An Oracle concerning Tyre and Sidon Watch videoIsaiah 23:1 The oracle concerning Tyre.
Wail, O ships of Tarshish,
for Tyre is laid waste, without house or harbor!
From the land of Cyprus
it is revealed to them.
2 Be still, O inhabitants of the coast;
the merchants of Sidon, who cross the sea, have
3 And on many waters
your revenue was the grain of Shihor,
the harvest of the Nile;
you were the merchant of the nations.
4 Be ashamed, O Sidon, for the sea has spoken,
the stronghold of the sea, saying:
“I have neither labored nor given birth,
I have neither reared young men
nor brought up young women.”
5 When the report comes to Egypt,
they will be in anguish over the report about Tyre.
6 Cross over to Tarshish;
wail, O inhabitants of the coast!
7 Is this your exultant city
whose origin is from days of old,
whose feet carried her
to settle far away?
8 Who has purposed this
against Tyre, the bestower of crowns,
whose merchants were princes,
whose traders were the honored of the earth?
9 The LORD of hosts has purposed it,
to defile the pompous pride of all glory,
to dishonor all the honored of the earth.
10 Cross over your land like the Nile,
O daughter of Tarshish;
there is no restraint anymore.
11 He has stretched out his hand over the sea;
he has shaken the kingdoms;
the LORD has given command concerning Canaan
to destroy its strongholds.
12 And he said:
“You will no more exult,
O oppressed virgin daughter of Sidon;
arise, cross over to Cyprus,
even there you will have no rest.”
14 Wail, O ships of Tarshish, for your stronghold is laid waste.15 In that day Tyre will be forgotten for seventy years, like the days of one king. At the end of seventy years, it will happen to Tyre as in the song of the prostitute:
16 “Take a harp;
go about the city,
O forgotten prostitute!
Make sweet melody;
sing many songs,
that you may be remembered.”
Judgment on the Whole Earth Watch video
Isaiah 24:1 Behold, the Lord will empty the earth and make it desolate,
and he will twist its surface and scatter its inhabitants.
2 And it shall be, as with the people, so with the priest;
as with the slave, so with his master;
as with the maid, so with her mistress;
as with the buyer, so with the seller;
as with the lender, so with the borrower;
as with the creditor, so with the debtor.
3 The earth shall be utterly empty and utterly plundered;
for the LORD has spoken this word.
4 The earth mourns and withers;
the world languishes and withers;
the highest people of the earth languish.
5 The earth lies defiled
under its inhabitants;
for they have transgressed the laws,
violated the statutes,
broken the everlasting covenant.
6 Therefore a curse devours the earth,
and its inhabitants suffer for their guilt;
therefore the inhabitants of the earth are scorched,
and few men are left.
7 The wine mourns,
the vine languishes,
all the merry-hearted sigh.
8 The mirth of the tambourines is stilled,
the noise of the jubilant has ceased,
the mirth of the lyre is stilled.
9 No more do they drink wine with singing;
strong drink is bitter to those who drink it.
10 The wasted city is broken down;
every house is shut up so that none can enter.
11 There is an outcry in the streets for lack of wine;
all joy has grown dark;
the gladness of the earth is banished.
12 Desolation is left in the city;
the gates are battered into ruins.
13 For thus it shall be in the midst of the earth
among the nations,
as when an olive tree is beaten,
as at the gleaning when the grape harvest is done.
14 They lift up their voices, they sing for joy;
over the majesty of the LORD they shout from the west.
15 Therefore in the east give glory to the LORD;
in the coastlands of the sea, give glory to the name of the LORD, the God of Israel.
16 From the ends of the earth we hear songs of praise,
of glory to the Righteous One.
But I say, “I waste away,
I waste away. Woe is me!
For the traitors have betrayed,
with betrayal the traitors have betrayed.”
17 Terror and the pit and the snare
are upon you, O inhabitant of the earth!
18 He who flees at the sound of the terror
shall fall into the pit,
and he who climbs out of the pit
shall be caught in the snare.
For the windows of heaven are opened,
and the foundations of the earth tremble.
19 The earth is utterly broken,
the earth is split apart,
the earth is violently shaken.
20 The earth staggers like a drunken man;
it sways like a hut;
its transgression lies heavy upon it,
and it falls, and will not rise again.
21 On that day the LORD will punish
the host of heaven, in heaven,
and the kings of the earth, on the earth.
22 They will be gathered together
as prisoners in a pit;
they will be shut up in a prison,
and after many days they will be punished.
23 Then the moon will be confounded
and the sun ashamed,
for the LORD of hosts reigns
on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem,
and his glory will be before his elders.
God Will Swallow Up Death Forever Watch video
Isaiah 25:1 O Lord, you are my God;
I will exalt you; I will praise your name,
for you have done wonderful things,
plans formed of old, faithful and sure.
2 For you have made the city a heap,
the fortified city a ruin;
the foreigners’ palace is a city no more;
it will never be rebuilt.
3 Therefore strong peoples will glorify you;
cities of ruthless nations will fear you.
4 For you have been a stronghold to the poor,
a stronghold to the needy in his distress,
a shelter from the storm and a shade from the heat;
for the breath of the ruthless is like a storm against a wall,
5 like heat in a dry place.
You subdue the noise of the foreigners;
as heat by the shade of a cloud,
so the song of the ruthless is put down.
6 On this mountain the LORD of hosts will make for all peoples
a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wine,
of rich food full of marrow, of aged wine well refined.
7 And he will swallow up on this mountain
the covering that is cast over all peoples,
the veil that is spread over all nations.
8 He will swallow up death forever;
and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from all faces,
and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth,
for the LORD has spoken.
9 It will be said on that day,
“Behold, this is our God; we have waited for him, that he might save us.
This is the LORD; we have waited for him;
let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.”
10 For the hand of the LORD will rest on this mountain,
and Moab shall be trampled down in his place,
as straw is trampled down in a dunghill.
11 And he will spread out his hands in the midst of it
as a swimmer spreads his hands out to swim,
but the LORD will lay low his pompous pride together with the skill of his hands.
