Reign of Jotham (2 Kings 15.32—38)2 Chronicles 27:1 Jotham was twenty-five years old when he began to reign; he reigned sixteen years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Jerushah daughter of Zadok. 2 He did what was right in the sight of the Lord just as his father Uzziah had done—only he did not invade the temple of the Lord. But the people still followed corrupt practices. 3 He built the upper gate of the house of the Lord, and did extensive building on the wall of Ophel. 4 Moreover he built cities in the hill country of Judah, and forts and towers on the wooded hills. 5 He fought with the king of the Ammonites and prevailed against them. The Ammonites gave him that year one hundred talents of silver, ten thousand cors of wheat and ten thousand of barley. The Ammonites paid him the same amount in the second and the third years. 6 So Jotham became strong because he ordered his ways before the Lord his God. 7 Now the rest of the acts of Jotham, and all his wars and his ways, are written in the Book of the Kings of Israel and Judah. 8 He was twenty-five years old when he began to reign; he reigned sixteen years in Jerusalem. 9 Jotham slept with his ancestors, and they buried him in the city of David; and his son Ahaz succeeded him.
The Righteous Reign of the Coming King (Isa 11.1—9)Isaiah 9:1 But there will be no gloom for those who were in anguish. In the former time he brought into contempt the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the latter time he will make glorious the way of the sea, the land beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the nations.
2 The people who walked in darkness
have seen a great light;
those who lived in a land of deep darkness—
on them light has shined.
3 You have multiplied the nation,
you have increased its joy;
they rejoice before you
as with joy at the harvest,
as people exult when dividing plunder.
4 For the yoke of their burden,
and the bar across their shoulders,
the rod of their oppressor,
you have broken as on the day of Midian.
5 For all the boots of the tramping warriors
and all the garments rolled in blood
shall be burned as fuel for the fire.
6 For a child has been born for us,
a son given to us;
authority rests upon his shoulders;
and he is named
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
7 His authority shall grow continually,
and there shall be endless peace
for the throne of David and his kingdom.
He will establish and uphold it
with justice and with righteousness
from this time onward and forevermore.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.
Judgment on Arrogance and Oppression
8 The Lord sent a word against Jacob,
and it fell on Israel;
9 and all the people knew it—
Ephraim and the inhabitants of Samaria—
but in pride and arrogance of heart they said:
10 “The bricks have fallen,
but we will build with dressed stones;
the sycamores have been cut down,
but we will put cedars in their place.”
11 So the Lord raised adversaries against them,
and stirred up their enemies,
12 the Arameans on the east and the Philistines on the west,
and they devoured Israel with open mouth.
For all this his anger has not turned away;
his hand is stretched out still.
13 The people did not turn to him who struck them,
or seek the Lord of hosts.
14 So the Lord cut off from Israel head and tail,
palm branch and reed in one day—
15 elders and dignitaries are the head,
and prophets who teach lies are the tail;
16 for those who led this people led them astray,
and those who were led by them were left in confusion.
17 That is why the Lord did not have pity on their young people,
or compassion on their orphans and widows;
for everyone was godless and an evildoer,
and every mouth spoke folly.
For all this his anger has not turned away;
his hand is stretched out still.
18 For wickedness burned like a fire,
consuming briers and thorns;
it kindled the thickets of the forest,
and they swirled upward in a column of smoke.
19 Through the wrath of the Lord of hosts
the land was burned,
and the people became like fuel for the fire;
no one spared another.
20 They gorged on the right, but still were hungry,
and they devoured on the left, but were not satisfied;
they devoured the flesh of their own kindred;
21 Manasseh devoured Ephraim, and Ephraim Manasseh,
and together they were against Judah.
For all this his anger has not turned away;
his hand is stretched out still.
Isaiah 10:1 Ah, you who make iniquitous decrees,
who write oppressive statutes,
2 to turn aside the needy from justice
and to rob the poor of my people of their right,
that widows may be your spoil,
and that you may make the orphans your prey!
3 What will you do on the day of punishment,
in the calamity that will come from far away?
To whom will you flee for help,
and where will you leave your wealth,
4 so as not to crouch among the prisoners
or fall among the slain?
For all this his anger has not turned away;
his hand is stretched out still.
Arrogant Assyria Also Judged
5 Ah, Assyria, the rod of my anger—
the club in their hands is my fury!
6 Against a godless nation I send him,
and against the people of my wrath I command him,
to take spoil and seize plunder,
and to tread them down like the mire of the streets.
7 But this is not what he intends,
nor does he have this in mind;
but it is in his heart to destroy,
and to cut off nations not a few.
8 For he says:
“Are not my commanders all kings?
9 Is not Calno like Carchemish?
Is not Hamath like Arpad?
Is not Samaria like Damascus?
10 As my hand has reached to the kingdoms of the idols
whose images were greater than those of Jerusalem and Samaria,
11 shall I not do to Jerusalem and her idols
what I have done to Samaria and her images?”
“By the strength of my hand I have done it,
and by my wisdom, for I have understanding;
I have removed the boundaries of peoples,
and have plundered their treasures;
like a bull I have brought down those who sat on thrones.
14 My hand has found, like a nest,
the wealth of the peoples;
and as one gathers eggs that have been forsaken,
so I have gathered all the earth;
and there was none that moved a wing,
or opened its mouth, or chirped.”
15 Shall the ax vaunt itself over the one who wields it,
or the saw magnify itself against the one who handles it?
