Jeremiah 42 -45
Warning Against Going to EgyptJeremiah 42:1 Then all the commanders of the forces, and Johanan the son of Kareah and Jezaniah the son of Hoshaiah, and all the people from the least to the greatest, came near 2 and said to Jeremiah the prophet, “Let our plea for mercy come before you, and pray to the LORD your God for us, for all this remnant—because we are left with but a few, as your eyes see us— 3 that the LORD your God may show us the way we should go, and the thing that we should do.” 4 Jeremiah the prophet said to them, “I have heard you. Behold, I will pray to the LORD your God according to your request, and whatever the LORD answers you I will tell you. I will keep nothing back from you.” 5 Then they said to Jeremiah, “May the LORD be a true and faithful witness against us if we do not act according to all the word with which the LORD your God sends you to us. 6 Whether it is good or bad, we will obey the voice of the LORD our God to whom we are sending you, that it may be well with us when we obey the voice of the LORD our God.”
7 At the end of ten days the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah. 8 Then he summoned Johanan the son of Kareah and all the commanders of the forces who were with him, and all the people from the least to the greatest, 9 and said to them, “Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, to whom you sent me to present your plea for mercy before him: 10 If you will remain in this land, then I will build you up and not pull you down; I will plant you, and not pluck you up; for I relent of the disaster that I did to you. 11 Do not fear the king of Babylon, of whom you are afraid. Do not fear him, declares the LORD, for I am with you, to save you and to deliver you from his hand. 12 I will grant you mercy, that he may have mercy on you and let you remain in your own land. 13 But if you say, ‘We will not remain in this land,’ disobeying the voice of the LORD your God 14 and saying, ‘No, we will go to the land of Egypt, where we shall not see war or hear the sound of the trumpet or be hungry for bread, and we will dwell there,’ 15 then hear the word of the LORD, O remnant of Judah. Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: If you set your faces to enter Egypt and go to live there, 16 then the sword that you fear shall overtake you there in the land of Egypt, and the famine of which you are afraid shall follow close after you to Egypt, and there you shall die. 17 All the men who set their faces to go to Egypt to live there shall die by the sword, by famine, and by pestilence. They shall have no remnant or survivor from the disaster that I will bring upon them.
18 “For thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: As my anger and my wrath were poured out on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, so my wrath will be poured out on you when you go to Egypt. You shall become an execration, a horror, a curse, and a taunt. You shall see this place no more. 19 The LORD has said to you, O remnant of Judah, ‘Do not go to Egypt.’ Know for a certainty that I have warned you this day 20 that you have gone astray at the cost of your lives. For you sent me to the LORD your God, saying, ‘Pray for us to the LORD our God, and whatever the LORD our God says, declare to us and we will do it.’ 21 And I have this day declared it to you, but you have not obeyed the voice of the LORD your God in anything that he sent me to tell you. 22 Now therefore know for a certainty that you shall die by the sword, by famine, and by pestilence in the place where you desire to go to live.”
Jeremiah Taken to EgyptJeremiah 43:1 When Jeremiah finished speaking to all the people all these words of the LORD their God, with which the LORD their God had sent him to them, 2 Azariah the son of Hoshaiah and Johanan the son of Kareah and all the insolent men said to Jeremiah, “You are telling a lie. The LORD our God did not send you to say, ‘Do not go to Egypt to live there,’ 3 but Baruch the son of Neriah has set you against us, to deliver us into the hand of the Chaldeans, that they may kill us or take us into exile in Babylon.” 4 So Johanan the son of Kareah and all the commanders of the forces and all the people did not obey the voice of the LORD, to remain in the land of Judah. 5 But Johanan the son of Kareah and all the commanders of the forces took all the remnant of Judah who had returned to live in the land of Judah from all the nations to which they had been driven— 6 the men, the women, the children, the princesses, and every person whom Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard had left with Gedaliah the son of Ahikam, son of Shaphan; also Jeremiah the prophet and Baruch the son of Neriah. 7 And they came into the land of Egypt, for they did not obey the voice of the LORD. And they arrived at Tahpanhes.
8 Then the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah in Tahpanhes: 9 “Take in your hands large stones and hide them in the mortar in the pavement that is at the entrance to Pharaoh’s palace in Tahpanhes, in the sight of the men of Judah, 10 and say to them, ‘Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: Behold, I will send and take Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, my servant, and I will set his throne above these stones that I have hidden, and he will spread his royal canopy over them. 11 He shall come and strike the land of Egypt, giving over to the pestilence those who are doomed to the pestilence, to captivity those who are doomed to captivity, and to the sword those who are doomed to the sword. 12 I shall kindle a fire in the temples of the gods of Egypt, and he shall burn them and carry them away captive. And he shall clean the land of Egypt as a shepherd cleans his cloak of vermin, and he shall go away from there in peace. 13 He shall break the obelisks of Heliopolis, which is in the land of Egypt, and the temples of the gods of Egypt he shall burn with fire.’ ”
Judgment for IdolatryJeremiah 44:1 The word that came to Jeremiah concerning all the Judeans who lived in the land of Egypt, at Migdol, at Tahpanhes, at Memphis, and in the land of Pathros, 2 “Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: You have seen all the disaster that I brought upon Jerusalem and upon all the cities of Judah. Behold, this day they are a desolation, and no one dwells in them, 3 because of the evil that they committed, provoking me to anger, in that they went to make offerings and serve other gods that they knew not, neither they, nor you, nor your fathers. 4 Yet I persistently sent to you all my servants the prophets, saying, ‘Oh, do not do this abomination that I hate!’ 5 But they did not listen or incline their ear, to turn from their evil and make no offerings to other gods. 6 Therefore my wrath and my anger were poured out and kindled in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem, and they became a waste and a desolation, as at this day. 7 And now thus says the LORD God of hosts, the God of Israel: Why do you commit this great evil against yourselves, to cut off from you man and woman, infant and child, from the midst of Judah, leaving you no remnant? 8 Why do you provoke me to anger with the works of your hands, making offerings to other gods in the land of Egypt where you have come to live, so that you may be cut off and become a curse and a taunt among all the nations of the earth? 9 Have you forgotten the evil of your fathers, the evil of the kings of Judah, the evil of their wives, your own evil, and the evil of your wives, which they committed in the land of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem? 10 They have not humbled themselves even to this day, nor have they feared, nor walked in my law and my statutes that I set before you and before your fathers.
11 “Therefore thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: Behold, I will set my face against you for harm, to cut off all Judah. 12 I will take the remnant of Judah who have set their faces to come to the land of Egypt to live, and they shall all be consumed. In the land of Egypt they shall fall; by the sword and by famine they shall be consumed. From the least to the greatest, they shall die by the sword and by famine, and they shall become an oath, a horror, a curse, and a taunt. 13 I will punish those who dwell in the land of Egypt, as I have punished Jerusalem, with the sword, with famine, and with pestilence, 14 so that none of the remnant of Judah who have come to live in the land of Egypt shall escape or survive or return to the land of Judah, to which they desire to return to dwell there. For they shall not return, except some fugitives.”
15 Then all the men who knew that their wives had made offerings to other gods, and all the women who stood by, a great assembly, all the people who lived in Pathros in the land of Egypt, answered Jeremiah: 16 “As for the word that you have spoken to us in the name of the LORD, we will not listen to you. 17 But we will do everything that we have vowed, make offerings to the queen of heaven and pour out drink offerings to her, as we did, both we and our fathers, our kings and our officials, in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem. For then we had plenty of food, and prospered, and saw no disaster. 18 But since we left off making offerings to the queen of heaven and pouring out drink offerings to her, we have lacked everything and have been consumed by the sword and by famine.” 19 And the women said, “When we made offerings to the queen of heaven and poured out drink offerings to her, was it without our husbands’ approval that we made cakes for her bearing her image and poured out drink offerings to her?”
20 Then Jeremiah said to all the people, men and women, all the people who had given him this answer: 21 “As for the offerings that you offered in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem, you and your fathers, your kings and your officials, and the people of the land, did not the LORD remember them? Did it not come into his mind? 22 The LORD could no longer bear your evil deeds and the abominations that you committed. Therefore your land has become a desolation and a waste and a curse, without inhabitant, as it is this day. 23 It is because you made offerings and because you sinned against the LORD and did not obey the voice of the LORD or walk in his law and in his statutes and in his testimonies that this disaster has happened to you, as at this day.”
24 Jeremiah said to all the people and all the women, “Hear the word of the LORD, all you of Judah who are in the land of Egypt. 25 Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: You and your wives have declared with your mouths, and have fulfilled it with your hands, saying, ‘We will surely perform our vows that we have made, to make offerings to the queen of heaven and to pour out drink offerings to her.’ Then confirm your vows and perform your vows! 26 Therefore hear the word of the LORD, all you of Judah who dwell in the land of Egypt: Behold, I have sworn by my great name, says the LORD, that my name shall no more be invoked by the mouth of any man of Judah in all the land of Egypt, saying, ‘As the Lord GOD lives.’ 27 Behold, I am watching over them for disaster and not for good. All the men of Judah who are in the land of Egypt shall be consumed by the sword and by famine, until there is an end of them. 28 And those who escape the sword shall return from the land of Egypt to the land of Judah, few in number; and all the remnant of Judah, who came to the land of Egypt to live, shall know whose word will stand, mine or theirs. 29 This shall be the sign to you, declares the LORD, that I will punish you in this place, in order that you may know that my words will surely stand against you for harm: 30 Thus says the LORD, Behold, I will give Pharaoh Hophra king of Egypt into the hand of his enemies and into the hand of those who seek his life, as I gave Zedekiah king of Judah into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, who was his enemy and sought his life.”
Message to BaruchJeremiah 45:1 The word that Jeremiah the prophet spoke to Baruch the son of Neriah, when he wrote these words in a book at the dictation of Jeremiah, in the fourth year of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, king of Judah: 2 “Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, to you, O Baruch: 3 You said, ‘Woe is me! For the LORD has added sorrow to my pain. I am weary with my groaning, and I find no rest.’ 4 Thus shall you say to him, Thus says the LORD: Behold, what I have built I am breaking down, and what I have planted I am plucking up—that is, the whole land. 5 And do you seek great things for yourself? Seek them not, for behold, I am bringing disaster upon all flesh, declares the LORD. But I will give you your life as a prize of war in all places to which you may go.”
What I'm Reading
Unbelievable? Is There Enough Evidence Beyond the Gospels to Make Their Testimony Reliable?
By J. Warner Wallace 2 Years Ago
During an interview on Unbelievable? with Justin Brierley, a caller asked about corroboration and wanted to know if there was enough evidence beyond the Gospels to verify the reliability of their testimony. I began by helping him understand the nature of evidential corroboration and the limited information typically offered by such evidence. Every piece of corroborative evidence typically addresses (and verifies) only a “touchpoint”, a small aspect of the testimony from which we infer the “reasonability” of the larger account. Corroborative evidence is always limited; it only addresses a small aspect of the event under consideration. Even with these limits, however, the Gospels are still well corroborated. I’ve written a chapter about this in my book, Cold-Case Christianity, but here is a brief summary of the evidence “beyond the Gospels”:
Ancient “Reluctant Admissions” | Non-Christian authors and historians from antiquity mentioned Jesus or His followers repeatedly, even as they denied His Deity or the claims of His supporters. While these ancient sources were hostile to the claims of the New Testament, they reluctantly confirmed key elements of the Gospel narrative.
Josephus (37-101AD) | Even when examining the a modest, redacted version of Josephus’ ancient account, it’s clear that this Jewish historian reluctantly affirmed the following: Jesus lived in Palestine, was a wise man and a teacher, worked amazing deeds, was accused by the Jews, crucified under Pilate and had followers called Christians.
