and sternly judge; or grace may pardon. And if God forgives, He likewise forgets the sin (Hebrews 10:17); which doubtless means that the record is wiped out, and the period it covers is treated as though it were a blank. The days of our servitude to evil are ignored in the Divine chronology.
 thlipsis, Matthew 24:21; Daniel 12:1 (LXX)It appears from the passages already quoted, that the predicted tribulation is to last three and a half years, and to date from the violation of the treaty in the middle of the seventieth week. What is to follow is thus described by the Lord Himself in words of peculiar solemnity: "Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heaven shall be shaken: and then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven, and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory." (Matthew 24:29) That it is to the closing scenes of the dispensation this prophecy relates is here assumed.  And as these scenes are to follow immediately after a persecution, of which the era is within the seventieth week, the inference is incontestable that the events of that week belong to a time still future. 
 kai epi to hieronn bdelugma ton eramoseon, Daniel 9:27; to bdelugma eramoseos, Daniel 12:11 (LXX.); hotan oun idate to bdelugma tas eramoseos to rhathen dia Danial tou prophatou, estos en topo hagio, Matthew 24:15. Comp. 1 Maccabees 1:54, okodomasan bdelugma eramoseos epi to phusiastapion. This passage in Matthew affords an unanswerable proof that all systems of interpretation which make the seventy weeks end with the coming or death of Christ, and therefore before the destruction of Jerusalem by Tiffits, are wholly wrong. And that that event was not in fact the terminus of the era is plain from Matthew 24:21-29, and Daniel 9:24.
 Making all allowance for the contemptible time-serving of Josephus and his admiration for Titus, his testimony on this point is too full and explicit. to admit of doubt (Wars, 6., 2, §. 4).
 I am aware of systems of interpretation which flitter away the meaning of all such scriptures, but it is idle to attempt to refute them in detail. (See chap 11 post, and App. Note C.)We may conclude, then, that when wicked hands set up the cross on Calvary, and God pronounced the dread "Lo-ammi" (Romans 9:25-26; cf. Hosea 1:9-10) upon His people, the course of the prophetic era ceased to run. Nor will it flow on again till the autonomy of Judah is restored; and, with obvious propriety, that is held to date from the moment their readmission into the family of nations is recognized by treaty.  It will, therefore, be here assumed that the former portion of the prophetic era has run its course, but that the events of the last seven years have still to be accomplished. The last point, therefore, necessary to complete the chain of proof is to ascertain the date of "Messiah the Prince."
 Such was the belief of the early Church; but the question has been argued at length out of deference to modern writers who have advocated a different interpretation of Daniel 9:27. Hippolytus, bishop and martyr, who wrote at the beginning of the third century, is most definite on the point. Quoting the verse, he says: "By one week he meant the last week, which is to be at the end of the whole world; of which week the two prophets Enoch and Elias will take up the half; for they will preach 1, 260 days, clothed in sackcloth" (Hip. on Christ and Antichrist). According to Browne (Ordo Saec. p. 386, note), this was also the view of the father of Christian chronologers, Julius Africanus. That half of the last week has been fulfilled, but the remaining three and a half years are still future, is maintained by Canon Browne himself (§ 339), who notices, what so many modern writers have missed, that the events belonging to this period are connected with the times of Antichrist.
 i. e., the covenant mentioned in Daniel 9:27.The Coming Prince
and also at this website. https://www.whatsaiththescripture.com/Voice/The.Coming.Prince.html#1-2
Devotionals, notes, poetry and more
2/1/2007 Ancient Wisdom for the Future
Although attributed in error, Mark Twain is often quoted as saying, “When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years.” When we’re young and full of self-reliant optimism and esteem we look to no one but ourselves in our sophomoric pursuit of knowledge and truth. And although some say, “with age comes wisdom,” that is only one part of the equation. In truth, it is only those who age wisely to whom the great honor of being called “wise” can be attributed properly. Nevertheless, it is generally true that as we age we become more wise as we learn from our own deeds and misdeeds, as we learn lessons from those around us, and, most importantly, as we learn from the wisdom of God’s Word (Job 12:12; 32:9).
Throughout history, societies have honored the aged among them. Men and women who have lived full lives have been counted among the wise and respected. Traditionally, the aged have been protected, revered, and prized as a society’s most cherished citizens. However, to our great shame, such cannot be said for most societies today. When a community chooses not to care for its aged, it has chosen not to care for itself, and when a people do not cherish the aged among them, they will soon self-destruct. Therein lies wisdom from the ages and wisdom for the future. If we are concerned for future generations as we should be, we should be all the more concerned about what future generations can learn from past generations.
The wisdom books of the Word of God were not given to us merely to help us have a better society. The wisdom of God’s Word is no small matter, and it is not to be dealt with foolishly. It is truth itself (John 17:17), and it is the wisdom of God for every society under heaven (Ecc. 1:13). If we study the Word of God earnestly, we will age wisely before the face of God, and we will be able to impart wisdom to all who seek it before the face of God. In his second letter to Timothy, perhaps his last epistle, the aged and wise Paul wrote: “But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus” (2 Tim. 3:14–15).
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Dr. Burk Parsons (@BurkParsons) is editor of Tabletalk magazine, senior pastor of Saint Andrew’s Chapel in Sanford, Fla., a visiting lecturer at Reformed Theological Seminary, and a Ligonier Ministries teaching fellow. He is editor of John Calvin: A Heart for Devotion, Doctrine, and Doxology.
Ligonier coram Deo (definition)
by Bill Federer
Tenth President John Tyler was born this day in March 29, 1790. He was the first Vice-President ever to assume the Presidency when William Henry Harrison died after only one month in office. To mourn his death, President John Tyler’s first act in office was to proclaim a National Day of Fasting and Prayer, in which he stated: “When a Christian people feel themselves to be overtaken by a great public calamity, it becomes them to humble themselves under the dispensation of Divine Providence, to recognize His righteous government over the children of men… and to supplicate His merciful protection for the future.”
