2/11/2023 Yesterday Tomorrow
Numbers 1 - 2
A Census of Israel’s WarriorsNumbers 1:1 The LORD spoke to Moses in the wilderness of Sinai, in the tent of meeting, on the first day of the second month, in the second year after they had come out of the land of Egypt, saying, 2 “Take a census of all the congregation of the people of Israel, by clans, by fathers’ houses, according to the number of names, every male, head by head. 3 From twenty years old and upward, all in Israel who are able to go to war, you and Aaron shall list them, company by company. 4 And there shall be with you a man from each tribe, each man being the head of the house of his fathers. 5 And these are the names of the men who shall assist you. From Reuben, Elizur the son of Shedeur; 6 from Simeon, Shelumiel the son of Zurishaddai; 7 from Judah, Nahshon the son of Amminadab; 8 from Issachar, Nethanel the son of Zuar; 9 from Zebulun, Eliab the son of Helon; 10 from the sons of Joseph, from Ephraim, Elishama the son of Ammihud, and from Manasseh, Gamaliel the son of Pedahzur; 11 from Benjamin, Abidan the son of Gideoni; 12 from Dan, Ahiezer the son of Ammishaddai; 13 from Asher, Pagiel the son of Ochran; 14 from Gad, Eliasaph the son of Deuel; 15 from Naphtali, Ahira the son of Enan.” 16 These were the ones chosen from the congregation, the chiefs of their ancestral tribes, the heads of the clans of Israel.
17 Moses and Aaron took these men who had been named, 18 and on the first day of the second month, they assembled the whole congregation together, who registered themselves by clans, by fathers’ houses, according to the number of names from twenty years old and upward, head by head, 19 as the LORD commanded Moses. So he listed them in the wilderness of Sinai.
20 The people of Reuben, Israel’s firstborn, their generations, by their clans, by their fathers’ houses, according to the number of names, head by head, every male from twenty years old and upward, all who were able to go to war: 21 those listed of the tribe of Reuben were 46,500.
22 Of the people of Simeon, their generations, by their clans, by their fathers’ houses, those of them who were listed, according to the number of names, head by head, every male from twenty years old and upward, all who were able to go to war: 23 those listed of the tribe of Simeon were 59,300.
24 Of the people of Gad, their generations, by their clans, by their fathers’ houses, according to the number of the names, from twenty years old and upward, all who were able to go to war: 25 those listed of the tribe of Gad were 45,650.
26 Of the people of Judah, their generations, by their clans, by their fathers’ houses, according to the number of names, from twenty years old and upward, every man able to go to war: 27 those listed of the tribe of Judah were 74,600.
28 Of the people of Issachar, their generations, by their clans, by their fathers’ houses, according to the number of names, from twenty years old and upward, every man able to go to war: 29 those listed of the tribe of Issachar were 54,400.
30 Of the people of Zebulun, their generations, by their clans, by their fathers’ houses, according to the number of names, from twenty years old and upward, every man able to go to war: 31 those listed of the tribe of Zebulun were 57,400.
32 Of the people of Joseph, namely, of the people of Ephraim, their generations, by their clans, by their fathers’ houses, according to the number of names, from twenty years old and upward, every man able to go to war: 33 those listed of the tribe of Ephraim were 40,500.
34 Of the people of Manasseh, their generations, by their clans, by their fathers’ houses, according to the number of names, from twenty years old and upward, every man able to go to war: 35 those listed of the tribe of Manasseh were 32,200.
36 Of the people of Benjamin, their generations, by their clans, by their fathers’ houses, according to the number of names, from twenty years old and upward, every man able to go to war: 37 those listed of the tribe of Benjamin were 35,400.
38 Of the people of Dan, their generations, by their clans, by their fathers’ houses, according to the number of names, from twenty years old and upward, every man able to go to war: 39 those listed of the tribe of Dan were 62,700.
40 Of the people of Asher, their generations, by their clans, by their fathers’ houses, according to the number of names, from twenty years old and upward, every man able to go to war: 41 those listed of the tribe of Asher were 41,500.
42 Of the people of Naphtali, their generations, by their clans, by their fathers’ houses, according to the number of names, from twenty years old and upward, every man able to go to war: 43 those listed of the tribe of Naphtali were 53,400.
44 These are those who were listed, whom Moses and Aaron listed with the help of the chiefs of Israel, twelve men, each representing his fathers’ house. 45 So all those listed of the people of Israel, by their fathers’ houses, from twenty years old and upward, every man able to go to war in Israel— 46 all those listed were 603,550.
Levites Exempted47 But the Levites were not listed along with them by their ancestral tribe. 48 For the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 49 “Only the tribe of Levi you shall not list, and you shall not take a census of them among the people of Israel. 50 But appoint the Levites over the tabernacle of the testimony, and over all its furnishings, and over all that belongs to it. They are to carry the tabernacle and all its furnishings, and they shall take care of it and shall camp around the tabernacle. 51 When the tabernacle is to set out, the Levites shall take it down, and when the tabernacle is to be pitched, the Levites shall set it up. And if any outsider comes near, he shall be put to death. 52 The people of Israel shall pitch their tents by their companies, each man in his own camp and each man by his own standard. 53 But the Levites shall camp around the tabernacle of the testimony, so that there may be no wrath on the congregation of the people of Israel. And the Levites shall keep guard over the tabernacle of the testimony.” 54 Thus did the people of Israel; they did according to all that the LORD commanded Moses.
Arrangement of the CampNumbers 2:1 The LORD spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying, 2 “The people of Israel shall camp each by his own standard, with the banners of their fathers’ houses. They shall camp facing the tent of meeting on every side. 3 Those to camp on the east side toward the sunrise shall be of the standard of the camp of Judah by their companies, the chief of the people of Judah being Nahshon the son of Amminadab, 4 his company as listed being 74,600. 5 Those to camp next to him shall be the tribe of Issachar, the chief of the people of Issachar being Nethanel the son of Zuar, 6 his company as listed being 54,400. 7 Then the tribe of Zebulun, the chief of the people of Zebulun being Eliab the son of Helon, 8 his company as listed being 57,400. 9 All those listed of the camp of Judah, by their companies, were 186,400. They shall set out first on the march.
10 “On the south side shall be the standard of the camp of Reuben by their companies, the chief of the people of Reuben being Elizur the son of Shedeur, 11 his company as listed being 46,500. 12 And those to camp next to him shall be the tribe of Simeon, the chief of the people of Simeon being Shelumiel the son of Zurishaddai, 13 his company as listed being 59,300. 14 Then the tribe of Gad, the chief of the people of Gad being Eliasaph the son of Reuel, 15 his company as listed being 45,650. 16 All those listed of the camp of Reuben, by their companies, were 151,450. They shall set out second.
17 “Then the tent of meeting shall set out, with the camp of the Levites in the midst of the camps; as they camp, so shall they set out, each in position, standard by standard.
18 “On the west side shall be the standard of the camp of Ephraim by their companies, the chief of the people of Ephraim being Elishama the son of Ammihud, 19 his company as listed being 40,500. 20 And next to him shall be the tribe of Manasseh, the chief of the people of Manasseh being Gamaliel the son of Pedahzur, 21 his company as listed being 32,200. 22 Then the tribe of Benjamin, the chief of the people of Benjamin being Abidan the son of Gideoni, 23 his company as listed being 35,400. 24 All those listed of the camp of Ephraim, by their companies, were 108,100. They shall set out third on the march.
25 “On the north side shall be the standard of the camp of Dan by their companies, the chief of the people of Dan being Ahiezer the son of Ammishaddai, 26 his company as listed being 62,700. 27 And those to camp next to him shall be the tribe of Asher, the chief of the people of Asher being Pagiel the son of Ochran, 28 his company as listed being 41,500. 29 Then the tribe of Naphtali, the chief of the people of Naphtali being Ahira the son of Enan, 30 his company as listed being 53,400. 31 All those listed of the camp of Dan were 157,600. They shall set out last, standard by standard.”
32 These are the people of Israel as listed by their fathers’ houses. All those listed in the camps by their companies were 603,550. 33 But the Levites were not listed among the people of Israel, as the LORD commanded Moses.
34 Thus did the people of Israel. According to all that the LORD commanded Moses, so they camped by their standards, and so they set out, each one in his clan, according to his fathers’ house.
ESV Study Bible
What I'm Reading
Men of God Should Understand the Importance of Fatherhood
By J. Warner Wallace 2/7/2017
I first noticed the problem as a Gang Detail officer in the early 1990’s. Our city was culturally and ethnically diverse, and we had a gang problem that seemed to transcend ethnic, cultural, and socio-economic boundaries. We had wealthy Korean gangsters, middle class white gangsters, and upper, middle class and lower class Hispanic and African American gangsters. I was raising two and four year old boys at the time and I was interested in what caused the young men in my community to become gangsters in the first place. It certainly didn’t seem to be something in their culture; they came from very diverse backgrounds. What was it? The more I got to know these gang members, the clearer the problem became: all of them suffered from “lack of dad.”
Many of the white gangsters had fathers that were uninvolved, alcoholic or “deadbeat” dads. Many of the Korean fathers were first generation Koreans who never learned the English language, started businesses in our community and worked so hard that they had absolutely no relationship with their sons. Some of the Hispanic fathers were incarcerated and most of our Hispanic gangsters came from a multi-generational gang culture. Many of the African-American gangsters told me that they never even knew their father; they had been raised by mothers and grandmothers without their biological dads. Over and over again I saw the same thing: young men who were wandering without direction or moral compass, in large part because they didn’t have a father at home to teach them. Many studies have confirmed my own anecdotal observations.
I can remember seeing a movie during my tour on the Gang Detail. It was called “Boyz ‘N The Hood“. My partner told me I simply had to see it. I thought it was one of the best movies ever made on the importance of fatherhood. The primary character is a young man who is raised by his mother until he starts to go astray. His mom then delivers him to his father who begins to raise him up in a tough neighborhood but manages to provide him with the moral role modeling he really needed. The movie demonstrated what I learned as a Gang Detail officer: it takes a man to teach a boy how to be a man.
I’ve also learned this first-hand. My dad was largely absent in my childhood and it was tough to understand my role in the world as a man without the daily input from my father. I noticed that as I reached my teen years, I was actually interested in reaching out to my dad and making sure we had a relationship. I needed him. In many ways, I became him in an effort to understand what it was to be a man. I ended up leaving a career in the arts to follow him into Law Enforcement. The power and guidance of a father is an undeniable force in the life of a young man.
As Christians, we ought to get this more than any other group. Scripture is filled with passages that describe the importance of fathers. In addition, the Bible consistently references fatherhood in an effort to analogize God’s relationship with each of us. What does Scripture tell us about the role of Fathers? First and foremost, we are to be teachers:
James "Jim" Warner Wallace (born June 16, 1961) is an American homicide detective and Christian apologist. Wallace is a Senior Fellow at the Colson Center for Christian Worldview and an Adjunct Professor of Apologetics at Biola University in La Mirada, California. He has authored several books, including Cold-Case Christianity, God’s Crime Scene, and Forensic Faith, in which he applies principles of cold case homicide investigation to apologetic concerns such as the existence of God and the reliability of the Gospels.
A Survey Of Old Testament Introduction
By Gleason Archer Jr.
