Jeremiah 1:1 The words of Jeremiah son of Hilkiah, of the priests who were in Anathoth in the land of Benjamin, 2 to whom the word of the Lord came in the days of King Josiah son of Amon of Judah, in the thirteenth year of his reign. 3 It came also in the days of King Jehoiakim son of Josiah of Judah, and until the end of the eleventh year of King Zedekiah son of Josiah of Judah, until the captivity of Jerusalem in the fifth month.
Jeremiah’s Call and Commission
4 Now the word of the Lord came to me saying,
5 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
and before you were born I consecrated you;
I appointed you a prophet to the nations.”
6 Then I said, “Ah, Lord God! Truly I do not know how to speak, for I am only a boy.”
7 But the Lord said to me,
“Do not say, ‘I am only a boy’;
for you shall go to all to whom I send you,
and you shall speak whatever I command you.
8 Do not be afraid of them,
for I am with you to deliver you,
says the Lord.”
9 Then the Lord put out his hand and touched my mouth; and the Lord said to me,
“Now I have put my words in your mouth.
10 See, today I appoint you over nations and over kingdoms,
to pluck up and to pull down,
to destroy and to overthrow,
to build and to plant.”
14 Then the Lord said to me: Out of the north disaster shall break out on all the inhabitants of the land. 15 For now I am calling all the tribes of the kingdoms of the north, says the Lord; and they shall come and all of them shall set their thrones at the entrance of the gates of Jerusalem, against all its surrounding walls and against all the cities of Judah. 16 And I will utter my judgments against them, for all their wickedness in forsaking me; they have made offerings to other gods, and worshiped the works of their own hands. 17 But you, gird up your loins; stand up and tell them everything that I command you. Do not break down before them, or I will break you before them. 18 And I for my part have made you today a fortified city, an iron pillar, and a bronze wall, against the whole land— against the kings of Judah, its princes, its priests, and the people of the land. 19 They will fight against you; but they shall not prevail against you, for I am with you, says the Lord, to deliver you.
God Pleads with Israel to RepentJeremiah 2:1 The word of the Lord came to me, saying: 2 Go and proclaim in the hearing of Jerusalem, Thus says the Lord:
I remember the devotion of your youth,
your love as a bride,
how you followed me in the wilderness,
in a land not sown.
3 Israel was holy to the Lord,
the first fruits of his harvest.
All who ate of it were held guilty;
disaster came upon them,
says the Lord.
What wrong did your ancestors find in me
that they went far from me,
and went after worthless things, and became worthless themselves?
6 They did not say, “Where is the Lord
who brought us up from the land of Egypt,
who led us in the wilderness,
in a land of deserts and pits,
in a land of drought and deep darkness,
in a land that no one passes through,
where no one lives?”
7 I brought you into a plentiful land
to eat its fruits and its good things.
But when you entered you defiled my land,
and made my heritage an abomination.
8 The priests did not say, “Where is the Lord?”
Those who handle the law did not know me;
the rulers transgressed against me;
the prophets prophesied by Baal,
and went after things that do not profit.
9 Therefore once more I accuse you,
says the Lord,
and I accuse your children’s children.
10 Cross to the coasts of Cyprus and look,
send to Kedar and examine with care;
see if there has ever been such a thing.
11 Has a nation changed its gods,
even though they are no gods?
But my people have changed their glory
for something that does not profit.
12 Be appalled, O heavens, at this,
be shocked, be utterly desolate,
says the Lord,
13 for my people have committed two evils:
they have forsaken me,
the fountain of living water,
and dug out cisterns for themselves,
that can hold no water.
14 Is Israel a slave? Is he a homeborn servant?
Why then has he become plunder?
15 The lions have roared against him,
they have roared loudly.
They have made his land a waste;
his cities are in ruins, without inhabitant.
16 Moreover, the people of Memphis and Tahpanhes
have broken the crown of your head.
17 Have you not brought this upon yourself
by forsaking the Lord your God,
while he led you in the way?
18 What then do you gain by going to Egypt,
to drink the waters of the Nile?
Or what do you gain by going to Assyria,
to drink the waters of the Euphrates?
19 Your wickedness will punish you,
and your apostasies will convict you.
Know and see that it is evil and bitter
for you to forsake the Lord your God;
the fear of me is not in you,
says the Lord God of hosts.
20 For long ago you broke your yoke
and burst your bonds,
and you said, “I will not serve!”
On every high hill
and under every green tree
you sprawled and played the whore.
21 Yet I planted you as a choice vine,
from the purest stock.
How then did you turn degenerate
and become a wild vine?
22 Though you wash yourself with lye
and use much soap,
the stain of your guilt is still before me,
says the Lord God.
23 How can you say, “I am not defiled,
I have not gone after the Baals”?
Look at your way in the valley;
know what you have done—
a restive young camel interlacing her tracks,
24 a wild ass at home in the wilderness,
in her heat sniffing the wind!
Who can restrain her lust?
None who seek her need weary themselves;
in her month they will find her.
25 Keep your feet from going unshod
and your throat from thirst.
But you said, “It is hopeless,
for I have loved strangers,
and after them I will go.”
26 As a thief is shamed when caught,
so the house of Israel shall be shamed—
they, their kings, their officials,
their priests, and their prophets,
27 who say to a tree, “You are my father,”
and to a stone, “You gave me birth.”
For they have turned their backs to me,
and not their faces.
But in the time of their trouble they say,
“Come and save us!”
28 But where are your gods
that you made for yourself?
Let them come, if they can save you,
in your time of trouble;
for you have as many gods
as you have towns, O Judah.