12 And the high fortifications of his walls he will bring down,
lay low, and cast to the ground, to the dust.
You Keep Him in Perfect Peace Watch videoIsaiah 26:1 In that day this song will be sung in the land of Judah:
“We have a strong city;
he sets up salvation
as walls and bulwarks.
2 Open the gates,
that the righteous nation that keeps faith may enter in.
3 You keep him in perfect peace
whose mind is stayed on you,
because he trusts in you.
4 Trust in the LORD forever,
for the LORD GOD is an everlasting rock.
5 For he has humbled
the inhabitants of the height,
the lofty city.
He lays it low, lays it low to the ground,
casts it to the dust.
6 The foot tramples it,
the feet of the poor,
the steps of the needy.”
7 The path of the righteous is level;
you make level the way of the righteous.
8 In the path of your judgments,
O LORD, we wait for you;
your name and remembrance
are the desire of our soul.
9 My soul yearns for you in the night;
my spirit within me earnestly seeks you.
For when your judgments are in the earth,
the inhabitants of the world learn righteousness.
10 If favor is shown to the wicked,
he does not learn righteousness;
in the land of uprightness he deals corruptly
and does not see the majesty of the LORD.
11 O LORD, your hand is lifted up,
but they do not see it.
Let them see your zeal for your people, and be ashamed.
Let the fire for your adversaries consume them.
12 O LORD, you will ordain peace for us,
for you have indeed done for us all our works.
13 O LORD our God,
other lords besides you have ruled over us,
but your name alone we bring to remembrance.
14 They are dead, they will not live;
they are shades, they will not arise;
to that end you have visited them with destruction
and wiped out all remembrance of them.
15 But you have increased the nation, O LORD,
you have increased the nation; you are glorified;
you have enlarged all the borders of the land.
16 O LORD, in distress they sought you;
they poured out a whispered prayer
when your discipline was upon them.
17 Like a pregnant woman
who writhes and cries out in her pangs
when she is near to giving birth,
so were we because of you, O LORD;
18 we were pregnant, we writhed,
but we have given birth to wind.
We have accomplished no deliverance in the earth,
and the inhabitants of the world have not fallen.
19 Your dead shall live; their bodies shall rise.
You who dwell in the dust, awake and sing for joy!
For your dew is a dew of light,
and the earth will give birth to the dead.
20 Come, my people, enter your chambers,
and shut your doors behind you;
hide yourselves for a little while
until the fury has passed by.
21 For behold, the LORD is coming out from his place
to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity,
and the earth will disclose the blood shed on it,
and will no more cover its slain.
The Redemption of Israel Watch videoIsaiah 27:1 In that day the Lord with his hard and great and strong sword will punish Leviathan the fleeing serpent, Leviathan the twisting serpent, and he will slay the dragon that is in the sea.
2 In that day,
“A pleasant vineyard, sing of it!
3 I, the LORD, am its keeper;
every moment I water it.
Lest anyone punish it,
I keep it night and day;
4 I have no wrath.
Would that I had thorns and briers to battle!
I would march against them,
I would burn them up together.
5 Or let them lay hold of my protection,
let them make peace with me,
let them make peace with me.”
6 In days to come Jacob shall take root,
Israel shall blossom and put forth shoots
and fill the whole world with fruit.
7 Has he struck them as he struck those who struck them?
Or have they been slain as their slayers were slain?
8 Measure by measure, by exile you contended with them;
he removed them with his fierce breath in the day of the east wind.
9 Therefore by this the guilt of Jacob will be atoned for,
and this will be the full fruit of the removal of his sin:
when he makes all the stones of the altars
like chalkstones crushed to pieces,
no Asherim or incense altars will remain standing.
10 For the fortified city is solitary,
a habitation deserted and forsaken, like the wilderness;
there the calf grazes;
there it lies down and strips its branches.
11 When its boughs are dry, they are broken;
women come and make a fire of them.
For this is a people without discernment;
therefore he who made them will not have compassion on them;
he who formed them will show them no favor.
English Standard Version Bible with Apocrypha
Devotionals, notes, poetry and more
Understanding Satan’s role (3)
(Sept 23) Bob Gass
‘The trouble the LORD had brought on him.’
(Job 42:11) Then came to him all his brothers and sisters and all who had known him before, and ate bread with him in his house. And they showed him sympathy and comforted him for all the evil that the LORD had brought upon him. And each of them gave him a piece of money and a ring of gold. ESV
Satan’s attack can strengthen your faith. The devil dared to question the stability of Job’s faith, so God gave him permission to test Job. ‘The LORD said to Satan, “All right then. Everything Job has is in your power, but you must not touch Job himself”’ (Job 1:12 NCV). Notice, God set both the permission and the parameters of the struggle. Job passes the test and Satan complains that Job would have fallen had he been forced to face pain. Again, God gives permission, and again He sets the parameters: ‘Job is in your power, but you may not take his life’ (Job 2:6 NCV). Though the pain and the questions are abundant, in the end Job’s faith and health are greater than ever. Again, we may not understand the reason for the test, but we know its source. Read this verse from the last chapter of the book of Job. The family of Job ‘comforted him and made him feel better about the trouble the LORD had brought on him’. Satan has no power except that which God gives him. Even when Satan appears to win, he loses. Martin Luther was right on target when he described the devil as God’s tool, a hoe He uses to care for His garden. The hoe never cuts what the Gardener intends to save, and never saves what the Gardener intends to weed. Surely a part of Satan’s punishment is the frustration he feels in unwillingly serving as a tool to create a garden for God. So be encouraged today: Satan’s attack will strengthen your faith, refine it, and take it to greater heights.
