The Parable of the Ten VirginsMatthew 25:1 “Then the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. I think we forget that all of the ten virgins represent Christians. 2 Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. 3 For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, 4 but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. 5 As the bridegroom was delayed, they all became drowsy and slept. 6 But at midnight there was a cry, ‘Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’ 7 Then all those virgins rose and trimmed their lamps. 8 And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ 9 But the wise answered, saying, ‘Since there will not be enough for us and for you, go rather to the dealers and buy for yourselves.’ 10 And while they were going to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was shut. 11 Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open to us.’ 12 But he answered, ‘Truly, I say to you, I do not know you.’ 13 Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.
The Parable of the Talents14 “For it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted to them his property. 15 To one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. 16 He who had received the five talents went at once and traded with them, and he made five talents more. 17 So also he who had the two talents made two talents more. 18 But he who had received the one talent went and dug in the ground and hid his master’s money. 19 Now after a long time the master of those servants came and settled accounts with them. 20 And he who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five talents more, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me five talents; here, I have made five talents more.’ 21 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ 22 And he also who had the two talents came forward, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me two talents; here, I have made two talents more.’ 23 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ 24 He also who had received the one talent came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed, 25 so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here, you have what is yours.’ 26 But his master answered him, ‘You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I scattered no seed? 27 Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest. 28 So take the talent from him and give it to him who has the ten talents. 29 For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. 30 And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’
The Final Judgment31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. 34 Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’
41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ 44 Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ 45 Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ 46 And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
English Standard Version Bible with Apocrypha
Devotionals, notes, poetry and more
Don’t be so easily upset
(Oct 14) Bob Gass
‘Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them.’
(Ps 119:165) 165 Great peace have those who love your law; nothing can make them stumble. ESV
Are you easily upset? Even over little things? Spend more time praying and reading your Bible. The following article turned up in a newspaper: ‘A lady took my seat in church. She’s very nice…a good friend, in fact. I can sit anyplace; no big deal. My seat’s on the right as you enter the sanctuary. I can rest my arm on the end. It’s a good seat, but I wouldn’t raise a fuss about a seat…never hold a grudge. Actually, it was three months ago she took it and I really don’t know why. I’ve never done anything to her…never taken her seat. I suppose I’ll have to come an hour early to get my seat. She took it because it’s one of the best seats in the house. She’d no business taking it…and I’m not going to church two hours early to get what’s rightfully mine. This is the way social injustices begin: abusive people taking other people’s seats. It’s the way seeds of revolution are sown. A person can only stand so much. Where’s it all going to end? If somebody doesn’t stand up and be counted, nobody’s seat will be safe. People will sit anywhere they please, and next time they’ll take my parking place. World order will be in a shambles!’ We smile, but it’s amazing how quickly we get bent out of shape when our little routine is disrupted. Do you know why the Christian life is described as ‘the high calling’ (Philippians 3:14 KJV)? Because it means taking the high road and serving others, rather than taking the low road and putting ourselves first
1 Tim 4
UCB The Word For Today
by Bill Federer
He was the son of a British Navy Admiral who discovered Bermuda. He attended Oxford University and studied law. At the age of 22, he heard a sermon entitled “The Sandy Foundation Shaken” and converted to the Society of Friends, or Quakers. As a result, he suffered imprisonment over three times for his faith, once imprisoned in the Tower of London for eight months. His name was William Penn, born this day, October 14, 1644. King Charles II repaid a debt owed to his father by giving William Penn a land grant in America, named Pennsylvania.
by P.T. Forsyth, (1848-1921)
CHAPTER VI / The Vicariousness of Prayer / I
The work of the ministry labours under one heavy disadvantage when we regard it as a profession and compare it with other professions. In these, experience brings facility, a sense of mastery in the subject, self-satisfaction, self-confidence; but in our subject the more we pursue it, the more we enter into it, so much the more are we cast down with the overwhelming sense, not only of our insufficiency, but of our unworthiness. Of course, in the technique of our work we acquire a certain ease. We learn to speak more or less freely and aptly. We learn the knack of handling a text, of conducting church work, or dealing with men, and the life. If it were only texts or men we had to handle! But we have to handle the Gospel. We have to lift up Christ—a Christ who is the death of natural self-confidence—a humiliating, even a crushing Christ; and we are not always alive to our uplifting and resurrection in Him. We have to handle a Gospel that is a new rebuke to us every step we gain in intimacy with it. There is no real intimacy with the Gospel which does not mean a new sense of God’s holiness, and it may be long before we realize that the same holiness that condemns is that which saves. There is no new insight into the Cross which does not bring, whatever else come with it, a deeper sense of the solemn holiness of the love that meets us there. And there is no new sense of the holy God that does not arrest His name upon our unclean lips. If our very repentance is to be repented of, and we should be forgiven much in our very prayers, how shall we be proud, or even pleased, with what we may think a success in our preaching? So that we are not surprised that some preachers, after what the public calls a most brilliant and impressive discourse, retire (as the emperor retired to close his life in the cloister) to humble themselves before God, to ask forgiveness for the poor message, and to call themselves most unprofitable servants—yea, even when they knew themselves that they had “done well.” The more we grasp our Gospel the more it abashes us.
