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8/31/2021     Yesterday     Tomorrow


Ezekiel  5 - 8



Ezekiel 5

Jerusalem Will Be Destroyed

Ezekiel 5:1     “And you, O son of man, take a sharp sword. Use it as a barber’s razor and pass it over your head and your beard. Then take balances for weighing and divide the hair. 2 A third part you shall burn in the fire in the midst of the city, when the days of the siege are completed. And a third part you shall take and strike with the sword all around the city. And a third part you shall scatter to the wind, and I will unsheathe the sword after them. 3 And you shall take from these a small number and bind them in the skirts of your robe. 4 And of these again you shall take some and cast them into the midst of the fire and burn them in the fire. From there a fire will come out into all the house of Israel.

5 “Thus says the Lord GOD: This is Jerusalem. I have set her in the center of the nations, with countries all around her. 6 And she has rebelled against my rules by doing wickedness more than the nations, and against my statutes more than the countries all around her; for they have rejected my rules and have not walked in my statutes. 7 Therefore thus says the Lord GOD: Because you are more turbulent than the nations that are all around you, and have not walked in my statutes or obeyed my rules, and have not even acted according to the rules of the nations that are all around you, 8 therefore thus says the Lord GOD: Behold, I, even I, am against you. And I will execute judgments in your midst in the sight of the nations. 9 And because of all your abominations I will do with you what I have never yet done, and the like of which I will never do again. 10 Therefore fathers shall eat their sons in your midst, and sons shall eat their fathers. And I will execute judgments on you, and any of you who survive I will scatter to all the winds. 11 Therefore, as I live, declares the Lord GOD, surely, because you have defiled my sanctuary with all your detestable things and with all your abominations, therefore I will withdraw. My eye will not spare, and I will have no pity. 12 A third part of you shall die of pestilence and be consumed with famine in your midst; a third part shall fall by the sword all around you; and a third part I will scatter to all the winds and will unsheathe the sword after them.

13 “Thus shall my anger spend itself, and I will vent my fury upon them and satisfy myself. And they shall know that I am the LORD—that I have spoken in my jealousy—when I spend my fury upon them. 14 Moreover, I will make you a desolation and an object of reproach among the nations all around you and in the sight of all who pass by. 15 You shall be a reproach and a taunt, a warning and a horror, to the nations all around you, when I execute judgments on you in anger and fury, and with furious rebukes—I am the LORD; I have spoken— 16 when I send against you the deadly arrows of famine, arrows for destruction, which I will send to destroy you, and when I bring more and more famine upon you and break your supply of bread. 17 I will send famine and wild beasts against you, and they will rob you of your children. Pestilence and blood shall pass through you, and I will bring the sword upon you. I am the LORD; I have spoken.”

Ezekiel 6

Judgment Against Idolatry

Ezekiel 6:1     The word of the LORD came to me: 2 “Son of man, set your face toward the mountains of Israel, and prophesy against them, 3 and say, You mountains of Israel, hear the word of the Lord GOD! Thus says the Lord GOD to the mountains and the hills, to the ravines and the valleys: Behold, I, even I, will bring a sword upon you, and I will destroy your high places. 4 Your altars shall become desolate, and your incense altars shall be broken, and I will cast down your slain before your idols. 5 And I will lay the dead bodies of the people of Israel before their idols, and I will scatter your bones around your altars. 6 Wherever you dwell, the cities shall be waste and the high places ruined, so that your altars will be waste and ruined, your idols broken and destroyed, your incense altars cut down, and your works wiped out. 7 And the slain shall fall in your midst, and you shall know that I am the LORD.

8 “Yet I will leave some of you alive. When you have among the nations some who escape the sword, and when you are scattered through the countries, 9 then those of you who escape will remember me among the nations where they are carried captive, how I have been broken over their whoring heart that has departed from me and over their eyes that go whoring after their idols. And they will be loathsome in their own sight for the evils that they have committed, for all their abominations. 10 And they shall know that I am the LORD. I have not said in vain that I would do this evil to them.”

11 Thus says the Lord GOD: “Clap your hands and stamp your foot and say, Alas, because of all the evil abominations of the house of Israel, for they shall fall by the sword, by famine, and by pestilence. 12 He who is far off shall die of pestilence, and he who is near shall fall by the sword, and he who is left and is preserved shall die of famine. Thus I will spend my fury upon them. 13 And you shall know that I am the LORD, when their slain lie among their idols around their altars, on every high hill, on all the mountaintops, under every green tree, and under every leafy oak, wherever they offered pleasing aroma to all their idols. 14 And I will stretch out my hand against them and make the land desolate and waste, in all their dwelling places, from the wilderness to Riblah. Then they will know that I am the LORD.”

Ezekiel 7

The Day of the Wrath of the LORD

Ezekiel 7:1     The word of the LORD came to me: 2 “And you, O son of man, thus says the Lord GOD to the land of Israel: An end! The end has come upon the four corners of the land. 3 Now the end is upon you, and I will send my anger upon you; I will judge you according to your ways, and I will punish you for all your abominations. 4 And my eye will not spare you, nor will I have pity, but I will punish you for your ways, while your abominations are in your midst. Then you will know that I am the LORD.

5 “Thus says the Lord GOD: Disaster after disaster! Behold, it comes. 6 An end has come; the end has come; it has awakened against you. Behold, it comes. 7 Your doom has come to you, O inhabitant of the land. The time has come; the day is near, a day of tumult, and not of joyful shouting on the mountains. 8 Now I will soon pour out my wrath upon you, and spend my anger against you, and judge you according to your ways, and I will punish you for all your abominations. 9 And my eye will not spare, nor will I have pity. I will punish you according to your ways, while your abominations are in your midst. Then you will know that I am the LORD, who strikes.

10 “Behold, the day! Behold, it comes! Your doom has come; the rod has blossomed; pride has budded. 11 Violence has grown up into a rod of wickedness. None of them shall remain, nor their abundance, nor their wealth; neither shall there be preeminence among them. 12 The time has come; the day has arrived. Let not the buyer rejoice, nor the seller mourn, for wrath is upon all their multitude. 13 For the seller shall not return to what he has sold, while they live. For the vision concerns all their multitude; it shall not turn back; and because of his iniquity, none can maintain his life.

14 “They have blown the trumpet and made everything ready, but none goes to battle, for my wrath is upon all their multitude. 15 The sword is without; pestilence and famine are within. He who is in the field dies by the sword, and him who is in the city famine and pestilence devour. 16 And if any survivors escape, they will be on the mountains, like doves of the valleys, all of them moaning, each one over his iniquity. 17 All hands are feeble, and all knees turn to water. 18 They put on sackcloth, and horror covers them. Shame is on all faces, and baldness on all their heads. 19 They cast their silver into the streets, and their gold is like an unclean thing. Their silver and gold are not able to deliver them in the day of the wrath of the LORD. They cannot satisfy their hunger or fill their stomachs with it. For it was the stumbling block of their iniquity. 20 His beautiful ornament they used for pride, and they made their abominable images and their detestable things of it. Therefore I make it an unclean thing to them. 21 And I will give it into the hands of foreigners for prey, and to the wicked of the earth for spoil, and they shall profane it. 22 I will turn my face from them, and they shall profane my treasured place. Robbers shall enter and profane it.

23 “Forge a chain! For the land is full of bloody crimes and the city is full of violence. 24 I will bring the worst of the nations to take possession of their houses. I will put an end to the pride of the strong, and their holy places shall be profaned. 25 When anguish comes, they will seek peace, but there shall be none. 26 Disaster comes upon disaster; rumor follows rumor. They seek a vision from the prophet, while the law perishes from the priest and counsel from the elders. 27 The king mourns, the prince is wrapped in despair, and the hands of the people of the land are paralyzed by terror. According to their way I will do to them, and according to their judgments I will judge them, and they shall know that I am the LORD.”

Ezekiel 8

Abominations in the Temple

Ezekiel 8:1 In the sixth year, in the sixth month, on the fifth day of the month, as I sat in my house, with the elders of Judah sitting before me, the hand of the Lord GOD fell upon me there. 2 Then I looked, and behold, a form that had the appearance of a man. Below what appeared to be his waist was fire, and above his waist was something like the appearance of brightness, like gleaming metal. 3 He put out the form of a hand and took me by a lock of my head, and the Spirit lifted me up between earth and heaven and brought me in visions of God to Jerusalem, to the entrance of the gateway of the inner court that faces north, where was the seat of the image of jealousy, which provokes to jealousy. 4 And behold, the glory of the God of Israel was there, like the vision that I saw in the valley.

5 Then he said to me, “Son of man, lift up your eyes now toward the north.” So I lifted up my eyes toward the north, and behold, north of the altar gate, in the entrance, was this image of jealousy. 6 And he said to me, “Son of man, do you see what they are doing, the great abominations that the house of Israel are committing here, to drive me far from my sanctuary? But you will see still greater abominations.”

7 And he brought me to the entrance of the court, and when I looked, behold, there was a hole in the wall. 8 Then he said to me, “Son of man, dig in the wall.” So I dug in the wall, and behold, there was an entrance. 9 And he said to me, “Go in, and see the vile abominations that they are committing here.” 10 So I went in and saw. And there, engraved on the wall all around, was every form of creeping things and loathsome beasts, and all the idols of the house of Israel. 11 And before them stood seventy men of the elders of the house of Israel, with Jaazaniah the son of Shaphan standing among them. Each had his censer in his hand, and the smoke of the cloud of incense went up. 12 Then he said to me, “Son of man, have you seen what the elders of the house of Israel are doing in the dark, each in his room of pictures? For they say, ‘The LORD does not see us, the LORD has forsaken the land.’ ” 13 He said also to me, “You will see still greater abominations that they commit.”

14 Then he brought me to the entrance of the north gate of the house of the LORD, and behold, there sat women weeping for Tammuz. 15 Then he said to me, “Have you seen this, O son of man? You will see still greater abominations than these.”