29 Why do you complain against me?
You have all rebelled against me,
says the Lord.
30 In vain I have struck down your children;
they accepted no correction.
Your own sword devoured your prophets
like a ravening lion.
31 And you, O generation, behold the word of the Lord!
Have I been a wilderness to Israel,
or a land of thick darkness?
Why then do my people say, “We are free,
we will come to you no more”?
32 Can a girl forget her ornaments,
or a bride her attire?
Yet my people have forgotten me,
days without number.
33 How well you direct your course
to seek lovers!
So that even to wicked women
you have taught your ways.
34 Also on your skirts is found
the lifeblood of the innocent poor,
though you did not catch them breaking in.
Yet in spite of all these things
35 you say, “I am innocent;
surely his anger has turned from me.”
Now I am bringing you to judgment
for saying, “I have not sinned.”
36 How lightly you gad about,
changing your ways!
You shall be put to shame by Egypt
as you were put to shame by Assyria.
37 From there also you will come away
with your hands on your head;
for the Lord has rejected those in whom you trust,
and you will not prosper through them.
Jeremiah 3:1 If a man divorces his wife
and she goes from him
and becomes another man’s wife,
will he return to her?
Would not such a land be greatly polluted?
You have played the whore with many lovers;
and would you return to me?
says the Lord.
2 Look up to the bare heights, and see!
Where have you not been lain with?
By the waysides you have sat waiting for lovers,
like a nomad in the wilderness.
You have polluted the land
with your whoring and wickedness.
3 Therefore the showers have been withheld,
and the spring rain has not come;
yet you have the forehead of a whore,
you refuse to be ashamed.
4 Have you not just now called to me,
“My Father, you are the friend of my youth—
5 will he be angry forever,
will he be indignant to the end?”
This is how you have spoken,
but you have done all the evil that you could.
A Call to Repentance
11 Then the Lord said to me: Faithless Israel has shown herself less guilty than false Judah. 12 Go, and proclaim these words toward the north, and say:
Return, faithless Israel,
says the Lord.
I will not look on you in anger,
for I am merciful,
says the Lord;
I will not be angry forever.
13 Only acknowledge your guilt,
that you have rebelled against the Lord your God,
and scattered your favors among strangers under every green tree,
and have not obeyed my voice,
says the Lord.
14 Return, O faithless children,
says the Lord,
for I am your master;
I will take you, one from a city and two from a family,
and I will bring you to Zion.
19 I thought
how I would set you among my children,
and give you a pleasant land,
the most beautiful heritage of all the nations.
And I thought you would call me, My Father,
and would not turn from following me.
20 Instead, as a faithless wife leaves her husband,
so you have been faithless to me, O house of Israel,
says the Lord.
21 A voice on the bare heights is heard,
the plaintive weeping of Israel’s children,
because they have perverted their way,
they have forgotten the Lord their God:
22 Return, O faithless children,
I will heal your faithlessness.
“Here we come to you;
for you are the Lord our God.
23 Truly the hills are a delusion,
the orgies on the mountains.
Truly in the Lord our God
is the salvation of Israel.
The Holy Bible: containing the Old and New Testaments with the Apocryphal / Deuterocanonical Books [New Revised Standard Version]
Devotionals, notes, poetry and more
Has your love grown cold?
(Oct 19) Bob Gass
‘You don’t love me…as you did at first!’
(Re 2:4) 4 But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. ESV
Love is like a fire; when it’s not fuelled, it goes out. That’s what happened to the Christians in the church at Ephesus. In earlier years Paul wrote these words to them: ‘Grace be with all those who love our Lord Jesus Christ with incorruptible love’ (Ephesians 6:24 NASB). Their love for the Lord was so strong and so evident to all, that Paul commended them for it. But by the time Christ speaks to the same church in the book of Revelation, their love for Him had waned: ‘I know all the things you do. I have seen your hard work and your patient endurance. I know you don’t tolerate evil people. You have examined the claims of those who say they are apostles but are not. You have discovered they are liars. You have patiently suffered for me without quitting. But I have this complaint against you. You don’t love me or each other as you did at first! Look how far you have fallen! Turn back to me’ (vv. 2-5 NLT). Evangelical leader John Stott wrote: ‘They’d fallen from the early heights of devotion to Christ which they’d climbed. They’d descended to the plains of mediocrity. In a word…the hearts of the Ephesian Christians had chilled. Their first flush of ecstasy had passed. Their early devotion to Christ had cooled. They’d been in love with Him, but…had fallen out of love.’ You can go to church, read your Bible, and pray every day, yet not love God as you should. Loving God is a commitment and a heart attitude that results in obedience. It’s a focus: a daily decision to honour Him in all you say and do. So, has your love grown cold?
2 Tim 2
(Eph 6:24) 24 Grace be with all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with love incorruptible. ESV
To the Church in Ephesus
(Re 2:1–7) 2 “To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: ‘The words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand, who walks among the seven golden lampstands.
