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4/1/2024     Yesterday     Tomorrow

1 Samuel 18 - 20

1 Samuel 18

David and Jonathan’s Friendship

1 Samuel 18:1     As soon as he had finished speaking to Saul, the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul. 2 And Saul took him that day and would not let him return to his father’s house. 3 Then Jonathan made a covenant with David, because he loved him as his own soul. 4 And Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that was on him and gave it to David, and his armor, and even his sword and his bow and his belt. 5 And David went out and was successful wherever Saul sent him, so that Saul set him over the men of war. And this was good in the sight of all the people and also in the sight of Saul’s servants.

Saul’s Jealousy of David

6 As they were coming home, when David returned from striking down the Philistine, the women came out of all the cities of Israel, singing and dancing, to meet King Saul, with tambourines, with songs of joy, and with musical instruments. 7 And the women sang to one another as they celebrated,

“Saul has struck down his thousands,
and David his ten thousands.”

8 And Saul was very angry, and this saying displeased him. He said, “They have ascribed to David ten thousands, and to me they have ascribed thousands, and what more can he have but the kingdom?” 9 And Saul eyed David from that day on.

10 The next day a harmful spirit from God rushed upon Saul, and he raved within his house while David was playing the lyre, as he did day by day. Saul had his spear in his hand. 11 And Saul hurled the spear, for he thought, “I will pin David to the wall.” But David evaded him twice.

12 Saul was afraid of David because the LORD was with him but had departed from Saul. 13 So Saul removed him from his presence and made him a commander of a thousand. And he went out and came in before the people. 14 And David had success in all his undertakings, for the LORD was with him. 15 And when Saul saw that he had great success, he stood in fearful awe of him. 16 But all Israel and Judah loved David, for he went out and came in before them.

David Marries Michal

17 Then Saul said to David, “Here is my elder daughter Merab. I will give her to you for a wife. Only be valiant for me and fight the LORD’s battles.” For Saul thought, “Let not my hand be against him, but let the hand of the Philistines be against him.” 18 And David said to Saul, “Who am I, and who are my relatives, my father’s clan in Israel, that I should be son-in-law to the king?” 19 But at the time when Merab, Saul’s daughter, should have been given to David, she was given to Adriel the Meholathite for a wife.

20 Now Saul’s daughter Michal loved David. And they told Saul, and the thing pleased him. 21 Saul thought, “Let me give her to him, that she may be a snare for him and that the hand of the Philistines may be against him.” Therefore Saul said to David a second time, “You shall now be my son-in-law.” 22 And Saul commanded his servants, “Speak to David in private and say, ‘Behold, the king has delight in you, and all his servants love you. Now then become the king’s son-in-law.’” 23 And Saul’s servants spoke those words in the ears of David. And David said, “Does it seem to you a little thing to become the king’s son-in-law, since I am a poor man and have no reputation?” 24 And the servants of Saul told him, “Thus and so did David speak.” 25 Then Saul said, “Thus shall you say to David, ‘The king desires no bride-price except a hundred foreskins of the Philistines, that he may be avenged of the king’s enemies.’” Now Saul thought to make David fall by the hand of the Philistines. 26 And when his servants told David these words, it pleased David well to be the king’s son-in-law. Before the time had expired, 27 David arose and went, along with his men, and killed two hundred of the Philistines. And David brought their foreskins, which were given in full number to the king, that he might become the king’s son-in-law. And Saul gave him his daughter Michal for a wife. 28 But when Saul saw and knew that the LORD was with David, and that Michal, Saul’s daughter, loved him, 29 Saul was even more afraid of David. So Saul was David’s enemy continually.

30 Then the commanders of the Philistines came out to battle, and as often as they came out David had more success than all the servants of Saul, so that his name was highly esteemed.

1 Samuel 19

Saul Tries to Kill David

1 Samuel 19:1     And Saul spoke to Jonathan his son and to all his servants, that they should kill David. But Jonathan, Saul’s son, delighted much in David. 2 And Jonathan told David, “Saul my father seeks to kill you. Therefore be on your guard in the morning. Stay in a secret place and hide yourself. 3 And I will go out and stand beside my father in the field where you are, and I will speak to my father about you. And if I learn anything I will tell you.” 4 And Jonathan spoke well of David to Saul his father and said to him, “Let not the king sin against his servant David, because he has not sinned against you, and because his deeds have brought good to you. 5 For he took his life in his hand and he struck down the Philistine, and the LORD worked a great salvation for all Israel. You saw it, and rejoiced. Why then will you sin against innocent blood by killing David without cause?” 6 And Saul listened to the voice of Jonathan. Saul swore, “As the LORD lives, he shall not be put to death.” 7 And Jonathan called David, and Jonathan reported to him all these things. And Jonathan brought David to Saul, and he was in his presence as before.

8 And there was war again. And David went out and fought with the Philistines and struck them with a great blow, so that they fled before him. 9 Then a harmful spirit from the LORD came upon Saul, as he sat in his house with his spear in his hand. And David was playing the lyre. 10 And Saul sought to pin David to the wall with the spear, but he eluded Saul, so that he struck the spear into the wall. And David fled and escaped that night.

11 Saul sent messengers to David’s house to watch him, that he might kill him in the morning. But Michal, David’s wife, told him, “If you do not escape with your life tonight, tomorrow you will be killed.” 12 So Michal let David down through the window, and he fled away and escaped. 13 Michal took an image and laid it on the bed and put a pillow of goats’ hair at its head and covered it with the clothes. 14 And when Saul sent messengers to take David, she said, “He is sick.” 15 Then Saul sent the messengers to see David, saying, “Bring him up to me in the bed, that I may kill him.” 16 And when the messengers came in, behold, the image was in the bed, with the pillow of goats’ hair at its head. 17 Saul said to Michal, “Why have you deceived me thus and let my enemy go, so that he has escaped?” And Michal answered Saul, “He said to me, ‘Let me go. Why should I kill you?’”

18 Now David fled and escaped, and he came to Samuel at Ramah and told him all that Saul had done to him. And he and Samuel went and lived at Naioth. 19 And it was told Saul, “Behold, David is at Naioth in Ramah.” 20 Then Saul sent messengers to take David, and when they saw the company of the prophets prophesying, and Samuel standing as head over them, the Spirit of God came upon the messengers of Saul, and they also prophesied. 21 When it was told Saul, he sent other messengers, and they also prophesied. And Saul sent messengers again the third time, and they also prophesied. 22 Then he himself went to Ramah and came to the great well that is in Secu. And he asked, “Where are Samuel and David?” And one said, “Behold, they are at Naioth in Ramah.” 23 And he went there to Naioth in Ramah. And the Spirit of God came upon him also, and as he went he prophesied until he came to Naioth in Ramah. 24 And he too stripped off his clothes, and he too prophesied before Samuel and lay naked all that day and all that night. Thus it is said, “Is Saul also among the prophets?”

It was natural that David should wish to consult Samuel, the man who had anointed him for kingship (ch. 16). However, the passage relates nothing of their conversation and instead stresses the nature of prophetic power. Normally the Spirit of God equipped men with power to perform or to speak God’s will. In the presence of such power, which was in a sense infectious, Saul’s soldiers and finally Saul himself found themselves prophesying. Yet in their case the experience did not give them power but robbed them of it. Saul, indeed, was robbed of all royal dignity too. It was symbolic that he himself took off all his royal robes. Once again we meet the sneering Proverbs 10:11, and this time the taunt was fully justified.

Clearly, this episode does not describe what we normally understand by ‘prophecy’. The Hebrew word ‘prophesied’ can in some contexts refer to abnormal, trance-like states (see also 1 Ki. 18:29). God’s powerful presence could have different effects in different circumstances.
     David F. Payne, “1 and 2 Samuel,” in New Bible Commentary: 21st Century Edition, ed. D. A. Carson et al., 4th ed. (Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press, 1994), 315.

1 Samuel 20

Jonathan Warns David

1 Samuel 20:1     Then David fled from Naioth in Ramah and came and said before Jonathan, “What have I done? What is my guilt? And what is my sin before your father, that he seeks my life?” 2 And he said to him, “Far from it! You shall not die. Behold, my father does nothing either great or small without disclosing it to me. And why should my father hide this from me? It is not so.” 3 But David vowed again, saying, “Your father knows well that I have found favor in your eyes, and he thinks, ‘Do not let Jonathan know this, lest he be grieved.’ But truly, as the LORD lives and as your soul lives, there is but a step between me and death.” 4 Then Jonathan said to David, “Whatever you say, I will do for you.” 5 David said to Jonathan, “Behold, tomorrow is the new moon, and I should not fail to sit at table with the king. But let me go, that I may hide myself in the field till the third day at evening. 6 If your father misses me at all, then say, ‘David earnestly asked leave of me to run to Bethlehem his city, for there is a yearly sacrifice there for all the clan.’ 7 If he says, ‘Good!’ it will be well with your servant, but if he is angry, then know that harm is determined by him. 8 Therefore deal kindly with your servant, for you have brought your servant into a covenant of the LORD with you. But if there is guilt in me, kill me yourself, for why should you bring me to your father?” 9 And Jonathan said, “Far be it from you! If I knew that it was determined by my father that harm should come to you, would I not tell you?” 10 Then David said to Jonathan, “Who will tell me if your father answers you roughly?” 11 And Jonathan said to David, “Come, let us go out into the field.” So they both went out into the field.

12 And Jonathan said to David, “The LORD, the God of Israel, be witness! When I have sounded out my father, about this time tomorrow, or the third day, behold, if he is well disposed toward David, shall I not then send and disclose it to you? 13 But should it please my father to do you harm, the LORD do so to Jonathan and more also if I do not disclose it to you and send you away, that you may go in safety. May the LORD be with you, as he has been with my father. 14 If I am still alive, show me the steadfast love of the LORD, that I may not die; 15 and do not cut off your steadfast love from my house forever, when the LORD cuts off every one of the enemies of David from the face of the earth.” 16 And Jonathan made a covenant with the house of David, saying, “May the LORD take vengeance on David’s enemies.” 17 And Jonathan made David swear again by his love for him, for he loved him as he loved his own soul.

18 Then Jonathan said to him, “Tomorrow is the new moon, and you will be missed, because your seat will be empty. 19 On the third day go down quickly to the place where you hid yourself when the matter was in hand, and remain beside the stone heap. 20 And I will shoot three arrows to the side of it, as though I shot at a mark. 21 And behold, I will send the boy, saying, ‘Go, find the arrows.’ If I say to the boy, ‘Look, the arrows are on this side of you, take them,’ then you are to come, for, as the LORD lives, it is safe for you and there is no danger. 22 But if I say to the youth, ‘Look, the arrows are beyond you,’ then go, for the LORD has sent you away. 23 And as for the matter of which you and I have spoken, behold, the LORD is between you and me forever.”

24 So David hid himself in the field. And when the new moon came, the king sat down to eat food. 25 The king sat on his seat, as at other times, on the seat by the wall. Jonathan sat opposite, and Abner sat by Saul’s side, but David’s place was empty.

26 Yet Saul did not say anything that day, for he thought, “Something has happened to him. He is not clean; surely he is not clean.” 27 But on the second day, the day after the new moon, David’s place was empty. And Saul said to Jonathan his son, “Why has not the son of Jesse come to the meal, either yesterday or today?” 28 Jonathan answered Saul, “David earnestly asked leave of me to go to Bethlehem. 29 He said, ‘Let me go, for our clan holds a sacrifice in the city, and my brother has commanded me to be there. So now, if I have found favor in your eyes, let me get away and see my brothers.’ For this reason he has not come to the king’s table.”

30 Then Saul’s anger was kindled against Jonathan, and he said to him, “You son of a perverse, rebellious woman, do I not know that you have chosen the son of Jesse to your own shame, and to the shame of your mother’s nakedness? 31 For as long as the son of Jesse lives on the earth, neither you nor your kingdom shall be established. Therefore send and bring him to me, for he shall surely die.” 32 Then Jonathan answered Saul his father, “Why should he be put to death? What has he done?” 33 But Saul hurled his spear at him to strike him. So Jonathan knew that his father was determined to put David to death. 34 And Jonathan rose from the table in fierce anger and ate no food the second day of the month, for he was grieved for David, because his father had disgraced him.

35 In the morning Jonathan went out into the field to the appointment with David, and with him a little boy. 36 And he said to his boy, “Run and find the arrows that I shoot.” As the boy ran, he shot an arrow beyond him. 37 And when the boy came to the place of the arrow that Jonathan had shot, Jonathan called after the boy and said, “Is not the arrow beyond you?” 38 And Jonathan called after the boy, “Hurry! Be quick! Do not stay!” So Jonathan’s boy gathered up the arrows and came to his master. 39 But the boy knew nothing. Only Jonathan and David knew the matter. 40 And Jonathan gave his weapons to his boy and said to him, “Go and carry them to the city.” 41 And as soon as the boy had gone, David rose from beside the stone heap and fell on his face to the ground and bowed three times. And they kissed one another and wept with one another, David weeping the most. 42 Then Jonathan said to David, “Go in peace, because we have sworn both of us in the name of the LORD, saying, ‘The LORD shall be between me and you, and between my offspring and your offspring, forever.’” And he rose and departed, and Jonathan went into the city.

ESV Study Bible

What I'm Reading

Answering Islam

By Keith A. Mathison

     Islam is one of the most rapidly growing religions in the world today, its one billion adherents second only to Christianity. Many Christians who only decades ago would never have heard of Islam now have friends, family members and co-workers who adhere to the teachings of the Qur’an and affirm that Muhammad is the great prophet of Allah.

     Answering Islam: The Crescent in Light of the Cross by Norman Geisler and Abdul Saleeb was written for those who desire a better understanding of the teachings of Islam and for those who are looking for a tool to enable them to effectively present the Gospel to the Muslims he or she may encounter. While there are a number of books available that have been written for the same purpose, none are as lucid and helpful as this one.

     The book is divided into three main sections. In the first section, the authors explain the fundamental doctrines of orthodox Islam. Introduced are such topics as the Muslim doctrine of God, creation and man, Muhammad, the Qur’an, and salvation. It is especially helpful in that it clears away many common misconceptions and misunderstandings of Islamic belief.

     In the second part, the discussion moves to an evaluation of the Muslim doctrines of God, Muhammad, and the Qur’an from a Christian perspective. Internal inconsistencies in the particular doctrines are carefully examined and exposed, and many factual inaccuracies are pointed out.

     The authors conclude the book in the third section with a defense of the essential Christian doctrines of the authority of the Bible, the deity of Christ, the Trinity, and salvation through the atoning death of Christ on the cross. The defense of these Christian doctrines is presented specifically in light of common allegations by Muslim apologists. There are also several helpful appendices describing such topics as the different Muslim sects and common Muslim accusations against the New Testament.

