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Numbers 5 - 6

Numbers 5

The LORD Calls Samuel

Numbers 5:1     Now the boy Samuel was ministering to the LORD in the presence of Eli. And the word of the LORD was rare in those days; there was no frequent vision.

2 At that time Eli, whose eyesight had begun to grow dim so that he could not see, was lying down in his own place. 3 The lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the temple of the LORD, where the ark of God was.

4 Then the LORD called Samuel, and he said, “Here I am!” 5 and ran to Eli and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” But he said, “I did not call; lie down again.” So he went and lay down.

6 And the LORD called again, “Samuel!” and Samuel arose and went to Eli and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” But he said, “I did not call, my son; lie down again.” 7 Now Samuel did not yet know the LORD, and the word of the LORD had not yet been revealed to him.

8 And the LORD called Samuel again the third time. And he arose and went to Eli and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” Then Eli perceived that the LORD was calling the boy. 9 Therefore Eli said to Samuel, “Go, lie down, and if he calls you, you shall say, ‘Speak, LORD, for your servant hears.’ ” So Samuel went and lay down in his place.

10 And the LORD came and stood, calling as at other times, “Samuel! Samuel!” And Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant hears.” 11 Then the LORD said to Samuel, “Behold, I am about to do a thing in Israel at which the two ears of everyone who hears it will tingle. 12 On that day I will fulfill against Eli all that I have spoken concerning his house, from beginning to end. 13 And I declare to him that I am about to punish his house forever, for the iniquity that he knew, because his sons were blaspheming God, and he did not restrain them. 14 Therefore I swear to the house of Eli that the iniquity of Eli’s house shall not be atoned for by sacrifice or offering forever.”

15 Samuel lay until morning; then he opened the doors of the house of the LORD. And Samuel was afraid to tell the vision to Eli. 16 But Eli called Samuel and said, “Samuel, my son.” And he said, “Here I am.” 17 And Eli said, “What was it that he told you? Do not hide it from me. May God do so to you and more also if you hide anything from me of all that he told you.” 18 So Samuel told him everything and hid nothing from him. And he said, “It is the LORD. Let him do what seems good to him.”

19 And Samuel grew, and the LORD was with him and let none of his words fall to the ground. 20 And all Israel from Dan to Beersheba knew that Samuel was established as a prophet of the LORD. 21 And the LORD appeared again at Shiloh, for the LORD revealed himself to Samuel at Shiloh by the word of the LORD.

Numbers 6

The Philistines Capture the Ark

Numbers 6:1     And the word of Samuel came to all Israel.

Now Israel went out to battle against the Philistines. They encamped at Ebenezer, and the Philistines encamped at Aphek. 2 The Philistines drew up in line against Israel, and when the battle spread, Israel was defeated before the Philistines, who killed about four thousand men on the field of battle. 3 And when the people came to the camp, the elders of Israel said, “Why has the LORD defeated us today before the Philistines? Let us bring the ark of the covenant of the LORD here from Shiloh, that it may come among us and save us from the power of our enemies.” 4 So the people sent to Shiloh and brought from there the ark of the covenant of the LORD of hosts, who is enthroned on the cherubim. And the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were there with the ark of the covenant of God.

5 As soon as the ark of the covenant of the LORD came into the camp, all Israel gave a mighty shout, so that the earth resounded. 6 And when the Philistines heard the noise of the shouting, they said, “What does this great shouting in the camp of the Hebrews mean?” And when they learned that the ark of the LORD had come to the camp, 7 the Philistines were afraid, for they said, “A god has come into the camp.” And they said, “Woe to us! For nothing like this has happened before. 8 Woe to us! Who can deliver us from the power of these mighty gods? These are the gods who struck the Egyptians with every sort of plague in the wilderness. 9 Take courage, and be men, O Philistines, lest you become slaves to the Hebrews as they have been to you; be men and fight.”

10 So the Philistines fought, and Israel was defeated, and they fled, every man to his home. And there was a very great slaughter, for thirty thousand foot soldiers of Israel fell. 11 And the ark of God was captured, and the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, died.

The Death of Eli

12 A man of Benjamin ran from the battle line and came to Shiloh the same day, with his clothes torn and with dirt on his head. 13 When he arrived, Eli was sitting on his seat by the road watching, for his heart trembled for the ark of God. And when the man came into the city and told the news, all the city cried out. 14 When Eli heard the sound of the outcry, he said, “What is this uproar?” Then the man hurried and came and told Eli. 15 Now Eli was ninety-eight years old and his eyes were set so that he could not see. 16 And the man said to Eli, “I am he who has come from the battle; I fled from the battle today.” And he said, “How did it go, my son?” 17 He who brought the news answered and said, “Israel has fled before the Philistines, and there has also been a great defeat among the people. Your two sons also, Hophni and Phinehas, are dead, and the ark of God has been captured.” 18 As soon as he mentioned the ark of God, Eli fell over backward from his seat by the side of the gate, and his neck was broken and he died, for the man was old and heavy. He had judged Israel forty years.

19 Now his daughter-in-law, the wife of Phinehas, was pregnant, about to give birth. And when she heard the news that the ark of God was captured, and that her father-in-law and her husband were dead, she bowed and gave birth, for her pains came upon her. 20 And about the time of her death the women attending her said to her, “Do not be afraid, for you have borne a son.” But she did not answer or pay attention. 21 And she named the child Ichabod, saying, “The glory has departed from Israel!” because the ark of God had been captured and because of her father-in-law and her husband. 22 And she said, “The glory has departed from Israel, for the ark of God has been captured.”

ESV Study Bible

What I'm Reading

Are There Different Degrees of Reward in Heaven?

By J. Warner Wallace 8/29/2014

     As Christians, we believe we are saved solely by the grace of God. God sets us apart for salvation based not on anything we could do (or have done), but based instead on the free gift of salvation offered by the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. Our works play no role in our salvation. We cannot earn our way into Heaven, this is a gift of God, so no man or woman could ever boast they earned a place in Heaven with God:

(Eph 2:8–9) 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast.  ESV

     But there are a number of non-Christian theists who believe salvation comes as the result of human effort in combination with the work of God (Jewish believers or Mormons for example). My Mormon friends sometimes complain orthodox Christianity ignores the behavior of believers altogether. After all, do we actually think that all believers are acceptable to God no matter what they do or how they behave? If someone simply says they believe and then lives a life exhibiting little or no evidence of their belief will they still go into Heaven? Isn’t the Mormon notion of levels of Heaven a more equitable and fair position on the nature of the afterlife?

     The beliefs of Christians are often mischaracterized. While we, as Christians, don’t believe our works have anything to do with our entry to heaven, we do understand our works have everything to do with our reward once we get there. This is clear from the Biblical record of Scripture. The Apostle John reminds us of the importance of “works” while we are here on Earth:

(Jn 9:4–5) 4 We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work. 5 As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”  ESV

     So, why is it so important for us to “work”? Is it so that we can earn our Salvation? No, the passage we just read in Ephesians makes it clear our Salvation is not the product of our work. The issue here is not Salvation; it is reward. Christian orthodoxy describes Heaven sees as a place where rewards are distributed to the saints in accordance with the nature of their lives on earth.

     To be fair, not everyone in Christendom agrees with this idea. Some would argue all heavenly reward is measured out equally to those who are saved. So let’s examine both cases and see if we can determine the truth from a Biblical Perspective:

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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.

The Curious Theology Behind The Hymn “It Is Well With My Soul”

By Jack Lee 10/27/2014

     I heard Albert Mohler mention this briefly on one of his Daily Briefings so I googled to see what I could find. You need to read all of the article if you are interested.

     Should tragedy ever find me I hope, and pray, that grace would be there to carry me through it. I know it has the potential. There is a never-ending fountain of it flowing for me; “grace upon grace” I believe the scriptures call it. It’s an absolutely incredible truth for any and every Christian; it’s beautiful. It’s inspired 1000’s of hymns, one of which has always been strangely over-pious and curious to me. I refer to “It Is Well With My Soul” by Horatio Spafford.

     The first time I heard the story behind the hymn, I felt like a Christian wimp. How could someone have that much faith and respond that way midst such tragedy? I know grace and God can do amazing things, but to respond with such faith when you’ve lost 5 children is beyond me. I can’t help but put myself in that situation and know I would not respond that way. I would be crestfallen, angry, broken, and probably feel lost. I would be desperate and destroyed. It hurts me to even think about it. Yet, this was Mr. Spafford’s situation and he responded by writing one of the most memorable Christian hymns of all time.

     However, there is some new research that suggests Horatio Spafford, author of “It Is Well With My Soul” might not be the example of faith we all thought he was.

     The Story Behind The Hymn | If you are not familiar with the story, I’ll give you the short version. Or if you are more of a visual person, you can watch a short youtube video on it here.

     Basically. there was this chap named Horatio Spafford. He was a rather wealthy businessman that lived in Chicago in the mid 1800’s. He was a married man with 5 children.

     You need to read all the article to get the full story. So often things are not what they seem. There is also a book about it. American Priestess: The Extraordinary Story of Anna Spafford and the American Colony in Jerusalem

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     Jack Lee is a husband, and father of 5, from Tulsa, OK. He currently a member and Deacon at RiverOaks Presbyterian Church (PCA). He is truth Say-er and beer snob. He used to play guitar and once attempted to sing. He prefers mountains to beaches and sweaters to swimming.

Take Up and Read: Loving Wisdom

By Kenneth Richard Samples 2/6/2018

     This current blog series on Reflections is intended to encourage Christians to read more vigorously by providing a beginner’s guide to some of the Christian classics in such fields as theology, philosophy, and apologetics. My hope is that these introductions to important Christian texts will motivate today’s believers to, as St. Augustine put it, “take up and read” (Latin: Tolle lege) these classic books.

     This week’s book, Loving Wisdom: Christian Philosophy of Religion by philosopher Paul Copan, is an excellent introduction to the philosophy of religion from a Christian perspective. Copan’s presentation of the Christian theistic worldview is philosophically and theologically sophisticated, but also accessible. This is my go-to book on the various topics relating to the philosophy of religion.

     Why Is This Author Notable? | Paul Copan is a Christian philosopher, theologian, and apologist. He serves as professor of philosophy and ethics at Palm Beach Atlantic University. A prolific author, Copan has written and edited over 25 books in such fields as philosophy of religion, apologetics, theology, and biblical studies.

     What Is This Book About? | Loving Wisdom offers a robust and readable presentation of the historic Christian worldview combined with a defense of the faith. Copan addresses various theological, philosophical, and apologetics issues in five parts.

     Part one explores and defends the triune nature and attributes of the biblical God. Part two examines a variety of arguments for God’s existence as well as for the reality of miracles. Part three focuses on such challenging topics as evil, sin, hell, and the alleged hiddenness of God. Part four explains the critical Christian doctrines of the incarnation and atonement and illustrates Jesus’s uniqueness among the world’s religious leaders. Part five tackles such issues as the body-soul relationship along with faith, doubt, and hope.

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     Philosopher and theologian Kenneth Richard Samples has a great passion to help people understand the reasonableness and relevance of Christianity's truth claims. Through his writing and speaking as senior research scholar at Reasons to Believe (RTB), he encourages believers to develop a logically defensible faith and challenges skeptics to engage Christianity at a philosophical worldview level.

