Numbers 16 - 17
Korah’s RebellionNumbers 16:1 Now Korah the son of Izhar, son of Kohath, son of Levi, and Dathan and Abiram the sons of Eliab, and On the son of Peleth, sons of Reuben, took men. 2 And they rose up before Moses, with a number of the people of Israel, 250 chiefs of the congregation, chosen from the assembly, well-known men. 3 They assembled themselves together against Moses and against Aaron and said to them, “You have gone too far! For all in the congregation are holy, every one of them, and the LORD is among them. Why then do you exalt yourselves above the assembly of the LORD?” 4 When Moses heard it, he fell on his face, 5 and he said to Korah and all his company, “In the morning the LORD will show who is his, and who is holy, and will bring him near to him. The one whom he chooses he will bring near to him. 6 Do this: take censers, Korah and all his company; 7 put fire in them and put incense on them before the LORD tomorrow, and the man whom the LORD chooses shall be the holy one. You have gone too far, sons of Levi!” 8 And Moses said to Korah, “Hear now, you sons of Levi: 9 is it too small a thing for you that the God of Israel has separated you from the congregation of Israel, to bring you near to himself, to do service in the tabernacle of the LORD and to stand before the congregation to minister to them, 10 and that he has brought you near him, and all your brothers the sons of Levi with you? And would you seek the priesthood also? 11 Therefore it is against the LORD that you and all your company have gathered together. What is Aaron that you grumble against him?”
12 And Moses sent to call Dathan and Abiram the sons of Eliab, and they said, “We will not come up. 13 Is it a small thing that you have brought us up out of a land flowing with milk and honey, to kill us in the wilderness, that you must also make yourself a prince over us? 14 Moreover, you have not brought us into a land flowing with milk and honey, nor given us inheritance of fields and vineyards. Will you put out the eyes of these men? We will not come up.” 15 And Moses was very angry and said to the LORD, “Do not respect their offering. I have not taken one donkey from them, and I have not harmed one of them.”
16 And Moses said to Korah, “Be present, you and all your company, before the LORD, you and they, and Aaron, tomorrow. 17 And let every one of you take his censer and put incense on it, and every one of you bring before the LORD his censer, 250 censers; you also, and Aaron, each his censer.” 18 So every man took his censer and put fire in them and laid incense on them and stood at the entrance of the tent of meeting with Moses and Aaron. 19 Then Korah assembled all the congregation against them at the entrance of the tent of meeting. And the glory of the LORD appeared to all the congregation.
20 And the LORD spoke to Moses and to Aaron, saying, 21 “Separate yourselves from among this congregation, that I may consume them in a moment.” 22 And they fell on their faces and said, “O God, the God of the spirits of all flesh, shall one man sin, and will you be angry with all the congregation?” 23 And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 24 “Say to the congregation, Get away from the dwelling of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram.”
25 Then Moses rose and went to Dathan and Abiram, and the elders of Israel followed him. 26 And he spoke to the congregation, saying, “Depart, please, from the tents of these wicked men, and touch nothing of theirs, lest you be swept away with all their sins.” 27 So they got away from the dwelling of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram. And Dathan and Abiram came out and stood at the door of their tents, together with their wives, their sons, and their little ones. 28 And Moses said, “Hereby you shall know that the LORD has sent me to do all these works, and that it has not been of my own accord. 29 If these men die as all men die, or if they are visited by the fate of all mankind, then the LORD has not sent me. 30 But if the LORD creates something new, and the ground opens its mouth and swallows them up with all that belongs to them, and they go down alive into Sheol, then you shall know that these men have despised the LORD.”
31 And as soon as he had finished speaking all these words, the ground under them split apart. 32 And the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them up, with their households and all the people who belonged to Korah and all their goods. 33 So they and all that belonged to them went down alive into Sheol, and the earth closed over them, and they perished from the midst of the assembly. 34 And all Israel who were around them fled at their cry, for they said, “Lest the earth swallow us up!” 35 And fire came out from the LORD and consumed the 250 men offering the incense.