Other Variations in Diction and Style
In other cases the variety of phrasing may be employed to emphasize or amplify some statement of particular importance. Thus, in the death notices of women such as Deborah, Rebekah’s nurse ( Gen. 35:8 ), or Rachel ( 35:19 ), it is described in simple terms: “She died and was buried.” But in the case of the patriarchs, such as Abraham ( Gen. 25:8 ), Isaac ( 35:29 ), and Jacob ( 49:33 ), the formula is more solemn and elaborate: “He gave up the ghost (gāwaʾ) and died, and was gathered to his people, and his sons buried him.” Yet the Documentarians, ignoring this obvious distinction, assign the obituaries of the women to E and the patriarchal obituaries to P, after a mechanical and artificial type of dissection. On the other hand, they leave many other passages undisturbed, even though they show precisely similar variety in the wording; for example, verses like Ex. 1:7 : “And the children of Israel were fruitful, and increased abundantly, and multiplied, and waxed exceeding mighty; and the land was filled with them” — all of which is assigned to P; or chapters like Gen. 24, with its four different designations of Rebekah (damsel, woman, virgin, and maiden) — all assigned to J (cf. Allis, FBM, pp. 63–64).
The critics have always regarded the longer form of the pronoun “I” (ʾānōkɩ̄) as earlier in usage than the shorter form (anɩ̂), and therefore a criterion for Source Division. Hence the formula “I am Jehovah” (ʾānōkɩ̄ Yahweh) in Ex. 20:2, 5 is assigned to J-E, and its occurrence in Deut. 5:6, 9 would presumably be a repetition from this earlier (J-E) tradition. Actually, however, the choice between anɩ̂ and ʾānōkɩ̄ is partly governed by convention or cliché; the usual phrasing for ‘I am Jehovah’ is anɩ̂ Yahweh, and it occurs also in J ( Gen. 28:13; Ex. 7:17 ), even in contexts that freely employ ʾānōkɩ̄ for “I.” The argument of the critics based on the high preponderance of anɩ̂ in an exilic author like Ezekiel overlooks the fact that sixty of its occurrences in Ezekiel (as well as nearly fifty in P) consist in this same stereotyped expression, anɩ̂ Yahweh (cf. Allis, FBM, p. 65). But the whole argument has more recently been rendered ridiculous by the discovery of both forms of the first person singular pronoun almost side by side in the fifteenth-century Ugaritic inscriptions. This is a striking instance of how untrustworthy are the lines of argument used to buttress the Documentary Theory. Post-Wellhausian archaeological discovery overthrows the “assured results” of Wellhausian scholarship and demonstrates the unreliability of deductions based upon ignorance.
How Do We Make Theology Come Alive for Students?
By Sean McDowell 2/9/2017
How do we make theology engaging and interesting for students? While I certainly don’t claim to have it all figured out, and am always looking for some creative and new ideas, here are four lessons I have learned from roughly two decades of teaching and speaking to students on theological issues.
First, use stories. We all love stories. Students do too. As Jonathan Gottschall wrote in his excellent book The Storytelling Animal, “Human minds yield hopelessly to the suction of story. No matter how hard we concentrate, not matter how deep we dig in our heels, we just can’t resist the gravity of alternate worlds.” Jesus told stories for a few reasons. People remember them. We relate to them. And lessons are best learned through stories. Jesus was asked who qualifies as a neighbor, and he told the story of the Good Samaritan. He was asked how many times we should forgive people and he told the story of the Unmerciful Servant. Teach theological doctrines, but whenever possible, tell a story.
Second, use cultural examples. Students today are engrossed with the prevailing culture. The movies they watch, the music they listen to, and the technology they use are all influenced by our wider culture. Sometimes we need to critique culture and other times we need to show how Christ is within culture. But using cultural examples of theology not only makes theology interesting to students, it also helps them make connections from their theology to the “real” world. For instance, recently I was talking with my students about the biblical view of sex. And so I used an example from the movie Passengers, which I wrote about here.
Third, ask good questions. In my experience, good questions are far better than answers. As I wrote in a recent post, my teachers who asked me good questions had a far greater impact on my life than those who simply gave me answers. Isn’t that true for you too? Students today have access to endless information. Simply giving kids theological truths has some value, but far more important is helping kids think theologically. We simply can’t cover every conceivable theological issue in our classrooms, ministries, or conversations. But we can give students a template for how to think theologically. And even if we did cover every issue of today, new issues will inevitably arise. Thus, the most important educational task today is teaching students how to think, how to arrive at truth. And one of the best ways to do this is to ask good questions and guide students through how to discover reasonable answers.
Fourth, connect theology to practical life. According to the National Survey of Youth and Religion  students today tend to compartmentalize their spiritual faith. In other words, they tend to believe that science, math and history are matters of objective truth, but spiritual beliefs are merely a matter of preference that helps give their lives meaning. As a result, few students are able (or interested) to translate theology to their practical lives. In other words, few students can show how their beliefs about God practically shape how they live. If we don’t connect theology to how kids actually live, what’s the point? While there are many ways to do this (such as through stories, experiences, and personal examples), one simple step is to always ask, after teaching a theological truth: How should this affect the way we actually live?
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
Did Jesus’ Last Supper Take Place Above the Tomb of David?
By Marek Dospel 2/9/2017
This two-story stone building atop Mount Zion (right) ranks among the most intriguing sites in Jerusalem. It is traditionally called the Cenacle (from the Latin coenaculum, “dining-room”) and you will find it just outside the present-day Old City walls to the south (see map). The building’s lower story has been associated since the Middle Ages with the Tomb of David, the purported burial place of the Biblical King David, while the upper story—often referred to in English as the “Upper Room”—is traditionally believed to be the place of Jesus’ Last Supper.
Even though it suffered numerous natural and man-inflicted disasters and was claimed and successively held by the faithful of all three monotheistic religions, the Last Supper Cenacle remains standing as a testimony to a long-shared sacrality in the Eternal City. It has been a church, a mosque and a synagogue.
It was not until quite recently, however, that the location of Jesus’ Last Supper and the identity of this particular building were questioned and became an object of scholarly debate. David Christian Clausen, adjunct lecturer in Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, examines the evidence for various claims regarding the historical purpose of the Cenacle in his Archaeological Views column “Mount Zion’s Upper Room and Tomb of David” in the January/February 2017 issue of Biblical Archaeology Review.
Marek Dospel is an author at Biblical Archaeology Society.
Read The Psalms In "1" Year
Psalm 19The Law of the LORD Is Perfect
19 To The Choirmaster. A Psalm Of David.
1 The heavens declare the glory of God,
and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.
2 Day to day pours out speech,
and night to night reveals knowledge.
3 There is no speech, nor are there words,
whose voice is not heard.
4 Their voice goes out through all the earth,
and their words to the end of the world.
In them he has set a tent for the sun,
5 which comes out like a bridegroom leaving his chamber,
and, like a strong man, runs its course with joy.
6 Its rising is from the end of the heavens,
and its circuit to the end of them,
and there is nothing hidden from its heat.
The Institutes of the Christian Religion
Translated by Henry Beveridge
2. The passages which they produce in confirmation of their error are
absurdly wrested, nor do they gain any thing by their frivolous
subtleties when they attempt to do away with what I have now adduced in
opposition to them. Marcion imagines that Christ, instead of a body,
assumed a phantom, because it is elsewhere said, that he was made in
the likeness of man, and found in fashion as a man. Thus he altogether
overlooks what Paul is then discussing (Phil. 2:7). His object is not
to show what kind of body Christ assumed, but that, when he might have
justly asserted his divinity he was pleased to exhibit nothing but the
attributes of a mean and despised man. For, in order to exhort us to
submission by his example, he shows, that when as God he might have
displayed to the world the brightness of his glory, he gave up his
right, and voluntarily emptied himself; that he assumed the form of a
servant, and, contented with that humble condition, suffered his
divinity to be concealed under a veil of flesh. Here, unquestionably,
he explains not what Christ was, but in what way he acted. Nay, from
the whole context it is easily gathered, that it was in the true nature
of man that Christ humbled himself. For what is meant by the words, he
was "found in fashion as a man," but that for a time, instead of being
resplendent with divine glory, the human form only appeared in a mean
and abject condition? Nor would the words of Peter, that he was "put to
death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirits" (1 Pet. 3:18), hold
true, unless the Son of God had become weak in the nature of man. This
is explained more clearly by Paul, when he declares that "he was
crucified through weakness," (2 Cor. 13:4). And hence his exaltation;
for it is distinctly said, that Christ acquired new glory after he
humbled himself. This could fitly apply only to a man endued with a
body and a soul. Manes dreams of an aerial body, because Christ is
called the second Adam, the Lord from heaven. But the apostle does not
there speak of the essence of his body as heavenly, but of the
spiritual life which derived from Christ quickens us (I Cor. 15:47).
This life Paul and Peter, as we have seen, separate from his flesh.
Nay, that passage admirably confirms the doctrine of the orthodox, as
to the human nature of Christ. If his body were not of the same nature
with ours, there would be no soundness in the argument which Paul
pursues with so much earnestness,--If Christ is risen we shall rise
also; if we rise not, neither has Christ risen. Whatever be the cavils
by which the ancient Manichees, or their modern disciples, endeavour to
evade this, they cannot succeed. It is a frivolous and despicable
evasion to say, that Christ is called the Son of man, because he was
promised to men; it being obvious that, in the Hebrew idiom, the Son of
man means a true man: and Christ, doubtless, retained the idiom of his
own tongue.  Moreover, there cannot be a doubt as to what is to be
understood by the sons of Adam. Not to go farther, a passage in the
eighth psalm, which the apostles apply to Christ, will abundantly
suffice: "What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of
man, that thou visitest him?" (Ps 8:4). Under this figure is expressed
the true humanity of Christ. For although he was not immediately
descended of an earthly father, yet he originally sprang from Adam. Nor
could it otherwise be said in terms of the passage which we have
already quoted, "Forasmuch, then, as the children are partakers of
flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same;" these
words plainly proving that he was an associate and partner in the same
nature with ourselves. In this sense also it is said, that "both he
that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one." The
context proves that this refers to a community of nature; for it is
immediately added, "For which cause he is not ashamed to call them
brethren," (Heb. 2:11). Had he said at first that believers are of God,
where could there have been any ground for being ashamed of persons
possessing such dignity? But when Christ of his boundless grace
associates himself with the mean and ignoble, we see why it was said
that "he is not ashamed." It is vain to object, that in this way the
wicked will be the brethren of Christ; for we know that the children of
God are not born of flesh and blood, but of the Spirit through faith.
Therefore, flesh alone does not constitute the union of brotherhood.
But although the apostle assigns to believers only the honour of being
one with Christ, it does not however follow, that unbelievers have not
the same origin according to the flesh; just as when we say that Christ
became man, that he might make us sons of God, the expression does not
extend to all classes of persons; the intervention of faith being
necessary to our being spiritually ingrafted into the body of Christ. A
dispute is also ignorantly raised as to the term first-born. It is
alleged that Christ ought to have been the first son of Adam, in order
that he might be the first-born among the brethren (Rom. 8:29). But
primogeniture refers not to age, but to degree of honour and
pre-eminence of virtue. There is just as little colour for the
frivolous assertion that Christ assumed the nature of man, and not that
of angels (Heb. 2:16), because it was the human race that he restored
to favour. The apostle, to magnify the honour which Christ has
conferred upon us, contrasts us with the angels, to whom we are in this
respect preferred. And if due weight is given to the testimony of Moses
(Gen. 3:15), when he says that the seed of the woman would bruise the
head of the serpent, the dispute is at an end. For the words there used
refer not to Christ alone, but to the whole human race. Since the
victory was to be obtained for us by Christ, God declares generally,
that the posterity of the woman would overcome the devil. From this it
follows, that Christ is a descendant of the human race, the purpose of
God in thus addressing Eve being to raise her hopes, and prevent her
from giving way to despair.