Compiled by Richard S. Adams
Joy is the simplest form of gratitude.
--- Karl Barth
Because of their ignorance concerning the spirit's operation, those who honestly desire deeper experience upon having overcome sin may all too easily be led astray into seeking so called "spiritual" Bible knowledge with their minds, or a burning sensation of the Lord's presence in their physical members, or a life and labor emanating from their will power. They are deceived into overly esteeming their soul experiences and thus fall into conceiving themselves as ever so spiritual... For this reason God's children must be very humble before Him and seek to know the teaching of the Bible and the functioning of the spirit through the Holy Spirit in order that they may walk by the spirit.
--- Watchman Nee
The Spiritual Man
...And we pray, not for new
earth or heaven, but to be quiet
in heart, and in eye clear.
What we need is here.
--- Wendell Berry
Until lions have their historians, tales of the hunt shall always glorify the hunter.
---- African Proverb
... from here, there and everywhere
University of Virginia Libray 1994
Twenty-sixth of fourth month. -- I crossed the Susquehanna, and coming among people in outward ease and greatness, supported chiefly on the labor of slaves, my heart was much affected, and in awful retiredness my mind was gathered inward to the Lord, humbly desiring that in true resignation I might receive instruction from him respecting my duty among this people. Though travelling on foot was wearisome to my body, yet it was agreeable to the state of my mind. Being weakly, I was covered with sorrow and heaviness on account of the prevailing spirit of this world by which customs grievous and oppressive are introduced on the one hand, and pride and wantonness on the other.
In this lonely walk and state of abasement and humiliation, the condition of the church in these parts was opened before me, and I may truly say with the Prophet, "I was bowed down at the hearing of it; I was dismayed at the seeing of it." Under this exercise I attended the Quarterly Meeting at Gunpowder, and in bowedness of spirit I had to express with much plainness my feelings respecting Friends living in fulness on the labors of the poor oppressed negroes; and that promise of the Most High was now revived, "I will gather all nations and tongues, and they shall come and see my glory." Here the sufferings of Christ and his tasting death for every man, and the travels, sufferings, and martyrdom of the Apostles and primitive Christians in laboring for the conversion of the Gentiles, were livingly revived in me, and according to the measure of strength afforded I labored in some tenderness of spirit, being deeply affected among them. The difference between the present treatment which these gentiles, the negroes, receive at our hands, and the labors of the primitive Christians for the conversion of the Gentiles, were pressed home, and the power of truth came over us, under a feeling of which my mind was united to a tender-hearted people in these parts. The meeting concluded in a sense of God's goodness towards his humble, dependent children.
The next day was a general meeting for worship, much crowded, in which I was deeply engaged in inward cries to the Lord for help, that I might stand wholly resigned, and move only as he might be pleased to lead me. I was mercifully helped to labor honestly and fervently among them, in which I found inward peace, and the sincere were comforted. From this place I turned towards Pipe Creek and the Red Lands, and had several meetings among Friends in those parts. My heart was often tenderly affected under a sense of the Lord's goodness in sanctifying my troubles and exercises, turning them to my comfort, and I believe to the benefit of many others, for I may say with thankfulness that in this visit it appeared like a tendering visitation in most places.
I passed on to the Western Quarterly Meeting in Pennsylvania. During the several days of this meeting I was mercifully preserved in an inward feeling after the mind of truth, and my public labors tended to my humiliation, with which I was content. After the Quarterly Meeting for worship ended, I felt drawings to go to the women's meeting for business, which was very full; here the humility of Jesus Christ as a pattern for us to walk by was livingly opened before me, and in treating on it my heart was enlarged, and it was a baptizing time. I was afterwards at meetings at Concord, Middletown, Providence, and Haddonfield, whence I returned home and found my family well. A sense of the Lord's merciful preservation in this my journey excites reverent thankfulness to him.
John Woolman's Journal
Practical religion. The Christian life
Love Is God's Gift
Once again I ask, Why must this be so? And my answer is: Without this we cannot live the daily life of love.
How often, when we speak about the consecrated life, we have to speak about temper, and some people have sometimes said:
"You make too much of temper."
I do not think we can make too much of it. Think for a moment of a clock and of what its hands mean. The hands tell me what is within the clock, and if I see that the hands stand still, or that the hands point wrong, or that the clock is slow or fast, I say that something inside the clock is not working properly. And temper is just like the revelation that the clock gives of what is within. Temper is a proof whether the love of Christ is filling the heart, or not. How many there are who find it easier in church, or in prayer-meeting, or in work for the Lord--diligent, earnest work--to be holy and happy than in the daily life with wife and children; easier to be holy and happy outside the home than in it! Where is the love of God? In Christ. God has prepared for us a wonderful redemption in Christ, and He longs to make something supernatural of us. Have we learned to long for it, and ask for it, and expect it in its fullness?
Then there is the tongue! We sometimes speak of the tongue when we talk of the better life, and the restful life, but just think what liberty many Christians give to their tongues. They say:
"I have a right to think what I like."
When they speak about each other, when they speak about their neighbors, when they speak about other Christians, how often there are sharp remarks! God keep me from saying anything that would be unloving; God shut my mouth if I am not to speak in tender love. But what I am saying is a fact. How often there are found among Christians who are banded together in work, sharp criticism, sharp judgment, hasty opinion, unloving words, secret contempt of each other, secret condemnation of each other! Oh, just as a mother's love covers her children and delights in them and has the tenderest compassion with their foibles or failures, so there ought to be in the heart of every believer a motherly love toward every brother and sister in Christ. Have you aimed at that? Have you sought it? Have you ever pleaded for it? Jesus Christ said: "As I have loved you . . . love one another" (John 13:34). And He did not put that among the other commandments, but He said in effect:
"That is a new commandment, the one commandment: Love one another as I have loved you" (John 13:34).