     An intellectual even at a young age, Kenneth's journey to faith in Christ began in earnest during his teenage years as he wrestled with a deep sense of longing and restlessness. His older brother's suicide spurred his efforts to seek answers to life's "big questions." Eventually, he began reading the Bible and attending church, but it was his sister's gift of Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis that helped Kenneth to truly understand the Christian Gospel and to accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. From then on, he pursued an intellectually satisfying and deeply personal faith.

     Today, Kenneth focuses on demonstrating the unique compatibility of Christianity's great doctrinal truths with reason and logic. He is the author of several books, including God Among Sages, Christian Endgame, 7 Truths That Changed the World, A World of Difference, and Without a Doubt. He leads RTB's Straight Thinking podcast and also writes Reflections, a weekly blog dedicated to exploring the Christian worldview. Kenneth has spoken at universities and churches around the world on such topics as religion and worldview, the identity of Jesus, and Christian apologetics. He also makes frequent guest appearances on radio programs such as The Frank Sontag Show, Issues Etc., and Stand to Reason, lectures as an adjunct professor at Biola University, and teaches adult classes at Christ Reformed Church in Southern California.

     An avid student of American history, Kenneth earned a BA in social science with an emphasis in history and philosophy from Concordia University and an MA in theological studies from Talbot School of Theology. Prior to joining RTB in 1997, Kenneth worked for seven years as senior research consultant and correspondence editor at Christian Research Institute, where he regularly cohosted The Bible Answer Man, a popular call-in radio program founded by renowned apologist Dr. Walter Martin. In addition, Kenneth's articles have been published in Christianity Today, Christian Research Journal, and Facts for Faith, and he holds memberships in the Evangelical Philosophical Society, the Evangelical Theological Society, and the International Society of Christian Apologetics.

     Kenneth lives in Southern California with his wife, Joan. They have three children.

Kenneth Richard Samples Books:

A Survey Of Old Testament Introduction

By Gleason Archer Jr.

Supposed Doublets and Parallel Accounts

     2. As to the diverse flood narratives (  Gen. 6–8  being parceled out between J and P), it should be observed that the unbiased reader is unable to detect any diverse elements in these three chapters as they stand in the MT, and that divergences are made possible only by an artificial process of dissection. It is only an unproved assumption to insist, as Wellhausen did, that the general command to take two of every species into the ark (P) is incompatible with the exceptional provision to take seven pairs of every “clean” species (J). To the ordinary reader, the basis for the distinction is plain enough, and by no means involves irreconcilable viewpoints. The same thing is true concerning the number of days during which the flood lasted. It is contended that J makes out the flood to be forty days in length (  Gen. 7:12, 17; 8:6  — plus two more weeks for the sending out of the dove), where P makes it 150 days (  Gen. 7:24 ). But a consecutive reading of the whole narrative makes it apparent that the author put the length of the downpour itself at forty days, whereas the prevalence of the water level above the highest portions of the land surface endured for 150 days (for  7:24  does not say that it rained during that entire period).

     Allis points out (FBM, pp. 95–97) that only in the three major points of emphasis in the flood narrative is it possible to make out “parallel accounts,” namely: the sinfulness of man as the cause of the flood; the destruction of all flesh as the purpose of the flood; the rescuing of a representative remnant of man and beast from the destruction of the flood. These three elements are stressed by the characteristic Hebrew device of restatement in slightly different terms after suitable intervals in between. But outside these three elements it is almost impossible to make out parallel accounts which do not depend upon each other for missing details. For example, according to the critical analysis, J makes reference to the ark without any explanation as to its construction. Only P records the entering of Noah and his family into the ark (  Gen. 7:13–16a ), except that J states Jehovah shut them in the ark (even though the author of J apparently does not state how they got in there). Only J knows about the sending forth of the birds for reconnoitering purposes (  8:6–12 ); P says nothing about it.

     It is fair to say, therefore, that the actual data of the text are easily reconcilable with unity of authorship, but furnish serious obstacles to division into two divergent sources. It is also peculiar, if the  Genesis  flood narrative is made up of two strata separated by nearly four centuries in origin, that the Babylonian account of the flood (found in the Gilgamesh Epic) includes both J elements and P elements in its version of the episode. Thus, it speaks of the measurements of the ark (a P element), and of the sending forth of the birds (a detail from J), and of the offering up of a sacrifice of thanksgiving after the flood was over (likewise from J). The Babylonian parallels make the conclusion almost unavoidable that both the J portion and the P portion of  Gen. 6–8  are of equal antiquity, and go back ultimately to the same oral tradition as did the Utnapishtim episode in the Gilgamesh Epic. The Babylonian account in turn shows noteworthy dependence upon a centuries-older Sumerian account.

     Other alleged doublets in  Genesis  may be discussed more briefly. There are said to be three accounts of the naming of Isaac (  Gen. 17:17  — P;  18:12  — J; and  21:6  — E). But there is no particular reason why both Abraham and Sarah should not have laughed with incredulity, as each in turn heard the prediction of his birth, and then at last laughed with joy.

     4. As for the two accounts of Joseph’s abduction to Egypt — the J account that the Ishmaelites bought him (  Gen. 37:25 ), and the E account that the Midianites took him (  37:28 ) — this duality of names simply points to a fact well known to the author’s contemporaries, that the Midianites were accounted a subtribe of the Ishmaelites. In  Judg. 8:24  we read concerning the kings of Midian, Zebah, and Zalmunna, and their followers: “For they had golden earrings, because they were Ishmaelites.” Originally, to be sure, Midian was descended from Abraham by Keturah (  Gen. 25:2 ), but the Ishmaelite tribes and Keturah tribes seem to have become interrelated in north Arabia because of their common descent from Abraham.

     5. The two episodes where Abraham passed off Sarah as his sister, before Pharaoh (  Gen. 12:10–20 ), and before Abimelech of Gerar (  Gen. 20:1–18 ), are alleged to be variant forms of the same original legend. But the supposition that men never make the same mistake twice, or yield to the same temptation more than once, is, to say the least, naive, especially when we consider the fact that Abraham came out financially better off on both occasions.

     A Survey of Old Testament Introduction

Read The Psalms In "1" Year

Psalm 19

The Law of the LORD Is Perfect
19 To The Choirmaster. A Psalm Of David.

12 Who can discern his errors?
Declare me innocent from hidden faults.
13 Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins;
let them not have dominion over me!
Then I shall be blameless,
and innocent of great transgression.

14 Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
be acceptable in your sight,
O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.

ESV Study Bible

Guard your hearts at all costs in the war with porn

By Brian Renshaw

     Pornography is one of the greatest dangers facing the church today. I could offer you statistics and case studies showing the devastating effects pornography is having on our church leaders but that is not needed. You know the dangers and the widespread effects of pornography. Based on statistics alone there is a reasonable chance that some reading this are physically addicted to viewing pornography. If you are not already addicted there is a greater chance that you have at least viewed pornography recently and on the verge of addiction.

     As students pursuing (or currently in) ministry we are called to a higher standard. We will be leaders in our churches where our people will be looking to us as an example. Too often in the church our leaders fall prey to sexual temptation. One well-known pastor recently admitted to an “inappropriate relationship” and numerous pastors and church leaders names have appeared on the recent Ashley Madison list.  In addition to the obvious personal and familial destruction, the people in our churches can begin to distrust the gospel and think less of the people who should be leading them.

     “TELEIOSNESS” AND JAMES | In one of the most practical books of the New Testament James, the brother of Jesus, exhorts his people to pursue of life of “teleiosness”—or in simpler terms, “wholeness.” This idea of wholeness means that our outward actions and our inward thoughts are in complete agreement with each other. “Teleiosness,” often translated as “perfection,” is not about “doing all the right things” but rather orienting our lives in line with Christian virtue. This the pursuit of holiness that is central to the Christian life.

     Along with this idea of wholeness, James also says teachers will be held to a “stricter judgment” based on their position within the church (Jas. 3:1). Granted, this is in the context leading up to a small discourse concerning our speech, but I think it can be applied more universally. As teachers and preachers of the gospel, ours is a calling to holiness. Our lives, should be marked with a wholeness in the same way that Christ showed us in the gospel stories.

     If we are engaged in pornography our life is not marked by “teleiosness” but rather “dipsychosness” (Jas. 4:8) or “double-mindedness.” Our outward actions may be righteous and holy but our lives are marked by a deep and dark addiction—pornography. We could list all the verses that pertain to sexual sins and apply that here but if you are reading this then you likely know that sexual sin is one that can erode the soul of even the godliest person.

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     Brian Renshaw is a Ph.D. student in New Testament at Southern Seminary. His interests include Gospel studies, hermeneutics, theological interpretation of Scripture, and history of interpretation. He is the Director of Instructional Design for SBTS Online.

Do Large Christian Conferences Really Make a Difference? Reflections on Urbana 15

By MarkKate Morse 1/21/2016

     Though I’m a conference speaker and have attended a wide-variety of large conferences, I’m a little skeptical about their long-term transformative value. Perhaps 10-20 years ago, large conferences were powerful arenas for God’s purposes. But now with so much available to people in the digital age and with younger people’s needs so different, are they worth the effort and cost?

     At times these events today can feel pretty “staged.” And sometimes they nourish an unholy need for a busy, success-oriented, me-centered gospel. We go from talk to talk, and eat and eat and eat words. We can’t stop stuffing ourselves with ideas and good feelings, but then none of it nourishes us. We barf it up on the way home. We spent money and time, but we have little to show for it in transformed lives or ministries. For this reason many groups, including Missio Alliance, have tried to re-imagine how conferences might be transformative without this gorging on ideas and input.

     So, what did I think of the most mega of mega Evangelical conferences of our day, Urbana? I was invited to be a platform speaker at Urbana in St. Louis, December 27-31, 2015. Urbana 15 had 16,000 persons in attendance with up to 8,000 streaming online. The primary events were held in the Edward Jones Dome where the Rams’ football team played. Urbana is geared towards college students, and first began in 1946 in Canada. It occurs once every three years with the express purpose of inviting students to be a part of God’s mission on campuses, in local communities, and around the world. So, what did I think about my experience of it? Can large conferences make a difference?

      I would have to say, yes. Urbana 15 did for these reasons:

     Prayer and Bible Study Always First – The scale of Urbana required an extraordinary amount of planning and managing of event details. The team planned for 3 years for this one event. But what moved me was how from the very beginning of the planning through to the very end, two things were constant: prayer and reflective Bible study. Individuals and teams of people set aside time to pray for the event, the participants, and those involved from the beginning of the planning through to the end. I had a prayer person assigned to me months before Urbana, who prayed for my preparation, and who checked in with me. During the event she was close by, so I could go to a prayer room and meet with her to pray. One entire evening was given to prayer for the Persecuted Church and for the Persecutors. The main floor was cleared so everyone could come to the field of the dome to pray around pillars representing persecutions world-wide. The students prayed for 30 minutes.