Moreover, as we learn more of the seriousness of the Gospel for the human soul, we feel the more that every time we present it we are adding to the judgment of some as well as to the salvation of others. We are not like speakers who present a matter that men can freely take or leave, where they can agree or differ with us without moral result. No true preacher can be content that his flock should believe in him. That were egoism. They must believe with him. The deeper and surer our Gospel is the more is our work a judgment on those to whom it is not a grace. This was what bore upon the Saviour’s own soul, and darkened His very agony into eclipse. That He, who knew Himself to be the salvation of His own beloved people, should, by His very love, become their doom! And here we watch and suffer with Him, however sleepily. There is put into our charge our dear people’s life or death. For to those to whom we are not life we are death, in proportion as we truly preach, not ourselves, but the real salvation of Christ.
How solemn our place is! It is a sacramental place. We have not simply to state our case, we have to convey our Christ, and to convey Him effectually as the soul’s final fate. We are sacramental elements, broken often, in the Lord’s hands, as He dispenses His grace through us. We do not, of course, believe that orders are an ecclesiastical sacrament, as Rome does. But we are forced to realize the idea underlying that dogma—the sacramental nature of our person, work, and vocation for the Gospel. We are not saviours. There is only one Saviour. But we are His sacraments. We do not believe in an ecclesiastical priesthood; but we are made to feel how we stand between God and the people as none of our flock do. We bring Christ to them, and them to Christ, in sacrificial action in a way far more moral, inward, and taxing than official preisthood can be. As ministers we lead the sacerdotal function of the whole Church in the world—its holy confession and sacrifice for the world in Christ.
We ought, indeed, to feel the dignity of the ministry; we must present some protest against the mere fraternal conception which so easily sinks into an unspiritual familiarity. But still more than the dignity of the ministry do its elect feel its solemnity. How can it be otherwise? We have to dwell much with the everlasting burnings of God’s love. We have to tend that consuming fire. We have to feed our life where all the tragedy of life is gathered to an infinite and victorious crisis in Christ. We are not the fire, but we live where it burns. The matter we handle in our theological thought we can only handle with some due protection for our face. It is one of the dangerous industries. It is continually acting on us, continually searching our inner selves that no part of us may be unforgiven, unfed, or unsanctified. We cannot hold it and examine it at arm’s length. It enters into us. It evokes the perpetual comment of our souls, and puts us continually on self-judgment. Our critic, our judge, is at the door. Self-condemnation arrests denunciation. And the true apostle can never condemn but in the spirit of self-condemnation.
--- Forsyth, P. T. (1848-1921).
The Soul of Prayer
Compiled by Richard S. Adams
People see God every day,
they just don’t recognize him.
--- Pearl Bailey
Apart from God
every activity is merely
a passing whiff of insignificance.
--- Alfred North Whitehead
There are many qualities that make a great leader. But having strong beliefs, being able to stick with them through popular and unpopular times, is the most important characteristic of a great leader.
--- Rudy Giuliani
... from here, there and everywhere
Thanks to Meir Yona
4. Now Titus was deeply affected with this state of things, and reproached John and his party, and said to them, "Have not you, vile wretches that you are, by our permission, put up this partition-wall before your sanctuary? Have not you been allowed to put up the pillars thereto belonging, at due distances, and on it to engrave in Greek, and in your own letters, this prohibition, that no foreigner should go beyond that wall. 10 Have not we given you leave to kill such as go beyond it, though he were a Roman? And what do you do now, you pernicious villains? Why do you trample upon dead bodies in this temple? and why do you pollute this holy house with the blood of both foreigners and Jews themselves? I appeal to the gods of my own country, and to every god that ever had any regard to this place; [for I do not suppose it to be now regarded by any of them;] I also appeal to my own army, and to those Jews that are now with me, and even to yourselves, that I do not force you to defile this your sanctuary; and if you will but change the place whereon you will fight, no Roman shall either come near your sanctuary, or offer any affront to it; nay, I will endeavor to preserve you your holy house, whether you will or not."
5. As Josephus explained these things from the mouth of Caesar, both the robbers and the tyrant thought that these exhortations proceeded from Titus's fear, and not from his good-will to them, and grew insolent upon it. But when Titus saw that these men were neither to be moved by commiseration towards themselves, nor had any concern upon them to have the holy house spared, he proceeded unwillingly to go on again with the war against them. He could not indeed bring all his army against them, the place was so narrow; but choosing thirty soldiers of the most valiant out of every hundred, and committing a thousand to each tribune, and making Cerealis their commander-in-chief, he gave orders that they should attack the guards of the temple about the ninth hour of that night. But as he was now in his armor, and preparing to go down with them, his friends would not let him go, by reason of the greatness of the danger, and what the commanders suggested to them; for they said that he would do more by sitting above in the tower of Antonia, as a dispenser of rewards to those soldiers that signalized themselves in the fight, than by coming down and hazarding his own person in the forefront of them; for that they would all fight stoutly while Caesar looked upon them. With this advice Caesar complied, and said that the only reason he had for such compliance with the soldiers was this, that he might be able to judge of their courageous actions, and that no valiant soldier might lie concealed, and miss of his reward, and no cowardly soldier might go unpunished; but that he might himself be an eye-witness, and able to give evidence of all that was done, who was to be the disposer of punishments and rewards to them. So he sent the soldiers about their work at the hour forementioned, while he went out himself to a higher place in the tower of Antonia, whence he might see what was done, and there waited with impatience to see the event.