It is in our daily life and conduct that the fruit of the Spirit is love. From that there comes all the graces and virtues in which love is manifested: joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness; no sharpness or hardness in your tone, no unkindness or selfishness; meekness before God and man. You see that all these are the gentler virtues. I have often thought as I read those words in Colossians, "Put on therefore as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering" (Col. 3:12), that if we had written this, we should have put in the foreground the manly virtues, such as zeal, courage, and diligence; but we need to see how the gentler, the most womanly virtues are especially connected with dependence upon the Holy Spirit. These are indeed heavenly graces. They never were found in the heathen world. Christ was needed to come from Heaven to teach us. Your blessedness is longsuffering, meekness, kindness; your glory is humility before God. The fruit of the Spirit that He brought from Heaven out of the heart of the crucified Christ, and that He gives in our heart, is first and foremost--love.
You know what John says: "No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us" (1 John 4:12). That is, I cannot see God, but as a compensation I can see my brother, and if I love him, God dwells in me. Is that really true? That I cannot see God, but I must love my brother, and God will dwell in me? Loving my brother is the way to real fellowship with God. You know what John further says in that most solemn test, "If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar; for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?" (1 John 4:20). There is a brother, a most unlovable man. He worries you every time you meet him. He is of the very opposite disposition to yours. You are a careful businessman, and you have to do with him in your business. He is most untidy, unbusiness-like. You say:
"I cannot love him."
Oh, friend, you have not learned the lesson that Christ wanted to teach above everything. Let a man be what he will, you are to love him. Love is to be the fruit of the Spirit all the day and every day. Yes, listen! If a man loves not his brother whom he hath seen--if you don't love that unlovable man whom you have seen, how can you love God whom you have not seen? You can deceive yourself with beautiful thoughts about loving God. You must prove your love to God by your love to your brother; that is the one standard by which God will judge your love to Him. If the love of God is in your heart you will love your brother.
Absolute Surrender (The Colportage Library)
by D.H. Stern
but turning away from evil is abhorrent to fools.
20 He who walks with the wise will become wise,
but the companion of fools will suffer.
Complete Jewish Bible : An English Version of the Tanakh (Old Testament) and B'Rit Hadashah (New Testament)
‘For those that will take them. Of course most of the silly creatures don’t. They prefer taking trips back to Earth. They go and play tricks on the poor daft women ye call mediums. They go and try to assert their ownership of some house that once belonged to them: and then ye get what’s called a Haunting. Or they go to spy on their children. Or literary ghosts hang about public libraries to see if anyone’s still reading their books.’
‘But if they come here they can really stay?’
‘Aye. Ye’ll have heard that the emperor Trajan did.’
‘But I don’t understand. Is judgement not final? Is there really a way out of Hell into Heaven?’
‘It depends on the way ye’re using the words. If they leave that grey town behind it will not have been Hell. To any that leaves it, it is Purgatory. And perhaps ye had better not call this country Heaven. Not Deep Heaven, ye understand.’ (Here he smiled at me.) ‘Ye can call it the Valley of the Shadow of Life. And yet to those who stay here it will have been Heaven from the first. And ye can call those sad streets in the town yonder the Valley of the Shadow of Death: but to those who remain there they will have been Hell even from the beginning.’
I suppose he saw that I looked puzzled, for presently he spoke again.
‘Son,’ he said, ‘ye cannot in your present state understand eternity: when Anodos looked through the door of the Timeless he brought no message back. But ye can get some likeness of it if ye say that both good and evil, when they are full grown, become retrospective. Not only this valley but all their earthly past will have been Heaven to those who are saved. Not only the twilight in that town, but all their life on Earth too, will then be seen by the damned to have been Hell. That is what mortals misunderstand. They say of some temporal suffering, “No future bliss can make up for it,” not knowing that Heaven, once attained, will work backwards and turn even that agony into a glory. And of some sinful pleasure they say “Let me have but this and I’ll take the consequences”: little dreaming how damnation will spread back and back into their past and contaminate the pleasure of the sin. Both processes begin even before death. The good man’s past begins to change so that his forgiven sins and remembered sorrows take on the quality of Heaven: the bad man’s past already conforms to his badness and is filled only with dreariness. And that is why, at the end of all things, when the sun rises here and the twilight turns to blackness down there, the Blessed will say “We have never lived anywhere except in Heaven,” and the Lost, “We were always in Hell.” And both will speak truly.’
‘Is that not very hard, Sir?’
‘I mean, that is the real sense of what they will say. In the actual language of the Lost, the words will be different, no doubt. One will say he has always served his country right or wrong; and another that he has sacrificed everything to his Art; and some that they’ve never been taken in, and some that, thank God, they’ve always looked after Number One, and nearly all, that, at least they’ve been true to themselves.’
‘And the Saved?’
‘Ah, the Saved … what happens to them is best described as the opposite of a mirage. What seemed, when they entered it, to be the vale of misery turns out, when they look back, to have been a well; and where present experience saw only salt deserts, memory truthfully records that the pools were full of water.’
‘Then those people are right who say that Heaven and Hell are only states of mind?’
‘Hush,’ he said sternly. ‘Do not blaspheme. Hell is a state of mind—ye never said a truer word. And every state of mind, left to itself, every shutting up of the creature within the dungeon of its own mind—is, in the end, Hell. But Heaven is not a state of mind. Heaven is reality itself. All that is fully real is Heavenly. For all that can be shaken will be shaken and only the unshakeable remains.’
The Great Divorce
A Daily Devotional by Oswald Chambers
Our Lord’s surprise visits
Be ye therefore ready also. --- Luke 12:40.
The great need for the Christian worker is to be ready to face Jesus Christ at any and every turn. This is not easy, no matter what our experience is. The battle is not against sin or difficulties or circumstances, but against being so absorbed in work that we are not ready to face Jesus Christ at every turn. That is the one great need, not facing our belief, or our creed, or the question whether we are of any use, but to face Him.
