Evil and Oppression
Video Isaiah 59 1 Behold, the LORD’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save,
or his ear dull, that it cannot hear;
2 but your iniquities have made a separation
between you and your God,
and your sins have hidden his face from you
so that he does not hear.
3 For your hands are defiled with blood
and your fingers with iniquity;
your lips have spoken lies;
your tongue mutters wickedness.
4 No one enters suit justly;
no one goes to law honestly;
they rely on empty pleas, they speak lies,
they conceive mischief and give birth to iniquity.
5 They hatch adders’ eggs;
they weave the spider’s web;
he who eats their eggs dies,
and from one that is crushed a viper is hatched.
6 Their webs will not serve as clothing;
men will not cover themselves with what they make.
Their works are works of iniquity,
and deeds of violence are in their hands.
7 Their feet run to evil,
and they are swift to shed innocent blood;
their thoughts are thoughts of iniquity;
desolation and destruction are in their highways.
8 The way of peace they do not know,
and there is no justice in their paths;
they have made their roads crooked;
no one who treads on them knows peace.
9 Therefore justice is far from us,
and righteousness does not overtake us;
we hope for light, and behold, darkness,
and for brightness, but we walk in gloom.
10 We grope for the wall like the blind;
we grope like those who have no eyes;
we stumble at noon as in the twilight,
among those in full vigor we are like dead men.
11 We all growl like bears;
we moan and moan like doves;
we hope for justice, but there is none;
for salvation, but it is far from us.
12 For our transgressions are multiplied before you,
and our sins testify against us;
for our transgressions are with us,
and we know our iniquities:
13 transgressing, and denying the LORD,
and turning back from following our God,
speaking oppression and revolt,
conceiving and uttering from the heart lying words.
Judgment and Redemption
14 Justice is turned back,
and righteousness stands far away;
for truth has stumbled in the public squares,
and uprightness cannot enter.
15 Truth is lacking,
and he who departs from evil makes himself a prey.
The LORD saw it, and it displeased him
that there was no justice.
16 He saw that there was no man,
and wondered that there was no one to intercede;
then his own arm brought him salvation,
and his righteousness upheld him.
17 He put on righteousness as a breastplate,
and a helmet of salvation on his head;
he put on garments of vengeance for clothing,
and wrapped himself in zeal as a cloak.
18 According to their deeds, so will he repay,
wrath to his adversaries, repayment to his enemies;
to the coastlands he will render repayment.
19 So they shall fear the name of the LORD from the west,
and his glory from the rising of the sun;
for he will come like a rushing stream,
which the wind of the LORD drives.
20 “And a Redeemer will come to Zion,
to those in Jacob who turn from transgression,” declares the LORD.
The Future Glory of Israel
Video Isaiah 60:1 1 Arise, shine, for your light has come,
and the glory of the LORD has risen upon you.
2 For behold, darkness shall cover the earth,
and thick darkness the peoples;
but the LORD will arise upon you,
and his glory will be seen upon you.
3 And nations shall come to your light,
and kings to the brightness of your rising.
4 Lift up your eyes all around, and see;
they all gather together, they come to you;
your sons shall come from afar,
and your daughters shall be carried on the hip.
5 Then you shall see and be radiant;
your heart shall thrill and exult,
because the abundance of the sea shall be turned to you,
the wealth of the nations shall come to you.
6 A multitude of camels shall cover you,
the young camels of Midian and Ephah;
all those from Sheba shall come.
They shall bring gold and frankincense,
and shall bring good news, the praises of the LORD.
7 All the flocks of Kedar shall be gathered to you;
the rams of Nebaioth shall minister to you;
they shall come up with acceptance on my altar,
and I will beautify my beautiful house.
8 Who are these that fly like a cloud,
and like doves to their windows?
9 For the coastlands shall hope for me,
the ships of Tarshish first,
to bring your children from afar,
their silver and gold with them,
for the name of the LORD your God,
and for the Holy One of Israel,
because he has made you beautiful.
10 Foreigners shall build up your walls,
and their kings shall minister to you;
for in my wrath I struck you,
but in my favor I have had mercy on you.
11 Your gates shall be open continually;
day and night they shall not be shut,
that people may bring to you the wealth of the nations,
with their kings led in procession.
12 For the nation and kingdom
that will not serve you shall perish;
those nations shall be utterly laid waste.
13 The glory of Lebanon shall come to you,
the cypress, the plane, and the pine,
to beautify the place of my sanctuary,
and I will make the place of my feet glorious.
14 The sons of those who afflicted you
shall come bending low to you,
and all who despised you
shall bow down at your feet;
they shall call you the City of the LORD,
the Zion of the Holy One of Israel.
15 Whereas you have been forsaken and hated,
with no one passing through,
I will make you majestic forever,
a joy from age to age.
16 You shall suck the milk of nations;
you shall nurse at the breast of kings;
and you shall know that I, the LORD, am your Savior
and your Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob.
17 Instead of bronze I will bring gold,
and instead of iron I will bring silver;
instead of wood, bronze,
instead of stones, iron.
I will make your overseers peace
and your taskmasters righteousness.
18 Violence shall no more be heard in your land,
devastation or destruction within your borders;
you shall call your walls Salvation,
and your gates Praise.
19 The sun shall be no more
your light by day,
nor for brightness shall the moon
give you light;
but the LORD will be your everlasting light,
and your God will be your glory.
20 Your sun shall no more go down,
nor your moon withdraw itself;
for the LORD will be your everlasting light,
and your days of mourning shall be ended.
21 Your people shall all be righteous;
they shall possess the land forever,
the branch of my planting, the work of my hands,
that I might be glorified.
22 The least one shall become a clan,
and the smallest one a mighty nation;
I am the LORD;
in its time I will hasten it.
The Year of the LORD’s Favor
Video Isaiah 61 1 The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me,
because the LORD has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor;
he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives,
and the opening of the prison to those who are bound;
2 to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor,
and the day of vengeance of our God;
to comfort all who mourn;
3 to grant to those who mourn in Zion—
to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness instead of mourning,
the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit;
that they may be called oaks of righteousness,
the planting of the LORD, that he may be glorified.
4 They shall build up the ancient ruins;
they shall raise up the former devastations;
they shall repair the ruined cities,
the devastations of many generations.
5 Strangers shall stand and tend your flocks;
foreigners shall be your plowmen and vinedressers;
6 but you shall be called the priests of the LORD;
they shall speak of you as the ministers of our God;
you shall eat the wealth of the nations,
and in their glory you shall boast.
7 Instead of your shame there shall be a double portion;
instead of dishonor they shall rejoice in their lot;
therefore in their land they shall possess a double portion;
they shall have everlasting joy.
8 For I the LORD love justice;
I hate robbery and wrong;
I will faithfully give them their recompense,
and I will make an everlasting covenant with them.
9 Their offspring shall be known among the nations,
and their descendants in the midst of the peoples;
all who see them shall acknowledge them,
that they are an offspring the LORD has blessed.
10 I will greatly rejoice in the LORD;
my soul shall exult in my God,
for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation;
he has covered me with the robe of righteousness,
as a bridegroom decks himself like a priest with a beautiful headdress,
and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
11 For as the earth brings forth its sprouts,
and as a garden causes what is sown in it to sprout up,
so the Lord GOD will cause righteousness and praise
to sprout up before all the nations.
Zion’s Coming Salvation
Video Isaiah 62 1 For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent,
and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not be quiet,
until her righteousness goes forth as brightness,
and her salvation as a burning torch.
2 The nations shall see your righteousness,
and all the kings your glory,
and you shall be called by a new name
that the mouth of the LORD will give.