16 And he brought me into the inner court of the house of the LORD. And behold, at the entrance of the temple of the LORD, between the porch and the altar, were about twenty-five men, with their backs to the temple of the LORD, and their faces toward the east, worshiping the sun toward the east. 17 Then he said to me, “Have you seen this, O son of man? Is it too light a thing for the house of Judah to commit the abominations that they commit here, that they should fill the land with violence and provoke me still further to anger? Behold, they put the branch to their nose. 18 Therefore I will act in wrath. My eye will not spare, nor will I have pity. And though they cry in my ears with a loud voice, I will not hear them.”

ESV Study Bible


What I'm Reading

Are Young People Really Leaving Christianity?

By J. Warner Wallace 9/30/2016

     Much has been written about both the illiteracy of teenage believers and the flight of young people from the Church. Many have observed this trend, and I too have witnessed it anecdotally as a youth pastor (and shamefully, I contributed to the trend for some time before I changed course). Some writers and Christian observers deny the flight of young people altogether, but the growing statistics should alarm us enough as Church leaders to do something about the dilemma. My hope in this post is to simply consolidate some of the research (many of the summaries are directly quoted) so you can decide for yourself. I’m going to organize the recent findings in a way that illuminates the problem:

     Research Related to Spiritual Life of Teenagers:

     Soul Searching: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of American Teenagers

     Book Findings: The majority of teenagers are incredibly inarticulate about their faith, religious beliefs and practices, and its place in their lives. The de facto dominant religion among contemporary U.S. teenagers is what they call ‘Moralistic Therapeutic Deism’: A God exists who created and orders the world and watches over human life on earth; God wants people to be good, nice, and fair to each other, as taught in the Bible and by most world religions; the central goal of life is to be happy and to feel good about oneself; God does not need to be particularly involved in one’s life except when God is needed to resolve a problem; and good people go to heaven when they die.

     Almost Christian: What the Faith of Our Teenagers is Telling the American Church

     Book Findings: Dean affirms what Soul Searching called ‘Moralistic Therapeutic Deism’ “If teenagers lack an articulate faith, it may be because the faith we show them is too spineless to merit much in the way of conversation.”

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J. Warner Wallace is a Cold-Case Detective, a Christian Case Maker, and the author of:

Where to Bring Your Broken Heart

By Josh Squires 8/12/2017

     “Help. My heart is broken.”

     This is one of the most common refrains in my counseling ministry. There are many causes: love unrequited, jobs lost, dreams quashed, spouses and children taken. No matter its roots, the pain is unbearably similar for its sufferers. And the question that hangs over it all is this: “Now what?”

     Weep Well | Grief is an act as well as a feeling. When hearts are broken, cheeks should be wet. I wish it weren’t true, but it is. There is something about weeping that is incredibly scary. It’s a vulnerable act that floods our thoughts and feelings, leaving us fatigued. Little wonder then that people avoid it like the plague, or feel that they need to make an excuse for it.

     But Scripture itself does not take such a negative view on mourning. God does not tell his children to “dry it up!” Rather, God stores our tears in his bottle (Psalm 56:8). In an ancient, arid land where bottles were not a dime a dozen, only precious things were kept in bottles. Even more, God himself weeps and makes no apology for it (Luke 19:41–44John 11:35). When God finds his heart hurting, his cheeks are not dry, and you should not be ashamed if yours aren’t either.

     It’s not enough to merely give our emotions vent; they need to be shepherded (Psalm 120:1130:1). Christians are not merely those who weep, but those who weep well. It is not true that our stress, sadness, anger, and negative emotions just need an emotional outlet to release the pressure. This “hydraulic” view of the affections often does more harm than good — before we know it, we can barely put our emotional kettle on the burner before the whistle begins to wail for relief.

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     Josh Squires (@jsquires12) serves as pastor of counseling and congregational care at First Presbyterian Church in Columbia, South Carolina. He and his wife have five children.

What Can Christians Learn from the Apostolic Fathers? Interview with Author Ken Berding

By Sean McDowell 8/3/2017

     Dr. Ken Berding is a colleague of mine at Biola University. Like me, he is very interested in the Apostolic Fathers. He recently wrote a brief and interesting introduction to the Apostolic Fathers called The Apostolic Fathers: A Narrative Introduction, which is different from any other book of its kind. Professor Berding was kind enough to answer a few of my questions about some of the earliest church fathers and his recent book. Enjoy!

     SEAN MCDOWELL: I've been reading your new book on the Apostolic Fathers. Can you tell us who the Apostolic Fathers are and why they are important?

     KEN BERDING: I’m so glad you’re reading the book! The Apostolic Fathers are a name given in the modern era to the earliest Christian writers who wrote just after the age of the apostles. Their writings span A.D. 95-160. They include 1 Clement, the letters of Ignatius, Polycarp’s Letter to the Philippians, The Didache, fragments from Papias, the Shepherd of Hermas, the Letter of Barnabas (not Paul’s co-worker), 2 Clement, Diognetus, and The Martyrdom of Polycarp. Why are they important? The reason they’re important is because of how early they were written. Some of these authors actually knew apostles or companions of apostles. If we could talk to them, they could answer many questions (and actually did answer a few of them in their writings!) that get asked about the apostolic age. They also help us observe early developments in Christian doctrine and church polity. Besides, they’re really interesting…for the most part…

     MCDOWELL: The back cover of your book claims, "The Apostolic Fathers: A Narrative Introduction is the most engaging introduction to the Apostolic Fathers you will ever read." Most introductions to ancient texts aren't very interesting. What makes this different?

     BERDING: There are two things that make this introduction to the Apostolic Fathers different from anything else out there. First, and perhaps most important, it’s short! The crucial things you need to know about these writings, including key excerpts from their writings, are included in the book. Second, it’s a story—and everyone loves a story. We know that Polycarp hid from the police in a country-house just outside Smyrna during the week before he was captured and burned at the stake in Smyrna. This book imagines the conversations he had with his friends about the Christian writings composed during Polycarp’s lifetime. (He lived through the entire period.) This book is different because it’s easy to read since it is written in story form.


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     Sean McDowell, Ph.D. is a professor of Christian Apologetics at Biola University, a best-selling author of over 18 books, an internationally recognized speaker, a part-time high school teacher, and the Resident Scholar for Summit, California. Follow him on Twitter: @sean_mcdowell and his blog: seanmcdowell.org.Books By Sean McDowell

Sean McDowell Books:

Is God Just a Human Invention? And Seventeen Other Questions Raised by the New Atheists
A New Kind of Apologist: *Adopting Fresh Strategies *Addressing the Latest Issues *Engaging the Culture
The Beauty of Intolerance: Setting a Generation Free to Know Truth and Love
Same-Sex Marriage: A Thoughtful Approach to God's Design for Marriage (Thoughtful Response)
ETHIX: Being Bold in a Whatever World
More Than a Carpenter

Unclean: Leviticus and Total Depravity

By Steven J. Lawson 8/12/2017

     The word unclean is used more than one hundred times in Leviticus 11–15. It is an apt description of the condition of the people; they were morally unclean because of their failure to obey God’s commands. The law of Moses was issued, first and foremost, to reveal the holiness of God. The Ten Commandments, as well as the ceremonial and civil laws, were designed to keep God’s people distinct from the surrounding idolatrous nations. These laws made a clear distinction between what was clean and unclean. But Israel could not keep these laws perfectly. As a result, the people were spiritually unclean, each and every one of them:

     For I am the LORD your God. Consecrate yourselves therefore, and be holy, for I am holy. You shall not defile yourselves with any swarming thing that crawls on the ground. For I am the LORD who brought you up out of the land of Egypt to be your God. You shall therefore be holy, for I am holy.” This is the law about beast and bird and every living creature that moves through the waters and every creature that swarms on the ground, to make a distinction between the unclean and the clean and between the living creature that may be eaten and the living creature that may not be eaten. —Leviticus 11:44–47.

     In this representative text, God called His people to be holy, separated from all that is unclean (19:2; 20:7, 26). Through dietary laws and religious rituals, God was teaching them the necessity of being set apart from the defilements of the world. MacArthur comments, “Sacrifices, rituals, diet, and even clothing and cooking are all carefully ordered by God to teach them that they are to live differently from everyone else. This is to be an external illustration for the separation from sin in their hearts.” But no one could keep these laws and regulations perfectly; to break one point of the law was to be guilty of it all (James 2:10). The law was a continual reminder to the Israelites of their uncleanness as they stood before their holy God. Every part of the divine law was an indictment of their sinfulness. Thus, the law testified to their moral separation from God.


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     Steven J. Lawson is president of OnePassion Ministries, a ministry designed to bring about biblical reformation in the church today, as well as the Professor of Preaching in the masters and doctoral programs at The Master's Seminary, Sun Valley, California. Steven J. Lawson Books:

The Human Condition And Christian Psychology

By Andrew Fulford 7/8/2017

     Since Jay Adams and no doubt earlier, the Christian world has been arguing amongst itself over the relationship between its faith and the modern science of psychology. And this is not only a disciplinary division issue, for the modern field of inquiry has experienced a history of its own, with influential luminaries who not only searched for answers, but promulgated ones they thought they found. Many of those answers were not in agreement with the Christian faith, though some were. So the church finds itself needing to do critical and correlational work with the situation.

     Beyond this question, Christianity makes claims about the human soul and its experience. And since the religion is doctrinally diverse, with pluriformity and even famous disagreement, its not surprising to find that specific Christians and Christian traditions make very different claims about the human condition. This is done both in a catechetical context and in apologetic, or evangelistic ones. Yet, we think that as ever, all our communication, even catechetical and apologetic, needs to be examined in light of reality and of scripture, and that not every past or contemporary commonplace can survive that scrutiny. Below we discuss both of these issues in brief.