Jesus rarely comes where we expect Him; He appears where we least expect Him, and always in the most illogical connections. The only way a worker can keep true to God is by being ready for the Lord’s surprise visits. It is not service that matters, but intense spiritual reality, expecting Jesus Christ at every turn. This will give our life the attitude of child-wonder which He wants it to have. If we are going to be ready for Jesus Christ, we have to stop being religious (that is, using religion as a higher kind of culture) and be spiritually real.
If you are looking off unto Jesus, avoiding the call of the religious age you live in, and setting your heart on what He wants, on thinking on His line, you will be called unpractical and dreamy; but when He appears in the burden and the heat of the day, you will be the only one who is ready. Trust no one, not even the finest saint who ever walked this earth, ignore him, if he hinders your sight of Jesus Christ.
My Utmost for His Highest
the Poetry of R.S. Thomas
He and She
When he came in, she was there.
When she looked at him,
he smiled. There were lights
in time's wave breaking
on an eternal shore.
Seated at table -
no need for the fracture
of the room's silence; noiselessly
they conversed. Thoughts mingling
were lit up, gold
particles in the mind's stream.
Were there currents between them?
Why, when he thought darkly,
would the nerves play
at her lips' brim? What was the heart's depth?
There were fathoms in her,
too, and sometimes he crossed
them and landed and was not repulsed.
Thomas, R. S.
The football team has had a terrible first half. They are down by three touchdowns. The coach is embarrassed, and he is angry. The players have made many mistakes, and they are not playing on the level or in the way that he has taught them. The critical moment of the game may be right now, as he prepares to speak to them and tries to get them ready for the second half.
“That was really terrible … Our game so far has been a disgrace!” He then proceeds to review the botched plays and mistakes that the players have made. But then he is at a fork in the road, and he can go in two very different directions:
“I’m ashamed of you! You played like a bunch of old ladies. I don’t know who you are any more! I’m embarrassed to say I’m your coach! If that was the best you could do, you might as well get dressed and go home right now! All right, let’s go out there and make sure you don’t humiliate yourselves like that again!”
Or he could end like this: “I know you guys. You can do much better. You have done much better, time and time again. Remember the upset we pulled off last month? You all made me so proud. Well, if you’ve done it before, I know you can do it again. Let’s reach down and find the guts and the determination to win this thing. You guys are the best! Show me!! Let’s go out and do it!!”
Too often, when we are angered, troubled, or disappointed by someone’s performance, we either say nothing, afraid to hurt their feelings and precipitate an angry confrontation, or we “unload” on them, critically telling them of their failings. Unfortunately, neither approach is very helpful or constructive.
The Rabbis hint at the perfect middle road: Begin with “disgrace,” with the negative, but conclude with praise, with the positive. Ignoring a problem does not mean that it will go away. We need honestly to confront the difficult issues that exist. But we must also leave the person with his or her dignity intact, motivated to go on, improve and do better. The last words we say are what a person is left with; it is from those last words that they begin to grow and rebuild.
Reading our history, we learn that our people were once slaves and idol worshipers. Yet they were able to rise above that past and become, in the words of the Torah, “a kingdom of priests and a holy nation” (Exodus 19:6). Perhaps that is due, in part, to the way God spoke to us, always leaving us with a message of what we could aspire to do and to become.
The diligent do the mitzvot as early as possible.
Text / Rav Safra said: “The prayer of Abraham [is recited] from the time that the walls turn dark.” Rav Yosef said: “Do we learn from and decide according to Abraham?” Rava said: “A tanna learned from Abraham, shouldn’t we as well? As it is taught ‘On the eighth day the flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised’ [Leviticus 12:3]. This teaches that the entire day is proper for circumcision, but the diligent do the mitzvot as early as possible, as it says: ‘So early next morning, Abraham saddled his ass’ [Genesis 22:3].”
Context / It was taught in accordance with Rabbi Yosé son of Rabbi Ḥanina: Abraham instituted the morning service, as it says: “Next morning, Abraham hurried to the place where he had stood before the Lord” [Genesis 19:27]. And “stood” can mean only in prayer, as it says “Phinehas stood and prayed” [Psalms 106:30, author’s translation].
Isaac instituted the afternoon prayer, as it says: “And Isaac went out to meditate in the field toward evening” [Genesis 24:63]. And “meditate” can mean only in prayer, as it says: “A prayer of the lowly man when he is faint and pours forth his meditation before the Lord” [Psalms 102:1, author’s translation].
Jacob instituted the evening prayer, as it says: “He approached a certain place and stopped there for the night” [Genesis 28:11, author’s translation]. And “approached” can mean only in prayer, as it says: “As for you, do not pray for this people, do not raise a cry of prayer on their behalf, do not approach Me” [Jeremiah 7:16, author’s translation]. (Berakhot 26b)
Tradition says that Abraham instituted the Shaḥarit morning service and Isaac the Minḥah afternoon service. Yet the Gemara indicates that Minḥah is known as “the prayer of Abraham,” The Tosafot were bothered by this contradiction and offered the following reconciliation:
“Isaac instituted the afternoon prayer.” Even though it says: “The prayer of Abraham [is recited] from the time that the walls turn dark,” one can respond that Abraham fixed the time after Isaac instituted it. (Tosafot, Berakhot 26b)
The prayer of Abraham is Minḥah, the afternoon service. Rav Safra wants to know the earliest time this prayer may be said. The answer given is that it may be recited after mid-day, when the sun will no longer shine directly on walls facing east. Rav Yosef questions whether halakhah can be learned from Abraham (who according to tradition, fixed the time for this prayer service). The implication of the question is that since Abraham predates Moses and the giving of the Torah (and hence the obligation of the Jews to observe the mitzvot), it makes no logical sense to base the mitzvot on what Abraham did.