Thallus (52AD) | While Thallus appeared to deny the supernatural aspect of the gospel narratives, he did reluctantly repeat and affirm the following: Jesus lived, was crucified, and there was an earthquake and darkness at the point of his crucifixion.
Tacitus (56-120AD) | Cornelius Tacitus (known for his analysis and examination of historical documents and among the most trusted of ancient historians) described Nero’s response to the great fire in Rome and reluctantly affirmed the following: Jesus lived in Judea, was crucified under Pontius Pilate, and had followers who were persecuted for their faith in Christ.
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J. Warner Wallace is a Cold-Case Detective, a Christian Case Maker, and the author of:
Descartes: Not the Father Of Modernity
By Derrick 6/17/17
With Etienne Gilson’s Theology and the Cartesian Doctrine of Freedom being translated into English for the first time ever at the end of this year, it seemed appropriate to briefly touch on a matter near and dear to it: Descartes was not the father of modernity (feel free to read that in your best Maury Povich voice).
The standard tale that one often hears typically opens with a flourish, by uttering his famous phrase: cogito, ergo Sum (I think, therefore I am). From there, a story emerges about how Descartes invented a new philosophy in desperate search for new foundational certainties that broke radically with a benighted past. This philosophy, in turn, centered around a shift to the subject, a modernity characterized by epistemology, the search for certainty, a radical mind-body dualism, and the disenchantment of nature now seen as nothing but “extension” or “brute matter,” among other things.
Typical in this regard then, is the summary offered by Stanley Grenz and John Franke in their book Beyond Foundationalism: “Historians routinely look to the French philosopher René Descartes as the progenitor of modern foundationalism.”
It turns out, though, that’s not quite right. Lets take the claims of the standard story in order.
1.) Break From the Past?
Derrick | I love biblical studies, theology, and philosophy of all kinds, and learn everyday the truth in the statement "The more I learn, the more I realize how little I know." I have a B.A. in Theology/Biblical Studies and a second B.A. in Koine Greek. Im currently working on a M.Div in Advanced Theological Studies, and a Th.M in Systematic Theology, and hope to someday get a Ph.D or two and teach theology and philosophy at the University level.
Read The Psalms In "1" Year
Psalm 91My Refuge and My Fortress
9 Because you have made the LORD your dwelling place—
the Most High, who is my refuge—
10 no evil shall be allowed to befall you,
no plague come near your tent.
11 For he will command his angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways.
12 On their hands they will bear you up,
lest you strike your foot against a stone.
13 You will tread on the lion and the adder;
the young lion and the serpent you will trample underfoot.
14 “Because he holds fast to me in love, I will deliver him;
I will protect him, because he knows my name.
15 When he calls to me, I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble;
I will rescue him and honor him.
16 With long life I will satisfy him
and show him my salvation.”
A Rose Is a Rose
By R.C. Sproul 4/1/1998
A rose is a rose is a rose. This dictum reinforces the adage that a rose by any other name is still a rose. The idea is that the essence of the rose is not conditioned by what name is attached to it. It is its res, not its nomina, that determines what it is. In different languages, the same flower is known by different names, but it is still the same flower.
When we apply this idea to theology things get a bit more complicated. Indeed the rose adage has been transferred indiscriminately to religion in order to create a theological concept. The concept is: “God by any other name is still God.” Now certainly, it is true that the immutable essence of God is not changed by the alteration of His name. In English, we may say “God,” in German “Gott,” in Greek “Theos,” yet all these names or words are used to point to the same Deity.
Beyond this, however, things get murky. It is a quantum leap to go from saying that God by any other name is still God, to saying that all the great religions in the world believe in the same Being though they call Him different names.
This irrational leap is prodded by the popular analogy of the mountain. This analogy notes that their are many roads up the mountain. Some progress on a more direct route, while others wind about on more circuitous roads, but sooner or later they all arrive at the same place, at the top of the mountain.
So, it is argued, there are many roads that lead to God. They may be different routes but they all end up in the same place—with God Himself. That is, the differing roads indicate no difference in the God who is found. God’s being, then, becomes the lowest (or highest) common denominator of all religions.
The road analogy is buttressed by the democratic truism that all religions are equal under the law. The fallacy in this axiom is thinking that just because all religions enjoy equal tolerance under the civil law, they therefore are all equally valid. That might be true if there were no God, but then it would be better to say that with respect to their ultimate affirmation they are all equally invalid.
To argue that all religions ultimately believe in the same God is the quintessential nonsense statement. Even a cursory examination of the content of different religions reveals this. The nature of the Canaanite deity Baal differs sharply from the nature of the biblical God. They are not remotely the same. This sharp distinction is also seen when comparing the God of Israel with the gods and goddesses of Roman, Greek, or Norse mythology.
The problem becomes even more complex when we consider that sometimes different religions use the same name for God while their views of the nature of God differ radically. Consider, for example, the religion of Mormonism. It claims to embrace the Bible (as well as the Book of Mormon, Pearl of Great Price, and Doctrine of Covenants) and professes belief in the God of the Bible as well as the biblical Christ. Mormons call themselves The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Yet historic Christianity does not accept the Mormon religion as a branch or denomination of Christianity. Why? Because the Mormon view of the nature of God and of Christ differs sharply at essential points of faith. For example, Mormonism categorically rejects the full deity of Christ. Christ is said to be pre-existent, but not eternal. He is highly exalted—indeed revered—but He remains a creature, not Creator, in Mormon theology.
What about Islam? Islam is one of the largest religions in the world. In the city of Jerusalem, the Dome of the Rock is displayed as one of the most beautiful sacred shrines on the planet. Islam claims to embrace the God of the Old Testament. It holds the biblical patriarchs in high esteem and even accords a certain respect to Jesus as a great prophet, but He pales in significance to Mohammed, who is the supreme prophet in the credo: “Allah is God and Mohammed is His Prophet.”
This forces the question, “Is Allah the same God as Yahweh, only under a different name?” Or we could pose the question in a different way: “Is Allah the God of the Bible?”
The answer to these questions depends first of all on the answer to the question: “Is the God of Christianity the God in the Old Testament, that is, Yahweh?” If the Being who is called “God” in the New Testament is the God called “Yahweh” in the Old Testament, then, manifestly, the God of Islam is not the God of the Bible. As Yahweh continues to reveal Himself through the ministry of Christ and the apostles, it is clear Yahweh is very different from Allah. We cannot legitimately harmonize the theology of Christianity with the theology of Islam. They differ sharply at essential points.
The most obvious difference is with respect to the Trinity. Christians confess the triune nature of God. The language “nature” here may be confusing inasmuch as the Christian doctrine of God affirms that God is one in essence (or nature) and three in person. This means that the distinction of persons in the Godhead is not a distinction of essence, which would leave us with three gods. For precision, we must walk the razor’s edge and say that the distinctions of persons in the Godhead is an essential distinction, yet not a distinction of essence. God is one in being (or essence), but it is important to note the personal distinctions of God, because the Bible goes to great lengths to do so.
Here is a crucial difference between the Muslim understanding of God and the Christian concept: The term “god” does not refer to the same being in each religion because Allah is clearly not triune. For Islam, there is no second person of the Trinity who becomes incarnate and effects our salvation and no third person of the Trinity who applies that redemption to us. So we are left with radically different views of God via the person and work of Christ and the person and work of the Holy Spirit.
There are two other vital differences between Christianity and Islam. Islam has no Cross and no resurrection, articles of the faith that are of the essence of Christianity and of ultimate importance to the plan of the God of the Bible. Mohammed made no atonement for our sins when he died. And when he died, he stayed dead.
There are other crucial differences we could explore of how God is understood in orthodox Christianity and how He is understood in orthodox Islam. It is enough for now to say that Allah and Yahweh are not the same. One is the living God; the other is an idol.
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
Equipped for Jihad
By Carl Ellis 4/1/1998
When sharing my faith with a Muslim, I’ve found it helpful to evaluate why he is devoted to Islam. Three considerations are important.
First, he could be moved by the standards of Islam—the doctrine, theology or teaching. Most Christians seem to assume that the “standards” alone are the reason a person embraces any belief system. In my experience, the other two considerations have greater weight.
Second, he could be devoted to Islam because of his situation—a need for cultural identity, feelings of alienation, etc. The Muslim community projects itself as a brotherhood with affirmation and solidarity.
Third, he could practice Islam because of his own motivations and goals—e.g., the desire for godliness. Often, a person realizes that he has been alienated from God and consequently seeks to achieve God’s favor. Perhaps he wants to purge himself of false values such as materialism or self-centeredness. Therefore, he might see Islam, with its disciplined, rigorous approach to life as the means to satisfy his desire for righteousness.
Instead of simply confronting a Muslim, pitting my doctrine against his, I seek to draw him out through conversation. I’ve met many Muslims whose personal goals and motivations were essentially biblical. In such cases, I’ve learned to be sympathetic and supportive. As a result, I’ve seen barriers come down. Only after establishing such camaraderie will a discussion concerning the means of achieving their goals become meaningful. This is when the Gospel really becomes “good news.”
I find American converts to Islam particularly interesting. Often, they were raised in the church and have devout Christian mothers who pray for them constantly. While they have a rational Islamic veneer, they tend to have an intuitive Christian outlook. If we learn to relate to such Muslim converts wisely on a rational basis, God’s Word will resonate with that intuitive core. Often this will affect an American Muslim convert in more ways than he is willing to admit.
The Islamic community is roughly equivalent to the Jewish community in the first century. Our approach to Muslims, therefore, must be similar to the apostle Paul’s approach to his Jewish brothers. In acknowledging that non-believing Jews “have a zeal of God but not based on knowledge” (Rom. 10:2), Paul is saying, “Though they outwardly have the right goals and motivations, they have adopted the wrong means for achieving those goals and satisfying those motivations.”
I have talked to dozens of Muslims who have, in the final analysis, admitted they can do nothing to earn God’s favor—their only hope of salvation is in God alone. Is not this the basis of the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ?
God promises His Word will not return void (Isa. 55:11). If we simply plant the seed and water it, God will “give the increase.” We often find ourselves oriented toward instant salvations and instant decisions. However, it doesn’t work that way with Muslims. It takes time, patience, and most of all, love. Meanwhile, God is faithful.
If you sense God’s calling to minister to Muslims, here are some practical suggestions:
Try to understand Islamic doctrine from the perspective of Islam. Study the history of Islam’s development, especially in America.
Be a good listener. Don’t evaluate a Muslim only on the basis of his doctrine. Examine the other factors which fire his devotion to Islam.
When his motivations and goals are biblical, affirm them. When they are not, lovingly challenge them. Try to use words according to his definitions, not yours.
When dealing with a Muslim’s doctrine, do not use the occasion to show how much you know about his faith. Instead, deal with him on the basis of what he expresses to you about his beliefs. You’ll find he cannot be consistent with the doctrines he holds.
It’s always important to draw him out by asking questions in the genuine spirit of wanting to be informed. Give him a chance to express himself, and make sure he knows you understand what he’s saying. Ask him, “Is this what you mean?” Then try to summarize his point.
Do not be bowled over by his arguments. Stand firm, with poise and confidence. If you are familiar with his theology, you can tell when he begins to feel the pinch.
Usually, he will begin to repeat himself or make up his theology on the spot. Don’t take advantage of his vulnerability by lording it over him. Rather, seek to communicate subtly but clearly that you are aware of his tenuous position. The very fact that you do not pulverize him will communicate more about the validity of the Christian faith than if you had devastated him with your rational arguments.
Do not use a King James Bible. According to the teachings of some Muslim sects, King James himself translated this version and corrupted it.