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     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 & 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 Problem Of The Old Testament

By James Orr 1907


3. One of the strongest of the evidences — because not depending on single words — relied on to prove the distinction of J and E, and the validity of the documentary hypothesis generally, is the occurrence of “duplicate” narratives of the same event (“doublets”), and to this subject we may now finally refer. Duplicates, or what are held to be such, are pointed out in the case of JE and P, as in the two narratives of creation,  Gen. 1–2:3  (P),  2:3  ff. (J), and the twice naming of Bethel,  Gen. 28:19  (J),  35:15  (P), cf. ver.  7  (E); but also between J and E, as in the twice naming of Beersheba,  Gen. 21:31  (E),  26:33  (J), the two flights of Hagar,  Gen. 16:4–14  (J),  21:9–21  (E), and specially in the stories of the denials of their wives by Abraham and Isaac,  Gen. 12:10–20  (J),  20.  (E),  26:6–11  (J). 1 Similar duplications are thought to be found in the Mosaic history. The presence of such differing and so-called contradictory accounts is held to prove distinct sources.

On these alleged “duplicate” narratives the following remarks may first be made generally:—

(1) Narratives of the same event may be different in point of view and detail, without being necessarily, as is constantly assumed — “contradictory” or “discordant” (creation, flood, etc.2).

(2) Similar acts may be, and frequently are, repeated under new circumstances. E.g., in the cases of Bethel and Beersheba above, the second narrative expressly refers back to the first (  Gen. 35:9,  cf. on E below;  26:15, 18 ). This close interrelation of the different parts of the narrative (JEP) is one of the most striking facts about it.

(3) It weakens the argument that “duplications” do not always occur in different documents — as on the theory they ought to do — but in no inconsiderable number of cases fall within the limits of the same document. Thus E has a second visit to Bethel as well as P (  Gen. 35:6, 7 ); J has two denials of wives — see below; alleged duplicate accounts of the Korahite rebellion are found in  Num. 16:3–10  (P),1 etc. Criticism is driven here to farther disintegrations.

(4) This suggests, lastly, that, even were the similarity of incidents as clear as is alleged, it would not necessarily prove different authorship. The same author might find varying narrations in the traditions or sources from which he drew, and might himself reproduce them in his history. Suppose, to take a favourite instance, that the narrator of the life of Joseph found the merchants to whom Joseph was sold described in one of his sources as Ishmaelites and in another as Midianites, is it not as likely that he would himself introduce both names (  Gen. 37:27, 28, 36; 39:1 ), as that a later “redactor” should weave together the varying histories of J and E? Even this hypothesis is not necessary, for we have independent evidence that “Ishmaelites” was used as a wide term to include “Midianites” (  Judg. 8:24 ). In Hagar’s flights (in second case an expulsion), — one before the birth of Ishmael, the other when he was grown up to be a lad, — it seems plain that tradition had preserved the memory of two incidents, connected with different times and occasions, and each natural in its own place.

Without delaying on other instances, we may take, as a test-case, the most striking of all these “doublets” — the denial of their wives by Abraham and Isaac — and subject that, in closing, to a brief analysis. The results will be instructive, as throwing light on critical methods, and as showing how far from simple this matter of “duplicates” really is.

(1) We have first, then, to observe that what we have here to deal with is not two, but three incidents (not duplicates, but triplicates) — one denial in Egypt (  Gen. 12.  Abraham), and two in Gerar (chap.  20.  Abraham,  26.  Isaac). Of these narratives, two are classed as Jehovistic (  Gen. 12; 26 ), and one is classed as Elohistic (chap.  20 ). In strictness, therefore, on the duplication theory, we seem bound to assume for them, not two, but three authors; and this, accordingly, is what is now commonly done. It is allowed that “the narrative in chap.  12.  shows the general style and language of J,” but “it can hardly be supposed that the story of Abram passing off Sarai as his sister at Pharaoh’s court, and that of Isaac dealing similarly with Rebekah at Gerar, belonged originally to the same series of traditions.” The former story, therefore, must be given to some later representative of the J “school.” We have here the critical process of disintegration in a nutshell.

(2) We have next to look at the phenomena of the divine names. In  Gen. 12:10–20,  Dr. Driver, in words formerly quoted, tells us that “the term Jehovah is uniformly employed.” In point of fact, it is employed only once (ver.  17 ), and, strikingly enough, it is employed once also in the Elohistic narrative (chap.  20:18 ) in a similar connection. In the third narrative (  Gen. 26:6–11 ), the divine name does not occur at all, though the context is Jehovistic (vers.  2, 12 ). So uncertain, indeed, are the criteria, that, according to Dillmann, Wellhausen actually at first gave  Gen. 12:10–20  to E (same as in chap.  20 ). Now, he gives the section, as above hinted, to a later writer on the ground, for one thing, that Lot is not mentioned as accompanying Abraham to Egypt (Lot’s presence, however, is plainly assumed, cf. chap.  13:1 ). As respects the third narrative (  Gen. 26 ), so far from there being disharmony, the opening verse of the chapter contains an express reference to the going down of Abraham to Egypt in the first narrative (  Gen. 12:10 ); but the whole text of this passage (vers.  1–5 ) is made a patchwork of by the critics. Finally, in chap.  20  it remains to be explained how a Jehovist verse comes to stray into the story of E at ver.  18 . It is easy to say “redactor”; but one desires to know what moved a redactor to interpolate into his E context the mention of a fact for which he had no authority, and to employ in doing so a divine name out of keeping with his context.

(3) The facts as they stand may be summed up thus. All three scenes are laid in heathen courts. In the first and third stories, the divine name is not used in the body of the narrative (in the third is not used at all); in the first and second, the name “Jehovah” is used towards the close (chaps.  12:17; 20:18 ) in connection with the divine action in inflicting penalty. As two of the narratives are allowed by the more moderate critics (e.g., Dillmann, Driver) to be by the same writer (J), there is no need, on the mere ground of duplication, to assume a different writer for the third story. All three stories may well have belonged to the original tradition. Nor do the conditions require us to treat the stories as simply varying traditions of the same incident. There are resemblances, but there are also great differences. From both chaps.  12  and  20  it appears that it was part of Abraham’s settled policy, when travelling in strange parts, to pass off Sarah, still childless, as his sister (chap.  12:13; 20:13:  on the half-truth by which this was justified, cf. chap.  20:12 ). This of itself implies that the thing was done more than once (cf. “at every place,” etc.); if, indeed, chap.  20:13  is not a direct glancing back to the former narrative. What Abraham was known to have done, Isaac, in similar peril, may well have been tempted to do likewise. In the story about Isaac there is, in fact, as above noticed, a direct reference to his father’s earlier visit to Egypt (chap.  26:1 ).

     The Problem of the Old Testament

Genesis 46; Mark 16; Job 12; Romans 16

By Don Carson 2/13/2018

     ONE OF THE MOST DIFFICULT THINGS to grasp is that the God of the Bible is both personal – interacting with other persons – and transcendent (i.e., above space ant time – the domain in which all our personal interactions with God take place). As the transcendent Sovereign, he rules over everything without exception; as the personal Creator, he interacts in personal ways with those who bear his image, disclosing himself to be not only personal but flawlessly good. How to put those elements together is finally beyond us, however frequently they are simply assumed in Scripture.

     When Jacob hears that Joseph is alive, he offers sacrifices to God, who graciously discloses himself to Jacob once again: “I am God, the God of your father. Do not be afraid to go down to Egypt, for I will make you into a great nation there. I will go down to Egypt with you, and I will surely bring you back again. And Joseph’s own hand will close your eyes” (Gen. 46:3-4).

     The book of Genesis makes it clear that Jacob knew that God’s covenant with Abraham included the promise that the land where they were now settled would one day be given to him and to his descendants. That is why Jacob needed this direct disclosure from God to induce him to leave the land. Jacob was reassured on three fronts: (a) God would make his descendants multiply into a “great nation” during their sojourn in Egypt; (b) God would eventually bring them out of Egypt; (c) at the personal level, Jacob is comforted to learn that his long-lost son Joseph will attend his father’s death.

     All of this provides personal comfort. It also discloses something of the mysteries of God’s providential sovereignty, for readers of the Pentateuch know that this sojourn in Egypt will issue in slavery, that God will then be said to “hear” the cries of his people, that in the course of time he will raise up Moses, who will be God’s agent in the ten plagues, the crossing of the Red Sea, the granting of the Sinai covenant and the giving of the law, the wilderness wanderings, and the (re) entry into the Promised Land. The sovereign God who brings Joseph down to Egypt to prepare the way for this small community of seventy persons has a lot of complex plans in store. These are designed to bring his people to the next stage of redemptive history, and finally to teach them that God’s words are more important than food (Deut. 8).

     One can no more detach God’s sovereign transcendence from his personhood, or vice versa, than one can safely detach one wing from an airplane and still expect it to fly.

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

     Don Carson Books |  Go to Books Page

A Pilgrim's Progress Gen 46-47

Excerpt from The Hand of God: Finding His Care in All Circumstances by Alistair Begg

     Genesis 46–47 contain at least four crucial, dramatic scenes that capture the action and take us the next few steps in the unfolding of this incredible story of God’s providence.

     The primary character in this portion of the drama is Jacob rather than Joseph, but it’s important that we follow Jacob at this point because he is about to move to Egypt and be reunited with Joseph. These events also trace God’s hand at work in Joseph’s life.

     Jacob Was Stunned By Events | Scene one begins at the end of Genesis 45. Jacob’s sons returned from Egypt and informed him, “Joseph is still alive! In fact, he is ruler of all Egypt (v. 26).

     “Jacob was stunned; he did not believe them” (v. 26). After more than twenty years of believing Joseph to be dead, this news was too much for Jacob to process.

     Confused by What He Heard | We don’t know if the brothers simply rushed in and blurted out their announcement with no warning, or whether there was some sort of preamble to this stunning news that is not recorded in the Scripture.

     We can imagine the confusion in Jacob’s mind at this point. As far as he was concerned, the death of Joseph was the most wrenching event of the past two decades. It must have taken him a long time to reconcile himself to the idea that his beloved boy, whom he had watched go off that day as a seventeen-year-old, was not coming home.

     If you had asked Jacob, he would have been able to describe the events of that day with all the passion of a father’s heart. He could have told of his anticipation that Joseph would be home before too long and yet of his awareness of the dangers of the trip. He could have told you what it had been like to wave to Joseph until he was beyond the horizon and out of sight.

     You may know that many of the rail platforms in Britain are very long. The trains start off slowly, and you can wave goodbye to your loved one for quite a while. But once the train disappears, you won’t see the person, no matter how long you stand there.

     I suspect that’s what it had been like for Jacob as he watched Joseph disappear over the horizon. And then he had waited for Joseph to come home, but he never came.

     And now, twenty-two years later, the same characters who had brought Joseph’s torn, bloodstained coat to Jacob were standing before him telling him his son was alive. No wonder he was stunned. He had two decades worth of information stored in the computer of his mind telling him Joseph was dead. He just couldn’t process the new information. Then, while he was trying to come to terms with the fact that Joseph was alive, his sons added a second, equally indigestible layer to the information cake he was struggling to swallow. “He is ruler of all Egypt” (v. 26).

     Can’t you just see him trying to grapple with this inexplicable mystery?

     As the boys unfolded their tale of Joseph’s kindness and his instructions to bring the family to Egypt, Jacob reeled in unbelief. But then they took him outside and showed him the carts laden with the goods Joseph had sent with them.

     Convinced by What He Saw | If what Jacob heard confused him, what he saw convinced him. His driveway was filled with carts and donkeys loaded down with good things, and he knew they didn’t belong to him.