2 “ ‘I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil, but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false. 3 I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name’s sake, and you have not grown weary. 4 But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. 5 Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent. 6 Yet this you have: you hate the works of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. 7 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.’ ESV
UCB The Word For Today
by Bill Federer
The British power in America was broken this day, October 19, 1781, as 8000 British troops under Lord Cornwallis surrendered at Yorktown, Virginia. The following day, General George Washington called for a service to render thanksgiving to God: “In order to diffuse the general Joy through every Breast the General orders that… Divine Service be performed tomorrow in the several Brigades or Divisions. The Commander-in-Chief earnestly recommends that the troops not on duty should universally attend, with… gratitude of heart which the recognition of such… astonishing Interposition of Providence demands of us.”
by P.T. Forsyth, (1848-1921)
CHAPTER VII / The Insistency of Prayer
In all I have said I have implied that prayer should be strenuously importunate. Observe, not petitionary merely, nor concentrated, nor active alone, but importunate. For prayer is not only meditation or communion. Nor ought it to be merely submissive in tone, as the “quietist” ideal is. We need not begin with “Thy will be done” if we but end with it. Remember the stress that Christ laid on importunity. Strenuous prayer will help us to recover the masculine type of religion—and then our opponents will at least respect us.
I would speak a little more fully on this matter of importunity. It is very closely bound up with the reality both of prayer and of religion. Prayer is not really a power till it is importunate. And it cannot be importunate unless it is felt to have a real effect on the Will of God. I may slip in here my conviction that far less of the disbelief in prayer is due to a scientific view of nature’s uniformity than to the slipshod kind of prayer that men hear from us in public worship; it is often but journalese sent heavenwards, or phrase-making to carry on. And I would further say that by importunity something else is meant than passionate dictation and stormy pertinacity—imposing our egoist will on God, and treating Him as a mysterious but manageable power that we may coerce and exploit.
The deepening of the spiritual life is a subject that frequently occupies the attention of religious conferences and of the soul bent on self-improvement. But it is not certain that the great saints would always recognize the ideal of some who are addicted to the use of the phrase. The “deepening of the spiritual life” they would find associated with three unhappy things.
1. They would recoil from a use of Scripture prevalent to those circles, which is atomistic individualist, subjective, and fantastic.
2. And what they would feel most foreign to their own objective and penetrating minds might be the air of introspection and self-measurement too often associated with the spiritual thus “deepened”—a spiritual egoism.
3. And they would miss the note of judgment and Redemption.
We should distinguish at the outset the deepening of spiritual life from the quickening of spiritual sensibility. Christ on the cross was surely deepened in spiritual experience, but was not the essence of that dereliction, and the concomitant of that deepening, the dulling of spiritual sensibility?
--- Forsyth, P. T. (1848-1921).
The Soul of Prayer
Compiled by Richard S. Adams
You cannot bring about prosperity
by discouraging thrift.
You cannot strengthen the weak
by weakening the strong.
You cannot help little men
by tearing down big men.
You cannot lift the wage earner
by pulling down the wage payer.
You cannot help the poor
by destroying the rich.
You cannot establish sound security
on borrowed money.
You cannot further the brotherhood of man
by inciting class hatred.
You cannot keep out of trouble
by spending more than you earn.
You cannot build character and courage
by destroying men's initiative and independence.
You cannot help men permanently
by doing for them what they can and should
do for themselves.
--- Rev. William John Henry Boetcker, Presbyterian minister
God has a course mapped out for your life, and all the inadequacies in the world will not change His mind. He will be with you every step of the way. And though it may take time, He has a celebration planned for when you cross over the Red Seas of your life.
--- Charles Stanley
Free speech is meant to protect unpopular speech. Popular speech, by definition, needs no protection.
-- Neal Boortz
... from here, there and everywhere
Thanks to Meir Yona
The Great Distress The Jews Were In Upon The Conflagration Of The Holy House. Concerning A False Prophet, And The Signs That Preceded This Destruction.
1. While the holy house was on fire, every thing was plundered that came to hand, and ten thousand of those that were caught were slain; nor was there a commiseration of any age, or any reverence of gravity, but children, and old men, and profane persons, and priests were all slain in the same manner; so that this war went round all sorts of men, and brought them to destruction, and as well those that made supplication for their lives, as those that defended themselves by fighting. The flame was also carried a long way, and made an echo, together with the groans of those that were slain; and because this hill was high, and the works at the temple were very great, one would have thought the whole city had been on fire. Nor can one imagine any thing either greater or more terrible than this noise; for there was at once a shout of the Roman legions, who were marching all together, and a sad clamor of the seditious, who were now surrounded with fire and sword. The people also that were left above were beaten back upon the enemy, and under a great consternation, and made sad moans at the calamity they were under; the multitude also that was in the city joined in this outcry with those that were upon the hill. And besides, many of those that were worn away by the famine, and their mouths almost closed, when they saw the fire of the holy house, they exerted their utmost strength, and brake out into groans and outcries again: Perea 17 did also return the echo, as well as the mountains round about [the city,] and augmented the force of the entire noise. Yet was the misery itself more terrible than this disorder; for one would have thought that the hill itself, on which the temple stood, was seething hot, as full of fire on every part of it, that the blood was larger in quantity than the fire, and those that were slain more in number than those that slew them; for the ground did no where appear visible, for the dead bodies that lay on it; but the soldiers went over heaps of those bodies, as they ran upon such as fled from them. And now it was that the multitude of the robbers were thrust out [of the inner court of the temple by the Romans,] and had much ado to get into the outward court, and from thence into the city, while the remainder of the populace fled into the cloister of that outer court. As for the priests, some of them plucked up from the holy house the spikes 18 that were upon it, with their bases, which were made of lead, and shot them at the Romans instead of darts. But then as they gained nothing by so doing, and as the fire burst out upon them, they retired to the wall that was eight cubits broad, and there they tarried; yet did two of these of eminence among them, who might have saved themselves by going over to the Romans, or have borne up with courage, and taken their fortune with the others, throw themselves into the fire, and were burnt together with the holy house; their names were Meirus the son of Belgas, and Joseph the son of Daleus.