Never use a Bible in which you have made any marks. To a Muslim, this indicates a disrespect for the Word of God.
Avoid all pictures of God, Jesus or any biblical characters. This looks like idolatry to a Muslim.
Never use the word “Trinity.” Because of the Muslim’s teaching, this word often connotes the worship of three gods and will bog you down with issues of polytheism. From Scripture, we know that God’s oneness of being is never diminished by His tri-personhood. There are many ways to express the Trinity concept, for example “Godhead.”
In dealing with Muslims, remove all offenses you can—except the Cross.
Most of all, never forget the power of love. For against love, there is no defense, Islamic or otherwise.
Dr. Carl Ellis, Jr.
Hope for the Unhappily Single
By Marshall Segal 8/11/2015
There is a new and widespread epidemic in our nation and even in our churches. It’s called the not-yet-married life.
Sure, there have always been unmarried people longing for marriage, but the statistics suggest that this group is growing at an unprecedented rate in American history. In 1956, according to the United States Census Bureau, the average age at which a man was married for the first time was 22.5. For women, it was 20.1. Those numbers climbed steadily for years, then more dramatically beginning in the 1970s. Recently, they reached the ages of 29.0 for men and 26.6 for women.
Now, singleness itself, for the Christian, is not necessarily something to be lamented. After all, Paul sings the praise of singleness when he lists the spiritual benefits of being spouse-free in 1 Corinthians 7. The single life can be (relatively) free from relational anxieties (1 Corinthians 7:32), worldly distractions (1 Corinthians 7:33), and wide open for worship, devotion, and ministry (1 Corinthians 7:35). If we have the gift, Paul says to skip the ceremony, literally, and enjoy “your undivided devotion to the Lord.”
So this relatively new demographic of not-yet-married men and women in their mid-to-late twenties has the real potential to be a potent vehicle for the worship of God and the spread of his gospel. This potential means we don’t necessarily need to sound an alarm as our young people get married later and later. Without a doubt, within this trend there will be complacencies to confront and immaturities to manage and even evils to fight. But ultimately it might merely be God’s means of freeing up a generation to take their devotion to Christ deeper and further into the broken world in which we live.
Will I Be Single Forever? | The hope for a freshly mobilized unmarried demographic is real, and singleness really can and should be celebrated when God uses it to win worship and joy and life in himself. But one of the implications of these recent statistics is that a growing number of people in the church desire marriage — even feel called to marriage — and yet they have to wait longer to experience it. As Christians, we believe the vast majority of people are wired by God to receive and express love in the context of a covenant, so we shouldn’t be surprised that this growing phenomenon is hard on lots of our young men and women.
Marshall Segal is a writer and managing editor at desiringGod.org. He’s the author of Not Yet Married: The Pursuit of Joy in Singleness and Dating. He graduated from Bethlehem College & Seminary. He and his wife Faye have a son and live in Minneapolis.
Living in the Shallows: The Decline of Thought
By John Horvat 8/12/2017
As I look upon the desolate landscape of sound bites, tweets and other social media, I cannot help but lament what has happened to our culture.
Almost all Americans have a high school education. And today more people than ever have college degrees. One would expect reading levels to be increasing. Real culture should be flourishing. Yet it’s no secret that people are connecting in ever more primitive ways. Everything must be quick and impulsive. It must be short and abbreviated. We prefer many short bursts back and forth. The message is: Let nothing be profound. Let everything be forgettable.
I blame this trend on the decline of thought.There’s plenty to blame for the downward trend. We’ve dumbed down education. The media have sped up. The culture suffers from the frenetic intemperance of promising everything instantly and easily. It all ends up creating a childish society that tries to avoid effort and depth.
Thought involves the calm observation of reality. A person ponders the surroundings and comes to conclusions that reflect a truth about the nature of things. Thought is profound. It requires an ability to look deeply at things and synthesize what one has seen with clarity and precision. Thought is logically built upon an edifice of premises and conclusions that allow us to take things to their final consequences.
Childish Behavior | Thought has declined because our habits have declined. We rarely ponder things in our fast-paced world. Everyone wants things now, without thought. The motto of so many virtual platforms today is: Don’t make me think. There’s no time to read, no time to write, no time to organize thoughts.
John Horvat II is a scholar, researcher, educator, international speaker and author of the book Return to Order: From a Frenzied Economy to an Organic Christian Society--Where We’ve Been, How We Got Here, and Where We Need to Go. His writings have appeared worldwide including in The Wall Street Journal, The Christian Post, American Thinker, TheBlaze, Crisis, FOX News and The Washington Times, as well as other publications and websites. He gives more than 150 radio and TV interviews annually.
For more than two decades he has been researching and writing about what’s gone wrong with America’s culture and economy, an effort that culminated in the ground-breaking release of his award-winning book Return to Order: From a Frenzied Economy to an Organic Christian Society--Where We’ve Been, How We Got Here, and Where We Need to Go.
Mr. Horvat is vice president and a member of the board of directors for the American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property (TFP), head of the TFP Commission for American studies, a TFP Sedes Sapientiae Institute instructor, and webmaster of the American TFP website (www.tfp.org). Additionally, Mr. Horvat is a member of the Association of Christian Economists, The Philadelphia Society, the National Association of Scholars and the Catholic Writers Guild, as well as an Acton University participant.
His research began in 1986 when he was invited by Prof. Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira, founder of the Brazilian TFP, to study the crisis of modern economy and to prepare a conservative response. Mr. Horvat continues studying and writing and is now one of the most sought after experts on the subject.
When he’s not writing, Mr. Horvat enjoys jogging and fencing. He lives in Spring Grove, Pennsylvania.
Empirical Evidence Finds Prayer Improves Intimate Relationships
By Joe Carter 8/9/2017
The Story: New research finds that petitionary prayer can improve intimate relationships with a spouse or friend. Should Christians consider such empirical evidence useful?
The Background: Several researchers led by Frank Fincham at Florida State University’s Family Institute wanted to learn whether petitionary prayer (i.e., a prayer where you request something) for someone’s romantic partner or close friend has “any objectively measurable effects on couples.” According to a summary of the evidence by Thomas Burnett, an assistant director of public engagement for the John Templeton Foundation, “Praying daily for one’s partner has been linked to numerous positive outcomes: increased relationship satisfaction, greater trust, cooperation, forgiveness and marital commitment. Many of these benefits apply both to the prayer as well as the one being prayed for.”
“The power of petitionary prayer applies not only to romantic partners but to close friends as well,” Burnett adds. “For instance, in experiments with undergraduates, researchers found that those who had been assigned to pray regularly with a close friend showed greater levels of trust, compared to control groups. Multiple studies suggest a causal relationship, not just correlational. Partner-focused prayer apparently causes people to become more satisfied with their marriages.”
Why It Matters: There will be many people who read only the headline of this article or a description of it and claim, “We don’t need scientific research to tell us that.” (Think I’m kidding? Look at the comments on Facebook and Twitter when this article is posted on social media.) Are they right?
Yes and no.
Joe Carter is an editor for The Gospel Coalition, the editor of the NIV, Lifehacks Bible, Hardcover: Practical Tools for Successful Spiritual Habits, and the co-author of How to Argue Like Jesus: Learning Persuasion from History's Greatest Communicator. He serves as an elder at Grace Hill Church in Herndon, Virginia. You can follow him on Twitter.
By John Walvoord
The Prophecy Of The Ultimate Victory in the Kingdom
The book of Micah 7:1–20. Micah called attention to the departure of Israel from the laws of God. He declared, “The godly have been swept from the land; not one upright man remains. All men lie in wait to shed blood; each hunts his brother with a net” (v. 2 ).
He described Israel’s hands as being “skilled in doing evil” (v. 3 ): “The ruler demands gifts, the judge accepts bribes, the powerful dictate what they desire — they all conspire together” (v. 3 ). Because of this, God was going to bring a time of confusion (v. 4 ). He declared, “For a son dishonors his father, a daughter rises up against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law—a man’s enemies are the members of his own household” (v. 6; cf. Matt. 10:34–36 ).
By contrast, Micah, instead of seeking evil, looked for hope and waited for his Savior with confidence that God would hear him: “But as for me, I watch in hope for the LORD, I wait for God my Savior; my God will hear me” ( Mic. 7:7 ).
Micah pleaded with the enemy not to gloat over them (v. 8 ). Though it is true that Israel has sinned and will bear the wrath of God (vv. 9–10 ), the day will come when Israel will continue to build her walls and extend her boundaries (v. 11 ). God’s judgment on that day will be on the nations instead of on Israel (vv. 12–13 ).
In Israel’s future God will once again show her His miraculous wonders (v. 15 ), and the world will see and be ashamed (v. 16 ). The world will turn in fear to God (v. 17 ). Micah asked rhetorically, “Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance?” (v. 18 ) Micah stated of God, “You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy. You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea” (vv. 18–19 ). In concluding his prophecy, Micah said to God, “You will be true to Jacob, and show mercy to Abraham, as you pledged on oath to our fathers in days long ago” (v. 20 ). The future restoration of Israel will be based on the doctrine of grace rather than on the doctrine of judgment and will fulfill the covenant with Abraham, which God has pledged Himself to fulfill regardless of Israel’s sins and shortcomings.
The mingled picture of prophecy, including Israel’s condemnation and then glorification, is in keeping with the other Scriptures describing this process in which Israel will ultimately be regathered and blessed by God in the millennial kingdom.
The Prophecy In Nahum
All that is known about the book of Nahum is that Nahum the prophet was its author and that he lived in Elkosh, whose location is unknown. Several people have made suggestions as to the probable location of Elkosh, including Jerome (AD 340–420), who said it was in Galilee. This and other possible locations do not contain any convincing evidence as the book was looking at Nineveh from the standpoint of Judah. Elkosh was probably located in southern Galilee.
Nahum recorded the downfall of Thebes, a common city of Egypt, conquered by the Assyrian king Ashurbanipal (663 BC). Nahum must have lived in the seventh century BC, prior to the destruction of Nineveh, which he predicted and which was fulfilled in 612 BC.
Mentioned in Scripture as early as Genesis 10:11–12, Nineveh was a frequent subject of prophecy. There Jonah delivered his message of warning, which was heeded by the generation to whom he spoke, and the destruction of Nineveh was postponed. If Jonah’s warning to Nineveh occurred during the reign of Jeroboam II (793–753 BC), Nineveh was protected from destruction for almost 150 years before it finally fell in 612 BC.
During the time of Nineveh’s power Azariah, king of Judah (790–739 BC), and Menahen, king of Israel (752–742 BC), paid tribute and recognized Nineveh’s dominance. Nineveh had conquered the ten tribes in 722 BC but was prevented by God from conquering Jerusalem when 185,000 of Sennacherib’s army were supernaturally killed while attempting to conquer Jerusalem. When the ten tribes went into captivity, the tribes of Judah and Benjamin escaped. Nineveh fell to the combined armies of the Medes and Scythians in the month of August in 612 BC. Nineveh was so thoroughly ruined that it was lost to history until its ruins were discovered by archeologists in 1845.
Nahum 1:1–11. God was angry with Nineveh because of His own character. Nahum wrote, “The LORD is a jealous and avenging God; the LORD takes vengeance and is filled with wrath. The LORD takes vengeance on his foes and maintains his wrath against his enemies” (v. 2 ).
On the other hand, God had allowed Nineveh to go on relatively unchecked because “the LORD is slow to anger and great in power” (v. 3 ). He causes the mountains to quake and the rivers to run dry (vv. 4–5 ).