Rava responds that Abraham is indeed a source for later Jewish law. The example brought is about b’rit milah, ritual circumcision. The Torah commands that it be done on the eighth day, and since no specific time is mentioned, any time during that day would be appropriate. But the prevailing custom has become to perform a b’rit milah not only in the morning, but as early in the day as possible. The basis of this is the behavior of Abraham (who, coincidentally, was the first person to perform the mitzvah). God had commanded Abraham to take his son Isaac and offer him as a sacrifice. Abraham, we are told, awoke early next morning and took Isaac right away to fulfill the command of God.
Swimming in the Sea of Talmud: Lessons for Everyday Living
This chapter begins, “While Israel was staying in Shittim, the men began to indulge in sexual immorality with Moabite women, who invited them to the sacrifices to their gods. The people ate and bowed down before these gods” (vv. 1–2). As in most religions of Canaan, ritual prostitution and sexual excess was an intrinsic part of the religion of Moab.
In this the Moabites followed the strategy suggested by “Balaam’s advice” (31:16).
As in the past, God’s anger now flared against His people. But at this time the sin was dealt with in a way which indicated a distinct change in the character of the people of Israel.
A plague began among the people, but Moses was told that the people themselves must “put to death those of your men who have joined in worshiping the Baal of Peor” (v. 5). (Baal is a Semitic word meaning “lord” that designated pagan deities in Canaan.) At that moment an Israelite man was openly leading a Midianite woman to his family. A priest, Phinehas, followed the two into the tent and drove a spear through them both. The plague was stopped, and Phinehas was rewarded by God “because he was zealous for the honor of his God” (v. 13).
The incident is important, because for the first time Israel is dealing with sin by self-discipline! The new generation is demonstrating its difference from the old. The choice to follow God completely was being made now—and the price of self-discipline was being paid.
Protected from enemies without, and cleansed by self-discipline within, the people of Israel were nearly ready to enter the land of rest.
The Teacher's Commentary
Thomas A Kempis
Book Three - Internal Consolation
The Twentieth Chapter / Confessing Our Weakness In The Miseries Of Life
I WILL bring witness against myself to my injustice, and to You, O Lord, I will confess my weakness.
Often it is a small thing that makes me downcast and sad. I propose to act bravely, but when even a small temptation comes I find myself in great straits. Sometimes it is the merest trifle which gives rise to grievous temptations. When I think myself somewhat safe and when I am not expecting it, I frequently find myself almost overcome by a slight wind. Look, therefore, Lord, at my lowliness and frailty which You know so well. Have mercy on me and snatch me out of the mire that I may not be caught in it and may not remain forever utterly despondent.
That I am so prone to fall and so weak in resisting my passions oppresses me frequently and confounds me in Your sight. While I do not fully consent to them, still their assault is very troublesome and grievous to me, and it wearies me exceedingly thus to live in daily strife. Yet from the fact that abominable fancies rush in upon me much more easily than they leave, my weakness becomes clear to me.
Oh that You, most mighty God of Israel, zealous Lover of faithful souls, would consider the labor and sorrow of Your servant, and assist him in all his undertakings! Strengthen me with heavenly courage lest the outer man, the miserable flesh, against which I shall be obliged to fight so long as I draw a breath in this wretched life and which is not yet subjected to the spirit, prevail and dominate me.
Alas! What sort of life is this, from which troubles and miseries are never absent, where all things are full of snares and enemies? For when one trouble or temptation leaves, another comes. Indeed, even while the first conflict is still raging, many others begin unexpectedly. How is it possible to love a life that has such great bitterness, that is subject to so many calamities and miseries? Indeed, how can it even be called life when it begets so many deaths and plagues? And yet, it is loved, and many seek their delight in it.
Many persons often blame the world for being false and vain, yet do not readily give it up because the desires of the flesh have such great power. Some things draw them to love the world, others make them despise it. The lust of the flesh, the desire of the eyes, and the pride of life lead to love, while the pains and miseries, which are the just consequences of those things, beget hatred and weariness of the world.
Vicious pleasure overcomes the soul that is given to the world. She thinks that there are delights beneath these thorns, because she has never seen or tasted the sweetness of God or the internal delight of virtue. They, on the other hand, who entirely despise the world and seek to live for God under the rule of holy discipline, are not ignorant of the divine sweetness promised to those who truly renounce the world. They see clearly how gravely the world errs, and in how many ways it deceives.
The Imitation Of Christ
The Lord spake unto Moses. It is impossible to say with any assurance whether the law of offerings contained in these two chapters was really given to Moses shortly before his death, or whether it was ever given in this connected and completed form. It is obvious that the formula with which the section opens might be used with equal propriety to introduce a digest of the law on this subject compiled by Moses himself, or by some subsequent editor of his writings from a number of scattered regulations, written or oral, which had Divine authority. It is indeed quite true that this routine of sacrifice was only suitable for times of settled habitation in the promised land, and therefore there is a certain propriety in its introduction here on the eve of the entry into Canaan. But it must be remembered, on the other hand, that the same thing holds true of very much of the legislation given at Mount Sinai, and avowedly of that comprised in ch. 15 (see ver. 2), which yet appears from its position to have been given before the rebellion of Korah in the wilderness. It is indeed plain that the ritual, festal, and sacrificial system, both as elaborated in Leviticus and as supplemented in Numbers, presupposed throughout an almost immediate settlement in Canaan. It is also plain that a system so elaborate, and entailing so much care and expense, could hardly have come into regular use during the conquest, or for some time after. It cannot, therefore, be said with any special force that the present section finds its natural place here. All we can affirm is that the system itself was of Divine origin, and dated in substance from the days of Moses. In any case, therefore, it is rightly introduced with the usual formula which attests that it came from God, and came through Moses. It must be noted that a great variety of observances which were zealously followed by the Jews of later ages find no place here. Compare, e. g., the ceremonial pouring of water during the feast of tabernacles, to which allusion is made by the prophet Isaiah (12:3) and our Lord (John 7:37, 38).