UCB The Word For Today
by Bill Federer
Imagine writing a book which would sell a million copies a year for over one hundred years! Well, one man did. His name was William Holmes McGuffey, born this day, September 23, 1800. Considered the “Schoolmaster of the Nation,” McGuffey’s Readers were the mainstay of America’s public school system from 1836 till the 1920’s. McGuffey was the president of Ohio University and formed the first teachers’ association in that part of the nation. In his Fifth Eclectic Reader, William McGuffey wrote: “Erase all thought and fear of God from a community, and selfishness and sensuality would absorb the whole man.”
by P.T. Forsyth, (1848-1921)
In God’s eyes the great object of prayer is the opening or restoring of free communion with Himself in a kingdom of Christ, a life communion which may even, amid our duty and service, become as unconscious as the beating of our heart. In this sense every true prayer brings its answer with it; and that not “reflexly” only, in our pacification of soul, but objectively in our obtaining a deeper and closer place in God and His purpose. If prayer is God’s great gift, it is one inseparable from the giver; who, after all, is His own great gift, since revelation is His Self-donation. He is actively with us, therefore, as we pray, and we exert His will in praying. And, on the other hand, prayer makes us to realize how far from God we were, i.e. it makes us realize our worst trouble and repair it. The outer need kindles the sense of the inner, and we find that the complete answer to prayer is the Answerer, and the hungry soul comes to itself in the fullness of Christ.
Prayer is the highest use to which speech can be put. It is the highest meaning that can be put into words. Indeed, it breaks through language and escapes into action. We could never be told of what passed in Christ’s mountain midnights. Words fail us in prayer oftener than anywhere else; and the Spirit must come in aid of our infirmity, set out our case to God, and give to us an unspoken freedom in prayer, the possession of our central soul, the reality of our inmost personality in organic contact with His. We are taken up from human speech to the region of the divine Word, where Word is deed. We are integrated into the divine consciousness, and into the dual soliloquy of Father and Son, which is the divine give and take that upholds the world. We discover how poor a use of words it is to work them into argument and pursue their dialectic consequences. There is a deeper movement of speech than that, and a more inward mystery, wherein the Word does not spread out to wisdom, nor broods in dream, but gathers to power and condenses to action. The Word becomes Flesh, Soul, Life, the active conquering kingdom of God. Prayer, as it is spoken, follows the principle of the Incarnation with its twofold movement, down and up.2 It is spirit not in expression only, but in deed and victory. It is speech become not only movement, but moral action and achievement; it is word become work; as the Word from being Spirit became flesh, as Christ from prophet became priest, and then Holy Spirit. It is the principle of the Incarnation, only with the descending movement reversed. “Ye are gods.” God became man in His Son’s outgoing that man might become divine; and prayer is in the train of the Son’s return to the Father, a function of the Ascension and Exaltation, in which (if we may not say man becomes God) we are made partakers of the divine nature, not ontologically, but practically, experimentally. It is the true response, and tribute, and trophy to Christ’s humiliation. Man rises to be a co-worker with God in the highest sense. For it is only action, it is not by dream or rapture, far less in essence, that we enter communion with an active being—above all with the eternal Act of God in Christ that upholds the world. As such communion prayer is no mere rapport, no mere contact. It is the central act of the soul, organic with Christ’s; it is that which brings it into tune with the whole universe as God’s act, and answers the beating of its central heart. It is a part and function of the creative, preservative, and consummatory energy of the world.
What is true religion? It is not the religion which contains most truth in the theological sense of the word. It is not the religion most truly thought out, not that which most closely fits with thought. It is religion which comes to itself most powerfully in prayer. It is the religion in which the soul becomes very sure of God and itself in prayer. Prayer contains the very heart and height of truth, but especially in the Christian sense of truth—reality and action. In prayer the inmost truth of our personal being locks with the inmost reality of things, its energy finds a living Person acting as their unity and life, and we escape the illusions of sense, self, and the world. Prayer, indeed, is the great means for appropriating, out of the amalgam of illusion which means so much for our education, the pure gold of God as He wills, the Spirit as He works, and things as they are. It is the great school both of proficiency and of veracity of soul. (How few court and attain proficiency of soul!) It may often cast us down, for we are reduced by this contact to our true dimensions—but to our great peace.
Prayer, true prayer, does not allow us to deceive ourselves. It relaxes the tension of our self-inflation. It produces a clearness of spiritual vision. Searching with a judgment that begins at the house of God, it ceases not to explore with His light our own soul. If the Lord is our health He may need to act on many men, or many moods, as a lowering medicine. At His coming our self-confidence is shaken. Our robust confidence, even in grace, is destroyed. The pillars of our house tremble, as if they were ivy-covered in a searching wind. Our lusty faith is refined, by what may be a painful process, into a subtler and more penetrating kind; and its outward effect is for the time impaired, though in the end it is increased. The effect of the prayer which admits God into the recesses of the soul is to destroy that spiritual density, not to say stupidity, which made our religion cheery or vigorous because it knew no better, and which was the condition of getting many obvious things done, and producing palpable effect on the order of the day. There are fervent prayers which, by making people feel good, may do no more than foster the delusion that natural vigour or robust religion, when flushed enough, can do the work of the kingdom of God. There is a certain egoist self-confidence which is increased by the more elementary forms of religion, which upholds us in much of our contact with men, and which even secures us an influence with them. But the influence is one of impression rather than permeation, it overbears rather than converts, and it inflames rather than inspires. This is a force which true and close prayer is very apt to undermine, because it saps our self-deception and its Pharisaism. The confidence was due to a lack of spiritual insight which serious prayer plentifully repairs. So by prayer we acquire our true selves. If my prayer is not answered, I am. If my petition is not fulfilled, my person, my soul, is; as the artist comes to himself and his happiness in the exercise of the talent he was made for, in spite of the delay and difficulty of turning his work to money. If the genius is happy who gets scope, the soul is blessed that truly comes to itself in prayer.
--- Forsyth, P. T. (1848-1921).
The Soul of Prayer
Compiled by Richard S. Adams
Give me one hundred men who fear nothing but sin
and desire nothing but God,
and I care not whether they be clergyman or laymen,
they alone will shake the gates of Hell
and set up the kingdom of Heaven upon the earth.
--- from a letter in Works of John Wesley
The sufficiency of the doctrine of Christ, to make men wise unto salvation. Paul desired to know nothing else; and, indeed, nothing else is of absolute necessity to be known. A little of this knowledge, if saving and effectual upon thy heart, will do thy soul more service, than all the vain speculation and profound parts that others so much glory in. Poor Christian, be not dejected, because thou sees thyself out-stript and excelled by so many in other parts of knowledge; if thou know Jesus Christ, thou knowest enough to comfort and save thy soul. Many learned philosophers are now in hell, and many illiterate Christians in heaven.