When God chose to bring judgment on the wicked city of Nineveh, no one would be able to stand against Him (v. 6 ). Even though “The LORD is good, a refuge in times of trouble” (v. 7 ), the time had come when Nineveh should bear God’s wrath for her sins (vv. 8–11 ). This was fulfilled in 612 BC.
Nahum 1:12–15. Nahum predicted that Nineveh would be cut down and lose her political power; her temples and idols would be destroyed, and her people would go down to the grave (vv. 12–14 ). This was fulfilled in 612 BC.
In contrast to His wrath and judgment on Nineveh, God will one day bless Judah: “Look, there on the mountains, the feet of one who brings good news, who proclaims peace! Celebrate your festivals, O Judah, and fulfill your vows. No more will the wicked invade you; they will be completely destroyed” (v. 15 ). This will be fulfilled in the millennial kingdom.
Nineveh to Be Destroyed
Nahum 2:1–13. Nineveh’s downfall had been predicted much earlier by other prophets. Isaiah, who lived in the eight century BC, a hundred years before Nineveh was destroyed, predicted that Nineveh would come to its end ( 10:12–19; 14:24–25; 30:31–33; 31:8–9 ). Ezekiel also predicted Nineveh’s fall ( Ezekiel 32:22–23 ), and it was mentioned in Zephaniah 2:13–15 and Zechariah 10:11.
As the armies of Babylon and the Medes approached, Nahum taunted Nineveh to put up protection, which would prove to be futile: “Guard the fortress, watch the road, brace yourselves, marshal all your strength!” ( Nahum 2:1 ). God referred to His restoration of Jacob in contrast to the downfall of Nineveh (v. 2 ).
Nahum described the invading army as having red uniforms and shields of red; they stormed through the streets in their conquering of Nineveh (vv. 3–4 ). The fall of Nineveh was complete and sudden (vv. 5–7 ). The invaders were invited to “plunder the silver! Plunder the gold! The supply is endless, the wealth from all its treasures” (v. 9 ). The result was stated in verse 10: “She is pillaged, plundered, stripped! Hearts melt, knees give way, bodies tremble, every face grows pale” (v. 10 ).
Nineveh was likened to a lions’ den where formerly the lions killed enough for food with plenty to spare. But now there was nothing left. Nineveh no longer could be likened to the king of beasts (vv. 11–12 ).
God declared, “‘I am against you.... I will burn up your chariots in smoke, and the sword will devour your young lions. I will leave you no prey on the earth. The voices of your messengers will no longer be heard’” (v. 13 ).
Nineveh’s Complete Destruction
Nahum 3:1–19. Nineveh, who once was irresistibly victorious over her enemies, now was going to experience the destruction that she brought on others. The many dead would pile up their carcasses without number. Her judgment was just because she had enslaved the nations (vv. 1–5 ). “I will pelt you with filth, I will treat you with contempt and make you a spectacle. All who see you will flee from you and say, ‘Nineveh is in ruins — who will mourn for her? Where can I find anyone to comfort you?’” (vv. 6–7 )
Nineveh’s protecting walls would be of no avail. Just as Thebes was taken captive and went into exile, so Nineveh’s infants would be killed and her great men put in chains (v. 10 ).
Nineveh’s fortresses were compared to a fig tree with ripe fruit that falls when shaken (v. 12 ). Nineveh’s troops were compared to women, their gates were open to their enemies (v. 13 ).
Nineveh was taunted to prepare for the siege, draw her water, strengthen her defenses, and repair the brickwork; but, nevertheless, she would be devoured by fire and sword. Like grasshoppers, though they multiply, she would be of no avail (vv. 14–17 ).
The king of Assyria was informed that his people would be scattered like sheep with no one to gather them (v. 18 ). Nineveh’s wound and injury would be fatal (v. 19 ). Those who heard of the fall of Nineveh would clap their hands with joy because of God’s retribution on Nineveh for her endless acts of cruelty (v. 19 ).
In 612 BC Nineveh was so thoroughly destroyed that it was never rebuilt and soon became a pile of sand. For centuries the location of Nineveh was unknown, so completely had it been destroyed, but in 1845 it was located by archeologists. The lesson to be learned is that God’s prophecies of judgment may be delayed in fulfillment, but in God’s time they will be completely fulfilled.
The Prophecy In Habakkuk
The book of Habakkuk has the unusual feature of the prophet recording a dialogue between himself and God rather than acting as an instrument of God’s communication to man.
Not much is known about Habakkuk personally, and even the meaning of his name is disputed. He described himself as a prophet ( 1:1 ), which was unusual in the prophetic books of the Old Testament; only Haggai and Zechariah also included the term prophet in their introductions.
The literary style of the book is similar to that of the Wisdom books and the Psalms. The book itself demonstrates that Habakkuk was properly recognized as a prophet and that he had both theological and liturgical training. In many ways the book is one of the most incisive approaches to the question of God’s righteousness in dealing with human sin.
Habakkuk 1:1–4. Though the book itself does not date the time of its writing, it may be concluded from verse 6, which predicted the Babylonian invasion, that Habakkuk ministered in the seventh century BC. Though some date the book as early as the reign of Manasseh (697–642 BC) or in the reign of Josiah (640–609 BC), it is more probable that Habakkuk ministered closer to the date of the Babylonian invasion during the reign of Jehoiakim (609–598 BC). He therefore was not only a prophet of the fall of Jerusalem but also later on was a witness to the fulfillment of the prophecy. The date relating the prophecy to the Babylonian invasion of the kingdom of Judah is supported by the contents of the book, which raised the question of how a righteous God could use an unrighteous nation like Babylon to punish Judah for her sins. The fact that God allowed the Babylonians to be victorious in conquering Judah created theological problems for everyone who believed that the children of Israel were a special people. This question of how God’s justice related to this situation dominates the tone of the book and also leads to the answer.
Why Are the Ungodly Not Judged?
Habakkuk lived in the time of apostasy just preceding the Babylonian captivity. Though it was the time when Jeremiah was challenging Judah to return to God, there was little response. Habakkuk complained, “How long, O LORD, must I call for help, but you do not listen? Or cry out to you, ‘Violence!’ but you do not save? Why do you make me look at injustice? Why do you tolerate wrong? Destruction and violence are before me; there is strife, and conflict abounds” (vv. 2–3 ).
The Lord’s Answer
Habakkuk 1:5–11. Habakkuk was informed that God was raising up the Babylonians, who would sweep through the land like the wind and conquer every city before them (vv. 5–11 ). God’s answer was that judgment was on the way, but it was not yet time.
Why Is God Going to Use a Wicked Nation Like Babylon to Conquer Judah?
Habakkuk 1:12–17. Habakkuk renewed his question on why God would use Babylon, a nation that was utterly wicked and less righteous than Israel. How could God tolerate a nation like that, allowing it to conquer Israel despite Babylon’s sinful state?
The Lord’s Answer
Habakkuk 2:1–8. Habakkuk wrote that he would wait to see what God had to say (v. 1 ). God answered that judgment awaited God’s time: “For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false. Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay” (v. 3 ).
The answer of God was summarized in verse 4: “But the righteous will live by his faith.” This central statement of the book is repeated in Romans 1:17, Galatians 3:11, and Hebrews 10:38. This statement is not only the central theme of Habakkuk but of the entire Scripture.
Though Babylon would be victorious for the time being, the day would come that those who were plundered by Babylon would plunder in return: “Because you have plundered many nations, the peoples who are left will plunder you. For you have shed man’s blood; you have destroyed lands and cities and everyone in them” ( Hab. 2:8 ). The prophecy was fulfilled in 539 BC when Babylon was conquered by the Medes and the Persians.
Habakkuk 2:9–20. Four times God declared woe on Babylon (vv. 9, 12, 15, 19 ). God reassured Habakkuk that though the judgment might take time and not be swift from Habakkuk’s point of view, the judgment of Babylon was inevitable and God would deal with her because of her many sins and her wickedness. God denounced not only her moral wickedness but also her idolatry, pointing out that an idol is lifeless wood or stone, and though it was covered with gold and silver, it was not alive (vv. 18–19 ). By contrast, God stated, “But the LORD is in his holy temple; let all the earth be silent before him” (v. 20 ). This was fulfilled in 539 BC but also will be fulfilled at the second coming ( Rev. 18 ).
The Coming of the Kingdom part 3
By Dr. Andrew Woods 4/25/2012
Because today's evangelical world largely believes that the church is presently experiencing the messianic kingdom, we began a study chronicling what the Bible teaches concerning this important issue of the kingdom. That there will be a future, messianic kingdom on earth has been revealed thus far through the divine intention to restore the office of Theocratic Administrator ( Gen. 1:26-28 ) that was lost in Eden ( Gen. 3 ) as well as through the promise of a future, earthly, messianic reign as prophesied in the Abrahamic Covenant ( Gen. 15 ) and related sub-covenants.
Theocracy's Departure And Return
The next major place in God's Word that speaks to the reality of a future, messianic kingdom is the revelation of the Mosaic Covenant that God gave exclusively to national Israel ( Ps. 147:19-20 ) at Mount Sinai. After the Fall in Eden ( Gen. 3 ), the theocratic kingdom left the earth. This departure left the world without the benefit of the office of Theocratic Administrator until the time of Moses. This reality may explain why the Apostle Paul describes the spiritually dark time period between Adam and Moses as follows:
“for until the Law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law. Nevertheless death reigned from Adam until Moses, even over those who had not sinned in the likeness of the offense of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come” ( Rom. 5:13-14 ).
Although the time period between Adam and Moses was indeed spiritually dark, the light of the office of Theocratic Administrator eventually returned to the earth through God’s revelation of the Mosaic Covenant at Sinai. Despite four hundred years of bondage in Egypt ( Gen. 15:13-16 ), God graciously redeemed and liberated His people through the Exodus. He then brought His redeemed people to Sinai and entered into a new covenant with them called the "Mosaic Covenant." Note the occurrence of the term “kingdom” as God entered into this new covenant with Israel.
“Now then, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be My own possession among all the peoples, for all the earth is Mine; and you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. These are the words that you shall speak to the sons of Israel” ( Exod. 19:5-6; emphasis mine). 
Because this is the first reference to the term “kingdom” in relation to God's kingdom in all of the Bible, it is reasonable to conclude that the office of Theocratic Administrator that was lost in Eden was restored to the earth, at least in a limited sense, at Sinai. Just as God governed indirectly through Adam in Eden, God now began to rule indirectly over Israel through His Theocratic Administrator Moses. This theocratic arrangement covered most of Old Testament history as God, even after the time of Moses, governed Israel indirectly through Joshua, and then various judges, and finally Israel’s kings. 
Mosaic Covenant | An Unconditional Covenant With A Conditional Blessing
The Mosaic Covenant also introduced a new component to God’s covenantal dealings with Israel. This new element must be understood in order to comprehend the divine blueprint concerning a future, earthly kingdom. As argued previously in this series, the Abrahamic and Davidic Covenants are unconditional. In other words, they rest completely upon God rather than Israel’s performance for their eventual fulfillment. By contrast, the Mosaic Covenant ( Exod. 19‒24 ) is conditional. Notice the terms “if” and “then” in Exodus 19:5-6:
“Now then, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be My own possession among all the peoples, for all the earth is Mine; and you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation” (emphasis mine).
In other words, if Israel obeys the terms of the Mosaic Covenant, then God will bless the nation physically, materially, and spiritually.