3. The passages in which Christ is called the seed of Abraham, and the fruit of the loins of David, those persons, with no less folly than wickedness, wrap up in allegory. Had the term seed been used allegorically, Paul surely would not have omitted to notice it, when he affirms clearly, and without figure, that the promise was not given "to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ," (Gal. 3:16). With similar absurdity they pretend that he was called the Son of David for no other reason but because he had been promised, and was at length in due time manifested. For Paul, after he had called him the Son of David, by immediately subjoining "according to the flesh", certainly designates his nature. So also (Rom. 9:5), while declaring him to be "God blessed for ever," he mentions separately, that, "as concerning the flesh, he was descended from the Jews." Again if he had not been truly begotten of the seed of David, what is the meaning of the expression, that he is the "fruit of his loins;" or what the meaning of the promise, "Of the fruit of thy body will I set upon thy throne?" (Ps. 132:11). Moreover their mode of dealing with the genealogy of Christ, as given by Matthew, is mere sophistry; for though he reckons up the progenitors not of Mary, but of Joseph, yet as he was speaking of a matter then generally understood, he deems it enough to show that Joseph was descended from the seed of David, since it is certain that Mary was of the same family. Luke goes still farther, showing that the salvation brought by Christ is common to the whole human race, inasmuch as Christ, the author of salvation, is descended from Adam, the common father of us all. I confess, indeed, that the genealogy proves Christ to be the Son of David only as being descended of the Virgin; but the new Marcionites, for the purpose of giving a gloss to their heresy, namely to prove that the body which Christ assumed was unsubstantial, too confidently maintain that the expression as to seed is applicable only to males, thus subverting the elementary principles of nature. But as this discussion belongs not to theology, and the arguments which they adduce are too futile to require any laboured refutation, I will not touch on matters pertaining to philosophy and the medical art. It will be sufficient to dispose of the objection drawn from the statement of Scripture, that Aaron and Jehoiadah married wives out of the tribe of Judah, and that thus the distinction of tribes was confounded, if proper descent could come through the female. It is well known, that in regard to civil order, descent is reckoned through the male; and yet the superiority on his part does not prevent the female from having her proper share in the descent. This solution applies to all the genealogies. When Scripture gives a list of individuals, it often mentions males only. Must we therefore say that females go for nothing? Nay, the very children know that they are classified with men. For this reasons wives are said to give children to their husbands, the name of the family always remaining with the males. Then, as the male sex has this privilege, that sons are deemed of noble or ignoble birth, according to the condition of their fathers, so, on the other hand, in slavery, the condition of the child is determined by that of the mother, as lawyers say, partus sequitur ventrem. Whence we may infer, that offspring is partly procreated by the seed of the mother. According to the common custom of nations, mothers are deemed progenitors, and with this the divine law agrees, which could have had no ground to forbid the marriage of the uncle with the niece, if there was no consanguinity between them. It would also be lawful for a brother and sister uterine to intermarry, when their fathers are different. But while I admit that the power assigned to the woman is passive, I hold that the same thing is affirmed indiscriminately of her and of the male. Christ is not said to have been made by a woman, but of a woman (Gal. 4:4). But some of this herd, laying aside all shame, publicly ask whether we mean to maintain that Christ was procreated of the proper seed of a Virgin.  I, in my turn, asks whether they are not forced to admit that he was nourished to maturity in the Virgin's womb. Justly, therefore, we infer from the words of Matthew, that Christ, inasmuch as he was begotten of Mary, was procreated of her seed; as a similar generation is denoted when Boaz is said to have been begotten of Rachab (Mt. 1:5, 16). Matthew does not here describe the Virgin as the channel through which Christ flowed, but distinguishes his miraculous from an ordinary birth, in that Christ was begotten by her of the seed of David. For the same reason for which Isaac is said to be begotten of Abraham, Joseph of Jacob, Solomon of David, is Christ said to have been begotten of his mother. The Evangelist has arranged his discourse in this way. Wishing to prove that Christ derives his descent from David, he deems it enough to state, that he was begotten of Mary. Hence it follows, that he assumed it as an acknowledged fact, that Mary was of the same lineage as Joseph.
4. The absurdities which they wish to fasten upon us are mere puerile calumnies. They reckon it base and dishonouring to Christ to have derived his descent from men; because, in that case, he could not be exempted from the common law which includes the whole offspring of Adam, without exception, under sin. But this difficulty is easily solved by Paul's antithesis, "As by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin"--"even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life," (Rom. 5:12, 18). Corresponding to this is another passage, "The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven," (1 Cor. 15:47). Accordingly, the same apostle, in another passage, teaching that Christ was sent "in the likeness of sinful flesh, that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us," distinctly separates him from the common lot, as being true man, and yet without fault and corruption (Rom. 8:3). It is childish trifling to maintain, that if Christ is free from all taint, and was begotten of the seed of Mary, by the secret operation of the Spirit, it is not therefore the seed of the woman that is impure, but only that of the man. We do not hold Christ to be free from all taint, merely because he was born of a woman unconnected with a man, but because he was sanctified by the Spirit, so that the generation was pure and spotless, such as it would have been before Adam's fall. Let us always bear in mind, that wherever Scripture adverts to the purity of Christ, it refers to his true human nature, since it were superfluous to say that God is pure. Moreover, the sanctification of which John speaks in his seventeenth chapter is inapplicable to the divine nature. This does not suggest the idea of a twofold seed in Adam, although no contamination extended to Christ, the generation of man not being in itself vicious or impure, but an accidental circumstance of the fall. Hence, it is not strange that Christ, by whom our integrity was to be restored, was exempted from the common corruption. Another absurdity which they obtrude upon us--viz. that if the Word of God became incarnate, it must have been enclosed in the narrow tenement of an earthly body, is sheer petulance. For although the boundless essence of the Word was united with human nature into one person, we have no idea of any enclosing. The Son of God descended miraculously from heaven, yet without abandoning heaven; was pleased to be conceived miraculously in the Virgin's womb, to live on the earth, and hang upon the cross, and yet always filled the world as from the beginning.
 The last clause of the sentence is omited in the French.
 Latin, "An dicere velimus ex semine menstruali virginis procreatur esse Christum."
Christian Classics Ethereal Library / Public Domain
Institutes of the Christian Religion
Christian Martyrdom and Tertullian
By Lenny Esposito 2/23/2013
Several news sources are reporting on the increased persecution of Christian house churches in China. When China fell to the communists in 1949, the atheistic government discouraged any practice of religion and missionaries were basically removed from the country. For the next thirty years, Christians in the West were left to assume that the church had been stamped out by the state. However, once relations softened between the Chinese government and the West, we were surprised to see a populous and thriving house church movement that seemed to increase under persecution.
This reminded me of the quote by Tertullian in his Apology for the Christians and it makes me ponder two thoughts. While martyrdom has been "the seed of the church," Tertullian also said that Christians don't hope for it for its own sake, but that the truth of Christ may claim ultimate victory. So we should pray and do what we can for all those persecuted for the name of Jesus across the globe. Secondly, with the western church so soft, I wonder how we would embrace such a calling as martyrdom. Would we see it the way Tertullain and those in his day did? If not, then what do we love more, Christ or our comfort?
WHAT reason then, say you, have we Christians to complain of our sufferings, when we are so fond of persecution; we ought rather to love those who persecute us so sweetly to our heart's content. It is true, indeed, we are not against suffering, when the Captain of our salvation calls us forth to suffer: but let me tell you, it is with us in our Christian warfare as it is with you in yours, we choose to suffer as you choose to fight; but no man chooses fighting for fighting sake, because he cannot engage without fear and hazard of life. Yet, nevertheless, when the brave soldier finds he must engage, he battles it with all his power, and if he comes off victorious is full of joy, though just before not without his complaints of a military life, because he has obtained his end, laden with glory, laden with spoil.
Lenny Esposito is president and founder of Come Reason Ministries, a Christian apologetics organization, and author of the popular www.comereason.org Web site. He has taught apologetics and Christian worldview for over 17 years and has authored hundreds articles dealing with intellectually strenuous topics such as the existence of God, theology, philosophy, social issues and Biblical difficulties.
Lenny is an in-demand speaker, teaching at conferences, churches, and schools across the nation. He is a contributor to the popular Apologetics Study Bible for Students and his articles have appeared in the Los Angeles Times and the Southern California Christian Times. He has debated many topics on faith and reason and the rationality of the Christian worldview; his most recent debate being against well-known atheists and author Dr. Richard Carrier on the question "Does God Exist?"
Lenny is a pioneer in online ministry efforts when he began using the Web to reach others near its beginnings in 1995. He produces one of the top 16 apologetics podcasts according to Apologetics 315 and his site has been viewed millions of times by visitors from nearly every country in the world.
Lenny is a member of the Evangelical Philosophical Society and the Evangelical Theological Society.
The Problem Of The Old Testament
By James Orr 1907
V. THE PROBLEM OF THE DIVINE NAMES IN J AND E
The crux of the question of the distinction of documents lies, it will be admitted, in the use of the divine names in Genesis, and this problem, so far as it concerns J and E—P stands on a somewhat different basis — must now seriously engage our attention.
1. The first thing to be done is to ascertain the facts, and here, once more, we believe, it will be found that the case is not quite so simple as it is ordinarily represented to be. The broad statement is not to be questioned that there are certain sections in the narrative attributed to JE in which the divine name “Jehovah” is preponderatingly used, and certain other sections in which the name “Elohim” (God) is chiefly used. It is this which constitutes the problem. We must beware, however, of exaggeration even here. When, e.g., Dr. Driver says that in the narrative, Gen. 12:10–20, “the term Jehovah is uniformly employed,” it would not readily occur to the reader that “uniformly” in this instance means only once. The truth is, as we soon discover, that no absolute rule about the use of the names can be laid down. Even eliminating those instances in which the “redactor” is invoked to interpolate and alter, there remains a not inconsiderable number of cases to show that the presence of the divine names is not an infallible test. Kuenen himself says — and the admission is striking — “The history of critical investigation has shown that far too much weight has often been laid on agreement in the use of the divine names [it is the pillar of the whole hypothesis].… It is well, therefore, to utter a warning against laying an exaggerated stress on this one phenomenon.” There are grounds for this warning.
(1) There can be no doubt whatever that the name “Elohim” is sometimes found in J passages. In the narrative of the temptation in Gen. 3 (J), e.g., the name “Jehovah” is not put into the mouth of the serpent, but, instead, the name “Elohim”: “Yea, hath Elohim said,” etc. Similarly, in the story of Hagar’s flight (J), the handmaid is made to say: “Thou Elohim seest me.” In such cases one can easily see that a principle is involved. In the story of the wrestling at Peniel, again, in Gen. 32. (J), we have “Elohim” in vers. 28, 29. In the life of Joseph, Gen. 39. is assigned by Dillmann, Kuenen, Kautzsch, and most to J (as against Wellhausen), despite its “linguistic suggestions” of E, and the occurrence of “Elohim” in ver. 9; and Kuenen writes of other passages: “Elohim in chaps. 43:29, 44:16, is no evidence for E, since Joseph speaks and is spoken to as a heathen until chap. 45. ”
(2) Examples of the converse case of the use of Jehovah by E are not so numerous, but such occasionally occur. Addis, indeed, says roundly: “The Elohist … always speaks of Elohim and never of Yahweh, till he relates the theophany in the burning bush.” But Dr. Driver states the facts more cautiously and correctly. “E,” he says, “prefers God (though not exclusively), and Angel of God, where J prefers Jehovah and Angel of Jehovah.” E.g., in Gen. 22:1–14 (E) “Angel of Jehovah” occurs in ver. 11, and “Jehovah” twice in ver. 14. Similarly, in Gen. 28:17–22 (E), Jacob says: “Then shall Jehovah be my God.” When the use of the divine names is taken from the former exclusive ground, and reduced to a “preference,” it is obvious that new possibilities are opened. We ask that it be noted further that isolated Elohistic sections occur after Ex. 3,7 e.g., in Ex. 13:17–19, . — a singular fact to be afterwards considered.