     For those who are in regular contact with Muslims, and for those who are simply interested in learning more about this religion, Answering Islam is an invaluable resource.

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     Dr. Keith A. Mathison’s professor of systematic theology at Reformation Bible College in Sanford, Fla.

Keith A. Mathison Books:

Taking Thought for Tomorrow

By R.C. Sproul 4/1/1999

     “I’m too busy enjoying summer to think about winter,” the grasshopper told the the ant." --- from the Grasshopper and the Ant, by Aseop

     My father's favorite Bible verse was Jesus’ admonition in the Sermon on the Mount, “Take no thought for tomorrow, what ye shall eat or what ye shall drink.…” He never tired of quoting this text to me when I was a boy. Yet my father did take thought for the future. He bought life insurance, fire insurance, health insurance, etc. He also had a savings account. He preached a philosophy of delayed gratification. With my weekly allowance, he insisted that I first take 10 percent of it and give it back to God. Then he required that I take a second 10 percent and put it in savings. Then he said I could spend the remaining 80 percent on my special needs and wants.

     Was his philosophy contrary to his favorite Bible verse? By no means. He understood that what Jesus was teaching was not a prohibition against prudence but a message against the anxiety that robs us of our trust in the good providence of God. The providence of God, among other things, has to do with His provision for our needs. “Provision” literally means “to see beforehand.” As God’s creatures, we not only are to trust in His providence, we are to reflect His character by being provident ourselves rather than profligate. The apostle Paul teaches that the father who fails to provide for his household is worse than an infidel (1 Tim. 5:8). Scripture repeatedly enjoins us to be prudent stewards of the gifts we receive from God.

     When God revealed to Joseph that the land would experience seven years of plenty followed by seven years of famine, he spent the seven years of plenty preparing Egypt for the coming famine. As a superb administrator, he prepared storehouses in which grain was preserved for times of emergency. By his actions, not only were the Egyptians able to survive the famine, but Joseph was able to provide his own family with a refuge from the calamity, which, in the providence of God, ensured the survival of His chosen people.

     Joseph did not take a simplistic linear or uniformitarian view of history. He understood that history is subject to intrusions of the catastrophic. Like Noah before him, he believed that things would not remain the same but that drastic changes were coming—and he prepared for those changes.

     In October, weather forecasters noted the formation of a tropical storm far off in the Atlantic. It was given the name Mitch. No one was too concerned until Mitch picked up force and became a huge hurricane bearing down on the Caribbean. Soon people were boarding up their homes and business establishments, and making preparations for evacuation. Many people in Honduras, Nicaragua, and throughout Central America learned the folly of linear thinking the hard way beneath the wrath of Mitch.

     A perennial debate goes on in the field of geology between those who argue for uniformitarianism and those who argue for catastrophism. Some steer a middle course between the two. We understand the changes that are wrought over protracted periods of time via erosion and other methods, but it is risky business to assume that all of the changes that have occurred on our planet have been the result of gradualism. The volcanic explosion of Mount Saint Helens produced a stratification effect on the area in a matter of hours that paralleled changes often assumed to have taken millions of years to have occurred. And a mastadon found totally preserved in the polar ice cap had undigested food in its stomach that included tropical vegetation, indicating a sudden change in climate. A strange anomaly indeed.

     The Y2K scare that confronts us today warns us about the possibility of a catastrophe unprecedented in the world’s history. Hurricanes, floods, and volcanic eruptions come and go, and we have experience in dealing with them. But the threat of a massive infrastructure collapse on a global scale is something with which we are not familiar. We are so dependent on this infrastructure that it boggles the mind to contemplate what would happen if it suddenly collapsed.

     For several months, like a nervous Floridian tracking hurricane coordinates, I have been reading everything I can get my hands on regarding the Y2K problem. In a nutshell, I have learned that the only thing I know for sure about Y2K is that nobody knows for sure about Y2K. I hear experts from various sectors saying that Y2K will be a mere hiccup in history, with no significant damage to the status quo. I hear other experts forecasting a global catastrophe of epic proportions. And there are other scenarios in between.

     Basically the prognosticated are predicting one of four possible scenarios: 1. A hiccup (much ado about nothing). 2. A recession with rolling brownouts in power. 3. A major depression with bank failures, power blackouts, and severe shortages in fuel, food, water, etc. 4. The meltdown of civilization with one billion fatalities—the end of the world as we know it.

     In wading through the literature on this matter, I have passed through a sequence of psychological states. The sequence has moved from awareness to concern to alarm to action. I still do not know what will happen or which of the possible scenarios actually will take place. Of the four I mentioned, however, the one I least expect is number 1. I think the odds highly favor that the impact of Y2K will be at least number 2 and possibly number 3 or number 4. I am hoping for the best and preparing for the worst.

     I believe I would be acutely irresponsible if I didn’t take steps to prepare for life-threatening scenarios such as those posited by Y2K. As a husband and father, I am responsible not to keep my family in toys and luxury but to do all I can to provide them with the basic necessities of life, such as water, food, heat, etc. But as a Christian and a minister, my responsibility goes far beyond my own household. Whether it’s the threat of Y2K or any other possible calamity, our concern must always be for our community—for the church and for my neighbor. Joseph made provision not only for himself and his family, but also for his countrymen. When calamities occur, local or national rugged individualism or isolationism simply won’t do.

     We cannot control the future; it belongs to God. This is His world. Our confidence for tomorrow must rest in Him. What we can control is our behavior in the face of danger. We can be prudent or we can be fools.

     I see no simple solution to the problems ahead. Every option we have has risks. It can be painful and expensive to prepare for difficult times, but it can be far more painful and far more expensive to fail to prepare for difficult times. The problem is exacerbated by the relentless reality that to make no decision about this matter is to make a decision. The decisions we make today will have consequences tomorrow. This is why I ask my friends and acquaintances to, at the very least, get informed about the possible perils of the days ahead. To be uninformed is to be unprepared. My concern is that most people will be like me in that they will take no cautionary action until they move through the stages of awareness-concern-alarm. Please do not assume that history is linear and uniform. Nothing disproves that assumption like history itself.

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Robert Charles Sproul, 2/13/1939 – 12/14/2017 was an American theologian, author, and ordained pastor in the Presbyterian Church in America. Dr. R.C. Sproul was founder and chairman of Ligonier Ministries, an international Christian education and discipleship organization located near Orlando, Fla. He was also copastor of Saint Andrew’s Chapel in Sanford, Fla., chancellor of Reformation Bible College, and executive editor of Tabletalk magazine. Dr. Sproul has contributed dozens of articles to national evangelical publications, has spoken at conferences, churches, and schools around the world, and has written more than one hundred books. He also served as general editor of the Reformation Study Bible.

     R.C. Sproul Books |  Go to Books Page

What Were the Crusades? Busting Some Myths

By Lenny Esposito 2/6/2015

     Just what were the Crusades? In his speech at the National Prayer Breakfast yesterday, President Obama likened the evil savagery that ISIS has been perpetrating in the name of Islam to Christianity and the Crusades. First, it makes no sense to with a wave of one's rhetorical hand dismiss one evil because of another. In logic, that is known as the tu quoque (Latin for "you too!") fallacy. Yet, there is another problem with the president's comparison: it's based on a very common, very popular, but very wrong misconception about what the Crusades were about and what actually happened historically.

     I want to take a moment to play myth-buster and show why the modern assumptions are very much backwards and why the Crusades are not parallel with the ISIS killings we read in the headlines today.

     What Were the Crusades? Myth – Christians Unilaterally Attacked Muslim Lands

     This seems to be the foundational myth in misunderstanding what were the Crusades. Many believe that Christians gathered their armies from the various parts of Europe to march into Muslim territory and conquer anyone believing in Islam. Usually, Christians are painted as religious bigots trying to stamp out the unbeliever through warfare and violence. In a supplemental text to the video game "Crusade of Kings, " R. Scott Peoples writes "The soldiers of the First Crusade appeared basically without warning, storming into the Holy Land with the avowed—literally—task of slaughtering unbelievers."1 This is a popular picture, but one that's dead wrong.

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     Lenny Esposito is president and founder of Come Reason Ministries, a Christian apologetics organization, and author of the popular www.comereason.org Web site. He has taught apologetics and Christian worldview for over 17 years and has authored hundreds articles dealing with intellectually strenuous topics such as the existence of God, theology, philosophy, social issues and Biblical difficulties.
     Lenny is an in-demand speaker, teaching at conferences, churches, and schools across the nation. He is a contributor to the popular Apologetics Study Bible for Students and his articles have appeared in the Los Angeles Times and the Southern California Christian Times. He has debated many topics on faith and reason and the rationality of the Christian worldview; his most recent debate being against well-known atheists and author Dr. Richard Carrier on the question "Does God Exist?"
     Lenny is a pioneer in online ministry efforts when he began using the Web to reach others near its beginnings in 1995. He produces one of the top 16 apologetics podcasts according to Apologetics 315 and his site has been viewed millions of times by visitors from nearly every country in the world.
Lenny is a member of the Evangelical Philosophical Society and the Evangelical Theological Society.

Never Sorry Enough

By Tim Challies 3/30/2015

     I am not easily offended. People will sometimes apologize to me for something they have said or something they have done, concerned that I was offended at their behavior. But I rarely am. It usually doesn’t even occur to me to be offended. But then there is that one situation with that one friend.

     A long time ago a friend really did offend me. He hurt me badly, actually. In the aftermath he did the right thing. I spoke to him and expressed how his behavior had hurt me, and he apologized. And that should have been enough, right?

     But this is the one offense in my life I found it difficult to move past. And I mean that—for many years this offense existed in its own category in my life. It was the one wound that was so slow to heal. And I sometimes wondered why. Why was this one so hard to let go? Why did I still bear the weight of it, even much later on?

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     Tim Challies: I am a Christian, a husband to Aileen and a father to three children aged 10 to 16. I worship and serve as an elder at Grace Fellowship Church in Toronto, Ontario. I am a book reviewer, co-founder of Cruciform Press.

     I began my web site in 2002 and have been writing there daily since 2003. It is my place to think out loud and in public while also sharing some of the interesting things I’ve discovered in my online travels.

     Tim Challies is founding blogger of Challies.com and a pastor at Grace Fellowship Church in Toronto. You can follow him on Twitter @Challies. He began his web site in 2002 and has been writing there daily since 2003. It is his place to think out loud and in public while also sharing some of the interesting things he discovers in his online travels.

     Tim Challies Books |  Go to Books Page

Earth's Age - Great Article

By Dr. Andrew Corbett

     One of the most contentious issues among Christians today is the age of the universe. Is it 6000 years old like 17th century Bishop Ussher calculated, or is it around 13,000,000,000 years old like scientists say? How we determine the answer determines how we interpret the Bible and understand the world around us...

     The opening verse of Genesis is perhaps the most famous, and probably the most read, verse in the Bible. It is so plain, so clear, so unambiguous, that nearly every English translation of the Scriptures for the past 400 years has rendered it identically. Of all the statements that God could have chosen to utter first in His revelation to mankind, He gave us this one. Little wonder. If this statement is proven to be false then the entire credibility of the Bible is undermined. But if this statement is found to be true its ramifications are infinite!

     But a strange thing has happened ever since an Irish Bishop published some genealogical calculations around 400 years ago. He asserted that Genesis 1:1 could be dated: October 23rd 4004 BC. Within years of this assertion being published it was incorporated into the margins of Bibles by Publishers and led to this date being accepted by Bible readers around the English-speaking-world almost without question. Bishop Ussher could never have foreseen that his chronological speculating would result in a U.S. Supreme Court trial in which trusting Christians would be humiliated!

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The pdf complete article can be found here - click here

     Apart from pastoring Legana Christian Church, Dr. Andrew Corbett is also the President of ICI Theological College Australia, Chairman of Believe In Tasmania, Director of the Tasmanian Family Institute, a member of the National Leadership Team Member of the Acts 2 Alliance, and an consultant-advisor on social policy issues. He contributes to regular websites such as: Blog and Biblical Thinking Resources. His videos are regularly posted to YouTubeTangle, and Vimeo. His Radio Program, FINDING TRUTH MATTERS, is heard across Northern Tasmania and by thousands of Podcast Subscribers around the world.

The Institutes of the Christian Religion

Translated by Henry Beveridge

     CHAPTER 13.


The divisions of this chapter are,--I. The glory of God, and peace of conscience, both secured by gratuitous justification. An insult to the glory of God to glory in ourselves and seek justification out of Christ, whose righteousness, apprehended by faith, is imputed to all the elect for reconciliation and eternal salvation, sec. 1, 2. II. Peace of conscience cannot be obtained in any other way than by gratuitous justification. This fully proved, sec. 3-5.


1. The glory of God remains untarnished, when he alone is acknowledged to be just. This proved from Scripture.

2. Those who glory in themselves glory against God. Objection. Answer, confirmed by the authority of Paul and Peter.

3. Peace of conscience obtained by free justification only. Testimony of Solomon, of conscience itself, and the Apostle Paul, who contends that faith is made vain if righteousness come by the law.

4. The promise confirmed by faith in the mercy of Christ. This is confirmed by Augustine and Bernard, is in accordance with what has been above stated, and is illustrated by clear predictions of the prophets.

5. Farther demonstration by an Apostle. Refutation of a sophism.

1. Here two ends must be kept specially in view, namely, that the glory of God be maintained unimpaired, and that our consciences, in the view of his tribunal, be secured in peaceful rest and calm tranquillity. When the question relates to righteousness, we see how often and how anxiously Scripture exhorts us to give the whole praise of it to God. Accordingly, the Apostle testifies that the purpose of the Lord in conferring righteousness upon us in Christ, was to demonstrate his own righteousness. The nature of this demonstration he immediately subjoins--viz. "that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus," (Rom. 3:25). Observe, that the righteousness of God is not sufficiently displayed, unless He alone is held to be righteous, and freely communicates righteousness to the undeserving. For this reason it is his will, that "every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God," (Rom. 3:19). For so long as a man has any thing, however small, to say in his own defense, so long he deducts somewhat from the glory of God. Thus we are taught in Ezekiel how much we glorify his name by acknowledging our iniquity: "Then shall ye remember your ways and all your doings, wherein ye have been defiled; and ye shall loathe yourselves in your own sight, for all your evils that ye have committed. And ye shall know that I am the Lord, when I have wrought with you for my name's sake, not according to your wicked ways, nor according to your corrupt doings," (Ezek. 20:43, 44). If part of the true knowledge of God consists in being oppressed by a consciousness of our own iniquity, and in recognizing him as doing good to those who are unworthy of it, why do we attempt, to our great injury, to steal from the Lord even one particle of the praise of unmerited kindness? In like manner, when Jeremiah exclaims, "Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches: but let him that glorieth glory" in the Lord (Jer. 9:23, 24), does he not intimate, that the glory of the Lord is infringed when man glories in himself? To this purpose, indeed, Paul accommodates the words when he says, that all the parts of our salvation are treasured up with Christ, that we may glory only in the Lord (1 Cor. 1:29). For he intimates, that whosoever imagines he has any thing of his own, rebels against God, and obscures his glory.