As if a rod should raise the one who lifts it up,
or as if a staff should lift the one who is not wood!
16 Therefore the Sovereign, the Lord of hosts,
will send wasting sickness among his stout warriors,
and under his glory a burning will be kindled,
like the burning of fire.
17 The light of Israel will become a fire,
and his Holy One a flame;
and it will burn and devour
his thorns and briers in one day.
18 The glory of his forest and his fruitful land
the Lord will destroy, both soul and body,
and it will be as when an invalid wastes away.
19 The remnant of the trees of his forest will be so few
that a child can write them down.
The Repentant Remnant of Israel20 On that day the remnant of Israel and the survivors of the house of Jacob will no more lean on the one who struck them, but will lean on the Lord, the Holy One of Israel, in truth. 21 A remnant will return, the remnant of Jacob, to the mighty God. 22 For though your people Israel were like the sand of the sea, only a remnant of them will return. Destruction is decreed, overflowing with righteousness. 23 For the Lord God of hosts will make a full end, as decreed, in all the earth.
24 Therefore thus says the Lord God of hosts: O my people, who live in Zion, do not be afraid of the Assyrians when they beat you with a rod and lift up their staff against you as the Egyptians did. 25 For in a very little while my indignation will come to an end, and my anger will be directed to their destruction. 26 The Lord of hosts will wield a whip against them, as when he struck Midian at the rock of Oreb; his staff will be over the sea, and he will lift it as he did in Egypt. 27 On that day his burden will be removed from your shoulder, and his yoke will be destroyed from your
He has gone up from Rimmon,
28 he has come to Aiath;
he has passed through Migron,
at Michmash he stores his baggage;
29 they have crossed over the pass,
at Geba they lodge for the night;
Gibeah of Saul has fled.
30 Cry aloud, O daughter Gallim!
Listen, O Laishah!
Answer her, O Anathoth!
31 Madmenah is in flight,
the inhabitants of Gebim flee for safety.
32 This very day he will halt at Nob,
he will shake his fist
at the mount of daughter Zion,
the hill of Jerusalem.
33 Look, the Sovereign, the Lord of hosts,
will lop the boughs with terrifying power;
the tallest trees will be cut down,
and the lofty will be brought low.
34 He will hack down the thickets of the forest with an ax,
and Lebanon with its majestic trees will fall.
The Peaceful Kingdom (Isa 9.1—7)
Isaiah 11:1 A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse,
and a branch shall grow out of his roots.
2 The spirit of the Lord shall rest on him,
the spirit of wisdom and understanding,
the spirit of counsel and might,
the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.
3 His delight shall be in the fear of the Lord.
He shall not judge by what his eyes see,
or decide by what his ears hear;
4 but with righteousness he shall judge the poor,
and decide with equity for the meek of the earth;
he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth,
and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked.
5 Righteousness shall be the belt around his waist,
and faithfulness the belt around his loins.
6 The wolf shall live with the lamb,
the leopard shall lie down with the kid,
the calf and the lion and the fatling together,
and a little child shall lead them.
7 The cow and the bear shall graze,
their young shall lie down together;
and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.
8 The nursing child shall play over the hole of the asp,
and the weaned child shall put its hand on the adder’s den.
9 They will not hurt or destroy
on all my holy mountain;
for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord
as the waters cover the sea.
Return of the Remnant of Israel and Judah
11 On that day the Lord will extend his hand yet a second time to recover the remnant that is left of his people, from Assyria, from Egypt, from Pathros, from Ethiopia, from Elam, from Shinar, from Hamath, and from the
coastlands of the sea.
12 He will raise a signal for the nations,
and will assemble the outcasts of Israel,
and gather the dispersed of Judah
from the four corners of the earth.
13 The jealousy of Ephraim shall depart,
the hostility of Judah shall be cut off;
Ephraim shall not be jealous of Judah,
and Judah shall not be hostile towards Ephraim.
14 But they shall swoop down on the backs of the Philistines in the west,
together they shall plunder the people of the east.
They shall put forth their hand against Edom and Moab,
and the Ammonites shall obey them.
15 And the Lord will utterly destroy
the tongue of the sea of Egypt;
and will wave his hand over the River
with his scorching wind;
and will split it into seven channels,
and make a way to cross on foot;
16 so there shall be a highway from Assyria
for the remnant that is left of his people,
as there was for Israel
when they came up from the land of Egypt.
Thanksgiving and Praise
Isaiah 12:1 You will say in that day:
I will give thanks to you, O Lord,
for though you were angry with me,
your anger turned away,
and you comforted me.
2 Surely God is my salvation;
I will trust, and will not be afraid,
for the Lord God is my strength and my might;
he has become my salvation.
3 With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.
4 And you will say in that day:
Give thanks to the Lord,
call on his name;
make known his deeds among the nations;
proclaim that his name is exalted.
5 Sing praises to the Lord, for he has done gloriously;
let this be known in all the earth.
6 Shout aloud and sing for joy, O royal Zion,
for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.