6. However, the soldiers that were sent did not find the guards of the temple asleep, as they hoped to have done; but were obliged to fight with them immediately hand to hand, as they rushed with violence upon them with a great shout. Now as soon as the rest within the temple heard that shout of those that were upon the watch, they ran out in troops upon them. Then did the Romans receive the onset of those that came first upon them; but those that followed them fell upon their own troops, and many of them treated their own soldiers as if they had been enemies; for the great confused noise that was made on both sides hindered them from distinguishing one another's voices, as did the darkness of the night hinder them from the like distinction by the sight, besides that blindness which arose otherwise also from the passion and the fear they were in at the same time; for which reason it was all one to the soldiers who it was they struck at. However, this ignorance did less harm to the Romans than to the Jews, because they were joined together under their shields, and made their sallies more regularly than the others did, and each of them remembered their watch-word; while the Jews were perpetually dispersed abroad, and made their attacks and retreats at random, and so did frequently seem to one another to be enemies; for every one of them received those of their own men that came back in the dark as Romans, and made an assault upon them; so that more of them were wounded by their own men than by the enemy, till, upon the coming on of the day, the nature of the right was discerned by the eye afterward. Then did they stand in battle-array in distinct bodies, and cast their darts regularly, and regularly defended themselves; nor did either side yield or grow weary. The Romans contended with each other who should fight the most strenuously, both single men and entire regiments, as being under the eye of Titus; and every one concluded that this day would begin his promotion if he fought bravely. What were the great encouragements of the Jews to act vigorously were, their fear for themselves and for the temple, and the presence of their tyrant, who exhorted some, and beat and threatened others, to act courageously. Now, it so happened, that this fight was for the most part a stationary one, wherein the soldiers went on and came back in a short time, and suddenly; for there was no long space of ground for either of their flights or pursuits. But still there was a tumultuous noise among the Romans from the tower of Antonia, who loudly cried out upon all occasions to their own men to press on courageously, when they were too hard for the Jews, and to stay when they were retiring backward; so that here was a kind of theater of war; for what was done in this fight could not be concealed either from Titus, or from those that were about him. At length it appeared that this fight, which began at the ninth hour of the night, was not over till past the fifth hour of the day; and that, in the same place where the battle began, neither party could say they had made the other to retire; but both the armies left the victory almost in uncertainty between them; wherein those that signalized themselves on the Roman side were a great many, but on the Jewish side, and of those that were with Simon, Judas the son of Merto, and Simon the son of Josas; of the Idumeans, James and Simon, the latter of whom was the son of Cathlas, and James was the son of Sosas; of those that were with John, Gyphtheus and Alexas; and of the zealots, Simon the son of Jairus.
2. As Josephus spoke these words, with groans and tears in his eyes, his voice was intercepted by sobs. However, the Romans could not but pity the affliction he was under, and wonder at his conduct. But for John, and those that were with him, they were but the more exasperated against the Romans on this account, and were desirous to get Josephus also into their power: yet did that discourse influence a great many of the better sort; and truly some of them were so afraid of the guards set by the seditious, that they tarried where they were, but still were satisfied that both they and the city were doomed to destruction. Some also there were who, watching a proper opportunity when they might quietly get away, fled to the Romans, of whom were the high priests Joseph and Jesus, and of the sons of high priests three, whose father was Ishmael, who was beheaded in Cyrene, and four sons of Matthias, as also one son of the other Matthias, who ran away after his father's death, 9 and whose father was slain by Simon the son of Gioras, with three of his sons, as I have already related; many also of the other nobility went over to the Romans, together with the high priests. Now Caesar not only received these men very kindly in other respects, but, knowing they would not willingly live after the customs of other nations, he sent them to Gophna, and desired them to remain there for the present, and told them, that when he was gotten clear of this war, he would restore each of them to their possessions again; so they cheerfully retired to that small city which was allotted them, without fear of any danger. But as they did not appear, the seditious gave out again that these deserters were slain by the Romans, which was done in order to deter the rest from running away, by fear of the like treatment. This trick of theirs succeeded now for a while, as did the like trick before; for the rest were hereby deterred from deserting, by fear of the like treatment.
7. In the mean time, the rest of the Roman army had, in seven days' time, overthrown [some] foundations of the tower of Antonia, and had made a ready and broad way to the temple. Then did the legions come near the first court, 12 and began to raise their banks. The one bank was over against the north-west corner of the inner temple 13 another was at that northern edifice which was between the two gates; and of the other two, one was at the western cloister of the outer court of the temple; the other against its northern cloister. However, these works were thus far advanced by the Romans, not without great pains and difficulty, and particularly by being obliged to bring their materials from the distance of a hundred furlongs. They had further difficulties also upon them; sometimes by their over-great security they were in that they should overcome the Jewish snares laid for them, and by that boldness of the Jews which their despair of escaping had inspired them withal; for some of their horsemen, when they went out to gather wood or hay, let their horses feed without having their bridles on during the time of foraging; upon which horses the Jews sallied out in whole bodies, and seized them. And when this was continually done, and Caesar believed what the truth was, that the horses were stolen more by the negligence of his own men than by the valor of the Jews, he determined to use greater severity to oblige the rest to take care of their horses; so he commanded that one of those soldiers who had lost their horses should be capitally punished; whereby he so terrified the rest, that they preserved their horses for the time to come; for they did not any longer let them go from them to feed by themselves, but, as if they had grown to them, they went always along with them when they wanted necessaries. Thus did the Romans still continue to make war against the temple, and to raise their banks against it.
The War of the Jews: The History of the Destruction of Jerusalem (complete edition, 7 books)
by D.H. Stern
but who can stand up to jealousy?
Complete Jewish Bible : An English Version of the Tanakh (Old Testament) and B'Rit Hadashah (New Testament)
A Daily Devotional by Oswald Chambers
The key to the missionary
All power is given unto Me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations. --- Matthew 28:18–20.