2. And now the Romans, judging that it was in vain to spare what was round about the holy house, burnt all those places, as also the remains of the cloisters and the gates, two excepted; the one on the east side, and the other on the south; both which, however, they burnt afterward. They also burnt down the treasury chambers, in which was an immense quantity of money, and an immense number of garments, and other precious goods there reposited; and, to speak all in a few words, there it was that the entire riches of the Jews were heaped up together, while the rich people had there built themselves chambers [to contain such furniture]. The soldiers also came to the rest of the cloisters that were in the outer [court of the] temple, whither the women and children, and a great mixed multitude of the people, fled, in number about six thousand. But before Caesar had determined any thing about these people, or given the commanders any orders relating to them, the soldiers were in such a rage, that they set that cloister on fire; by which means it came to pass that some of these were destroyed by throwing themselves down headlong, and some were burnt in the cloisters themselves. Nor did any one of them escape with his life. A false prophet 19was the occasion of these people's destruction, who had made a public proclamation in the city that very day, that God commanded them to get upon the temple, and that there they should receive miraculous signs of their deliverance. Now there was then a great number of false prophets suborned by the tyrants to impose on the people, who denounced this to them, that they should wait for deliverance from God; and this was in order to keep them from deserting, and that they might be buoyed up above fear and care by such hopes. Now a man that is in adversity does easily comply with such promises; for when such a seducer makes him believe that he shall be delivered from those miseries which oppress him, then it is that the patient is full of hopes of such his deliverance.
The War of the Jews: The History of the Destruction of Jerusalem (complete edition, 7 books)
by D.H. Stern
[also] friendship sweet with advice from the heart.
Complete Jewish Bible : An English Version of the Tanakh (Old Testament) and B'Rit Hadashah (New Testament)
A Daily Devotional by Oswald Chambers
The unheeded secret
My kingdom is not of this world. --- John 18:36.
The great enemy to the Lord Jesus Christ in the present day is the conception of practical work that has not come from the New Testament, but from the systems of the world in which endless energy and activities are insisted upon, but no private life with God. The emphasis is put on the wrong thing. Jesus said, “The kingdom of God cometh not with observation; … for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you,” a hidden, obscure thing. An active Christian worker too often lives in the shop window. It is the innermost of the innermost that reveals the power of the life.
We have to get rid of the plague of the spirit of the religious age in which we live. In Our Lord’s life there was none of the press and rush of tremendous activity that we regard so highly, and the disciple is to be as his Master. The central thing about the kingdom of Jesus Christ is a personal relationship to Himself, not public usefulness to men. It is not its practical activities that are the strength of this Bible Training College, its whole strength lies in the fact that here you are put into soak before God. You have no idea of where God is going to engineer your circumstances, no knowledge of what strain is going to be put on you either at home or abroad, and if you waste your time in over-active energies instead of getting into soak on the great fundamental truths of God’s Redemption, you will snap when the strain comes; but if this time of soaking before God is being spent in getting rooted and grounded in God on the un-practical line, you will remain true to Him whatever happens.
My Utmost for His Highest: Quality Paperback Edition
the Poetry of R.S. Thomas
Do you want to know his name?
It is forgotten. Would you learn
what he was like? He was like
anyone else, a man with ears
and eyes. Be it sufficient
that in a church porch on an Evening
in winter, the moon rising, the frost
sharp, he was driven
to his knees and for no reason
he knew. The cold came at him;
his breath was carved angularly
as the tombstones; an owl screamed.
He had no power to pray.
His back turned on the interior
he looked out on a universe
that was without knowledge
of him and kept his place
there for an hour on that lean
threshold, neither outside nor in.
Maimonides: Torah and Philosophic Quest
One should note the parallel between the rarity of one who observes the commandments for their own sake and the rarity of one who has achieved intellectual excellence. Despite the rabbis’ emphasis on worship which is not based on self-interest, they were fully aware and responsive to the needs of those unable to attain this level. The talmudic tradition elaborated upon the developmental process underlying the progression from worship based on yirah (fear) and shelo lishmah (observing commandments or studying Torah not for their own sake) to ahavah (love) and lishmah (observing or studying Torah for its own sake). This gave Maimonides a structure with which to understand the relationship between individual and communal levels of worship.
The rabbis, though committed to the need to transcend lower forms of religious experience, were careful not to develop a system catering solely to the elite. Antigonus was censored by the rabbis for revealing publicly what few individuals were capable of accepting. One must be circumspect when discussing the highest level of worship—love—with individuals who have not gone beyond that which is based on self-interest. The danger is not that the unique man recognizes as false that which the community accepts as true, but, rather, such a person is exposed to that which he cannot psychologically appropriate.
Maimonides describes the reactions to Antigonus’ statement in his commentary to Avot:
This Sage had two disciples, one named Zadok and the other named Boethius. When they heard him deliver the statement, they departed from him. The one said to his colleague, “Behold, the master expressly stated that man has neither reward nor punishment, and there is no expectation at all.” [They said this] because they did not understand his intention. The one lent support to his colleague and they departed from the community and forsook the Torah.
One who evaluates the benefits of religious life in terms of self-interest will wrongly interpret statements stressing a disinterested worship of God as covert attempts to deny that God responds to man’s condition. “There is no hope!” is the response of a man in need when he is told to love God for His own sake. One who, for whatever reason, is tied exclusively to the pursuit of his physical needs, requires a god who relates directly to his condition of deprivation. The rabbis responded to this situation by legitimizing even those actions not based on pure motives:
A man should always occupy himself with Torah and good deeds, though it is not for their own sake, for out of [doing good] with an ulterior motive there comes [doing good] for its own sake (T.B. Pesaḥim 50b).