     Furthermore, these carts weren’t Canaanite carts. The steering wheels were on the wrong side, if you like. Their markings and features told Jacob these were foreign carts.

     Jacob surveyed the scene and it suddenly sank in that what his sons were telling him was true. “I’m convinced!” he cried out. “My son Joseph is still alive. I will go and see him before I die” (Genesis 45:28).

     Dr. Alistair Begg | (Trent University; London School of Theology; Westminster Seminary) was born in Scotland and spent the first 30 years of life in the United Kingdom. Since September of 1983, he has been the senior pastor at Parkside Church in suburban Cleveland, Ohio. He is the daily speaker on the national radio program Truth For Life which stems from his weekly Bible teaching at Parkside. He and his wife, Susan, have three grown children.

     Alistair Begg Books |  Go to Books Page

The Pilgrim's Progress From This World To That Which Is To Come;
Delivered Under The Similitude Of A Dream

By John Bunyan 1678


     2. It is good, also, that we desire of the King a convoy, yea, that he will go with us himself. This made David rejoice when in the Valley of the Shadow of Death; and Moses was rather for dying where he stood, than to go one step without his God.

Exod. 33:15 And he said to him, “If your presence will not go with me, do not bring us up from here.   ESV

O, my brother, if he will but go along with us, what need we be afraid of ten thousands that shall set themselves against us?

Psa. 3:5–8 5  I lay down and slept;
I woke again, for the LORD sustained me.
6  I will not be afraid of many thousands of people
who have set themselves against me all around.

7  Arise, O LORD!
Save me, O my God!
For you strike all my enemies on the cheek;
you break the teeth of the wicked.

8  Salvation belongs to the LORD;
your blessing be on your people! Selah

Psa. 27:1–3 1  The LORD is my light and my salvation;
whom shall I fear?
The LORD is the stronghold of my life;
of whom shall I be afraid?

2  When evildoers assail me
to eat up my flesh,
my adversaries and foes,
it is they who stumble and fall.

3  Though an army encamp against me,
my heart shall not fear;
though war arise against me,
yet I will be confident.

But without him, the proud helpers fall under the slain.

Isa. 10:  Nothing remains but to crouch among the prisoners
or fall among the slain.
For all this his anger has not turned away,
and his hand is stretched out still.

     I, for my part, have been in the fray before now; and though (through the goodness of Him that is best) I am, as you see, alive, yet I cannot boast of any manhood. Glad shall I be if I meet with no more such brunts; though I fear we are not got beyond all danger. However, since the lion and the bear have not as yet devoured me, I hope God will also deliver us from the next uncircumcised Philistine. Then sang Christian,

“Poor Little-Faith! hast been among the thieves?
Wast robb’d? Remember this, whoso believes,
And get more faith; then shall you victors be
Over ten thousand-else scarce over three.”

     So they went on, and Ignorance followed. They went then till they came at a place where they saw a way put itself into their way, and seemed withal to lie as strait as the way which they should go; and here they knew not which of the two to take, for both seemed strait before them: therefore here they stood still to consider. And as they were thinking about the way, behold a man black of flesh, but covered with a very light robe, come to them, and asked them why they stood there. They answered, they were going to the Celestial City, but knew not which of these ways to take. “Follow me,” said the man, “it is thither that I am going.” So they followed him in the way that but now came into the road, which by degrees turned, and turned them so far from the city that they desired to go to, that in a little time their faces were turned away from it; yet they follow him. But by and by, before they were aware, he led them both within the compass of a net, in which they were both so entangled that they knew not what to do; and with that the white robe fell off the black man’s back. Then they saw where they were. Wherefore there they lay crying some time, for they could not get themselves out.

     CHR. Then said Christian to his fellow, Now do I see myself in an error. Did not the shepherds bid us beware of the Flatterer? As is the saying of the wise man, so we have found it this day: “A man that flattereth his neighbor, spreadeth a net for his feet.”

Prov. 29:5  A man who flatters his neighbor
spreads a net for his feet.

     HOPE. They also gave us a note of directions about the way, for our more sure finding thereof; but therein we have also forgotten to read, and have not kept ourselves from the paths of the destroyer. Here David was wiser than we; for saith he, “Concerning the works of men, by the word of thy lips I have kept me from the paths of the Destroyer.”

Psa. 17:4  With regard to the works of man, by the word of your lips
I have avoided the ways of the violent.

Thus they lay bewailing themselves in the net. At last they espied a Shining One coming towards them with a whip of small cords in his hand. When he was come to the place where they were, he asked them whence they came, and what they did there. They told him that they were poor pilgrims going to Zion, but were led out of their way by a black man clothed in white, who bid us, said they, follow him, for he was going thither too. Then said he with the whip, It is Flatterer, a false apostle, that hath transformed himself into an angel of light.

Dan. 11:32 He shall seduce with flattery those who violate the covenant, but the people who know their God shall stand firm and take action.   ESV

2 Cor. 11:13-14 13 For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. 14 And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.   ESV

So he rent the net, and let the men out. Then said he to them, Follow me, that I may set you in your way again. So he led them back to the way which they had left to follow the Flatterer. Then he asked them, saying, Where did you lie the last night? They said, With the shepherds upon the Delectable Mountains. He asked them then if they had not of the shepherds a note of direction for the way. They answered, Yes. But did you not, said he, when you were at a stand, pluck out and read your note? They answered, No. He asked them, Why? They said they forgot. He asked, moreover, if the shepherds did not bid them beware of the Flatterer. They answered, Yes; but we did not imagine, said they, that this fine-spoken man had been he.

Rom. 16:17-18 17 I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. 18 For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive.   ESV

     Then I saw in my dream, that he commanded them to lie down; which when they did, he chastised them sore, to teach them the good way wherein they should walk,

Deut. 25:2 then if the guilty man deserves to be beaten, the judge shall cause him to lie down and be beaten in his presence with a number of stripes in proportion to his offense.   ESV

2 Chron. 6:27 then hear in heaven and forgive the sin of your servants, your people Israel, when you teach them the good way in which they should walk, and grant rain upon your land, which you have given to your people as an inheritance.   ESV

and as he chastised them, he said, “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten; be zealous, therefore, and repent.”

Rev. 3:19 Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent.   ESV

This done, he bids them to go on their way, and take good heed to the other directions of the shepherds. So they thanked him for all his kindness, and went softly along the right way, singing,

“Come hither, you that walk along the way,
See how the pilgrims fare that go astray:
They catched are in an entangling net,
Cause they good counsel lightly did forget:
’Tis true, they rescued were; but yet, you see,
They’re scouged to boot; let this your caution be.”

     Now, after awhile, they perceived afar off, one coming softly, and alone, all along the highway, to meet them. Then said Christian to his fellow, Yonder is a man with his back towards Zion, and he is coming to meet us.

     HOPE. I see him; let us take heed to ourselves now, lest he should prove a Flatterer also. So he drew nearer and nearer, and at last came up to them. His name was Atheist, and he asked them whither they were going.

     CHR. We are going to Mount Zion.

     Then Atheist fell into a very great laughter.

     CHR. What’s the meaning of your laughter?

     ATHEIST. I laugh to see what ignorant persons you are, to take upon you so tedious a journey, and yet are like to have nothing but your travel for your pains.

     CHR. Why, man, do you think we shall not be received?

     ATHEIST. Received! There is not such a place as you dream of in all this world.

     CHR. But there is in the world to come.

     ATHEIST. When I was at home in mine own country I heard as you now affirm, and from that hearing went out to see, and have been seeking this city these twenty years, but find no more of it than I did the first day I set out.

Eccles. 10:15  The toil of a fool wearies him,
for he does not know the way to the city.

Jer. 17:15  Behold, they say to me,
“Where is the word of the LORD?
Let it come!”

     CHR. We have both heard, and believe, that there is such a place to be found.

     ATHEIST. Had not I, when at home, believed, I had not come thus far to seek; but finding none, (and yet I should, had there been such a place to be found, for I have gone to seek it farther than you,) I am going back again, and will seek to refresh myself with the things that I then cast away for hopes of that which I now see is not.

     CHR. Then said Christian to Hopeful his companion, Is it true which this man hath said?

     HOPE. Take heed, he is one of the Flatterers. Remember what it cost us once already for our hearkening to such kind of fellows. What! no Mount Zion? Did we not see from the Delectable Mountains the gate of the city? Also, are we not now to walk by faith?

2 Cor. 5:7 for we walk by faith, not by sight.   ESV

     Let us go on, lest the man with the whip overtake us again. You should have taught me that lesson, which I will sound you in the ears withal: “Cease, my son, to hear the instruction that causeth to err from the words of knowledge.”

Prov. 19:27  Cease to hear instruction, my son,
and you will stray from the words of knowledge.

I say, my brother, cease to hear him, and let us believe to the saving of the soul.

     CHR. My brother, I did not put the question to thee, for that I doubted of the truth of our belief myself, but to prove thee, and to fetch from thee a fruit of the honesty of thy heart. As for this man, I know that he is blinded by the god of this world. Let thee and me go on, knowing that we have belief of the truth; and no lie is of the truth.

1 John 2:21 I write to you, not because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and because no lie is of the truth.   ESV

     HOPE. Now do I rejoice in hope of the glory of God. So they turned away from the man; and he, laughing at them, went his way.

     I then saw in my dream, that they went on until they came into a certain country whose air naturally tended to make one drowsy, if he came a stranger into it. And here Hopeful began to be very dull, and heavy to sleep: wherefore he said unto Christian, I do now begin to grow so drowsy that I can scarcely hold open mine eyes; let us lie down here, and take one nap.

     CHR. By no means, said the other; lest, sleeping, we never awake more.

     HOPE. Why, my brother? sleep is sweet to the laboring man; we may be refreshed, if we take a nap.

     CHR. Do you not remember that one of the shepherds bid us beware of the Enchanted Ground? He meant by that, that we should beware of sleeping; wherefore “let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober.”

1 Thess. 5:6 So then let us not sleep, as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober.   ESV

     HOPE. I acknowledge myself in a fault; and had I been here alone, I had by sleeping run the danger of death. I see it is true that the wise man saith, “Two are better than one.”

Eccl. 4:9 Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil.   ESV

Hitherto hath thy company been my mercy; and thou shalt have a good reward for thy labor.

     CHR. Now, then, said Christian, to prevent drowsiness in this place, let us fall into good discourse.

     HOPE. With all my heart, said the other.

     CHR. Where shall we begin?

     HOPE. Where God began with us. But do you begin, if you please.

     CHR. I will sing you first this song:

“When saints do sleepy grow, let them come hither,
And hear how these two pilgrims talk together;
Yea, let them learn of them in any wise,
Thus to keep ope their drowsy, slumb’ring eyes.
Saints’ fellowship, if it be managed well,
Keeps them awake, and that in spite of hell.”

     Then Christian began, and said, I will ask you a question. How came you to think at first of doing what you do now?

     HOPE. Do you mean, how came I at first to look after the good of my soul?

     CHR. Yes, that is my meaning.

     HOPE. I continued a great while in the delight of those things which were seen and sold at our fair; things which I believe now would have, had I continued in them still, drowned me in perdition and destruction.

     CHR. What things were they?