The technical covenantal structure in the ancient Near East for this type of agreement is known as a Suzerain-Vassal Treaty. Here, the suzerain, or a superior, enters into an agreement with an inferior, or a vassal. The vassal promises to come under the protective custody of the suzerain. The suzerain, in turn, promises to bless or curse the vassal depending upon whether the vassal demonstrates loyalty or disloyalty to the suzerain by either obeying or disobeying the specific terms of the covenant text. In the case of the Mosaic Covenant, the suzerain is God, Israel is the vassal, the covenant text is the Ten Commandments and all of their applications as spelled out in the Mosaic Law ( Exod. 19‒24; Lev.; Deut. ), and the blessings and curses for covenant obedience are found in Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 28. In contrast to this suzerain-vassal arrangement, the afore-mentioned unconditional, Abrahamic Covenant represents an ancient Near East covenant known as a "Royal Grant Treaty" where a king promises to unconditionally reward a subject.
If the Abrahamic Covenant and its related sub-covenants are unconditional and the Mosaic Covenant is conditional, then how does God deal with Israel under both of these covenants? The answer lies in understanding the difference between ownership and possession. Suppose that someone owns a vacation home and yet they are too busy working to visit this home. At this point, this person owns the home but does not possess or enjoy it. In the same way, the Abrahamic covenant gives Israel unconditional ownership of its various promises. Due to the Abrahamic Covenant’s unconditional nature, no amount of disobedience on Israel’s part can remove her ownership of these blessings. While Israel can be severely disciplined by God for disobeying the terms of the Mosaic Covenant ( Lev. 26:14-46; Deut. 28:15-68), even resulting in the nation’s conquest by foreign powers ( Deut. 28:49-50 ), she can never forfeit ownership of the promises spoken of in the Abrahamic Covenant.
However, before Israel can possess or enjoy what she owns, she must obey the terms of the Mosaic Covenant. Thus, any given generation within Israel must meet the conditions of the Mosaic Covenant in order to experience the blessings promised in the Abrahamic and Davidic Covenants.  An important provision of the Mosaic Covenant is that Israel must enthrone the king of God’s own choosing ( Deut. 17:15 ). Such an enthronement will thereby satisfy the condition of obedience found in the Mosaic Covenant thus allowing Israel to possess rather than merely own the Abrahamic Covenant’s blessings. The Mosaic Covenant ultimately points toward Christ. In John 5:45-47, Jesus explained to the Jews of His day,
"Do not think that I will accuse you before the Father; the one who accuses you is Moses, in whom you have set your hope. For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me, for he wrote about Me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words?”
Here is what the whole picture looks like: While Israel owns the covenantal blessings found in the Abrahamic Covenant and related sub-covenants, she cannot possess or enter into these blessings until she complies with the condition found in the Mosaic Covenant. However, this condition can be satisfied through the nation’s enthronement of the king of God’s own choosing ( Deut. 17:15 ), who is Christ ( John 5:45-47 ).
How does all of this relate to the subject of a future earthly kingdom? Although the Abrahamic Covenantal promises and blessings are unconditionally guaranteed to come directly to Israel and indirectly to the entire world, these kingdom conditions will not manifest themselves until national Israel trusts Jesus Christ, her long-awaited King. Because, there has never existed a Jewish generation who has complied with this condition, the messianic kingdom remains in a state of postponement or abeyance up until the present hour. However, one day, a future generation of Jews will comply with this condition resulting in the establishment of the messianic kingdom of God on earth. It will take the events of the future Tribulation period to bring such a generation to faith in Christ thereby leading to the manifestation of the earthly, theocratic, messianic kingdom ( Jer. 30:7; Dan. 9:24-27; Zech. 12:10; Matt. 23:37-39; 24:31; 25:31 ).
From Divided Kingdom To Termination Of Earthly Theocracy
The theocratic kingdom over Israel that God began through Moses at Sinai continued unabated through the reigns of the nation’s first three kings, Saul, David, and Solomon. Unfortunately, the prosperity that characterized Solomon’s forty year reign ended with covenant disobedience as Israel’s third king amassed wealth and multiple wives ( 1 Kgs. 11:1-8 ) in violation of the Mosaic Covenant ( Deut. 17:16-17 ). Thus, God brought covenant discipline to the nation through the division of the kingdom ( 1 Kgs. 12 ). This division resulted in ten tribes forming the northern kingdom, or Israel, and the remaining two tribes forming the southern kingdom, or Judah. Two reasons made Judah in the south the focus of God’s kingdom program. First, ancient messianic prophecy indicated that the nation’s true king would one day be born into the tribe of Judah ( Gen. 49:10 ). Second, the kings from David’s line reigned over Judah only. These Davidic kings are significant regarding tracing God’s kingdom program through Scripture since the previously described Davidic Covenant promised that through David’s lineage would ultimately come an eternal dynasty and throne ( 2 Sam. 7:13-16 ). The kings over the northern kingdom continued in covenant rebellion. Such failure eventually led to maximum divine discipline ( Deut. 28:49-50 ), in the form of the scattering of the northern kingdom by the Assyrians in 722 B.C. ( 2 Kgs. 17 ).
Thus, from 722 B.C. until the Babylonian Captivity in 586 B.C., only the southern kingdom, Judah, remained as the earthly theocratic kingdom. Sadly, the southern kingdom imitated the covenant rebellion of the previously dispersed northern tribes, incurring more divine discipline ( Deut. 28:49-50 ), by means of the Babylonian Captivity. When Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon destroyed Jerusalem and the Solomonic temple and took Judah away into captivity ( 2 Kgs. 25; Ezek. 33:21 ), the earthly theocracy terminated. In other words, God governed the nation indirectly through various Davidic kings until the deposing of Zedekiah, who was the last of the Davidic dynasty to reign from David's Throne. This termination of the earthly theocracy was signified through the departure of God’s Shekinah glory from the temple ( Ezek. 10:4, 18-19; 11:23 ). 
ENDNOTES All scriptural citations taken from the NASB.
 Stanley D. Toussaint, “The Kingdom of God,” in Tim LaHaye Prophecy Study Bible, ed. Tim LaHaye (Chattanooga, TN: AMG, 2001), 1134.
 J. Dwight Pentecost, Thy Kingdom Come (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1990), 86.
 Toussaint, “The Kingdom of God,” 1134.
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The Continual Burnt Offering (John 21:15)
By H.A. Ironside - 1941
August 24John 21:15 When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” ESV
Sometime on the day of the resurrection the Lord had a private interview with Peter. He sent him a special message by the women early in the morning (Mark 16:7), but He appeared personally to him later (Luke 24:34). A veil has been drawn over the scene of that sacred interview, but we cannot doubt it was the means of restoring his soul and of reassuring the failing disciple’s heart. Now we learn of his public restoration and his confirmation in the office of apostle. That experience by the lakeside was one that Peter would never be able to forget in future years. It revealed, as nothing else could, the tender consideration of the Lord whom he had denied three times, who now led him on to a three-fold confession of his faith and love. Further, the Lord assured him that some day he would go, for His name’s sake, both to prison and to death. Never again would Peter be ashamed to own his connection with the Lord Jesus. On the contrary, he was yet to drive home with telling effect the fact that all blessing, for time and eternity, was to be found in Him (Acts 4:12), and that even the great sin of denying and crucifying the Holy One and Just (Acts 3:14-15) might be fully forgiven if the guilty offender would but turn to God in repentance and seek remission of sins in His name (Acts 2:38; 3:19). By this experience too the rest of the apostles would realize that there was no further reason to treat their erring brother with any degree of reserve; for if the Christ, whom he had denied, thus openly expressed His confidence in him, they too might consider him as fully restored to the office he seemed to have forfeited.
Mark 16:7 But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.”
Luke 24:34 saying, “The Lord has risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!”
Acts 4:12 And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”
Acts 3:14 But you denied the Holy and Righteous One, and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, 15 and you killed the Author of life, whom God raised from the dead. To this we are witnesses.
Acts 2:38 And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Acts 3:19 Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out, ESV
My great, my wise, my never-failing Friend,
Whose love no change can know, nor turn, nor end!
My Saviour-God! who gavest Thy life for me
Let nothing come between my heart and Thee!
Devotionals, notes, poetry and more
7/1/2017 Discerning Entertainment
My maternal grandfather, James Robson Featherstone (1915–1995), was born in Wallsend, England, and immigrated to America when he was thirteen years old. A talented singer, he rose to prominence during the big band era in Chicago in the early 1940s. He lived his life among the rich and famous, cut many records, played poker with the Three Stooges, and along the way, lost his professed faith, his family, his fame, and his money. Jimmy Featherstone’s wife, my grandmother, who was also involved in entertainment in the 1940s, brought my mother into modeling when she was young. Coming from such a background, it was natural for my mother to see how I might do in entertainment, culminating in my short time as one of the first Backstreet Boys and my declining Lou Pearlman’s offer to be one of the first members of what became NSYNC.
Although I only caught a glimpse of the entertainment industry, it was enough to help me appreciate all that people must do to be successful in that world and, what’s more, to give me a deep sorrow and distaste for much of it. Through my experience in entertainment, God has heightened my sensitivity as I have attempted to lead my family in how we view and enjoy all types of entertainment: from TV shows to movies, from operas to music, from books to Broadway musicals, from bedtime stories to board games.
Entertainment of all sorts can be a wonderful way to rest and recuperate from the busyness, noise, and struggles of life. Entertainment allows our imaginations to travel the world and explore the universe, to go on adventures with hobbits and knights in shining armor, to go back in time and experience history, and to better understand people and our culture. But we must always guard our eyes and our hearts. For we cannot even begin to understand all the ways that Hollywood has affected us. Entertainment affects our minds, our homes, our culture, and our churches. Consequently, we must be vigilant as we use discernment in how we enjoy entertainment — looking to the light of God’s Word to guide us and inform our consciences.
Entertainment isn’t evil in itself, and we can enjoy it as we remember that in whatever we do, our chief end is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever as we live coram Deo, before the face of our omniscient and gracious God.
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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)
by Bill Federer
Gutenberg means “Beautiful mountain.” An appropriate name Johannes Gutenberg, who invented the first moveable type printing press. His masterpiece was the Gutenberg Bible, around this day, August 24, 1455. No longer were Bibles painstakingly copied by hand and chained to pulpits. They were mass produced and accessible to the masses. Though millions were grateful, his business partner sued him and took his rights. Of his press, Gutenberg said: “Let us break the seal which seals up holy things and give wings to Truth in order that she may win every soul that comes into the world.”American Minute
Compiled by Richard S. Adams
Our hearts will be so resty or listless
that hardly we shall be induced to perform it [devotion]
when it is most necessary or useful for us.
--- Isaac Barrow
The questions that matter in life are remarkably few, and they are all answered by these words ‘Come unto Me.’ Not—‘Do this’ and ‘Don’t do that,’ but ‘Come.
--- Oswald Chambers
Our Brilliant Heritage / If You Will Be Perfect / Disciples Indeed: The Inheritance of God's Transforming Mind & Heart (OSWALD CHAMBERS LIBRARY)
I want to cultivate my relationship with God. I want all of life to be intimate – sometimes consciously – sometimes unconsciously – with the God who made , directs and loves me… I don’t want to live as a parasite on the first hand spiritual life of others, but to be personally involved with all my senses, tasting and seeing that the Lord is good… Usually for that to happen there must be a deliberate withdrawal from the noise of the day, a disciplined detachment from the insatiable self.
--- Eugene Peterson
The Contemplative Pastor: Returning to the Art of Spiritual Direction
Resurrection . . . means that every horrible thing that ever happened will not only be undone and repaired but will in some way make the eventual glory and joy even greater.
--- Tim Keller
... from here, there and everywhere
Thanks to Meir Yona
How Taricheae Was Taken. A Description Of The River Jordan, And Of The Country Of Gennesareth.