Purity of motive was not the only criterion used by talmudic tradition to evaluate the religious significance of human behavior. Maimonides recognized that the Talmud’s acceptance of imperfectly motivated actions was rooted in the belief that concrete action could lead to inwardness. Actions may lead to purity of motive even when initiated by impure motives.
Besides this understanding of the psychological consequences of behavior, the rabbis were also motivated by their realistic understanding of communal needs. What is important in a social reality is how people act toward one another. One must appreciate that beneficial consequences can derive from imperfectly motivated actions. The man who gives charity while stipulating in his mind that he does so in order that he is rewarded and that his son recover from illness, is nevertheless declared a righteous man by the tradition. This person may be a philistine from the perspective of his motive, but at least the poor receive help. Those in need cannot wait until the individual heals his egocentricity. If one takes into account the needs of the poor and the deprived, one will be prepared to motivate action with a theology which promises abundant material rewards in return for compliance with religious norms.
One does not require the teachings of Plato or al-Farabi to recognize the problem involved in attempting to embrace both individual excellence and responsibility to the community. The esoteric-exoteric distinction between theological models is not so much a function of truth as opposed to falsity, as it is a function of a perceptive understanding of levels of worship. The rabbis’ concern for excellence, ahavah and lishmah, was not compromised by their establishing minimal conditions in which all could participate, yirah and shelo lishmah.
Philosophy, for Maimonides, serves as an instrument for raising the individual from worship at the level of yirah to the level of ahavah. Theoretical knowledge of God enables the individual to move from an observance based on self-interest to a purer observance of commandments. Philosophy offers the individual a God who is sought because of His perfection, and not only because He responds to man’s physical helplessness. That Maimonides thought philosophy had this effect is clear from the way he treats its importance in his legal works. One may disagree with Maimonides’ psychology and his conviction of the psychological consequences of philosophic development, yet one cannot ignore what he believed to be the human consequences of thought. To allege that philosophy is of little importance to Maimonides’ halakhic reader, as Husik does, is to miss Maimonides’ understanding of the direct bearing of philosophy upon one’s relationship to God and the commandments. Philosophy directs the halakhic Jew from a relationship to God based on reciprocity to a relationship based on pure love.
The structure of the argument in Ḥelek reveals this understanding of philosophy. Immediately following a discussion of fear and love of God, Maimonides interrupts himself to describe the three approaches to Aggadah already discussed in chapter one. He concludes his description with the following statement:
If, O reader, you belong to one of the first-named classes, do not pay any attention to any of my remarks on this subject, because not a word of it will suit you. On the contrary, it will harm you and you will dislike it. For how can food of lightweight and temperate character suit a person accustomed to partaking of bad and gross fare? It would really injure him, and he would loathe it.… If, however, you are of those who constitute the third class, and when you come across any of the Sages’ remarks which reason rejects, you pause and learn that it is a dark saying and an allegory. And if you then pass the night wrapped up in thought and dwelling in anxious reflection over its interpretation, mentally striving to find the truth and the correct point of view, … you will then consider this discourse of mine, and it will profit you, if God wills it.
Why does Maimonides believe that he who reads Aggadah literally will find nothing satisfactory in his treatment of olam ha-ba? One may say that since Maimonides will offer a symbolic interpretation of many aggadot dealing with the messianic age, such a person would be repulsed by a non-literal conception of messianism. This plausible explanation does not go far enough. Before one can appropriate the true meaning of olam ha-ba and then an approach to Torah grounded in disinterested love, one must be committed to universal criteria of truth independent of traditional authority. One must first understand nature from the perspective of independent reason, in order then to understand and to appreciate Maimonides’ presentation of the relationship between the biblical God of history and the God of being.
The relationship of man to God described in the Bible is reciprocal. The lord of history issues norms to man and promises—in return for man’s obedience—to satisfy all man’s material needs. In a time when God’s response to man is neither apparent nor visible, the expectation of an immediate historical response from God is replaced by messianism. Messianism and the doctrine of the resurrection of the dead essentially reflect the same model of man’s relationship to God as that found in the Bible; both doctrines merely postpone the time when God will reward those who comply with His will.
Maimonides: Torah and Philosophic Quest
Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. --- Psalm 139:23–24.
What are some of the ways in which God answers requests of this kind? Charles G. Finney: Sermons From The Penny Pulpit
By his Spirit and by the application of his truth, light often shines into the mind to give people a view of themselves that without this searching they never would have had. But while it is true that God often searches in this way and has done so in all ages, yet it is by no means the only way in which he searches the human mind. No, it is certain that he much more frequently searches us in other ways. Notice, God’s object in searching is not to inform himself about us but to reveal us to ourselves, for he knows well the state of our minds, our spiritual latitude and longitude, what we are in our present state, and what sort of characters we would develop under any and all circumstances. Consequently, God, in bringing us out to our own view, must apply tests to us that let us see ourselves as he himself sees us. In order to do this, he answers such petitions by means of his providence outside us and by his Spirit inside us. God brings us into various conditions and circumstances for the demonstration of character and then comes by his Spirit and presents it to our minds when it is demonstrated.
For example, he often allows things to occur that really will show to us—and to those around us—what sort of tempers we have. When we pray to be searched, often God allows us to be maligned and criticized. [This] shows whether we possess the virtue of meekness or whether we will say that we have a right to be angry. Now, perhaps, some of you have had such a test as this applied to you this very day. Did it demonstrate the meekness and gentleness of Christ, or did it make you angry?