--- John Flavel
As you confront your problems rather than avoid them, your faith is nurtured and stretched. Your confidence grows; your fears subside.
--- Charles Stanley
All truth passes through three stages.
First, it is ridiculed.
Second, it is violently opposed.
Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.
--- Arthur Schopehauer
... from here, there and everywhere
Thanks to Meir Yona
4. After this these Jews, without keeping any decorum, grew insolent upon their good fortune, and jested upon the Romans for being deluded by the trick they had put upon them, and making a noise with beating their shields, leaped for gladness, and made joyful exclamations; while these soldiers were received with threatenings by their officers, and with indignation by Caesar himself, [who spake to them thus]: These Jews, who are only conducted by their madness, do every thing with care and circumspection; they contrive stratagems, and lay ambushes, and fortune gives success to their stratagems, because they are obedient, and preserve their goodwill and fidelity to one another; while the Romans, to whom fortune uses to be ever subservient, by reason of their good order, and ready submission to their commanders, have now had ill success by their contrary behavior, and by not being able to restrain their hands from action, they have been caught; and that which is the most to their reproach, they have gone on without their commanders, in the very presence of Caesar. "Truly," says Titus, "the laws of war cannot but groan heavily, as will my father also himself, when he shall be informed of this wound that hath been given us, since he who is grown old in wars did never make so great a mistake. Our laws of war do also ever inflict capital punishment on those that in the least break into good order, while at this time they have seen an entire army run into disorder. However, those that have been so insolent shall be made immediately sensible, that even they who conquer among the Romans without orders for fighting are to be under disgrace." When Titus had enlarged upon this matter before the commanders, it appeared evident that he would execute the law against all those that were concerned; so these soldiers' minds sunk down in despair, as expecting to be put to death, and that justly and quickly. However, the other legions came round about Titus, and entreated his favor to these their fellow soldiers, and made supplication to him, that he would pardon the rashness of a few, on account of the better obedience of all the rest; and promised for them that they should make amends for their present fault, by their more virtuous behavior for the time to come.
5. So Caesar complied with their desires, and with what prudence dictated to him also; for he esteemed it fit to punish single persons by real executions, but that the punishment of great multitudes should proceed no further than reproofs; so he was reconciled to the soldiers, but gave them a special charge to act more wisely for the future; and he considered with himself how he might be even with the Jews for their stratagem. And now when the space between the Romans and the wall had been leveled, which was done in four days, and as he was desirous to bring the baggage of the army, with the rest of the multitude that followed him, safely to the camp, he set the strongest part of his army over against that wall which lay on the north quarter of the city, and over against the western part of it, and made his army seven deep, with the foot-men placed before them, and the horsemen behind them, each of the last in three ranks, whilst the archers stood in the midst in seven ranks. And now as the Jews were prohibited, by so great a body of men, from making sallies upon the Romans, both the beasts that bare the burdens, and belonged to the three legions, and the rest of the multitude, marched on without any fear. But as for Titus himself, he was but about two furlongs distant from the wall, at that part of it where was the corner 10 and over against that tower which was called Psephinus, at which tower the compass of the wall belonging to the north bended, and extended itself over against the west; but the other part of the army fortified itself at the tower called Hippicus, and was distant, in like manner, by two furlongs from the city. However, the tenth legion continued in its own place, upon the Mount of Olives.
The War of the Jews: The History of the Destruction of Jerusalem (complete edition, 7 books)
by D.H. Stern
or like vinegar on soda
is someone who sings songs to a heavy 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 missionary’s goal
Behold, we go up to Jerusalem. --- Luke 18:31.
In the natural life our ambitions alter as we develop; in the Christian life the goal is given at the beginning, the beginning and the end are the same, viz., Our Lord Himself. We start with Christ and we end with Him—“until we all attain to the stature of the manhood of Christ Jesus,” not to our idea of what the Christian life should be. The aim of the missionary is to do God’s will, not to be useful, not to win the heathen; he is useful and he does win the heathen, but that is not his aim. His aim is to do the will of his Lord.
In Our Lord’s life Jerusalem was the place where He reached the climax of His Father’s will upon the Cross, and unless we go with Jesus there, we shall have no companionship with Him. Nothing ever discouraged Our Lord on His way to Jerusalem. He never hurried through certain villages where He was persecuted, or lingered in others where He was blessed. Neither gratitude nor ingratitude turned Our Lord one hair’s breadth away from His purpose to go up to Jerusalem.
“The disciple is not above his Master.” The same things will happen to us on our way to our Jerusalem. There will be the works of God manifested through us, people will get blessed, and one or two will show gratitude and the rest will show gross ingratitude, but nothing must deflect us from going up to our Jerusalem.
“There they crucified Him.” That is what happened when Our Lord reached Jerusalem, and that happening is the gateway to our salvation. The saints do not end in crucifixion: by the Lord’s grace they end in glory. In the meantime our watchword is—I, too, go up to Jerusalem.
My Utmost for His Highest: Quality Paperback Edition
(Not That He Brought Flowers)
the Poetry of RS Thomas
Not that he brought flowers
Except for the eyes' blue,
Perishable ones, or that his hands
Famed for kindness were put then
To such usage; but rather that, going
Through flowers later, she yet could feel
These he spared perhaps for my sake.
Selected poems, 1946-1968
The Teacher's Commentary
To the Jews, Isaiah was the greatest of the prophets. The commentator Karl Delitzsch called Isaiah the “universal prophet.”
Probably no other Old Testament document has been more deeply studied than the Book of Isaiah. Certainly none has had more books and articles written about it. The New Testament alludes to it over 250 times and quotes Isaiah specifically at least 50 times!
There are several reasons for this fascination with Isaiah. As literature, Isaiah has been called the “climax of Hebrew literary art.” In content, it deals in a sweeping way with the great themes of the Old Testament. Judgment and hope, sin and redemption, find clear expression here. Christians have been fascinated by the picture of Jesus the Messiah drawn by this man who wrote so many centuries before Christ’s birth. The picture of the suffering Messiah in Isaiah 53 has been critical in our understanding of Jesus’ Calvary death.