(3) We would call attention, lastly, to the lengths which criticism is prepared to go in acknowledging the principle of discrimination in the use of the divine names. Kuenen, with his usual candour from his own point of view, allows to this principle considerable scope. “The original distinction between Jahwe and Elohim,” he says, “very often accounts for the use of one of these appellations in preference to the other.” (Dr. Driver allows it “only in a comparatively small number of instances.”) He gives in illustration the following cases. “When the God of Israel is placed over against the gods of the heathen the former is naturally described by the proper name Jahwe ( Ex. 12:12; 15:11; 18:11 ). When heathens are introduced as speaking, they use the word Elohim ( Gen. 41:39 ).… So, too, the Israelites, when speaking to heathens, often use Elohim, as Joseph does, for instance, to Potiphar’s wife, Gen. 39:9; to the butler and baker, Gen. 40:8; and to Pharaoh, Gen. 41:16, 25, 28, 32 (but also in vers. 51, 52, which makes us suspect that there may be some other reason for the preference of Elohim); so, too, Abraham to Abimelech, Gen. 20:13 (where Elohim even takes the plural construction). Where a contrast between the divine and the human is in the mind of the author, Elohim is at anyrate the more suitable word (e.g., Gen. 4:25; 32:28; Ex. 8:15; 32:16, etc.).”
2. What now, we go on to inquire, is the explanation of these phenomena?
(1) We have already seen the difficulties which attend the critical solution of distinct sources in the case of documents so markedly similar and closely related as J and E. There can be no objection, indeed, to the assumption of the use by the writer of Genesis of an older source, or older sources, for the lives of the patriarchs; such, in our opinion, must have been there. But such source, or sources, would, if used, underlie both J and E sections, while the general similarity of style in the narratives shows that, in any case, older records were not simply copied. It may be further pointed out that the supposition of two or more documents (JEP, etc.), combined by a redactor, does not in reality relieve the difficulty. We have still to ask — On what principle did the redactor work in the selection of his material? What moved him, out of the several (parallel) narratives at his disposal, here to choose J, there to choose E, in another place to choose P, at other times to weave in stray sentences or clauses from this or that writing? Did he act from mere caprice? If he did not, the difficulty of the names seems only shifted back from the original authors to the compiler.
(2) Shall we then say, sustaining ourselves on such admissions as those of Kuenen above, that the alternation of names in JE narratives in Genesis is due to the fact that these names are always used discriminatively? This has been the favourite view of writers of a conservative tendency, and there is assuredly a deep truth underlying it, though we do not think it can be carried through to the full extent that these writers desire. It is the case, and is generally admitted, that there is a difference of meaning in the two names of God, — “Elohim and Jahweh,” as Dr. Driver puts it, “represent the divine nature under different aspects, viz., as the God of nature and the God of revelation respectively,” — and it will also be allowed that to some extent this is the principle governing their selection in particular passages. But is it the principle of distinction throughout?
In this connection it is necessary to consider the important fact, on which the critics rightly lay much stress, that in the case of E the distinction in the use of the divine names ceases (not wholly, as we saw, but generally) with the revelation in Ex. 3. What does this fact mean? The critical answer is simple: a new name of God — the name Jehovah — is here revealed, and with the revelation of the new name the use of the older name is discontinued. This explanation, however, as a little reflection shows, is not quite so satisfactory as it seems. For, first, it is not a distinction between E and J that the one knows of a revelation of God to Moses by His name Jehovah, and the other does not. Both, as we find, are aware of, and describe in nearly the same terms, the commission to Moses. In both Moses was to tell the children of Israel that “Jehovah, the God of [their] fathers” had sent him, Ex. 3:15 (E); 16 (J); 4:5 (J). And, second, while it is E who records the words of revelation “I AM THAT I AM” (ver. 14 ), it is not E, but P, who later has the declaration: “I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, as El-Shaddai, but by My name Jehovah I was not known to them.” There is thus no indication that E regarded the revelation to Moses in any other light than J did: therefore, no apparent reason why E, any more than J, should draw in his narrative so sharp a distinction between the period before and that after the revelation in Exodus. Nor, in fact, did he; for we have seen that Elohistic sections are found later in the book, and many able critics hold the view that originally the E document had this name Elohim till its close.
The general sense of the revelation to Moses is evidently the same in all the three supposed sources, and this helps us in determining the meaning of the words above quoted from P — “By My name Jehovah I was not known to them.” Do these words mean, as most critics aver, that the name Jehovah was up to that time absolutely unknown? Was the revelation merely a question of a new vocable? Or, in consonance with the pregnant Scriptural use of the word “name,” — in harmony also with the declarations of J and E that the God who speaks is “Jehovah, the God of your fathers,” — is the meaning not, as many have contended, that the God who in earlier times had revealed Himself in deeds of power and mercy as El Shaddai, would now reveal Himself, in the deliverance of Israel, in accordance with the grander character and attributes implied in His name Jehovah — the ever-abiding, changeless, covenant-keeping One? For ourselves we have no doubt that, as this is the deeper, so it is the truer view of the revelation; any other we have always felt to be a superficialising of it.
There is, therefore, good ground for laying stress on the distinction of meaning in the divine names. This, probably, — so far we go with the critics, — is the real reason of the predominating usage in the P parts prior to Ex. 6. The usage in this writing is ruled by the contrast of two stages of revelation, which the writer desires to emphasise. Still we think that, while this explanation of discriminative use is perhaps not impossible for JE, and often has real place, it is highly improbable that the same author should designedly change the name in so marked a fashion through whole chapters, as is done in this narrative, without more obvious reason than generally presents itself. Only, as formerly remarked, the critics themselves cannot wholly get away from this difficulty. If not the author, then the redactor, must have had some principle to guide him in choosing, now a Jehovistic, now an Elohistic section. He is too skilful a person to have worked at random; the distinction of names in his documents must have been as obvious to him as to us; he is supposed to have often changed the names to make them suit his context; it is difficult, therefore, to think that he had not some principle or theory to guide him.
3. This leads to another, and very important question — Is it so certain that in the case of JE there has been no change in the names? The question is not so uncalled for as it may seem. We do not need to fall back on the redactor of the critics to recognise that the Pentateuch has a history — that, like other books of the Bible, it has undergone a good deal of revision, and that sometimes this revision has left pretty deep traces upon the text. The differences in the Hebrew, Samaritan, and LXX numbers in Gen. 5 and 11 are a familiar example. But in the use of the divine names also suggestive facts present themselves. It has been mentioned above as the conjecture of certain critics that the E document had originally “Elohim” till its close, and was designedly changed to “Jehovah” after Ex. 3 (but why then not wholly?). A plainer example is in Gen. 2–3 (J), where the two names are conjoined in the form “Jehovah Elohim” (LORD God). It is generally allowed that this is not the original form of writing, and that the names are intentionally combined to show the identity of the “Elohim” of chap. 1 (P) with the “Jehovah” of the subsequent narratives. If we may believe Klostermann, the ancient Hebrews could never have used in speech such a combination as “Jehovah Elohim,” and would read here simply “Elohim.” The LXX is specially instructive on this point, for it frequently reads “God” simply (chap. 2:5, 7, 9, 19, 21 ), where the Hebrew has the double name. So in chap. 4:1, for “I have gotten a man by the help of Jehovah,” the LXX reads “God” (conversely in ver. 25, for “God” in the Hebrew it reads “Lord God”); and in ver. 26, for “call on Jehovah,” it has “Lord God.” This raises the question, more easily asked than answered — Did this combination of the names stop originally with chap. 3 ? Or if not, how far did it go? The LXX certainly carried it a good way further than our present text — at least to the end of the story of the flood.
There is, however, yet another class of phenomena bearing closely on our subject — which has, in fact, furnished Klostermann with the suggestion of a possible solution of our problem well deserving of consideration. We refer to the remarkable distribution of the divine names in the Book of Psalms. It was before pointed out that in the first three of the five Books into which the Psalter is divided, the psalms are systematically arranged into Jehovistic and Elohistic groups: Book 1 is Jehovistic (Davidic); Book 2 Elohistic (sons of Korah, Asaph, David); Book 3 Jehovistic (sons of Korah, etc.). Here, then, in the Pentateuch and in the Psalter are two sets of phenomena sufficiently similar to suggest the probability of a common cause. What is the explanation in the case of the Psalms? Is it, as Colenso thought, that David wrote Elohistic psalms at one period of his life, and Jehovistic psalms at another? Few critics at the present day would accept this solution; besides, it does not explain the phenomena of the other groups. The real key, it is generally allowed, is furnished in the fact that, in a few cases, the same psalms (or parts of psalms) appear in different groups — in one form Jehovistic, in the other Elohistic Thus Ps. 53 is an Elohistic recension of the Jehovistic Ps. 14; Ps. 70 is an Elohistic recension of the Jehovistic Ps. 40:13–17 (in the remaining case, Ps. 108 = Ps. 57:7–11, and 60:5–12, both versions are Elohistic). As the psalmist cannot well be supposed to have written the psalm in both forms, it is clear that in one or other of the versions the name has been designedly changed. This also is the nearly unanimous opinion of modern scholars. Facts show that there was a time, or were times, in the history of Israel, when in certain circles there was a shrinking from the use of the sacred name Jehovah, and when, in speech, the name “Elohim” or “Adonai” was substituted for it. Not only was the name changed in reading, but versions of the Psalms apparently were produced for use with the name written as it was to be read — that is, with Elohim substituted for Jehovah. Klostermann’s suggestion, in brief, is that precisely the same thing happened with the old Jehovistic history - book of Israel, which corresponds with what we call JE. There was an Elohistic version of this work in circulation alongside of the original Jehovistic — a recension in which the divine name was written “Elohim,” at least up to Ex. 3, and possibly all through. When the final editing of the Pentateuch took place, texts of both recensions were employed, and sections taken from one or the other as was thought most suitable. In other words, for the J and E documents of the critics, Klostermann substitutes J and E recensions of one and the same old work. To him, as to us, the piecing together of independent documents in the manner which the critical theory supposes, appears incredible. If hypothesis is to be employed, this of Klostermann, in its general idea, seems to us as good as any.
Olaf, Culture, and Holiness
By MarkKate Morse 12/17/2015
As you get older it’s harder and harder to discern between a culture’s normal process of updating norms and values and the idealized values and norms of the past. So, I sometimes ask my adult kids what they think about some music, movie, or event, or person in the news. Their insights are helpful to me.
I saw something on TV, and I can’t get it out of my mind. So I thought, perhaps I should ask for the perspective of the emerging generation of Christian leaders. On some levels this is a no brainer, but on others it seems to me insidiously complex. I know it’s the ‘world,’ but it’s also the world we live in and try to influence.
Here is what I saw. One evening I was flipping channels and stopped on a sitcom I hadn’t seen before (confession, I hardly ever watch sitcoms, except Mash, so you see my point about perhaps being stuck in the past). I stopped because it had an African-American family and a White family working together to provide the show-stopper birthday party for one of their children. When I dropped in on the show, the party was not going well. Neighbors were not impressed; as if that’s really the point of a child’s birthday party, but I digress. So the African-American father had an idea to punch up the party experience. He went upstairs and came down dressed as Olaf, the friendly and funny snowman in Frozen, with white tights and an Olaf body costume.