3 You shall be a crown of beauty in the hand of the LORD,
and a royal diadem in the hand of your God.
4 You shall no more be termed Forsaken,
and your land shall no more be termed Desolate,
but you shall be called My Delight Is in Her,
and your land Married;
for the LORD delights in you,
and your land shall be married.
5 For as a young man marries a young woman,
so shall your sons marry you,
and as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride,
so shall your God rejoice over you.
6 On your walls, O Jerusalem,
I have set watchmen;
all the day and all the night
they shall never be silent.
You who put the LORD in remembrance,
take no rest,
7 and give him no rest
until he establishes Jerusalem
and makes it a praise in the earth.
8 The LORD has sworn by his right hand
and by his mighty arm:
“I will not again give your grain
to be food for your enemies,
and foreigners shall not drink your wine
for which you have labored;
9 but those who garner it shall eat it
and praise the LORD,
and those who gather it shall drink it
in the courts of my sanctuary.”
10 Go through, go through the gates;
prepare the way for the people;
build up, build up the highway;
clear it of stones;
lift up a signal over the peoples.
11 Behold, the LORD has proclaimed
to the end of the earth:
Say to the daughter of Zion,
“Behold, your salvation comes;
behold, his reward is with him,
and his recompense before him.”
12 And they shall be called The Holy People,
The Redeemed of the LORD;
and you shall be called Sought Out,
A City Not Forsaken.
The LORD’s Day of Vengeance
Video Isaiah 63 1 Who is this who comes from Edom,
in crimsoned garments from Bozrah,
he who is splendid in his apparel,
marching in the greatness of his strength?
“It is I, speaking in righteousness,
mighty to save.”
2 Why is your apparel red,
and your garments like his who treads in the winepress?
3 “I have trodden the winepress alone,
and from the peoples no one was with me;
I trod them in my anger
and trampled them in my wrath;
their lifeblood spattered on my garments,
and stained all my apparel.
4 For the day of vengeance was in my heart,
and my year of redemption had come.
5 I looked, but there was no one to help;
I was appalled, but there was no one to uphold;
so my own arm brought me salvation,
and my wrath upheld me.
6 I trampled down the peoples in my anger;
I made them drunk in my wrath,
and I poured out their lifeblood on the earth.”
The LORD’s Mercy Remembered
7 I will recount the steadfast love of the LORD,
the praises of the LORD,
according to all that the LORD has granted us,
and the great goodness to the house of Israel
that he has granted them according to his compassion,
according to the abundance of his steadfast love.
8 For he said, “Surely they are my people,
children who will not deal falsely.”
And he became their Savior.
9 In all their affliction he was afflicted,
and the angel of his presence saved them;
in his love and in his pity he redeemed them;
he lifted them up and carried them all the days of old.
10 But they rebelled
and grieved his Holy Spirit;
therefore he turned to be their enemy,
and himself fought against them.
11 Then he remembered the days of old,
of Moses and his people.
Where is he who brought them up out of the sea
with the shepherds of his flock?
Where is he who put in the midst of them
his Holy Spirit,
12 who caused his glorious arm
to go at the right hand of Moses,
who divided the waters before them
to make for himself an everlasting name,
13 who led them through the depths?
Like a horse in the desert,
they did not stumble.
14 Like livestock that go down into the valley,
the Spirit of the LORD gave them rest.
So you led your people,
to make for yourself a glorious name.
Prayer for Mercy
15 Look down from heaven and see,
from your holy and beautiful habitation.
Where are your zeal and your might?
The stirring of your inner parts and your compassion
are held back from me.
16 For you are our Father,
though Abraham does not know us,
and Israel does not acknowledge us;
you, O LORD, are our Father,
our Redeemer from of old is your name.
17 O LORD, why do you make us wander from your ways
and harden our heart, so that we fear you not?
Return for the sake of your servants,
the tribes of your heritage.
18 Your holy people held possession for a little while;
our adversaries have trampled down your sanctuary.
19 We have become like those over whom you have never ruled,
like those who are not called by your name.
English Standard Version Bible with Apocrypha
Devotionals, notes, poetry and more
(Oct 10) Bob Gass
‘You can trust a friend who corrects you.’
(Pr 27:6) 6 Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy. ESV
Here are two ‘superglue’ qualities that can permanently cement any friendship: honesty and loyalty. The Bible says, ‘You can trust a friend who corrects you, but kisses from an enemy are nothing but lies.’ A real friend may upset you by telling you the truth, but he or she will tell you the truth nonetheless. They may not always tell you what you want to hear, but if they truly love you, they’ll tell you what you need to hear. In the short run it may hurt, but in the long run it will help you. When you want to measure a relationship to determine whether it qualifies as a genuine friendship, here are two questions you should ask the other person: 1) Can I trust you enough to be totally honest with me? 2) Can I trust you enough to be totally honest with you? Only a true friendship expects and can survive such mutual honesty. The other quality involved in keeping a friend is loyalty. ‘There is a friend who sticks closer than a brother’ (Proverbs 18:24 NKJV). The word stick refers to how skin sticks to the bone. It’s a poignant picture of just how closely knit one friend should be to another. Loyalty is the one thing a person should never have to question about his or her friend. A true friend will always be your defence lawyer before he or she becomes your judge. There’s no such thing as ‘a fair-weather friend’. You don’t need friends in fair weather; you need them when the weather gets nasty. A fair-weather friend is no friend at all.
2 Thess 3
UCB The Word For Today
by Bill Federer
Just two days before Columbus sighted land, his men were on the verge of mutiny. They had sailed the longest voyage ever out of the sight of land and wanting to turn back. The entry in Columbus’ Journal, October 10, 1492, stated: “Here the people could stand it no longer and complained of the long voyage; but the Admiral cheered them as best he could, holding out good hope of the advantages they would have. He added that it was useless to complain. He had come to the Indies, and so had to continue it until he found them, with the help of Our Lord.”
by P.T. Forsyth, (1848-1921)
To cultivate the ceaseless spirit of prayer, use more frequent acts of prayer. To learn to pray with freedom, force yourself to pray. The great liberty begins in necessity.
Do not say, “I cannot pray, I am not in the spirit.” Pray till you are in the spirit. Think of analogies from lower levels. Sometimes when you need rest most you are too restless to lie down and take it. Then compel yourself to lie down, and to lie still. Often in ten minutes the compulsion fades into consent, and you sleep, and rise a new man.
Again, it is often hard enough to take up the task which in half an hour you enjoy. It is often against the grain to turn out of an Evening to meet the friends you promised. But once you are in their midst you are in your element.
Sometimes, again, you say, “I will not go to church. I do not feel that way.” That is where the habit of an ordered religious life comes in aid. Religion is the last region for chance desires. Do it as a duty, and it may open out as a blessing. Omit it, and you may miss the one thing that would have made an eternal difference. You stroll instead, and return with nothing but appetite—when you might have come back with an inspiration. Compel yourself to meet your God as you would meet your promises, your obligations, your fellow men.
So if you are averse to pray, pray the more. Do not call it lip-service. That is not the lip-service God disowns. It is His Spirit acting in your self-coercive will, only not yet in your heart. What is unwelcome to God is lip-service which is untroubled at not being more. As appetite comes with eating, so prayer with praying. Our hearts learn the language of the lips.