     The Real Experienced Condition Of The Human Race

     Assuming a natural law and biblical approach to ethics, a fundamental axiom would be that the right and the good are identical, and that in principle we are directed toward what is good for us, with good being understood at base as “that which is desirable.” Yet, these traditions also acknowledge that it is possible for our desires to be twisted, such that we anticipate and receive pleasure in things that are ultimately not good for us in the objective sense. When Christians interact on issues of ethics, we sometimes don’t acknowledge this point, or if we do, we don’t do it very clearly. Sometimes we can switch into a kind of Kantian mode, where we simply issue prohibitions toward behaviour that people find pleasure in, without any acknowledgement or sense that the right is supposed to be ultimately the most pleasurable thing to do (at least, if things are functioning properly). A big scandal of Christian moral teaching is the secret Kantianism (what’s fun is bad) of much of it, which shrewd unbelievers are very quick to discern and understandably reject.

     But the Christian claim is not simply that refraining from sin in the face of strong desires will bring more joy than engaging in sin. It is rather more specific: it’s that if one is regenerate, and if one is living out that regeneration with a fundamental psychological desire for God, and if one is walking with Christ in such a way that that desire is stoked (and by God’s grace, satisfied), then one would be happier in refraining from sin than in practicing it. But we’re not required to make a definitive claim about what would make people happier apart from those conditions being met.

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     andrew.fulford@mail.mcgill.ca | Andrew Fulford (McGill University) received his MA in Theology from the University of St. Michael’s College in the University of Toronto, where his research focused on contemporary theological approaches to the interpretation of the Bible. His current research interests are in the relationship between the Anglican theologian Richard Hooker and several subjects of contemporary interest: “the secular”, the use of reason in religion and religious disputes, and the psychology of radicalization and deradicalization. He will be presenting a paper on Hooker’s religious epistemology and apologetical method at the upcoming Sixteenth Century Society meeting.

You Will Never See Death

By John Piper 5/14/2011

     God directed you to this sermon, I believe, so that you would know, first, that you don’t have to die, and, second, so that you would know that Jesus, who makes this promise to you, is God — the God of Israel, the God of all. And, third, you are here because God wants you to see the implication for your life of knowing you will not die.

     Out of Tragedy, Greatness | There is another great reality in John 8:48–59 — namely, the opposition Jesus gets from the Jews.

     The purpose of showing the opposition in this text is not because it’s pleasant to watch. It is tragic to watch. These are his own people calling him demonized. The reason for describing the opposition is that it’s the opposition that brings out the greatness — the mystery — of who Jesus is. They demand it. Look at the end of verse 53: “Who do you make yourself out to be?” And it’s the final answer to that question that brings this story to a fierce conclusion, because they take up stones — their form of capital punishment for blasphemy (Leviticus 24:16) — and Jesus hid himself, because his time was not yet come, and stoning was not the way he must die.

     Deity and Deathlessness | So let’s take two of the great realities in this text — the deity of Jesus and the deathlessness of his followers — and open them up with the help of the opposition that they receive in this text. And let’s discover the astonishing implication of our deathlessness for our lives.

     The text starts with opposition because the conflict in the first part of the chapter has already been intense. It ends in verse 47 with Jesus’s words: “Whoever is of God hears the words of God. The reason why you do not hear them is that you are not of God.” So they have already shown themselves deaf to the meaning of Jesus’s words. His words only offend them.

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     John Piper Books:

Taking God’s Keys The keys of the kingdom also unlock the joys of your calling.

By Dallas Willard 8/28/2017

     Editor's note: | Acknowledging the tension between a professional life and a ministerial one for many pastors, Dallas Willard offers some counsel today to reignite the energy and joy of serving in the kingdom. We think that his words transcend the pastoral vocation and speak to all of us who serve the Lord wherever the byways and hedges happen to be.

     “Imagine,” Dallas writes, “a man who carefully kept his doors locked and his keys in hand but who never went into his house! Having access to the kingdom, living in it, is what matters.” May you unlock that door with confidence and joy this week! —Renovaré Team

     Every pastor, sooner or later, faces the contradictory demands of being a professional and being in ministry.

     A professional has a schedule to keep, credentials to maintain, a career ladder to ascend. Urgent details crowd out solitude, service, and the deepening of a relationship with God. A life of simplicity and ministry to souls is elbowed aside by ambition and expectation.

     Like doctors, lawyers, and other professionals today, pastors often feel their working conditions conflict with their calling. Heightened frustration leads to decreasing strength, peace, and joy.


Click here to go to source

Dallas Willard Books:

The Divine Conspiracy: Rediscovering Our Hidden Life In God
The Spirit of the Disciplines: Understanding How God Changes Lives
Hearing God: Developing a Conversational Relationship with God
How God is in Business
Renovation of the Heart: Putting On the Character of Christ
The Allure of Gentleness: Defending the Faith in the Manner of Jesus
Living in Christ's Presence: Final Words on Heaven and the Kingdom of God
The Great Omission: Reclaiming Jesus&8217;s Essential Teachings on Discipleship
Renovation of the Heart: Putting On the Character of Christ (Designed for Influence)
Renewing the Christian Mind: Essays, Interviews, and Talks
The Kingdom Life: A Practical Theology of Discipleship and Spiritual Formation
Knowing Christ Today
Getting Love Right

Read The Psalms In "1" Year

Psalm 95

Let Us Sing Songs of Praise
95

6 Oh come, let us worship and bow down;
let us kneel before the LORD, our Maker!
7 For he is our God,
and we are the people of his pasture,
and the sheep of his hand.
Today, if you hear his voice,
8 do not harden your hearts, as at Meribah,
as on the day at Massah in the wilderness,
9 when your fathers put me to the test
and put me to the proof, though they had seen my work.
10 For forty years I loathed that generation
and said, “They are a people who go astray in their heart,
and they have not known my ways.”
11 Therefore I swore in my wrath,
“They shall not enter my rest.”

ESV Study Bible

By John Walvoord

The Conception and Birth of Jesus

     Matthew 1:18–24. When Mary returned from her visit to Elizabeth, she apparently was three months pregnant, and this became evident to Joseph. Not willing to make a public example of Mary by a public divorce, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.  Matthew explained, however, that God communicated to Joseph the facts in the case, declaring, “An angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, ‘Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins’” (vv.  20–21 ).  Matthew stated that this was in fulfillment of the prophecy of  Isaiah 7:14: “All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: ‘The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel’ — which means, ‘God with us’” (vv.  22–23 ).

     The Scriptures are silent concerning Mary’s anxiety in this whole situation as, apparently, she did not feel free to divulge to Joseph the facts in the case. Having received this instruction from God, however, Joseph “did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. But he had no union with her until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus” (vv.  24–25 ). No doubt, both Joseph and Mary suffered malicious gossip concerning this whole matter and were unable to proclaim the truth. For Mary it was a great relief, however, to have Joseph take her home as his wife.

The Prophecy of the Birth of Jesus

     Luke 2:1–7. In condensed statement  Luke recorded how Joseph and Mary had come back to their home city, Bethlehem, to be recorded for the tax. Luke took pains to pinpoint the time of the decree as being related to the first census under Quirinius, governor of Syria. In simple, direct historical record Luke indicated how Mary gave birth to her Son and placed Him in a manger because the inn was full (vv.  5–7 ).

The Angelic Announcement of the Birth of Jesus

     Luke 2:8–14. The birth of Jesus had none of the trappings of modern publicity. He was born in an obscure town and was placed in a manger because even the innkeeper was unaware of the importance of His birth. The world’s publicity would have had Jesus’ birth take place in Jerusalem, attended by the religious leaders of the Jews and hailed as an important historic event. God chose to do this differently. Instead of revealing it to the religious hierarchy, His angels made the announcement to shepherds in a nearby field.  Luke pictured these shepherds in a field near Bethlehem, watching their flocks at night. It may well have been the traditional field east of Jerusalem where they were keeping their flocks. In the darkness of the night there suddenly was a glorious light as they saw the glory of the Lord (v.  9 ). Though they were terrified, Scripture records, “But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger’” (vv.  10–12 ).

     As the shepherds struggled to comprehend what was taking place, Scripture records, “Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests’” (vv.  13–14 ).

     The great event of the birth of Jesus, though little publicized on earth, must have been a sensational development in heaven. One can only contemplate what the angels thought. They knew Jesus in His preincarnate glory in heaven. How could they understand His birth as a man and His lying like a babe in the manger? The unfolding of the life, death, and resurrection of Christ must have been an all-absorbing subject to the heavenly host. It was God’s plan that the news should be received by lowly shepherds, who witnessed the announcement of the fulfilled prophecy of Jesus being born in Bethlehem and now were contemplating the tremendous fact of the prophecy being fulfilled.

The Shepherds Visit Jesus

     Luke 2:15–20. The shepherds hurried into Bethlehem and apparently had little difficulty locating the inn and the manger where Jesus had been placed. Having seen with their own eyes, the shepherds then became the vehicle of announcement to others in Bethlehem that Jesus had been born, and the shepherds returned to their flocks, praising God for His marvelous revelation (v.  20 ). Mary, meanwhile, was struggling to comprehend the fulfillment of the prophecy that she would be the mother of Jesus, no doubt wondering how all that she had heard and expected would be fulfilled (v.  19 ).

The Prophecy of Simeon When Jesus Was Presented in the Temple

     Luke 2:21–35. When Jesus was presented in the temple on the eighth day to be consecrated, His parents offered a sacrifice prescribed by the law for those of very moderate circumstances: a pair of doves and two young pigeons (vv.  21–24 ). On the occasion of His presentation, Simeon was moved by the Holy Spirit to go into the temple. When Jesus was presented by His parents, Simeon took Him in his arms and praised God (vv.  25–28). His prophetic proclamation was comprehensive:  “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all people, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel” (vv.  29–32 ). This comprehensive, prophetic vision included Jesus not only as the answer to the hope of Israel but also as His revelation of God and His grace to the Gentiles.