36 Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 37 “Tell Eleazar the son of Aaron the priest to take up the censers out of the blaze. Then scatter the fire far and wide, for they have become holy. 38 As for the censers of these men who have sinned at the cost of their lives, let them be made into hammered plates as a covering for the altar, for they offered them before the LORD, and they became holy. Thus they shall be a sign to the people of Israel.” 39 So Eleazar the priest took the bronze censers, which those who were burned had offered, and they were hammered out as a covering for the altar, 40 to be a reminder to the people of Israel, so that no outsider, who is not of the descendants of Aaron, should draw near to burn incense before the LORD, lest he become like Korah and his company—as the LORD said to him through Moses.
41 But on the next day all the congregation of the people of Israel grumbled against Moses and against Aaron, saying, “You have killed the people of the LORD.” 42 And when the congregation had assembled against Moses and against Aaron, they turned toward the tent of meeting. And behold, the cloud covered it, and the glory of the LORD appeared. 43 And Moses and Aaron came to the front of the tent of meeting, 44 and the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 45 “Get away from the midst of this congregation, that I may consume them in a moment.” And they fell on their faces. 46 And Moses said to Aaron, “Take your censer, and put fire on it from off the altar and lay incense on it and carry it quickly to the congregation and make atonement for them, for wrath has gone out from the LORD; the plague has begun.” 47 So Aaron took it as Moses said and ran into the midst of the assembly. And behold, the plague had already begun among the people. And he put on the incense and made atonement for the people. 48 And he stood between the dead and the living, and the plague was stopped. 49 Now those who died in the plague were 14,700, besides those who died in the affair of Korah. 50 And Aaron returned to Moses at the entrance of the tent of meeting, when the plague was stopped.
Aaron’s Staff BudsNumbers 17:1 The LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 2 “Speak to the people of Israel, and get from them staffs, one for each fathers’ house, from all their chiefs according to their fathers’ houses, twelve staffs. Write each man’s name on his staff, 3 and write Aaron’s name on the staff of Levi. For there shall be one staff for the head of each fathers’ house. 4 Then you shall deposit them in the tent of meeting before the testimony, where I meet with you. 5 And the staff of the man whom I choose shall sprout. Thus I will make to cease from me the grumblings of the people of Israel, which they grumble against you.” 6 Moses spoke to the people of Israel. And all their chiefs gave him staffs, one for each chief, according to their fathers’ houses, twelve staffs. And the staff of Aaron was among their staffs. 7 And Moses deposited the staffs before the LORD in the tent of the testimony.
8 On the next day Moses went into the tent of the testimony, and behold, the staff of Aaron for the house of Levi had sprouted and put forth buds and produced blossoms, and it bore ripe almonds. 9 Then Moses brought out all the staffs from before the LORD to all the people of Israel. And they looked, and each man took his staff. 10 And the LORD said to Moses, “Put back the staff of Aaron before the testimony, to be kept as a sign for the rebels, that you may make an end of their grumblings against me, lest they die.” 11 Thus did Moses; as the LORD commanded him, so he did.
12 And the people of Israel said to Moses, “Behold, we perish, we are undone, we are all undone. 13 Everyone who comes near, who comes near to the tabernacle of the LORD, shall die. Are we all to perish?”
The Reformation Study Bible
What I'm Reading
Can We Investigate the Universe Like A Crime Scene?
By J. Warner Wallace 2/13/2017
When a dead body is discovered, detectives must investigate the evidence to determine the most reasonable explanation. Did the deceased die naturally? Did he suffer some kind of accident? Did he commit suicide? Was he murdered? These are the four possible explanations at any death scene. Homicide detectives are concerned only with the last one. Of the four explanations, the first three do not require the involvement of anyone other than the victim. If his or her death was an accident, the result of some natural cause, or the result of a suicide, all the evidence we might find related to the victim’s passing will ultimately come from the very room where he or she died. Every death scene involves evidence of one kind or another, but intruders turn death scenes into crime scenes. For that reason, every death investigation begins as an intruder investigation. Without evidence of an intruder, deaths are likely to be the result of natural causes, an accident, or a suicide. One simple strategy in death cases, therefore, is to ask a foundational question: “Can I account for all the evidence in this room by staying in the room?”