1. And now Vespasian pitched his camp between this city and Taricheae, but fortified his camp more strongly, as suspecting that he should be forced to stay there, and have a long war; for all the innovators had gotten together at Taricheae, as relying upon the strength of the city, and on the lake that lay by it. This lake is called by the people of the country the Lake of Gennesareth. The city itself is situated like Tiberias, at the bottom of a mountain, and on those sides which are not washed by the sea, had been strongly fortified by Josephus, though not so strongly as Tiberias; for the wall of Tiberias had been built at the beginning of the Jews' revolt, when he had great plenty of money, and great power, but Taricheae partook only the remains of that liberality, Yet had they a great number of ships gotten ready upon the lake, that, in case they were beaten at land, they might retire to them; and they were so fitted up, that they might undertake a Sea-fight also. But as the Romans were building a wall about their camp, Jesu and his party were neither affrighted at their number, nor at the good order they were in, but made a sally upon them; and at the very first onset the builders of the wall were dispersed; and these pulled what little they had before built to pieces; but as soon as they saw the armed men getting together, and before they had suffered any thing themselves, they retired to their own men. But then the Romans pursued them, and drove them into their ships, where they launched out as far as might give them the opportunity of reaching the Romans with what they threw at them, and then cast anchor, and brought their ships close, as in a line of battle, and thence fought the enemy from the sea, who were themselves at land. But Vespasian hearing that a great multitude of them were gotten together in the plain that was before the city, he thereupon sent his son, with six hundred chosen horsemen, to disperse them.
2. But when Titus perceived that the enemy was very numerous, he sent to his father, and informed him that he should want more forces. But as he saw a great many of the horsemen eager to fight, and that before any succors could come to them, and that yet some of them were privately under a sort of consternation at the multitude of the Jews, he stood in a place whence he might be heard, and said to them, "My brave Romans! for it is right for me to put you in mind of what nation you are, in the beginning of my speech, that so you may not be ignorant who you are, and who they are against whom we are going to fight. For as to us, Romans, no part of the habitable earth hath been able to escape our hands hitherto; but as for the Jews, that I may speak of them too, though they have been already beaten, yet do they not give up the cause; and a sad thing it would be for us to grow wealthy under good success, when they bear up under their misfortunes. As to the alacrity which you show publicly, I see it, and rejoice at it; yet am I afraid lest the multitude of the enemy should bring a concealed fright upon some of you: let such a one consider again, who we are that are to fight, and who those are against whom we are to fight. Now these Jews, though they be very bold and great despisers of death, are but a disorderly body, and unskillful in war, and may rather be called a rout than an army; while I need say nothing of our skill and our good order; for this is the reason why we Romans alone are exercised for war in time of peace, that we may not think of number for number when we come to fight with our enemies: for what advantage should we reap by our continual sort of warfare, if we must still be equal in number to such as have not been used to war. Consider further, that you are to have a conflict with men in effect unarmed, while you are well armed; with footmen, while you are horsemen; with those that have no good general, while you have one; and as these advantages make you in effect manifold more than you are, so do their disadvantages mightily diminish their number. Now it is not the multitude of men, though they be soldiers, that manages wars with success, but it is their bravery that does it, though they be but a few; for a few are easily set in battle-array, and can easily assist one another, while over-numerous armies are more hurt by themselves than by their enemies. It is boldness and rashness, the effects of madness, that conduct the Jews. Those passions indeed make a great figure when they succeed, but are quite extinguished upon the least ill success; but we are led on by courage, and obedience, and fortitude, which shows itself indeed in our good fortune, but still does not for ever desert us in our ill fortune. Nay, indeed, your fighting is to be on greater motives than those of the Jews; for although they run the hazard of war for liberty, and for their country, yet what can be a greater motive to us than glory? and that it may never be said, that after we have got dominion of the habitable earth, the Jews are able to confront us. We must also reflect upon this, that there is no fear of our suffering any incurable disaster in the present case; for those that are ready to assist us are many, and at hand also; yet it is in our power to seize upon this victory ourselves; and I think we ought to prevent the coming of those my father is sending to us for our assistance, that our success may be peculiar to ourselves, and of greater reputation to us. And I cannot but think this an opportunity wherein my father, and I, and you shall be all put to the trial, whether he be worthy of his former glorious performances, whether I be his son in reality, and whether you be really my soldiers; for it is usual for my father to conquer; and for myself, I should not bear the thoughts of returning to him if I were once taken by the enemy. And how will you be able to avoid being ashamed, if you do not show equal courage with your commander, when he goes before you into danger? For you know very well that I shall go into the danger first, and make the first attack upon the enemy. Do not you therefore desert me, but persuade yourselves that God will be assisting to my onset. Know this also before we begin, that we shall now have better success than we should have, if we were to fight at a distance."
3. As Titus was saying this, an extraordinary fury fell upon the men; and as Trajan was already come before the fight began, with four hundred horsemen, they were uneasy at it, because the reputation of the victory would be diminished by being common to so many. Vespasian had also sent both Antonius and Silo, with two thousand archers, and had given it them in charge to seize upon the mountain that was over against the city, and repel those that were upon the wall; which archers did as they were commanded, and prevented those that attempted to assist them that way; And now Titus made his own horse march first against the enemy, as did the others with a great noise after him, and extended themselves upon the plain as wide as the enemy which confronted them; by which means they appeared much more numerous than they really were. Now the Jews, although they were surprised at their onset, and at their good order, made resistance against their attacks for a little while; but when they were pricked with their long poles, and overborne by the violent noise of the horsemen, they came to be trampled under their feet; many also of them were slain on every side, which made them disperse themselves, and run to the city, as fast as every one of them were able. So Titus pressed upon the hindmost, and slew them; and of the rest, some he fell upon as they stood on heaps, and some he prevented, and met them in the mouth, and run them through; many also he leaped upon as they fell one upon another, and trod them down, and cut off all the retreat they had to the wall, and turned them back into the plain, till at last they forced a passage by their multitude, and got away, and ran into the city.
The Project Gutenberg EBook of The Wars of the Jews or History of the Destruction of Jerusalem, by Flavius Josephus Translator: William Whiston
by D.H. Stern
of those who always fear God;
18 for then you will have a future;
what you hope for will not be cut off.
Complete Jewish Bible : An English Version of the Tanakh (Old Testament) and B'Rit Hadashah (New Testament)
A Daily Devotional by Oswald Chambers
My Utmost for His Highest
The spiritual index
Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? --- Matthew 7:9.
The illustration of prayer that Our Lord uses here is that of a good child asking for a good thing. We talk about prayer as if God heard us irrespective of the fact of our relationship to Him (cf. Matthew 5:45.) Never say it is not God’s will to give you what you ask, don’t sit down and faint, but find out the reason, turn up the index. Are you rightly related to your wife, to your husband, to your children, to your fellow-students—are you a ‘good child’ there? ‘Oh, Lord, I have been irritable and cross, but I do want spiritual blessing.’ You cannot have it, you will have to do without until you come into the attitude of a good child.
We mistake defiance for devotion; arguing with God for abandonment. We will not look at the index. Have I been asking God to give me money for something I want when there is something I have not paid for? Have I been asking God for liberty while I am withholding it from someone who belongs to me? I have not forgiven someone his trespasses; I have not been kind to him; I have not been living as God’s child among my relatives and friends (see v. 12).
I am a child of God only by regeneration, and as a child of God I am good only as I walk in the light. Prayer with most of us is turned into pious platitude, it is a matter of emotion, mystical communion with God. Spiritually we are all good at producing fogs. If we turn up the index, we will see very clearly what is wrong—that friendship, that debt, that temper of mind. It is no use praying unless we are living as children of God. Then, Jesus says—“Everyone that asketh receiveth.”
the Poetry of RS Thomas
H'm: Poems by R. S. Thomas
It was perfect. He could do
Nothing about it. Its waters
Were as clear as his own eye. The grass
Was his breath. The mystery
Of the dark earth was what went on
In himself. He loved and
Hated it with a parent's
Conceit, admiring his own
Work, resenting its
Independence. There were trysts
In the greenwood at which
He was not welcome. Youths and girls,
Fondling the pages of
A strange book, awakened
His envy. The mind achieved
What the heart could not. He began planning
The destruction of the long peace
Of the place. The machine appeared
In the distance, singing to itself
Of money. Its song was the web
They were caught in, men and women
Together. The villages were as flies
To be sucked empty.
A tear. Enough, enough,
He commanded, but the machine
Looked at him and went on singing.
Hillel is an example of a man who practiced what he preached. He reputedly came from humble origins, and even after he rose to greatness, he never lost the virtue of humility that he speaks about in our Midrash.
Hillel had a reputation for patience and gentleness. Once, the story goes, a man resolved to try to get Hillel to lose his temper. Arriving at Hillel’s house on a Friday afternoon, just when Hillel was shampooing his hair, the man approached him with a question: “Why are the heads of the Babylonians so round?” (Since Hillel himself was from Babylonia, this was meant as an insult.) Instead of yelling at the man for his insolence or chasing him away, Hillel provided a reasonable response: “Because the midwives there aren’t so skilled in delivering babies.”
The man left, returned a little while later, and again interrupted Hillel’s “shower”: “Why are the eyes of Palmyrians so bleary?” Again, Hillel offered a logical answer: “Because they live in a place that has sandstorms.”
The man came back a third time with another of his questions: “Why do Ethiopians have big feet?” One more time Hillel took the question seriously and provided a plausible response: “Because they live near swamps.”
Finally the man gave up, having learned that Hillel would not lose his temper, would not be insulted, and would not disparage another human being.
On another occasion, a non-Jew came to Shammai and Hillel with a request: “Teach me the whole Torah while I stand on one foot.” Shammai saw the question as a sign that the man was not serious, and he drove him away with a stick. Hillel, on the other hand, saw the question as an opportunity. His answer is well known: “What is hateful to you, don’t do to someone else. All the rest is commentary. Go and learn.”
A second non-Jew came to Hillel with the intention of converting to Judaism as long as he could one day become Kohen Gadol, High Priest. A third non-Jew also came with a condition: He would accept only the Written Torah, not the Oral Torah. To each of these men, Hillel patiently explained Judaism and Jewish law and why their conditions couldn’t be honored. All three found their way to Judaism, and later said of their teacher: “Hillel’s gentleness brought us under the wings of the Divine Presence” [Shabbat 30b–31a].
Another time, Hillel met a poor man who had come from a family of some means. Hillel provided material support, and more: He saw to it that the man would live at the level to which he had been accustomed. That included a horse to ride on and a servant to run before him. Once, Hillel couldn’t find a servant; he himself ran before the man [Ketubot 67b].
In our world, we often think that you have to fight your way to the top, stepping on people along the way. Hillel, remembered as one of the greatest of our sages, reminds us that patience, gentleness, and humility are also roads to the summit. By lowering himself time after time, he was ultimately raised to the highest heights.
ANOTHER D’RASH / Humility may well be a virtue, but on the individual level it often falls short. What politician was elected (at least in the last fifty years) by being meek and unassuming? Does the timid and submissive high school student end up at the head of the class, offered a full scholarship to a leading university? Usually not. Quite the contrary: The person who gets ahead in real life is often the one who claws himself to the top of the heap.
Therefore, the Hillel story may be here to serve another purpose. Hillel lived during the second century C.E., a time of great political upheaval for the Jews of Israel. Perhaps Hillel is talking not about individual humility but of national humility. What the question that Hillel is answering is: “Why have the Jews, the ‘Chosen People,’ lost ‘favorednation status’ and a special place with God, living instead as a subjugated, persecuted people?” Hillel’s answer of “When I lower myself, I am raised, and when I raise myself, I am lowered” reflects that Rabbinic view that persecution and suffering are punishments from God for the nation’s sin of hubris.