God often arranges matters so that we are treated with neglect—perhaps, sinfully so—by those around us. God does not prevent this but allows it to be done. Did it make you angry and show an unholy temper, or otherwise? Perhaps God allows you to be treated with unmistakable injustice, and, when thus tried, do you show the Spirit of Christ? Do you find working in you the temper that was shown by Christ on such occasions? Remember that it is written, “If anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ” (Rom. 8:9). We would be exceedingly ignorant of ourselves if none of these tests were applied.
--- Charles G. Finney
Take Heart: Daily Devotions with the Church's Great Preachers
Case of Knives
“Fits of depression come over most of us,” Charles Spurgeon once told his students. “The strong are not always vigorous, the joyous are not always happy.” Spurgeon himself was living proof, for he often suffered agonizing periods of depression. One of the worst occurred when he was only 22 years old. His congregation had outgrown its building, so Spurgeon arranged to rent Royal Surrey Garden’s Music Hall, London’s most commodious and beautiful building, for Sunday night services. Surrey Hall usually accommodated secular concerts, carnivals, and circuses. Using it as a place of worship was unheard of in its day, and the news spread through London like lightning.
On Sunday Morning, October 19, 1856, Spurgeon preached at New Park Street Chapel, saying: “I may be called to stand where the thunderclouds brew, where the lightnings play, and tempestuous winds are howling on the mountain top. Well, then, amidst dangers he will inspire me with courage; amidst toils he will make me strong; we shall be gathered together tonight where an unprecedented mass of people will assemble, perhaps from idle curiosity, to hear God’s Word; see what God can do, just when a cloud is falling on the head of him whom God has raised up to preach to you. … ”
That Evening 12,000 people streamed into Surrey Hall and an additional 10,000 overflowed into the surrounding gardens. The services started, but as Spurgeon rose to pray, someone shouted “Fire! Fire! The galleries are giving way!” There was no fire, but the crowd bolted in panic, and in the resulting stampede seven people were trampled to death. Twenty-eight more were hospitalized.
The young preacher, reeling in shock, was literally carried from the pulpit to a friend’s house where he remained in seclusion for weeks. He wept by day and suffered terrifying dreams at night. He later said, “My thoughts were all a case of knives, cutting my heart to pieces.” At last, while meditating on Philippians 2:10, the Lord’s Word began to restore his soul.
It was this disaster, horrible as it was, that vaulted Charles Spurgeon to overnight fame as a preacher all the world wanted to hear.
So at the name of Jesus everyone will bow down, those in heaven, on earth, and under the earth. And to the glory of God the Father everyone will openly agree, “Jesus Christ is Lord!”
--- Philippians 2:10,11.
On This Day 365 Amazing And Inspiring Stories About Saints, Martyrs And Heroes
by Google and Israel’s National Museum
The Dead Sea Scrolls have made their way online some 2,000 years after they were written through a partnership between Google and Israel’s national museum.
The important documents are available in searchable, high-resolution images, accompanied by informative videos, background information, and historical data. So far five of the scrolls have been digitized, including the biblical Book of Isaiah, the Temple Scroll, and three others.
Managing Director of Google’s R&D Center in Israel, Professor Yossi Matias said they plan to add additional Dead Sea Scroll documents to the site in the future. The AP says nearly all the scrolls will be online by 2016. (PC Magazine)
Here is technology at its best! Click Here
Daily Readings / CHARLES H. SPURGEON
Morning - October 19
“Babes in Christ.” --- 1 Corinthians 3:1.
Are you mourning, believer, because you are so weak in the divine life: because your faith is so little, your love so feeble? Cheer up, for you have cause for gratitude. Remember that in some things you are equal to the greatest and most full-grown Christian. You are as much bought with blood as he is. You are as much an adopted child of God as any other believer. An infant is as truly a child of its parents as is the full-grown man. You are as completely justified, for your justification is not a thing of degrees: your little faith has made you clean every whit. You have as much right to the precious things of the covenant as the most advanced believers, for your right to covenant mercies lies not in your growth, but in the covenant itself; and your faith in Jesus is not the measure, but the token of your inheritance in him. You are as rich as the richest, if not in enjoyment, yet in real possession. The smallest star that gleams is set in heaven; the faintest ray of light has affinity with the great orb of day. In the family register of glory the small and the great are written with the same pen. You are as dear to your Father’s heart as the greatest in the family. Jesus is very tender over you. You are like the smoking flax; a rougher spirit would say, “put out that smoking flax, it fills the room with an offensive odour!” but the smoking flax he will not quench. You are like a bruised reed; and any less tender hand than that of the Chief Musician would tread upon you or throw you away, but he will never break the bruised reed. Instead of being downcast by reason of what you are, you should triumph in Christ. Am I but little in Israel? Yet in Christ I am made to sit in heavenly places. Am I poor in faith? Still in Jesus I am heir of all things. Though “less than nothing I can boast, and vanity confess.” yet, if the root of the matter be in me I will rejoice in the Lord, and glory in the God of my salvation.
Evening - October 19
“God, my maker, who giveth songs in the night.” --- Job 35:10.