During most of my early investigative career, I was a committed atheist and resolute naturalist. I rejected supernaturalism thoroughly, denying both the existence of a supernatural God and the possibility of the miraculous. I truly believed everything I observed in the universe could be explained and attributed to natural, physical causes and processes. Thinking of the universe as a “room,” I didn’t believe there was any evidence pointing to anyone outside. I certainly didn’t believe anything “extra-natural” or “supra-natural” entered this natural realm. But I hadn’t yet looked at the evidence carefully; I wasn’t an experienced investigator. Over the years, I learned how to evaluate and assemble evidential cases, and along the way—at the age of thirty-five—I was introduced to the New Testament.
I became interested in God’s existence only after investigating the gospels as eyewitness accounts. (I describe this investigation in detail in my book Cold-Case Christianity.) The New Testament accounts passed the same four-part test I apply to all my witnesses, yet I still rejected them on the basis of their miraculous stories. As a naturalist, I believed the accounts of miracles in the biblical narratives disqualified them as reliable history. But what if I was wrong in my anti-supernatural presuppositions? It was time for me to look carefully at the evidence for God’s existence. If a supernatural being did exist, the miracles in the Gospels would be possible and maybe even reasonable. The case for God’s existence was an integral part of the case for the reliability of the Gospels.
Like many of my death scene investigations, my examination of the natural universe required me to look at the characteristics of the “room” and determine if they could be explained fully by what already existed within the “four walls.” Was there any evidence inside the universe pointing to the existence or intervention of a supernatural being outside the universe? My most important question was, “Can I account for all the evidence in this room by staying in the room?
As I considered the natural “room” of the universe, I identified and listed four categories of evidence for consideration:
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.
Logic: A Necessary Tool for Truth
By Kenneth R. Samples 1/31/2017
As the nonscientist on RTB’s five-person staff scholar team, I sometimes feel like the odd man out. Because I’m a philosopher, I often look at things and think about things very differently than my science colleagues. The questions that I tend to ask, even about science, usually inquire about things from a very different perspective. I typically gravitate toward asking more philosophically oriented questions that focus more on logical relationships than science’s emphasis upon observational relationships. Yet I recently came across a provocative analogy that I think helps to show the broadly common way that my science colleagues and I both seek to discover knowledge and truth.
Catholic philosopher Peter Kreeft draws this interesting comparison in his book on logic:
Logic is one of philosophy’s main instruments. Logic is to philosophy what telescopes are to astronomy or microscopes to biology or math to physics. You can’t be very good at physics if you’re very bad at math, and you can’t be very good at philosophy if you’re very bad at logic. Socratic Logic: A Logic Text using Socratic Method, Platonic Questions, and Aristotelian Principles, Edition 3.1
Analogical Thinking | I view Kreeft’s comparison of the various instruments of knowledge and truth as functioning as a stimulating analogy.
Here’s that instrument to discipline comparison outlined. Logic’s relationship to philosophy is like
telescopes to astronomy;
microscopes to biology; and
math to physics.
In all of these academic fields, it is possible to engage in the discipline itself without specifically using the instrument. For example, ancient people practiced astronomy long before the telescope was invented, and studies in biology went on for many centuries before the microscope was designed. Similarly, it is possible to observe the general effects of physics without the formal use of mathematics, just as a person can ask common sense philosophical questions about life without appealing to the formal aspects of logic. Even the great philosopher Aristotle, who is credited as the “father of logic,” referred to logic as a “tool” or “instrument” (Greek, organon). However, the use of these amazing instruments—whether actual artifacts (telescope and microscope) or pure conceptual realities (math and logic) discovered via the human mind—produces an increase in information and knowledge that is seemingly exponential. Both the amount of data and the depth of potential understanding is exceedingly increased by the use of the instruments. And the more skilled you are at using the instrument, the better you are in your given discipline.