The basis of missionary appeals is the authority of Jesus Christ, not the needs of the heathen. We are apt to look upon Our Lord as One Who assists us in our enterprises for God. Our Lord puts himself as the absolute sovereign supreme Lord over His disciples. He does not say the heathen will be lost if we do not go; He simply says—“Go ye therefore, and teach all nations.” Go on the revelation of My sovereignty; teach and preach out of a living experience of Me.
“Then the eleven disciples went … into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them” (v. 16). If I want to know the universal sovereignty of Christ, I must know Him for myself, and how to get alone with Him; I must take time to worship the Being Whose Name I bear. “Come unto Me”—that is the place to meet Jesus. Are you weary and heavy laden? How many missionaries are! We banish those marvellous words of the universal Sovereign of the world to the threshold of an after-meeting; they are the words of Jesus to His disciples.
“Go ye therefore.…” “Go” simply means live. Acts 1:8 is the description of how to go. Jesus did not say—Go into Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria, but, “Ye shall be witnesses unto Me” in all these places. He undertakes to establish the goings.
“If ye abide in Me, and My words abide in you.…”—that is the way to keep going in our personal lives. Where we are placed is a matter of indifference; God engineers the goings. “None of these things move me …” That is how to keep going till you’re gone!
My Utmost for His Highest: Quality Paperback Edition
the Poetry of R.S. Thomas
It was all arranged:
the virgin with child, the birth
in Bethlehem, the arid journey uphill
to Jerusalem. The prophets foretold
it, the scriptures conditioned him
to accept it. Judas went to his work
with his sour kiss; what else
could he do?
A wise old age,
the honours awarded for lasting,
are not for a saviour. He had
to be killed; salvation acquired
by an increased guilt. The tree,
with its root in the mind's dark,
was divinely planted, the original fork
in existence. There is no meaning in life,
unless men can be found to reject
love. God needs his martyrdom.
The mild eyes stare from the Cross
in perverse triumph. What does he care
that the people's offerings are so small?
The Poems of R.S. Thomas
Maimonides: Torah and Philosophic Quest
Maimonides does not raise the problem of individual excellence in this manner. Given the truth that God does not create anything in vain, and that the purpose of man is knowledge of God, Maimonides asks why it is that we find so few individuals capable of reaching this goal.43 Although this question differs from the one we raise, the manner in which Maimonides deals with his problem will resolve our issue as well.
Maimonides shows that the talmudic tradition knew of the rarity of excellence and was led to evaluate the importance of community in terms of such rare individuals:
Ben Zoma once saw a crowd on one of the steps of the Temple Mount. He said, Blessed is He that discerneth secrets and blessed is He who has created all these to serve me (T.B. Berakhot 58a).
Maimonides understands this statement to refer to Ben Zoma’s singular human perfection. Another statement from the tradition says:
Hezekiah further stated in the name of Rabbi Jeremiah who said it in the name of Rabbi Simeon ben Yoḥai, I have seen the sons of heaven and they are but few. If there be a thousand, I and my son are among them; if a hundred, I and my son are among them; and if only two, they are I and my son (T.B. Sukkah 45b).
Although the rabbis did not explain the basis for their statement, Maimonides attributes this affirmation to their acceptance and understanding of nature. As men acquainted with natural science, they accepted the principle of necessity which the study of nature imposes upon man. Just as one does not ask why there are exactly “nine spheres and four elements,” so too one does not ask why the rarity of human excellence is a fact of existence. Just as teachers of Aggadah and philosophers agree as to the criteria of truth which emerge from the science of nature, so too do they share a common conception of the rarity of human excellence. Reason’s understanding of nature provides epistemological criteria of truth as well as an approach to life entailing a specific ethos and conception of man.
Maimonides is now able to interpret the aggadic statement, “God only has in His world the four cubits of the Halakhah.” The superficial meaning is that Judaism is exclusively concerned with the knowledge of law and that such knowledge is sufficient for man’s perfection. This external meaning has value for those unable to travel the road of the ḥasid. It trains the people of the community to live by Halakhah. This interpretation, however, is incomplete. Halakhah, to the ḥasid, encompasses more than law. Halakhah, as practiced by the ḥasid, is what the rabbis meant when they said, “God only has in His world the four cubits of the Halakhah.” To the Maimonidean ḥasid Judaism is not only compatible with philosophy but, in a more positive sense, demands that one have knowledge of philosophy.
Examination of Maimonides’ introduction to his Commentary to the Mishnah shows that his view regarding the centrality of philosophy for Halakhah was not hidden from the community. Indeed, throughout his entire works Maimonides attempted to create a bridge leading from the Halakhah of the am ha-areẓ to the Halakhah of the ḥasid. This perspective recognizes the continuity of The Commentary to the Mishnah, his earliest work, and his final work, The Guide of the Perplexed. If the student of the legal works follows Maimonides’ suggestions of the ultimate value of aggadic knowledge, he will meet his teacher in the Guide, where the way of the ḥasid is explained.
Viewed from this perspective, it can be seen that Maimonides’ legal works attempt to affect a change in the way the whole community understands the halakhic path to God. Although Maimonides was aware that only few would reach the full understanding of the Halakhah of the ḥasid, this did not prevent him from attempting to begin this process for the entire community. One can not deny that Maimonides’ halakhic works, as distinct from the Guide, are addressed to the general community; but one can deny that Maimonides, in his legal works, is only “the mouthpiece of the tradition.”