The little children, who looked like they were around 4-6 years of age, were thrilled and gathered around on the floor to hear Olaf sing. Olaf began singing and dancing. Then in a moment of exuberance his tights split open in the crotch right at eye-level for the kids. Now the ‘censors’ blurred out the area for us viewers but, of course, in the spirit of the show, it wasn’t blurred out for the kids. It was left to the viewers’ imagination whether he had on underwear or not. The children started screaming and running around. The parents were horrified and took their kids and left.
I couldn’t believe I just saw that on national television. I couldn’t believe the canned laughter in the background as the incident happened. I couldn’t believe that anyone would find this funny or fit for viewing. Is this depraved or am I over-reacting? Is this a silly incident or an indication of our culture’s dark confusion? That’s what I really want to know. Do you 20-30 year olds find this disturbing, and if so why and if not, why not?
MaryKate Morse, PhD, is professor of Leadership and Spiritual Formation in the seminary at George Fox University. Currently she is the Lead Mentor for the Doctor of Ministry in Leadership and Spiritual Formation. Raised in the Air Force, MaryKate lived in various states and overseas. She completed her BS in Secondary Education and English Literature at Longwood University in Virginia. With her husband, Randy, and small children she lived in the Andes Mountains of Bolivia and Peru doing ministry and social projects with the Aymará Indians. Upon return she did a Masters in Biblical Studies and an MDIV at Western Evangelical Seminary (now GFES). She began teaching, studied spiritual formation and direction, and was certified as a spiritual director and recorded as a pastor with the Evangelical Friends. MaryKate completed her doctorate at Gonzaga University where she studied the characteristics of renewal leadership as modeled by Jesus. She continues to explore how spiritual formation and effective leadership result in the transformation of individuals and communities especially for evangelists and front-line leaders in diverse cultural environments. After her doctorate she planted two churches and served in various administrative positions at the university including Seminary Associate Dean, Director of Hybrid programs, and University Director of Strategic Planning. She is a spiritual director and leadership mentor and coach, conference and retreat speaker, and author including Making Room for Leadership: Power, Space, and Influence and A Guidebook to Prayer. MaryKate is married to Randy and has three adult children and five grandchildren. She enjoys being with family, hiking, reading, exploring new places, and playing with her puppy, Tess. Books by MaryKate Morse:
Making Room for Leadership: Power, Space and Influence
A Guidebook to Prayer: 24 Ways to Walk with God
The Pilgrim's Progress From This World To That Which Is To Come;
Delivered Under The Similitude Of A Dream
By John Bunyan 1678
THE EIGHTH STAGEThey went then till they came to the Delectable Mountains, which mountains belong to the Lord of that hill of which we have spoken before. So they went up to the mountains, to behold the gardens and orchards, the vineyards and fountains of water; where also they drank and washed themselves, and did freely eat of the vineyards. Now, there were on the tops of these mountains shepherds feeding their flocks, and they stood by the highway-side. The pilgrims, therefore, went to them, and leaning upon their staffs, (as is common with weary pilgrims when they stand to talk with any by the way,) they asked, Whose Delectable Mountains are these; and whose be the sheep that feed upon them?
SHEP. These mountains are Emmanuel’s land, and they are within sight of his city; and the sheep also are his, and he laid down his life for them.
John 10:11 I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. ESV
John 10:15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. ESV
CHR. Is this the way to the Celestial City?
SHEP. You are just in your way.
CHR. How far is it thither?
SHEP. Too far for any but those who shall get thither indeed.
CHR. Is the way safe or dangerous?
SHEP. Safe for those for whom it is to be safe; but transgressors shall fall therein.
Hos. 14:9 Whoever is wise, let him understand these things;
whoever is discerning, let him know them;
for the ways of the LORD are right,
and the upright walk in them,
but transgressors stumble in them. ESV
SHEP. The Lord of these mountains hath given us a charge not to be forgetful to entertain strangers,
Heb. 13:2 Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. ESV
therefore the good of the place is before you.
I saw also in my dream, that when the shepherds perceived that they were wayfaring men, they also put questions to them, (to which they made answer as in other places,) as, Whence came you? and, How got you into the way? and, By what means have you so persevered therein? for but few of them that begin to come hither, do show their face on these mountains. But when the shepherds heard their answers, being pleased therewith, they looked very lovingly upon them, and said, Welcome to the Delectable Mountains.
The shepherds, I say, whose names were Knowledge, Experience, Watchful, and Sincere, took them by the hand, and had them to their tents, and made them partake of that which was ready at present. They said moreover, We would that you should stay here a while, to be acquainted with us, and yet more to solace yourselves with the good of these Delectable Mountains. Then they told them that they were content to stay. So they went to their rest that night, because it was very late.
Then I saw in my dream, that in the morning the shepherds called up Christian and Hopeful to walk with them upon the mountains. So they went forth with them, and walked a while, having a pleasant prospect on every side. Then said the shepherds one to another, Shall we show these pilgrims some wonders? So when they had concluded to do it, they had them first to the top of a hill called Error, which was very steep on the farthest side, and bid them look down to the bottom. So Christian and Hopeful looked down, and saw at the bottom several men dashed all to pieces by a fall that they had had from the top. Then said Christian, What meaneth this? The shepherds answered, Have you not heard of them that were made to err, by hearkening to Hymenius and Philetus, as concerning the faith of the resurrection of the body?
2 Tim. 2:17-18 17 and their talk will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, 18 who have swerved from the truth, saying that the resurrection has already happened. They are upsetting the faith of some. ESV
They answered, Yes. Then said the shepherds, Those that you see lie dashed in pieces at the bottom of this mountain are they; and they have continued to this day unburied, as you see, for an example to others to take heed how they clamber too high, or how they come too near the brink of this mountain.
Then I saw that they had them to the top of another mountain, and the name of that is Caution, and bid them look afar off; which, when they did, they perceived, as they thought, several men walking up and down among the tombs that were there; and they perceived that the men were blind, because they stumbled sometimes upon the tombs, and because they could not get out from among them. Then said Christian, What means this?
The shepherds then answered, Did you not see, a little below these mountains, a stile that led into a meadow, on the left hand of this way? They answered, Yes. Then said the shepherds, From that stile there goes a path that leads directly to Doubting Castle, which is kept by Giant Despair; and these men (pointing to them among the tombs) came once on pilgrimage, as you do now, even until they came to that same stile. And because the right way was rough in that place, they chose to go out of it into that meadow, and there were taken by Giant Despair, and cast into Doubting Castle; where after they had a while been kept in the dungeon, he at last did put out their eyes, and led them among those tombs, where he has left them to wander to this very day, that the saying of the wise man might be fulfilled, “He that wandereth out of the way of understanding shall remain in the congregation of the dead.”
Prov. 21:16 One who wanders from the way of good sense
will rest in the assembly of the dead. ESV
Then I saw in my dream, that the shepherds had them to another place in a bottom, where was a door on the side of a hill; and they opened the door, and bid them look in. They looked in, therefore, and saw that within it was very dark and smoky; they also thought that they heard there a rumbling noise, as of fire, and a cry of some tormented, and that they smelt the scent of brimstone. Then said Christian, What means this? The shepherds told them, This is a by-way to hell, a way that hypocrites go in at; namely, such as sell their birthright, with Esau; such as sell their Master, with Judas; such as blaspheme the Gospel, with Alexander; and that lie and dissemble, with Ananias and Sapphira his wife.
Then said Hopeful to the shepherds, I perceive that these had on them, even every one, a show of pilgrimage, as we have now; had they not?
SHEP. Yes, and held it a long time, too.
HOPE. How far might they go on in pilgrimage in their day, since they, notwithstanding, were miserably cast away?
SHEP. Some farther, and some not so far as these mountains.
Then said the pilgrims one to the other, We had need to cry to the Strong for strength.
SHEP. Aye, and you will have need to use it, when you have it, too.
By this time the pilgrims had a desire to go forward, and the shepherds a desire they should; so they walked together towards the end of the mountains. Then said the shepherds one to another, Let us here show the pilgrims the gates of the Celestial City, if they have skill to look through our perspective glass. The pilgrims lovingly accepted the motion: so they had them to the top of a high hill, called Clear, and gave them the glass to look.
Then they tried to look; but the remembrance of that last thing that the shepherds had shown them made their hands shake, by means of which impediment they could not look steadily through the glass; yet they thought they saw something like the gate, and also some of the glory of the place. Then they went away, and sang,
“Thus by the shepherds secrets are reveal’d,
Which from all other men are kept concealed:
Come to the shepherds then, if you would see
Things deep, things hid, and that mysterious be.”
Pilgrim's Progress (Illustrated): Updated, Modern English. More than 100 Illustrations.
The Continual Burnt Offering
By H.A. Ironside - 1941
February 11Ruth 2:1 Now Naomi had a relative of her husband’s, a worthy man of the clan of Elimelech, whose name was Boaz. 2 And Ruth the Moabite said to Naomi, “Let me go to the field and glean among the ears of grain after him in whose sight I shall find favor.” And she said to her, “Go, my daughter.” ESV
There is a charm about the inspired Hebrew idyl, the book of Ruth, that cannot but appeal to every one of literary taste, whether its divine inspiration be recognized or not. But when we receive and believe it as part of the God-breathed Word, we see added beauties which the natural mind cannot discern. It is, emphatically, an unfolding of the story of redemption. Through Boaz, the kinsman-redeemer (Leviticus 25:25), Ruth, the stranger, is brought into the family of God and recognized as one of the covenant people. The great-grandmother of King David, she has her place in the ancestral line of our Lord Jesus Christ (Matthew 1:5-6). By natural birth the Moabite was barred from the congregation of the Lord unto the tenth generation (Deuteronomy 23:3). By grace Ruth found an honored place among the mothers of Israel.
Jehovah had made special provision for “the poor and the stranger” (Leviticus 19:9-10). By humbling herself in order to avail herself of that provision, Ruth attracted the notice of Boaz, and so this lovely Bible romance came to a happy conclusion.
Leviticus 25:25 “If your brother becomes poor and sells part of his property, then his nearest redeemer shall come and redeem what his brother has sold.
Matthew 1:5 and Salmon the father of Boaz by Rahab, and Boaz the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse, 6 and Jesse the father of David the king. And David was the father of Solomon by the wife of Uriah,
Deuteronomy 23:3 “No Ammonite or Moabite may enter the assembly of the LORD. Even to the tenth generation, none of them may enter the assembly of the LORD forever,
Leviticus 19:9 “When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap your field right up to its edge, neither shall you gather the gleanings after your harvest. 10 And you shall not strip your vineyard bare, neither shall you gather the fallen grapes of your vineyard. You shall leave them for the poor and for the sojourner: I am the LORD your God. ESV
Grace, ‘tis a charming sound,
Harmonious to the ear.
Heaven with the echo shall resound
And all the earth shall hear.
O let Thy grace inspire
My soul with strength divine;
May all my powers to Thee aspire
And all my days be Thine.
The Continual Burnt Offering: Daily Meditations on the Word of God
- A Word to Husbands 1
- Husbands 2
- Q and A 2/8/2018
Devotionals, notes, poetry and more
Sound financial advice (1)
2/11/2018 Bob Gass
‘The wise have wealth…but fools spend whatever they get.’