The Pulpit Commentary (23 Volume Set)
You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. --- Matthew 5:14.
No principle in the universe can be brought to bear with such weight as the gospel. ( The American National Preacher, Volumes 7-8 ) Nothing can develop the principles of humanity if not the gospel.
Law, philosophy, morals had failed to restrain and reform. But the gospel has been effective. Millions of women and men have been changed, redeemed, purified, saved. The gospel is powerful enough to overcome all the tendencies of sin. It will unclench the hands of greed, silence the blasphemer, make pure the corrupt heart, and stop the strut of the arrogant. There is not a grasp on gold or pleasure that the gospel has not the power to break. And there is not a sinner who, if he or she fairly comes under its dominion, will not become holy. Your strongest propensities it may subdue. Your proudest systems of morality it may destroy, and your most gigantic schemes of corruption it may demolish—for thousands of such sinners as you it has humbled, prostrated, changed into holy people.
No persecutors are secure that they can accomplish their schemes before they are seized by it. The band sent to arrest the Savior were awed, humbled, convinced by his eloquence, and returned, saying, “No one ever spoke the way this man does.”
Now can it be that this mighty gospel—that is dismayed by no crime; that cowers before no propensities; that fears no titles, no splendor, no renown; that throws down arrogance as easily as the tempest does the proudest oak; that can enter any circle of corruption and shed peace around the profane and the scoffer and the drunkard; that carries its principles into the profoundest minds and sheds its humility into the proudest hearts—is it possible that it can exist and not be seen? Can it do all this—and no one know it? Can it live and act thus—and never be made visible?
Then may the light rest on the mountaintop and the vale—and no one see it. Then may the city lift its turrets to the clouds—and be invisible. Then may the ocean swell and surge on the shore—and no one be aware of commotion. It must, it will stand out in human view. If it accomplishes such changes, they will be seen, and if it ever grasps any human spirit, it must show its power in the life.
--- Albert Barnes
Take Heart: Daily Devotions with the Church's Great Preachers
The Welsh Revival March 29
Evan Roberts was a coal miner, tall, blue-eyed, young and thin. His dark hair curled over his forehead and ears. He harbored a deep burden for souls, and he prayed earnestly for revival. At age 25, having just begun studying for the ministry, he asked his pastor for permission to hold some evening meetings. Only a few people came at first, but within days village shops were closing early for the services. People left work to secure seats at church. The building was packed and roadways clogged with would-be attenders. Services often lasted until 4:30 A.M. Sins were confessed, sinners converted, homes restored.
In neighboring towns Roberts saw similar results. All across Wales theaters closed, jails emptied, churches filled, and soccer matches were canceled to avoid conflicting with the revival. Welsh miners were so converted that their pit ponies had to be retrained to work without the prodding of curse words.
On March 29, 1905 Evan Roberts opened a series of meetings at Shaw Street Chapel in Liverpool—out of Wales into England, out of the country into the city. Thousands thronged around the church, and people poured in from all parts of England, Scotland, Ireland, the Continent, and America. Multitudes were converted or found new joy in Christ. Often Roberts didn’t even preach. The very sight of him sent rivers of emotion flowing through the crowds. When he did speak, his message was quiet and simple: “obedience to Jesus, complete consecration to his service, receiving the Holy Spirit, and allowing ourselves to be ruled by him.”
The Liverpool meetings left Roberts exhausted, needing weeks to recover. On his next preaching tour, a whirlwind of revival again swirled around him; but yet again, the young man returned home drained and exhausted. Roberts spoke four times more, then he retired to a friend’s home for a week’s recovery. He stayed 17 years, and he never preached again. He spent his remaining 45 years in secluded ministry and prayer, here and there, with friends. He died in 1951.
His public ministry had lasted only months, but it had shaken Wales and England to the foundations.
You are wrong to think that these people are drunk. After all, it is only nine o’clock in the morning. But this is what God had the prophet Joel say, “When the last days come, I will give my Spirit to everyone. Your sons and daughters will prophesy. Your young men will see visions, and your old men will have dreams.”
--- Acts 2:15-17.
On This Day 365 Amazing And Inspiring Stories About Saints, Martyrs And Heroes
Daily Readings / CHARLES H. SPURGEON
Morning - March 29
"Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered." --- Hebrews 5:8.
We are told that the Captain of our salvation was made perfect through suffering, therefore we who are sinful, and who are far from being perfect, must not wonder if we are called to pass through suffering too. Shall the head be crowned with thorns, and shall the other members of the body be rocked upon the dainty lap of ease? Must Christ pass through seas of his own blood to win the crown, and are we to walk to heaven dryshod in silver slippers? No, our Master’s experience teaches us that suffering is necessary, and the true-born child of God must not, would not, escape it if he might. But there is one very comforting thought in the fact of Christ’s “being made perfect through suffering”—it is, that he can have complete sympathy with us. “He is not an high priest that cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities.” In this sympathy of Christ we find a sustaining power. One of the early martyrs said, “I can bear it all, for Jesus suffered, and he suffers in me now; he sympathizes with me, and this makes me strong.” Believer, lay hold of this thought in all times of agony. Let the thought of Jesus strengthen you as you follow in his steps. Find a sweet support in his sympathy; and remember that, to suffer is an honourable thing—to suffer for Christ is glory. The apostles rejoiced that they were counted worthy to do this. Just so far as the Lord shall give us grace to suffer for Christ, to suffer with Christ, just so far does he honour us. The jewels of a Christian are his afflictions. The regalia of the kings whom God hath anointed are their troubles, their sorrows, and their griefs. Let us not, therefore, shun being honoured. Let us not turn aside from being exalted. Griefs exalt us, and troubles lift us up. “If we suffer, we shall also reign with him.”
Evening - March 29
"I called him, but he gave me no answer."Song of Solomon 5:6.