Further refutation of the view which isolates Maimonides’ legal works from his philosophic concerns are a series of features of the Mishneh Torah:
a) Maimonides begins his Mishneh Torah with a treatment of various philosophical themes. Is this not a strange way to begin a strictly legal codification? Does it not suggest that Halakhah demands more than the obedient readiness to follow norms?
b) The proof for the existence of God is based on the premise of the eternity of the world. Is this not unsettling to the traditional Jew’s understanding of creation?
c) The first commandment of the Decalogue which identifies God as the redeemer from Egypt, “I the Lord am your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, the house of bondage,” is interpreted by Maimonides as a commandment requiring of man that he gain knowledge of God as the necessary Being and source of existence. The first mitzvah does not consist in believing in God’s power to interfere in the historical process, but in gaining a knowledge of nature which can lead one to demonstrative knowledge of God. Were Maimonides simply reflecting the traditional beliefs of a community which relates to God exclusively through His power in history, he would not begin his codification of Jewish law with this approach to the first commandment of the Decalogue.
d) Strauss emphasizes the decisive difference between Athens and Jerusalem in terms of the place man occupies in the hierarchy of Being:
The most striking characteristic of the biblical account of creation is its demoting or degrading of heaven and the heavenly lights. Sun, moon, and stars precede the living things because they are lifeless; they are not gods. What the heavenly lights lose, man gains; man is the peak of creation.
Yet Maimonides, in his “Jerusalem” work, writes of the insignificance of man in comparison to the heavenly bodies:
When a man reflects on these things, studies all these created beings, from the angels and spheres down to human beings and so on, and realizes the Divine Wisdom manifested in them all, his love for God will increase, his soul will be filled with fear and trembling, as he becomes conscious of his own lowly condition, poverty, and insignificance, and compares himself with any of the great and holy bodies; still more when he compares himself with any one of the pure forms that are incorporeal and have never had associations with the corporeal substance. He will then realize that he is a vessel full of shame, dishonor, and reproach, empty and deficient.
e) Maimonides identifies “the image of God” with the human faculty of reason:
The vital principle of all flesh is the form which God has given it. The superior intelligence in the human soul is the specific form of the mentally normal human being. To this form, the Torah refers in the text “I will make man in My image, after My likeness” (Gen. 1:26). This means that man should have a form that knows and apprehends idealistic beings that are devoid of matter, such as the angels which are forms without substance, so that [intellectually] man is like the angels.
In Hilkhot Yesodei ha-Torah and in Hilkhot Teshuvah immortality of the soul is linked to the intellectual faculty of man. This is not a conception of man which a tradition concerned exclusively with normative obedience would emphasize.
f) The description of love and fear of God in chapters two and four in Hilkhot Yesodei ha-Torah is not related to the study of the law. The two ultimate categories of the tradition’s understanding of the service of God are presented in a manner which any individual, Jew or non-Jew, can embrace. The God who inspires this love and fear has no specific connection with the community of Israel since the God described in these chapters is He whose wisdom is manifest in nature.
g) Maimonides identifies the most sublime teachings of Judaism, Ma’aseh Bereshit and Ma’aseh Merkavah, with physics and metaphysics. The elite of the tradition, those who enter pardes, occupy themselves with areas of knowledge not specific to Judaism. A book which is supposed to be “the mouthpiece of a traditional community” would never claim that “alien” knowledge is a condition for achieving the tradition’s highest goal. A traditional book would not state that Rabbi Akiva’s greatness lay in his capacity to master the disciplines of physics and metaphysics. Nor would such a book dare to suggest that physics and metaphysics are more significant than knowledge of “the permitted and the forbidden”:
The topics connected with these five precepts, treated in the above four chapters, are what our wise men call pardes [paradise], as in the passage, “Four went into pardes” (T.B. Ḥagigah 14). And although those four were great men of Israel and great Sages, they did not all possess the capacity to know and grasp these subjects clearly. Therefore, I say that it is not proper to dally in pardes till one has first filled oneself with bread and meat; by which I mean knowledge of what is permitted and what forbidden, and similar distinctions in other classes of precepts. Although these last subjects were called by the Sages “a small thing”—when they say, “A great thing, Ma’aseh Merkavah; a small thing, the discussions of Abaye and Rava”—still they should have the precedence.
Maimonides: Torah and Philosophic Quest
A woman in the crowd called out, “Blessed is the mother who gave you birth and nursed you.” He replied, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.”
--- Luke 11:27–28
The wonder is not that this woman spoke as she did but that people who hear the teaching of Jesus do not more often speak in his praise. Spurgeon's Sermons on New Testament Women, Book 2 Of our blessed Lord his enemies said, “No one ever spoke the way this man does” (John 7:46). His very tone was melody, and his language was truth set to music. The doctrines that he taught were more than golden, they were light to the head and joy to the heart. He revealed the inmost heart of God and taught as never prophet or sage had before.
This earnest woman did not mean, in the first place, to praise Christ’s mother. In the East, if they want to insult a man, they speak vilely of his mother; if they wish to honor him, they laud his mother to the skies.
It was a brave speech for her to make, for the Savior had been confronted by persons of authority. They had spoken ill words of him. They had even dared to say that he cast out devils through Beelzebub, the prince of devils. When he had answered them wisely, this woman proclaimed his victory. If there is a time when not only enthusiasm suggests, but when affection compels us to speak for Christ, it is when others are opposing his name and cause. We cannot be silent when he is discredited. O Woman—your courage deserves our praise and our imitation! Oh, that we had a fire in our hearts burning as it did in yours, then would it consume the bonds that hold our tongues. Let us believe that when the current of thought around us runs in a wrong direction, such is the power of enthusiasm that one earnest, impassioned voice may turn it, and our Lord may yet win glory where now he is despised.