2. Thus, indeed, it is: we never truly glory in him until we have utterly discarded our own glory. It must, therefore, be regarded as an universal proposition, that whoso glories in himself glories against God. Paul indeed considers, that the whole world is not made subject to God until every ground of glorying has been withdrawn from men (Rom. 3:19). Accordingly, Isaiah, when he declares that "in the Lord shall all the seed of Israel be justified" adds, "and shall glory" (Isa. 45:25 ), as if he had said that the elect are justified by the Lord, in order that they may glory in him, and in none else. The way in which we are to glory in the Lord he had explained in the preceding verse, "Unto me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear;" "Surely, shall one say, in the Lord have I righteousness and strength, even to him shall men come." Observe, that the thing required is not simple confession, but confession confirmed by an oath, that it might not be imagined that any kind of fictitious humility might suffice. And let no man here allege that he does not glory, when without arrogance he recognizes his own righteousness; such a recognition cannot take place without generating confidence, nor such confidence without begetting boasting. Let us remember, therefore, that in the whole discussion concerning justification the great thing to be attended to is, that God's glory be maintained entire and unimpaired; since as the Apostle declares, it was in demonstration of his own righteousness that he shed his favor upon us; it was "that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus," (Rom. 3:26). Hence, in another passage, having said that the Lord conferred salvation upon us, in order that he might show forth the glory of his name (Eph. 1:6), he afterwards, as if repeating the same thing, adds, "By grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast," (Eph. 2:8). And Peter, when he reminds us that we are called to the hope of salvation, "that ye should show forth the praises of him who has called you out of darkness into his marvelous light," (1 Pet. 2:9), doubtless intends thus to proclaim in the ears of believers only the praises of God, that they may bury in profound silence all arrogance of the flesh. The sum is, that man cannot claim a single particle of righteousness to himself, without at the same time detracting from the glory of the divine righteousness.

     Christian Classics Ethereal Library / Public Domain

     Institutes of the Christian Religion

Gorsuch Understands Natural Law. Why That’s Good News for Christians

By Paul Kengor 3/31/2017

     Natural law is “the law that is written in the human heart.” Gorsuch gets it.

     It was a stunning moment in the Supreme Court confirmation hearings for Neil Gorsuch. Senator Dianne Feinstein, a staunch supporter of so-called “abortion rights,” took umbrage. The problem was something Gorsuch had written. Feinstein complained: “He believes there are no exceptions to the principle that ‘the intentional taking of a human life by private persons is always wrong.’” (In this view, when we use violence in self-defense our intent isn’t killing per se but protecting ourselves. Soldiers and police aren’t “private persons,” but agents of the state – editors.)

     Well, yes, that’s right. That’s what Gorsuch believes. That’s a good thing, isn’t it?

     Not to Senator Feinstein, sadly. For her the alpha and omega is what her colleagues Nancy Pelosi and Hillary Clinton consider a “sacred right:” a woman’s “right to choose.” Roe v. Wade is sacrosanct in their eyes. That’s the complete opposite of what Neil Gorsuch considers sacrosanct.

Click here to go to source

     Dr. Paul Kengor is professor of political science and executive director of The Center for Vision and Values at Grove City College.

Paul Kengor Books:

11 Principles of a Reagan Conservative
The Communist
Dupes: How America's Adversaries Have Manipulated Progressives for a Century
Takedown: From Communists to Progressives, How the Left Has Sabotaged Family and Marriage
A Pope and a President: John Paul II, Ronald Reagan, and the Extraordinary Untold Story of the 20th Century
God and Ronald Reagan: A Spiritual Life
The Crusader: Ronald Reagan and the Fall of Communism

1 Samuel 18

By Don Carson 8/26/2018

     The kind of jealousy described in 1 Samuel 18 is a terrible thing.

     (1) It is grounded in an ugly self-focus, a self-focus without restraint. In his world, Saul must be number one. This means that peers must not best him or he becomes jealous. Not for an instant does he look at anything from the perspective of others—David’s perspective, for instance, or Jonathan’s. Ultimately, he cannot look at anything from God’s perspective either. His self-focus belongs to the genus of self-centeredness that lies at the heart of all human sinfulness, but in its degree and intensity it is so unrestrained that it simultaneously loses touch with reality and adopts the most elemental idolatry.

     (2) It is triggered by endless comparisons, endless assessments of who’s up and who’s down. Thus if David’s successes redound well on Saul, Saul is pleased; but if someone starts making comparisons between Saul and David that are in any way invidious to Saul, he is jealous (1 Sam. 18:7–8). Insofar as David’s successes are an index of the fact that “the LORD was with David” (18:12–28), Saul is jealous because he knows that the Lord is not with him. The tragedy is that this recognition does not breed repentance, but jealousy. Even the love Saul’s daughter Michal has for David exacerbates Saul’s jealousy (1 Sam. 18:28–29). Inevitably, this kind and degree of jealousy is very much bound up with fear; again and again we are told that Saul feared David (1 Sam. 18:12, 15, 29). David has become an unbearable threat. Jealousy of this order cannot tolerate competence in others.

     It has to be said that many leaders, not least Christian leaders, even when they do not succumb to this degree of malevolence, fill the positions around them with less competent people, thinking that they thereby preserve their own image or authority. They don’t, of course; they simply become masters of incompetent administrations. On the long haul, their own reputations are diminished. But jealousy is such a blinding sin that such obvious realities cannot be admitted.

     (3) In the worst cases, this sort of jealousy is progressively devouring. It nags at Saul’s mind and multiplies like a cancer. It erupts in uncontrolled violence (1 Sam. 18:10–11); it slips into twisted schemes enmeshing Saul’s own family (1 Sam. 18:20–27). In the chapters ahead it settles into something beyond rage—implacable hatred that deploys the armed forces against one innocent man who makes Saul feel insecure.

     A believer who above all wants the name of the Lord to be exalted, who genuinely desires the good of the people of God, and who is entirely content to entrust his or her reputation to God, will never succumb to the sin of jealousy.

Click here to go to source

Don Carson is research professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois, and co-founder (with Tim Keller) of The Gospel Coalition. He has authored numerous books, and recently edited The Enduring Authority of the Christian Scriptures (Eerdmans, 2016).

     Don Carson Books |  Go to Books Page

Read The Psalms In "1" Year

Psalm 35

Great Is the LORD

22 You have seen, O LORD; be not silent!
O Lord, be not far from me!
23 Awake and rouse yourself for my vindication,
for my cause, my God and my Lord!
24 Vindicate me, O LORD, my God,
according to your righteousness,
and let them not rejoice over me!
25 Let them not say in their hearts,
“Aha, our heart’s desire!”
Let them not say, “We have swallowed him up.”

ESV Study Bible

By Gleason Archer Jr.

18 | Deuteronomy

      THE HEBREW NAME of  Deuteronomy is ʾēlleh haddebārɩ̂m (“these are the words”) or more briefly, Debārɩ̂m (“words”) — taken from the opening line of  1:1. The LXX called it by the more descriptive term Deuteronomion (“second law-giving”), because it consists mostly of a restatement of laws contained in  Exodus, Leviticus, and  Numbers. In the closing months of his earthly career, Moses addressed the assembled congregation of Israel and impressed upon them their peculiar privileges and obligations as the covenant people of Jehovah. Looking forward to the conquest of Canaan, he set forth the divinely ordained constitution of the new theocracy to be established in the land of promise. He laid the responsibility for the preservation of this theocracy upon the conscience of each individual citizen and worshiper.

Outline of  Deuteronomy

I. First discourse: historical prologue,  1:1–4:49
     A. God’s gracious guidance from Horeb to Moab,  1:1–3:29
     B. The new generation admonished to cherish the law,  4:1–40
     C. Appointment of the Transjordanian cities of refuge,  4:41–43
     D. Historical setting of this discourse,  4:44–49

II. Second discourse: laws by which Israel is to live,  5:1–26:19
     A. Basic commandments,  5:1–11:32
          1.The Decalogue and the love of God to be taught to posterity,  5:1–6:25
          2.Steadfast obedience and constant grateful remembrance of God’s dealings,  7:1–11:32
     B. Statutes of worship and a holy life,  12:1–16:22
          1.Genuine worship and needful safeguards against idolatry,  12:1–13:18
          2.Rules about food, the Sabbaths, and the feast days,  14:1–16:22
     C. Judgments: the treatment of specific offenses,  17:1–26:19
          1. Death for idolatry, appellate procedure; the responsibilities of a king,  17:1–20
          2. Penalties for witchcraft and false prophecy; the prophetic order and the Messiah-Prophet,  18:1–22
          3. Cities of refuge for accidental homicides; penalties for fraud and perjury,  19:1–21
          4. Rules of battle and siege,  20:1–20
          5. Care of the deceased; captive wives; inheritance and family discipline; removal of the corpse from the gallows,  21:1–23
          6. Concerning lost property; no masquerading as opposite sex; no mingling of seeds or yoking of diverse animals,  22:1–12
          7. Laws concerning marriage, chastity, care of the body, cleanliness,  22:13–24:5
          8. Laws concerning economic and social justice,  24:6–25:19
          9. Laws of stewardship, offerings, and tithes,  26:1–19

III. Third discourse: warning and prediction,  27:1–31:30
     A. The law to be inscribed and its sanctions recited at Mount Ebal,  27:1–26
     B. Conditions for blessing and chastisement of the nation (prediction of future judgments upon Israel),  28:1–68
     C. Review of God’s benefactions; exhortations to faithfulness,  29:1–30:20
     D. Written law entrusted to the leaders of Israel,  31:1–30

IV. Song of Moses: Israel’s responsibility to the covenant,  32:1–43

V. Final charge and farewell,  32:44–33:29
     A. Moses’ last exhortation,  32:44–47
     B. Moses warned of approaching death,  32:48–52
     C. Moses’ final blessing upon Israel, tribe by tribe,  33:1–29

VI. Death of Moses and his obituary,  34:1–12

Underlying Principles of Deuteronomy

     As already indicated,  Deuteronomy consists of a restatement and summary of the Law in a compendious form for the guidance of the Israelite nation as a whole. But much of this summary is couched in homiletical or sermonic terms. That is, Moses is not simply explaining what the laws of God are, but he is earnestly enjoining them upon the consciences of his people, and urging them to take with utmost seriousness God’s call to a holy life. Certain characteristic emphases or leading thoughts dominate the various discourses. Among these are the following.

     1. The spirituality of God ( 4:12, 15, 16 ) and His uniqueness and unity are set forth ( 4:35, 39; 6:4; 7:9; 10:17 ).

     2. God’s relationship to His people under the covenant is one of personal love rather than of merit-earning legalism ( 4:37; 7:13; 33:3 ).


Spirituality of God      4:12, 15, 16
Uniqueness and Unity of God      4:35, 39; 6:4; 7:9; 10:17
Relationship of love between God and His covenant people      4:37; 7:13; 33:3
Love for God the dynamic principle of the believer’s life      6:5; 7:8; 10:12, 15; 11:1, 13, 22; 13:3; 19:9; 30:6, 16, 20
Idolotry to be totally shunned      6:14, 15; 7:4; 8:19, 20; 11:16, 17, 20; 13:2–12; 30:17–18
Live as a holy people      7:6; 26:19; 28:9
Faithfulness rewarded; violation punished     Chaps.  28–30
Retain and obey the revealed truth from God “Remember and forget not”      9:7

     3. For the believer the basic requirement is love for God, and this love is to be the dynamic principle for his life ( 6:5; 7:8; 10:12, 15; 11:1, 13, 22; 13:3; 19:9; 30:6, 16, 20).

     4. Israel’s greatest peril is idolatry, which is to be resisted and suppressed with uncompromising severity ( 6:14, 15; 7:4; 8:19, 20; 11:16, 17, 20; 13:2–12; 30:17, 18).

     5. Because of their close relation to the holy One, the Israelites must live as a holy people ( 7:6; 26:19; 28:9 ). This holiness entails abstinence from unclean foods, safe-guarded by restricting sacrificial worship to a chosen central sanctuary; it finds expression in love toward the neighbor and charity to the poor and underprivileged (widows, orphans, Levites, and foreigners).

     6. Faithfulness to the covenant is to be rewarded by material benefits; violation and disregard of the covenant will be punished by material disaster, loss and ultimate exile (chaps.  28–30 ).

     7. The characteristic admonition is: “Remember, and forget not!” Rather than embarking on some quest for “new truth” to replace the old, Israel is to retain and to obey the revealed truth which it has once and for all received from the absolute and unchanging Source of truth.

     In general the Hebrew text of  Deuteronomy has been well transmitted with few difficulties. But in  Deut. 32:43 it appears that the LXX worked from a longer Hebrew Vorlage than the MT, and interestingly enough,  Rom. 15:10 quotes from a clause which appears in the LXX insertion. Another Old Testament quotation also appears in  Heb. 1:6, yet in this case the source may have been  Ps. 97:7, which contains the same wording as the LXX in  Deut. 32:43 (R. K. Harrison, Old Testament Introduction, p. 662).