(Pr 21:20) Precious treasure and oil are in a wise man’s dwelling, but a foolish man devours it. ESV
It’s foolish to buy things you don’t need and can’t afford, especially when your bills are overdue and you’ve nothing set aside for the future. Your financial security is determined by what you owe, not by what you earn! Having to work for years to repay debt severely limits your options. So, determine your lifestyle by your actual income, not by what you wish it was or hope it will be. And when you get a raise, don’t automatically spend more. The Bible says, ‘There is…treasure…in the dwelling of the wise, but a foolish man squanders it’ (Proverbs 21:20 NKJV). One of the wisest things you can do today is to start saving for the future, and sowing at least one-tenth of your income into God’s Kingdom so that you’ll have a harvest when you need it (see 2 Corinthians 9:6). Author John Kennedy writes: ‘Peddling biblically-based financial advice has become a cottage industry. It’s not that the counsel is new, or that people haven’t heard it enough. The fact remains…Christians have racked up debt with no plan for financial accountability…they’re tapped out keeping up with interest payments.’ Is your philosophy in life, ‘Why wait and save when a credit card will let me have what I want right now?’ If you’re buying things you don’t need with money you don’t have, stop it! Before you purchase anything else, ask yourself if you really need it. And even if you think you do, ask yourself if you can live without it for a while; otherwise you’ll become a slave to credit card debt. Here’s some sound financial advice: pray for God’s guidance before you make any non-essential purchase.
UCB The Word For Today
by Bill Federer
On February 11, 1861, newly elected President Abraham Lincoln delivered a Farewell Speech in Springfield, Illinois, as he left for Washington, D.C. Lincoln stated: “I now leave, not knowing when or whether… I may return, with a task before me greater than that which rested upon Washington.” Abraham Lincoln continued: “Without the assistance of that Divine Being who ever attended him, I cannot succeed. With that assistance I cannot fail. Trusting in Him who can go with me, and remain with you, and be everywhere for good, let us confidently hope that all will yet be well.”
Thomas R. Kelly
But in contrast to this passive route to complete obedience most people must follow what Jean Nicholas Grou calls the active way, wherein we must struggle and, like Jacob of old, wrestle with the angel until the morning dawns, the active way wherein the will must be subjected bit by bit, piecemeal and progressively, to the divine Will.
But the first step to the obedience of the second half is the flaming vision of the wonder of such a life, a vision which comes occasionally to us all, through biographies of the saints, through the journals of Fox and early Friends, through a life lived before our eyes, through a haunting verse of the Psalms-"Whom have I in heaven but Thee? And there is none upon earth that I desire beside Thee" (Ps. 73:25) - through meditation upon the amazing life and death of Jesus, through a flash of illumination or, in Fox's language, a great opening. But whatever the earthly history of this moment of charm, this vision of an absolutely holy life is, I am convinced, the invading, urging, inviting, persuading work of the Eternal One. It is curious that modern psychology cannot account wholly for flashes of insight of any kind, sacred or secular. It is as if a fountain of creative Mind were welling up, bubbling to expression within prepared spirits. There is an infinite fountain of lifting power, pressing within us, luring us by dazzling visions, and we can only say, the creative God comes into our souls. An increment of infinity is about us. Holy is imagination, the gateway of Reality into our hearts. The Hound of Heaven is on our track, the God of Love is wooing us to His Holy Life.
A Testament of Devotion
University of Virginia Library 1994
Having attained the age of sixteen years, I began to love wanton company and though I was preserved from profane language or scandalous conduct, yet I perceived a plant in me which produced much wild grapes; my merciful Father did not, however, forsake me utterly, but at times, through his grace, I was brought seriously to consider my ways; and the sight of my backslidings affected me with sorrow, yet for want of rightly attending to the reproofs of instruction, vanity was added to vanity, and repentance to repentance. Upon the whole, my mind became more and more alienated from the truth, and I hastened toward destruction. While I meditate on the gulf towards which I travelled, and reflect on my youthful disobedience, for these things I weep, mine eye runneth down with water.
Advancing in age, the number of my acquaintance increased, and thereby my way grew more difficult. Though I had found comfort in reading the Holy Scriptures and thinking on heavenly things, I was now estranged therefrom. I knew I was going from the flock of Christ and had no resolution to return, hence serious reflections were uneasy to me, and youthful vanities and diversions were my greatest pleasure. In this road I found many like myself, and we associated in that which is adverse to true friendship.
In this swift race it pleased God to visit me with sickness, so that I doubted of recovery; then did darkness, horror, and amazement with full force seize me, even when my pain and distress of body were very great. I thought it would have been better for me never to have had being, than to see the day which I now saw. I was filled with confusion, and in great affliction, both of mind and body, I lay and bewailed myself. I had not confidence to lift up my cries to God, whom I had thus offended; but in a deep sense of my great folly I was humbled before him. At length that word which is as a fire and a hammer broke and dissolved my rebellious heart; my cries were put up in contrition; and in the multitude of his mercies I found inward relief, and a close engagement that if he was pleased to restore my health I might walk humbly before him.
After my recovery this exercise remained with me a considerable time, but by degrees giving way to youthful vanities, and associating with wanton young people, I lost ground. The Lord had been very gracious, and spoke peace to me in the time of my distress, and I now most ungratefully turned again to folly; at times I felt sharp reproof, but I did not get low enough to cry for help. I was not so hardy as to commit things scandalous, but to exceed in vanity and to promote mirth was my chief study. Still I retained a love and esteem for pious people, and their company brought an awe upon me. My dear parents several times admonished me in the fear of the Lord, and their admonition entered into my heart and had a good effect for a season; but not getting deep enough to pray rightly, the tempter, when he came, found entrance. Once having spent a part of the day in wantonness, when I went to bed at night there lay in a window near my bed a Bible, which I opened, and first cast my eye on the text, "We lie down in our shame, and our confusion covereth us." This I knew to be my case, and meeting with so unexpected a reproof I was somewhat affected with it, and went to bed under remorse of conscience, which I soon cast off again.
Thus time passed on; my heart was replenished with mirth and wantonness, while pleasing scenes of vanity were presented to my imagination, till I attained the age of eighteen years, near which time I felt the judgments of God in my soul, like a consuming fire, and looking over my past life the prospect was moving. I was often sad, and longed to be delivered from those vanities; then again my heart was strongly inclined to them, and there was in me a sore conflict. At times I turned to folly, and then again sorrow and confusion took hold of me. In a while I resolved totally to leave off some of my vanities, but there was a secret reserve in my heart of the more refined part of them, and I was not low enough to find true peace. Thus for some months I had great troubles; my will was unsubjected, which rendered my labors fruitless. At length, through the merciful continuance of heavenly visitations, I was made to bow down in spirit before the Lord. One evening I had spent some time in reading a pious author, and walking out alone I humbly prayed to the Lord for his help, that I might be delivered from all those vanities which so ensnared me. Thus being brought low, he helped me, and as I learned to bear the cross I felt refreshment to come from his presence, but not keeping in that strength which gave victory I lost ground again, the sense of which greatly affected me. I sought deserts and lonely places, and there with tears did confess my sins to God and humbly craved his help. And I may say with reverence, he was near to me in my troubles, and in those times of humiliation opened my ear to discipline. I was now led to look seriously at the means by which I was drawn from the pure truth, and learned that if I would live such a life as the faithful servants of God lived, I must not go into company as heretofore in my own will, but all the cravings of sense must be governed by a Divine principle. In times of sorrow and abasement these instructions were sealed upon me, and I felt the power of Christ prevail over selfish desires, so that I was preserved in a good degree of steadiness, and being young, and believing at that time that a single life was best for me, I was strengthened to keep from such company as had often been a snare to me.
John Woolman's Journal
Compiled by Richard S. Adams
A baby is God’s opinion
that the world should go on.
--- Carl Sandburg
God, to redeem us at the deepest portion of our nature
- the urge to love and be loved -
must reveal His nature in an incredible and impossible way.
He must reveal it at a cross.
--- E. Stanley Jones
No form of vice, not worldliness, not greed of gold, not drunkenness itself, does more to un-Christianize society than evil temper.
--- Henry Drummond
The seventh step of humility is when we declare with our tongue and believe in our inmost soul that we are the lowliest and vilest of all, humbling ourselves and saying with the Psalmist, ‘But I am a worm, and I am the reproach of all, the outcast of the people.’ The Scriptures teach us that it is good to be humbled so that we may learn God’s commandments.
Benedict of Nursia
... from here, there and everywhere
by D.H. Stern
reproving a wicked man becomes his blemish.
8 If you reprove a scoffer, he will hate you;
if you reprove a wise man, he will love you.
9 Give to a wise man, and he grows still wiser;
teach a righteous man, and he will learn still more.
10 The fear of ADONAI is the beginning of wisdom,
and knowledge of holy ones is understanding.
11 For with me, your days will be increased;
years will be added to your life.
12 If you are wise, your wisdom helps you;
but if you scoff, you bear the consequences alone.”
Complete Jewish Bible : An English Version of the Tanakh (Old Testament) and B'Rit Hadashah (New Testament)
A Daily Devotional by Oswald Chambers
Is your hope in God faint and dying?
Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose imagination is stayed on Thee. --- Isaiah 26:3. (R.V. marg.).
Is your imagination stayed on God or is it starved? The starvation of the imagination is one of the most fruitful sources of exhaustion and sapping in a worker’s life. If you have never used your imagination to put yourself before God, begin to do it now. It is no use waiting for God to come; you must put your imagination away from the face of idols and look unto Him and be saved. Imagination is the greatest gift God has given us, and it ought to be devoted entirely to Him. If you have been bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, it will be one of the greatest assets to faith when the time of trial comes, because your faith and the Spirit of God will work together. Learn to associate ideas worthy of God with all that happens in Nature—the sunrises and the sunsets, the sun and the stars, the changing seasons, and your imagination will never be at the mercy of your impulses, but will always be at the service of God.
‘We have sinned with our fathers … and have forgotten’—then put a stiletto in the place where you have gone to sleep. ‘God is not talking to me just now,’ but He ought to be. Remember Whose you are and Whom you serve. Provoke yourself by recollection, and your affection for God will increase tenfold; your imagination will not be starved any longer, but will be quick and enthusiastic, and your hope will be inexpressibly bright.
My Utmost for His Highest
the Poetry of R.S. Thomas
Moments of great calm,
Kneeling before an altar
Of wood in a stone church
In summer, waiting for the God
To speak; the air a staircase
For silence; the sun's light
Ringing me, as though I acted
A great role. And the audiences
Still; all that close throng
Of spiritswaiting, as I,
For the message.
Prompt me, God;
but not yet. When I speak,
Though it be you who speak
Through me, something is lost.
The meaning is in the waiting.
Selected poems, 1946-1968
the Poetry of R.S. Thomas
But not to concentrate
on disaster, there are the small
weeds with the caterpillar
at their base that is life's proof
that the beautiful is born
from the demolition of the material.
The butterfly has no
clock. It is always noon
where it is, the sun overhead,
the flower feeding on what feeds
on itself. The wings turn and are sails
of a slow windmill, not to grind
but to be the signal for another
aviator to arrive that the air
may have dancing, a movement
of wings in an invisible
ballroom to a music that,
unheard by ourselves, is to them
as though it will never cease.