To hear the Word of God and obey it is a blessing preferable to having been the mother of our Lord. We are sure of this because Jesus himself adjusts the scales of blessedness. We believe, on his authority, that though Mary was greatly blessed, yet even more emphatically are those blessed who hear the Word of God and obey it. This preference so truly given by the Master puts the highest blessedness within the reach of all of us.
Notice that this preferable blessing is found in a very simple manner. “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.” The process is stripped of all ambiguity or mystery. There is nothing about it that is hard or difficult: Hear the word and obey it; that is all.
--- C. H. Spurgeon
Take Heart: Daily Devotions with the Church's Great Preachers
George Whitefield had just finished preaching in Norwich, Connecticut, when a young man stepped up to shake his hand. Isaac Backus, heir of a family fortune, had been deeply moved, and he soon gave his life to Christ, was baptized, and became a pastor, church planter, and Baptist evangelist. As a home missionary, Backus made over 900 trips in colonial America, covering over 68,000 miles on horseback.
He is best known, however, as a champion of religious liberty. From the beginning of his ministry, Backus fought doggedly for separation of church and state in the American colonies. When he entered his ministry, a tax in Massachusetts supported the “state church”—the Congregational Church in New England. Backus refused to pay it, was imprisoned, and when released, mounted a tireless campaign to abolish the state-supported church system.
In 1774, when the First Continental Congress met in Philadelphia, Backus was there, lobbying the representatives. On October 14, 1774 he and his fellow ministers arranged a meeting with the Massachusetts representatives to the Congress and presented a petition requesting full religious liberty. The politicians were irritated. John Adams insisted that taxes collected to support the Congregational Church did not impinge on the freedom of other religious groups, and he ended the four-hour meeting saying, “Gentlemen, if you mean to try to effect a change in Massachusetts laws respecting religion, you may as well attempt to change the course of the sun in the heavens!”
Backus determined to take his petition to John Hancock, then before the entire Continental Congress, but John Adams was always working to frustrate his efforts. Yet his ideas took root, and 27 years after Backus’s death, the last state church in Massachusetts was finally disestablished. More than any other man, Isaac Backus is credited with formulating and publicizing the evangelical position of church and state that ultimately prevailed in America.
We don’t obey people. We obey God. You killed Jesus by nailing him to a cross. But the God our ancestors worshiped raised him to life and made him our Leader and Savior.
--- Acts 5:29b-31a.
On This Day 365 Amazing And Inspiring Stories About Saints, Martyrs And Heroes
Daily Readings / CHARLES H. SPURGEON
Morning - October 14
“I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord.” --- Philippians 3:8.
Spiritual knowledge of Christ will be a personal knowledge. I cannot know Jesus through another person’s acquaintance with him. No, I must know him myself; I must know him on my own account. It will be an intelligent knowledge—I must know him, not as the visionary dreams of him, but as the Word reveals him. I must know his natures, divine and human. I must know his offices—his attributes—his works—his shame—his glory. I must meditate upon him until I “comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge.” It will be an affectionate knowledge of him; indeed, if I know him at all, I must love him. An ounce of heart knowledge is worth a ton of head learning. Our knowledge of him will be a satisfying knowledge. When I know my Saviour, my mind will be full to the brim—I shall feel that I have that which my spirit panted after. “This is that bread whereof if a man eat he shall never hunger.” At the same time it will be an exciting knowledge; the more I know of my Beloved, the more I shall want to know. The higher I climb the loftier will be the summits which invite my eager footsteps. I shall want the more as I get the more. Like the miser’s treasure, my gold will make me covet more. To conclude; this knowledge of Christ Jesus will be a most happy one; in fact, so elevating, that sometimes it will completely bear me up above all trials, and doubts, and sorrows; and it will, while I enjoy it, make me something more than “Man that is born of woman, who is of few days, and full of trouble”; for it will fling about me the immortality of the ever living Saviour, and gird me with the golden girdle of his eternal joy. Come, my soul, sit at Jesus’s feet and learn of him all this day.
Evening - October 14
“And be not conformed to this world.” --- Romans 12:2.
If a Christian can by possibility be saved while he conforms to this world, at any rate it must be so as by fire. Such a bare salvation is almost as much to be dreaded as desired. Reader, would you wish to leave this world in the darkness of a desponding death bed, and enter heaven as a shipwrecked mariner climbs the rocks of his native country? then be worldly; be mixed up with Mammonites, and refuse to go without the camp bearing Christ’s reproach. But would you have a heaven below as well as a heaven above? Would you comprehend with all saints what are the heights and depths, and know the love of Christ which passeth knowledge? Would you receive an abundant entrance into the joy of your Lord? Then come ye out from among them, and be ye separate, and touch not the unclean thing. Would you attain the full assurance of faith? you cannot gain it while you commune with sinners. Would you flame with vehement love? Your love will be damped by the drenchings of godless society. You cannot become a great Christian—you may be a babe in grace, but you never can be a perfect man in Christ Jesus while you yield yourself to the worldly maxims and modes of business of men of the world. It is ill for an heir of heaven to be a great friend with the heirs of hell. It has a bad look when a courtier is too intimate with his king’s enemies. Even small inconsistencies are dangerous. Little thorns make great blisters, little moths destroy fine garments, and little frivolities and little rogueries will rob religion of a thousand joys. O professor, too little separated from sinners, you know not what you lose by your conformity to the world. It cuts the tendons of your strength, and makes you creep where you ought to run. Then, for your own comfort’s sake, and for the sake of your growth in grace, if you be a Christian, be a Christian, and be a marked and distinct one.