Devotionals, notes, poetry and more
Become A Good Thinker
(Sept 16) Bob Gass
(Pr 23:7) 7 for he is like one who is inwardly calculating. “Eat and drink!” he says to you, but his heart is not with you. ESV
With practice, you can become a good thinker. Observe two things: 1) Good thinkers have foresight. ‘The plans of the diligent lead to profit’ (Proverbs 21:5 NIV 2011 Edition). The word diligent means ‘to work, study, and plan’. You don’t stumble into success and figure it out afterwards. Whether you’re in business or ministry, your level of success will increase dramatically if you place a high value on good thinking. Novelist Victor Hugo wrote, ‘A small man is made up of small thoughts.’ People who don’t practise good thinking usually find themselves at the mercy of circumstances - or other people’s thoughts. Unable to solve problems, they find themselves facing the same obstacles over and over. And because they don’t think ahead they’re habitually in reaction mode. An old German proverb says, ‘Better an empty purse than an empty head.’ Good thinkers overcome difficulties, including lack of resources, that often leave poor thinkers at the mercy of good thinkers. In As a Man Thinketh, James Allen says, ‘All that a man achieves or fails to achieve, is a direct result of his thoughts.’ Do you believe that? If you do, you’ll place a high value on good thinking and make it a priority in your life. 2) Good thinkers look for the best, not the worst. They live by this scriptural principle: ‘Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - think about such things’ (Philippians 4:8 NIV 2011 Edition).
UCB The Word For Today
by Bill Federer
September 16, 1620, using the Gregorian Calendar, one hundred and two Pilgrims set sail on the Mayflower. The two-month journey was beset with storms. At one point the beam under the main mast cracked, being propped back in place using the screw of a printer’s press. One youth was rescued after being swept overboard by a freezing wave. A boy died, and a mother gave birth. Intending to land in Virginia, they were blown off-course. In that first bitter winter half died. Governor Bradford wrote: “Last and not least, they cherished a[n]… inward zeal… for the… advance of the Gospel of the kingdom of Christ in the remote parts of the world.”
Compiled by Richard S. Adams
There is nothing that can replace the absence of someone dear to us,
and one should not even attempt to do so.
One must simply hold out and endure it.
At first that sounds very hard,
but at the same time it is also a great comfort.
For to the extent the emptiness truly remains unfilled
one remains connected to the other person through it.
It is wrong to say that God fills the emptiness.
God in no way fills it
but much more leaves it precisely unfilled and thus helps us preserve --
even in pain --
the authentic relationship.
the more beautiful and full the remembrances,
the more difficult the separation.
But gratitude transforms the torment of memory into silent joy.
One bears what was lovely in the past
not as a thorn
but as a precious gift deep within,
a hidden treasure of which one can always be certain.
--- Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Spiritual [trans]formation is the continuing response (our responsibility to respond) to the reality of God’s grace shaping us into the likeness of Jesus Christ, through the work of the Holy Spirit, in the community of faith for the sake of the world.
--- Jeffrey Greenman, May 2006
The most important task of teaching is to teach what it means to know.
--- Simone Veil (The last night of her life)
... from here, there and everywhere
Thanks to Meir Yona
5. So upon the exhortations of Mucianus, and the other commanders, that he would accept of the empire, and upon that of the rest of the army, who cried out that they were willing to be led against all his opposers, he was in the first place intent upon gaining the dominion over Alexandria, as knowing that Egypt was of the greatest consequence, in order to obtain the entire government, because of its supplying of corn [to Rome]; which corn, if he could be master of, he hoped to dethrone Vitellius, supposing he should aim to keep the empire by force [for he would not be able to support himself, if the multitude at Rome should once be in want of food]; and because he was desirous to join the two legions that were at Alexandria to the other legions that were with him. He also considered with himself, that he should then have that country for a defense to himself against the uncertainty of fortune; for Egypt 23is hard to be entered by land, and hath no good havens by sea. It hath on the west the dry deserts of Libya; and on the south Siene, that divides it from Ethiopia, as well as the cataracts of the Nile, that cannot be sailed over; and on the east the Red Sea extended as far as Coptus; and it is fortified on the north by the land that reaches to Syria, together with that called the Egyptian Sea, having no havens in it for ships. And thus is Egypt walled about on every side. Its length between Pelusium and Siene is two thousand furlongs, and the passage by sea from Plinthine to Pelusium is three thousand six hundred furlongs. Its river Nile is navigable as far as the city called Elephantine, the forenamed cataracts hindering ships from going any farther, The haven also of Alexandria is not entered by the mariners without difficulty, even in times of peace; for the passage inward is narrow, and full of rocks that lie under the water, which oblige the mariners to turn from a straight direction: its left side is blocked up by works made by men's hands on both sides; on its right side lies the island called Pharus, which is situated just before the entrance, and supports a very great tower, that affords the sight of a fire to such as sail within three hundred furlongs of it, that ships may cast anchor a great way off in the night time, by reason of the difficulty of sailing nearer. About this island are built very great piers, the handiwork of men, against which, when the sea dashes itself, and its waves are broken against those boundaries, the navigation becomes very troublesome, and the entrance through so narrow a passage is rendered dangerous; yet is the haven itself, when you are got into it, a very safe one, and of thirty furlongs in largeness; into which is brought what the country wants in order to its happiness, as also what abundance the country affords more than it wants itself is hence distributed into all the habitable earth.