Compel yourself often to shape on your lips the detailed needs of your soul. It is not needful to inform God, but to deepen you, to inform yourself before God, to enrich that intimacy with ourself which is so necessary to answer the intimacy of God. To common sense the fact that God knows all we need, and wills us all good, the fact of His infinite Fatherhood, is a reason for not praying. Why tell Him what He knows? Why ask what He is more than willing to give? But to Christian faith and to spiritual reason it is just the other way. Asking is polar cooperation. Jesus turned the fact to a use exactly the contrary of its deistic sense. He made the all-knowing Fatherhood the ground of true prayer. We do not ask as beggars but as children. Petition is not mere receptivity, nor is it mere pressure; it is filial reciprocity. Love loves to be told what it knows already. Every lover knows that. It wants to be asked for what it longs to give. And that is the principle of prayer to the all-knowing Love. As God knows all, you may reckon that your brief and humble prayer will be understood (Matt. vi. 8). It will be taken up into the intercession of the Spirit stripped of its dross, its inadequacy made good, and presented as prayer should be. That is praying in the Holy Ghost. Where should you carry your burden but to the Father, where Christ took the burden of all the world? We tell God, the heart searcher, our heavy thoughts to escape from brooding over them. “When my spirit was overwhelmed within me, Thou knewest my path.” (Ps. cxlii. 3). So Paul says the Spirit intercedes for us and gives our broken prayer divine effect (Rom. viii. 26). To be sure of God’s sympathy is to be inspired to prayer, where His mere knowledge would crush it. There is no father who would be satisfied that his son should take everything and ask for nothing. It would be thankless. To cease asking is to cease to be grateful. And what kills petition kills praise.
--- Forsyth, P. T. (1848-1921).
The Soul of Prayer
Compiled by Richard S. Adams
And God has set up prayer in such a way that,
if you want to explain it away, you can.
That's the human mind.
God set it up like that for a reason,
which is this:
God ordained that people should be governed
in the end by what they want.
--- Dallas Willard
As a moth gnaws a garment, so doth envy consume a [person].
--- John Chrysostom
We have heard in these days a blasphemer stand on a public platform and say, “There is no God, and if there is a God,” taking out his watch, “let him strike me dead in five minutes.” When he still found himself alive, he argued that there was no God. The fact was, God was much too great to be put out of patience by such an insignificant wretch as he.
--- Charles Spurgeon
... from here, there and everywhere
Thanks to Meir Yona
Containing The Interval Of About One Month. From The Great Extremity To Which The Jews Were Reduced To The Taking Of Jerusalem By Titus.
That The Miseries Still Grew Worse; And How The Romans Made An Assault Upon The Tower Of Antonia.
1. Thus did the miseries of Jerusalem grow worse and worse every day, and the seditious were still more irritated by the calamities they were under, even while the famine preyed upon themselves, after it had preyed upon the people. And indeed the multitude of carcasses that lay in heaps one upon another was a horrible sight, and produced a pestilential stench, which was a hinderance to those that would make sallies out of the city, and fight the enemy: but as those were to go in battle-array, who had been already used to ten thousand murders, and must tread upon those dead bodies as they marched along, so were not they terrified, nor did they pity men as they marched over them; nor did they deem this affront offered to the deceased to be any ill omen to themselves; but as they had their right hands already polluted with the murders of their own countrymen, and in that condition ran out to fight with foreigners, they seem to me to have cast a reproach upon God himself, as if he were too slow in punishing them; for the war was not now gone on with as if they had any hope of victory; for they gloried after a brutish manner in that despair of deliverance they were already in. And now the Romans, although they were greatly distressed in getting together their materials, raised their banks in one and twenty days, after they had cut down all the trees that were in the country that adjoined to the city, and that for ninety furlongs round about, as I have already related. And truly the very view itself of the country was a melancholy thing; for those places which were before adorned with trees and pleasant gardens were now become a desolate country every way, and its trees were all cut down: nor could any foreigner that had formerly seen Judea and the most beautiful suburbs of the city, and now saw it as a desert, but lament and mourn sadly at so great a change: for the war had laid all the signs of beauty quite waste: nor if any one that had known the place before, had come on a sudden to it now, would he have known it again; but though he were at the city itself, yet would he have inquired for it notwithstanding.
2. And now the banks were finished, they afforded a foundation for fear both to the Romans and to the Jews; for the Jews expected that the city would be taken, unless they could burn those banks, as did the Romans expect that, if these were once burnt down, they should never be able to take it; for there was a mighty scarcity of materials, and the bodies of the soldiers began to fail with such hard labors, as did their souls faint with so many instances of ill success; nay, the very calamities themselves that were in the city proved a greater discouragement to the Romans than those within the city; for they found the fighting men of the Jews to be not at all mollified among such their sore afflictions, while they had themselves perpetually less and less hopes of success, and their banks were forced to yield to the stratagems of the enemy, their engines to the firmness of their wall, and their closest fights to the boldness of their attack; and, what was their greatest discouragement of all, they found the Jews' courageous souls to be superior to the multitude of the miseries they were under, by their sedition, their famine, and the war itself; insomuch that they were ready to imagine that the violence of their attacks was invincible, and that the alacrity they showed would not be discouraged by their calamities; for what would not those be able to bear if they should be fortunate, who turned their very misfortunes to the improvement of their valor! These considerations made the Romans to keep a stronger guard about their banks than they formerly had done.
3. But now John and his party took care for securing themselves afterward, even in case this wall should be thrown down, and fell to their work before the battering rams were brought against them. Yet did they not compass what they endeavored to do, but as they were gone out with their torches, they came back under great discouragement before they came near to the banks; and the reasons were these: that, in the first place, their conduct did not seem to be unanimous, but they went out in distinct parties, and at distinct intervals, and after a slow manner, and timorously, and, to say all in a word, without a Jewish courage; for they were now defective in what is peculiar to our nation, that is, in boldness, in violence of assault, and in running upon the enemy all together, and in persevering in what they go about, though they do not at first succeed in it; but they now went out in a more languid manner than usual, and at the same time found the Romans set in array, and more courageous than ordinary, and that they guarded their banks both with their bodies and their entire armor, and this to such a degree on all sides, that they left no room for the fire to get among them, and that every one of their souls was in such good courage, that they would sooner die than desert their ranks; for besides their notion that all their hopes were cut off, in case these their works were once burnt, the soldiers were greatly ashamed that subtlety should quite be too hard for courage, madness for armor, multitude for skill, and Jews for Romans. The Romans had now also another advantage, in that their engines for sieges co-operated with them in throwing darts and stones as far as the Jews, when they were coming out of the city; whereby the man that fell became an impediment to him that was next to him, as did the danger of going farther make them less zealous in their attempts; and for those that had run under the darts, some of them were terrified by the good order and closeness of the enemies' ranks before they came to a close fight, and others were pricked with their spears, and turned back again; at length they reproached one another for their cowardice, and retired without doing any thing. This attack was made upon the first day of the month Panemus [Tamuz.] So when the Jews were retreated, the Romans brought their engines, although they had all the while stones thrown at them from the tower of Antonia, and were assaulted by fire and sword, and by all sorts of darts, which necessity afforded the Jews to make use of; for although these had great dependence on their own wall, and a contempt of the Roman engines, yet did they endeavor to hinder the Romans from bringing them. Now these Romans struggled hard, on the contrary, to bring them, as deeming that this zeal of the Jews was in order to avoid any impression to be made on the tower of Antonia, because its wall was but weak, and its foundations rotten. However, that tower did not yield to the blows given it from the engines; yet did the Romans bear the impressions made by the enemies' darts which were perpetually cast at them, and did not give way to any of those dangers that came upon them from above, and so they brought their engines to bear. But then, as they were beneath the other, and were sadly wounded by the stones thrown down upon them, some of them threw their shields over their bodies, and partly with their hands, and partly with their bodies, and partly with crows, they undermined its foundations, and with great pains they removed four of its stones. Then night came upon both sides, and put an end to this struggle for the present; however, that night the wall was so shaken by the battering rams in that place where John had used his stratagem before, and had undermined their banks, that the ground then gave way, and the wall fell down suddenly.