     Joseph and Mary marveled at what Simeon had said (v.  33 ). Scripture recorded, “Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: ‘This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too’” (vv.  34–35 ). This prophecy was to be fulfilled when Jesus died on the cross, something that Mary was unable to understand at the time.

     According to Luke, to confirm Simeon’s prophecy, Anna came to them at that moment and “gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem” (v.  38 ).
 ( Out of the mouth of two witnesses. )

The Visit of the Magi

     Matthew 2:1–12. The final immediate confirmation of the birth of Jesus as the future King of the Jews came from the visit of the magi, who traveled all the way from Persia to find Jesus. The magi were known as people who studied the stars, and it was possible that they saw the light attending the glorious announcement of the angels.  ( Maybe they had heard about this coming King from Daniel. They were not without some information about the Messiah as there had been frequent contact between Jews and Persians in the years before the birth of Christ, and the idea that Israel was looking forward to a Messiah was apparently widely known.

     There is no indication that the number of magi was limited to three, nor that they were kings, though this is often the way they were referred to traditionally. They probably were a larger company. They had apparently sensed what had happened when Christ was born, and it took some months for them to organize and come to Israel to find the baby Jesus. Because Jerusalem was the center of Jewish religion, the magi came asking, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him” (v.  2 ). King Herod was much disturbed by this announcement as he saw the birth of a child destined to be King of the Jews as competition for his own rule. Accordingly, he called the leaders of Israel together to find out where Christ was to be born (vv.  3–4 ). They replied that He would be born in Bethlehem of Judea and quoted  Micah 5:2 in support of their conclusion ( Matt. 2:5–6 ). King Herod then attempted to discover when the star appeared to determine the time of the child’s birth and told the magi to report to him when they found the child (vv.  7–8 ).

     As the magi journeyed to Bethlehem, the star reappeared and led them to the place where the child was. This time it was not a manger but a house, and it is apparent, taking the whole narrative into consideration, that some weeks, if not months, had passed since the birth of Christ. The magi were overjoyed when they saw Mary and the child and worshipped Him (vv.  9–11 ). In recognition of the honored child, they brought gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh (v.  11 ). Though they likely were not conscious of the meaning of the gifts, the gold represented the deity of Christ; frankincense, the fragrance of His life; and the myrrh, His sacrifice and death. The magi were warned in a dream not to return to Herod (v.  12 ).

     Matthew 2:13–15. The Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and told him to take the child and His mother to Egypt because of Herod’s plot to kill Him (vv.  13–14 ).  Matthew noted that this was a fulfillment of prophecy: “Out of Egypt I called my Son” (v.  15; Hosea 11:1 ). Like the nation as a whole, Christ came out of Egypt to come back to the Promised Land.

     Matthew 2:16–18. When Herod realized that the magi were not going to report to him, he was very angry and ordered that all boys two years old and under in the Bethlehem area should be killed. This resulted in the fulfillment of  Jeremiah’s prophecy: “A voice is heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more” (v.  18; Jer. 31:15 ).

The Return to Nazareth

     Matthew 2:19–23. After Herod’s death Joseph and Mary were able to bring Jesus back to Israel. However, because Herod’s successor, Archelaus, a son of Herod (v.  22 ), was also a cruel man, and since they were warned by God in a dream, they went to live in Nazareth, thus fulfilling the prophecy “He will be called a Nazarene” (v.  23 ). This reference to Christ as a Nazarene may be connected to  Isaiah 11:1, where Christ was spoken of as “a shoot ... from the stump of Jesse.” The Hebrew for “shoot” is netzer, which is here assigned a special meaning. As  Matthew and  Luke both indicated, the events leading up to the birth of Christ, His birth itself, and the events that followed all correspond to the prophetic foresight provided in the Old Testament.

     Luke 2:39–52. Luke summarized the events following the birth of Christ, stating simply that Joseph and Mary returned to Nazareth and that Jesus grew as a boy and “was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was upon him” (vv.  39–40 ). Except for the brief reference to Jesus going with His parents to the Feast of the Passover in Jerusalem, no other mention was made of Jesus in His boyhood and early manhood (vv.  41–52 ).

          __________________________________________________________________

Every Prophecy of the Bible: Clear Explanations for Uncertain Times

The Continual Burnt Offering (Acts 9:3)

By H.A. Ironside - 1941

August 31
Acts 9:3 Now as he went on his way, he approached Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven shone around him. 4 And falling to the ground, he heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” 5 And he said, “Who are you, Lord?” And he said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.    ESV


     The conversion of Saul of Tarsus was, as every true conversion is, a supernatural event. Brought face to face with the risen, exalted Christ, he saw himself a poor, guilty sinner (1 Timothy 1:15-16), who had been fighting against his own best interests in resisting the claims of the Lord Jesus, Repentant and subdued, he yielded himself in whole-hearted allegiance to the One he had spurned, counting all things but loss for Christ (Philippians 3:7-8). Some such crisis there must be in the lives of all who are saved, unless indeed they had trusted Jesus so early in life that they have never been consciously His enemies. But they too are called to a complete surrender to His will when in years of maturity they recognize that He is not only Savior but Lord.

     It is evident that Saul had known considerable soul-searching as indicated in the expression, “It is hard for you to kick against the goads” (Acts 26:14). Like an obstinate ox he had been injuring himself while resisting the authority of the Lord. Convinced at last of his error in the past, there was instant surrender to the claims of the risen Christ.


1 Timothy 1:15 The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. 16 But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life.

Philippians 3:7 But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. 8 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ

Acts 26:14 And when we had all fallen to the ground, I heard a voice saying to me in the Hebrew language, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.’
  ESV

I was journeying in the noontide,
When His light shone o’er my road;
And I saw Him in that glory—
Saw Him—Jesus, Son of God.
All around, in noonday splendor,
Earthly scenes lay fair and bright;
But my eyes no more behold them,
For the glory of that light.
--- Frances Bevan

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

The Coming of the Kingdom part 10

By Dr. Andrew Woods 10/23/2012

Evangelical Confusion

Because today's evangelical world believes that the church is experiencing the messianic kingdom, we began a study chronicling what the Bible teaches about the kingdom. This earthly kingdom is anticipated in the office of Theocratic Administrator that was lost in Eden, in the biblical covenants, in the predictions of the Old Testament prophets, and in the earthly theocracy governing Israel from the time of Moses to Zedekiah. This theocratic arrangement terminated with the initiation of the "Times of the Gentiles" when the nation had no king reigning on David's Throne as Judah was trampled by various Gentile powers. Against that backdrop entered Jesus Christ, the rightful Heir to David's Throne. Had first-century Israel enthroned Christ, the earthly kingdom would have become a reality. Despite this unprecedented opportunity, Israel rejected the kingdom offer ( Matt. 12 ) leading to the kingdom's postponement. Due to this postponement, Christ began to explain the spiritual conditions that would prevail during the kingdom's absence. This interim program includes His revelation of the kingdom mysteries ( Matt. 13 ) and the church ( Matt. 16:18 ). Regarding the kingdom mysteries of  Matthew 13, as explained in previous articles, when the parables of  Matthew 13 are understood together, we can gain a picture of the course of the present "mystery age."

The second aspect of the interim phase during the Messianic kingdom's postponement is Christ's revelation of the church ( Matt. 16:18 ). The church consists of all people, including both the Jewish remnant as well as Gentiles, who have trusted in the very Messiah Israel rejected. Unlike Israel, which was a national identity, the church is a spiritual organism consisting of all nations and ethnicities ( Gal. 3:28; Rom. 10:19; Eph. 2:14 ). The church age began on the Day of Pentecost in  Acts 2 and will conclude with the future rapture of the church from the earth. Rather than replacing Israel, the church represents an entirely new divine work that interrupts God's past dealings and future dealings with national Israel.

The Church Is Not The Kingdom

What is critical to understand is that God’s present work in and through the church is not to be confused with God's program concerning the coming kingdom. Several reasons lead us to this conclusion. [1] First, Christ is nowhere directly called the king of the church. Although He is referred to as the head of His body the church ( Eph. 1:22; 4:15; 5:23; Col. 1:18 ) or the groom of His bride the church ( Eph. 5:25 ), He is never specifically designated as the king of His church. Second, there exists a lack of correspondence between what Scripture predicts concerning the coming kingdom and the present spiritual realities in the Church Age. For example, during the kingdom, Christ will rule the world with a rod of iron ( Ps. 2:9; Rev. 12:5 ) resulting in immediate justice against any sin or wrong doing ( Zech. 14:16-18; Rev. 20:7-10 ). The Church Age, by contrast, is often characterized by carnality and a low standard of Christian living ( 1 Cor. 3:1-3 ).  Hebrews 5:12 describes the reality of such prolonged carnality:

"For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food."

Interestingly, of the seven churches mentioned in  Revelation 2–3, Christ rebuked all but two of them for their backslidden condition. Walvoord capsulizes this lack of correspondence between the prophesied kingdom and the present church age:

"The Christian era has been no golden age of righteousness nor has the church conquered the world. It is more accurate to recognize that the world has to a large degree possessed the church." [2]

Some contend that the church is the kingdom since Christ is reigning in our hearts. However, the spiritual reign of Christ in the heart of the believer is not identical to the terrestrial kingdom promises found throughout Scripture ( Gen. 15:18-21; Rev. 5:10 ). Besides, does Christ perfectly reign in the hearts of the believer today? If so, why are there consistent commands given in the New Testament against grieving ( Eph. 4:30 ) and quenching the Holy Spirit ( 1 Thess. 5:19 )? The mere existence of these commands implies that believers have the capacity to commit these sins and consequently inhibit the reigning influence of God in their hearts.