Selected poems, 1946-1968
Job’s utterances are the last word in the expression of certain forms of grief. These particular verses are stately and terrific; Job is trying to state to his own mind why God seems to have rejected him, and also why he should reject the way God is being presented to him—
Thou knowest that I am not wicked; and there is none that can deliver out of Thine hand. Thine hands have made me and fashioned me together round about; yet Thou dost destroy me. (Job 10:7-8)
All along Job bases his conceptions on the facts which he knows, and this is the only thing to do, although many of us would rather tell a lie for the honour of God than face the facts. A fanatic is one who entrenches himself in invincible ignorance. Job will not accept anything that contradicts the facts he knows; he is not splenetic, he does not say God is cruel, he simply states the facts—“It looks as though God is rejecting me without any reason, all the facts go to prove this and I am not going to blink them.” Job will not lay a flattering unction to his soul on the line of expediency. No man ever puts a stumbling-block in the way of others by telling the truth; to tell the truth is more honouring to God than to tell a lie. If God has done something for you, you will know it unmistakably, but if He has not, never say He has for the sake of other people. Job sticks to facts, that is what confuses his friends; but in the end Job is brought face to face with God.
Great Lives: Job: A Man of Heroic Endurance (Great Lives (Thomas Nelson))
In speaking again after all his friends have addressed him, Job is directing himself to them all collectively, not to Zophar in particular. This speech begins with his comment on their collective wisdom. They have put themselves forward as purveyors of wisdom, but they have had nothing to teach Job.
For the first time in the book, Job is contemptuous of his friends. Earlier he had expressed his disappointment in them (6:15–21), had even pronounced them disloyal (6:14), and had angrily inveighed against their callousness (6:26–27). But he had not previously accused them of laying exclusive claim to wisdom. That they have not of course done. They have only spoken the conventionalities of wisdom teaching, and though they have occasionally appealed to personal experience (cf. 4:12–19; 5:3, 8, 27), their stance has been typified by Bildad’s encouragement to “question the former generation, apply your mind to the discovery of their fathers, for we ourselves are but of yesterday and know nothing” (8:8–9). They have never represented themselves as the people at whose death wisdom will pass away, the last of their race (a similar charge is made by Aeschylus against Euripides in Aristophanes’ Frogs). But it feels like that to Job, who, with mock seriousness, allows for the moment the truth of this claim: unquestionably ... they must be wholly in the right and he wholly in the wrong.
Great Lives: Job: A Man of Heroic Endurance (Great Lives (Thomas Nelson))
Can you relate?
The Job who thus suffers is the man who proves in his own person the inadequacy of the doctrine of exact retribution ... He is morally blameless, but also religiously faultless, enjoying reciprocal communion with God, a man who would call upon God and invariably be answered. We have had a glimpse of such a person, from the outside, in 1:5, where Job is pictured in constant petition to God on behalf of his children—petition that evidently met with favor on every day except that fateful day of the divine assembly. Here we are invited into that man’s experience of “calling” and “being answered” as a natural, unfretful, satisfying relation with the divine. But of course that was a former experience; now he is the man whom God has not answered and will not answer. Now Job is a caller without an answerer: “I cry to thee and thou dost not answer me … thou hast turned cruel to me” (30:20–21). Should he “call” to heaven, Eliphaz has warned him, there would be no one to “answer” him with escape from the web of retributive fate (5:1). What he longs for is that he could again approach God and learn what he would answer him (23:5); every speech of his is implicitly a cry to God, an attempt to restitute that dialogue he had enjoyed, and his last speech will be climaxed by the cry, “Let the Almighty answer me” (31:35). If God were to call upon him, he, mere mortal that he is, could not answer God (9:3, 14–16, 32); yet such an ill-matched dialogue would be better than nothing, if only there could be dialogue of some sort again (13:22). Even to wait a whole life long for a “call” from God would be worth it: “all the days of my hard service I would wait … then thou wouldest call, and I would answer thee” (14:15). But as it is, he is in the position of the godless man whose “cry” God does not “hear” (27:9); and even ordinary human and domestic dialogue with Job has been stifled: “I call to my servant but he gives me no answer” (19:16). Heaven and earth alike have become deaf, and Job hears nothing but the echo of his own cries.
Great Lives: Job: A Man of Heroic Endurance (Great Lives (Thomas Nelson))
Thomas A Kempis
Book One / Thoughts Helpful In The Life Of The Soul
The Eleventh Chapter / Acquiring Peace and Zeal For Perfection
WE SHOULD enjoy much peace if we did not concern ourselves with what others say and do, for these are no concern of ours. How can a man who meddles in affairs not his own, who seeks strange distractions, and who is little or seldom inwardly recollected, live long in peace?
Blessed are the simple of heart for they shall enjoy peace in abundance.
Why were some of the saints so perfect and so given to contemplation? Because they tried to mortify entirely in themselves all earthly desires, and thus they were able to attach themselves to God with all their heart and freely to concentrate their innermost thoughts.
We are too occupied with our own whims and fancies, too taken up with passing things. Rarely do we completely conquer even one vice, and we are not inflamed with the desire to improve ourselves day by day; hence, we remain cold and indifferent. If we mortified our bodies perfectly and allowed no distractions to enter our minds, we could appreciate divine things and experience something of heavenly contemplation.
The greatest obstacle, indeed, the only obstacle, is that we are not free from passions and lusts, that we do not try to follow the perfect way of the saints. Thus when we encounter some slight difficulty, we are too easily dejected and turn to human consolations. If we tried, however, to stand as brave men in battle, the help of the Lord from heaven would surely sustain us. For He Who gives us the opportunity of fighting for victory, is ready to help those who carry on and trust in His grace.
If we let our progress in religious life depend on the observance of its externals alone, our devotion will quickly come to an end. Let us, then, lay the ax to the root that we may be freed from our passions and thus have peace of mind.
If we were to uproot only one vice each year, we should soon become perfect. The contrary, however, is often the case—we feel that we were better and purer in the first fervor of our conversion than we are after many years in the practice of our faith. Our fervor and progress ought to increase day by day; yet it is now considered noteworthy if a man can retain even a part of his first fervor.
If we did a little violence to ourselves at the start, we should afterwards be able to do all things with ease and joy. It is hard to break old habits, but harder still to go against our will.
If you do not overcome small, trifling things, how will you overcome the more difficult? Resist temptations in the beginning, and unlearn the evil habit lest perhaps, little by little, it lead to a more evil one.
If you but consider what peace a good life will bring to yourself and what joy it will give to others, I think you will be more concerned about your spiritual progress.
The Imitation Of Christ
The Experience of Suffering
The reasons we’ve seen for Israel’s time of suffering in Egypt may fall short of a full explanation. Perhaps Exodus 2:23 suggests another reason. “The Israelites groaned in their slavery and cried out, and their cry for help because of their slavery went up to God.” It took the experience of suffering to lead Israel to cry out to God for help.
It’s peculiar, but it’s true of most of us. When things are going well, we lose awareness of our need for God. Somehow we feel capable in ourselves to meet the challenges of life and eternity. But a sense of need, of helplessness, leads us to trust ourselves afresh to God. When we lose our sense of need, we may lose touch with spiritual reality.
Psalm 73 illustrates how troubles draw our thoughts to God. Asaph had become jealous of the prosperity of the wicked (vv. 1–12). He felt his own commitment to God was useless, as he was still “plagued” all the day long (vv. 13–16). He struggled to understand, and finally realized that his trials were a blessing, and the ease of the wicked was actually “slippery ground” (vv. 17–20 ). Seeing at last, he realized his troubles had helped to keep his eyes and his hope fixed on the Lord, and he was satisfied with God as his “portion forever”. (vv. 21–28)
The Teacher's Commentary
Professor Yosef Faur Department of Talmud
In a section of "The Book Megillat Starim" (published by Poznanski in Hatzofe L'chochmat Yisrael, 25, 1921, pages 177-179), Rav Nissim Gaon (990-1062) develops the principle that (in contrast to the general concept of "divinity", which is attainable through rational thought) the concept of G-d is known only in the "consciousness of feeling" (translation from the Arabic original "alam eltz(r)orýi", the exact meaning of which is: intuition). The people of Israel achieved this supreme knowledge because they stood together:
"... At Mount Sinai and heard "I am the Lord your G-d" from the Almighty himself. From that day on they knew G-d intuitively; having seen the sounds pressing through the cloud and the fog, it seemed to them to be the actual form of the letters and their shapes written in the air in the order of the words."
Thus they realized by intuition "that the Holy One Blessed Be He himself spoke to them". The uniqueness of the Children of Israel stems from the fact that they were fortunate to get to know of "The Creator and His own attributes through intuition". Thus they are the witnesses testifying before all mankind as to the sublime existence of G-d: "they testify that the Lord exists, alive and present in the world, since they learned this fact intuitively". From this exact standpoint Israel alone are capable of being the witnesses - in the sense that the Arabic word "shahid" (believer) refers to one who gives a testimony of faith before others as to what he feels internally. In the light of this Rav Nissim Gaon explained the passage in Isaiah (43,12) "And you are My witnesses, says G-d" in the plain sense of the words. To this height only the People of Israel can ascend: "... The Holy One Blessed Be He made his people Israel unique in knowing Him intuitively... Therefore they deserved the title - witnesses". This is the intent of the prophet Amos (3,2): "Only you have I known from among all the families of the earth". This is to say : "I have made you unique to know Me ... through intuition". After discussing the various scriptural references and problems which apply to this principle , he concludes:
"And it becomes clear from all these Biblical verses and the proofs for the arguments I have brought that all the prophets who heard the words of the Lord, and all Israel, from the day they stood at Mount Sinai and heard "I am ..." and "You shall not have..." from the mouth of G-d, already knew the Lord clearly through intuition".
Accordingly Rabbi Yehuda Halevi (1075-1141) made a sharp distinction between belief in the Lord and belief in god in general. Belief in the Lord has two major characteristics: it cannot be attained through any logical process, through rational means, but only in "that prophetic vision"; and it belongs exclusively to the People of Israel. Belief in the Lord generates an existential transformation in the believer. In the words of Rabbi Yehuda Halevi: "G-d gave him another heart...it is thus that man becomes a servant, loving the object of his servitude and willing to sacrifice his life for the one he loves...". Thus the belief in the G-d of Abraham is different from that of Aristotle (The Kuzari, part 4, 15-16). One may, therefore, differentiate between the belief in the Oneness of G-d in Israel and the monotheism which exists among certain classes of the pagan peoples.
The historian of religion Paul Radin ( 1887-1959) in the ninth chapter of his classic work "Primitive Religion" (New York, 1957), proved that what is usually called monotheism among pagan peoples is not a religious principle but a philosophical one: "We are here not dealing essentially with a religious belief at all but with a philosophical concept". Monotheism among such peoples does not operate in their spiritual lives but is "an artificial and static synthesis" in the hands of a limited group of religious leaders. If it is at all legitimate to call this idea monotheism, claims Radin, "it would be just as legitimate to call Socrates or Seneca a monotheist. Monotheism in its strictly religious connotation implies that it is the official faith of the whole community. Such a faith is never found among primitive people". In this light one can well understand the promise of G-d that the Covenant at Sinai had two purposes (which are, in fact, one). First of all, it was intended to make Israel "a Kingdom of priests" (Exodus 19,6) meaning that unlike the pagan nations this knowledge is not the exclusive property of some kind of elite group, but is the heritage of the entire nation. The second purpose is that this knowledge comes to create a substantial change in the people. This is stated in the the continuation of the passage: "and a Holy People" - this is not simply an intellectual concept, but a belief, which transforms the Children of Israel into a Holy People.