Hillel taught: “It is better for a person to be told, ‘Go up!’ than to be told, ‘Go down!’ ” Going up is often a metaphor for going to Israel. Thus, a person moving to Israel “makes aliyah,” that is, goes up. Going down refers to leaving Israel. Hillel, who himself made aliyah, may also be warning the people not to do those things that will cause God to exile the Jewish people from their homeland. Thus seen, Hillel’s words may reflect a Rabbinic theology of the history of the Jewish people: God will ultimately redeem us, if—and only if—we are of the proper character, humble and modest.
The Father loves the Son and has placed everything in his hands. --- John 3:35.
Having everything, [Christ] has all the justice of God and all the righteousness of God in him.
(The RS Thomas And Other Practical Works Of The Late Reverend And Learned Mr. Ralph Erskine V9)You shall, in Christ, be more righteous in God’s sight than ever you were guilty in his sight—yes, you shall be the very righteousness of God in him. You shall not only be justified but find God to be just in justifying you, because the justice of God is in Christ, and it is satisfied, glorified, in him.
Having everything, he has all the mercy of God in his hands; all the infinite love, pity, and compassion of God. What is Christ but the love of God in flesh and blood? “This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins” (1 John 4:9–10). Do you wish to find mercy in the moment of death and mercy at the great day? Know that there is no mercy to be expected from God’s hands unless you look to his mercy in the hands of Christ, for he will never show mercy at the expense of his justice, and it is only in Christ that mercy and justice meet and embrace.
Having everything, he has all the faithfulness and truth of God. O, faithless and unfaithful sinner, who has many times lied to the God of truth—would you have your falsehood all done away and swallowed up in the truth of God and your salvation secured notwithstanding your falsehood? Here is a pillar on which you may stand fixed, amidst all changes, whether in your outward lot or your inward frame, for, “All men are like grass… but the word of our God stands forever” (Isa. 40:6, 8). The truth of God stands unalterably the same.
In a word, having everything, [Christ] has all the fullness of God in his hands. “For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him” (Col. 1:19). Not only all the attributes of God, but all the fullness of all the divine attributes—not only the wisdom of God, but all the fullness of divine wisdom; not only the power of God, but all the fullness of divine power; all the fullness of divine holiness; divine righteousness; divine mercy; divine faithfulness; divine authority—not only is God in him, but all the fullness of the deity. Poor empty sinner! Here are unsearchable riches, everlasting salvation for you.
--- Ralph Erskine
The Tale of Two Cities August 24
Barbarian invaders stampeded across Europe like herds of elephants, trampling everything in their path. Roman legions, unable to defend their 10,000-mile frontier, collapsed; the intruders penetrated Italy to the gates of Rome itself. And on August 24, 410 the Eternal City fell to Alaric and his swarms. For three days Rome was plundered. Women were attacked, the wealthy slaughtered, art destroyed, and the city battered beyond recognition.
The world reeled in shock, and Christians suddenly found themselves blamed. The empire had, after all, been an invincible fortress of iron before becoming “Christianized” with Constantine’s conversion in 312. Now, less than a century later, the greatest city and empire in history were no more. The old gods had been offended and had withdrawn their protection.
Across the Mediterranean the world’s greatest theologian listened to the reports, saw the refugees, heard the charges, and spent 13 years writing a response. Augustine’s 22-volume The City of God was written as a defense of Christianity, and it became the first great work to shape and define the medieval mind.
The first volumes of The City of God declare that Rome was being punished, not for her new faith, but for her old sins—immorality and corruption. Augustine admitted that he himself had indulged in depravity before coming to Christ. But, he said, the original sin could be traced back to Adam and Eve, and we have but inherited the sinful nature unleashed by them.
Mary’s child, Jesus Christ, offers forgiveness, and Christ alone provides eternal salvation. “Through a woman we were sent to destruction; through a woman salvation was restored to us. Mankind is divided into two sorts: such as live according to man, and such as live according to God. These we call the ‘two cities,’ the one predestined to reign eternally with God, and the other condemned to perpetual torment with Satan.”
“The Heavenly City outshines Rome,” Augustine wrote. “There, instead of victory, is truth; instead of high rank, holiness; instead of life, eternity.”
Because Abraham had faith, he lived as a stranger in the promised land. … Abraham did this, because he was waiting for the eternal city that God had planned and built.
--- Hebrews 11:9,10.
Daily Readings / CHARLES H. SPURGEON
Morning - August 24
“The breaker is come up before them.”
--- Micah 2:13.
Inasmuch as Jesus has gone before us, things remain not as they would have been had he never passed that way. He has conquered every foe that obstructed the way. Cheer up now thou faint-hearted warrior. Not only has Christ travelled the road, but he has slain thine enemies. Dost thou dread sin? He has nailed it to his cross. Dost thou fear death? He has been the death of Death. Art thou afraid of hell? He has barred it against the advent of any of his children; they shall never see the gulf of perdition. Whatever foes may be before the Christian, they are all overcome. There are lions, but their teeth are broken; there are serpents, but their fangs are extracted; there are rivers, but they are bridged or fordable; there are flames, but we wear that matchless garment which renders us invulnerable to fire. The sword that has been forged against us is already blunted; the instruments of war which the enemy is preparing have already lost their point. God has taken away in the person of Christ all the power that anything can have to hurt us. Well then, the army may safely march on, and you may go joyously along your journey, for all your enemies are conquered beforehand. What shall you do but march on to take the prey? They are beaten, they are vanquished; all you have to do is to divide the spoil. You shall, it is true, often engage in combat; but your fight shall be with a vanquished foe. His head is broken; he may attempt to injure you, but his strength shall not be sufficient for his malicious design. Your victory shall be easy, and your treasure shall be beyond all count.
“Proclaim aloud the Saviour’s fame,
Who bears the Breaker’s wond’rous name;
Sweet name; and it becomes him well,
Who breaks down earth, sin, death, and hell.”
Evening - August 24
“If fire break out, and catch in thorns, so that the stacks of corn, or the standing corn, or the field, be consumed therewith; he that kindled the fire shall surely make restitution.” --- Exodus 22:6.
But what restitution can he make who casts abroad the fire-brands of error, or the coals of lasciviousness, and sets men’s souls on a blaze with the fire of hell? The guilt is beyond estimate, and the result is irretrievable. If such an offender be forgiven, what grief it will cause him in the retrospect, since he cannot undo the mischief which he has done! An ill example may kindle a flame which years of amended character cannot quench. To burn the food of man is bad enough, but how much worse to destroy the soul! It may be useful to us to reflect how far we may have been guilty in the past, and to enquire whether, even in the present, there may not be evil in us which has a tendency to bring damage to the souls of our relatives, friends, or neighbours.
The fire of strife is a terrible evil when it breaks out in a Christian church. Where converts were multiplied, and God was glorified, jealousy and envy do the devil’s work most effectually. Where the golden grain was being housed, to reward the toil of the great Boaz, the fire of enmity comes in and leaves little else but smoke and a heap of blackness. Woe unto those by whom offences come. May they never come through us, for although we cannot make restitution, we shall certainly be the chief sufferers if we are the chief offenders. Those who feed the fire deserve just censure, but he who first kindles it is most to blame. Discord usually takes first hold upon the thorns; it is nurtured among the hypocrites and base professors in the church, and away it goes among the righteous, blown by the winds of hell, and no one knows where it may end. O thou Lord and giver of peace, make us peacemakers, and never let us aid and abet the men of strife, or even unintentionally cause the least division among thy people.
O TO BE LIKE THEE!
Thomas O. Chisholm, 1866–1960
For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:10)
Great Master, teach us with Your skillful hand;
Let not the music that is in us die!
Great Sculptor, hew and polish us; nor let
Hidden and lost, Your form within us lie!
--- Horatius Bonar
The Bible teaches that God’s goal for His people is that they “become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:13). We are to daily “put on Christ”—His love and character—even as we put on our garments (Romans 13:14). Christ-likeness is more than a religious profession or a weekly visit to church. It must become our total way of life. The Scriptures further teach that we are to carry the fragrance of Christ wherever we go—to unbelievers, the smell of death and to fellow believers, the fragrance of life (2 Corinthians 2:14–16).
Our society is in desperate need of more Christ-like believers. The only thing many people will ever know about God is what they see of His radiance reflected in our daily lives. Our ability to represent our Lord worthily is only possible through the enabling power of the Holy Spirit.
This hymn text by Thomas Chisholm is one of his more than 1,200 fine poems, many of which have been set to music and have become enduring hymns of the church. This one, published in 1897, was his first hymn to be widely received.
O to be like Thee! blessed Redeemer. This is my constant longing and prayer; gladly I’ll forfeit all of earth’s treasures, Jesus, Thy perfect likeness to wear.
O to be like Thee! full of compassion, loving, forgiving, tender and kind; helping the helpless, cheering the fainting, seeking the wand’ring sinner to find.
O to be like Thee lowly in spirit, holy and harmless, patient and brave; meekly enduring cruel reproaches, willing to suffer others to save.
O to be like Thee! while I am pleading, pour out Thy Spirit, fill with Thy love; make me a temple meet for Thy dwelling; fit me for life and heaven above.
Chorus: O to be like Thee! O to be like Thee, Blessed Redeemer, pure as Thou art! Come in Thy sweetness, come in Thy fullness; stamp Thine own image deep on my heart.
For Today: Romans 8:29; 1 Corinthians 2:2; 2 Corinthians 3:18; 1 Thessalonians 4:3; Titus 3:3
Reflect on this statement: “He who does not long to know more of Christ really knows nothing of Him yet!” Carry this musical message with you ---
DISCOURSE II - ON PRACTICAL ATHEISM
1. This is worse than idolatry. The grossest idolater commits not a crime so heinous, by changing his glory into the image of creeping things and senseless creatures, as the imagining God to be as one of our sinful selves, and likening him to those filthy images we erect in our fancies. One makes him an earthly God, like an earthly creature; the other fancies him an unjust and impure God, like a wicked creature. One sets up an image of him in the earth, which is his footstool; the other sets up an image of him in the heart, which ought to be his throne.
2. It is worse than absolute atheism, or a denial of God. “Dignius credimus non esse, quodcunque non ita fuerit, ut esse deberet,” was the opinion of Tertullian. It is more commendable to think him not to be, than to think him such a one as is inconsistent with his nature. Better to deny his existence, than deny his perfection. No wise man but would rather have his memory rot, than be accounted infamous, and would be more obliged to him that should deny that ever he had a being in the world, than to say he did indeed live, but he was a sot, a debauched person, and a man not to be trusted. When we apprehend God deceitful in his promises, unrighteous in his threatenmgs, unwilling to pardon upon repentance, or resolved to pardon notwithstanding impenitency: these are things either unworthy of the nature of God, or contrary to that revelation he hath given of himself. Better for a man never to have been born than be forever miserable; so better to be thought no God, than represented impotent or negligent, unjust or deceitful; which are more contrary to the nature of God than hell can be to the greatest criminal. In this sense perhaps the apostle affirms the Gentiles (Eph. 2:12) to be such as are “without God in the world;” as being more atheists in adoring God under such notions as they commonly did, than if they had acknowledged no God at all.
3. This is evident by our natural desire to be distant from him, and unwillingness to have any acquaintance with him. Sin set us first at a distance from God; and every new act of gross sin estrangeth us more from him, and indisposeth us more for him: it makes us both afraid and ashamed to be near him.