Third, the inauguration of the kingdom is preceded by the proclamation to Israel "repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand" ( Matt. 3:2; 4:17; 10:5-7; 24:14 ). Such a proclamation bears little resemblance to the church's gospel, which is for all to believe on the name of Jesus Christ in order to experience God's grace ( Acts 16:30-31 ). Pentecost explains,

"The new command of Christ, 'Ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth' ( Acts 1:8 ) does not coincide with the gospel of the kingdom which must precede the institution of the kingdom." [3]

Feinberg similarly notes,

"When men are invited to receive the grace of God in salvation today, they are not urged, 'Repent ye, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.'" [4]

Fourth, the New Testament consistently portrays the church as an heir of the coming kingdom as opposed to a ruler in a present existing kingdom ( Acts 14:22; 2 Thess. 1:5; 2 Tim. 4:18; 2 Pet. 1:11 ).  James 2:5 says,

"Listen, my beloved brethren: did not God choose the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him?"

Premillennial scholar Peters asks, "If the church is the Kingdom, and believers are now in it, why designate them 'heirs,' etc., of a Kingdom."[5]

Fifth, rather than reigning in kingdom glory, the Scripture predicts the church’s present posture as suffering within a hostile world system ( John 15:18-19; Rom. 13:12; 2 Tim. 3:12 ). Peters explains,

"The church, instead of being represented as a Kingdom, is held up to us as a struggling, suffering people." [6]

Sixth, the kingdom will be a time in history where there will be no Satanic influence. In fact, the devil will be incarcerated throughout this glorious age ( Rev. 20:2-3 ). Such a scenario hardly fits the consistent New Testament description of Satan’s repeated influence against and within the church ( 1 Thess. 2:18; 1 Cor. 7:5; Eph. 4:26-27; 6:12; Rev 2:10 ).

Seventh, according to the revelation of the Times of the Gentiles as given to the prophet Daniel ( Dan. 2; 7 ), the earthly theocracy terminated with the deposing of Zedekiah in 586 B.C. and will not return until the Second Advent ( Matt. 25:31 ). As explained in an earlier article, during this period known as the Times of the Gentiles, Judah will be trampled down by various Gentile powers. Only after the final kingdom of man (the revived Roman Empire of the Antichrist) has been terminated by Christ, will God's kingdom be established on earth ( Dan. 2:34-35; 43-45; 7:23-27 ). Thus, during the Times of the Gentiles, no spiritual form of the kingdom on earth is predicted by  Daniel. Because the Church Age is included in the Times of the Gentiles, neither can the Church Age be considered part of the kingdom. Larkin summarizes,

"As the 'Times of the GENTILES' is still running, the Church cannot be in this Dispensation a governing or Kingdom power." [7]
The Church Is Not Israel

Another reason that the church should not be confused with the kingdom is that the kingdom program revolves around national Israel. The New Testament never designates the church as "Israel." In fact, the word Israel is found seventy-three times in the New Testament and it always refers to the physical descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. [8] Sometimes Israel in the New Testament refers to Jews in faith and sometimes it refers to Jews in unbelief. However, the term Israel in the New Testament always refers to those who are physical Jews. This word never refers to Gentiles, the Church, or even a group that is a mixture of both Jews and Gentiles. This generalization even holds true with respect to the oft cited  Galatians 6:16 passage. Exegetically, the expression "Israel of God" found in  Galatians 6:16 only refers to believing Jews within the Galatian churches. [9]

Furthermore, the Book of Acts records how the church that came into existence in Acts 2 and continued to exists alongside Israel prior to the nation's destruction in A.D. 70. Throughout this period, Acts is judicious in keeping the two entities the Church and Israel separate. Fruchtenbaum observes,

"In the book of Acts, both Israel and the church exist simultaneously. The term Israel is used twenty times and ekklesia (church) nineteen times, yet the two groups are always kept distinct." [10]

An additional reason that Israel is not the church is due to the fact that the church and Israel represent separate programs of God. They are two trains running on separate railroad tracks. Theologian and founder of Dallas Theological Seminary, Lewis Sperry Chafer, noted twenty-four differences between Israel and the church, [11] which will be highlighted in the next article.

Continue Reading (Part 11 on Sept 1 web page)

ENDNOTES
[1] Kevin Quick, "The Glory of the Kingdom," online: www.kevinquick.com, accessed 10 August 2012, 718-27.
[2] John F. Walvoord, The Millennial Kingdom: A Basic Text in Premillennial Theology (Findlay, OH: Dunham, 1959), 53.
[3] J. Dwight Pentecost, Things to Come: A Study in Biblical Eschatology (Findlay, OH: Dunham, 1958; reprint, Grand Rapids, Zondervan, 1964), 469.
[4] Charles Feinberg, Millennialism: The Two Major Views (Winona Lake, IN: BMH, 1985), 266.
[5] George N. H. Peters, The Theocratic Kingdom, 3 Volume Set (New York: Funk & Wagnalls, 1884; reprint, Grand Rapids: Kregel, 1952), 1:600.
[6] 6 Ibid., 1:617.
[7] Clarence Larkin, Dispensational Truth: God’s Plan and Purpose in the Ages (Philadelphia, PA: Larkin Estate, 1920), 18.
[8] Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum, By Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum Israelology: The Missing Link in Systematic Theology (Revised) [Hardcover], rev. ed. (Tustin, CA: Ariel, 1994), 684-90.
[9] S. Lewis Johnson, "Paul and the 'Israel of God': An Exegetical and Eschatological Case-Study," in Essays in Honor of J. Dwight Pentecost, ed. Stanley D. Toussaint and Charles H. Dyer (Chicago: Moody, 1986), 181-96.
[10] Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum, "Israel and the Church," in Issues in Dispensationalism, ed. Wesley R. Willis and John R. Master (Chicago: Moody, 1994), 118.
[11] Lewis Sperry Chafer, Chafer Systematic Theology (8 volume set). (Dallas: Dallas Seminary, 1948; reprint, [8 vols. in 4], Grand Rapids: Kregel, 1993), 4:47-53.

     Dr. Andrew Woods Books

Note I copied this article from The Bible Prophecy Blog.

Dr. Andrew Woods Ministry Page, YouTube Channel, and Church.


  • Lecture 21 Psa 2, 110
  • L22 Psa 110
  • L23 Rhetorical Approach

#1   Dr. Bruce Waltke

 

#2    Dr. Bruce Waltke

 

#3    Dr. Bruce Waltke

 


     Devotionals, notes, poetry and more

American Minute
     by Bill Federer

     Imprisoned for twelve years, his crime: preaching without a license from the Anglican Church. But injustice turned to good for during this time the classic book  The Pilgrim's Progress (Penguin Classics)  was penned by John Bunyan, who died this day, August 31, 1688. It’s a story of a man who flees the City of Destruction, and is directed by Evangelist to follow a narrow path to the City of Zion. The friends and dangers he meets along the way inspired the modern story of the Wizard of Oz. Translated into over one hundred languages, John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress (Bunyan): Updated, Modern English. More than 100 Illustrations. was found in every home in colonial America, along with the Bible.

American Minute

Lean Into God
     Compiled by Richard S. Adams


Trust God, who is one,
and not the world because it is many.
--- J.B. Lightfoot


My heart hath often been deeply afflicted under a feeling that the standard of pure righteousness is not lifted up to the people by us, as a society, in that clearness which it might have been, had we been as faithful as we ought to be to the teachings of Christ.
--- John Woolman

A proud faith is as much a contradiction as a humble devil.
--- Stephen Charnock

Things turn out best for the people who make the best of the way things turn out.
--- John Wooden

... from here, there and everywhere

History of the Destruction of Jerusalem
     Thanks to Meir Yona

     CHAPTER 3.

     Concerning John Of Gischala. Concerning The Zealots And The High Priest Ananus; As Also How The Jews Raise Seditions One Against Another [In Jerusalem].

     1. Now upon John's entry into Jerusalem, the whole body of the people were in an uproar, and ten thousand of them crowded about every one of the fugitives that were come to them, and inquired of them what miseries had happened abroad, when their breath was so short, and hot, and quick, that of itself it declared the great distress they were in; yet did they talk big under their misfortunes, and pretended to say that they had not fled away from the Romans, but came thither in order to fight them with less hazard; for that it would be an unreasonable and a fruitless thing for them to expose themselves to desperate hazards about Gischala, and such weak cities, whereas they ought to lay up their weapons and their zeal, and reserve it for their metropolis. But when they related to them the taking of Gischala, and their decent departure, as they pretended, from that place, many of the people understood it to be no better than a flight; and especially when the people were told of those that were made captives, they were in great confusion, and guessed those things to be plain indications that they should be taken also. But for John, he was very little concerned for those whom he had left behind him, but went about among all the people, and persuaded them to go to war, by the hopes he gave them. He affirmed that the affairs of the Romans were in a weak condition, and extolled his own power. He also jested upon the ignorance of the unskillful, as if those Romans, although they should take to themselves wings, could never fly over the wall of Jerusalem, who found such great difficulties in taking the villages of Galilee, and had broken their engines of war against their walls.

     2. These harangues of John's corrupted a great part of the young men, and puffed them up for the war; but as to the more prudent part, and those in years, there was not a man of them but foresaw what was coming, and made lamentation on that account, as if the city was already undone; and in this confusion were the people. But then it must be observed, that the multitude that came out of the country were at discord before the Jerusalem sedition began; for Titus went from Gischala to Cesates, and Vespasian from Cesarea to Jamnia and Azotus, and took them both; and when he had put garrisons into them, he came back with a great number of the people, who were come over to him, upon his giving them his right hand for their preservation. There were besides disorders and civil wars in every city; and all those that were at quiet from the Romans turned their hands one against another. There was also a bitter contest between those that were fond of war, and those that were desirous for peace. At the first this quarrelsome temper caught hold of private families, who could not agree among themselves; after which those people that were the dearest to one another brake through all restraints with regard to each other, and every one associated with those of his own opinion, and began already to stand in opposition one to another; so that seditions arose every where, while those that were for innovations, and were desirous of war, by their youth and boldness, were too hard for the aged and prudent men. And, in the first place, all the people of every place betook themselves to rapine; after which they got together in bodies, in order to rob the people of the country, insomuch that for barbarity and iniquity those of the same nation did no way differ from the Romans; nay, it seemed to be a much lighter thing to be ruined by the Romans than by themselves.