The War of the Jews: The History of the Destruction of Jerusalem (complete edition, 7 books)
by D.H. Stern
and a stone will come back on the one who starts it rolling.
28 A lying tongue hates its victims,
and a flattering mouth causes ruin.
Complete Jewish Bible : An English Version of the Tanakh (Old Testament) and B'Rit Hadashah (New Testament)
A Daily Devotional by Oswald Chambers
Whereby shall I know?
I thank Thee, O Father, … because Thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes. --- Matthew 11:25.
In spiritual relationships we do not grow step by step, we are either there or we are not. God does not cleanse us more and more from sin, but when we are in the light, walking in the light, we are cleansed from all sin. It is a question of obedience, and instantly the relationship is perfected. Turn away for one second out of obedience, and darkness and death are at work at once.
All God’s revelations are sealed until they are opened to us by obedience. You will never get them open by philosophy or thinking. Immediately you obey, a flash of light comes. Let God’s truth work in you by soaking in it, not by worrying into it. The only way you can get to know is to stop trying to find out and by being born again. Obey God in the thing He shows you, and instantly the next thing is opened up. We read tomes on the work of the Holy Spirit, when one five minutes of drastic obedience would make things as clear as a sunbeam. ‘I suppose I shall understand these things some day!’ You can understand them now. It is not study that does it, but obedience. The tiniest fragment of obedience, and heaven opens and the profoundest truths of God are yours straight away. God will never reveal more truth about Himself until you have obeyed what you know already. Beware of becoming “wise and prudent.”
My Utmost for His Highest: Quality Paperback Edition
the Poetry of R.S. Thomas
The Earth Does Its Best For Him
The paintings are under glass,
or in dry rooms it is difficult
to breathe in; they are tired
of returning the hard stare
of eyes. The sculptures are smooth
from familiarity. There is a smell
of dust, the precipitation
of culture from dead skies.
I return to Lleyn,
repository of the condescension
of time. Through the car's
open windows the scent of hay
comes. It is incense, the seasonally
renewed offering of the live earth.
Selected poems, 1946-1968
Maimonides: Torah and Philosophic Quest
The fourth option regarding this conflict is one in which the individual takes both knowledge-claims seriously: the religious as grounded in revelation and in traditional authority, and the human as grounded in reason. He does not assume an either/or posture. He refuses to believe that man must choose between God’s mind and his own. “Your thoughts are not my thoughts” does not lead irrevocably to the complete severance of religious knowledge-claims and rational human-claims; it does not imply the impossibility of common areas of discourse.
Divine revelation need not be in discord with human understanding. In fact where they share a common domain, in principle, they are never in discord. Man’s rationality participates in the divine system of knowledge. There are not two truths.
This participation does not mean that man can grasp all that the divine mind knows. But to say that man does not know all that God knows is not to say that the divine mind can know, as truth, that which the human mind knows to be false. The two minds do not contradict one another. To say that God’s thoughts are not human thoughts is only to admit the limits of human understanding, and does not imply that the two contradict each other. The statement merely denies any claim of the human mind ultimately to judge what may count as true and as false. The human mind is not the sole source of knowledge. There are limits to human comprehension. Nevertheless, that which stretches beyond the limits of human understanding does not negate that which is within its limits. That which the human mind knows to be logically impossible from within its sphere of competence cannot be proven logically possible by the claim that the divine mind knows it to be true.
The human mind is prepared to admit limitations and yet claim absolute sovereignty within the legitimate scope of its understanding. This paradoxical gesture which admits both the absolute competence and limitations of human rationality is always operative within the fourth option—the way of integration—a gesture which may be called restrained self-confidence. Revelation, as mediated through the tradition, does not cause the individual to doubt that which can be known within the human sphere. He feels confident that he can maintain a posture of critical loyalty to the tradition because he knows that the tradition encourages and values the use of human reason. God does not play tricks nor does He deceive the human mind. God cannot square the circle. God cannot make possible that which is logically impossible. It is the human mind which defines the logically impossible that God’s mind never violates. The same logical rules that apply to human understanding apply to the divine mind as well. The individual within this fourth, integrative, option applies the principle of limit, which is not a principle of negation, to the religious knowledge-claims of his tradition.
When the individual discovers apparent contradictions between the claims of revelation and the claims of reason, does he doubt his own system of reasoning or the claims of tradition? He knows that what he knows is true. He knows that his religious posture does not demand of him to doubt his own mind’s rational credentials. If truth is not determined exclusively by tradition then he can demand that tradition make itself intelligible within the categories of the established truths of reason.
The fourth way makes possible an integration between the claims of tradition and the claims of reason by expanding the possible meanings of religious language to include symbolic meaning. A literal understanding of one’s religious language limits the possibility of its being modified by new intellectual claims. The key epistemological criteria used to determine whether one is to read the language literally or symbolically are defined by the claims of reason. Rational demonstrative truth has the power to alter the literal meaning of religious language. However in order for a reevaluation of religious language to be in harmony with tradition, and in order that it not appear as a total distortion, one must demonstrate that tradition itself justifies the use of symbolic interpretation. Unless the tradition has within it the category of symbolic language and an awareness that religious language can be understood in multiple ways, the encounter between demonstrative truth and tradition forces a total abandonment of the latter. In order to feel that the reevaluation is itself a traditional mode of understanding, one must show that the tradition has built into it the awareness that its own language can be taken symbolically.
The way of integration cannot be used by individuals who choose the first two options because they separate the individual’s trust of his own mind from his loyalty to community. In the first option, community defines the individual’s life; in the second, the individual and community reflect incompatible life-styles. The emphasis upon individual self-realization demands the severance of social excellence from individual perfection.
The way of integration requires not only a cognitive reinterpretation of tradition, but a recognition that the community itself points to the goal of individual excellence, a recognition that the normative system of the community encourages individuals to move ahead according to their spiritual capacities. What is involved in the way of integration, therefore, is a total attempt to reconstruct the meaning of the normative system. If the normative system does not point to individual excellence, then the way of integration has failed. The individual will still be acting within communal rather than individual categories.
The way of integration rejects the first option not only for its insistence on tradition as the criterion of truth, but for its concomitant behavioral emphasis on submission to authority. For the first option to succeed, for one to believe that the tradition claims both the actions and thoughts of an individual, one’s own understanding must not be allowed to question the criteria and content of tradition, as mediated through community. One must have an obedient nature to admit that authority defines truth. To encourage this total regard for authority, the tradition must develop the capacity for obedience through its norms. If, however, the individual is encouraged to think, and if the mind’s discovery of demonstrative truths is considered sufficient reason for rethinking the tradition, then something is set in motion. This is the individual who does not look upon obedience as the highest virtue, but recognizes that to understand is greater than to obey. The trust in human reason creates a new relationship to God: love based upon understanding. The way of integration will not revel in norms that are not reasonable, nor consider the soul to be spiritually nurtured when it is obedient to that which it doesn’t understand. On the contrary, actions which grow from understanding will be seen as the highest level of religious achievement.
A whole new way of life emerges when we maintain that community does not define the contents of truth. A whole new person emerges when one is encouraged to explore freely in the world of nature and to discover truths which are demonstrable to all men, and when traditional authority must justify itself to all rational creatures by rational method. Once tradition needs to justify itself in the court of universal reason, it can no longer demand obedience to itself as the highest virtue nor can it regard such obedience as the way to spiritual excellence. Obedience is the method which a community can use if it insists that it alone has the truth and does not have to justify or to explain itself in categories and to people outside the tradition. Arguments from authority presuppose acceptance of the authority which derives in turn from a loyalty to the community which legitimates that authority.