6. Justly, therefore, did Vespasian desire to obtain that government, in order to corroborate his attempts upon the whole empire; so he immediately sent to Tiberius Alexander, who was then governor of Egypt and of Alexandria, and informed him what the army had put upon him, and how he, being forced to accept of the burden of the government, was desirous to have him for his confederate and supporter. Now as soon as ever Alexander had read this letter, he readily obliged the legions and the multitude to take the oath of fidelity to Vespasian, both which willingly complied with him, as already acquainted with the courage of the man, from that his conduct in their neighborhood. Accordingly Vespasian, looking upon himself as already intrusted with the government, got all things ready for his journey [to Rome]. Now fame carried this news abroad more suddenly than one could have thought, that he was emperor over the east, upon which every city kept festivals, and celebrated sacrifices and oblations for such good news; the legions also that were in Mysia and Pannonia, who had been in commotion a little before, on account of this insolent attempt of Vitellius, were very glad to take the oath of fidelity to Vespasian, upon his coming to the empire. Vespasian then removed from Cesarea to Berytus, where many embassages came to him from Syria, and many from other provinces, bringing with them from every city crowns, and the congratulations of the people. Mucianus came also, who was the president of the province, and told him with what alacrity the people [received the news of his advancement], and how the people of every city had taken the oath of fidelity to him.
7. So Vespasian's good fortune succeeded to his wishes every where, and the public affairs were, for the greatest part, already in his hands; upon which he considered that he had not arrived at the government without Divine Providence, but that a righteous kind of fate had brought the empire under his power; for as he called to mind the other signals, which had been a great many every where, that foretold he should obtain the government, so did he remember what Josephus had said to him when he ventured to foretell his coming to the empire while Nero was alive; so he was much concerned that this man was still in bonds with him. He then called for Mucianus, together with his other commanders and friends, and, in the first place, he informed them what a valiant man Josephus had been, and what great hardships he had made him undergo in the siege of Jotapata. After that he related those predictions of his 24 which he had then suspected as fictions, suggested out of the fear he was in, but which had by time been demonstrated to be Divine. "It is a shameful thing [said he] that this man, who hath foretold my coming to the empire beforehand, and been the minister of a Divine message to me, should still be retained in the condition of a captive or prisoner." So he called for Josephus, and commanded that he should be set at liberty; whereupon the commanders promised themselves glorious things, froth this requital Vespasian made to a stranger. Titus was then present with his father, and said, "O father, it is but just that the scandal [of a prisoner] should be taken off Josephus, together with his iron chain. For if we do not barely loose his bonds, but cut them to pieces, he will be like a man that had never been bound at all." For that is the usual method as to such as have been bound without a cause. This advice was agreed to by Vespasian also; so there came a man in, and cut the chain to pieces; while Josephus received this testimony of his integrity for a reward, and was moreover esteemed a person of credit as to futurities also.
The Project Gutenberg EBook of The Wars of the Jews or History of the Destruction of Jerusalem, by Flavius Josephus Translator: William Whiston
The War of the Jews: The History of the Destruction of Jerusalem (complete edition, 7 books)
by D.H. Stern
and the vineyard of the man lacking sense.
31 There it was, overgrown with thistles;
the ground was covered with nettles,
and its stone wall was broken down.
32 I looked, and I thought about it;
I saw, and I learned this lesson:
33 “I’ll just lie here a bit, rest a little longer,
just fold my hands for a little more sleep”—
34 and poverty comes marching in on you,
scarcity hits you like an invading soldier.
Complete Jewish Bible : An English Version of the Tanakh (Old Testament) and B'Rit Hadashah (New Testament)
There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse,
and a branch shall grow out of his roots.
--- Isaiah 11:1.
Jesse’s roots, composted with carcasses
Of dove and lamb,
parchments of ox and goat,
Centuries of dried up prayers and bloody
Sacrifice, now bear me Gospel fruit.
David’s branch, fed on kosher soil,
Blossoms a messianic flower, and then
Ripens into a kingdom crop, conserving
The fragrance and warmth of spring
for winter use.
Holy Spirit, shake our family tree;
Release your ripened fruit
to our outstretched arms.
I’d like to see my children sink their teeth
Into promised land pomegranates
And Canaan grapes, bushel gifts of God,
While I skip a grace rope to a Christ tune.
Peterson, E. H. (1989).
The Contemplative Pastor: Returning to the Art of Spiritual Direction
The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light:
Those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness,
on them has light shined.
--- Isaiah 9:2.
and oilless lamps abandoned
By foolish virgins too much in a hurry to wait
And tend the light are clues
to the failed watch,
The missed arrival,
the midnight might-have-been.
Wick and beeswax make a guttering protest,
Fragile, defiant flame against demonic
Terrors that gust, invisible and nameless,
Out of galactic ungodded emptiness.
Then deep in the blackness
fires nursed by wise
Believers surprise with shining
all groping derelicts
Bruised and stumbling in a world benighted.
The sudden blazing backlights
each head with a nimbus.
Shafts of storm-filtered sun
search and destroy
The Stygian desolation:
I see. I see.
Peterson, E. H. (1989).
The Contemplative Pastor: Returning to the Art of Spiritual Direction
A Daily Devotional by Oswald Chambers
The divine region of religion
But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret. -- Matthew 6:6.
The main idea in the region of religion is—Your eyes upon God, not on men. Do not have as your motive the desire to be known as a praying man. Get an inner chamber in which to pray where no one knows you are praying, shut the door and talk to God in secret. Have no other motive than to know your Father in heaven. It is impossible to conduct your life as a disciple without definite times of secret prayer:
“But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions.…” (Matthew 6:7). God is never impressed by our earnestness. He does not hear us because we are in earnest, but only on the ground of Redemption. Prayer is not simply getting things from God, that is an initial form of prayer; prayer is getting into perfect communion with God. If the Son of God is formed in us by regeneration, He will press forward in front of our common sense and change our attitude to the things about which we pray.