     3. Now the Roman garrisons, which guarded the cities, partly out of their uneasiness to take such trouble upon them, and partly out of the hatred they bare to the Jewish nation, did little or nothing towards relieving the miserable, till the captains of these troops of robbers, being satiated with rapines in the country, got all together from all parts, and became a band of wickedness, and all together crept into Jerusalem, which was now become a city without a governor, and, as the ancient custom was, received without distinction all that belonged to their nation; and these they then received, because all men supposed that those who came so fast into the city came out of kindness, and for their assistance, although these very men, besides the seditions they raised, were otherwise the direct cause of the city's destruction also; for as they were an unprofitable and a useless multitude, they spent those provisions beforehand which might otherwise have been sufficient for the fighting men. Moreover, besides the bringing on of the war, they were the occasions of sedition and famine therein.

     4. There were besides these other robbers that came out of the country, and came into the city, and joining to them those that were worse than themselves, omitted no kind of barbarity; for they did not measure their courage by their rapines and plunderings only, but preceded as far as murdering men; and this not in the night time or privately, or with regard to ordinary men, but did it openly in the day time, and began with the most eminent persons in the city; for the first man they meddled with was Antipas, one of the royal lineage, and the most potent man in the whole city, insomuch that the public treasures were committed to his care; him they took and confined; as they did in the next place to Levias, a person of great note, with Sophas, the son of Raguel, both which were of royal lineage also. And besides these, they did the same to the principal men of the country. This caused a terrible consternation among the people, and everyone contented himself with taking care of his own safety, as they would do if the city had been taken in war.

     5. But these were not satisfied with the bonds into which they had put the men forementioned; nor did they think it safe for them to keep them thus in custody long, since they were men very powerful, and had numerous families of their own that were able to avenge them. Nay, they thought the very people would perhaps be so moved at these unjust proceedings, as to rise in a body against them; it was therefore resolved to have them slain accordingly, they sent one John, who was the most bloody-minded of them all, to do that execution: this man was also called "the son of Dorcas," 3 in the language of our country. Ten more men went along with him into the prison, with their swords drawn, and so they cut the throats of those that were in custody there. The grand lying pretence these men made for so flagrant an enormity was this, that these men had had conferences with the Romans for a surrender of Jerusalem to them; and so they said they had slain only such as were traitors to their common liberty. Upon the whole, they grew the more insolent upon this bold prank of theirs, as though they had been the benefactors and saviors of 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

The War of the Jews: The History of the Destruction of Jerusalem (complete edition, 7 books)

Proverbs 23:29-35
     by D.H. Stern

29     Who has misery? Who has regret?
     Who fights and complains all the time?
     Who gets bruised for no good reason?
     Who has bloodshot eyes?
30     Those who spend their time over wine,
     those always trying out mixed drinks.
31     Don’t gaze at the red wine
     as it gives its color to the cup.
     It may glide down smoothly now;
32     but in the end, it bites like a serpent—
     yes, it strikes like a poisonous snake.
33     Your eyes will see peculiar things,
     your mind will utter nonsense.
34     You will feel as if lying on the waves of the sea
     or sprawled on top of the mast—
35     “They hit me, but I didn’t feel it!
     They beat me up, and I didn’t even know it!
     When will I wake up?…
     I’ll go get another drink.”


Complete Jewish Bible : An English Version of the Tanakh (Old Testament) and B'Rit Hadashah (New Testament)
My Utmost For The Highest
     A Daily Devotional by Oswald Chambers


                My joy … your joy

     That My joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full. --- John 15:11.

     What was the joy that Jesus had? It is an insult to use the word happiness in connection with Jesus Christ. The joy of Jesus was the absolute self-surrender and self-sacrifice of Himself to His Father, the joy of doing that which the Father sent Him to do. “I delight to do Thy will.” Jesus prayed that our joy might go on fulfilling itself until it was the same joy as His. Have I allowed Jesus Christ to introduce His joy to me?

     The full flood of my life is not in bodily health, not in external happenings, not in seeing God’s work succeed, but in the perfect understanding of God, and in the communion with Him that Jesus Himself had. The first thing that will hinder this joy is the captious irritation of thinking out circumstances. The cares of this world, said Jesus, will choke God’s word. Before we know where we are, we are caught up in the shows of things. All that God has done for us is the mere threshold; He wants to get us to the place where we will be His witnesses and proclaim Who Jesus is.

     Be rightly related to God, find your joy there, and out of you will flow rivers of living water. Be a centre for Jesus Christ to pour living water through. Stop being self-conscious, stop being a sanctified prig, and live the life hid with Christ. The life that is rightly related to God is as natural as breathing wherever it goes. The lives that have been of most blessing to you are those who were unconscious of it.


My Utmost for His Highest

No Through Road
     the Poetry of RS Thomas


                No Through Road

All in vain. I will cease now
  My long absorption with the plough,
  With the tame and the wild creatures
  And man united with the earth.
  I have failed after many seasons
  To bring truth to birth,
  And nature's simple equations
  In the mind's precincts do not apply.

  But where to turn? Earth endures
  After the passing, necessary shame
  Of winter, and the old lie
  Of green places beckons me still
  From the new world, ugly and evil,
  That men pry for in truth's name.


Selected poems, 1946-1968

Edom Repaid
     Roy B. Zuck


                Edom Repaid

     ”… the Lord’s judgment would also be perfectly appropriate. He would repay Edom for her evil deeds
(Obad. 15).

     Because the Edomites showed no mercy to Israel’s “survivors” (v. 14), they would have no “survivors” of their own v. 18). Because Edom “cut down” (kārat) Israel’s fugitives (v. 14) she would be “destroyed” (lit. “cut off,” kārat) forever (v. 10). The very people Edom attempted to wipe out would take possession of the mountains of Esau (vv. 18–21). The Phoenicians and Philistines, who had sold God’s people into distant lands as slaves (Joel 3:6), would also be appropriately repaid (3:5, 7). Eventually God’s exiled and enslaved people will return to their land, conquer their ancient enemies, and sell them into slavery to far off lands (3:7–8). In fact all the nations who had plundered Jerusalem would themselves be plundered (Zech. 2:9). Because they had participated in Jerusalem’s “day of misfortune / destruction / trouble / disaster / calamity” (Obad. 10–14), the Day of the Lord would fall upon them with full force (vv. 15–16).

A Biblical Theology of the Old Testament

Searching For Meaning In Midrash
     Leviticus 26:36–37


     All Israel are guarantors one for the other.

     BIBLE TEXT /
Leviticus 26:36–37 / As for those of you who survive, I will cast a faintness into their hearts in the land of their enemies. The sound of a driven leaf shall put them to flight. Fleeing as though from the sword, they shall fall though none pursues. With no one pursuing, they shall stumble over one another as before the sword. You shall not be able to stand your ground before your enemies.…

     MIDRASH TEXT / Sifra Be-ḥukkotai 7:4–5 / The sound of a driven leaf shall put them to flight. Rabbi Yehoshua ben Korḥah said, “Once we were sitting among the trees, and the wind blew and smacked the leaves one against the other. We stood up and ran, saying, ‘Woe to us! The horsemen will catch us!’ After some time, we turned around and saw there was no one. We sat in our places and cried, saying, ‘Woe to us! The verse “the sound of a driven leaf shall put them to flight. Fleeing as though from the sword, they shall fall though none pursues” has been fulfilled through us, due to our lack of power.’ ”

     They shall stumble over one another. Over one another’s sins, teaching that all Israel are guarantors one for the other.

     CONTEXT

     Chapter 26 of the Book of Leviticus contains blessings and curses. The Bible promises that these will come upon the Israelite nation depending on whether they have followed, or deviated from, the laws of the Torah.
Verses 14–38 lay out what God will bring upon Israel “if you do not obey Me and do not observe all these commandments”—famine, drought, wild beasts, pestilence, and enemy armies shall destroy the land and its inhabitants. We are then told that fear will overwhelm the people, so that they will imagine all manner of horrors even when these are not real.

     Rabbi Yehoshua ben Korḥah lived in the second half of the second century. He was witness to the terrors that followed the Bar Kokhba rebellion against the Romans (132–135 C.E.). Rome cracked down harshly on the Jews following this second major armed uprising (the first coming in the year 70, resulting in the destruction of the Temple). Rabbi Yehoshua was among the younger students of Rabbi Akiva, a leader of the rebellion who was, according to Rabbinic tradition, tortured and executed by the Romans. According to one tradition (likely apocryphal), Yehoshua was the son of Akiva. We can understand the fear he must have felt during this period, always imagining that the Romans were after him. A reader of the verse in the Torah—“The sound of a driven leaf shall put them to flight”—might say, “How can anyone be frightened by the sound of a leaf?” Rabbi Yehoshua ben Korḥah comes to tell us, “Believe it! That exact scenario once happened to me.”

     The Midrash then goes on to give an explanation of another phrase from the next verse, “They shall stumble over one another.” The contextual meaning of this verse is that, in the great panic that ensues from the fear caused by the sound of the leaves, people will trample one another. The Rabbis give this verse a very different understanding: People will fall and stumble not physically, but metaphorically—over one another’s sins. One person will commit a sin; the punishment for the sin is the horrors listed in
Leviticus 26. But other people, aware of their “neighbor’s” sin, will also be punished for not having prevented the wrong. The conclusion drawn from this interpretation is that we are judged not merely as individuals, but also as a community. Each of us is responsible for what every other member of our group does. All Israel are guarantors one for the other. The Hebrew word עֲרֵבִים/areivim is a term signifying a surety, something held in pledge, or a bond. It is not simply as Jews that we are responsible one for another; we are “co-signers” of a promise. If a fellow Jew cannot pay what he owes, we—every other member of the Jewish people—are obligated to make good on it. The same is true in the moral sphere. We may not close our eyes to what is happening around us. We cannot say, “What other people do is none of my business.” It is our business. If our neighbor does wrong and we do nothing about it, then we are the ones who will stumble and fall.