     HOPE. All the treasures and riches of the world. Also I delighted much in rioting, reveling, drinking, swearing, lying, uncleanness, Sabbath-breaking, and what not, that tended to destroy the soul. But I found at last, by hearing and considering of things that are divine, which, indeed, I heard of you, as also of beloved Faithful, that was put to death for his faith and good living in Vanity Fair, that the end of these things is death,

Rom. 6:21–23 21 But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. 22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.   ESV

and that for these things’ sake, the wrath of God cometh upon the children of disobedience.

Eph. 5:6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.   ESV

     Pilgrim's Progress (Illustrated): Updated, Modern English. More than 100 Illustrations.

The Continual Burnt Offering

By H.A. Ironside - 1941

February 13
1 Samuel 3:13 And I declare to him that I am about to punish his house forever, for the iniquity that he knew, because his sons were blaspheming God, and he did not restrain them.  ESV

     In Eli, the high priest in Hannah’s day, we see a thoroughly good man who, however, was prone to misjudge others and yet was weak when it came to disciplining his own family. The fact that in his last days he was “old and heavy,” suggests that he was over-indulgent in regard to his personal habits, the pleasures of the table evidently having a strong appeal which he was not able to resist. In chapters two and four, we get enough information concerning him to enable us to form a reasonably accurate picture of his character. Coupled with real concern for the things of God was lack of ability to master his appetites and to “command his children and his household after him” (Genesis 13:19) in such a way as to glorify God in family life. Such men are often met with in Christian service, who possess many amiable qualities but are sadly lacking where they should be strong.

     It is ever important to remember that the grace of God does not set aside the divine government. There are responsibilities that flow from grace which cannot be ignored with impunity. Lawlessness and legality are both opposed to grace. But a recognition of the divine authority and careful subjection to the government of God should flow from the knowledge of His unmerited favor. Fatherly discipline is expected of all who head up Christian households. Weakness here is a sign of low thoughts of the holiness and righteousness which are becoming in all who draw nigh to God.

Thy heavenly grace to each impart,
All evil far remove,
And shed abroad in every heart
Thine everlasting love.

Oh, still restore our wandering feet
And still direct our way;
Till worlds shall fail, and faith shall greet
The dawn of endless day.

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

The Institutes of the Christian Religion

Translated by Henry Beveridge

     3. But, above all, the true substance of Christ is most clearly declared in those passages which comprehend both natures at once. Numbers of these exist in the Gospel of John. What we there read as to his having received power from the Father to forgive sins; as to his quickening whom he will; as to his bestowing righteousness, holiness, and salvation; as to his being appointed judge both of the quick and the dead; as to his being honoured even as the Father, [247] are not peculiar either to his Godhead or his humanity, but applicable to both. In the same way he is called the Light of the world, the good Shepherd, the only Door, the true Vine. With such prerogatives the Son of God was invested on his manifestation in the flesh, and though he possessed the same with the Father before the world was created, still it was not in the same manner or respect; neither could they be attributed to one who was a man and nothing more. In the same sense we ought to understand the saying of Paul, that at the end Christ shall deliver up "the kingdom to God, even the Father," (1 Cor. 15:24). The kingdom of God assuredly had no beginning, and will have no end: but because he was hid under a humble clothing of flesh, and took upon himself the form of a servant, and humbled himself (Phil. 2:8), and, laying aside the insignia of majesty, became obedient to the Father; and after undergoing this subjection was at length crowned with glory and honour (Heb. 2:7), and exalted to supreme authority, that at his name every knee should bow (Phil. 2:10); so at the end he will subject to the Father both the name and the crown of glory, and whatever he received of the Father, that God may be all in all (1 Cor. 15:28). For what end were that power and authority given to him, save that the Father might govern us by his hand? In the same sense, also, he is said to sit at the right hand of the Father. But this is only for a time, until we enjoy the immediate presence of his Godhead. And here we cannot excuse the error of some ancient writers, who, by not attending to the office of Mediator, darken the genuine meaning of almost the whole doctrine which we read in the Gospel of John, and entangle themselves in many snares. Let us, therefore, regard it as the key of true interpretation, that those things which refer to the office of Mediator are not spoken of the divine or human nature simply. [248] Christ, therefore, shall reign until he appear to judge the world, inasmuch as, according to the measure of our feeble capacity, he now connects us with the Father. But when, as partakers of the heavenly glory, we shall see God as he is, then Christ, having accomplished the office of Mediator, shall cease to be the vicegerent of the Father, and will be content with the glory which he possessed before the world was. Nor is the name of Lord specially applicable to the person of Christ in any other respect than in so far as he holds a middle place between God and us. To this effect are the words of Paul, "To us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him," (1 Cor. 8:6); that is, to the latter a temporary authority has been committed by the Father until his divine majesty shall be beheld face to face. His giving up of the kingdom to the Father, so far from impairing his majesty, will give a brighter manifestation of it. God will then cease to be the head of Christ, and Christ's own Godhead will then shine forth of itself, whereas it is now in a manner veiled.

4. This observation, if the readers apply it properly, will be of no small use in solving a vast number of difficulties. For it is strange how the ignorant, nay, some who are not altogether without learning, are perplexed by these modes of expression which they see applied to Christ, without being properly adapted either to his divinity or his humanity, not considering their accordance with the character in which he was manifested as God and man, and with his office of Mediator. It is very easy to see how beautifully they accord with each other, provided they have a sober interpreter, one who examines these great mysteries with the reverence which is meet. But there is nothing which furious and frantic spirits cannot throw into confusion. [249] They fasten on the attributes of humanity to destroy his divinity; and, on the other hand, on those of his divinity to destroy his humanity: while those which, spoken conjointly of the two natures, apply to neither, they employ to destroy both. But what else is this than to contend that Christ is not man because he is God, not God because he is man, and neither God nor man because he is both at once. Christ, therefore, as God and man, possessing natures which are united, but not confused, we conclude that he is our Lord and the true Son of God, even according to his humanity, though not by means of his humanity. For we must put far from us the heresy of Nestorius, who, presuming to dissect rather than distinguish between the two natures, devised a double Christ. But we see the Scripture loudly protesting against this, when the name of the Son of God is given to him who is born of a Virgin, and the Virgin herself is called the mother of our Lord (Luke 1:32, 43). We must beware also of the insane fancy of Eutyches, lest, when we would demonstrate the unity of person, we destroy the two natures. The many passages we have already quoted, in which the divinity is distinguished from the humanity, and the many other passages existing throughout Scripture, may well stop the mouth of the most contentious. I will shortly add a few observations, which will still better dispose of this fiction. For the present, one passage will suffice--Christ would not have called his body a temple (John 2:19), had not the Godhead distinctly dwelt in it. Wherefore, as Nestorius had been justly condemned in the Council of Ephesus, so afterwards was Eutyches in those of Constantinople and Chalcedony, it being not more lawful to confound the two natures of Christ than to divide them.

5. But in our age, also, has arisen a not less fatal monster, Michael Servetus, who for the Son of God has substituted a figment composed of the essence of God, spirit, flesh, and three untreated elements. First, indeed, he denies that Christ is the Son of God, for any other reason than because he was begotten in the womb of the Virgin by the Holy Spirit. The tendency of this crafty device is to make out, by destroying the distinction of the two natures, that Christ is somewhat composed of God and man, and yet is not to be deemed God and man. His aim throughout is to establish, that before Christ was manifested in the flesh there were only shadowy figures in God, the truth or effect of which existed for the first time, when the Word who had been destined to that honour truly began to be the Son of God. We indeed acknowledge that the Mediator who was born of the Virgin is properly the Son of God. And how could the man Christ be a mirror of the inestimable grace of God, had not the dignity been conferred upon him both of being and of being called the only-begotten Son of God? Meanwhile, however, the definition of the Church stands unmoved, that he is accounted the Son of God, because the Word begotten by the Father before all ages assumed human nature by hypostatic union,--a term used by ancient writers to denote the union which of two natures constitutes one person, and invented to refute the dream of Nestorius, who pretended that the Son of God dwelt in the flesh in such a manner as not to be at the same time man. Servetus calumniously charges us with making the Son of God double, when we say that the eternal Word before he was clothed with flesh was already the Son of God: as if we said anything more than that he was manifested in the flesh. Although he was God before he became man, he did not therefore begin to be a new God. Nor is there any greater absurdity in holding that the Son of God, who by eternal generation ever had the property of being a Son, appeared in the flesh. This is intimated by the angel's word to Mary: "That holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God," (Luke 1:35); as if he had said that the name of Son, which was more obscure under the law, would become celebrated and universally known. Corresponding to this is the passage of Paul, that being now the sons of God by Christ, we "have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father," (Rom. 8:15). Were not also the holy patriarchs of old reckoned among the sons of God? Yea, trusting to this privilege, they invoked God as their Father. But because ever since the only-begotten Son of God came forth into the world, his celestial paternity has been more clearly manifested, Paul assigns this to the kingdom of Christ as its distinguishing feature. We must, however, constantly hold, that God never was a Father to angels and men save in respect of his only-begotten Son: that men, especially, who by their iniquity were rendered hateful to God, are sons by gratuitous adoption, because he is a Son by nature. Nor is there anything in the assertion of Servetus, that this depends on the filiation which God had decreed with himself. Here we deal not with figures, as expiation by the blood of beasts was shown to be; but since they could not be the sons of God in reality, unless their adoption was founded in the head, it is against all reason to deprive the head of that which is common to the members. I go farther: since the Scripture gives the name of sons of God to the angels, whose great dignity in this respect depended not on the future redemption, Christ must in order take precedence of them that he may reconcile the Father to them. I will again briefly repeat and add the same thing concerning the human race. Since angels as well as men were at first created on the condition that God should be the common Father of both; if it is true, as Paul says, that Christ always was the head, "the first-born of every creature--that in all things he might have the pre-eminence," (Col. 1:15, 18), I think I may legitimately infer, that he existed as the Son of God before the creation of the world.

     Christian Classics Ethereal Library / Public Domain

     Institutes of the Christian Religion

  • A Holy Nation
  • Q and A 8/19/2013
  • Q and A 7/26/2013

#1 D.A. Carson   Ligonier


#2 Ligonier


#3 Ligonier


     Devotionals, notes, poetry and more

UCB The Word For Today
     Sound financial advice (3)
     2/13/2018    Bob Gass

     ‘The godly love to give!’

(Pr 21:26) All day long he craves and craves, but the righteous gives and does not hold back. ESV

     The level of financial blessing God will entrust to you depends on three questions: 1) Are you mature enough to handle it? 2) Are you hoping to reap but unwilling to sow? 3) Are you a hoarder or a giver? God knows we can’t all give the same amount. Jesus honoured a widow for giving her last two coins, saying: ‘Others gave what they’ll never miss…she gave her all’ (Mark 12:44 MSG). On the other hand, businessman Barnabas ‘sold a field he owned and brought the money and put it at the apostles’ feet’ (Acts 4:37 NIV 2011 Edition). The more God blesses you with, the more He holds you accountable for. Jesus said, ‘Much is required from those to whom much is given’ (Luke 12:48 TLB). At offering time, a pastor told his congregation to reach out and grab the wallet or purse of the person sitting in front of them. ‘Now,’ he said, ‘open it up and give as much as you’ve always wanted to give but felt you couldn’t afford!’ The truth is, we’re not all called to give equally but we’re all called to sacrifice equally. That levels the playing field. Isn’t it interesting how you can go to dinner at the home of somebody who doesn’t have a lot, and leave feeling like royalty because of their hospitality? That’s because the essence of generosity is self-sacrifice. God entrusts financial blessing to people who aren’t controlled by the love of money. How can you tell when you’re controlled by the love of money? Because instead of giving when God tells you to, you withhold. Understand this: when God impresses on you to sow a seed, there’s a harvest coming your way.