Isaiah has also been a source of controversy. The book is divided into two distinct halves, set apart by a historical interlude. The first half of Isaiah announces judgment; the second half seems to assume the judgment has passed and that hope has come. Were these two sections of Isaiah written by the same person? Or was a “Second Isaiah” added later on? Conservatives have argued persuasively that the whole book was written by Isaiah the son of Amoz, whose ministry extended over some 60 years from 739 to about 681 b.c.
This was a critical period of Old Testament history. Israel, the Northern Kingdom, was overwhelmed by Assyria. Judah was threatened as well. What was God’s message to a nation and people threatened by a Gentile world power? How were His people (and how are we) to live in the face of the powers of the world around them?
But the primary reason for reading Isaiah is to see the Lord.
The Teacher's Commentary
Richard loved being president of his synagogue. By all accounts, he did a pretty good job. In his first year he dealt with a major leak in the roof, and in his second year, the synagogue recorded a small surplus. He ran things efficiently, like a business, but he showed sensitivity and compassion to congregants who were having financial difficulties. He had an excellent relationship with the rabbi and cantor. Richard especially loved the trappings of the office—sitting on the bimah next to the rabbi, making announcements, having his name at the top of the stationary, running board meetings, and wielding the gavel.
The trouble began when Richard left office. If it had been up to him, he would have stayed on as president-for-life. But the bylaws restricted the president to a two-year term. On the first Saturday after he stepped down, Richard walked into the sanctuary and, as if by habit, began to go up to the bimah. He caught himself on the third step and sheepishly walked down and found a seat. He turned red as he noticed a few congregants chuckling. Later, over wine and cake, Richard criticized the new president’s style of making announcements and pointed out the four mistakes and gaffes his successor had made. At the next month’s board meeting, Richard twice raised his hand and commented, rather angrily, “That’s not how we did it when I was president.” He made a number of phone calls to board members complaining about the direction that the synagogue was now taking.
One night after a meeting, the rabbi invited Richard into his office for a chat. “You’ve got to be more supportive of the new administration, Dick. And if you can’t do that, then at least you’ve got to try not to be so critical. You’re starting to get a reputation as an angry, bitter man.”
“Rabbi, it’s so difficult for me. This place has been my life for the past two years. I was in this building every single day, without fail. Meetings three nights a week, and some of them into the wee hours. Phone calls, day and night, at work and at home. I didn’t mind … I loved it! I came to feel like the synagogue was my baby. I can’t just sit back and watch other people do what I did, especially when I feel that they’re undoing some of what I worked so hard to accomplish. And to be honest, Rabbi, there’s a big void in my life. I don’t know what to do with myself. I miss the action, I miss the tumult, and to tell you the truth, I miss the koved, the honor that came with the job.”
“Richard, I hear how hard all this is for you. Let me offer some thoughts … First, do you remember when you took office, Murray didn’t come to meetings for three or four months? People thought that he was glad to be rid of the burdens of being president. But he told me that the real reason was that it was just too difficult to sit through meetings run by someone else, and he wanted to give you the freedom to find your own way without him breathing down your neck.
“Second, you still have a critical role to play in our synagogue. Not as angry critic, but as elder statesman. Our new president could definitely benefit from your experience and counsel. But do it privately, behind the scenes, and do it as an older brother, not as a judgmental parent.
“And third, you’ve got to fill the void in your life. Maybe in another capacity in the synagogue—the men’s club has been moribund for years now, and the youth committee is without a chairperson. Or maybe even in another organization. You’ve got so much to offer, Richard. Standing up to Pharaoh and leading the Israelites through the desert were not the hardest things Moses ever did. The Midrash tells us that it was stepping aside for Joshua. Let Moses be your role model. You were our Moses when the roof left a Red Sea of water in the social hall; you can be our Moses now as well.”
Bob was so excited when he was elected president of his synagogue. He had devoted many years to the congregation, working his way up from school board member to education vice president to executive vice president. By all accounts, he had done well in all his undertakings. Bob had an excellent relationship with the rabbi and cantor, and he was well liked by the other officers. When it came a time to choose a successor to Richard, Bob was the unanimous choice of the nominating committee.
The trouble began when Richard left office. It was a tradition for the president to sit next to the rabbi at services on Shabbat Mornings. On the first Saturday after being installed, Bob arrived for services half an hour early; he was so eager to sit in the place of honor next to the rabbi. While waiting for the service to begin, Bob greeted the worshipers and shook hands with well wishers. A few minutes before the service was to begin, Bob excused himself and walked toward the bimah. He watched with amazement as Richard, the former president, walked into the sanctuary and began to go up to the bimah to the “seat of honor.” Bob felt uncomfortable, especially when a few congregants near him laughed at Richard’s gaffe.
Later, during the Kiddush, Bob overheard Richard criticizing him for the way he made announcements. The tension in the room was palpable. Although Bob had come to services in a happy and upbeat mood, he left feeling hurt and dejected. During the next weeks, Bob worked hard on the new programs that he had envisioned to make the synagogue more personal and user-friendly. However, at the next board meeting, Richard twice criticized Bob for these innovations, saying, “That’s not how we did it when I was president.”
Bob had just about had it when the rabbi asked to see him in his office. “Bob, I’ve seen the frustration on your face. I know that the tension with Richard has made it hard for you.” Bob admitted how difficult it had been for him, adding, “Rabbi, I came in with such enthusiasm and vision, but Richard has thwarted me at every step. In fact, I told my wife last night that after two months on the job, I’m thinking of resigning.”
“Bob, I understand what you’re feeling,” the rabbi told him. “It’s hard to follow someone else, especially someone who won’t step down. The Midrash has a beautiful maxim that describes what has happened to Richard: ‘It is easy to go up to the stage but difficult to go down.’ I know, because it happened to me. Remember when I moved here from my previous congregation? Well, people from there still called me for advice. They wanted me to officiate at their weddings and funerals. And they had lots of stories about how the new rabbi was wrecking things. At first, I got sucked in. I drove back there to help them. I listened to their stories. In some way, it even made me feel better, hearing about how my successor was failing. Feeling so wanted and needed stroked my ego. Then, after a few months, my wife saw what was going on, and she said to me, in essence, ‘Don’t you think what you’re doing is unfair?’ She was right, and I started to back off.