“Everyone that asketh receiveth.” We pray pious blether, our will is not in it, and then we say God does not answer; we never asked for anything. “Ye shall ask what ye will,” said Jesus. Asking means our will is in it. Whenever Jesus talked about prayer, He put it with the grand simplicity of a child; we bring in our critical temper and say—‘Yes, but …’ Jesus said—“Ask.” But remember that we have to ask of God things that are in keeping with the God Whom Jesus Christ revealed.
My Utmost for His Highest: Quality Paperback Edition
the Poetry of RS Thomas
It was the time of the election
The ravens loitered above the hill
In slow circles; they had all air
To themselves. No eyes were lifted
From the streets, no ears heard
Them exulting, recalling their long
History, presidents of the battles
Of flesh, the sly connoisseurs
Of carrion; desultory flags
Of darkness, saddening the sky
At Catraeth and further back,
When two, who should have been friends,
Contended in the innocent light
For the woman in her downpour of hair.
Selected poems, 1946-1968
Don’t throw a stone into the cistern you drank from.
BIBLE TEXT / Numbers 31:1–6 / The Lord spoke to Moses saying, “Avenge the Israelite people on the Midianites; then you shall be gathered to your kin.”
Moses spoke to the people, saying, “Let men be picked out from among you for a campaign, and let them fall upon Midian to wreak the Lord’s vengeance on Midian. You shall dispatch on the campaign a thousand from every one of the tribes of Israel.”
So a thousand from each tribe were furnished from the divisions of Israel, twelve thousand picked for the campaign. Moses dispatched them on the campaign, a thousand from each tribe, with Phinehas son of Eleazar serving as a priest on the campaign.…
MIDRASH TEXT / Numbers Rabbah 22, 4 / Moses dispatched them. The Holy One, praised is He, said to Moses, Avenge—you, personally, yet he sends others! However, since he grew up in the land of Midian, he said, “It is not right that I do harm to someone who did good for me.” The proverb says, “Don’t throw a stone into the cistern you drank from.”
But there are those who say that this is not the same Midian that Moses grew up in, for the Midian is near Moab, and is desolate until today.
Why did he send Phinehas? He [Moses] said, “He who began the mitzvah is the one who finishes it. He [Phinehas] is the one who turned back His wrath and killed the Midianite woman; he should finish his mitzvah.”
The Holy One, praised is He, said to Moses, “Avenge.…” The Hebrew word for “avenge” that God uses in the command to Moses is in the masculine singular, נְקֹם/nekom. The Rabbis assume therefore that God is speaking specifically to Moses and ordering him, and him alone, to conduct the campaign against the Midianites: You, personally. Had God wanted the entire Israelite nation to go to war against the enemy, the plural form of the verb would have been used, נִקְמוּ/nikmu.
But Moses is unable—or unwilling—to do this task of vengeance by himself. “It is not right that I do harm to someone who did good for me.” As a young man, Moses had killed an Egyptian taskmaster and had been forced to flee from Egypt. He took refuge in the land of Midian and married the daughter of a Midianite priest. The Rabbis imagined Moses being very uncomfortable about destroying the very people who had helped him so many years before. “Don’t throw a stone into the cistern you drank from.” How appropriate that the proverb speaks about a cistern, or well, from which one drank. It was at such a spot in the wilderness that Moses first encountered his wife-to-be, the Midianite shepherd girl Zipporah.
There is, however, a dissenting opinion that questions whether the Midianites that Moses married into (Exodus 2) are the very same Midianites upon whom he is commanded to take vengeance (Numbers 31). But there are those who say that this is not the same Midian that Moses grew up in. The “first Midian,” where Moses took refuge, was not very far from Egypt. The “latter Midian,” cited in Numbers 31, is near Moab, east of the Sinai peninsula, close to the Arabian desert (in what today would be Saudi Arabia or Jordan). Contemporary historians see the Midianites as a group of seminomadic traders who traveled and camped throughout the Sinai peninsula and the Arabian desert.
We are left with the question of how a people so friendly to Moses early in his life could be so cruel to the Israelites later on. We need only remember that when the Midianites first encountered Moses, he was one man, alone. The later stories have him leading many thousands of Israelites through Midianite territory. And, of course, there were probably several tribes of Midianites, clans that were not in contact with one another.
What had the Midianites done to Israel that required such a harsh response—“Avenge the Israelite people on the Midianites”? They had conspired with the Moabites to destroy the Israelites, first by engaging Balaam to curse them (Numbers 22:24), and later by trying to seduce them into the worship of their god, Baal-peor (Numbers 25). Why did he send Phinehas? Phinehas, the grandson of Aaron, was the first to strike back at the Midianite threat by killing an Israelite man and a Midianite woman who were consorting in the presence of the Tent of Meeting (Numbers 25:6–8). It was for this reason, the Rabbis surmised, that Phinehas is singled out by name, as he led the final campaign of vengeance against the Midianites: “He who began the mitzvah is the one who finishes it.”
Searching for Meaning in Midrash: Lessons for Everyday Living
Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”
--- Matthew 14:29–30.
The first thought to force itself on me is that it was Peter’s temperament that put him in this danger. (George H. Morrison, “Beginning to Sink,” in Wind on the Heath (original title: The Afterglow of God, London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1912; reprint, Grand Rapids: Kregel, 1994), 40–45.) He began to sink not because he was wicked—he began to sink because he was Simon Peter. The other disciples were all safe and sound. It never occurred to them to leave the vessel. They were men of wisdom and common sense and knew the difference between land and water. But Peter was reckless, headstrong, and impetuous, acting on the impulse of the moment. Peter followed the dictate of his heart and never waited for his laggard reason. In a sense, that was the glory of his character. It made him do what no one else would do. It gave him the charm of daring and enthusiasm that always fascinates.