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:
- 1 God among Sages: Why Jesus Is Not Just Another Religious Leader
- 2 A World of Difference: Putting Christian Truth-Claims to the Worldview Test (Reasons to Believe)
- 3 God among Sages: Why Jesus Is Not Just Another Religious Leader
- 4 Christian Endgame: Careful Thinking about the End Times
- 5 Christianity's Most Dangerous Idea (Ebook Shorts)
4 Dimensions of Exposing Faulty Worldviews
By Dave Jenkins
Few issues today are as important as understanding the connection between the gospel, discipleship, missions, and apologetics. I’ve learned these truths through ministering on the streets of Seattle, being in college campus ministry, and at local coffee shops around my area. Engaging in discipleship, missions, and apologetics in a manner worthy of the gospel means understanding how they relate first to the gospel and then to the Church’s mission. I hope to trace out some of these vital connections and in so doing help readers understand that the story of Jesus exposes faulty worldviews. For example, in John 4, Jesus unveils the woman at the well’s faulty worldview. He asks her questions designed to draw her closer to understanding who he is. As the woman’s understanding grows, she sees her need for Jesus. She understands that Jesus is the Son of God. Then she becomes a disciple of Jesus and goes on mission for Jesus in reaching her neighbors and town for him. This is how the gospel works.
Jesus exposes faulty worldview stories by showing us our need for his better and truer story,then he saves us by showing us the majesty of his death and resurrection. From there he grows our understanding of himself and sends us out on mission. Part and parcel of this mission is to show the truthfulness of his story in history in comparison to the faultiness of every other story.
Gospel | As the Church, we come together on the Lord’s Day because of the gospel. We gather to be reminded of what Jesus accomplished in his death, burial, and resurrection. We assemble together because God has taken those who were formerly not his and redeemed us through the blood of the Lamb of God. The Apostle Peter calls us to “give an answer for the reason for the hope that we have but to do so with gentleness and respect” (1 Pt. 3:15) because we are honoring Christ the Lord as holy in our hearts (1 Pt. 3:15).
Apologetics exist not because we know all the right answers but as a result of a life centered on Christ. This is what Peter emphasized in 1 Peter 1:13-17, namely that God who is holy has called us to be his own and as a result, we’re called to manifest godly character in keeping with our status as his beloved.
Redeemed people long to see Christ formed not only in their own lives but in the lives of others and to share their stories with others. The real work of apologetics is sharing the stories of God’s grace, goodness, and work in our lives with others. Part of apologetics does deal with objections and responds to error, heresy, and false teaching, but, before we do that, Christ must be honored preeminently in our hearts as noted in 1 Peter 3:15. We’ve been called as a people because of the gospel to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Pt. 3:16) and to have a Christ-like character being formed in our lives (2 Pt. 1:3-15).
Dave Jenkins is the Executive Director of Servants of Grace Ministries, and the Executive Editor of Theology for Life Magazine. He and his wife, Sarah, are members of Ustick Baptist Church in Boise, Idaho, where they serve in a variety of ministries. Dave received his MAR and M.Div. through Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary. You can follow him on twitter @DaveJJenkins. Find him on Facebook or read more of his work at servantsofgrace.org.
Perichoresis In Aquinas: Fruit, Not Foundation
By Derek Rishmawy 2/14/2017
“Perichoresis” or, in Latin, circumincessio, has been a fairly traditional term in trinitarian theology since at least the time of John of Damascus. Before he applied it to the trinitarian issue, it was used to speak of the mutual interpenetration of the human and divine natures of Christ in the incarnation. But in trinitarian theology, it speaks of the mutual indwelling of the persons of the Trinity. Scripturally, the taproot of the doctrine comes in Jesus’ discourses in John where he says things like, “I am in the Father and the Father is in me” and so forth (John 14:10-11). The point is that there is a “reciprocal interiority” of Father, Son, and Spirit in that they exist within the other persons in an unconfused, but ineffable unity.
In recent theology the concept has become sexy and made to do a lot of work in broader theological systems. For instance, in the work of types like The Trinity and the Kingdom, the perichoresis of the persons has been used to secure the unity of the Trinity in a social doctrine of the Trinity, while at the same time speaking to the God-world relationship. The One, the Three and the Many: God, Creation and the Culture of Modernity / The 1992 Bampton Lectures has expanded it out as a “transcendental” that allows us to understand the deep, interpenetrating structures of reality. People have developed spiritualities, political and economic programs, and even marital models out of it, leaving theologians like Karen Kilby to wonder if the process of projection hasn’t been at work here.
In any case, as I was reading Gilles Emery’s exposition The Trinitarian Theology of St Thomas Aquinas, he draws attention to the Thomas’ doctrine of perichoresis as something of a synthesis of his trinitarian doctrine as a whole. Given its contemporary importance, it seemed worth reviewing what this giant of Western trinitarianism had to say on the subject.