     A Survey of Old Testament Introduction

The Coming Prince

By Sir Robert Anderson 1841-1918

Chapter 9 The Paschal Supper

     The trustworthiness of witnesses is tested, not by the amount of truth their evidence contains, but by the absence of mistakes. A single glaring error may serve to discredit testimony which seemed of the highest worth. This principle applies with peculiar force in estimating the credibility of the Gospel narratives, and it lends an importance that can scarcely be exaggerated to the question which arises in this controversy, Was the betrayal in fact upon the night of the Paschal Supper? If, as is so commonly maintained, one or all of the Evangelists were in error in a matter of fact so definite and plain, it is idle to pretend that their writings are in any sense whatever God-breathed.[1]

[1] theopneustos, 2 Timothy 3:16. See Browne's Ordo Saec., §§ 65- 70, for an exhaustive discussion of this question, in proof that "the three first Gospels are at variance on this point with the fourth." The matter is treated of in books without number. I here deal only with the salient points in the controversy. Arguments based upon the Sabbatical observance of the 15th Nisan being inconsistent with the events of the morning of the crucifixion are worthless. "To strain at a gnat and swallow a camel" was characteristic of the men who were the actors in these scenes. If any one have doubts of it, let him read the Mishna. And points such as that the Jews were forbidden to leave their houses on the night of the Supper, depend upon confounding the commands given for the night of the Exodus with the law relative to its annual celebration. As well might it be urged that the Lord sanctioned and took part in a violation of the law because He reclined at supper, instead of standing girded and shod as enjoined in Exodus 12.
     The testimony of the first three Gospels is united, that the Last Supper was eaten at the Jewish Passover. The attempt to prove that it was an anticipatory celebration, without the paschal sacrifice, though made with the best of motives, is utterly futile. "Now on the first day of unleavened bread" (St. Matthew declares), [2] "the disciples came to Jesus, saying, Where wilt thou that we make ready for Thee to eat the Passover?" It was the proposal not of the Lord, but of the disciples, who, with the knowledge of the day and of the rites pertaining to it, turned to the Master for instructions. With yet greater definiteness St. Mark narrates that this took place on the first day of unleavened bread, when they killed the Passover. (Mark 14:12) And the language of St. Luke is, if possible, more unequivocal still:

     "Then came the day of unleavened bread, when the Passover must be killed." (Luke 22:7)

Luke 22:7 Then came the day of Unleavened Bread, on which the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed.   ESV

[2] Matthew 26:17 (Revised Version). In the Authorized Version out translators have perverted the verse. It was not the first day of the feast, but ta prota ton adzumon, or, as St. Luke calls it, ha hamera ton adzumon, viz., the day on which leaven was banished from their houses, the 14th Nisan, on the evening of which the Passover was eaten.
Matthew 26:17 Now on the first day of Unleavened Bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Where will you have us prepare for you to eat the Passover?”

     But it is confidently asserted that the testimony of St. John is just as clear and unambiguous that the: crucifixion took place upon the very day and, it is; sometimes urged, at the very hour of the paschal sacrifice. Many an eminent writer may be cited to support this view, and the controversy waged in its defense is endless. But no plea for deference to great: names can be tolerated for a moment when the point: at issue is the integrity of Holy Writ; and despite the erudition that has been exhausted to prove that the Gospels are here at hopeless variance, none who have: learned to prize them as a Divine revelation will be surprised to find that the main difficulty depends; entirely on prevailing ignorance respecting Jewish ordinances and the law of Moses.

     These writers one and all, confound the Paschal Supper with the festival which followed it, and to which it lent its name. The supper was a memorial of the redemption of the firstborn of Israel on the. night before the Exodus; the feast was the anniversary of their actual deliverance from the house of bondage. The supper was not a part of the: feast; it was morally the basis on which the feast was founded, just as the Feast of Tabernacles was based on the great sin-offering of the day of expiation which preceded it. But in the same way that the Feast of Weeks came to be commonly designated Pentecost, the feast of Unleavened Bread was popularly called the Passover. [3] That title was common to the supper and the feast, and included both; but the intelligent Jew would never confound the two; and if he spoke emphatically of the feast of the Passover, he would thereby mark the festival to the exclusion of the supper. [4]

[3] See Luke 22:1., and compare Josephus, Ant., 14:2, I, and 17:9, 3:" The feast of unleavened bread, which we call the Passover."

[4] Or if the emphasis rested on the last word, the distinction would be between Passover and Pentecost or Tabernacles.
     No words can possibly express more clearly this distinction than those afforded by the Pentateuch in the final promulgation of the Law: " In the fourteenth day of the first month is the Passover of the Lord; and in the fifteenth day of this month is the feast." [5]

[5] Numbers 28:16-17. Compare Exodus 12:14-17, and Leviticus 23:5-6, and mark that in the enumeration of the feasts in Exodus 23, the Passover (i. e., the Paschal Supper) is omitted altogether.
     Opening the thirteenth chapter of St. John in the light of this simple explanation, every difficulty vanishes. The scene is laid at the Paschal Supper, on the eve of the festival, "before the feast of the Passover;" [6] and after the narration or the washing of the disciples' feet, the evangelist goes on to tell of the hurried departure of Judas, explaining that, to some, the Lord's injunction to the traitor was understood to mean, "Buy what we have need of against the feast." (John 13:29) The feast day was a Sabbath, when trading was unlawful, and it would seem that the needed supply for the festival was still procurable far on in the preceding night; for another of the errors with which this controversy abounds is the assumption that the Jewish day was invariably reckoned a nukthameron, beginning in the evening. [7]

[6] John 13:1. The reader must carefully distinguish between verses such as this and those verses where in our English version the word "feast" is in italics, denoting that it is not in the original.

[7] Such, for instance, was the day of atonement (Leviticus 23:32) and also the weekly Sabbath. But though the Passover was eaten between six o'clock and midnight, this period was designated in the law, not the beginning of the 15th Nisan, but the evening or night of the 14th (compare Exodus 12:6-8, and Leviticus 23:5). The 15th, or feast day, was reckoned, doubtless, from six o'clock the following morning, for, according to the Mishna (Treatise Berachoth), the day began at six o'clock a. m. These writers would have us believe that the disciples supposed that they were there and then eating the Passover, and yet that they imagined Judas was dispatched to buy what was needed for the Passover!
     Such, doubtless, was the common rule, and notably in respect of the law of ceremonial cleansing. This very fact, indeed, enables us without a doubt to conclude that the Passover on account of which the Jews refused to defile themselves by entering the judgment hall, was not the Paschal Supper, for that supper was not eaten till after the hour at which such defilement would have lapsed. In the language of the law, "When the sun is down he shall be clean, and shall afterwards eat of the holy things." (Leviticus 12:7) Not so was it with the holy offerings of the feast day, which they must needs eat before the hour at which their uncleanness would have ceased. [8] The only question, therefore, is whether partaking of the peace offerings of the festival could properly be designated as "eating the Passover." The law of Moses itself supplies the answer: "Thou shalt sacrifice the Passover unto the Lord thy God of the flock and the herd…seven days shalt thou eat unleavened bread therewith." (Deuteronomy 16:2-3, and compare 2 Chronicles 35:7-8.)

[8] Because the day ended at six o'clock. Moreover, we know from Jewish writers that these offerings (called in the Talmud the Chagigah) were eaten between three and six o'clock, and ceremonial uncleanness continued until six o'clock.
     If then the words of St. John are intelligible only when thus interpreted, and if when thus interpreted they are consistent with the testimony of the three first Evangelists, no element is lacking to give certainty that the events of the eighteenth chapter occurred upon the feast-day, Or if confirmation still be needed, the closing verses of this very chapter give it, for according to the custom cited, it was at the feast that the governor released a prisoner to the people (John 18:39; Compare Matthew 27:15; Mark 15:6; and Luke 23:17). Fearing because of the populace to seize the Lord upon the feast-day, (Matthew 26:5; Mark 14:1-2) the Pharisees were eager to procure His betrayal on the night of the Paschal Supper. And so it came to pass that the arraignment before Pilate took place upon the festival, as all the Evangelists declare.

     But does not St. John expressly state that it was "the preparation of the Passover," and must not this necessarily mean the fourteenth of Nisan? The plain answer is, that not a single passage has been cited from writings either sacred or profane in which that day is so described; whereas among the Jews "the preparation" was the common name for the day before the Sabbath, and it is so used by all the Evangelists. And bearing this in mind, let the reader compare the fourteenth verse of the nineteenth chapter of St. John with the thirty-first and forty-second verses of the same chapter, and he will have no difficulty in rendering the words in question, "it was Passover Friday." [9]

[9] in de paraskeua tou pascha, compare vers. 31 and 42, and also Matthew 27:62; Mark 15:42; Luke 23:54. Josephus (Ant., 16., 6, 2) cites an imperial edict relieving the Jews from appearing before the tribunals either on the Sabbath or after the ninth hour of the preparation day. It is unjustifiable to assert that the absence of the article in John 19:14 precludes our giving this meaning to the word paraskeua in that passage. In three of the other five verses cited the word is anarthrous, for in fact it had come to be the common name for the day, and the expression "Passover Friday" was as natural to a Jew as is "Easter Monday" to ourselves. (See Alford's note on Mark 15:42. Still more valuable is his explanation of Matthew 27:62.)
The Coming Prince

  and also at this website. https://www.whatsaiththescripture.com/Voice/The.Coming.Prince.html#1-2

The Continual Burnt Offering

By H.A. Ironside - 1941

April 1

Psalm 72:1 Give the king your justice, O God,
and your righteousness to the royal son!
2  May he judge your people with righteousness,
and your poor with justice!
3  Let the mountains bear prosperity for the people,
and the hills, in righteousness!

7  In his days may the righteous flourish,
and peace abound, till the moon be no more!

8  May he have dominion from sea to sea,
and from the River to the ends of the earth!

     War is the result of the distrust and jealousies that prevail among the nations, and all of these are but expressions of the sinfulness of men’s hearts. Until all this is curbed there can be no lasting peace for mankind. Men may try to bring about universal peace by treaties and covenants, but as long as sin rules in their hearts their efforts will only end in disappointment and heart rending strife. Only when the Lord Jesus Christ asserts His power, at His second coming, will the kingdoms of this world become the kingdom of our Lord and His Christ (Revelation 11:15). Then all the glorious predictions of the prophets will be literally fulfilled and wars will cease out of the earth, for everywhere men will own the authority of Him who alone can carry out the divine program. So long as He is rejected, there must be conflicts and misunderstandings among the nations, but when He comes to reign as King of kings and Lord of lords (Revelation 19:16), God’s will shall be done on earth as it is done in Heaven (Matthew 6:10).

Revelation 11:15 Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever.”

Revelation 19:16 On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords.

Matthew 6:10  Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.

Soon Thou shalt come in bright array,
With all Thy saints in train—
To conquer earth, erect Thy throne,
And o’er creation reign.

Lord, haste that bright expected day
When earth shall cease to groan;
When all Thine own shall be with Thee,
And Thou upon Thy throne.

Then streams of everlasting praise
To Thy blest name shall flow—
From all the ransomed in the skies,
And those on earth below.
--- C. G. Crowston

The Continual Burnt Offering: Daily Meditations on the Word of God

By James Orr 1907


REVELATION is historical, and it is a serious disservice to religion to depreciate the historical element in revelation, or to represent it as immaterial to faith whether the history in the Old Testament is true or legendary. Budde himself says: “God reveals Himself not through words, but through deeds, not in speech, but in action” (Das Alte Test. und die Ausgrabungen, 2nd ed., Pref. p. 9). But if the ground is taken from the only facts we have, what remains to yield the revelation? Is it not left in the air? The peculiar combination witnessed in the Anglican Church of acceptance of the results of the Wellhausen criticism with zeal for every jot and tittle of a high patristic orthodoxy — of a method which turns the bulk of the Old Testament history into legend and invention, with stout defence of the historicity of the Gospel narratives of the Virgin Birth, the Transfiguration, and the Resurrection — is one, we are convinced, foredoomed to failure. One side or the other must give way. God, Ottley says truly, “interposes” in miracle (Aspects of O. T., p. 115; cf. pp. 61 ff., 107 ff.). But if the actual miracles are taken away by the narratives being regarded as late and legendary, what better are we? Ottley refers, p. 108, to the “admirable remarks” on O.T. miracle of Schultz, who had no place in his scheme for miracle in the proper sense at all.

It is again a mistake to represent it as a matter of indifference for the right understanding of revelation what theory we adopt of its origins and course of development. What does it matter how the thing came to be, it is said, if we have the result? But in everything else it is recognised that a thing is only known when its real history is known. No scientist would ever allow that one account of origins is as good as another. It is a first principle of science that we can only understand a phenomenon rightly when we accurately understand its antecedents and genesis. It is this which gives its importance to the idea of evolution. Why, among Biblical critics themselves, the stress laid on getting behind the so-called “legends” to the real course of the development, if not because it is felt that it is only when legend is displaced by fact that we have the true key to the nature of the religion? But if the critic’s understanding of the history turns out to be a misunderstanding, that equally will be a fatal obstacle to a right comprehension of the result.

Even legend, however, is not mythology, and, despite recent attempts to revive a mythological interpretation of personages and incidents in the Old Testament there is very general agreement that the Old Testament religion is non-mythological. This absence of mythology is another marked feature of contrast with other religions. We may, if we please, speak of a tradition like that of Eden as “mythical,” as others may discuss whether it contains symbol or allegory. But “myth” in this case must be distinguished from mythology proper, i.e., such weaving of stories about the gods in their relations to each other and to the world as are found in other religions, and have generally their origin in nature - phenomena (e.g., sun-myths, dawn - myths, myths of growth and reproduction, etc.). From this element, as most scholars recognise, the Biblical religion seems entirely free. See the remarks of Professor Robertson, Early Religion of Israel, pp. 188–9, 299. Professor Robertson quotes from an interesting article by Mr. Andrew Lang in The New Review, Aug. 1889; and also quotes Stade, Geschichte, i. pp. 438–9. Gunkel may also be referred to,  Genesis, pp. 113 ff. He thinks traces of an original mythological basis are to be discovered, but contends for the absence of mythology in the proper religion of Israel.


INSPIRATION does not create the materials of its record, but works with those it has received. It reveals itself in the insight it shows into them, and in the use it makes of them. An interesting illustration of this truth is furnished in a note of the old commentator, Matthew Henry, on  1 Chron. 8:1–32. “As to the difficulties,” he says, “that occur in this and the foregoing genealogies we need not perplex ourselves. I presume  Ezra took them as he found them in the books of the kings of Israel and Judah (chap.  9:1 ), according as they were given in by the several tribes, each observing what method they thought fit. Hence some ascend, others descend; some have numbers affixed, others places; some have historical remarks intermixed, others have not; some are shorter, others longer; some agree with other records, others differ; some, it is likely, were torn, erased, and blotted, others more legible. Those of Dan and Reuben were entirely lost. This holy man wrote as he was moved of the Holy Ghost; but there was no necessity for the making up of the defects, no, nor for the rectifying of the mistakes of these genealogies by inspiration. It was sufficient that he copied them out as they came to hand, or so much of them as was requisite to the present purpose, which was the directing of the returned captives to settle as nearly as they could with those of their own family, and in the places of their former residence.”


IN the Nineteenth Century for December 1902, Canon Cheyne commends to English readers the speculations of the latest school of Biblical critics, according to which the Jewish literature is largely a borrowed mythology. According to Dr. H. Winckler, who represents this school, not only are Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob legendary heroes, whose histories are derived from astronomical myths, but something similar must be said of Saul, David, and Solomon. David, he holds, is a solar hero; his red hair is the image of the rays of the sun; and, if Saul and Jonathan correspond to the constellation Gemini, David is the legendary reflection of Leo, while Goliath corresponds to Orion. The Canon chides the English “sobriety” and “moderation” which rejects these fantasies!