Prayer sometimes tarrieth, like a petitioner at the gate, until the King cometh forth to fill her bosom with the blessings which she seeketh. The Lord, when he hath given great faith, has been known to try it by long delayings. He has suffered his servants’ voices to echo in their ears as from a brazen sky. They have knocked at the golden gate, but it has remained immovable, as though it were rusted upon its hinges. Like Jeremiah, they have cried, “Thou hast covered thyself with a cloud, that our prayer should not pass through.” Thus have true saints continued long in patient waiting without reply, not because their prayers were not vehement, nor because they were unaccepted, but because it so pleased him who is a Sovereign, and who gives according to his own pleasure. If it pleases him to bid our patience exercise itself, shall he not do as he wills with his own! Beggars must not be choosers either as to time, place, or form. But we must be careful not to take delays in prayer for denials: God’s long-dated bills will be punctually honoured; we must not suffer Satan to shake our confidence in the God of truth by pointing to our unanswered prayers. Unanswered petitions are not unheard. God keeps a file for our prayers—they are not blown away by the wind, they are treasured in the King’s archives. This is a registry in the court of heaven wherein every prayer is recorded. Tried believer, thy Lord hath a tear-bottle in which the costly drops of sacred grief are put away, and a book in which thy holy groanings are numbered. By-and-by, thy suit shall prevail. Canst thou not be content to wait a little? Will not thy Lord’s time be better than thy time? By-and-by he will comfortably appear, to thy soul’s joy, and make thee put away the sackcloth and ashes of long waiting, and put on the scarlet and fine linen of full fruition.
Morning and Evening
WHEN WE ALL GET TO HEAVEN
Eliza E. Hewitt, 1851–1920
After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage each other with these words.
(1 Thessalonians 4:17, 18)
For the child of God, the end of this earthly pilgrimage is just the beginning of a glorious new life.
This glorious hope revives our courage for the way,
When each in expectation lives and longs to see the day
When from sorrow, toil, pain and sin, we shall be free,
And perfect love and joy shall reign throughout all eternity.
--- John Fawcett
Our services of worship even now should be a foretaste of that day of rejoicing when those from every tribe, language, people, and nation see our Lord and together “we’ll sing and shout the victory.”
The author of this hymn text, Eliza Hewitt, a school teacher in Philadelphia, was another Christian lay worker deeply devoted to the Sunday school movement during the latter half of the 19th century. Like many of the other gospel song writers of this time, Eliza wrote her songs with the goal of reaching and teaching children with the truths of the gospel. She often attended the Methodist camp meetings at Ocean Grove, New Jersey. It was here that she collaborated with Emily Wilson, wife of a Methodist District Superintendent in Philadelphia, in the writing of this popular gospel hymn, a favorite of both young and old alike. It was first published in 1898.
The anticipation of heaven has often been described as the oxygen of the human soul. “Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as He is pure” (1 John 3:3).
Sing the wondrous love of Jesus, sing His mercy and His grace; in the mansions bright and blessed He’ll prepare for us a place.
While we walk the pilgrim pathway clouds will over-spread the sky; but when trav’ling days are over not a shadow, not a sigh.
Let us then be true and faithful, trusting, serving ev’ry day; just one glimpse of Him in glory will the toils of life repay.
Onward to the prize before us! Soon His beauty we’ll behold; soon the pearly gates will open—We shall tread the streets of gold.
Chorus: When we all get to heaven, what a day of rejoicing that will be! When we all see Jesus, we’ll sing and shout the victory.
For Today: Psalm 16:11; Isaiah 35:10; John 14:2, 3; 1 Corinthians 15:54–57.
Allow your imagination to anticipate that day in heaven when the entire family of God is gathered for an endless celebration of praise. Allow this glorious hope to brighten your day and to keep you “true, faithful, trusting, serving …” Sing this musical truth as you go ---
Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions
A.W. Pink | (1886-1952)
Chapter 05 1 Peter 1:3-5 – Part 2
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope.” Let us begin this chapter with a continuation of our examination of the ascription of this doxology. God the Father is here viewed as the covenant Head of the Mediator and of God's elect in Him, and is thus accorded His distinctive Christian title (see, for example, Eph. 1:3). This title sets Him forth as the God of redemption. “Abundant mercy” is ascribed to Him. This is one of His ineffable perfections, yet the exercise of it — as of all His other attributes — is determined by His own imperial will (Rom. 9:15). Much is said in Scripture concerning this Divine excellency. We read of His “tender mercy” (Luke 1:78). David declares, “For great is thy mercy” (Ps. 86:13); “thou, Lord, art. . . plenteous in mercy” (Ps. 8 6:5). Nehemiah speaks of His “manifold mercies” (Neh. 9:27). Listen to David describe the effect that meditating upon this attribute, as he had practically experienced it, had upon his worship: “But as for me, I will come into thy house in the multitude of thy mercy: and in thy fear will I worship toward thy holy temple” (Ps. 5:7). Blessed be His name, “for his mercy endureth for ever” (Ps. 107:1). Well then may each believer join with the Psalmist in saying, “I will sing aloud of thy mercy. . .” (Ps. 59:16). To this attribute especially should erring saints look: “according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions” (Ps. 5 1:1).
God's General and Special Mercy Must Be Distinguished
It must be pointed out that there is both a general and a special mercy. That distinction is a necessary and important one, yea, a vital one; for many poor souls are counting upon the former instead of looking by faith to the latter. “The LORD is good to all: and his tender mercies are over all his works” (Ps. 145:9). Considering how much wickedness abounds in this world, the discerning and contrite heart can say with the Psalmist, “The earth, O LORD, is full of thy mercy. . .” (Ps. 119:64). For the good of our souls it is essential that we grasp the distinction revealed in God's Word between this general mercy and God's special benignity to His elect. By virtue of His eminence as a gift of God, Christ is denominated “the Mercy promised to our fathers” (Luke 1:72). How aptly does the Psalmist declare, “Thy mercy is great above the heavens” (Ps. 108:4; cf. Eph. 4:10); for there is God's mercyseat found (see Heb. 9, especially vv. 5, 23, 24), upon which the exalted Savior is now seated administering the fruits of His redemptive work. It is thither that the convicted and sin-burdened soul must look for saving mercy. To conclude that God is too merciful to damn any one eternally is a delusion with which Satan fatally deceives multitudes. Pardoning mercy is obtainable only through faith in the atoning blood of the Savior. Reject Him, and Divine condemnation is inescapable.