But those very qualities, which in the hand of Christ were to go to the upbuilding of the church, sometimes brought him to the verge of ruin. It was only Peter who would begin to walk, and it was only Peter who would begin to sink. He was led into peril on these stormy waters because of what was self-forgetful in him. And it may be you have not sunk yet, but are beginning to sink because you have a temperament like that. Our perils do not always reach us through our worst. Our perils sometimes reach us through our best, through what is charming in us and delightful and self-forgetful and enthusiastic. And so, like Peter, we begin to do what the cold and calculating would never do, and then, like Peter, we begin to sink. That is why we all need to be saved not only from sin but from ourselves. That is why God, in his holy love, to save us gave us not a message but a Man. For our brightest social qualities may wreck us. A touch of genius may be our ruin. For all that is implied in that word temperament, we need the keeping of the Lord Jesus Christ.
--- George H. Morrison
Take Heart: Daily Devotions with the Church's Great Preachers
Friends of Israel September 16
The reestablishment of the State of Israel in 1948 was a crowning achievement for the Zionist movement of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Among the Zionists were many Christians, especially in Great Britain, who believed the restoration of the Jews to Palestine was part of God’s plan for the final chapters of history. Even before the end of the 1600s, at least 12 publications appeared in England advocating the return of the Jews to Palestine. Many British Christians viewed this as a mandate of biblical prophecy and linked it with the return of Christ. On September 16, 1840 Scottish minister Robert Murray McCheyne wrote to his friend in Belfast, George Shaw:
You cannot tell how much real joy your letter gave me when you tell of the dear brethren who meet with you on Monday Mornings, to read and pray concerning Israel. I feel deeply persuaded from prophecy, that it will always be difficult to stir up and maintain a warm and holy interest in outcast Israel. The lovers and pleaders of Zion’s cause will be always few. Do you not think this is hinted at in
Jeremiah 30:13: “There is none to plead thy cause, that thou mayest be bound up” (KJV)? And is not this one of the very reasons why God will take up their cause.
It is sweet encouragement to learn, that though the friends of Zion will probably be few, yet there always will be some who will keep watch over the dust of Jerusalem, and plead the cause of Israel with God and with man. See
Isaiah 62:6b,7: “Ye that make mention of the LORD, keep not silence, and give him no rest, till he establish, and till he make Jerusalem a praise in the earth” (KJV). Oh, my dear brethren, into whose hearts I trust God is pouring a scriptural love for Israel, what an honor is it for us, worms of the dust, to be made watchmen by God over the ruined walls of Jerusalem, and to be made the Lord’s remembrancers, to call His own promises to His mind, that He would fulfill them, and make Jerusalem a blessing to the whole world!
Jerusalem, on your walls I have stationed guards,
Whose duty it is to speak out day and night,
They must remind the LORD and not let him rest
Till he makes Jerusalem strong
And famous everywhere.
--- Isaiah 62:6,7.
On This Day 365 Amazing And Inspiring Stories About Saints, Martyrs And Heroes
Daily Readings / CHARLES H. SPURGEON
Morning - September 16
"Partakers of the divine nature." --- 2 Peter 1:4.
To be a partaker of the divine nature is not, of course, to become God. That cannot be. The essence of Deity is not to be participated in by the creature. Between the creature and the Creator there must ever be a gulf fixed in respect of essence; but as the first man Adam was made in the image of God, so we, by the renewal of the Holy Spirit, are in a yet diviner sense made in the image of the Most High, and are partakers of the divine nature. We are, by grace, made like God. “God is love”; we become love—“He that loveth is born of God.” God is truth; we become true, and we love that which is true: God is good, and he makes us good by his grace, so that we become the pure in heart who shall see God. Moreover, we become partakers of the divine nature in even a higher sense than this—in fact, in as lofty a sense as can be conceived, short of our being absolutely divine. Do we not become members of the body of the divine person of Christ? Yes, the same blood which flows in the head flows in the hand: and the same life which quickens Christ quickens his people, for “Ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.” Nay, as if this were not enough, we are married unto Christ. He hath betrothed us unto himself in righteousness and in faithfulness, and he who is joined unto the Lord is one spirit. Oh! marvellous mystery! we look into it, but who shall understand it? One with Jesus—so one with him that the branch is not more one with the vine than we are a part of the Lord, our Saviour, and our Redeemer! While we rejoice in this, let us remember that those who are made partakers of the divine nature will manifest their high and holy relationship in their intercourse with others, and make it evident by their daily walk and conversation that they have escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. O for more divine holiness of life!
Evening - September 16
“Am I a sea, or a whale, that thou settest a watch over me?” --- Job 7:12.