Sensual men were of this frame that Job discourseth of (ch. 21:7–9, 14, 15). Where grace reigns, the nearer to God the more vigorous the motion; the nearer anything approaches to us, that is the object of our desires, the more eagerly do we press forward to it: but our blood riseth at the approaches of anything to which we have an aversion. We have naturally a loathing of God’s coming to us or our return to him: we seek not after him as our happiness; and when he offers himself, we like it not, but put a disgrace upon him in choosing other things before him. God and we are naturally at as great a distance, as light and darkness, life and death, heaven and hell. The stronger impression of God anything hath, the more we fly from it. The glory of God in reflection upon Moses’ face scared the Israelites; they. who had desired God to speak to them by Moses, when they saw a signal impression of God upon his countenance, were afraid to come near him, as they were before unwilling to come near to God. Not that the blessed God is in his own nature a frightful object; but our own guilt renders him so to us, and ourselves indisposed to converse with him; as the light of the sun is as irksome to a distempered eye, as it is in its own nature desirable to a sound one. The saints themselves have had so much frailty, that they have cried out, that they were undone, if they had any more than ordinary discoveries of God made unto them; as if they wished him more remote from them. Vileness cannot endure the splendor of majesty, nor guilt the glory of a judge. We have naturally,
1. No desire of remembrance of him,
2. Or converse with him,
3. Or thorough return to him,
4. Or close imitation of him:
as if there were not any such being as God in the world; or as if we wished there were none at all; so feeble and spiritless are our thoughts of the being of a God.
1. No desire for the remembrance of him. How delightful are other things in our minds! How burdensome the memorials of God, from whom we have our being! With what pleasure do we contemplate the nature of creatures, even of flies and toads, while our minds tire in the search of Him, who hath bestowed upon us our knowing and meditating faculties! Though God shows himself to us in every creature, in the meanest weed as well as the highest heavens, and is more apparent in them to our reasons than themselves can be to our sense; yet though we see them, we will not behold God in them: we will view them to please our sense, to improve our reason in their natural perfections; but pass by the consideration of God’s perfections so visibly beaming from them. Thus we play the beasts and atheists in the very exercise of reason, and neglect our Creator to gratify our sense, as though the pleasure of that were more desirable than the knowledge of God. The desire of our souls is not towards his name and the remembrance of him, when we set not ourselves in a posture to feast our souls with deep and serious meditations of him; have a thought of him, only by the bye and away, as if we were afraid of too intimate acquaantance with him. Are not the thoughts of God rather our invaders than our guests; seldom invited to reside and take up their home in our hearts? Have we not, when they have broke in upon us, bid them depart from us, and warned them to come no more upon our ground; sent them packing as soon as we could, and were glad when they were gone? And when they have departed, have we not often been afraid they, should return again upon us, and therefore looked about for other inmates, things not good, or if good, infinitely below God, to possess the room of our hearts before any thoughts of him should appear again? Have we not often been glad of excuses to shake off resent thoughts of him, and when we have wanted real ones, found out pretences to keep God and our hearts at a distance? Is not this a part of atheism, to be so unwilling to employ our faculties about the giver of them, to refuse to exercise them in a way of a grateful remembrance of him; as though they were none of his gift, but our own acquisition; as though the God that truly gave them had no right to them, and he that thinks on us every day in a way of providence, were not worthy, to be thought on by us in a way of special remembrance? Do not the best, that love the remembrance of him, and abhor this natural averseness, find, that when they would think of God, many things tempt them and turn them to think elsewhere? Do they not find their apprehensions too feeble, their motions too dull, and the impressions too slight? This natural atheism is spread over human nature.
2. No desire of converse with him. The word “remember” in the command for keeping holy the Sabhath-day, including all the duties of the day, and the choicest of our lives, implies our natural unwillingness to them, and forgetfulness of them. God’s pressing this command with more reasons than the rest, manifests that man hath no heart for spiritual duties. No spiritual duty, which sets us immediately face to face with God, but in the attempts of it we find naturally a resistance from some powerful principle; so that every one may subscribe to the speech of the apostle, that “when we would do good, evil is present with them.” No reason of this can be rendered, but the natural temper of our souls, and an affecting a distance from God under any consideration: for though our guilt first made the breach, yet this aversion to a converse with him steps up without any actual reflections apon our guilt, which may render God terrible to us as an offended judge. Are we not often also, in our attendance upon him, more pleased with the modes of worship which gratify our fancy, than to have our souls inwardly delighted with the object of worship himself? This is a part of our natural atheism. To cast such duties off by total neglect, or in part, by affecting a coldness in them, is to cast off the fear of the Lord. Not to call upon God, and not to know him, are one and. the same thing (Jer. 10:25). Either we think there is no such Being in the world, or that he is so slight a one, that he deserves not the respect he calls for; or so impotent and poor, that he cannot supply what our necessities require.
3. No desire of a thorough return to him. The first man fled from him after his defection, though he had no refuge to fly to but the grace of his Creator. Cain went from his presence, would be a fugitive from God rather than a suppliant to him; when by faith in, and application of the promised Redeemer, he might have escaped the wrath to come for his brother’s blood, and mitigated the sorrows he was justly sentenced to bear in the world. Nothing will separate prodigal man from commoning with swine; and make him return to his father, but an empty trough: have we but husks to feed on, we shall never think of a father’s presence. It were well if our sores and indigence would drive us to him; but when our strength is devoured, we will not “return to the Lord our God, nor seek him for all this.” Not his drawn sword, as a God of judgment, nor his mighty power, as a Lord, nor his open arms, as the Lord their God, could move them to turn their eyes and their hearts towards him. The more he invites us to partake of his grace, the further we run from him to provoke his wrath: the louder God called them by his prophets, the closer they stuck to their Baal. We turn our backs when he stretches out his hand, stop our ears when he lifts up his voice. We fly from him when he courts us, and shelter ourselves in any bush from his merciful hand that would lay hold upon us; nor will we set our faces towards him, till our way be hedged up with thorns, and not a gap left to creep out any by-way. Whosoever is brought to a return, puts the Holy Ghost to the pain of striving; he is not easily brought to a spiritual subjection to God, nor persuaded to a surrender at a summons, but sweetly overpowered by storm, and victoriously drawn into the arms of God. God stands ready, but the heart stands off; grace is full of entreaties, and the soul full of excuses; Divine love offers, and carnal selflove rejects. Nothing so pleases us as when we are farthest from him; as if anything were more amiable, anything more desirable, than himself.
4. No desire of any close imitation of him. When our Saviour was to come as a refiner’s fire, to purify the sons of Levi, the cry, is, “Who shall abide the day of his coming?” (Mal. 3:2, 3.) Since we are alienated from the life of God, we desire no more naturally to live the life of God, than a toad, or any other animal, desires to live the life of a man. No heart that knows God but hath a holy ambition to imitate him. No soul that refuseth him for a copy, but is ignorant of his excellency. Of this temper is all mankind naturally, Man in corruption is as loth to be like God in holiness, as Adam, after his creation, was desirous to be like God in knowledge; his posterity are like their father, who soon turned his back upon his original copy. What can be worse than this? Can the denial of his being be a greater injury than this contempt of him; as if he had not goodness to deserve our, remembrance, nor amiableness fit for our converse; as if he were not a Lord fit for our subjection, nor had a holiness that deserved our imitation? For the use of this:—
Martin Luther | (1483-1546)
Sect. CXXVII. — BUT it is most excellent to observe how well this gloss, “nothing” may be understood to signify ‘that which is in degree,” cofisists with itself: yet the Diatribe says, — ‘that in this sense of the passage, it is most true that we can do nothing without Christ: because, He is speaking of evangelical fruits, which cannot be produced but by those who remain in the vine, which is Christ.’ —
Here the Diatribe itself confesses, that fruit cannot be produced but by those who remain in the vine: and it does the same in that ‘convenient interpretation,’ by which it proves, that “nothing” is the same as in degree, and imperfect. But perhaps, its own adverb ‘cannot,’ ought also to be conveniently interpreted, so as to signify, that evangelical fruits can be produced without Christ in degree and imperfectly. So that we may preach, that the ungodly who are without Christ can, while Satan reigns in them, and wars against Christ, produce some of the fruits of life: that is, that the enemies of Christ may do something for the glory of Christ. — But away with these things.
Here however, I should like to be taught, how we are to resist heretics, who, using this rule throughout the Scriptures, may contend that nothing and not are to be understood as signifying that which is imperfect. Thus — Without Him “nothing” can be done; that is a little. — “The fool hath said in his heart there is not a God;” that is, there is an imperfect God. — “He hath made us, and not we ourselves;” that is, we did a little towards making ourselves. And who can number all the passages in the Scripture where ‘nothing’ and ‘not’ are found?
Shall we then here say that a ‘convenient interpretation’ is to be attended to? And is this clearing up difficulties — to open such a door of liberty to corrupt minds and deceiving spirits? Such a license of interpretation is, I grant, convenient to you who care nothing whatever about the certainty of the Scripture; but as for me who labour to establish consciences, this is an inconvenience; than which, nothing can be more inconvenient, nothing more injurious, nothing more pestilential. Hear me, therefore, thou great conqueress of the Lutheran Achilles! Unless you shall prove, that ‘nothing’ not only may be, but ought to be understood as signifying a ‘little,’ you have done nothing by all this profusion of words or examples, but fight against fire with dry straw. What have I to do with your may be, which only demands of you to prove your ought to be? And if you do not prove that, I stand by the natural and grammatical signification of the term, laughing both at your armies and at your triumphs.
Where is now that ‘probable opinion’ which determined, ‘that “Free-will” can will nothing good?’ But perhaps, the ‘convenient interpretation’ comes in here, to say, that ‘nothing good’ signifies, something good — a kind of grammar and logic never before heard of; that nothing, is the same as something: which, with logicians, is an impossibility, because they are contradictions. Where now then remains that article of our faith; that Satan is the prince of the world, and, according to the testimonies of Christ and Paul, rules in the wills and minds of those men who are his captives and servants? Shall that roaring lion, that implacable and ever-restless enemy of the grace of God and the salvation of man, suffer it to be, that man, his slave and a part of his kingdom, should attempt good by any motion in any degree, whereby he might escape from his tyranny, and that he should not rather spur and urge him on to will and do the contrary to grace with all his powers? especially, when the just, and those who are led by the Spirit of God, and who will and do good, can hardly resist him, so great is his rage against them?
You who make it out, that the human will is a something placed in a free medium, and left to itself, certainly make it out, at the same time, that there is an endeavour which can exert itself either way; because, you make both God and the devil to be at a distance, spectators only, as it were, of this mutable and “Free-will”; though you do not believe, that they are impellers and agitators of that bondage will, the most hostilely opposed to each other. Admitting, therefore, this part of your faith only, my sentiment stands firmly established, and “Free-will” lies prostrate; as I have shewn already. — For, it must either be, that the kingdom of Satan in man is nothing at all, and thus Christ will be made to lie; or, if his kingdom be such as Christ describes, “Free-will” must be nothing but a beast of burden, the captive of Satan, which cannot be liberated, unless the devil be first cast out by the finger of God.
From what has been advanced I presume, friend Diatribe, thou fully understandest what that is, and what it amounts to, where thy Author, detesting the obstinate way of assertion in Luther, is accustomed to say — ‘Luther indeed pushes his cause with plenty of Scriptures; but they may all by one word, be brought to nothing.’ Who does not know, that all Scriptures may, by one word, be brought to nothing? I knew this full well before I ever heard the name of Erasmus. But the question is, whether it be sufficient to bring a Scripture, by one word, to nothing. The point in dispute is, whether it be rightly brought to nothing, and whether it ought to be brought to nothing. Let a man consider these points, and he will then see, whether or not it be easy to bring Scriptures to nothing, and whether or not the obstinacy of Luther be detestable. He will then see, that not one word only is ineffective, but all the gates of hell cannot bring them to nothing!
The Bondage of the Will or Christian Classics Ethereal Library
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