Leviticus 1-3
Matthew 24:1-28

UCB The Word For Today

American Minute
     by Bill Federer

     “Man has forgotten God, that is why this has happened,” was Solzhenitsyn’s response when questioned about modern cultural. A Russian author, Solzhenitsyn was imprisoned for eight years by Joseph Stalin. He wrote The Gulag Archipelago. He received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1970, but was not allowed to leave Russia to accept it until the Soviet Government expelled him from his country on this day February 13, 1974. Alexander Solzhenitsyn warned: “I… call upon America to be more careful… Because they are trying to weaken you… do not let yourselves become weak.”

American Minute

A Testament Of Devotion
     Thomas R. Kelly


     The fruits of holy obedience are many. But two are so closely linked together that they can scarcely be treated separately. They are the passion for personal holiness and the sense of utter humility. God inflames the soul with a craving for absolute purity. But He, in His glorious otherness, empties us of ourselves in order that He may become all.

     Humility does not rest, in final count, upon bafflement and discouragement and self-disgust at our shabby lives, a brow-beaten, dog-slinking attitude. It rests upon the disclosure of the consummate wonder of God, upon finding that only God counts, that all our own self-originated intentions are works of straw. And so in lowly humility we must stick close to the Root and count our own powers as nothing except as they are enslaved in His power.

     But O how slick and weasel-like is self-pride! Our learnedness creeps into our sermons with a clever quotation which adds nothing to God's glory, but a bit to our own. Our cleverness in business competition earns as much self-flattery as does the possession of the money itself. Our desire to be known and approved by others, to have heads nod approvingly about us behind our backs, and flattering murmurs which we can occasionally overhear; confirm the discernment in Alfred Adler's elevation of the superiority motive. Our status as "weighty Friends" gives us secret pleasures which we scarcely own to ourselves, yet thrive upon. Yes, even pride in our own humility is one of the devil's own tricks.

     But humility rests upon a holy blindness, like the blindness of him who looks steadily into the sun. For wherever he turns his eyes on earth, there he sees only the sun. The God-blinded soul sees naught of self, naught of personal degradation or of personal eminence, but only the Holy Will working impersonally through him, through others, as one objective Life and Power. But what trinkets we have sought after in life, the pursuit of what petty trifles has wasted our years as we have ministered to the enhancement of our own little selves'! And what needless anguishes we have suffered because our little selves were defeated, were not flattered, were not cozened and petted! But the blinding God blots out this self and gives humility and true selfhood as wholly full of Him. For as He gives obedience so He graciously gives to us what measure of humility we will accept. Even that is not our own, but His who also gives us obedience. But the humility of the God­blinded soul endures only so long as we look steadily at the Sun. Growth in humility is a measure of our growth in the habit of the Godward-directed mind. And he only is near to God who is exceedingly humble. The last depths of holy and voluntary poverty are not in financial poverty, important as that is; they are in poverty of spirit, in meekness and lowliness of soul.

A Testament of Devotion

Journal of John Woolman 2/13
     University of Virginia Library 1994

     In the management of my outward affairs, I may say with thankfulness, I found truth to be my support; and I was respected in my master's family, who came to live in Mount Holly within two years after my going there.

     In a few months after I came here, my master bought several Scotchmen servants, from on board a vessel, and brought them to Mount Holly to sell, one of whom was taken sick and died. In the latter part of his sickness, being delirious, he used to curse and swear most sorrowfully; and the next night after his burial I was left to sleep alone in the chamber where he died. I perceived in me a timorousness; I knew, however, I had not injured the man, but assisted in taking care of him according to my capacity. I was not free to ask any one on that occasion to sleep with me. Nature was feeble; but every trial was a fresh incitement to give myself up wholly to the service of God, for I found no helper like him in times of trouble.

     About the twenty-third year of my age, I had many fresh and heavenly openings, in respect to the care and providence of the Almighty over his creatures in general, and over man as the most noble amongst those which are visible. And being clearly convinced in my judgment that to place my whole trust in God was best for me, I felt renewed engagements that in all things I might act on an inward principle of virtue, and pursue worldly business no further than as truth opened my way.

     About the time called Christmas I observed many people, both in town and from the country, resorting to public-houses, and spending their time in drinking and vain sports, tending to corrupt one another; on which account I was much troubled. At one house in particular there was much disorder; and I believed it was a duty incumbent on me to speak to the master of that house. I considered I was young, and that several elderly friends in town had opportunity to see these things; but though I would gladly have been excused, yet I could not feel my mind clear.

     The exercise was heavy; and as I was reading what the Almighty said to Ezekiel, respecting his duty as a watchman, the matter was set home more clearly. With prayers and tears I besought the Lord for his assistance, and He, in loving-kindness, gave me a resigned heart. At a suitable opportunity I went to the public-house; and seeing the man amongst much company, I called him aside, and in the fear and dread of the Almighty expressed to him what rested on my mind. He took it kindly, and afterwards showed more regard to me than before. In a few years afterwards he died, middle-aged; and I often thought that had I neglected my duty in that case it would have given me great trouble; and I was humbly thankful to my gracious Father, who had supported me herein.

     My employer, having a negro woman, sold her, and desired me to write a bill of sale, the man being waiting who bought her. The thing was sudden; and though I felt uneasy at the thoughts of writing an instrument of slavery for one of my fellow-creatures, yet I remembered that I was hired by the year, that it was my master who directed me to do it, and that it was an elderly man, a member of our Society, who bought her; so through weakness I gave way, and wrote it; but at the executing of it I was so afflicted in my mind, that I said before my master and the Friend that I believed slave-keeping to be a practice inconsistent with the Christian religion. This, in some degree, abated my uneasiness; yet as often as I reflected seriously upon it I thought I should have been clearer if I had desired to be excused from it, as a thing against my conscience; for such it was. Some time after this a young man of our Society spoke to me to write a conveyance of a slave to him, he having lately taken a negro into his house. I told him I was not easy to write it; for, though many of our meeting and in other places kept slaves, I still believed the practice was not right, and desired to be excused from the writing. I spoke to him in goodwill; and he told me that keeping slaves was not altogether agreeable to his mind; but that the slave being a gift made to his wife he had accepted her.

1.     The number of slaves in New Jersey at this time must have been considerable, for even as late as 1800 there were over 12,000 of them. The newly imported Africans were deposited at Perth Amboy. In 1734 there were enough of them to make a formidable though unsuccessful insurrection.

John Woolman's Journal

Lean Into God
     Compiled by Richard S. Adams

Requests and petitions are the prayers of hope.
Proclamation and declarations are the prayers of faith.
Praise and worship are the prayers of love.
--- John Crowder

I shall allow no man to belittle my soul by making me hate him.
--- Booker T. Washington

Going to church doesn’t make you a Christian
any more than going to a garage makes you an automobile.
--- Billy Sunday

Pain draws those caught in the grip of self-sufficiency to a new understanding of need. Pain also weans us from our spiritual pride and allows us to look to God rather than reputation for strength.
--- Mark R. McMinn

... from here, there and everywhere

Proverbs 10:1-3
     by D.H. Stern

1     The proverbs of Shlomo:
A wise son is a joy to his father,
but a foolish son is a grief to his mother.

2     No good comes from ill-gotten wealth,
but righteousness rescues from death.
3     ADONAI does not let the righteous go hungry,
but he thwarts the craving of the wicked.

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

                The devotion of hearing

     And they said unto Moses, Speak thou with us and we will hear: but let not God speak with us, lest we die.
--- Exodus 20:19

     Because I have listened definitely to one thing from God, it does not follow that I will listen to everything He says. The way in which I show God that I neither love nor respect Him is by the obtuseness of my heart and mind towards what He says. If I love my friend, I intuitively detect what he wants, and Jesus says, “Ye are My friends.” Have I disobeyed some command of my Lord’s this week? If I had realized that it was a command of Jesus, I would not consciously have disobeyed it; but most of us show such disrespect to God that we do not even hear what He says, He might never have spoken.

     The destiny of my spiritual life is such identification with Jesus Christ that I always hear God, and I know that God always hears me (John 11:41). If I am united with Jesus Christ, I hear God by the devotion of hearing all the time. A lily, or a tree, or a servant of God, may convey God’s message to me. What hinders me from hearing is that I am taken up with other things. It is not that I will not hear God, but that I am not devoted in the right place. I am devoted to things, to service, to convictions, and God may say what He likes but I do not hear Him. The child attitude is always “Speak, Lord, for Thy servant heareth.” If I have not cultivated this devotion of hearing, I can only hear God’s voice at certain times; at other times I am taken up with things—things which I say I must do, and I become deaf to Him, I am not living the life of a child. Have I heard God’s voice to-day?

My Utmost for His Highest
Via Negativa
     the Poetry of R.S. Thomas

                Via Negativa

Why no! I never thought other than
  That God is that great absence
  In our lives, the empty silence
  Within, the place where we go
  Seeking, not in hope to
  Arrive or find. He keeps the interstices
  In our knowledge, the darkness
  Between stars. His are the echoes
  We follow, the footprints he has just
  Left. We put our hands in
  His side hoping to find
  It warm. We look at people
  and places as though he had looked
  At them, too; but miss the reflection.

The Poems of R.S. Thomas

Swimming In The Sea of Talmud
     Lessons for Everyday Living


     At the end of many generations, there will arise a man, Akiva ben Yosef by name. (Mena ḥot 29b)

     A story: Many years ago, there was a man who worked very hard at his job. His responsibilities demanded a lot from him—patience, thoughtful planning, constantly being alert for signs of trouble. At times he had to fight to protect those in his charge. All in all, he did quite well in his work.

     Rabbi Akiva was a shepherd forty years. (Sifrei Devarim 357)

     In his occupation, he often found himself alone with his thoughts during long stretches of boredom. More and more, he began to sense an emptiness within himself. There were other things that he longed to do, opportunities he had dreamed of, but after so many years of doing one thing, he despaired of ever being able to open the door to these new worlds. “I just don’t know enough.”

     What were Akiva’s beginnings? It is said: Up to the age of forty, he had not yet studied a thing. (Avot derabbi Natan 6)

     Then, two things happened to change the course of his life. First, he met someone special who said to him: “I see your incredible potential. You have the capability of going out in new directions and excelling. Believe in yourself as much as I believe in you, and I’ll be there to help you.”

     When Raḥel, Kalba Savua’s daughter, saw that even though he was unassuming there was something extraordinary about him, she said, “If I am willing to be betrothed to you, will you attend a house of study?” (Ketubbot 62b–63a)

     He was heartened by these words but still had his doubts. “Maybe if I were younger.… It’s too late now.… I can’t start all over again, not at my age, not at this point in my life. There is too much I don’t know, too much I don’t understand.…”

     One time, standing by the mouth of a well in Lydda, he inquired, “Who hollowed out this stone?” … And he was told, “Akiva … it was water falling upon it constantly, day after day.” At that, Akiva asked himself: Is my mind harder than this stone? I will go and study at least one section of Torah.