This was a strange question for Job to ask of the Lord. He felt himself to be too insignificant to be so strictly watched and chastened, and he hoped that he was not so unruly as to need to be so restrained. The enquiry was natural from one surrounded with such insupportable miseries, but after all, it is capable of a very humbling answer. It is true man is not the sea, but he is even more troublesome and unruly. The sea obediently respects its boundary, and though it be but a belt of sand, it does not overleap the limit. Mighty as it is, it hears the divine hitherto, and when most raging with tempest it respects the word; but self-willed man defies heaven and oppresses earth, neither is there any end to this rebellious rage. The sea, obedient to the moon, ebbs and flows with ceaseless regularity, and thus renders an active as well as a passive obedience; but man, restless beyond his sphere, sleeps within the lines of duty, indolent where he should be active. He will neither come nor go at the divine command, but sullenly prefers to do what he should not, and to leave undone that which is required of him. Every drop in the ocean, every beaded bubble, and every yeasty foam-flake, every shell and pebble, feel the power of law, and yield or move at once. O that our nature were but one thousandth part as much conformed to the will of God! We call the sea fickle and false, but how constant it is! Since our fathers’ days, and the old time before them, the sea is where it was, beating on the same cliffs to the same tune; we know where to find it, it forsakes not its bed, and changes not in its ceaseless boom; but where is man-vain, fickle man? Can the wise man guess by what folly he will next be seduced from his obedience? We need more watching than the billowy sea, and are far more rebellious. Lord, rule us for thine own glory. Amen.
Morning and Evening: A New Edition of the Classic Devotional Based on The Holy Bible, English Standard Version
HIS MATCHLESS WORTH
Samuel Medley, 1738–1799
Whom have I in heaven but You? And earth has nothing I desire besides You. (Psalm 73:25)
The distinctiveness of the Christian faith is that it focuses all of its teachings and emphasis on a single person, Jesus Christ—the God-man. All that we really know about our heavenly Father is learned from this One who lived among us for 33 years.
Some people speak eloquently about the Fatherhood of God yet seldom extol the virtues of Christ. But without a biblical knowledge of Christ and a personal relationship with Him, our understanding of God the Father would be incomplete. The Scriptures teach that Christ was the visible representation of the invisible Godhead (John 4:9).
Samuel Medley served in the British Royal Navy until he was wounded in battle at the age of 21. While recuperating from his injury, he was converted to Christ as he was reading a sermon by Isaac Watts. Soon Medley felt the call of God to the ministry and pastored several Baptist churches, including one in Liverpool, where he was especially successful, particularly in work with young sailors.
This hymn text first appeared in Medley’s hymnal of 1789. It was originally titled “Praise of Jesus,” and it presents a rich picture of our Lord. It extols His matchless worth, unfathomable to the human mind; His redemptive work; His characters and many forms of love; His righteousness; and the fact that He will one day receive us to an eternal heavenly home.
O could I speak the matchless worth, O could I sound the glories forth which in my Savior shine, I’d soar and touch the heav’nly strings, and vie with Gabriel while he sings in notes almost divine, in notes almost divine.
I’d sing the precious blood He spilt, my ransom from the dreadful guilt of sin and wrath divine! I’d sing His glorious righteousness, in which all perfect heav’nly dress my soul shall ever shine, my soul shall ever shine.
I’d sing the characters He bears, and all the forms of love He wears, exalted on His throne: In loftiest songs of sweetest praise, I would to everlasting days make all His glories known, make all His glories known.
Well, the delightful day will come when my dear Lord will bring me home and I shall see His face; then with my Savior, Brother, Friend, a blest eternity I’ll spend, triumphant in His grace, triumphant in His grace.
For Today: Psalm 73:21–28; Matthew 14:33; 27:54; 28:18; Philippians 2:9–11
Spend a few moments delighting yourself in Christ alone. Then sing as you go ---
Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions
Saturday, September 16, 2017 | After Pentecost
Proper 18, Saturday
Psalms (Morning) Psalm 55
Psalms (Evening) Psalm 138, 139:1–18 (19–24)
Old Testament 1 Kings 18:41–19:8
New Testament Philippians 3:17–4:7
Gospel Matthew 3:13–17
Index of Readings
To the leader: with stringed instruments. A Maskil of David.
1 Give ear to my prayer, O God;
do not hide yourself from my supplication.
2 Attend to me, and answer me;
I am troubled in my complaint.
I am distraught 3 by the noise of the enemy,
because of the clamor of the wicked.
For they bring trouble upon me,
and in anger they cherish enmity against me.
4 My heart is in anguish within me,
the terrors of death have fallen upon me.
5 Fear and trembling come upon me,
and horror overwhelms me.
6 And I say, “O that I had wings like a dove!
I would fly away and be at rest;
7 truly, I would flee far away;
I would lodge in the wilderness; Selah
8 I would hurry to find a shelter for myself
from the raging wind and tempest.”
9 Confuse, O Lord, confound their speech;
for I see violence and strife in the city.
10 Day and night they go around it
on its walls,
and iniquity and trouble are within it;
11 ruin is in its midst;
oppression and fraud
do not depart from its marketplace.
12 It is not enemies who taunt me—
I could bear that;
it is not adversaries who deal insolently with me—
I could hide from them.
13 But it is you, my equal,
my companion, my familiar friend,
14 with whom I kept pleasant company;
we walked in the house of God with the throng.
15 Let death come upon them;
let them go down alive to Sheol;
for evil is in their homes and in their hearts.
16 But I call upon God,
and the LORD will save me.
17 Evening and morning and at noon
I utter my complaint and moan,
and he will hear my voice.
18 He will redeem me unharmed
from the battle that I wage,
for many are arrayed against me.
19 God, who is enthroned from of old, Selah
will hear, and will humble them—
because they do not change,
and do not fear God.