Winckler’s views are expounded in his new edition of Schrader’s work, The Cuneiform Inscriptions and the Old Testament (1902); and are trenchantly dealt with by Budde in his printed address, Das Alte Testament und die Ausgrabungen (1903). The real originator of the theory is E. Stucken, in his work Astralmythen der Hebräer, Babylonier und Ägypter (vols. i. Abraham, 1896; ii. Lot, 1897; iii. Jacob, 1901; iv. Esau, 1901). Abraham is the Moon-god, Lot the Sun, Sarah is Ishtar, etc. This “limitless Panbabylonianism,” as Budde calls it, has many modern developments. An instance is afforded in Wildeboer’s recent Commentary on  Esther. The Book of  Esther, it appears, goes back for its basis to Babylonia and Elam. Wildeboer gives the credit of the “solution” of the problem to Jensen, who thus explains: “Esther reminds us of Ishtar; Mordecai of Marduk. Esther is the cousin of Mordecai, as Ishtar probably of Marduk. For the latter is a son of Ia, while Ishtar is a daughter of Anu. But Anu, Bil, and Ia are presumably viewed as brothers.… Haman reminds us of Humman (Homman), the national god of the Elamites; Vasti of Masti or Vasti of the Elamite inscriptions — the name of a divinity with the attribute Zana.… The history that underlies the story of  Esther must have dealt with a defeat of the Elamites or of an Elamite king. So much appears certain”! (Cf. Expository Times, August 1898.)      Hard to read this non-sense. Thank You Lord for archaeology. As Jesus said,  "Luke 19:40 (KJV 1900)   And he answered and said unto them,  I tell you that, if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out.

In other directions, as in Canon Cheyne’s own speculations on “Jerahmeel” in Encyclop. Biblica and Critica Biblica, the same tendency to extravagance displays itself. Commenting on the theory, Professor J. Robertson says: “The ‘last word’ of this criticism is Jerahmeel, which, being interpreted, means ‘God pity’ us!” (Address, 16th April 1902). A last example may be taken from Siegfried’s work on  Ecclesiastes (Qoheleth), giving us the latest theory of that portion of Scripture. The sagacity of the critic has split the book up into its diverse elements. First, there is the primitive author of the book, Q1, a Jew whose faith has suffered shipwreck. He is improved on by Q2, an Epicurean Sadducee, who glorifies eating and drinking. Another glossator, Q3, resented the depreciation of wisdom, and added a number of passages which are enumerated. Still sharper opposition to the denial of divine providence called forth Q4, one of the early Pharisees. This is not all, for there is yet a number of others, who are conveniently slumped under Q5. As to dates, Q1 may have written shortly before 200 B.C.; Q2, Q3, Q4, Q5 at various times down to 100 B.C. The fact that one finds all this retailed with due gravity by author and learned reviewers suggests the question whether the sense of humour is not becoming extinct — at least in the department of criticism.

     The Problem of the Old Testament

  • D.A. Carson
  • W. Robert Godfrey
  • Derek Thomas

#1 A Holy Nation | Ligonier


#2 Wounded for Our Transgressions | Ligonier


#3 Be Ye Holy | Ligonier


     Devotionals, notes, poetry and more

coram Deo
     5/1/2007    Living Life CORAM DEO, Before The Face Of God

     As a publication of Ligonier Ministries, Tabletalk exists to equip Christians to articulate what they believe and why they believe it. It is our foremost desire to awaken as many people as possible to the holiness of God by proclaiming, teaching, and defending His holiness in all its fullness. As such, for three decades, Ligonier Ministries has published this Bible-study magazine to equip, encourage, and challenge readers with the Word of God so that they might know God, obey God, and love God with all their hearts. That is what Tabletalk exists to do, and that is no easy task.

     With utmost sincerity, we believe our work has eternal consequences. And, as Martin Luther proclaimed before the Diet of Worms in 1522, our consciences are held captive by the Word of God. Every day, as we edit, write, and design every component of Tabletalk, we are humbly and prayerfully concerned with providing God’s people with His unvarnished truth. Just as Paul wrote to Timothy, we earnestly desire to do our best to present ourselves to God as approved workers who do not need to be ashamed, rightly handling the Word of truth (2 Tim. 2:15).

     Although there are many people behind the scenes involved in the monthly publication of Tabletalk, this article along with the following articles have been written by the six-member team that is responsible for the day-to-day production of Tabletalk. These articles are intended to provide our faithful readers and supporters with a glimpse into the production of this publication.

     With an estimated readership of more than 200,000 monthly readers, Tabletalk is one of the most widely circulated, subscriber-based devotionals in the world. And if the Lord should tarry, it is our genuine hope that centuries from now, church historians will be able to look back and recognize Tabletalk as one publication that preached the Word in season and out of season, having stood fast in the historic biblical doctrines of the Christian faith.

     click here for article source

     Dr. Burk Parsons (@BurkParsons) is editor of Tabletalk magazine, senior pastor of Saint Andrew’s Chapel in Sanford, Fla., a visiting lecturer at Reformed Theological Seminary, and a Ligonier Ministries teaching fellow. He is editor of John Calvin: A Heart for Devotion, Doctrine, and Doxology.

Ligonier     coram Deo (definition)

American Minute
     by Bill Federer

     60,000 U.S. troops landed on the Island of Okinawa this day, April 1, 1945, in the largest amphibious attack mounted by the Americans in the Pacific war. One of the bloodiest campaigns, it cost Americans 12,000 dead, 36,000 wounded and 400 ships sunk or damaged. Though Japan’s losses exceeded 100,000, their kamikaze suicide attacks grew more intense, not relenting until the bombing of Hiroshima. After receiving Japan’s surrender in Tokyo Bay, General Douglas MacArthur stated: “Let us pray that peace be now restored to the world and that God will preserve it always.”

American Minute

RE: The Book Of Psalms
     ESV Reformation Study Bible

     Author: Many of the Psalms begin with a title linking the Psalm with a particular individual or group, using a Hebrew preposition that could possibly indicate dedication (“to David”), subject matter (“about David”), or authorship (“by David”). However, one of the few Psalm titles with an expanded context leaves no doubt that the title intends to identify the composer of the Psalm (Ps. 18). David is by far the most frequently cited author, most of his Psalms being in the first two books (see Structure), though there is a small collection of Psalms by him at the very end (Ps. 138–145). The tradition that associates David with singing and Psalm composition is so strong that there is little doubt that David wrote the Psalms that bear his name (1 Sam. 16:14–23; 2 Sam. 1:17–27; 2 Sam. 22; 2 Sam. 23:1; 1 Chr. 6:31; 15:16; 16:7; Ps. 18; Amos 6:5).

     Other authors appear in Psalm titles: Moses (Ps. 90), Solomon (Ps. 72; 127), the sons of Korah (Ps. 42–49; 84; 85; 87; 88), the sons of Asaph (Ps. 50; 73–83), and Ethan the Ezrahite (Ps. 89). A number of Psalms have no designated author (e.g. Ps. 1; 10).

     Date and Occasion The titles of the Psalms show that they were composed by individuals in response to a particular corporate or individual experience. The dates and occasions of the Psalms range from the time of Moses (Ps. 90), to the experiences of David (Ps. 51), to the time after the exile of the Jews in Babylon (Ps. 126). Still, the Psalms collected for use in public worship were never so specific that they could not be used in new situations.

     Forming the collection took several centuries, arriving at its present form some time after the exile in Babylon. The name “Psalms” means “songs,” and is taken from the Septuagint, the early Greek translation of the Old Testament. This is the name used in the New Testament (Luke 20:42; 24:44; Acts 1:20).

          Characteristics and Themes

     Titles. The titles of individual Psalms are usually not assigned a verse number in translations, giving the impression that they are separate from other verses. In the Hebrew Bible the titles are usually numbered as the first verse. The titles are either an original part of the Psalms, or at least from extremely early tradition.

     Structure. The Psalms are arranged in five books. Each book closes with a doxology and benediction (Ps. 1–41; 42–72; 73–89; 90–106; 107–150). Jewish tradition is that the number five was chosen to match the five books of Moses.

     Psalms 1 and 2 are the entryway into the sanctuary of the Psalms, and Ps. 146–150 conclude the book with a long doxology. Ps. 1 transforms the prayers and praises originally offered in the temple into a book for meditation in meetings and at home.

     The first two books celebrate Israel’s golden age during the time of the united monarchy. Ps. 2 and 72 are prayers that the king will extend the rule of God to the ends of the earth. All the Psalms in Book I are attributed to David, except Ps. 1, 2, and 33. Laments in the first two books always conclude with praise.

     By contrast, Book III (Ps. 73–89) is dark. The first Psalm of the section complains that the righteous suffer. The last Psalm of the section laments that the Davidic covenant seems to have failed, with the king’s crown rolling in the dust. Ps. 88 is as the only Psalm without praise.

     Book IV (Ps. 90–106) turns to God Himself who has been Israel’s help in ages past. In this book Moses is mentioned seven times; he is mentioned only once before (Ps. 77). Psalms 93–99, called “enthronement Psalms,” look to God’s reign on earth. The writer of Hebrews assigns the praise of God celebrated in Ps. 102:25–27 to Jesus Christ (Heb. 1:10–12).

     Book V begins by thanking God for bringing Israel back from the exile. The book includes Psalms holding up David as a model for piety (138–145) and Psalms predicting the reign of Christ (110).

     Genres. Distinguishing characteristics allow the Psalms to be assigned to literary groups for the purpose of study. Following are the literary types commonly used.

     1. Hymns of Praise. Hymns are easily recognized by their exuberant praise of the Lord. God is praised for who He is and for His power and mercy. For examples, see Ps. 8; 24; 29; 33; 47; 48.

     2. Laments. Laments express an emotion opposite to that of praise. In the lament, the psalmist opens his heart honestly to God, a heart often filled with sadness, fear, or even anger. With few exceptions the laments turn to the Lord with confidence at the end. For examples, see Ps. 25; 39; 51; 86; 102; 120.

     3. Thanksgiving Psalms. A Psalm of thanksgiving is appropriate when the Lord answers a prayer of lament. The first three Psalm types form a kind of triad. The psalmist sings hymns when he is right with the Lord, laments when he is out of harmony with Him, and gives thanks when the relationship is reestablished. For examples see Ps. 18; 66; 107; 118; 138.

     4. Songs of Confidence (or trust). Some Psalms have trust as their dominant mood. These are often short and contain a striking metaphor that captures the psalmist’s trusting attitude. For examples, see Ps. 23; 121; 131.

     5. Kingship Psalms. Since God, the King of the universe, is the subject of the Psalms and since David, the human king, is both singer and subject of many Psalms, kingship is an important concept in the Psalter. However, a few Psalms focus so intensely either on God’s kingship (Ps. 24; 93) or on the human king (Ps. 20; 21; 45) that they stand out.

     6. Wisdom Psalms. For biblical wisdom we commonly turn to books like Proverbs, Job, Song of Songs, and Ecclesiastes. In these books are practical directions for how God wants us to live our lives. The “wisdom Psalms” make use of themes found in the wisdom books. For instance, the strong contrast between the righteous and the wicked found in the Book of Proverbs is found in Ps. 1. For other examples, see Ps. 37 and 49.

     Poetic Style. No special knowledge is needed to recognize the poetic quality of the Psalter. Instead of sentences forming paragraphs, the Psalms are composed of short poetic verses of nearly equal length. This characteristic is easily recognized on the printed page.

     Poetry is deliberate communication that pays particular attention to its own form. The poetic language addresses not only the mind but the imagination and emotions. To say “The LORD is my Shepherd” (Ps. 23:1) does more than inform. The metaphor of a shepherd evokes a picture and touches the emotions in a way that a didactic statement would not.

     Parallelism is the most obvious poetic device in Old Testament poetry. Ps. 6:1 is a good example:

          O LORD, do not rebuke me in Your anger,
          Nor chasten me in Your hot displeasure.

     To interpret parallel lines, it is important to bear in mind that the second line continues and carries forward the thought of the first. In this verse, the first line asks the Lord not to punish in word, while the second part asks Him not to punish in deed.

     Examples may be found of lines that are even more similar (Ps. 2:1) and of those where it is harder to recognize the connection (Ps. 2:6). But the general principle of interpretation is that the second half of a poetic verse carries forward the thought of the first half.

     Theology of the Psalms. Just as the Psalter was formed during the entire period of the Old Testament, so the theology of the Psalms is as large as the Old Testament. Martin Luther called the Psalms “a little Bible, and the summary of the Old Testament.”

     Christian readers of the Psalms appreciate the relationship these ancient songs have to Jesus Christ. Jesus told His disciples after the Resurrection that “all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me” (Luke 24:44). The Old Testament, including the Psalms, looked forward to Christ’s coming, His suffering, and His glory. Jesus and the New Testament writers use Psalm after Psalm to express His suffering (Matt. 27:46) and His glorification (Matt. 22:41–46). In addition, Jesus was revealed as the object of the worship of the Psalms. Since Christ is the Second Person of the Trinity, the hymns and laments of the Psalms are directed to Him as to the Father and the Spirit. Jesus is both a singer of the Psalms (Heb. 2:12) and the focus of their interest. We can sing to Him our praise, tell Him our complaints and petitions, and thank Him for His goodness. We extol Him as our King, rest our confidence in Him, and look to Him as the embodiment of God’s wisdom.

     The Curses of the Psalms. Some Psalms cry out not only for the righteous to be vindicated, but also for God to punish the wicked (Ps. 69:22–28). Such prayers reflect the calling of Israel to holy war as God’s instruments of judgment. With the coming of Christ to bear God’s judgment, the warfare of God’s people continues, directed now against “spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Eph. 6:12). In their present warfare, Christians are commanded not to curse, but to bless their personal enemies, overcoming evil with good (Rom. 12:17–21).

     Title “Psalms” means “songs” and is taken from the Septuagint, the early Greek translation of the Old Testament. The New Testament uses this name (Luke 20:42; 24:44; Acts 1:20). The corresponding Hebrew word mizmor occurs frequently in the Psalms and means a vocal or instrumental song.

ESV Reformation Study Bible
Lean Into God
     Compiled by Richard S. Adams

Never dream of forcing men into the ways of God.
Think yourself, and let think.
Use no constraint in matters of religion.
Even those who are farthest out of the way
never compel to come in by any other means
than reason, truth, and love.
--- John Wesley

The tragedy of life and of the world
is not that men do not know God;
the tragedy is that, knowing Him,
they still insist on going their own way.
--- William Barclay
The Revelation of John: Volume 2 (Chapters 6 to 22) (Daily Study Bible (Westminster Hardcover))

Those things that nature denied to human sight, she revealed to the eyes of the soul.
--- Ovid
The Metamorphoses of Ovid

Nature is an unlimited broadcasting station, through which God speaks to us every hour, if we only will tune in.
--- George Washington Carver
George Washington Carver

... from here, there and everywhere

A Hand Delivered Letter
     by Ryan Nicholson

     If I could write a letter to anyone, and they were guaranteed to get it and read it, I would write a letter to the older version of myself. Here is what I would say:

     I don’t know how you are doing, but I know you better than anyone, for I am you. I will be forty years old this year. You remember, the year Aubrey was born… Connor is hanging on my leg, Autumn hiding in her room, and Heidi playing with a doll. I don’t know how much you remember of that moment, but you feel blessed. Our beloved wife is sitting across the living room, pregnant with Aubrey. Speaking of children, how many grandchildren do we have? I guess I’ll find out.