He who lives within the way of integration will attempt to discover methods of making his tradition intelligible within a universal framework of intelligibility. To the degree that one can render one’s tradition comprehensible to all people, to that degree one can argue that the way of reason and the way of tradition are harmonious. Even those areas which manifest the particular life-style of the tradition will be interpreted within categories that are intelligible to all reasonable men. It is not enough that the knowledge-claims of tradition be in harmony with universal claims of knowledge; the way of integration strives to make the practice of tradition comprehensible and meaningful to all men.
One last feature of the way of integration must be emphasized. As mentioned, the way of integration strives to harmonize reason and tradition within a framework of mutual enrichment. The spiritual values that the tradition holds to be important become enhanced through the way of reason. Reason provides both a guide to knowledge-claims within the tradition and an opportunity for the individual to realize the goal which the tradition holds to be important. The growth of knowledge moves one to a deeper understanding of the tradition; the goals which are present within the way of reason take on new dimensions as a result of the tradition.
There are trends within modern approaches to Maimonides which suggest that his thought should be understood from the perspective of dualism. Isaac Husik and Leo Strauss divide the works of Maimonides into two distinct parts: the philosophical, exemplified by The guide for the perplexed, and the legal, The Commentary to the Mishnah and the Mishneh Torah.
According to Husik, Maimonides never intended to communicate philosophy to those who were engaged in the study of law. Students of the Talmud were never bothered with the implications of philosophic thought:
Maimonides did not write his philosophy for the masses, nor did he compose his Guide of the Perplexed for the simple and the pious, though learned, students of the Talmud and the other rabbinic literature. They were satisfied with their simple faith, and Maimonides was not interested in disturbing it. For them he composed his Yad ha-Ḥazakah, the code of the rabbinic law. (I. Husik, The philosophy of Maimonides, (Maimonides octocentennial series))
According to Husik, Maimonides wrote two major legal works, which occupied most of his lifetime, in order to teach people with simple faith how to conduct their lives. Their minds were too naive to be bothered by the speculative problems of philosophy; these are the concern of the student of the Guide, and are not to be discovered in Maimonides’ legal writings. Husik believes, that in the Guide, Maimonides shows his true self, i.e., his Aristotelianism. The theoretical interests of Maimonides, however, run into conflict when he tries to apply Aristotelianism to specific Jewish concerns:
As we approach those problems in which the human interest is very strong and particularly as we draw nearer to specifically Jewish doctrines, we shall find that the measure of inconsistency increases, threatening to disrupt the entire system. The theoretical and practical parts of Maimonides’ teachings do not hang together satisfactorily. (I. Husik, The philosophy of Maimonides, (Maimonides octocentennial series))
Torah, with its concern for the way an individual acts before his God, cannot be integrated with a conception of the world that is concerned with the development of theoretical perfection. Husik marvels that Maimonides did not recognize the fundamental incompatibility between Aristotelianism and Torah:
Maimonides is an Aristotelian, and he endeavors to harmonize the intellectualism and theorism of the Stagirite with the diametrically opposed ethics and religion of the Hebrew Bible. And he is apparently unaware of the yawning gulf extending between them. The ethics of the Bible is nothing if not practical. No stress is laid upon knowledge and theoretical speculation as such.… That the pentateuchal law is solely concerned with practical conduct—religious, ceremonial, and moral—needs no saying. It is so absolutely clear and evident that one wonders how so clear-sighted a thinker like Maimonides could have been misled by the authority of Aristotle and the intellectual atmosphere of the day to imagine otherwise. (Husik, A History Of Mediaeval Jewish Philosophy)
Husik does not question the Aristotelian models of theoretical and practical virtue from which he tries to understand Maimonides. What he does question is Maimonides’ “naive” belief that Aristotelianism can live together with Torah. A further illustration of this approach can be found in an article by Harry Wolfson on Judah Halevi and Maimonides:
Maimonides was not a rabbi employing Greek logic and categories of thought in order to interpret Jewish religion; he was rather a true medieval Aristotelian using Jewish religion as an illustration of the Stagirite’s metaphysical supremacy. Maimonides adheres staunchly to the Law, of course, but his adherence is not the logical consequence of his system. It has its basis in his heredity and practical interests; it is not the logical implication of his philosophy. Judaism designated the established social order of life, in which Maimonides lived and moved and had his being; and it was logically as remote from his intellectual interests as he was historically remote from Aristotle. That, naturally, he was unaware of the dualism must be clear. Indeed he thought he had made a synthesis and had given scientific demonstrations of poetic conceptions. Therein he was like the Italian priest and astronomer, Pietro Angelo Secchi, who, while performing his religious services, dropped Copernican astronomy, and while in the observatory, dropped his church doctrines. Maimonides really saw no incompatibility between his Judaism and his philosophy; he was a Jew in letter and a philosopher in spirit throughout his life. (H. A. Wolfson, Maimonides and Halevi: a study in typical Jewish attitudes towards Greek philosophy in the Middles Ages)
Leo Strauss follows the approach of bifurcating Maimonides’ legal work from his philosophical work. (STUDIES IN MYSTICISM AND RELIGION, PRESENTED TO GERSHOM G. SCHOLEM ON HIS SEVENTIETH BIRTHDAY BY PUPILS, COLLEAGUES AND FRIENDS = MEHKARIM BA-KABALAH UVE-TOLDOT HA-DATOT, MUGASHIM LE-GERSHOM SHALOM BI-MELOT LO SHIV`IM SHANAH) His effort at showing that the Guide, as opposed to the Mishneh Torah, reflects the true opinions of Maimonides is just a further elaboration, although a more sophisticated one, of the view that Maimonides separated theoretical from practical virtue. The relationship of Torah to philosophy must be understood, according to Strauss, in only one direction. Law aims at establishing the proper political order through which the philosopher is able to realize his individual quest for theoretical perfection. Just as a healthy body is a necessary condition for a healthy mind, so too is Torah a necessary condition for the establishment of a healthy political state. The creation of this healthy community is only a means to the further end of theoretical perfection.
The law of Sinai is a necessary station on the road leading to theoretical perfection. Once the individual enters into the domain of theoretical reason he never again reconsiders the meaning of his Torah observance. He goes through the required motions of political man: he obeys the law, but he knows that his true identity is defined by his quest for theoretical perfection.
According to Strauss, Maimonides’ insistence that the law commands us to philosophize is only a clever political ruse used to safeguard the philosopher from persecution. In order for a Jew to philosophize he must first gain approval and legitimacy from a legal system which has no use for philosophy. (ASIN: B005CIEPEM) To obviate the danger to Maimonides the Philosopher, Maimonides the Judge must show that the Torah commands one to philosophize. The community, however, must not be allowed to know Maimonides the Philosopher, but only Maimonides the observant Judge, for if it discovers the true opinions of Maimonides the Philosopher, it will recognize the fraud that Maimonides the Judge has perpetrated upon it. (STUDIES IN MYSTICISM AND RELIGION, PRESENTED TO GERSHOM G. SCHOLEM ON HIS SEVENTIETH BIRTHDAY BY PUPILS, COLLEAGUES AND FRIENDS = MEHKARIM BA-KABALAH UVE-TOLDOT HA-DATOT, MUGASHIM LE-GERSHOM SHALOM BI-MELOT LO SHIV`IM SHANAH)
This dichotomy in Maimonides (judge-philosopher) explains the esoteric and exoteric character of his writings:
Exoteric literature presupposes that there are basic truths which would not be pronounced in public by any decent man because they would do harm to many people who, having been hurt, would naturally be inclined to hurt in turn him who pronounces the unpleasant truths.