“Richard is a good man. He wants to be supportive. It’s just really hard for him right now. In fact, Richard could be a wonderful ally of yours. He has the best interest of the synagogue at heart, and he has a lot of talents—and connections. Maybe you can turn to him, not as your critic, but as your ‘big brother.’ Ask him for advice. Bring him back into the process. He’s probably feeling pretty left out right now. And maybe you can find a role for him so that he can continue to shine. In two years, it will be the fiftieth anniversary of the synagogue. If you ask Richard to be general chairman of the anniversary celebration, you’ll be giving him a central role for the next two years, and you’ll be keeping him out of your hair. He can help assure your success while shoring up his own legacy.
“And most of all, be patient. The Midrash doesn’t say that it’s impossible to go down from the stage, only that it’s difficult to go down. Richard will get the hang of it; it’ll just take some time, just as it took me some time, just as it takes most people some time. And remember this two years from now, after your successful presidency, so that you can try to go down from the stage with ease and grace.”
I am reminded of John the Baptist, who said, I must decrease and he must increase and what did Jesus say about John the baptist?.
Searching for Meaning in Midrash: Lessons for Everyday Living
How great is God—beyond our understanding!
--- Job 36:26.
I am tired of the known and the knowable, tired of saying this star is fifty millions of miles in circumference, and yonder planet is five million times larger than the earth. (Preaching Through the Bible) It is mere gossip in polysyllables, getting importance by hugeness.
It is in this manner that people want to make God pronounceable in words! Failing this, they suppose they have destroyed him by saying he is Unknowable and Unknown.
Human soul, if you would truly see—see the boundless, see the possible, see God—go into the dark when and where the darkness is thickest. The light is vulgar in some uses. It shows the mean and vexing detail of space and life with too gross a palpableness, and it frets the sensitivity of the eyes. I must find the healing darkness.
Deus absconditus. God hides himself, most often in the light; he touches the soul in the gloom and vastness of night, and the soul, being true in its intent and wish, answers the touch without a shudder or a blush. It is even so that God comes to me.
God does not come through human argument, a flash of human wit, a sudden and audacious answer to an infinite enigma. His path is through the pathless darkness—without a footprint to show where he stepped; through the forest of the night he comes, and when he comes the brightness is all within!
My God—unknown and unknowable—cannot be chained as a prisoner of logic or delivered into the custody of a theological proposition. Shame be the portion of those who have given him a setting within the points of the compass, who have robed him in cloth of their own weaving and surnamed him at the bidding of their cold and narrow fancy!
For myself, I know that I cannot know him, that I have a joy wider than knowledge, a conception that domes itself above my best thinking, as the sky domes itself in infinite pomp and luster above the earth whose beauty it creates.
God? God! God! Best defined when undefined; a fire that may not be touched; a life too great for shape of image; a love for which there is no equal name. Who is he? God. What is he? God. Of whom begotten? God. He is at once the question and the answer, the self-balance, the All.
--- Joseph Parker
Take Heart: Daily Devotions with the Church's Great Preachers
Fulton Street Revival
The mood of America was grim during the mid-1850s. The country was teetering on the brink of civil war, torn by angry voices and impassioned opinions. A depression had halted railroad construction and factory output. Banks were failing; unemployment soared. Spiritual lethargy permeated the land.
In New York City Jeremiah C. Lanphier, a layman, accepted the call of the North Reformed Dutch Church to a full-time program of evangelism. He visited door-to-door, placed posters, and prayed. But the work languished and Lanphier grew discouraged.
As autumn fell over the city, Lanphier decided to try noontime prayer meetings, thinking that businessmen might attend during their lunch hours. He announced the first one for September 23, 1857, at the Old Dutch Church on Fulton Street. When the hour came, Lanphier found himself alone. He sat and waited. Finally, one man showed up, then a few others.
But the next week, 20 came. The third week, 40. Someone suggested the meetings occur daily, and within months the building was overflowing. The revival spread to other cities. Offices and stores closed for prayer at noon. Newspapers spread the story, even telegraph companies set aside certain hours during which businessmen could wire one another with news of the revival.
In all these cities, prayer services began at noon and ended at one. People could come and go as they pleased. The service opened with a hymn, followed by the sharing of testimonies and prayer requests. A time limit of five minutes per speaker was enforced by a small bell, when anyone exceeded the limit. Virtually no great preachers or famous Christians were used. It was primarily a lay movement, led by the gentle moving of God’s Spirit.
The revival—sometimes called “The Third Great Awakening”—lasted nearly two years, and between 500,000 and 1,000,000 people were said to have been converted. Out of it came the largest outlay of money for philanthropic and Christian causes America had yet experienced.
You, LORD, are my shepherd. I will never be in need.
You let me rest in fields of green grass.
You lead me to streams of peaceful water,
And you refresh my life.
On This Day 365 Amazing And Inspiring Stories About Saints, Martyrs And Heroes
Daily Readings / CHARLES H. SPURGEON
Morning - September 23
"Accepted in the beloved." --- Ephesians 1:6.