     It was then that the second event occurred, another incident that would shape his life. It was not a blinding revelation from Heaven that told him what to do. It was not a close call with death that made him reevaluate who he was and where he was going. It was a very ordinary, mundane experience: He chanced upon a rock that had a deep impression cut into it. He looked closely and saw that what had carved into the solid stone was nothing more than drops of water continuously falling on the same spot, day after day, year after year. He suddenly realized: “If this can happen in nature, then it can happen to me as well. I’m going to begin to learn, a little each day, until I feel comfortable with what I know.”

     He went directly to a school, and he and his son began reading from a child’s tablet. Akiva took hold of one end of the tablet and his son the other. The teacher wrote down alef and bet for him, and he learned them. Alef to tav and he learned them. The book of Leviticus and he learned it. He went on studying until he learned the whole Torah. (Avot derabbi Natan 6)

     With encouragement from a friend and the strength that was within, he decided to take the first step. He felt awkward and out of place, even a bit like a child. Some laughed at him. At first, few people took him seriously. “It’s just a phase he’s going through,” they said. After a while, though, people stopped laughing. They saw his persistence and felt his sincerity. Then they, too, began to see the incredible potential that had been lying dormant within him for all those years. As time passed, the man created a new life for himself, opening many of those doors that he had once dreamed about. He came to touch the lives of countless others, not only with what he had to say, but also with how he had turned around his own life.

     He went away and for twelve years sat in a house of study in the presence of Rabbi Eliezer and Rabbi Yehoshua. At the end of twelve years, he arose and returned to his home, bringing with him 12,000 disciples.

     As can be seen from the rabbinic texts above, the story we have told is a tale that goes back some nineteen centuries. Yet it is also a contemporary parable, one that speaks to our own modern society. Many of us share Akiva’s sense that something is missing in life. We may turn to our religious heritage, seeking help and guidance in facing the very complex and frightening challenges of the world in which we live. We want to know how to maintain our honesty in a business environment that is often ruthless and cutthroat. Parents need to know what to teach about relationships, love and sex, how to convey a positive message to their children in a world that is often scary and negative. We are looking for a way to find happiness and fulfillment in a specialized society where choices made decades ago continue to have an impact on our lives. All of us are searching for a way to understand suffering and the meaning of life and death.

     … Had not Rabbi Akiva arisen in his time, the Torah might have been forgotten in Israel. (Sifrei Devarim 48)

     Like Akiva, we feel that we just do not know enough. Our education may have made us experts in specific areas of life, but it also narrowed our focus, leaving so much that we have not explored. As intelligent, successful men and women, we may find ourselves feeling inadequate and uncomfortable when confronting disciplines that are unfamiliar to us, be they science, technology, medicine, finance … or religion. We sense that the Bible and the later Jewish tradition that evolved from it may have something to say to us. Some of us have tried on our own to study religious texts like the Talmud, only to be lost and baffled. Even in translation, the traditional Talmud text, with its organic style and complex thoughts, is overwhelming. We may feel inept and incompetent, and respond either by turning to a member of the clergy or a teacher to give us “the answers,” or by avoiding the subject of religious matters totally.

     … Had not Rabbi Akiva arisen in his time, the Torah might have been forgotten in Israel. (Sifrei Devarim 48)

Swimming in the Sea of Talmud: Lessons for Everyday Living
The Imitation Of Christ
     Thomas A Kempis

     Book One / Thoughts Helpful In The Life Of The Soul

     The Thirteenth Chapter / Resisting Temptation

     SO LONG as we live in this world we cannot escape suffering and temptation. Whence it is written in Job: “The life of man upon earth is a warfare.” (Job 7:1) Everyone, therefore, must guard against temptation and must watch in prayer lest the devil, who never sleeps but goes about seeking whom he may devour, find occasion to deceive him. No one is so perfect or so holy but he is sometimes tempted; man cannot be altogether free from temptation.

     Yet temptations, though troublesome and severe, are often useful to a man, for in them he is humbled, purified, and instructed. The saints all passed through many temptations and trials to profit by them, while those who could not resist became reprobate and fell away. There is no state so holy, no place so secret that temptations and trials will not come. Man is never safe from them as long as he lives, for they come from within us—in sin we were born. When one temptation or trial passes, another comes; we shall always have something to suffer because we have lost the state of original blessedness.

     Many people try to escape temptations, only to fall more deeply. We cannot conquer simply by fleeing, but by patience and true humility we become stronger than all our enemies. The man who only shuns temptations outwardly and does not uproot them will make little progress; indeed they will quickly return, more violent than before.

     Little by little, in patience and long-suffering you will overcome them, by the help of God rather than by severity and your own rash ways. Often take counsel when tempted; and do not be harsh with others who are tempted, but console them as you yourself would wish to be consoled.

     The beginning of all temptation lies in a wavering mind and little trust in God, for as a rudderless ship is driven hither and yon by waves, so a careless and irresolute man is tempted in many ways. Fire tempers iron and temptation steels the just. Often we do not know what we can stand, but temptation shows us what we are.

     Above all, we must be especially alert against the beginnings of temptation, for the enemy is more easily conquered if he is refused admittance to the mind and is met beyond the threshold when he knocks.

     Someone has said very aptly: “Resist the beginnings; remedies come too late, when by long delay the evil has gained strength.” First, a mere thought comes to mind, then strong imagination, followed by pleasure, evil delight, and consent. Thus, because he is not resisted in the beginning, Satan gains full entry. And the longer a man delays in resisting, so much the weaker does he become each day, while the strength of the enemy grows against him.

     Some suffer great temptations in the beginning of their conversion, others toward the end, while some are troubled almost constantly throughout their life. Others, again, are tempted but lightly according to the wisdom and justice of Divine Providence Who weighs the status and merit of each and prepares all for the salvation of His elect.

     We should not despair, therefore, when we are tempted, but pray to God the more fervently that He may see fit to help us, for according to the word of Paul, He will make issue with temptation that we may be able to bear it. Let us humble our souls under the hand of God in every trial and temptation for He will save and exalt the humble in spirit.

     In temptations and trials the progress of a man is measured; in them opportunity for merit and virtue is made more manifest.

     When a man is not troubled it is not hard for him to be fervent and devout, but if he bears up patiently in time of adversity, there is hope for great progress.

     Some, guarded against great temptations, are frequently overcome by small ones in order that, humbled by their weakness in small trials, they may not presume on their own strength in great ones.

The Imitation Of Christ

Persian Names Of The Month
     Chodesh Nisan
     The Month of Nisan

     "Hashem said to Moshe and Aharon in the Land of Egypt, 'This month shall be for you the beginning of the months; it shall be for you the first of the months of the year.' " (Shemot, 12:1-2)

     Rabbi Moshe ben Nachman, a great thirteenth century Jewish scholar of Spain, later of Israel, writes in his commentary to the Five Books of Moses, in explanation of the above verses, Shemot,12:1-2, as follows: "The verses mean that this month should be counted first. And beginning with it, should the count proceed to the second, the third, and so on, till the end of the sequence of months with the twelfth month. For the purpose that this month should be a commemoration of the Great Miracle. For every time we mention the months, the Miracle will be alluded to. It is for that reason that the months do not have names in the Torah, but rather they are identified by number…" "

     And it is similar to the way that days are referenced with reference to the Day of Shabbat; for example, the First Day of Shabbat (for Sunday), and the Second Day of Shabbat (for Monday), …Thus, when we call the Month of Nisan "the first" and Tishrei "the seventh," the meaning is the first with reference to the Redemption and the seventh with reference to it…" "

     And our Rabbis have mentioned this matter, and they said that the names of the months came back with us from Bavel. For originally they had no "names" for us, and the reason is that they were "in commemoration of the Exodus from Egypt." But when we returned from Bavel, and the prophecy of "it will no longer be said 'by the Life of Hashem, who took the Jewish People out of Egypt,' rather it will be said 'by the life of Hashem, who raised up and brought the People of Israel from the Northern Land' (Yirmiyahu 16:14-15) was fulfilled, we changed our practice and began to call the months by the names which were used in those lands, as a reminder that we had been there, and that it was from there that Hashem took us out…"

     "For these names, Nisan, Iyar and the rest are Persian names, and appear only in the Books of the Prophets who prophesied in Bavel, and in Megilas Esther… And still today, the non-Jews in those lands use the names Nisan and Tishrei, etc. as we do. And thus we are following the same practice with reference to the second redemption as we did in connection with the first."

     Names of the Month - This month has three names: 1. "Rosh Chodoshim," or "HaChodesh HaRishon," the First Month 2. "Chodesh HaAviv," - The Spring-time Month 3. Nisan

     1') It is called the "First Month," because it is the Month of Redemption, the month of the Exodus of the Jewish People from slavery in Egypt, the House of Bondage. The Society of Egypt was built on the institution of Slavery. Slaves were used to build treasure cities, such as Pitom and Raamses (Shemot 1:11), and the Pyramids, giant tombs for the Pharaohs (possibly hinted at when the Jewish People complained to Moshe, "Are there not enough graves in Egypt that you had to take us out to die in the desert?" (Shemot 14:11))

     No individual slave, nor group of slaves, and certainly no enslaved nation had ever escaped from slavery in Egypt.

     2') It is called the "Chodesh HaAviv," the Spring-time Month, because the Hebrew Calendar is set up so that the month must fall in the Spring. This is to satisfy the G-dly requirement whereby Hashem said to the Jewish People, "You are leaving today, in the Month of Spring-time!"

     This is accomplished by having a calendar which is basically "lunar;" that is, dependent on the revolution of the moon around the earth (once every twenty-nine and a half days, approximately), but adjusted in a "shanah me'uberet," a "leap year" (literally, a "pregnant" year), by adding an additional month of Adar. If not for the adjustment, Nisan, with Pesach, would travel through the seasons of the year, much as Ramadan, the Moslem Holy Month, based on the totally lunar Moslem Calendar, migrates through the seasons.

     3') The Name "Nisan" is of Babylonian-Persian origin, as are the names of all the twelve months of the Hebrew Calendar. But it also has the suggestion of Spring-time, or blossoming, because the similar word, "nitzan," in Hebrew, means a blossom.

     The Zodiac sign of Nisan is the "kid," the young goat, that animal which was worshipped in Egypt, but which the Jewish People were commanded to sacrifice as the Pesach sacrifice.

Teachers Commentary
     Israel vs. Egypt

     One of the purposes expressed in the design of the plagues which the Lord brought on Egypt was so that “you will know that the Lord makes a distinction between Egypt and Israel” (Ex. 11:7). Anyone looking at the two peoples would have made a distinction between them. But not the distinction the Lord made!

     The Israelites themselves were conditioned to evaluate … and to bow in shame, before the culture and power of Egypt. Everything that men tend to value … the evidences of accomplishment, all the wealth, the education … were there in a high degree in Egypt. Archeologists still wonder at the mechanical feats of that people. Mathematicians and astronomers are amazed at the precise measurements that allowed great pyramids to mark with various architectural features the exact time of summer and winter solstices.

     The Israelites were slaves. Mere tools to be used by the master race, then tossed aside when they had served their purpose. Worthless. Poor. Subhuman. The Jews were beneath the notice of men.