According to Strauss, Maimonides writes in his legal work as a responsible judge for a community whose beliefs he rejects as a philosopher. In describing Maimonides, one must always distinguish between these two roles. What Maimonides qua philosopher says he will never, qua judge, admit. The philosopher-king of Plato, as understood by al-Farabi, is the model from which Strauss studies Maimonides’ understanding of the Torah.
Maimonides’ concern for Torah is to be understood within the model of political philosophy:
The exoteric teaching was needed for protecting philosophy. It was the armor in which philosophy had to appear. It was needed for political reasons. It was the form in which philosophy became visible to the political community.
Both Plato and Maimonides aimed at establishing a society which would not persecute those who strove for theoretical perfection. The philosopher-king knows that in order to maintain the well-being of the political state, it may be necessary to perpetuate noble lies; similarly, Maimonides, the Platonist, perpetuates noble myths, such as messianism, God of history, and reward and punishment, in order to harness the society and to motivate the members within it to be obedient to the law.
The political aspect of the Torah will be supported by beliefs which are untrue but necessary for those individuals who are not capable of living the life of a philosopher. The philosopher-king never reveals to the masses what only the few can know. Maimonides’ private speech to his single student in the Guide is never revealed to his public audience in the Mishneh Torah. He knows, however, that the public may read his Guide and discover the private thoughts of the king. Therefore he must write in such a way that only a few will be able to fully understand the Guide.14 One gains the impression from reading Strauss that the importance and excitement of studying Maimonides lies not in what he writes, for there is nothing essentially new in his philosophy that one could not discover in al-Farabi or Aristotle, but in the brilliant way in which Maimonides hides his true thoughts from the Jewish community. The art of his writing reveals to Strauss the essential gap that has always existed between a philosopher who searches for truth, and a society concerned with law and history.
Maimonides’ thought is important if placed within the framework of a sociology of philosophy which does not see the thinker reflecting his community but, rather, focuses on the gap between the individual and the public man. From the writings of Husik and Strauss we do not gain any sense of the Jewish importance of Maimonides’ works. As an Aristotelian, Maimonides contributes nothing to a deeper understanding of Judaism. Maimonides can only teach the believing Jew who has studied philosophy that his religious practices need not conflict with that study. He in no way shows how commitment to Torah can be deepened by philosophy. As long as the Jew needs to be a member of his society it is important for him to observe the law. His Torah observance continues as an appendage to his private Hellenistic spiritual development.
The approaches of Husik and Strauss to Maimonides reflect their understanding of the either/or decision that an individual must make regarding the conflict of reason and revelation. Either one chooses to be an Orthodox Jew who believes in revelation in a fundamentalist fashion, or one becomes an Aristotelian. Either one accepts the way of biblical man and learns to obey the will of God, or one follows the path of Greek philosophy and reflects on the wisdom of God. (Between Athens and Jerusalem: Philosophy, Prophecy, and Politics in Leo Strauss's Early Thought (Suny Series in the Thought and Legacy of Leo Strauss))
Athens, which is reason, and Jerusalem, which is revelation, are polarized by such thinkers and one is left with no alternative. As Strauss explicitly states:
Jews of the philosophic competence of Halevi and Maimonides took it for granted that being a Jew and being a philosopher are mutually exclusive.
If Maimonides accepted the virtue of critical rationality and individual excellence, and if he believed that the study of nature could provide one with knowledge of God independent of revelation, he could no longer return to the world view of Jerusalem.
Strauss, unlike Husik, believes that Maimonides was aware of the incompatibility between Jerusalem and Athens. Maimonides knew that he was a political-institutional Jew whose devotion to Torah was based upon practical, political interests which had no relationship to his personal, spiritual quest. Maimonides’ awareness of the incompatibility of being a Jew and a philosopher is the factor responsible for his writing exoteric and esoteric books. Strauss denies any possible philosophical connection between Maimonides’ legal and philosophical writings: These works are so bifurcated that any attempt at unity would be a violation of Maimonides’ true Aristotelianism. (How Farabi Read Plato's Laws)
The chapters that follow seek to prove that Maimonides chose the way of integration, and that his total philosophical endeavor was an attempt to show how the free search for truth, established through the study of logic, physics, and metaphysics, can live harmoniously with a way of life defined by the normative tradition of Judaism. The primacy of action is not weakened by the contemplative ideal; a deeper purpose for the normative structure is realized instead once the philosophic way is followed. The contemplative ideal is not insulated from Halakhah, but affects it in a new manner. Sinai is not a mere stage in man’s spiritual development, but the ultimate place to which man constantly returns—even when he soars to the heights of metaphysical knowledge.
As noted, the concern for individual excellence is in direct opposition to a world view which emphasizes the ideal of a holy people. Therefore, the relationship of philosophy to Halakhah as it bears directly upon the question of the individual and community in Maimonidean thought must be considered. The claim that Maimonides attempted an integration of philosophy and the teachings of his tradition will rest upon an analysis of the manner in which he established a genuine harmony between commitment to community and intellectual love of God.
Maimonides: Torah and Philosophic Quest
And Mary said: “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.” --- Luke 1:46–47.
Let us sing, first, because singing is the natural language of joy. Spurgeon's Sermons on Old Testament Women, Vol. 1: (C. H. Spurgeon Sermon Series) Are the jubilant songs all made for the ungodly and the dirges for us? Are they to lift high the festive strain and we to be satisfied with the “Dead March” or some such melancholy music as that? No, friends, if they have joy, much more have we. Their joy is like the crackling of thorns under a pot, but ours is the shining of a star that never will be quenched. Let us sing then, for our joy abounds and abides. When warriors win victories, they shout; haven’t we won victories through Jesus Christ our Lord? When people celebrate their festivals, they sing; are there any festivals equal to ours—our paschal supper, our passage of the Red Sea, our jubilee, our expectation of the coronation of our King, our hymn of victory over all the host of hell? Oh, surely, if the children of earth sing, the children of heaven ought to sing far more often, far more loudly, far more harmoniously than they do.
Let us sing, too, because singing is the language of heaven. It’s thus that they express themselves up yonder. Many of the songs and other sounds of earth never penetrate beyond the clouds. Sighs and groans and clamors have never reached those regions of serenity and purity, but they do sing there. Heaven is the home of sacred song, and we are the children of heaven. Heaven’s light is in us; heaven’s smile is on us; heaven’s all belongs to us.
Let us also sing because singing is sweet to the ear of God. I venture to say that even the song of birds is sweet to him, for in Psalm 104 where it is written, “May the LORD rejoice in his works” (v. 31), it is also mentioned the birds “sing among the branches” (v. 12). Is there anything sweeter in this world than to wake up about four or five o’clock in the Morning, just at this time of the year, and hear the birds singing as if they would burst their little throats and pouring out, in a contest of sweetness, their little hearts in joyous song? I believe that, in the wild places of the earth where no human foot has ever defiled the soil, God loves to walk. When I have been alone among the fir trees, inhaling their fragrance, or have wandered up the hill where the loudest voice could not be answered by another voice for no one was there, I have felt that God was there and that he loved to listen to the song of birds that he had created. Yes, even the harshly croaking ravens he hears when they cry.
--- C. H. Spurgeon
Take Heart: Daily Devotions with the Church's Great Preachers
Sixty Ounces of Blood
Little is known of the early life of Sir Archibald Johnston, otherwise known as Lord Warriston. He grew up in seventeenth-century Scotland and became active in the Scottish government and in Presbyterian church life, rising to a position of great respect. His mind was as sharp as any on the British islands, and he witnessed freely to world leaders of his faith. During the Puritan revolt, he sided with Cromwell as King Charles I was deposed and executed. When Charles II restored the British monarchy in 1660, Johnston found himself in danger; and on October 10, 1660 he was pronounced a condemned fugitive.