What a state of privilege! It includes our justification before God, but the term “acceptance” in the Greek means more than that. It signifies that we are the objects of divine complacence, nay, even of divine delight. How marvellous that we, worms, mortals, sinners, should be the objects of divine love! But it is only “in the beloved.” Some Christians seem to be accepted in their own experience, at least, that is their apprehension. When their spirit is lively, and their hopes bright, they think God accepts them, for they feel so high, so heavenly-minded, so drawn above the earth! But when their souls cleave to the dust, they are the victims of the fear that they are no longer accepted. If they could but see that all their high joys do not exalt them, and all their low despondencies do not really depress them in their Father’s sight, but that they stand accepted in One who never alters, in One who is always the beloved of God, always perfect, always without spot or wrinkle, or any such thing, how much happier they would be, and how much more they would honour the Saviour! Rejoice then, believer, in this: thou art accepted “in the beloved.” Thou lookest within, and thou sayest, “There is nothing acceptable here!” But look at Christ, and see if there is not everything acceptable there. Thy sins trouble thee; but God has cast thy sins behind his back, and thou art accepted in the Righteous One. Thou hast to fight with corruption, and to wrestle with temptation, but thou art already accepted in him who has overcome the powers of evil. The devil tempts thee; be of good cheer, he cannot destroy thee, for thou art accepted in him who has broken Satan’s head. Know by full assurance thy glorious standing. Even glorified souls are not more accepted than thou art. They are only accepted in heaven “in the beloved,” and thou art even now accepted in Christ after the same manner.
Evening - September 23
“Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe.” --- Mark 9:23.
A certain man had a demoniac son, who was afflicted with a dumb spirit. The father, having seen the futility of the endeavours of the disciples to heal his child, had little or no faith in Christ, and therefore, when he was bidden to bring his son to him, he said to Jesus, “If thou canst do anything, have compassion on us, and help us.” Now there was an “if” in the question, but the poor trembling father had put the “if” in the wrong place: Jesus Christ, therefore, without commanding him to retract the “if,” kindly puts it in its legitimate position. “Nay, verily,” he seemed to say, “there should be no ‘if’ about my power, nor concerning my willingness, the ‘if’ lies somewhere else.” “If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.” The man’s trust was strengthened, he offered a humble prayer for an increase of faith, and instantly Jesus spoke the word, and the devil was cast out, with an injunction never to return. There is a lesson here which we need to learn. We, like this man, often see that there is an “if” somewhere, but we are perpetually blundering by putting it in the wrong place. “If” Jesus can help me—“if” he can give me grace to overcome temptation—“if” he can give me pardon—“if” he can make me successful? Nay, “if” you can believe, he both can and will. You have misplaced your “if.” If you can confidently trust, even as all things are possible to Christ, so shall all things be possible to you. Faith standeth in God’s power, and is robed in God’s majesty; it weareth the royal apparel, and rideth on the King’s horse, for it is the grace which the King delighteth to honour. Girding itself with the glorious might of the all-working Spirit, it becomes, in the omnipotence of God, mighty to do, to dare, and to suffer. All things, without limit, are possible to him that believeth. My soul, canst thou believe thy Lord to-night?
Morning and Evening: A New Edition of the Classic Devotional Based on The Holy Bible, English Standard Version
SUN OF MY SOUL
John Keble, 1792–1866
For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor; no good thing does He withhold from those whose walk is blameless. O Lord Almighty, blessed is the man who trusts in You. (Psalm 84:11, 12)
Jesus taught that we can learn much from the lilies of the field. How do they grow? By struggling and seeking to display their beauty? No, they simply open themselves to the existing sun, and in their sun-centeredness, they grow and become objects of beauty for all to enjoy. Indeed the sun is one of the most important factors in nature’s growth.
We too need sun for our souls—the warmth of God’s love and presence in our lives. We were created for this in order to be complete persons. It was St. Augustine who realized this truth centuries ago: “Thou hast made us for Thyself, O God, and our hearts are restless till they find rest in Thee.”
John Keble, a professor of poetry at Oxford University for 10 years and later an Anglican minister of the humble parish church in the village of Hursley, wrote this poem in 1820. Seven years later he published a collection of poems titled The Christian Year with all of the poems following the church calendar year. “Sun of My Soul” was one of the poems from that collection. The book was extremely successful, going through 109 editions before John Keble’s death in 1866.
The poem was originally named “Evening” and was based on the account in Luke 24:29, where Christ went in to dine with the two Emmaus disciples following His resurrection.
This prayer for the constant and unobscured sense of Christ’s unwavering presence and blessing, whether in life or death, and finally the full enjoyment of God’s love in “heav’n above,” is still a worthy goal for each believer.
Sun of my soul, Thou Savior dear, it is not night if Thou be near; O may no earth-born cloud arise to hide Thee from Thy servant’s eyes!
When the soft dews of kindly sleep my weary eyelids gently steep, be my last thought; how sweet to rest forever on my Savior’s breast!
Abide with me from morn till eve, for without thee I cannot live; abide with me when night is nigh, for without Thee I dare not die.
Be near to bless me when I wake, ere thru the world my way I take; abide with me till in Thy love I lose myself in heav’n above.
For Today: Psalm 4:6–8; Luke 1:77–79; 24:29; 2 Corinthians 4:4
Pray with John Keble that “no earth-born cloud” will obscure a sense of Christ’s presence and blessing in your life. Carry this musical message to help ---
Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions
Saturday, September 23, 2017 | After Pentecost
Proper 19, Saturday
Psalms (Morning) Psalm 75, 76
Psalms (Evening) Psalm 23, 27
Old Testament 2 Kings 2:1–18
New Testament 1 Corinthians 4:1–7
Gospel Matthew 5:17–20
Index of Readings
Psalm 75, 76
To the leader: Do Not Destroy. A Psalm of Asaph. A Song.
1 We give thanks to you, O God;
we give thanks; your name is near.
People tell of your wondrous deeds.
2 At the set time that I appoint
I will judge with equity.
3 When the earth totters, with all its inhabitants,
it is I who keep its pillars steady. Selah
4 I say to the boastful, “Do not boast,”
and to the wicked, “Do not lift up your horn;
5 do not lift up your horn on high,
or speak with insolent neck.”
6 For not from the east or from the west
and not from the wilderness comes lifting up;
7 but it is God who executes judgment,
putting down one and lifting up another.
8 For in the hand of the LORD there is a cup
with foaming wine, well mixed;
he will pour a draught from it,
and all the wicked of the earth
shall drain it down to the dregs.
9 But I will rejoice forever;
I will sing praises to the God of Jacob.
10 All the horns of the wicked I will cut off,
but the horns of the righteous shall be exalted.
To the leader: with stringed instruments. A Psalm of Asaph. A Song.
1 In Judah God is known,
his name is great in Israel.