This Mercy Is Abundant Because It Is Covenant Mercy
The mercy here celebrated by Peter is very clearly a particular and discriminating one. It is that of “the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,” and it flows to its favored objects “by [means of] the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” (brackets mine) It is between those two phrases that we find these words firmly lodged: “who according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope.” Thus it is covenant mercy, redemptive mercy, regenerating mercy. Rightly is it styled “abundant mercy,” especially in view of the Bestower. For this abundant mercy issues from the self-sufficient Jehovah, who is infinitely and immutably blessed in Himself, who would have incurred no personal loss had He abandoned the whole human race to destruction. It was of His mere good pleasure that He did not. It is seen to be “abundant mercy” when we view the character of its objects, namely, depraved rebels, whose minds were enmity against God. It also appears thus when we contemplate the nature of its peculiar blessings. They are not the common and temporal ones, such as health and strength, sustenance and preservation that are bestowed upon the wicked, but spiritual, celestial, and everlasting benefits such as had never entered the mind of man to conceive.
Still more so is it seen to be “abundant mercy” when we contemplate the means through which those blessings are conveyed to us: “by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,” which necessarily presupposes His incarnation and crucifixion. What other language but “abundant mercy” could appropriately express the Father's sending forth of His beloved Son to take upon Himself the form of a servant, to assume to Himself flesh and blood, and to be born in a manger all for the sake of those whose multitudinous iniquities deserved eternal punishment? That Blessed One came here to be the Surety of His people, to pay their debts, to suffer in their stead, to die the Just for the unjust. Therefore, God spared not His own Son but called upon the sword of justice to smite Him. He delivered Him up to the curse that He might “freely give us all things” (Rom. 8:32). Thus it is a righteous mercy, even as the Psalmist declares: “Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other” (Ps. 85:10). It was at the cross that the seemingly conflicting attributes of mercy and justice, love and wrath, holiness and peace united, just as the various colors of the light, when separated by a natural prism of mist, are seen beautifully blended together in the rainbow — the token and emblem of the covenant (Gen. 9:12-17; Rev. 4:3).
Meditation on the Miracle of the New Birth Evokes Fervent Praise
Fifthly, let us consider the incitement of this doxology, which is found in the following words: “which [who] according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope.” It was the realization that God had quickened those who were dead in sins that moved Peter to bless Him so fervently. The words “hath begotten us” have reference to their regeneration. Later in the chapter the apostle describes them as having been “born again” (v. 23) and in the next chapter addresses them as “newborn babes” (1 Peter 2:2). A new and a spiritual life, Divine in its origin, was imparted to them, wrought in their souls by the power of the Holy Spirit (John 3:6). That new life was given for the purpose of forming a new character and for the transforming of their conduct. God had sent forth the Spirit of His Son into their hearts, thereby communicating to them a holy disposition, who, as the Spirit of adoption (Rom. 8:15), was inclining them to love Him. It is styled a begetting, not only because it is then that the spiritual life begins and that a holy seed is implanted (1 John 3:9), but also because an image or likeness of the Begetter Himself is conveyed (1 John 5:1). As fallen Adam “begat a son in his own likeness, after his image” (Gen. 5:3), so at the new birth the Christian is “renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him” (Col. 3:10).
In the words “begotten us again” there is a twofold allusion: a comparison and a contrast. First, just as God is the efficient cause of our being, so He is also of our wellbeing; our natural life comes from Him, and so too does our spiritual life. Secondly, the Apostle Peter intends to distinguish our new birth from the old one. At our first begetting and birth we were conceived in sin and shapen in iniquity (Ps. 51:5); but at our regeneration we are “created in righteousness and true holiness” (Eph. 4:24). By the new birth we are delivered from the reigning power of sin, for we are then made “partakers of the divine nature” (2 Peter 1:4). Henceforth there is a perpetual conflict within the believer. Not only does the flesh lust against the spirit, but the spirit lusts against the flesh (Gal. 5:17). It is not sufficiently recognized and realized that the new nature or principle of grace of necessity makes war upon the old nature or principle of evil. This spiritual begetting is attributed to God's “abundant mercy,” for it was induced by nothing in or from us. We had not so much as a desire after Him: in every instance He is able to declare, “I am found of them that sought me not” (Isa. 65:1; cf. Rom. 3:11). As believers love Him because He first loved them (1 John 4:19), likewise they did not become seekers after Christ until He first sought and effectually called them (Luke 15; John 6:44; 10:16).
This begetting is according to the abundant mercy of God. Mercy was most eminently displayed here. For regeneration is the fundamental blessing of all grace and glory, being the first open manifestation that the elect receive of God's love to them. “But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost” (Titus 3:4, 5). As Thomas Goodwin so aptly expressed it,
“God's love is like a river or spring which runs underground, and hath done so from eternity. When breaks it forth first? When a man is effectually called, then that river, which hath been from everlasting underground, and through Christ on the cross, breaks out in a man's own heart, too.”
It is then that we are experientially made God's children, received into His favor, and conformed to His image. Therein is a remarkable display of His benignity. At the new birth the love of God is shed abroad in the heart, and that is the introduction into, as well as the sure pledge of, every other spiritual blessing for time and eternity. As the predestinating love of God ensures our effectual call or regeneration, so regeneration guarantees our justification and glorification (Rom. 8:29, 30).
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