     Hopefully you aren’t overwhelmed by work anymore. Bringing back any memories yet? You remember, the year of the great micromanager… Ok, your right! Better off forgetting and moving past that part. The lottery was half a billion dollars tonight, but, as you know, we didn’t win. Back to work we go. Did you stay at the same job? Are you retired?

     Connor just brought me his toy xylophone and is looking at me for approval. He smiles as we pat his head, make a little noise on it, then on the floor it goes. On to his next toy. Heidi is crawling on the floor, pushing a toy around. I know, not much going on, just trying to bring back memories of the small events in our life that defined who we are. Do you still have a strange sense of humor? Are you still sarcastic? Did you stay light hearted and kind? I pray so.

     Autumn is growing up fast. She is a freshman in high school. I wish the 24 year old me wrote us a letter about her birth. It really does go fast, but I don’t need to remind you that. What is she up to these days? She wants to be a labor and delivery nurse. Did she change her mind, or follow through with her goal? Either way, don’t forget to tell her I’m proud of her.

     I’m a bit jealous though, you’ve met Aubrey, and I haven’t yet. Is she as beautiful as her mother and sisters? Don’t know how we got so lucky, but pretty women run in our family. I know, I know, charm is deceitful and beauty is fleeting, but admit it, God has smiled upon our family. I get to meet her in about five more months. I’m praying she is healthy, just like we prayed for all our children. Which one of our children has the most kids? Any of them have twins?

     How has Crystal been? You know she is the best friend we ever had. She always has a way of making us feel like Superman. I hope she knows how much she means to us. God really did make her just for us if she is still putting up with your crap. Do you still see the face we saw under the street lights in front of my parents house? I see it still. I bet she aged gracefully. Speaking of gracefully, do you still have hair? Please say you do!

     I’m only half your age, and I can already see we have had a blessed life. From our childhood, God blessed us with great parents. Dad taught us how a man should love his wife, his family, and most importantly how to love the Lord. I just talked to them a couple of days ago. They are trying to find another apartment. Mom is still cleaning houses and dad works on his website and shares the gospel with anyone who will listen. I bet you miss them. Don’t worry my old friend, you will see them again.

     How are our brothers and their families? Tom already went bald, but what about Chris? Hahaha. Speaking of Chris, did you guys ever climb Yosemite together? If you did, I bet it was an epic experience. Shoot, you better be telling our grandchildren about that one, and make sure you embellish as much as possible. And Tommy? Do you still call him Tommy? Did you ever pay him the $350 you owed him? Lol. Please tell me we did.

     Lastly, how are you? I’m writing to you to remind you of all the great memories we collected throughout our years. I hope you didn’t dwell on the setbacks and difficulties that life threw our way. I pray with all my heart you have included God in all your decisions. Please tell me we fought the good fight. At nearly 40, I’m learning to lean not on our own understanding, but to look for him for guidance and direction. You know how it turns out better than I do, but I don’t want to meet you to find out you tried it on your own. Stay faithful, fight the good fight, and soon we will be reunited with our loved ones and our Heavenly Father. Imagine when we hear, “Well done thy good and faithful servant.” Remember Ryan, your life was filled with love. You were surrounded by people who loved you, and a God who loves you more than you can ever know or understand. I pray you are the man God has called you to be. I pray you didn’t waste your years chasing after temporary things.

     As I look before me now, our children are healthy and happy playing in the living room. Our wife is in love with us, and our God is faithful. We are blessed! Be strong my friend, fight the good fight, and I will see you someday.

     Ryan Nicholson is a follower of Jesus Christ and is married to Crystal. They have four children; Autumn, Connor, Heidi and Aubrey. Ryan is a District Manager for Pepsico. Links to his other articles are listed below:


Journal of John Woolman 4/1
     University of Virginia Libray 1994

     Eleventh of sixth month, 1769. -- There have been sundry cases of late years within the limits of our Monthly Meeting, respecting the exercising of pure righteousness towards the negroes, in which I have lived under a labor of heart that equity might be steadily preserved. On this account I have had some close exercises among Friends, in which, I may thankfully say, I find peace. And as my meditations have been on universal love, my own conduct in time past became of late very grievous to me. As persons setting negroes free in our province are bound by law to maintain them in case they have need of relief, some in the time of my youth who scrupled to keep slaves for term of life were wont to detain their young negroes in their service without wages till they were thirty years of age. With this custom I so far agreed that being joined with another Friend in executing the will of a deceased Friend, I once sold a negro lad till he might attain the age of thirty years, and applied the money to the use of the estate.

     With abasement of heart I may now say that sometimes as I have sat in a meeting with my heart exercised towards that awful Being who respecteth not persons nor colors, and have thought upon this lad, I have felt that all was not clear in my mind respecting him; and as I have attended to this exercise and fervently sought the Lord, it hath appeared to me that I should make some restitution; but in what way I saw not till lately, when being under some concern that I might be resigned to go on a visit to some part of the West Indies, and under close engagement of spirit seeking to the Lord for counsel herein, the aforesaid transaction came heavily upon me, and my mind for a time was covered with darkness and sorrow. Under this sore affliction my heart was softened to receive instruction, and I now first perceived that as I had been one of the two executors who had sold this lad for nine years longer than is common for our own children to serve, so I should now offer part of my substance to redeem the last half of the nine years; but as the time was not yet come, I executed a bond, binding myself and my executors to pay to the man to whom he was sold what to candid men might appear equitable for the last four and a half years of his time, in case the said youth should be living, and in a condition likely to provide comfortably for himself.

John Woolman's Journal

The Imitation Of Christ
     Thomas A Kempis

     Book Three - Internal Consolation

     The Twenty-Third Chapter / Four Things Which Bring Great Peace


   MY CHILD, I will teach you now the way of peace
and true liberty.
   Seek, child, to do the will of others rather than your own.
   Always choose to have less rather than more.
   Look always for the last place
and seek to be beneath all others.
   Always wish and pray that the will of God
be fully carried out in you.
   Behold, such will enter into the realm of peace and rest.

     The Disciple

     O Lord, this brief discourse of Yours contains much perfection. It is short in words but full of meaning and abounding in fruit. Certainly if I could only keep it faithfully, I should not be so easily disturbed. For as often as I find myself troubled and dejected, I find that I have departed from this teaching. But You Who can do all things, and Who always love what is for my soul’s welfare, give me increase of grace that I may keep Your words and accomplish my salvation.


     O Lord my God, be not far from me. O my God, hasten to help me, for varied thoughts and great fears have risen up within me, afflicting my soul. How shall I escape them unharmed? How shall I dispel them?

     “I will go before you,” says the Lord, “and will humble the great ones of earth. I will open the doors of the prison, and will reveal to you hidden secrets.”

     Do as You say, Lord, and let all evil thoughts fly from Your face. This is my hope and my only comfort—to fly to You in all tribulation, to confide in You, and to call on You from the depths of my heart and to await patiently for Your consolation.


     Enlighten me, good Jesus, with the brightness of internal light, and take away all darkness from the habitation of my heart. Restrain my wandering thoughts and suppress the temptations which attack me so violently. Fight strongly for me, and vanquish these evil beasts—the alluring desires of the flesh—so that peace may come through Your power and the fullness of Your praise resound in the holy courts, which is a pure conscience. Command the winds and the tempests; say to the sea: “Be still,” and to the north wind, “Do not blow,” and there will be a great calm.

     Send forth Your light and Your truth to shine on the earth, for I am as earth, empty and formless until You illumine me. Pour out Your grace from above. Shower my heart with heavenly dew. Open the springs of devotion to water the earth, that it may produce the best of good fruits. Lift up my heart pressed down by the weight of sins, and direct all my desires to heavenly things, that having tasted the sweetness of supernal happiness, I may find no pleasure in thinking of earthly things.

     Snatch me up and deliver me from all the passing comfort of creatures, for no created thing can fully quiet and satisfy my desires. Join me to Yourself in an inseparable bond of love; because You alone can satisfy him who loves You, and without You all things are worthless.

The Imitation Of Christ
Andrew Murray's Absolute Surrender
     Practical religion. The Christian life

     Love Inspires Intercession

     Once again. It is only love that can fit us for the work of intercession.

     I have said that love must fit us for our work. Do you know what the hardest and the most important work is that has to be done for this sinful world? It is the work of intercession, the work of going to God and taking time to lay hold on Him.

     A man may be an earnest Christian, an earnest minister, and a man may do good, but alas! how often he has to confess that he knows but little of what it is to tarry with God. May God give us the great gift of an intercessory spirit, a spirit of prayer and supplication! Let me ask you in the name of Jesus not to let a day pass without praying for all saints, and for all God's people.

     I find there are Christians who think little of that. I find there are prayer unions where they pray for the members, and not for all believers. I pray you, take time to pray for the Church of Christ. It is right to pray for the heathen, as I have already said. God help us to pray more for them. It is right to pray for missionaries and for evangelistic work, and for the unconverted. But Paul did not tell people to pray for the heathen or the unconverted. Paul told them to pray for believers. Do make this your first prayer every day: "Lord, bless Thy saints everywhere."

     The state of Christ's Church is indescribably low. Plead for God's people that He would visit them, plead for each other, plead for all believers who are trying to work for God. Let love fill your heart. Ask Christ to pour it out afresh into you every day. Try to get it into you by the Holy Spirit of God: I am separated unto the Holy Spirit, and the fruit of the Spirit is love. God help us to understand it.

     May God grant that we learn day by day to wait more quietly upon Him. Do not wait upon God only for ourselves, or the power to do so will soon be lost; but give ourselves up to the ministry and the love of intercession, and pray more for God's people, for God's people round about us, for the Spirit of love in ourselves and in them, and for the work of God we are connected with; and the answer will surely come, and our waiting upon God will be a source of untold blessing and power. "The fruit of the Spirit is love."

     Have you a lack of love to confess before God? Then make confession and say before Him, "O Lord, my lack of heart, my lack of love--I confess it." And then, as you cast that lack at His feet, believe that the blood cleanses you, that Jesus comes in His mighty, cleansing, saving power to deliver you, and that He will give His Holy Spirit.

Absolute Surrender (The Colportage Library)
Proverbs 14:1-2
     by D.H. Stern

1     Every wise woman builds up her home,
but a foolish one tears it down with her own hands.

2     A person with upright conduct fears ADONAI,
but a person who is devious scorns him.

Complete Jewish Bible : An English Version of the Tanakh (Old Testament) and B'Rit Hadashah (New Testament)
The Great Divorce - A Dream
     C.S. Lewis


     ‘The whole difficulty of understanding Hell is that the thing to be understood is so nearly Nothing. But ye’ll have had experiences … it begins with a grumbling mood, and yourself still distinct from it: perhaps criticising it. And yourself, in a dark hour, may will that mood, embrace it. Ye can repent and come out of it again. But there may come a day when you can do that no longer. Then there will be no you left to criticise the mood, nor even to enjoy it, but just the grumble itself going on forever like a machine. But come! Ye are here to watch and listen. Lean on my arm and we will go for a little walk.’

     I obeyed. To lean on the arm of someone older than myself was an experience that carried me back to childhood, and with this support I found the going tolerable: so much so, indeed, that I flattered myself my feet were already growing more solid, until a glance at the poor transparent shapes convinced me that I owed all this ease to the strong arm of the Teacher. Perhaps it was because of his presence that my other senses also appeared to be quickened. I noticed scents in the air which had hitherto escaped me, and the country put on new beauties. There was water everywhere and tiny flowers quivering in the early breeze. Far off in the woods we saw the deer glancing past, and, once, a sleek panther came purring to my companion’s side. We also saw many of the Ghosts.

     I think the most pitiable was a female Ghost. Her trouble was the very opposite of that which afflicted the other, the lady frightened by the Unicorns. This one seemed quite unaware of her phantasmal appearance. More than one of the Solid People tried to talk to her, and at first I was quite at a loss to understand her behaviour to them. She appeared to be contorting her all but invisible face and writhing her smokelike body in a quite meaningless fashion. At last I came to the conclusion—incredible as it seemed—that she supposed herself still capable of attracting them and was trying to do so. She was a thing that had become incapable of conceiving conversation save as a means to that end. If a corpse already liquid with decay had arisen from the coffin, smeared its gums with lipstick, and attempted a flirtation, the result could not have been more appalling. In the end she muttered, ‘Stupid creatures,’ and turned back to the bus.

     This put me in mind to ask my Teacher what he thought of the affair with the Unicorns. ‘It will maybe have succeeded,’ he said. ‘Ye will have divined that he meant to frighten her, not that fear itself could make her less a Ghost, but if it took her mind a moment off herself, there might, in that moment, be a chance. I have seen them saved so.’

     We met several Ghosts that had come so near to Heaven only in order to tell the Celestials about Hell. Indeed this is one of the commonest types. Others, who had perhaps been (like myself) teachers of some kind actually wanted to give lectures about it: they brought fat notebooks full of statistics, and maps, and (one of them) a magic lantern. Some wanted to tell anecdotes of the notorious sinners of all ages whom they had met below. But the most part seemed to think that the mere fact of having contrived for themselves so much misery gave them a kind of superiority. ‘You have led a sheltered life!’ they bawled. ‘You don’t know the seamy side. We’ll tell you. We’ll give you some hard facts’—as if to tinge Heaven with infernal images and colours had been the only purpose for which they came. All alike, so far as I could judge from my own exploration of the lower world, were wholly unreliable, and all equally incurious about the country in which they had arrived. They repelled every attempt to teach them, and when they found that nobody listened to them they went back, one by one, to the bus.