20 My companion laid hands on a friend
and violated a covenant with me
21 with speech smoother than butter,
but with a heart set on war;
with words that were softer than oil,
but in fact were drawn swords.
22 Cast your burden on the LORD,
and he will sustain you;
he will never permit
the righteous to be moved.
23 But you, O God, will cast them down
into the lowest pit;
the bloodthirsty and treacherous
shall not live out half their days.
But I will trust in you.
Psalm 138, 139:1–18 (19–24)
1 I give you thanks, O LORD, with my whole heart;
before the gods I sing your praise;
2 I bow down toward your holy temple
and give thanks to your name for your steadfast love and your faithfulness;
for you have exalted your name and your word
3 On the day I called, you answered me,
you increased my strength of soul.
4 All the kings of the earth shall praise you, O LORD,
for they have heard the words of your mouth.
5 They shall sing of the ways of the LORD,
for great is the glory of the LORD.
6 For though the LORD is high, he regards the lowly;
but the haughty he perceives from far away.
7 Though I walk in the midst of trouble,
you preserve me against the wrath of my enemies;
you stretch out your hand,
and your right hand delivers me.
8 The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me;
your steadfast love, O LORD, endures forever.
Do not forsake the work of your hands.
1 O LORD, you have searched me and known me.
2 You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
you discern my thoughts from far away.
3 You search out my path and my lying down,
and are acquainted with all my ways.
4 Even before a word is on my tongue,
O LORD, you know it completely.
5 You hem me in, behind and before,
and lay your hand upon me.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
it is so high that I cannot attain it.
7 Where can I go from your spirit?
Or where can I flee from your presence?
8 If I ascend to heaven, you are there;
if I make my bed in Sheol, you are there.
9 If I take the wings of the morning
and settle at the farthest limits of the sea,
10 even there your hand shall lead me,
and your right hand shall hold me fast.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me,
and the light around me become night,”
12 even the darkness is not dark to you;
the night is as bright as the day,
for darkness is as light to you.
13 For it was you who formed my inward parts;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
that I know very well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes beheld my unformed substance.
In your book were written
all the days that were formed for me,
when none of them as yet existed.
17 How weighty to me are your thoughts, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!
18 I try to count them—they are more than the sand;
I come to the end—I am still with you.
19 O that you would kill the wicked, O God,
and that the bloodthirsty would depart from me—
20 those who speak of you maliciously,
and lift themselves up against you for evil!
21 Do I not hate those who hate you, O LORD?
And do I not loathe those who rise up against you?
22 I hate them with perfect hatred;
I count them my enemies.
23 Search me, O God, and know my heart;
test me and know my thoughts.
24 See if there is any wicked way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.
1 Kings 18:41–19:8
41 Elijah said to Ahab, “Go up, eat and drink; for there is a sound of rushing rain.” 42 So Ahab went up to eat and to drink. Elijah went up to the top of Carmel; there he bowed himself down upon the earth and put his face between his knees. 43 He said to his servant, “Go up now, look toward the sea.” He went up and looked, and said, “There is nothing.” Then he said, “Go again seven times.” 44 At the seventh time he said, “Look, a little cloud no bigger than a person’s hand is rising out of the sea.” Then he said, “Go say to Ahab, ‘Harness your chariot and go down before the rain stops you.’ ” 45 In a little while the heavens grew black with clouds and wind; there was a heavy rain. Ahab rode off and went to Jezreel. 46 But the hand of the LORD was on Elijah; he girded up his loins and ran in front of Ahab to the entrance of Jezreel.
19 Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, and how he had killed all the prophets with the sword. 2 Then Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah, saying, “So may the gods do to me, and more also, if I do not make your life like the life of one of them by this time tomorrow.” 3 Then he was afraid; he got up and fled for his life, and came to Beer-sheba, which belongs to Judah; he left his servant there.
4 But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a solitary broom tree. He asked that he might die: “It is enough; now, O LORD, take away my life, for I am no better than my ancestors.” 5 Then he lay down under the broom tree and fell asleep. Suddenly an angel touched him and said to him, “Get up and eat.” 6 He looked, and there at his head was a cake baked on hot stones, and a jar of water. He ate and drank, and lay down again. 7 The angel of the LORD came a second time, touched him, and said, “Get up and eat, otherwise the journey will be too much for you.” 8 He got up, and ate and drank; then he went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights to Horeb the mount of God.
17 Brothers and sisters, join in imitating me, and observe those who live according to the example you have in us. 18 For many live as enemies of the cross of Christ; I have often told you of them, and now I tell you even with tears. 19 Their end is destruction; their god is the belly; and their glory is in their shame; their minds are set on earthly things. 20 But our citizenship is in heaven, and it is from there that we are expecting a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. 21 He will transform the body of our humiliation that it may be conformed to the body of his glory, by the power that also enables him to make all things subject to himself. 4 1 Therefore, my brothers and sisters, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm in the Lord in this way, my beloved.
2 I urge Euodia and I urge Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord. 3 Yes, and I ask you also, my loyal companion, help these women, for they have struggled beside me in the work of the gospel, together with Clement and the rest of my co-workers, whose names are in the book of life.
4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. 5 Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. 6 Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
13 Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan, to be baptized by him. 14 John would have prevented him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” 15 But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now; for it is proper for us in this way to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he consented. 16 And when Jesus had been baptized, just as he came up from the water, suddenly the heavens were opened to him and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. 17 And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.”
The Book of Common Prayer: And Administration of the Sacraments and Other Rites and Ceremonies of the Church