Johnston fled to the Continent, but while there became sick. As it happened, one of King Charles’s physicians, Dr. Bates, attended him. Intending to kill him, Dr. Bates injected him with poison and drew from him sixty ounces of blood. While Johnston didn’t die, he was permanently impaired in his mind and could never again remember what he had said or done a quarter hour before.
Aided by friends, Johnston fled to France; but Charles’s agents were looking for him there, too, and he was seized while at prayer. In January, 1663, he was returned to England and imprisoned in the Tower of London. At length, he was transported to Edinburgh for execution, though according to his nephew, “he was so disordered in body and mind that it was a reproach to any government to proceed against him.”
He slept well on the night before his execution, and he took his last lunch cheerfully, “hoping to sup in heaven, and to drink the next cup fresh in his Father’s kingdom.” At two o’clock he was taken from the prison to the scaffold. There he pulled a paper from his pocket, being unable to remember what he wanted to say. He read from it front and back; then as if in a rapture, he looked up and prayed: “Abba, Father! Accept this thy poor sinful servant, coming unto thee, through the merits of Jesus Christ.”
He was hanged, and his head was nailed beside that of James Guthrie on Netherbow Port.
Christ died for us at a time when we were helpless and sinful. No one is really willing to die for an honest person, though someone might be willing to die for a truly good person. But God showed how much he loved us by having Christ die for us, even though we were sinful.
--- Romans 5:6-8.
On This Day 365 Amazing And Inspiring Stories About Saints, Martyrs And Heroes
Daily Readings / CHARLES H. SPURGEON
Morning - October 10
“Faultless before the presence of his glory.” --- Jude 24.
Revolve in your mind that wondrous word, “faultless!” We are far off from it now; but as our Lord never stops short of perfection in his work of love, we shall reach it one day. The Saviour who will keep his people to the end, will also present them at last to himself, as “a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing, but holy and without blemish.” All the jewels in the Saviour’s crown are of the first water and without a single flaw. All the maids of honour who attend the Lamb’s wife are pure virgins without spot or stain. But how will Jesus make us faultless? He will wash us from our sins in his own blood until we are white and fair as God’s purest angel; and we shall be clothed in his righteousness, that righteousness which makes the saint who wears it positively faultless; yea, perfect in the sight of God. We shall be unblameable and unreproveable even in his eyes. His law will not only have no charge against us, but it will be magnified in us. Moreover, the work of the Holy Spirit within us will be altogether complete. He will make us so perfectly holy, that we shall have no lingering tendency to sin. Judgment, memory, will—every power and passion shall be emancipated from the thraldom of evil. We shall be holy even as God is holy, and in his presence we shall dwell for ever. Saints will not be out of place in heaven, their beauty will be as great as that of the place prepared for them. Oh the rapture of that hour when the everlasting doors shall be lifted up, and we, being made meet for the inheritance, shall dwell with the saints in light. Sin gone, Satan shut out, temptation past for ever, and ourselves “faultless” before God, this will be heaven indeed! Let us be joyful now as we rehearse the song of eternal praise so soon to roll forth in full chorus from all the blood-washed host; let us copy David’s exultings before the ark as a prelude to our ecstasies before the throne.
Evening - October 10
“And I will deliver thee out of the hand of the wicked, and I will redeem thee out of the hand of the terrible.” --- Jeremiah 15:21.
Note the glorious personality of the promise. I will, I will. The Lord Jehovah himself interposes to deliver and redeem his people. He pledges himself personally to rescue them. His own arm shall do it, that he may have the glory. Here is not a word said of any effort of our own which may be needed to assist the Lord. Neither our strength nor our weakness is taken into the account, but the lone I, like the sun in the heavens, shines out resplendent in all-sufficience. Why then do we calculate our forces, and consult with flesh and blood to our grievous wounding? Jehovah has power enough without borrowing from our puny arm. Peace, ye unbelieving thoughts, be still, and know that the Lord reigneth. Nor is there a hint concerning secondary means and causes. The Lord says nothing of friends and helpers: he undertakes the work alone, and feels no need of human arms to aid him. Vain are all our lookings around to companions and relatives; they are broken reeds if we lean upon them—often unwilling when able, and unable when they are willing. Since the promise comes alone from God, it would be well to wait only upon him; and when we do so, our expectation never fails us. Who are the wicked that we should fear them? The Lord will utterly consume them; they are to be pitied rather than feared. As for terrible ones, they are only terrors to those who have no God to fly to, for when the Lord is on our side, whom shall we fear? If we run into sin to please the wicked, we have cause to be alarmed, but if we hold fast our integrity, the rage of tyrants shall be overruled for our good. When the fish swallowed Jonah, he found him a morsel which he could not digest; and when the world devours the church, it is glad to be rid of it again. In all times of fiery trial, in patience let us possess our souls.
Morning and Evening: A New Edition of the Classic Devotional Based on The Holy Bible, English Standard Version
WORK, FOR THE NIGHT IS COMING
Annie L. Coghill, 1836–1907
As long as it is day, we must do the work of Him who sent Me. Night is coming when no one can work. (John 9:4)
Do not pray for easy lives; pray to be stronger men! Do not pray for tasks equal to your powers. Pray for powers equal to your tasks. Then the doing of your work shall be no miracle, but you shall be a miracle.
--- Phillips Brooks
Diligence is a law of life. We are to put forth our very best effort into whatever work God gives us to do. For the Christian, every occupation is sacred when it is done for God’s glory. What counts in God’s sight is not only the actual work we do, but the attitude with which we do it. The story is told of three men who worked on a large church building, all doing similar tasks. When asked what they were doing, one replied, “I’m making mortar.” Another, “I’m helping put up this great stone wall.” The third, “I’m building a cathedral for God’s glory.” The right attitude makes all the difference.
This hymn, which emphasizes the joy and dignity of work, especially Christian service, was written in 1854 by an 18 year-old Canadian girl, known then as Annie Louise Walker. (Annie married a wealthy merchant, Harry Coghill, in 1883.) Her poem was first published in a Canadian newspaper and later in her own book, Leaves From the Back Woods. Mrs. Coghill eventually attained prominence as a poet and author, producing several volumes which enjoyed wide circulation.
Philosophers and writers have made many profound statements about the intrinsic value of labor; but none has been able to state more simply and meaningfully the joy of being coworkers with God in worthy labor than has Annie Louise Coghill in this hymn text:
Work, for the night is coming. Work thru the Morning hours; work while the dew is sparkling; work ’mid springing flow’rs. Work when the day grows brighter. Work in the glowing sun; work for the night is coming, when man’s work is done.
Work, for the night is coming. Work thru the sunny noon; fill brightest hours with labor—rest comes sure and soon. Give ev’ry flying minute something to keep in store; work for the night is coming when man works no more.
Work, for the night is coming under the sunset skies: While their bright tints are glowing, work, for daylight flies. Work till the last beam fadeth, fadeth to shine no more; work, while the night is dark’ning, when man’s work is o’er.
For Today: Psalm 128:1, 2; Proverbs 6:6; 10:4; Isaiah 21:11; 61:1–3; Romans 10:14,15; Galatians 6:9
John Wesley once said: “Never be unemployed and never be triflingly employed.” See your work as a sacred trust from God. Use this musical reminder ---
Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions
Tuesday, October 10, 2017 | After Pentecost
Proper 22, TUESDAY
Psalms (Morning) (Psalm 120) 121, 122, 123
Psalms (Evening) Psalm 124, 125, 126 (127)
Old Testament 2 Kings 22:1–13
New Testament 1 Corinthians 11:2, 17–22
Gospel Matthew 9:1–8
Index of Readings
(Psalm 120) 121, 122, 123
[ A Song of Ascents.