Searching for Meaning in Midrash: Lessons for Everyday Living

Take Heart
     August 31

     He spoke, and it came to be; he commanded, and it stood firm. --- Psalm 33:9.

     [The power of God appears] in supporting the human nature of Christ and keeping it from sinking under the terrible weight of divine wrath that came on him for our sins and in making him victorious over the Devil and all the powers of darkness. (Thomas Boston, “Of God and His Perfections,” downloaded from The Boston Homepage at www.geocities.com/~thomasboston, accessed Aug. 21, 2001.) His human nature could not possibly have borne up under the wrath of God and the curse of the law nor held out under such fearful contests with the powers of hell and the world, if it had not been upheld by infinite power. Thus, his Father says concerning him: “Here is my servant, whom I uphold”
(Isa. 42:1).

     The divine power appeared in raising Christ from the dead (Eph. 1:19). The unlocking the belly of the whale for the deliverance of Jonah, the rescue of Daniel from the den of lions and restraining the fire from burning the three children were striking declarations of the divine power and were foreshadows of the resurrection of our Redeemer. But all these are nothing to what is represented by them, for these showed a power over natural causes and curbing of beasts and restraining of elements. But in the resurrection of Christ, God exercised a power over himself and quenched the flames of his own wrath, which was hotter than millions of Nebuchadnezzar’s furnaces. He unlocked the prison doors in which the curses of the law had lodged our Savior, stronger than the belly and ribs of a leviathan. How admirable it was that he should be raised from under the curse of the law and the infinite weight of our sins and brought forth with success and glory after his sharp encounter with the powers of hell! In this the power of God was gloriously manifested. Hence he is said to be raised from the dead “through the glory of the Father,” and “declared with power to be the Son of God by his resurrection from the dead” (Rom. 1:4). All the miraculous proofs by which God acknowledged him for his Son during his life were ineffective without this. If he had remained in the grave, it had been reasonable to believe him only an ordinary person and that his death had been the just punishment of his presumption in calling himself the Son of God. But his resurrection from the dead was the most illustrious and convincing evidence that really he was what he declared himself to be.
Thomas Boston


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

On This Day
     Solidarity  August 31

     No one played a larger role in the collapse of Communism in Eastern Europe than Karol Wojtyla of Krakow. During the Nazi occupation of Poland, Wojtyla had attended an underground Catholic seminary by dodging military patrols and taking secret classes in convents, churches, and homes. At length he graduated, donned clerical robes, and traveled to a small Polish village to serve as priest. Communists, meanwhile, were replacing Nazis as the oppressors of Eastern Europe; but with intrepidity, Wojtyla performed baptisms, heard confessions, offered Mass, foiled the secret police, and thwarted authorities.

     The years passed, and by 1978, the village priest had advanced to become the first non-Italian pope in 456 years—John Paul II. On one of his first outings, the new pope heard someone in the crowd shout, “Don’t forget the Church of Silence!” (that is, the church under Communism). John Paul replied, “It’s not a Church of Silence anymore, because it speaks with my voice.”

     John Paul soon returned in triumph to Warsaw where his plane landed over the protests of Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev. Oceans of faces met him everywhere, weeping, praying, shouting. Communist leaders in Russia and Poland trembled as they listened to his words: “Dearest brothers and sisters! You must be strong with the strength that flows from faith! There is no need to be afraid. The frontiers must be opened.”

     Within a year, spontaneous strikes occurred throughout Poland; and in Gdansk, Lech Walesa stood atop an excavator and announced a strike in the shipyards. Back at the Vatican, John Paul watched, prayed, and spoke to a group of Polish pilgrims in St. Peter’s Square. “All of us here in Rome are united with our compatriots in Poland,” he said, signaling his blessings on the strikers. Within a week the Communists made historic concessions, and on August 31, 1980 the Gdansk Accords were signed, permitting the first independent union in Eastern Europe. There was no mistaking the role of the Polish pope, for Lech Walesa signed the papers using a brightly colored Vatican pen featuring a picture of John Paul II.

     The Iron Curtain was crumbling.

     I’ll tell you what it really means to worship the LORD.
     Remove the chains of prisoners who are chained unjustly.
     Free those who are abused!
     Share your food with everyone who is hungry;
     Share your home with the poor and homeless.
     Give clothes to those in need;
     Don’t turn away your relatives.
          Isaiah 58:6,7.


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

Morning and Evening
     Daily Readings / CHARLES H. SPURGEON

          Morning - August 31

     “On mine arm shall they trust.” --- Isaiah 51:5.

     In seasons of severe trial, the Christian has nothing on earth that he can trust to, and is therefore compelled to cast himself on his God alone. When his vessel is on its beam-ends, and no human deliverance can avail, he must simply and entirely trust himself to the providence and care of God. Happy storm that wrecks a man on such a rock as this! O blessed hurricane that drives the soul to God and God alone! There is no getting at our God sometimes because of the multitude of our friends; but when a man is so poor, so friendless, so helpless that he has nowhere else to turn, he flies into his Father’s arms, and is blessedly clasped therein! When he is burdened with troubles so pressing and so peculiar, that he cannot tell them to any but his God, he may be thankful for them; for he will learn more of his Lord then than at any other time. Oh, tempest-tossed believer, it is a happy trouble that drives thee to thy Father! Now that thou hast only thy God to trust to, see that thou puttest thy full confidence in him. Dishonour not thy Lord and Master by unworthy doubts and fears; but be strong in faith, giving glory to God. Show the world that thy God is worth ten thousand worlds to thee. Show rich men how rich thou art in thy poverty when the Lord God is thy helper. Show the strong man how strong thou art in thy weakness when underneath thee are the everlasting arms. Now is the time for feats of faith and valiant exploits. Be strong and very courageous, and the Lord thy God shall certainly, as surely as he built the heavens and the earth, glorify himself in thy weakness, and magnify his might in the midst of thy distress. The grandeur of the arch of heaven would be spoiled if the sky were supported by a single visible column, and your faith would lose its glory if it rested on anything discernible by the carnal eye. May the Holy Spirit give you to rest in Jesus this closing day of the month.


          Evening - August 31

     “If we walk in the light, as he is in the light.”
--- John 1:7.

     As he is in the light! Can we ever attain to this? Shall we ever be able to walk as clearly in the light as he is whom we call “Our Father,” of whom it is written, “God is light, and in him is no darkness at all?” Certainly, this is the model which it set before us, for the Saviour himself said, “Be ye perfect, even as your Father who is in heaven is perfect;” and although we may feel that we can never rival the perfection of God, yet we are to seek after it, and never to be satisfied until we attain to it. The youthful artist, as he grasps his early pencil, can hardly hope to equal Raphael or Michael Angelo, but still, if he did not have a noble beau ideal before his mind, he would only attain to something very mean and ordinary. But what is meant by the expression that the Christian is to walk in light as God is in the light? We conceive it to import likeness, but not degree. We are as truly in the light, we are as heartily in the light, we are as sincerely in the light, as honestly in the light, though we cannot be there in the same measure. I cannot dwell in the sun, it is too bright a place for my residence, but I can walk in the light of the sun; and so, though I cannot attain to that perfection of purity and truth which belongs to the Lord of hosts by nature as the infinitely good, yet I can set the Lord always before me, and strive, by the help of the indwelling Spirit, after conformity to his image. That famous old commentator, John Trapp, says, “We may be in the light as God is in the light for quality, but not for equality.” We are to have the same light, and are as truly to have it and walk in it as God does, though, as for equality with God in his holiness and purity, that must be left until we cross the Jordan and enter into the perfection of the Most High. Mark that the blessings of sacred fellowship and perfect cleansing are bound up with walking in the light.

Morning and Evening

Amazing Grace
     August 31

          ONLY ONE LIFE

     Avis B. Christiansen, 1895–1985

     And He died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for Him who died for them and was raised again. 2 Corinthians 5:15)

     Find your purpose and fling your life out into it; and the loftier your purpose is, the more sure you will be to make the world richer with every enrichment of yourself!
--- Phillips Brooks

     How tragic it is to see the great number of talented young people who waste their lives on transient things instead of investing them in that which is eternal. Yet this choice must be made by every individual: Will I commit my life to the highest and best—God and His service—or will I settle for that which is self-seeking and cheap? The results of these two styles of living are obvious; merely observe the difference between the quality of life of those who have engaged in self-indulgent, useless living and those who have spent their time faithfully serving God with a concern for the spiritual and physical needs of others. One leads to disillusionment and the other to contentment.

     Since it was published in 1937, this thoughtful hymn by Avis B. Christiansen and Merrill Dunlop has been widely used of God to challenge scores of young believers with the importance of committing their lives completely to God’s glory and service. Both Mrs. Christiansen and Mr. Dunlop have made other notable contributions to Gospel hymnody with their many fine hymns.

     These words reinforce and amplify the oft-quoted statement: “Only one life, ’twill soon be past; only what’s done for Christ will last.”

     Only one life to offer—Jesus, my Lord and King; only one tongue to praise Thee and of Thy mercy sing; only one heart’s devotion—Savior, O may it be consecrated alone to Thy matchless glory, yielded fully to Thee.
     Only this hour is mine, Lord—May it be used for Thee; may ev’ry passing moment count for eternity; souls all about are dying, dying in sin and shame; help me bring them the message of Calv’ry’s redemption in Thy glorious name.
     Only one life to offer—Take it, dear Lord, I pray; nothing from Thee withholding, Thy will I now obey; thou who hast freely given Thine all in all for me, claim this life for Thine own to be used, my Savior, ev’ry moment for Thee.