Morning and Evening: A New Edition of the Classic Devotional Based on The Holy Bible, English Standard Version
A CHARGE TO KEEP I HAVE
Charles Wesley, 1707–1788
As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. (Ephesians 4:1)
All of us as Christians have been given a general charge— a God to glorify. We have also been given a particular charge or calling that is unique. Our response to these charges is what gives life purpose and meaning. Fulfillment and contentment in life are not measured alone by our accomplishments. We must have the satisfaction that we are in the place and doing the task that God has destined for us—whether it be great or small.
Charles Wesley is said to have been inspired to write the text for this hymn while reading Matthew Henry’s commentary on the book of Leviticus. In his thoughts on Leviticus 8:35, Henry wrote, “We shall everyone of us have a charge to keep, an eternal God to glorify, an immortal soul to provide for, one generation to serve.” This hymn text first appeared in Wesley’s Short Hymns on Select Passages of Holy Scriptures, published in 1762. It was printed under the title “Keep the Charge of the Lord, That Ye Die Not.”
This hymn text reflects the strength and zeal of the early Methodists. John Wesley once remarked upon hearing of his followers’ persecution: “Our people die well.” On another occasion a physician said to Charles Wesley, “Most people die for fear of dying; but I never met with such people as yours. They are none of them afraid of death, but calm and patient and resigned to the last.”
Being a Christian who worthily represents the Lord has never been and will never be a life of ease. It requires our very best, the total commitment of our lives.
A charge to keep I have—a God to glorify, who gave His Son my soul to save and fit it for the sky.
To serve the present age, my calling to fulfill—O may it all my pow’rs engage to do my Master’s will!
Arm me with jealous care, as in Thy sight to live; and O Thy servant, Lord, prepare a strict account to give!
Help me to watch and pray, and on Thyself rely; and let me ne’er my trust betray, but press to realms on high.
For Today: Leviticus 8:35; Joshua 24:15; Galatians 1:15–24; 1 Peter 4:10, 11
Ask God to redefine your sense of divine calling in life and to help make you more contented right where He has placed you. Carry this musical challenge with you ---
Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions
Saturday, October 14, 2017 | After Pentecost
Proper 22, Saturday
Psalms (Morning) Psalm 137:1–6 (7–9) 144
Psalms (Evening) Psalm 104
Old Testament Jeremiah 35:1–19
New Testament 1 Corinthians 12:27–13:3
Gospel Matthew 9:35–10:4
Index of Readings
Psalm 137:1–6 (7–9) 144
1 By the rivers of Babylon—
there we sat down and there we wept
when we remembered Zion.
2 On the willows there
we hung up our harps.
3 For there our captors
asked us for songs,
and our tormentors asked for mirth, saying,
“Sing us one of the songs of Zion!”
4 How could we sing the LORD’s song
in a foreign land?
5 If I forget you, O Jerusalem,
let my right hand wither!
6 Let my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth,
if I do not remember you,
if I do not set Jerusalem
above my highest joy.
[ 7 Remember, O LORD, against the Edomites
the day of Jerusalem’s fall,
how they said, “Tear it down! Tear it down!
Down to its foundations!”
8 O daughter Babylon, you devastator!
Happy shall they be who pay you back
what you have done to us!
9 Happy shall they be who take your little ones
and dash them against the rock! ]
1 Blessed be the LORD, my rock,
who trains my hands for war, and my fingers for battle;
2 my rock and my fortress,
my stronghold and my deliverer,
my shield, in whom I take refuge,
who subdues the peoples under me.
3 O LORD, what are human beings that you regard them,
or mortals that you think of them?
4 They are like a breath;
their days are like a passing shadow.
5 Bow your heavens, O LORD, and come down;
touch the mountains so that they smoke.
6 Make the lightning flash and scatter them;
send out your arrows and rout them.
7 Stretch out your hand from on high;
set me free and rescue me from the mighty waters,
from the hand of aliens,
8 whose mouths speak lies,
and whose right hands are false.
9 I will sing a new song to you, O God;
upon a ten-stringed harp I will play to you,
10 the one who gives victory to kings,
who rescues his servant David.
11 Rescue me from the cruel sword,
and deliver me from the hand of aliens,
whose mouths speak lies,
and whose right hands are false.
12 May our sons in their youth
be like plants full grown,
our daughters like corner pillars,
cut for the building of a palace.
13 May our barns be filled,
with produce of every kind;
may our sheep increase by thousands,
by tens of thousands in our fields,
14 and may our cattle be heavy with young.
May there be no breach in the walls, no exile,
and no cry of distress in our streets.
15 Happy are the people to whom such blessings fall;
happy are the people whose God is the LORD.
1 Bless the LORD, O my soul.
O LORD my God, you are very great.
You are clothed with honor and majesty,
2 wrapped in light as with a garment.
You stretch out the heavens like a tent,
3 you set the beams of your chambers on the waters,
you make the clouds your chariot,
you ride on the wings of the wind,
4 you make the winds your messengers,
fire and flame your ministers.
5 You set the earth on its foundations,
so that it shall never be shaken.
6 You cover it with the deep as with a garment;
the waters stood above the mountains.
7 At your rebuke they flee;
at the sound of your thunder they take to flight.
8 They rose up to the mountains, ran down to the valleys
to the place that you appointed for them.