     This curious wish to describe Hell turned out, however, to be only the mildest form of a desire very common among the Ghosts—the desire to extend Hell, to bring it bodily, if they could, into Heaven. There were tub-thumping Ghosts who in thin, bat-like voices urged the blessed spirits to shake off their fetters, to escape from their imprisonment in happiness, to tear down the mountains with their hands, to seize Heaven ‘for their own’: Hell offered her co-operation. There were planning Ghosts who implored them to dam the river, cut down the trees, kill the animals, build a mountain railway, smooth out the horrible grass and moss and heather with asphalt. There were materialistic Ghosts who informed the immortals that they were deluded: there was no life after death, and this whole country was a hallucination. There were Ghosts, plain and simple: mere bogies, fully conscious of their own decay, who had accepted the traditional role of the spectre, and seemed to hope they could frighten someone. I had had no idea that this desire was possible. But my Teacher reminded me that the pleasure of frightening is by no means unknown on Earth, and also of Tacitus’ saying: ‘They terrify lest they should fear.’ When the debris of a decayed human soul finds itself crumbled into ghosthood and realises ‘I myself am now that which all humanity has feared, I am just that cold churchyard shadow, that horrible thing which cannot be, yet somehow is’, then to terrify others appears to it an escape from the doom of being a Ghost yet still fearing Ghosts—fearing even the Ghost it is. For to be afraid of oneself is the last horror.

     But, beyond all these, I saw other grotesque phantoms in which hardly a trace of the human form remained; monsters who had faced the journey to the bus stop—perhaps for them it was thousands of miles—and come up to the country of the Shadow of Life and limped far into it over the torturing grass, only to Spit and gibber out in one ecstasy of hatred their envy and (what is harder to understand) their contempt, of joy. The voyage seemed to them a small price to pay if once, only once, within sight of that eternal dawn, they could tell the prigs, the toffs, the sanctimonious humbugs, the snobs, the ‘haves’, what they thought of them.

     ‘How do they come to be here at all?’ I asked my Teacher.

     ‘I have seen that kind converted,’ said he, ‘when those ye would think less deeply damned have gone back. Those that hate goodness are sometimes nearer than those that know nothing at all about it and think they have it already.’

The Great Divorce

My Utmost For The Highest
     A Daily Devotional by Oswald Chambers

                Heartiness v. heartlessness towards others

     It is Christ … who also maketh intercession for us … The Spirit … maketh intercession for the saints.
Romans 8:34, 27.

     Do we need any more argument than this to become intercessors—that Christ “ever liveth to make intercession”; that the Holy Spirit “maketh intercession for the saints”? Are we living in such vital relationship to our fellow men that we do the work of intercession as the Spirit-taught children of God? Begin with the circumstances we are in—our homes, our business, our country, the present crisis as it touches us and others—are these things crushing us? Are they badgering us out of the presence of God and leaving us no time for worship? Then let us call a halt, and get into such living relationship with God that our relationship to others may be maintained on the line of intercession whereby God works His marvels.

     Beware of outstripping God by your very longing to do His will. We run ahead of Him in a thousand and one activities, consequently we get so burdened with persons and with difficulties that we do not worship God, we do not intercede. If once the burden and the pressure come upon us and we are not in the worshipping attitude, it will produce not only hardness toward God but despair in our own souls. God continually introduces us to people for whom we have no affinity, and unless we are worshipping God, the most natural thing to do is to treat them heartlessly, to give them a text like the jab of a spear, or leave them with a rapped-out counsel of God and go. A heartless Christian must be a terrible grief to Our Lord.

     Are we in the direct line of the intercession of our Lord and of the Holy Spirit?

My Utmost for His Highest
The Untamed
     the Poetry of R.S. Thomas

           The Untamed

My garden is the wild
Sea of the grass. Her garden
Shelters between walls.
The tide could break in;
I should be sorry for this.

There is peace there of a kind,
Though not the deep peace
Of wild places. Her care
For green life has enabled
The weak things to grow.

Despite my first love,
I take sometimes her hand,
Following strait paths
Between flowers, the nostril
Clogged with their thick scent.

The old softness of lawns
Persuading the slow foot
Leads to defection: the silence
Holds with its gloved hand
The wild hawk of the mind.

But not for long, windows,
Opening in the trees
Call the mind back
To its true eyrie: I stoop
Here only in play.

Thomas, R. S.

Swimming In The Sea of Talmud
     Sukkah 31a–b


     The letter carrier delivers the mail and among the letters and bills is a summons to come down to city hall; you have been picked for jury duty. Few people enjoy such a duty. For many it is a real burden, economic and otherwise. Yet we all understand that it is one of the obligations of citizenship. Without it, our justice system simply could not function. Despite the hardships, most people go and do their civic duty. Some people try to get out of serving, but the judges are often unsympathetic. Nevertheless, government recognizes that there are instances when an individual has other pressing obligations that would make serving on a jury an unbearable hardship. A parent with an infant is given an exemption; so is a spouse who serves as caretaker for a disabled husband or wife. It is as if the city is saying: “One who is doing one mitzvah is freed from doing another mitzvah.”

     The Rabbis, however, did not teach: “One who has something else to do is freed from doing a mitzvah.” It is important to recognize that the word “mitzvah” comes on both sides of the equation. We are not freed from our obligations to do a mitzvah or to perform a duty simply because we’d rather be doing something else.

     The SAT exams are administered to high school students on Saturdays. A special Sunday sitting of the test is offered, but only to those who can produce a letter from a clergyperson attesting that as Sabbath observers they cannot take the test on Saturday. The Sunday date is not available for those who simply find it more convenient.

     Many airlines levy a special fee for passengers who cancel or change their flight reservations. The penalty can be waived, but only if the individual sends an official note, for example from a physician, that explains that there were extenuating circumstances for the change. Illness or a death in the family are seen as acceptable excuses; a preference for another date or flight is not.

     It is only a mitzvah—observing Shabbat, caring for the sick, mourning the death of a relative—that exempts one from obligations and commitments. Too often, we confuse convenience for obligation. The Rabbis force us to confront the nature of the excuses we frequently give. The Talmud reminds us that exemptions are given only when we are involved in doing another mitzvah.

     An emergency situation does not constitute proof.

     Text / If he did not find an etrog, he may not bring a quince or a pomegranate or anything else. Withered ones are kosher; dried-up ones are invalid. Rabbi Yehudah says: “Even the dried-up [are kosher].” Rabbi Yehudah said: “There is the case of city-people who would bequeath their lulavs to their grandchildren.” They said to him: “You bring proof from that? An emergency situation does not constitute proof.”

     Context / The notion of serving God in an aesthetically pleasing manner is called hidur mitzvah, beautifying the commandments. It is based on a rabbinic interpretation of a verse in the Torah: This is my God and I will glorify Him,
The God of my father, and I will exalt Him.
Exodus 15:2, author’s translation)
“And I will glorify Him”—Beautify yourself before Him with mitzvot. Make a beautiful Sukkah, a beautiful lulav, beautiful fringes [for a tallit], a beautiful Torah scroll. (Shabbat 133b)

     To celebrate the festival of Sukkot (the Feast of Tabernacles), the Torah commands: “On the first day you shall take the product of hadar trees, branches of palm trees, boughs of leafy trees, and willows of the brook, and you shall rejoice before the Lord your God seven days” (Leviticus 23:40). These “four species” are identified as the etrog (a citron), the lulav (a palm branch), a myrtle, and willow branches. These species are held and shaken during certain parts of the morning services on Sukkot.

     Here, the Rabbis are discussing how the quality of the four species determines whether they are kasher (kosher, fit or valid for use in the ritual) or pasul (invalid). One should always strive to find the best and most beautiful item that is available for use in worship of God. At times, such quality items may not be available, or they may be beyond the worshiper’s means. The question is raised about lesser quality and imperfect items, and if they are acceptable for use.

     Rabbi Yehudah bases the view that even a dried-up etrog or lulav is kosher on precedent: He recounts that urban dwellers who did not have access to orchards and fresh palm branches used to hand down their lulavs to their grandchildren. Over the course of the years, these palms not only withered, they dried out completely. Yet they were still used, generation after generation. This seems to prove that the use of inferior branches and fruits was deemed acceptable. The Rabbis, however, do not agree. While conceding that this practice was common among some urban dwellers, it was an unusual situation. These were people who had no other choice. To them, the use of the dried-out lulav or etrog was an emergency. But the law, and general practice, cannot be based upon what is permitted in an extreme and unusual situation.

Swimming in the Sea of Talmud: Lessons for Everyday Living
The Ante-Nicene Fathers
     The Mystery of the Tabernacles.

     Wherefore, above all other things, I say to those who love contests, and who are strong-minded, that without delay they should honour chastity, as a thing the most useful and glorious. For in the new and indissoluble creation, whoever shall not be found decorated with the boughs of chastity, shall neither obtain rest, because he has not fulfilled the command of God according to the law, nor shall he enter into the land of promise, because he has not previously celebrated the Feast of Tabernacles. For they only who have celebrated the Feast of Tabernacles come to the Holy Land, setting out from those dwellings which are called tabernacles, until they come to enter into the temple and city of God, advancing to a greater and more glorious joy, as the Jewish types indicate. For like as the Israelites, having left the borders of Egypt, first came to the Tabernacles, (In Hebrew, Succoth. Num. xxxiii. 5.) and from hence, having again set forth, came into the land of promise, so also do we. For I also, taking my journey, and going forth from the Egypt of this life, came first to the resurrection, which is the true Feast of the Tabernacles, and there having set up my tabernacle, adorned with the fruits of virtue, on the first day of the resurrection, which is the day of judgment, celebrate with Christ the millennium of rest, which is called the seventh day, even the true Sabbath. Then again from thence I, a follower of Jesus, “who hath entered into the heavens,” (Heb. iv. 14.) as they also, after the rest of the Feast of Tabernacles, came into the laud of promise, come into the heavens, not continuing to remain in tabernacles—that is, my body not remaining as it was before, but, after the space of a thousand years, changed from a human and corruptible form into angelic size and beauty, where at last we virgins, when the festival of the resurrection is consummated, shall pass froth the wonderful place of the tabernacle to greater and better things, ascending into the very house of God above the heavens, as, says the Psalmist, “in the voice of praise and thanksgiving, among such as keep holy day.” (Ps. xlii. 4.) I, O Arete, my mistress, offer as a gift to thee this robe, adorned according to my ability.

Ante-Nicene Fathers - Volume 6

Ver. 56.
     Pulpit Commentary

     I shall do unto you as I thought to do unto them, i. e. I shall execute by other hands upon you the sentence of dispossession which ye shall have refused to execute upon the Canaanites. The threat (although in fact fulfilled) does not necessarily involve any prophecy, since to settle down among the remnants of the heathen was a course of action which would obviously and for many reasons commend itself to the Israelites. Indolence and cowardice were consulted by such a policy as much as the natural feelings of pity towards vanquished and apparently harmless foes. The command to extirpate was certainly justified in this case (if it could be in any) by the unhappy consequences of its neglect. Israel being what he was, and so little severed in anything but religion from the ancient heathen, his only chance of future happiness lay in keeping himself from any contact with them. On the morality of the command itself, see on the passages referred to, and on the slaughter of the Midianites. As a fact, the extirpation of the conquered did not offend the moral sense of the Jews then any more than it did that of our heathen Saxon ancestors. Where both races could not dwell in security, it was a matter of course that the weaker was destroyed. Such a command was therefore justified at that time by the end to be attained, because it was not contrary to the moral law as then revealed, or to the moral sense as then educated. Being in itself a lawful proceeding, it was made a religious proceeding, and taken out of the category of selfish violence by being made a direct command of God.

The Pulpit Commentary (23 Volume Set)

Take Heart
     April 1

     You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. --- Matthew 5:14.

     Every Christian is placed amid scenes that will bring out her or his character. ( The American National Preacher, Volumes 7-8 )

     You have a child unrenewed. That child will soon stand at the bar of God, will tread the deep profound of the eternal world, and will live forever. Need we put to Christian parents the question whether that child will live forever in heaven or in hell? There is much in the situation of that child to bring the Christian out and develop the character.

     Or you have a parent who is not a Christian. Can there be anything so suited to call forth deep feeling in the youthful Christian as the sight of the venerable parent and the feeling that that parent is going unrenewed to the bar of God?

     You are a brother or a sister or a friend. The leaden, slow-moving ages of eternity are before your unconverted friends, and what in all the universe is better suited than this to call forth all the Christian within you to holy effort to save those friends from eternal night?

     You are members of a Christian church. Does it slumber? Are there hundreds who profess no interest in all that the Redeemer has done to save them? Are they unrenewed, unpardoned, unconcerned, and unalarmed? They go to eternity, and they appeal to you, Christian, to put forth all your efforts to save them from death.

     You live in an age when your influence in the cause of revivals and Christian benevolence may be felt around the globe. The farthest pagan tribe, the foulest cell of guilt and filth and woe, the darkest dungeon of depravity may be reached by your aid. A revival of religion such as existed in the day of Pentecost might be felt in its influence in all this land and in every land.

     The making visible of your Christian principles, my companion members of the church, is what the world demands and what the Savior who died asks of you. If his death will not do it, there are no motives in the universe that will. There is no other blood, there are no other groans, there can be no more such dying agonies.
--- Albert Barnes

Take Heart: Daily Devotions with the Church's Great Preachers

On This Day
     William of Orange | April 1

     Philip II, king of Spain, born during the days of Luther, despised the Reformation. His object in life was to destroy Protestants and see Catholicism entrenched throughout Europe. It was Philip whose Spanish Inquisition snuffed out Reformation fires in Spain and Portugal. He sent his Spanish Armada against Queen Elizabeth in an attempt to reclaim England for Catholicism. And it was Philip who sent the Duke of Alva against the Dutch.

     The Netherlands had long been a hotbed of Reformation ideas. The Bible was freely available there, and teachers from Germany, France, and England spread Reformation ideas, especially Calvinism, throughout the land.

     Philip, occupying the Netherlands, unleashed the Spanish Inquisition and stationed the dreaded Duke of Alva in the lowlands. Hundreds who dared read the Bible or the works of the reformers were seized, strangled, killed, or burned alive. The Duke’s eight-year reign of terror left thousands of men, women, and children tortured and slain. Entire villages were massacred. Though the Netherlands were internally divided, some provinces more Catholic and others more Protestant, the Duke of Alva’s savagery united everyone against Spain and sparked a war of independence.

     William, Prince of Orange, assumed leadership of the Dutch resistance, and on April 1, 1572 he launched an offensive against Spanish forces in the north, using an army of fishermen known as the Sea Beggars. They took the city of Brielle, and William captured the northern provinces one by one until the whole of Holland was freed from Spanish power. The war raged in the south. Leyden, surrounded by Spanish troops, was desperate. Inhabitants were reduced to living on cats, dogs, and rats. The king and pope promised full pardon if the city would surrender, but the citizens refused. William proposed they open the floodgates, break the dikes, and flood the plains around the city. It was harvesttime and the city’s crops would be ruined, but the people consented. The dikes were broken, the sea swept in, and William’s Sea Beggars sailed into the city. The Spanish fled in terror, and the city, liberated and grateful, gathered in the cathedral to give thanks to God.

   I, the LORD God of Israel, will come to their rescue.
   I won’t forget them.
   I will make rivers flow on mountain peaks.
   I will send streams to fill the valleys.
   Dry and barren land will flow with springs
And become a lake.
   Everyone will see this and know that I,
The holy LORD God of Israel, created it all.
--- Isaiah 41:17b,18,20.