     But God made His own distinction between Egyptian and Jew! And God’s value system is different than man’s! God affirmed the worth and value of the slave people. In doing so, God not only kept the covenant He had made with Abraham, but God also shouted out for all to hear that no man is “nothing” to Him.

     We value what men do.

     God values what men are.

     The Prophet Hosea beautifully revealed God’s attitude and helps us see that the distinction God drew between Egypt and Israel was no mere legal act, performed to honor a previous contract. It was that. But God also acted in compassion, expressing deep love and concern for the suffering.

     When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called My son.… It was I who taught Ephraim to walk, taking them by the arms; but they did not realize it was I who healed them. I led them with cords of human kindness, with ties of love, I lifted the yoke from their neck and bent down to feed them. --- Hosea 11:1, 3–4.

     The confrontation between these two peoples is important for us to see. We too are forced to choose between the value system each represents. We too are challenged to have compassion on the downtrodden of this world … and in compassion to reflect the character and the values of our God.

The Teacher's Commentary
Take Heart
     February 13

     About the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?”—which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” When some of those standing there heard this, they said, “He’s calling Elijah.”
--- Matthew 27:46–47.

     I find in [Jesus Christ] the loneliness of grandeur. ( Wind on the Heath (Morrison Classic Sermon Series, The) ) Jesus was supremely lonely, because he was supremely great. There is a type of character with which we are all familiar that makes few demands on the love of others. It is severe. It aims at self-sufficiency. It will not lean hard on anyone. And while we may admire that type of character—and do so justly for it is often noble—we must remember it is not the character of Christ. It was the passion of Christ’s heart that people should trust him. It was the yearning of his soul that people should love him. In those rare moments when he was understood, he was thrilled to the finest fiber of his being.

     And it is when we think how people misunderstood him and were blind to all that he was and all he lived for that we realize the loneliness of Christ. To crave for love and, craving, not to find it, to have one’s every action misinterpreted, to feel that one’s dearest do not sympathize, to long for trust and to be met with scorn—for certain natures quivering with life there is no loneliness that can compare with that, and such was the loneliness of the Redeemer. I do not imagine that had you seen the Christ you would have said, “There goes a lonely man.” The Pharisees never thought to call him lonely. They called him the friend of publicans and sinners. But the ecstasy of joy that filled his soul when one understood him and cried, “You are the Christ,” betrays how unutterably lonely he had been. Was ever anyone misunderstood like this man? “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?”—and they thought he was calling for Elijah. It is only when you remember that, and all akin to it in the Evangel, that you come to feel how awful and unceasing must have been the loneliness of Christ.
--- George H. Morrison

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

On This Day   February 13
     But It Does Move

     Genuine science and correctly taught Scripture are never in conflict, for the same God created both. But endless damage occurs when either is misinterpreted and used to condemn the other. Here is one of church history’s saddest, sorriest examples.

     Galileo Galilei was an Italian astronomer and physicist who made his first scientific discoveries while a student in Pisa. He dropped out of the university for lack of money, but returned at age 25 to teach mathematics. He formulated laws about gravity by conducting novel experiments like dropping weights from the leaning tower of Pisa. He devised the law of the pendulum by watching a lamp swing from the cathedral ceiling. His fame spread across Europe, drawing both students and criticism.

     In 1609 he began building telescopes and making spectacular discoveries about the heavenly bodies. Galileo was a Christian who believed that God’s world and God’s Word were both valid objects for study. Using one of his telescopes, he even showed Pope Paul V some of his findings. But he was nonetheless attacked by the church, for his discoveries contradicted traditional teachings. Some clergymen condemned the whole study of astronomy by quoting Acts 1:11: “Why are you men from Galilee standing here and looking up into the sky?”

     In 1632 Galileo was called before the Inquisition to answer charges that his writings violated church teaching. Despite being 70 years old and infirm he was forced to travel from Florence during the winter, arriving in Rome on a litter on February 13, 1633. Historians are unsure whether Galileo, during his trial, was tortured or simply threatened with torture. In any event, the old scientist was forced to read a statement renouncing his views — especially his observation that the earth moves around the sun — confessing them as “errors and heresies.” A legend persists that having read his recantation, Galileo muttered, E pur si muove — “But it moves after all.”

     Galileo remained under house arrest, treated badly by church officials, until he became blind and feeble. He died on a winter’s day in 1642 in the presence of his son and two of his pupils.

     The heavens keep telling the wonders of God, And the skies declare what he has done. They don’t speak a word, And there is never the sound of a voice. Yet their message reaches all the earth, And it travels around the world.
--- Psalm 19:1,3,4.

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

Morning and Evening
     Daily Readings / CHARLES H. SPURGEON

          Morning - February 13

     “Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. Beloved, now are we the sons of God.” --- 1 John 3:1,2.

     “Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us.” Consider who we were, and what we feel ourselves to be even now when corruption is powerful in us, and you will wonder at our adoption. Yet we are called “the sons of God.” What a high relationship is that of a son, and what privileges it brings! What care and tenderness the son expects from his father, and what love the father feels towards the son! But all that, and more than that, we now have through Christ. As for the temporary drawback of suffering with the elder brother, this we accept as an honour: “Therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not.” We are content to be unknown with him in his humiliation, for we are to be exalted with him. “Beloved, now are we the sons of God.” That is easy to read, but it is not so easy to feel. How is it with your heart this morning? Are you in the lowest depths of sorrow? Does corruption rise within your spirit, and grace seem like a poor spark trampled under foot? Does your faith almost fail you? Fear not, it is neither your graces nor feelings on which you are to live: you must live simply by faith on Christ. With all these things against us, now—in the very depths of our sorrow, wherever we may be—now, as much in the valley as on the mountain, “Beloved, now are we the sons of God.” “Ah, but,” you say, “see how I am arrayed! my graces are not bright; my righteousness does not shine with apparent glory.” But read the next: “It doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him.” The Holy Spirit shall purify our minds, and divine power shall refine our bodies, then shall we see him as he is.

          Evening - February 13

     “There is therefore now no condemnation.”
--- Romans 8:1.

     Come, my soul, think thou of this. Believing in Jesus, thou art actually and effectually cleared from guilt; thou art led out of thy prison. Thou art no more in fetters as a bond-slave; thou art delivered now from the bondage of the law; thou art freed from sin, and canst walk at large as a freeman, thy Saviour’s blood has procured thy full discharge. Thou hast a right now to approach thy Father’s throne. No flames of vengeance are there to scare thee now; no fiery sword; justice cannot smite the innocent. Thy disabilities are taken away: thou wast once unable to see thy Father’s face: thou canst see it now. Thou couldst not speak with him: but now thou hast access with boldness. Once there was a fear of hell upon thee; but thou hast no fear of it now, for how can there be punishment for the guiltless? He who believeth is not condemned, and cannot be punished. And more than all, the privileges thou mightst have enjoyed, if thou hadst never sinned, are thine now that thou art justified. All the blessings which thou wouldst have had if thou hadst kept the law, and more, are thine, because Christ has kept it for thee. All the love and the acceptance which perfect obedience could have obtained of God, belong to thee, because Christ was perfectly obedient on thy behalf, and hath imputed all his merits to thy account, that thou mightst be exceeding rich through him, who for thy sake became exceeding poor. Oh! how great the debt of love and gratitude thou owest to thy Saviour!

     “A debtor to mercy alone,
     Of covenant mercy I sing;
     Nor fear with thy righteousness on,
     My person and offerings to bring:
     The terrors of law and of God,
     With me can have nothing to do;
     My Saviour’s obedience and blood
     Hide all my transgressions from view.”

Morning and Evening

Amazing Grace
     February 13

          MY SAVIOR’S LOVE

     Words and Music by Charles H. Gabriel, 1856–1932

     Live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave Himself for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
(Ephesians 5:2)

     Love saw a guilt of sin, and sought a basis of pardon.
     Love saw the defilement of sin, and sought a way of cleansing.
     Love saw the depravity of sin, and sought a means of restoration.
     Love saw the condemnation of sin, and sought a method of justification.
     Love saw the death of sin, and sought a way of life.
     Love sought—Love found!
--- Unknown

     Historians have noted that the ancient Greeks expressed three levels of love: Eros Love—a “give me” kind of love; Philia Love—a “give and take” kind of love. “You love me and I’ll love you;” and Agape Love—an “unconditional” kind of love. “I love you simply for who you are.”

     Our Savior’s love was agape love in its highest form. He loved us enough to leave heaven’s best, to suffer humiliation and death for a world of rebellious sinners. Only when we are gathered in glory with the ransomed of the ages and see His face will we fully know the meaning of this divine love. In the meantime, however, the scriptural command is that we are to live a life of love that ministers to the needs of others as a “fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”

     “My Savior’s Love” was written by Charles H. Gabriel, the most popular and prolific gospel song writer of the 1910–20 decade, which was the height of the Billy Sunday/Homer Rodeheaver evangelistic crusades. This song first appeared in the hymnal titled Praises, published in 1905.

     I stand amazed in the presence of Jesus the Nazarene, and wonder how He could love me, a sinner condemned, unclean.
     For me it was in the garden He prayed, “Not My will, but Thine;” He had no tears for His own griefs but sweat drops of blood for mine.
     In pity angels beheld Him, and came from the world of light to comfort Him in the sorrows He bore for my soul that night.
     He took my sins and my sorrows; He made them His very own; He bore the burden to Calv’ry and suffered and died alone.
     When with the ransomed in glory His face I at last shall see, ’twill be my joy thru the ages to sing of His love for me.
     Chorus: How marvelous! how wonderful! and my song shall ever be: How marvelous! how wonderful is my Savior’s love for me!

     For Today: John 3:16; 15:12, 13; Ephesians 2:4–7; 1 John 3:16; 4:9, 10.

     Try to approach each event of the day with this question: “How would Jesus have shown His love in this situation?”

Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions

Doctrine of Christ Part 31-35
      William Lane Craig

Part 31:

Part 32:

Part 33:

Part 34:

Part 35:

Numbers 5-6
     Jon Courson

Numbers 3-5
2-09-2000 | Jon Courson

Numbers 6:22-27
The Lord Bless You
02-13-2000 | Jon Courson

Numbers 6
2-16-2000 | Jon Courson

Jon Courson | Jon Courson

Numbers 5-6
     Skip Heitzig

Numbers 6-7
Calvary Chapel NM

Skip Heitzig | Calvary Chapel NM

Numbers 5-6
     Paul LeBoutillier

Numbers 5-8
Establishing the Community of worship
02-01-2017 | Paul LeBoutillier

Paul LeBoutillier | Calvary Chapel Ontario, Oregon

Numbers 5-6
     Brett Meador | Athey Creek

The Nazirite Vow Numbers 6:1-8
s2-074 | 5-24-2015

The Lord Bless Thee Numbers 6:24-26
s2-075 | 5-31-2015

Numbers 5-7
m2-074 | 6-03-2015

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

Problem Parables The Rich Man and Lazarus
Stanley D. Toussaint

Postconservative Mood in Evangelical Theology 1
Roger E. Olson | Acadia Divinity College

Postconservative Mood in Evangelical Theology 2
Roger E. Olson | Acadia Divinity College

Postconservative Mood in Evangelical Theology 3
Roger E. Olson | Acadia Divinity College

Lord's Prayer - My Version
Richard S. Adams

The Corners Of My Soul
Tom Nicholson | Photography