2 His abode has been established in Salem,
his dwelling place in Zion.
3 There he broke the flashing arrows,
the shield, the sword, and the weapons of war. Selah
4 Glorious are you, more majestic
than the everlasting mountains.
5 The stouthearted were stripped of their spoil;
they sank into sleep;
none of the troops
was able to lift a hand.
6 At your rebuke, O God of Jacob,
both rider and horse lay stunned.
7 But you indeed are awesome!
Who can stand before you
when once your anger is roused?
8 From the heavens you uttered judgment;
the earth feared and was still
9 when God rose up to establish judgment,
to save all the oppressed of the earth. Selah
10 Human wrath serves only to praise you,
when you bind the last bit of your wrath around you.
11 Make vows to the LORD your God, and perform them;
let all who are around him bring gifts
to the one who is awesome,
12 who cuts off the spirit of princes,
who inspires fear in the kings of the earth.
Psalm 23, 27
A Psalm of David.
1 The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want.
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures;
he leads me beside still waters;
3 he restores my soul.
He leads me in right paths
for his name’s sake.
4 Even though I walk through the darkest valley,
I fear no evil;
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff—
they comfort me.
5 You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD
my whole life long.
1 The LORD is my light and my salvation;
whom shall I fear?
The LORD is the stronghold of my life;
of whom shall I be afraid?
2 When evildoers assail me
to devour my flesh—
my adversaries and foes—
they shall stumble and fall.
3 Though an army encamp against me,
my heart shall not fear;
though war rise up against me,
yet I will be confident.
4 One thing I asked of the LORD,
that will I seek after:
to live in the house of the LORD
all the days of my life,
to behold the beauty of the LORD,
and to inquire in his temple.
5 For he will hide me in his shelter
in the day of trouble;
he will conceal me under the cover of his tent;
he will set me high on a rock.
6 Now my head is lifted up
above my enemies all around me,
and I will offer in his tent
sacrifices with shouts of joy;
I will sing and make melody to the LORD.
7 Hear, O LORD, when I cry aloud,
be gracious to me and answer me!
8 “Come,” my heart says, “seek his face!”
Your face, LORD, do I seek.
9 Do not hide your face from me.
Do not turn your servant away in anger,
you who have been my help.
Do not cast me off, do not forsake me,
O God of my salvation!
10 If my father and mother forsake me,
the LORD will take me up.
11 Teach me your way, O LORD,
and lead me on a level path
because of my enemies.
12 Do not give me up to the will of my adversaries,
for false witnesses have risen against me,
and they are breathing out violence.
13 I believe that I shall see the goodness of the LORD
in the land of the living.
14 Wait for the LORD;
be strong, and let your heart take courage;
wait for the LORD!
2 Kings 2:1–18
2 Now when the LORD was about to take Elijah up to heaven by a whirlwind, Elijah and Elisha were on their way from Gilgal. 2 Elijah said to Elisha, “Stay here; for the LORD has sent me as far as Bethel.” But Elisha said, “As the LORD lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.” So they went down to Bethel. 3 The company of prophets who were in Bethel came out to Elisha, and said to him, “Do you know that today the LORD will take your master away from you?” And he said, “Yes, I know; keep silent.”
4 Elijah said to him, “Elisha, stay here; for the LORD has sent me to Jericho.” But he said, “As the LORD lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.” So they came to Jericho. 5 The company of prophets who were at Jericho drew near to Elisha, and said to him, “Do you know that today the LORD will take your master away from you?” And he answered, “Yes, I know; be silent.”
6 Then Elijah said to him, “Stay here; for the LORD has sent me to the Jordan.” But he said, “As the LORD lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.” So the two of them went on. 7 Fifty men of the company of prophets also went, and stood at some distance from them, as they both were standing by the Jordan. 8 Then Elijah took his mantle and rolled it up, and struck the water; the water was parted to the one side and to the other, until the two of them crossed on dry ground.
9 When they had crossed, Elijah said to Elisha, “Tell me what I may do for you, before I am taken from you.” Elisha said, “Please let me inherit a double share of your spirit.” 10 He responded, “You have asked a hard thing; yet, if you see me as I am being taken from you, it will be granted you; if not, it will not.” 11 As they continued walking and talking, a chariot of fire and horses of fire separated the two of them, and Elijah ascended in a whirlwind into heaven. 12 Elisha kept watching and crying out, “Father, father! The chariots of Israel and its horsemen!” But when he could no longer see him, he grasped his own clothes and tore them in two pieces.
13 He picked up the mantle of Elijah that had fallen from him, and went back and stood on the bank of the Jordan. 14 He took the mantle of Elijah that had fallen from him, and struck the water, saying, “Where is the LORD, the God of Elijah?” When he had struck the water, the water was parted to the one side and to the other, and Elisha went over.
15 When the company of prophets who were at Jericho saw him at a distance, they declared, “The spirit of Elijah rests on Elisha.” They came to meet him and bowed to the ground before him. 16 They said to him, “See now, we have fifty strong men among your servants; please let them go and seek your master; it may be that the spirit of the LORD has caught him up and thrown him down on some mountain or into some valley.” He responded, “No, do not send them.” 17 But when they urged him until he was ashamed, he said, “Send them.” So they sent fifty men who searched for three days but did not find him. 18 When they came back to him (he had remained at Jericho), he said to them, “Did I not say to you, Do not go?”
1 Corinthians 4:1–7
4 Think of us in this way, as servants of Christ and stewards of God’s mysteries. 2 Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found trustworthy. 3 But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by any human court. I do not even judge myself. 4 I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me. 5 Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive commendation from God.
6 I have applied all this to Apollos and myself for your benefit, brothers and sisters, so that you may learn through us the meaning of the saying, “Nothing beyond what is written,” so that none of you will be puffed up in favor of one against another. 7 For who sees anything different in you? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you received it, why do you boast as if it were not a gift?
17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfill. 18 For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not one letter, not one stroke of a letter, will pass from the law until all is accomplished. 19 Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, will be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.
The Book of Common Prayer: And Administration of the Sacraments and Other Rites and Ceremonies of the Church