1 In my distress I cry to the LORD,
that he may answer me:
2 “Deliver me, O LORD,
from lying lips,
from a deceitful tongue.”
3 What shall be given to you?
And what more shall be done to you,
you deceitful tongue?
4 A warrior’s sharp arrows,
with glowing coals of the broom tree!
5 Woe is me, that I am an alien in Meshech,
that I must live among the tents of Kedar.
6 Too long have I had my dwelling
among those who hate peace.
7 I am for peace;
but when I speak,
they are for war. ]
A Song of Ascents.
1 I lift up my eyes to the hills—
from where will my help come?
2 My help comes from the LORD,
who made heaven and earth.
3 He will not let your foot be moved;
he who keeps you will not slumber.
4 He who keeps Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.
5 The LORD is your keeper;
the LORD is your shade at your right hand.
6 The sun shall not strike you by day,
nor the moon by night.
7 The LORD will keep you from all evil;
he will keep your life.
8 The LORD will keep
your going out and your coming in
from this time on and forevermore.
A Song of Ascents. Of David.
1 I was glad when they said to me,
“Let us go to the house of the LORD!”
2 Our feet are standing
within your gates, O Jerusalem.
3 Jerusalem—built as a city
that is bound firmly together.
4 To it the tribes go up,
the tribes of the LORD,
as was decreed for Israel,
to give thanks to the name of the LORD.
5 For there the thrones for judgment were set up,
the thrones of the house of David.
6 Pray for the peace of Jerusalem:
“May they prosper who love you.
7 Peace be within your walls,
and security within your towers.”
8 For the sake of my relatives and friends
I will say, “Peace be within you.”
9 For the sake of the house of the LORD our God,
I will seek your good.
A Song of Ascents.
1 To you I lift up my eyes,
O you who are enthroned in the heavens!
2 As the eyes of servants
look to the hand of their master,
as the eyes of a maid
to the hand of her mistress,
so our eyes look to the LORD our God,
until he has mercy upon us.
3 Have mercy upon us, O LORD, have mercy upon us,
for we have had more than enough of contempt.
4 Our soul has had more than its fill
of the scorn of those who are at ease,
of the contempt of the proud.
Psalm 124, 125, 126 (127)
A Song of Ascents. Of David.
1 If it had not been the LORD who was on our side
—let Israel now say—
2 if it had not been the LORD who was on our side,
when our enemies attacked us,
3 then they would have swallowed us up alive,
when their anger was kindled against us;
4 then the flood would have swept us away,
the torrent would have gone over us;
5 then over us would have gone
the raging waters.
6 Blessed be the LORD,
who has not given us
as prey to their teeth.
7 We have escaped like a bird
from the snare of the fowlers;
the snare is broken,
and we have escaped.
8 Our help is in the name of the LORD,
who made heaven and earth.
A Song of Ascents.
1 Those who trust in the LORD are like Mount Zion,
which cannot be moved, but abides forever.
2 As the mountains surround Jerusalem,
so the LORD surrounds his people,
from this time on and forevermore.
3 For the scepter of wickedness shall not rest
on the land allotted to the righteous,
so that the righteous might not stretch out
their hands to do wrong.
4 Do good, O LORD, to those who are good,
and to those who are upright in their hearts.
5 But those who turn aside to their own crooked ways
the LORD will lead away with evildoers.
Peace be upon Israel!
A Song of Ascents.
1 When the LORD restored the fortunes of Zion,
we were like those who dream.
2 Then our mouth was filled with laughter,
and our tongue with shouts of joy;
then it was said among the nations,
“The LORD has done great things for them.”
3 The LORD has done great things for us,
and we rejoiced.
4 Restore our fortunes, O LORD,
like the watercourses in the Negeb.
5 May those who sow in tears
reap with shouts of joy.
6 Those who go out weeping,
bearing the seed for sowing,
shall come home with shouts of joy,
carrying their sheaves.
[ A Song of Ascents. Of Solomon.
1 Unless the LORD builds the house,
those who build it labor in vain.
Unless the LORD guards the city,
the guard keeps watch in vain.
2 It is in vain that you rise up early
and go late to rest,
eating the bread of anxious toil;
for he gives sleep to his beloved.
3 Sons are indeed a heritage from the LORD,
the fruit of the womb a reward.
4 Like arrows in the hand of a warrior
are the sons of one’s youth.
5 Happy is the man who has
his quiver full of them.
He shall not be put to shame
when he speaks with his enemies in the gate. ]
2 Kings 22:1–13
22 Josiah was eight years old when he began to reign; he reigned thirty-one years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Jedidah daughter of Adaiah of Bozkath. 2 He did what was right in the sight of the LORD, and walked in all the way of his father David; he did not turn aside to the right or to the left.
3 In the eighteenth year of King Josiah, the king sent Shaphan son of Azaliah, son of Meshullam, the secretary, to the house of the LORD, saying, 4 “Go up to the high priest Hilkiah, and have him count the entire sum of the money that has been brought into the house of the LORD, which the keepers of the threshold have collected from the people; 5 let it be given into the hand of the workers who have the oversight of the house of the LORD; let them give it to the workers who are at the house of the LORD, repairing the house, 6 that is, to the carpenters, to the builders, to the masons; and let them use it to buy timber and quarried stone to repair the house. 7 But no accounting shall be asked from them for the money that is delivered into their hand, for they deal honestly.”
8 The high priest Hilkiah said to Shaphan the secretary, “I have found the book of the law in the house of the LORD.” When Hilkiah gave the book to Shaphan, he read it. 9 Then Shaphan the secretary came to the king, and reported to the king, “Your servants have emptied out the money that was found in the house, and have delivered it into the hand of the workers who have oversight of the house of the LORD.” 10 Shaphan the secretary informed the king, “The priest Hilkiah has given me a book.” Shaphan then read it aloud to the king.
11 When the king heard the words of the book of the law, he tore his clothes. 12 Then the king commanded the priest Hilkiah, Ahikam son of Shaphan, Achbor son of Micaiah, Shaphan the secretary, and the king’s servant Asaiah, saying, 13 “Go, inquire of the LORD for me, for the people, and for all Judah, concerning the words of this book that has been found; for great is the wrath of the LORD that is kindled against us, because our ancestors did not obey the words of this book, to do according to all that is written concerning us.”
1 Corinthians 11:2, 17–22
2 I commend you because you remember me in everything and maintain the traditions just as I handed them on to you.
17 Now in the following instructions I do not commend you, because when you come together it is not for the better but for the worse. 18 For, to begin with, when you come together as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you; and to some extent I believe it. 19 Indeed, there have to be factions among you, for only so will it become clear who among you are genuine. 20 When you come together, it is not really to eat the Lord’s supper. 21 For when the time comes to eat, each of you goes ahead with your own supper, and one goes hungry and another becomes drunk. 22 What! Do you not have homes to eat and drink in? Or do you show contempt for the church of God and humiliate those who have nothing? What should I say to you? Should I commend you? In this matter I do not commend you!
9 1 And after getting into a boat he crossed the sea and came to his own town.
2 And just then some people were carrying a paralyzed man lying on a bed. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven.” 3 Then some of the scribes said to themselves, “This man is blaspheming.” 4 But Jesus, perceiving their thoughts, said, “Why do you think evil in your hearts? 5 For which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Stand up and walk’? 6 But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he then said to the paralytic—“Stand up, take your bed and go to your home.” 7 And he stood up and went to his home. 8 When the crowds saw it, they were filled with awe, and they glorified God, who had given such authority to human beings.
The Book of Common Prayer: And Administration of the Sacraments and Other Rites and Ceremonies of the Church