On This Day 365 Amazing And Inspiring Stories About Saints, Martyrs And Heroes

Morning and Evening
     Daily Readings / CHARLES H. SPURGEON

          Morning - April 1

     "Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth." --- Song of Solomon 1:2.

     For several days we have been dwelling upon the Saviour’s passion, and for some little time to come we shall linger there. In beginning a new month, let us seek the same desires after our Lord as those which glowed in the heart of the elect spouse. See how she leaps at once to him; there are no prefatory words; she does not even mention his name; she is in the heart of her theme at once, for she speaks of him who was the only him in the world to her. How bold is her love! it was much condescension which permitted the weeping penitent to anoint his feet with spikenard—it was rich love which allowed the gentle Mary to sit at his feet and learn of him—but here, love, strong, fervent love, aspires to higher tokens of regard, and closer signs of fellowship. Esther trembled in the presence of Ahasuerus, but the spouse in joyful liberty of perfect love knows no fear. If we have received the same free spirit, we also may ask the like. By kisses we suppose to be intended those varied manifestations of affection by which the believer is made to enjoy the love of Jesus. The kiss of reconciliation we enjoyed at our conversion, and it was sweet as honey dropping from the comb. The kiss of acceptance is still warm on our brow, as we know that he hath accepted our persons and our works through rich grace. The kiss of daily, present communion, is that which we pant after to be repeated day after day, till it is changed into the kiss of reception, which removes the soul from earth, and the kiss of consummation which fills it with the joy of heaven. Faith is our walk, but fellowship sensibly felt is our rest. Faith is the road, but communion with Jesus is the well from which the pilgrim drinks. O lover of our souls, be not strange to us; let the lips of thy blessing meet the lips of our asking; let the lips of thy fulness touch the lips of our need, and straightway the kiss will be effected.

          Evening - April 1

     "It is time to seek the Lord."Hosea 10:12.

     This month of April is said to derive its name from the Latin verb aperio, which signifies to open, because all the buds and blossoms are now opening, and we have arrived at the gates of the flowery year. Reader, if you are yet unsaved, may your heart, in accord with the universal awakening of nature, be opened to receive the Lord. Every blossoming flower warns you that it is time to seek the Lord; be not out of tune with nature, but let your heart bud and bloom with holy desires. Do you tell me that the warm blood of youth leaps in your veins? then, I entreat you, give your vigour to the Lord. It was my unspeakable happiness to be called in early youth, and I could fain praise the Lord every day for it. Salvation is priceless, let it come when it may, but oh! an early salvation has a double value in it. Young men and maidens, since you may perish ere you reach your prime, “It is time to seek the Lord.” Ye who feel the first signs of decay, quicken your pace: that hollow cough, that hectic flush, are warnings which you must not trifle with; with you it is indeed time to seek the Lord. Did I observe a little grey mingled with your once luxurious tresses? Years are stealing on apace, and death is drawing nearer by hasty marches, let each return of spring arouse you to set your house in order. Dear reader, if you are now advanced in life, let me entreat and implore you to delay no longer. There is a day of grace for you now—be thankful for that, but it is a limited season and grows shorter every time that clock ticks. Here in this silent chamber, on this first night of another month, I speak to you as best I can by paper and ink, and from my inmost soul, as God’s servant, I lay before you this warning, “It is time to seek the Lord.” Slight not that work, it may be your last call from destruction, the final syllable from the lip of grace.

Morning and Evening

Amazing Grace
     April 1


     Jennie Evelyn Hussey, 1874–1958

     Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
(Hebrews 12:3)

     This is the season of the year when we give special attention to Christ’s suffering, death, and victorious resurrection. In the church calendar, an awareness of these events begins with the Christian observance of Lent, a 40-day period (excluding Sundays) that is set aside each year prior to Easter to concentrate on the circumstances that led to the death of God’s Son on a Roman cross. (Easter is always the first Sunday after the full moon that occurs on or after March 21—the spring equinox. This date was first set in A.D. 325 by the ancient church). The Lenten period should result in a spiritual self-examination and in rededicated living for each devout believer, preparing us for the celebration of our risen Lord.

     The cross of Christ is either a blessing or a curse, depending on our response to it. Either it leads to our eternal redemption, or it condemns us to eternal damnation. This is demonstrated by the two thieves who hung on either side of the Savior. One responded and received divine mercy; the other rebelled his way into hell. God never violates man’s free will and forces His love on anyone. But He has never rejected anyone who cries out to Him in believing faith. It is man who rejects God and the salvation that He provided at Calvary.

     Jennie Hussey was a life-long Quaker. Much of her life was a time of hardship and suffering, especially in her care of an invalid sister. Yet Jennie was known for her cheerful and courageous attitude. In all she wrote approximately 150 hymn texts. “Lead Me to Calvary” first appeared in New Songs of Praise and Power in 1921. These thoughtful words can deepen our spiritual lives as we move further through this important Lenten season.

     King of my life I crown Thee now—Thine shall the glory be; lest I forget Thy thorn-crowned brow, lead me to Calvary.
     Show me the tomb where Thou wast laid, tenderly mourned and wept; angels in robes of light arrayed guarded Thee whilst Thou slept.
     Let me like Mary, thru the gloom, come with a gift to Thee; show to me now the empty tomb—lead me to Calvary.
     May I be willing, Lord, to bear daily my cross for Thee; even Thy cup of grief to share—Thou hast borne all for me.
     Chorus: Lest I forget Gethsemane, lest I forget Thine agony, lest I forget Thy love for me, lead me to Calvary.

     For Today: Isaiah 53:5; John 19:17; 1 Corinthians 15:3; Galatians 2:20.

     Ask God to use this Lenten season to awaken your appreciation of His suffering and death at Calvary and to be more desirous of sharing His love with others. Carry this musical reminder with you ---

Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions

A Guide to Fervent Prayer
     A.W. Pink | (1886-1952)

          Glorification Is the Goal of Regeneration

     Our seventh consideration in examining this doxology is its substance: “to an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you” (v. 4). Regeneration is for the purpose of glorification. We are begotten spiritually to two realities: a living hope in the present, and a glorious heritage in the future. It is by God's begetting that we obtain our title to the latter. Inheritances go by birth: “Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God” (John 3:5). If not sons, then we cannot be heirs; and we must be born of God in order to become the children of God. But “if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ” (Rom. 8:17). Not only does begetting confer title, but it also guarantees the inheritance. Already the Christian has received the Spirit, “[who] is the earnest of our inheritance” (Eph. 1:14, brackets mine). As Christ's part was to purchase the inheritance, so the Spirit's part is to make it known to the heirs; for “the things which God hath prepared for them that love him” He “hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit” (1 Cor. 2:9, 10). It is the Spirit's province to vouchsafe to the regenerate sweet foretastes of what is in store for them, to bring something of heaven's joy into their souls on earth.

          The New Birth Fits Us Immediately for Heaven

     Not only does Divine begetting give title to and ensure the heavenly inheritance, but it also imparts a meetness for the same. At the new birth a nature is imparted that is suited to the celestial sphere, that qualifies the soul to dwell for ever with the thrice-holy God (as is evident from his present communion with Him); and at the close of his earthly pilgrimage, indwelling sin (which now hinders his communion) dies with the body. It is all too little realized by the saints that at regeneration they are at once fitted for heaven. Many of them — to the serious diminution of their peace and joy — suppose that they must still pass through a process of severe discipline and refining before they shall be ready to enter the courts above. That is but another relic of Romanism. The case of the dying thief, who was taken immediately from his spiritual birthplace into Paradise, should teach them better. But it does not. So legalistic remains the tendency of the heart even of a Christian that it is very difficult to convince him that the very hour he was born again he was made as suitable for heaven as ever he would be though he remained on earth another century. How difficult it is for us to believe that no growth in grace or passing through fiery trials is essential to prepare our souls for the Father's house.

     Nowhere does Scripture say that believers are ripened, meetened, or gradually fitted for heaven. The Holy Spirit expressly declares that God the Father has, “according to His abundant mercy . . . begotten us again . . . to an inheritance.” What could be plainer? Nor does our text by any means stand alone. Christians have already been made “partakers of the divine nature” (2 Peter 1:4), and what more can be needed to fit them for the Divine presence? Scripture emphatically declares, “Wherefore thou art no more a servant [slave], but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ” (Gal. 4:7, brackets mine). The inheritance is the child's birthright or patrimony. To speak of heirs not being eligible for an estate is a contradiction in terms. Our fitness for the inheritance lies alone in our being the children of God. If it be true that except a man be born again he cannot enter or see the kingdom of God, then, conversely, it necessarily follows that once he has been born again he is qualified for an entrance into and enjoyment of God's kingdom. All room for argument on this point is excluded by these words, which set forth one aspect of Paul's prayers of thanksgiving on behalf of the Colossians: “Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made [past tense] us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light” (Col. 1:12 brackets mine).

          By Regeneration We Are Wedded to Christ

     By regeneration we are made vitally one with Christ and thereby become joint-heirs with Him. The portion of the Bride is her participation in the portion of the Bridegroom. “And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them” (John 17:22), declares the Redeemer of His redeemed. This, too, needs stressing today, when so much error is parading itself as the truth. In their fanciful attempts to “rightly divide the Word,” men have wrongly divided the family of God. Some Dispensationalists hold that not only is there a distinction of earthly privileges, but that the same distinctions will be perpetuated in the world to come; that the New Testament believers will look down from a superior elevation upon Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; that saints who lived and died before Pentecost will not participate in the glory of the Church or enter into the inheritance “reserved for us in heaven.” To affirm that the saints of this Christian era are to occupy a higher position and to enjoy grander privileges than will those of previous ages is a serious and inexcusable mistake, for it clashes with the most fundamental teachings of Scripture concerning the purpose of the Father, the redemption of Christ, and the work of the Spirit, and repudiates the essential features of God's great salvation. Writing to the churches in Galatia, largely composed of Gentiles, the Apostle Paul declares, “Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham” (Gal. 3:7). This text alone is sufficient to prove that God's way of salvation has never essentially changed.

     All of God's elect are the common sharers of the riches of His wondrous grace, vessels whom He “afore prepared unto glory” (Rom. 9:23), whom He predestinated to be “conformed to the image of his Son” (Rom. 8:29). Christ acted as the Surety of the entire election of grace, and what His meritorious work secured for one of them it necessarily secured for all. The saints of all ages are fellow-heirs. Each of them was predestinated by the same Father (John 6:37; 10:16, 27-30; 17:2, 9-12, 20-24); each of them was regenerated by the same Spirit (Eph. 4:4), each of them looked to and trusted in the same Savior. Scripture knows of no salvation that does not issue in joint-heirship with Christ. Those to whom God gives His Son, namely, the whole company of His elect from Abel to the end of earth's history, He also freely gives all things (Rom. 8:32). That both Abraham and David were justified by faith is plain from Romans 4, and there is no higher destiny or more glorious prospect than that to which justification gives full title. The renewing work of the Holy Spirit is identical in every member of God's family: begetting them to, qualifying them for, a celestial heritage. All those who were effectually called by Him during the Old Testament era received “the promise of eternal inheritance” (Heb. 9:15). Heaven-born children must have a heavenly portion.

          The Nature of Our Eternal Inheritance

     “An inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you.” The heavenly portion reserved for the people of God is one that is agreeable to the new life received at regeneration, for it is a state of perfect holiness and happiness suited to spiritual beings who possess material bodies. Many and varied are the descriptions given in Scripture of the nature of our inheritance. In our text (v. 5) it is described as “the salvation ready to be revealed in the last time” (cf. Heb. 9:28), that is, salvation in its fullness and perfection that shall be bestowed upon the redeemed at Christ's glorious return. Our Lord Jesus describes it as His “Father's house” in which there “are many mansions,” which Christ Himself is now preparing for His people (John 14:1, 2). The Apostle Paul refers to it as “the inheritance of the saints in light” (Col. 1:12), and to the future inhabitants of that glorious realm as “the children of light” (1 Thess. 5:5). No doubt these expressions point to the moral perfection of Him in the blazing light of whose Presence (Isa. 33:13; 1 Tim. 6:13-16; Heb. 12:29; 1 John 1:5) all the saints shall one day dwell. Furthermore, they underscore the spotless purity that shall characterize each of those who shall “dwell in the house of the LORD for ever” (Ps. 23:6; cf. Dan. 12:3; Rev. 21:27). Paul further describes it as “a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God” (Heb. 11:10), upon which the hopeful, believing eye of Abraham was fixed. He also calls it “a kingdom which cannot be moved” or “shaken” (Heb. 12:26-28; cf. Rev. 2 1:10-27).

     The Apostle Peter refers to Christians as those whom God has “called . . . unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus” (1 Peter 5:10). Elsewhere, he calls our inheritance “the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1:11). The Lord Jesus prayed, “Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory” (John 17:24). The glorified Christ, in His revelation to the Apostle John, describes the saints’ inheritance as “the paradise of God” (Rev. 2:7), from which we may infer that Eden was but a shadow. Looking forward to this Paradise, David declares, “Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore” (Ps. 16:11).

          The Significance of the Term Inheritance

     In his commentary on 1 Peter, John Brown makes the following pertinent observations on the significance of the use of the term inheritance: “The celestial blessedness receives here, and in many other passages of Scripture, the appellation of ‘the inheritance,’ for two reasons: to mark its gratuitous nature, and to mark its secure tenure.

     An inheritance is something that is not obtained by the individual's own exertions, but by the free gift or bequest of another. The earthly inheritance of the external people of God was not given them because they were greater or better than the other nations of the earth. It was ‘because the LORD had a delight in them to love them’ [Deut. 10:15. ‘They got not the land in possession by their own sword, neither did their own right hand save them; but thy right hand, and thine arm, and the light of thy countenance, for thou hadst a favour unto them’ [Ps. 44:3]. And the heavenly inheritance of the spiritual people of God is entirely the gift of sovereign kindness. ‘By grace are ye saved’ [Eph. 2:5]; ‘eternal life is the gift of God, through Jesus Christ our Lord’ [Rom. 6:23].

     A second idea suggested by the figurative expression, ‘the inheritance,’ when used in reference to the celestial blessedness, is the security of the tenure by which it is held. No right is more indefeasible than the right of inheritance. If the right of the giver or bequeather be good, all is secure. The heavenly happiness, whether viewed as the gift of the Divine Father, or the bequest of the Divine Son, is ‘sure to all the seed.’ If the title of the claimant be but as valid as the right of the original proprietor, their tenure must be as secure as the throne of God and His Son.”

A Guide to Fervent Prayer

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     Skip Heitzig

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     Paul LeBoutillier

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