9 You set a boundary that they may not pass,
so that they might not again cover the earth.
10 You make springs gush forth in the valleys;
they flow between the hills,
11 giving drink to every wild animal;
the wild asses quench their thirst.
12 By the streams the birds of the air have their habitation;
they sing among the branches.
13 From your lofty abode you water the mountains;
the earth is satisfied with the fruit of your work.
14 You cause the grass to grow for the cattle,
and plants for people to use,
to bring forth food from the earth,
15 and wine to gladden the human heart,
oil to make the face shine,
and bread to strengthen the human heart.
16 The trees of the LORD are watered abundantly,
the cedars of Lebanon that he planted.
17 In them the birds build their nests;
the stork has its home in the fir trees.
18 The high mountains are for the wild goats;
the rocks are a refuge for the coneys.
19 You have made the moon to mark the seasons;
the sun knows its time for setting.
20 You make darkness, and it is night,
when all the animals of the forest come creeping out.
21 The young lions roar for their prey,
seeking their food from God.
22 When the sun rises, they withdraw
and lie down in their dens.
23 People go out to their work
and to their labor until the evening.
24 O LORD, how manifold are your works!
In wisdom you have made them all;
the earth is full of your creatures.
25 Yonder is the sea, great and wide,
creeping things innumerable are there,
living things both small and great.
26 There go the ships,
and Leviathan that you formed to sport in it.
27 These all look to you
to give them their food in due season;
28 when you give to them, they gather it up;
when you open your hand, they are filled with good things.
29 When you hide your face, they are dismayed;
when you take away their breath, they die
and return to their dust.
30 When you send forth your spirit, they are created;
and you renew the face of the ground.
31 May the glory of the LORD endure forever;
may the LORD rejoice in his works—
32 who looks on the earth and it trembles,
who touches the mountains and they smoke.
33 I will sing to the LORD as long as I live;
I will sing praise to my God while I have being.
34 May my meditation be pleasing to him,
for I rejoice in the LORD.
35 Let sinners be consumed from the earth,
and let the wicked be no more.
Bless the LORD, O my soul.
Praise the LORD!
35 The word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD in the days of King Jehoiakim son of Josiah of Judah: 2 Go to the house of the Rechabites, and speak with them, and bring them to the house of the LORD, into one of the chambers; then offer them wine to drink. 3 So I took Jaazaniah son of Jeremiah son of Habazziniah, and his brothers, and all his sons, and the whole house of the Rechabites. 4 I brought them to the house of the LORD into the chamber of the sons of Hanan son of Igdaliah, the man of God, which was near the chamber of the officials, above the chamber of Maaseiah son of Shallum, keeper of the threshold. 5 Then I set before the Rechabites pitchers full of wine, and cups; and I said to them, “Have some wine.” 6 But they answered, “We will drink no wine, for our ancestor Jonadab son of Rechab commanded us, ‘You shall never drink wine, neither you nor your children; 7 nor shall you ever build a house, or sow seed; nor shall you plant a vineyard, or even own one; but you shall live in tents all your days, that you may live many days in the land where you reside.’ 8 We have obeyed the charge of our ancestor Jonadab son of Rechab in all that he commanded us, to drink no wine all our days, ourselves, our wives, our sons, or our daughters, 9 and not to build houses to live in. We have no vineyard or field or seed; 10 but we have lived in tents, and have obeyed and done all that our ancestor Jonadab commanded us. 11 But when King Nebuchadrezzar of Babylon came up against the land, we said, ‘Come, and let us go to Jerusalem for fear of the army of the Chaldeans and the army of the Arameans.’ That is why we are living in Jerusalem.”
12 Then the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah: 13 Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: Go and say to the people of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, Can you not learn a lesson and obey my words? says the LORD. 14 The command has been carried out that Jonadab son of Rechab gave to his descendants to drink no wine; and they drink none to this day, for they have obeyed their ancestor’s command. But I myself have spoken to you persistently, and you have not obeyed me. 15 I have sent to you all my servants the prophets, sending them persistently, saying, “Turn now everyone of you from your evil way, and amend your doings, and do not go after other gods to serve them, and then you shall live in the land that I gave to you and your ancestors.” But you did not incline your ear or obey me. 16 The descendants of Jonadab son of Rechab have carried out the command that their ancestor gave them, but this people has not obeyed me. 17 Therefore, thus says the LORD, the God of hosts, the God of Israel: I am going to bring on Judah and on all the inhabitants of Jerusalem every disaster that I have pronounced against them; because I have spoken to them and they have not listened, I have called to them and they have not answered.
18 But to the house of the Rechabites Jeremiah said: Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: Because you have obeyed the command of your ancestor Jonadab, and kept all his precepts, and done all that he commanded you, 19 therefore thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: Jonadab son of Rechab shall not lack a descendant to stand before me for all time.
1 Corinthians 12:27–13:3
27 Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. 28 And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers; then deeds of power, then gifts of healing, forms of assistance, forms of leadership, various kinds of tongues. 29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? 30 Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? 31 But strive for the greater gifts. And I will show you a still more excellent way.
13 If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
35 Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and curing every disease and every sickness. 36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; 38 therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”
10 Then Jesus summoned his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to cure every disease and every sickness. 2 These are the names of the twelve apostles: first, Simon, also known as Peter, and his brother Andrew; James son of Zebedee, and his brother John; 3 Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; 4 Simon the Cananaean, and Judas Iscariot, the one who betrayed him.
The Book of Common Prayer: And Administration of the Sacraments and Other Rites and Ceremonies of the Church