In Exodus 5,22 we hear Moses complain that Pharaoh has rejected his request. Not only did he not free Israel but actually he worsened their condition. The answer to Moses' complaint is found further on (6, 2-7) when G-d announces the process of phenomena and events in nature which will transform Israel into a people who know G-d intuitively. Rabbi Ovadiah Sforno (1470-1550) pointed out that the letter "bet" in the word "be-El Shaddai" relates also to the word "Ushmi" (see Ibn Ezra and Shadal) and therefore the meaning of the passage is: "And by My name, the Lord, I did not make myself known to them: in that revelation. And I did not change any law of nature for them". G-d did not announce His ways to our Forefathers through miraculous changes in nature , but in prophetic visions.
A similar view was held by Rabbi Yitzchak Karo (16th - 17th centuries), the uncle and teacher of Rabbi Sforno in his commentary to the Torah (Toldot Yitzchak). He draws a basic distinction between the miracles done in the time of the Patriarchs - in the name of G-d as "El Shaddai" - which are by nature "hidden miracles", and those done for Israel in Egypt, which were "visible miracles". The purpose of the miracles done by Moses in Egypt was not to convince Pharaoh but to initiate a complex chain of events which would reach their climax at the foot of Mount Sinai. At that point Israel would come to know G-d through "the knowledge of feeling". In this light we should understand the letter-conjunction "vav" in the word "V'yada'atem ki ani ..."(And you will know that I am the Lord , your G-d) (Exodus 6,7) as being causative. The passage then, means: Through these miracles you will finally come to know the Lord in the knowledge of feelings. The continuation "who freed you from the sufferings of Egypt" refers to the first passage in the Ten Commandments: "I am the Lord your G-d who brought you out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage" (Exodus 20,2).
We must point out that according to Maimonides only: "the signs done by Moses in the wilderness - were done out of necessity" (Yesodey Hatorah 8:1). Not so the miracles performed in Egypt, whose purpose, in the words of Rabbi Yehudah Halevi, was to transform each individual in Israel into "a servant loving the object of his servitude and willing to sacrifice his life for the one whom he loves".
The invalid replied, “I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred.” --- John 5:7.
I find in the man by the pool of Bethesda what I call city loneliness.( Wind on the Heath (Morrison Classic Sermon Series, The) ) For thirty-eight years he had been crippled—and now he had no friend in the whole city. There is a loneliness of the moor and of the glen, where there is never a whisper except of the sighing wind. But there is a loneliness that is far worse than that: it is the loneliness of a great and crowded city. There may be someone who in our thronging streets is far more lonely than any Highland cottager; the man by the pool of Bethesda was like that. Round him was all the traffic of Jerusalem, and Jerusalem was a very busy city. And at the heart of all that stir and activity, without one single person to give a hand to him, there lay that lonely sufferer by the water. Where life is richest and relationships most varied and where pleasures flaunt themselves at every corner, it is possible to be more exquisitely lonely than in the solitary shelter of the glen.
I had a friend who went to America six years ago, and I will never forget what he once wrote me. He had spent a year or two in the far west of Canada and then had gone south and settled in the States. And he wrote me that the vast and silent prairie stretching away, endless, from his threshold, never so overwhelmed him with a sense of loneliness as did the tumultuous crowding of New York City. In the city where everyone was hurrying, and no one seemed to care a jot for him, he realized he was a lonely man. It may be that passing you tonight out in the lighted streets, and you so happy, there is someone who is heart weary for a friend.
--- George H. Morrison
Take Heart: Daily Devotions with the Church's Great Preachers
Four Rules or Dying
When entrusted to God, even sickness can become a tool for his glory. Asked why the man in John 9 was blind, Jesus replied, “This happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life” (NIV). Paul’s illness, though a “thorn” in his flesh, displayed the sufficiency of God’s grace. William Sangster’s four rules for facing illness show us how that happens.
Sangster was born in London in 1900 and started attending a Methodist church at age nine. At 13 he became a Christian and immediately began sharing his faith with friends. Three years later he preached his first sermon on February 11, 1917. After stints in the army and in college, he began pastoring a circuit of Methodist churches, working himself to exhaustion, frequently saying, “I just can’t do enough!” His reputation as a powerful preacher and beloved pastor followed him from church to church.
In 1939 Sangster assumed leadership of Westminster Central Hall, a Methodist church near London’s Westminster Abbey. During his first worship service he announced to his stunned congregation that Britain and Germany were officially at war. He quickly converted the church basement into an air raid shelter, and for 1,688 nights Sangster ministered to the various needs of all kinds of people. At the same time he somehow managed to write, to preach gripping sermons, to earn a Ph.D., and to lead hundreds to Christ. He became known as Wesley’s successor in London and was esteemed as the most beloved British preacher of his era.
After the war Sangster headed Britain’s Methodist home missions department until he was diagnosed with progressive muscular atrophy. For three years he slowly died, becoming progressively more paralyzed, finally able to move only two fingers. But his attitude didn’t falter, for when first learning of his illness, Sangster made four rules for himself. Many people have rules for living. Sangster composed four rules for dying: “I will never complain. I will keep the home bright. I will count my blessings. I will try to turn it to gain.” He did all those things. And thus the work of God was displayed in his life, and God’s strength was made perfect in his weakness.
As Jesus walked along, he saw a man who had been blind since birth. Jesus’ disciples asked, “Teacher, why was this man born blind? Was it because he or his parents sinned?” “No, it wasn’t!” Jesus answered. “But because of his blindness, you will see God work a miracle for him.”
--- John 9:1-3.
On This Day 365 Amazing And Inspiring Stories About Saints, Martyrs And Heroes
Daily Readings / CHARLES H. SPURGEON
Morning - February 11
“And they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus.” --- Acts 4:13.
A Christian should be a striking likeness of Jesus Christ. You have read lives of Christ, beautifully and eloquently written, but the best life of Christ is his living biography, written out in the words and actions of his people. If we were what we profess to be, and what we should be, we should be pictures of Christ; yea, such striking likenesses of him, that the world would not have to hold us up by the hour together, and say, “Well, it seems somewhat of a likeness;” but they would, when they once beheld us, exclaim, “He has been with Jesus; he has been taught of him; he is like him; he has caught the very idea of the holy Man of Nazareth, and he works it out in his life and every-day actions.” A Christian should be like Christ in his boldness. Never blush to own your religion; your profession will never disgrace you: take care you never disgrace that. Be like Jesus, very valiant for your God. Imitate him in your loving spirit; think kindly, speak kindly, and do kindly, that men may say of you, “He has been with Jesus.” Imitate Jesus in his holiness. Was he zealous for his Master? So be you; ever go about doing good. Let not time be wasted: it is too precious. Was he self-denying, never looking to his own interest? Be the same. Was he devout? Be you fervent in your prayers. Had he deference to his Father’s will? So submit yourselves to him. Was he patient? So learn to endure. And best of all, as the highest portraiture of Jesus, try to forgive your enemies, as he did; and let those sublime words of your Master, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do,” always ring in your ears. Forgive, as you hope to be forgiven. Heap coals of fire on the head of your foe by your kindness to him. Good for evil, recollect, is godlike. Be godlike, then; and in all ways and by all means, so live that all may say of you, “He has been with Jesus.”
Evening - February 11
“Thou hast left thy first love.” --- Revelation 2:4.
Ever to be remembered is that best and brightest of hours, when first we saw the Lord, lost our burden, received the roll of promise, rejoiced in full salvation, and went on our way in peace. It was spring time in the soul; the winter was past; the mutterings of Sinai’s thunders were hushed; the flashings of its lightnings were no more perceived; God was beheld as reconciled; the law threatened no vengeance, justice demanded no punishment. Then the flowers appeared in our heart; hope, love, peace, and patience sprung from the sod; the hyacinth of repentance, the snowdrop of pure holiness, the crocus of golden faith, the daffodil of early love, all decked the garden of the soul. The time of the singing of birds was come, and we rejoiced with thanksgiving; we magnified the holy name of our forgiving God, and our resolve was, “Lord, I am thine, wholly thine; all I am, and all I have, I would devote to thee. Thou hast bought me with thy blood—let me spend myself and be spent in thy service. In life and in death let me be consecrated to thee.” How have we kept this resolve? Our espousal love burned with a holy flame of devoutedness to Jesus—is it the same now? Might not Jesus well say to us, “I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love”? Alas! it is but little we have done for our Master’s glory. Our winter has lasted all too long. We are as cold as ice when we should feel a summer’s glow and bloom with sacred flowers. We give to God pence when he deserveth pounds, nay, deserveth our heart’s blood to be coined in the service of his church and of his truth. But shall we continue thus? O Lord, after thou hast so richly blessed us, shall we be ungrateful and become indifferent to thy good cause and work? O quicken us that we may return to our first love, and do our first works! Send us a genial spring, O Sun of Righteousness.
Morning and Evening
THE WONDER OF IT ALL
Words and Music by George Beverly Shea, 1909–
What is man that You are mindful of him, the Son of Man that You care for Him? (Hebrews 2:6)
What many Christians need today is a rebirth of wonder and awe. We know the gospel intellectually, but it seldom reaches our emotions and will. We take the incarnation, resurrection, ascension, the indwelling Holy Spirit, and the eternal reign of Christ merely as theological concepts without letting them grip our inmost being. And the wonder that this great God knows, loves and cares for us doesn’t often thrill us as it should. We even become very blasé when we witness a life that has been dramatically transformed by the love of God. Our spiritual condition can be likened to those Christians at the church in Laodicea mentioned in Revelation 3:14–22: “neither cold nor hot”—just lukewarm. We need to recapture the wonder of it all.
George Beverly Shea, one of the all-time favorite gospel singers, gives this account of the writing of this hymn in his book Songs That Lift the Heart:
England figures in the story behind this hymn written in 1955. I was on my way to Scotland for meetings there aboard the S.S. United States bound for Southampton when inspiration came from conversation with another passenger. He wanted to know what went on at our meetings and after detailing the sequence of things at a typical Billy Graham Crusade meeting, I found myself at a loss for words when I tried to describe the response that usually accompanied Mr. Graham’s invitation to become a Christian. “What happens then never becomes commonplace … watching people by the hundreds come forward … oh, if you could just see the wonder of it all.”
“I think I should,” he answered. Then he wrote these words on a card and handed it back to me: THE WONDER OF IT ALL.
“That sounds like a song to me.” Later that night, I wrote words on that theme and roughed out a melody to go with them.
* * * *
There’s the wonder of sunset at evening, the wonder as sunrise I see; but the wonder of wonders that thrills my soul is the wonder that God loves me.
There’s the wonder of springtime and harvest, the sky, the stars, the sun; but the wonder of wonders that thrills my soul is a wonder that’s only begun.
Refrain: O, the wonder of it all! The wonder of it all! Just to think that God loves me. O, the wonder of it all! The wonder of it all! Just to think that God loves me.
For Today: Psalm 8; 2 Corinthians 5:19; Ephesians 2:10; 3:19.
Take time to reflect with awe on the wonder of your personal relationship with the God of the universe. Determine to live throughout the day with this attitude as you think of “the wonder of it all.” ---
Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions
William Lane Craig
Christ as Sacrifice Part 10:
Divine Justice Part 11:
Divine Justice (2) Part 12:
Redemption Part 13:
The Church Fathers Part 14:
Satisfaction Theory Part 15:
Moral Influence Theory Part 16:
Penal Substitution Theory Part 17:
Atonement, Doctrinal Reflection Part 18:
Doctrinal Reflection Continued Part 19:
Doctrinal Reflection Continued (2) Part 20:
Doctrinal Reflection Continued (3) Part 21:
Satisfaction of Divine Justice Part 22:
Satisfaction of Divine Justice (2) Part 23:
Atonement, Redemption Part 24:
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