Any man can sing in the day. When the cup is full, man draws inspiration from it. When wealth rolls in abundance around him, any man can praise the God who gives a plenteous harvest or sends home a loaded argosy. It is easy enough for an Aeolian harp to whisper music when the winds blow—the difficulty is for music to swell forth when no wind is stirring. It is easy to sing when we can read the notes by daylight; but he is skilful who sings when there is not a ray of light to read by—who sings from his heart. No man can make a song in the night of himself; he may attempt it, but he will find that a song in the night must be divinely inspired. Let all things go well, I can weave songs, fashioning them wherever I go out of the flowers that grow upon my path; but put me in a desert, where no green thing grows, and wherewith shall I frame a hymn of praise to God? How shall a mortal man make a crown for the Lord where no jewels are? Let but this voice be clear, and this body full of health, and I can sing God’s praise: silence my tongue, lay me upon the bed of languishing, and how shall I then chant God’s high praises, unless he himself give me the song? No, it is not in man’s power to sing when all is adverse, unless an altar-coal shall touch his lip. It was a divine song, which Habakkuk sang, when in the night he said, “Although the fig-tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls: yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation.” Then, since our Maker gives songs in the night, let us wait upon him for the music. O thou chief musician, let us not remain songless because affliction is upon us, but tune thou our lips to the melody of thanksgiving.
Morning and Evening: A New Edition of the Classic Devotional Based on The Holy Bible, English Standard Version
AM I A SOLDIER OF THE CROSS?
Isaac Watts, 1674–1748
Endure hardship with us like a good solder of Christ Jesus. No one serving as a soldier gets involved in civilian affairs—he wants to please his commanding officer. (2 Timothy 2:3, 4)
The Church founded by Christ has been built on the blood of martyrs. It has been estimated that at least 50 million persons have had a martyr’s death since the crucifixion of our Lord. Even today, in our 20th century civilized culture, large numbers of believers live under conditions of harassment and persecution.
According to historical tradition, many of Christ’s disciples and followers were persecuted by enemies of their Master with the following fates:
Matthew—suffered martyrdom by being slain in the city of Ethiopia.
Mark—died at Alexandria, after being dragged through the streets of that city.
Luke—hanged on an olive tree in the classic land of Greece.
John—put in boiling oil. Afterward branded at Patmos.
Peter—crucified at Rome with his head downward.
James the Lesser—thrown from a pinnacle of the temple, then beaten to death.
Andrew—bound to a cross, where he preached to his persecutors until he died.
Jude—shot to death with arrows.
Matthias—first stoned and then beheaded.
Barnabas of the Gentiles—stoned to death at Salonica.
Paul—after various tortures and persecutions, beheaded at Rome by Emperor Nero.
In Isaac Watts’ time, much persecution was inflicted upon the English Dissenters—those who had split from the official, state Anglican church. Stalwarts such as Isaac Watts became resolute and fearless in their proclamation and defense of the Gospel. “Am I a Soldier of the Cross?” was written in 1724, following a sermon by Watts titled “Holy Fortitude or Remedies Against Fears.” These words are still a challenge for us today:
Am I a soldier of the cross? A foll’wer of the Lamb? And shall I fear to own His cause or blush to speak His name?
Must I be carried to the skies on flow’ry beds of ease, while others fought to win the prize and sailed thru bloody seas?
Are there no foes for me to face? Must I not stem the flood? Is this vile world a friend to grace, to help me on to God?
Sure I must fight if I would reign—Increase my courage, Lord! I’ll bear the toil, endure the pain, supported by Thy Word.
For Today: 1 Corinthians 16:13; Ephesians 6:10–20; 1 Timothy 6:12; Jude 3
Even now, pray for those who are suffering for Christ and the work of the Gospel in difficult areas around the world. Reflect on these musical questions ---
Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions
Thursday, October 19, 2017 | After Pentecost
Proper 23, Thursday
Psalms (Morning) Psalm 18:1–19
Psalms (Evening) Psalm 18:20–50
Old Testament Jeremiah 38:1–13
New Testament 1 Corinthians 14:26–33a, 37–40
Gospel Matthew 10:34–42
Index of Readings
1 I love you, O LORD, my strength.
2 The LORD is my rock, my fortress, and my deliverer,
my God, my rock in whom I take refuge,
my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
3 I call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised,
so I shall be saved from my enemies.
4 The cords of death encompassed me;
the torrents of perdition assailed me;
5 the cords of Sheol entangled me;
the snares of death confronted me.
6 In my distress I called upon the LORD;
to my God I cried for help.
From his temple he heard my voice,
and my cry to him reached his ears.
7 Then the earth reeled and rocked;
the foundations also of the mountains trembled
and quaked, because he was angry.
8 Smoke went up from his nostrils,
and devouring fire from his mouth;
glowing coals flamed forth from him.
9 He bowed the heavens, and came down;
thick darkness was under his feet.
10 He rode on a cherub, and flew;
he came swiftly upon the wings of the wind.
11 He made darkness his covering around him,
his canopy thick clouds dark with water.
12 Out of the brightness before him
there broke through his clouds
hailstones and coals of fire.
13 The LORD also thundered in the heavens,
and the Most High uttered his voice.
14 And he sent out his arrows, and scattered them;
he flashed forth lightnings, and routed them.
15 Then the channels of the sea were seen,
and the foundations of the world were laid bare
at your rebuke, O LORD,
at the blast of the breath of your nostrils.
16 He reached down from on high, he took me;
he drew me out of mighty waters.
17 He delivered me from my strong enemy,
and from those who hated me;
for they were too mighty for me.
18 They confronted me in the day of my calamity;
but the LORD was my support.
19 He brought me out into a broad place;
he delivered me, because he delighted in me.
20 The LORD rewarded me according to my righteousness;
according to the cleanness of my hands he recompensed me.
21 For I have kept the ways of the LORD,
and have not wickedly departed from my God.
22 For all his ordinances were before me,
and his statutes I did not put away from me.
23 I was blameless before him,
and I kept myself from guilt.