     For Today: Matthew 10:39; Luke 12:15, 34; Romans 12:1, 2; Philippians 1:20, 21; 3:8

     Seriously ponder: Do I really have something beyond myself that gives real meaning and purpose to my life? Is that something God and His service? Breathe this musical prayer ---

Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions

The Existence and Attributes of God
     Stephen Charnock

          DISCOURSE III - ON GOD’S BEING A SPIRIT

     Inference 1. If God be a Spirit, no corporeal thing can defile him. Some bring an argument against the omnipresence of God, that it is a disparagement to the Divine essence to be everywhere, in nasty cottages as well as beautiful palaces and garnished temples. What place can defile a spirit? Is light, which approaches to the nature of spirit, polluted by shining upon a dunghill, or a sunbeam tainted by darting upon a quagmire? Doth an angel contract any soil, by stepping into a nasty prison to deliver Peter? What can steam from the most noisome body to pollute the spiritual nature of God? As he is “of purer eyes than to behold iniquity,” so he is of a more spiritual substance than to contract any physical pollution from the places where he doth diffuse himself. Did our Saviour, who had a true body, derive any taint from the lepers he touched, the diseases he cured, or the devils he expelled? God is a pure Spirit; plungeth himself into no filth; is dashed with no spot by being present with all bodies. Bodies only receive defilement from bodies. Inference

     2. If God be a Spirit, he is active and communicative. He is not clogged with heavy and sluggish matter, which is cause of dulness and inactivity. The more subtle, thin, and approaching nearer the nature of a spirit anything is, the more diffusive it is. Air is a gliding substance; spreads itself through all regions, pierceth into all bodies; it fills the space between heaven and earth; there is nothing but partakes of the virtue of it. Light, which is an emblem of spirit, insinuates itself into all places, refresheth all things. As spirits are fuller, so they are more overflowing, more piercing, more operative than bodies. The Egyptian horses were weak things, because they were “flesh, and not spirit.” The soul being a spirit, conveys more to the body than the body can to it. What cannot so great a spirit do for us? What cannot so great a spirit work in us? God, being a spirit above all spirits, can pierce into the centre of all spirits; make his way into the most secret recesses; stamp what he pleases. It is no more to him to turn our spirits, than to make a wilderness become waters, and speak a chaos into a beautiful frame of heaven and earth. He can act our souls with infinite more ease than our souls can act our bodies; he can fix in us what motions, frames, inclinations he pleases; he can come and settle in our hearts with all his treasures. It is an encouragement to confide in him, when we petition him for spiritual blessings: as he is a spirit, he is possessed with “spiritual blessings.” A spirit delights to bestow things suitable to its nature, as bodies do to communicate what is agreeable to theirs. As he is a Father of spirits, we may go to him for the welfare of our spirits; he being a Spirit, is as able to repair our spirits as he was to create them. As he is a Spirit, he is indefatigable in acting. The members of the body tire and flag; but who ever heard of a soul wearied with being active? who ever heard of a weary angel? In the purest simplicity, there is the greatest power, the most efficacious goodness, the most reaching justice to affect the spirit, that can insinuate itself everywhere to punish wickedness without weariness, as well as to comfort goodness. God is active, because he is spirit; and if we be like to God, the more spiritual we are, the more active we shall be.

     Inference 3. God being a Spirit, is immortal. His being immortal, and being invisible, are joined together. Spirits are in their nature incorruptible; they can only perish by that hand that framed them. Every compounded thing is subject to mutation; but God, being a pure and simple Spirit, is without corruption, without any shadow of change. Where there is composition, there is some kind of repugnancy of one part against the other; and where there is repugnancy, there is a capability of dissolution. God, in regard of his infinite spirituality, hath nothing in his own nature contrary to it; can have nothing in himself which is not himself. The world perishes; friends change and are dissolved; bodies moulder, because they are mutable. God is a Spirit in the highest excellency and glory of spirits; nothing is beyond him; nothing above him; no contrariety within him. This is our comfort, if we devote ourselves to him; this God is our God; this Spirit is our Spirit; this is our all, our immutable, our incorruptible support; a Spirit that cannot die and leave us.

     Inference 4.  If God be a Spirit, we see how we can only converse with him by our spirits. Bodies and spirits are not suitable to one another: we can only see, know, embrace a spirit with our spirits.  He judges not of us by our corporeal actions, nor our external devotions by our masks and disguises: he fixes his eye upon the frame of the heart, bends his ear to the groans of our spirits. He is not pleased with outward pomp. He is not a body; therefore the beauty of temples, delicacy of sacrifices, fumes of incense, are not grateful to him; by those, or any external action, we have no communion with him. A spirit, when broken, is his delightful sacrifice; we must therefore, have our spirits fitted for him, “be renewed in the spirit of our minds,” that we may be in a posture to live with him, and have an intercourse with him. We can never be united to God but in our spirits: bodies unite with bodies, spirits with spirits. The more spiritual anything is, the more closely doth it unite. Air hath the closest union; nothing meets together sooner than that, when the parts are divided by the interposition of a body.

     Inference 5. If God be a Spirit, he can only be the true satisfaction of our spirits: spirit can only be filled with spirit: content flows from likeness and suitableness. As we have a resemblance to God in regard of the spiritual nature of our soul, so we can have no satisfaction but in him. Spirit can no more be really satisfied with that which is corporeal, than a beast can delight in the company of an angel. Corporeal things can no more fill a hungry spirit, than pure spirit can feed an hungry body. God, the highest Spirit, can only reach out a full content to our spirits. Man is lord of the creation: nothing below him can be fit for his converse; nothing above him offers itself to his converse but God. We have no correspondence with angels. The influence they have upon us, the protection they afford us, is secret and undiscerned; but God, the highest Spirit, offers himself to us in his Son, in his ordinances, is visible in every creature, presents himself to us in every providence; to him we must seek; in him we must rest. God had no rest from the creation till he had made man; and man can have no rest in the creation till he rests in God. God only is our dwelling place; our souls should only long for him: our souls should only wait upon him. The spirit of man never riseth to its original glory, till it be carried up on the wings of faith and love to its original copy. The face of the soul looks most beautiful, when it is turned to the face of God, the Father of spirits; when the derived spirit is fixed upon the original Spirit, drawing from it life and glory. Spirit is only the receptacle of spirit. God, as Spirit, is our principle; we must therefore live upon him. God, as Spirit, hath some resemblance to us as his image; we must, therefore, only satisfy ourselves in him.

     Inference 6. If God be a Spirit, we should take most care of that wherein we are like to God. Spirit is nobler than body; we must, therefore, value our spirits above our bodies. The soul, as spirit, partakes more of the divine nature, and deserves more of our choicest cares. If we have any love to this Spirit, we should have a real affection to our own spirits, as bearing a stamp of the spiritual Divinity, the chiefest of all the works of God; as it is said of behemoth (Job 40:19). That which is most the image of this immense spirit, should be our darling; so David calls his soul (Psalm 35:17). Shall we take care of that wherein we partake not of God, and not delight in the jewel which hath his own signature upon it? God was not only the Framer of spirits, and the End of spirits; but the Copy and Exemplar of spirits. God partakes of no corporeity; he is pure Spirit. But how do we act, as if we were only matter and body! We have but little kindness for this great Spirit as well as our own, if we take no care of his immediate offspring, since he is not only Spirit, but the Father of spirits.

     Inference 7. If God be a Spirit, let us take heed of those sins which are spiritual. Paul distinguisheth between the filth of the flesh, and that of the spirit. By the one we defile the body; by the other we defile the spirit, which, in regard of its nature, is of kin to the Creator. To wrong one who is near of kin to a prince, is worse than to injure an inferior subject. When we make our spirits, which are most like to God in their nature, and framed according to his image, a stage to act vain imaginations, wicked desires, and unclean affections, we wrong God in the excellency of his work, and reflect upon the nobleness of the pattern; we wrong him in that part where he hath stamped the most signal character of his own spiritual nature; we defile that whereby we have only converse with him as a Spirit, which he hath ordered more immediately to represent him in this nature, than all corporeal things in the world can, and make that Spirit with whom we desire to be joined unfit for such a knot. God’s spirituality is the root of his other perfections. We have already heard he could not be infinite, omnipresent, immutable, without it. Spiritual sins are the greatest root of bitterness within us. As grace in our spirits renders us more like to a spiritual God, so spiritual sins bring us into a conformity to a degraded devil. Carnal sins change us from men to brutes, and spiritual sins divest us of the image of God for the image of Satan. We should by no means make our spirits a dunghill, which bear upon them the character of the spiritual nature of God, and were made for his residence. Let us, therefore, behave ourselves towards God in all those ways which the spiritual nature of God requires us.

The Existence and Attributes of God

The Bondage of the Will
     Martin Luther | (1483-1546)


          DISCUSSION.
          THIRD PART.

     WE are now arrived at the LAST PART OF THIS DISCUSSION. Wherein I am, as I proposed, to bring forward my forces against “Free-will.” But I shall not produce them all, for who could do that within the limited of this small book, when the whole Scripture, in every letter and iota, stands on my side? Nor is there any necessity for so doing; seeing that, “Free-will” already lies vanquished and prostrate under a two-fold overthrow. — The one where I have proved, that all those things, which it imagined made for itself, make directly against itself. — The other, where I have made it manifest, that those Scriptures which it attempted to refute, still remain invincible. — If, therefore, it had not been vanquished by the former, it is enough if it be laid prostrate by the one weapon or the other. And now, what need is there that the enemy, already dispatched by the one weapon or the other, should have his dead body stabbed with a number of weapons more? In this part, therefore, I shall be as brief as the subject will allow: and from such numerous armies, I shall produce only two champion-generals with a few of their legions — Paul, and John the Evangelist!


The Bondage of the Will   or   Christian Classics Ethereal Library

Ezekiel 5 - 8
     Brett Meador | Athey Creek


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m2-348 | 05-05-2021




     ==============================      ==============================


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