24 Therefore the LORD has recompensed me according to my righteousness,
according to the cleanness of my hands in his sight.
25 With the loyal you show yourself loyal;
with the blameless you show yourself blameless;
26 with the pure you show yourself pure;
and with the crooked you show yourself perverse.
27 For you deliver a humble people,
but the haughty eyes you bring down.
28 It is you who light my lamp;
the LORD, my God, lights up my darkness.
29 By you I can crush a troop,
and by my God I can leap over a wall.
30 This God—his way is perfect;
the promise of the LORD proves true;
he is a shield for all who take refuge in him.
31 For who is God except the LORD?
And who is a rock besides our God?—
32 the God who girded me with strength,
and made my way safe.
33 He made my feet like the feet of a deer,
and set me secure on the heights.
34 He trains my hands for war,
so that my arms can bend a bow of bronze.
35 You have given me the shield of your salvation,
and your right hand has supported me;
your help has made me great.
36 You gave me a wide place for my steps under me,
and my feet did not slip.
37 I pursued my enemies and overtook them;
and did not turn back until they were consumed.
38 I struck them down, so that they were not able to rise;
they fell under my feet.
39 For you girded me with strength for the battle;
you made my assailants sink under me.
40 You made my enemies turn their backs to me,
and those who hated me I destroyed.
41 They cried for help, but there was no one to save them;
they cried to the LORD, but he did not answer them.
42 I beat them fine, like dust before the wind;
I cast them out like the mire of the streets.
43 You delivered me from strife with the peoples;
you made me head of the nations;
people whom I had not known served me.
44 As soon as they heard of me they obeyed me;
foreigners came cringing to me.
45 Foreigners lost heart,
and came trembling out of their strongholds.
46 The LORD lives! Blessed be my rock,
and exalted be the God of my salvation,
47 the God who gave me vengeance
and subdued peoples under me;
48 who delivered me from my enemies;
indeed, you exalted me above my adversaries;
you delivered me from the violent.
49 For this I will extol you, O LORD, among the nations,
and sing praises to your name.
50 Great triumphs he gives to his king,
and shows steadfast love to his anointed,
to David and his descendants forever.
38 Now Shephatiah son of Mattan, Gedaliah son of Pashhur, Jucal son of Shelemiah, and Pashhur son of Malchiah heard the words that Jeremiah was saying to all the people, 2 Thus says the LORD, Those who stay in this city shall die by the sword, by famine, and by pestilence; but those who go out to the Chaldeans shall live; they shall have their lives as a prize of war, and live. 3 Thus says the LORD, This city shall surely be handed over to the army of the king of Babylon and be taken. 4 Then the officials said to the king, “This man ought to be put to death, because he is discouraging the soldiers who are left in this city, and all the people, by speaking such words to them. For this man is not seeking the welfare of this people, but their harm.” 5 King Zedekiah said, “Here he is; he is in your hands; for the king is powerless against you.” 6 So they took Jeremiah and threw him into the cistern of Malchiah, the king’s son, which was in the court of the guard, letting Jeremiah down by ropes. Now there was no water in the cistern, but only mud, and Jeremiah sank in the mud.
7 Ebed-melech the Ethiopian, a eunuch in the king’s house, heard that they had put Jeremiah into the cistern. The king happened to be sitting at the Benjamin Gate, 8 So Ebed-melech left the king’s house and spoke to the king, 9 “My lord king, these men have acted wickedly in all they did to the prophet Jeremiah by throwing him into the cistern to die there of hunger, for there is no bread left in the city.” 10 Then the king commanded Ebed-melech the Ethiopian, “Take three men with you from here, and pull the prophet Jeremiah up from the cistern before he dies.” 11 So Ebed-melech took the men with him and went to the house of the king, to a wardrobe of the storehouse, and took from there old rags and worn-out clothes, which he let down to Jeremiah in the cistern by ropes. 12 Then Ebed-melech the Ethiopian said to Jeremiah, “Just put the rags and clothes between your armpits and the ropes.” Jeremiah did so. 13 Then they drew Jeremiah up by the ropes and pulled him out of the cistern. And Jeremiah remained in the court of the guard.
1 Corinthians 14:26–33a, 37–40
26 What should be done then, my friends? When you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. Let all things be done for building up. 27 If anyone speaks in a tongue, let there be only two or at most three, and each in turn; and let one interpret. 28 But if there is no one to interpret, let them be silent in church and speak to themselves and to God. 29 Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others weigh what is said. 30 If a revelation is made to someone else sitting nearby, let the first person be silent. 31 For you can all prophesy one by one, so that all may learn and all be encouraged. 32 And the spirits of prophets are subject to the prophets, 33 for God is a God not of disorder but of peace.
(As in all the churches of the saints,
37 Anyone who claims to be a prophet, or to have spiritual powers, must acknowledge that what I am writing to you is a command of the Lord. 38 Anyone who does not recognize this is not to be recognized. 39 So, my friends, be eager to prophesy, and do not forbid speaking in tongues; 40 but all things should be done decently and in order.
34 “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.
35 For I have come to set a man against his father,
and a daughter against her mother,
and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law;
36 and one’s foes will be members of one’s own household.
40 “Whoever welcomes you welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. 41 Whoever welcomes a prophet in the name of a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward; and whoever welcomes a righteous person in the name of a righteous person will receive the reward of the righteous; 42 and whoever gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones in the name of a disciple—truly I tell you, none of these will lose their reward.”
The Book of Common Prayer: And Administration of the Sacraments and Other Rites and Ceremonies of the Church