To begin, it might seem like he has little to say, simply because neither the Greek term “perichoresis” nor the Latin term “circumincessio” appear in Thomas. But Emery notes that while the specific terms may not appear, a battery of other phrases demonstrate that the concept is deeply rooted in Thomas’ thought:
In presenting the ‘in being’ of the persons, he uses, rather, the expressions ‘union or intrinsic conjunction’, ‘interiority’, ‘intimacy’, ‘existing in’, ‘being in that which is the most intimate and most secret’ (this is how the Son is in the Father), ‘reciprocal communality of “in being,”’ ‘communal union’, etc. In every case, the communal presence of the persons excludes their confusion, because it is based in their real distinction. It rules out the ‘isolation’ of one person, since it implies a communal relationship of persons. The divine persons are not ‘solitaries’: they are ‘inseparables’. (302)
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Read The Psalms In "1" Year
Psalm 22Why Have You Forsaken Me?
22 To The Choirmaster. According To The Doe Of The Dawn. A Psalm Of David.
1 My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning?
2 O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer,
and by night, but I find no rest.
3 Yet you are holy,
enthroned on the praises of Israel.
4 In you our fathers trusted;
they trusted, and you delivered them.
5 To you they cried and were rescued;
in you they trusted and were not put to shame.
Literal Interpretation and False Assumptions
By Rachel Marrow 1/8/2017
Preconceived notions are among the largest obstacles to Christianity. Secular skeptics often cite literal interpretation such as the six days of creation, animals on Noah’s ark, or the absence of dinosaurs as sound reasons to reject the Bible and Christianity as a whole.
In reality, conclusions like these reveal how blind we are to our biases rather than any actual intellectual short-comings of the Christian faith. What are some of these common false assumptions?
Read for Yourself
Many have misconstrued notions of what is actually stated in the Bible. Instead, their knowledge often comes from second-hand source like TV or movies. Hollywood tends to misrepresent reality: spies always meet on park benches, undiagnosed-PTSD military personnel only stop saying “sir” in order to salute, and Christians are science-hating hypocritical snobs with southern drawls. Even ‘news’ networks push stories of sensationalism to bolster ratings rather than create an informed populace. While entertainment serves its purpose, philosophies should be judged by their merits. Those merits should reference their source documents, rather than caricatures presented by others.
Acknowledge Literary Genre and Style
Rachel Marrow | I'm a Christian, Marine wife, mother of 4 young boys, and a classical homeschooler. I learn and process through writing, and hope to pass what I've learned to others. Sola gratia.
A Survey Of Old Testament Introduction
By Gleason Archer Jr.
Aramaisms as a Criterion for Lateness (cont)
In Kautszch’s Die Aramäismen im Alten Testament he listed about 350 words in the Hebrew Old Testament as being certainly, probably, or possibly of Aramaic origin. Concerning these 350 words, R. D. Wilson reports that 100 of them have never (as of 1926) been found in any Aramaic document, and of the remaining 250, a good 135 have never been found in an Aramaic document earlier than the second century A.D. Of the remaining 115 which have been found in documents from before that time, 75 are found in Babylonian, Arabic, Phoenician, or Ethiopic (as well as in Hebrew and Aramaic) — which leaves the question open as to who borrowed from whom (or were they all derived from the same parent Semitic language?). (Cf. SIOT, pp. 155, 156.) Wilson goes on to point out that 50 out of Kautszch’s 350 “Aramaic” words are found in the Pentateuch; but of these 50 words, only 24 are employed by Onkelos in his Aramaic Targum of the Torah. It would be natural to expect that authentic Aramaic words would be eagerly embraced for the translation into Aramaic, but it turns out that less than half of them were. To be sure, some of these so-called Aramaic words might have become obsolete by the time of Onkelos, but a 54 percent loss is well beyond the normal rate of vocabulary change in the course of six centuries or so. Moreover, the roots of 16 out of these 24 words in Onkelos occur also in Babylonian or Arabic.
Considerable doubt must therefore attach to the great majority of these 350 “Aramaisms” listed by Kautszch. In most cases these words occur in Hebrew books older by seven centuries than their earliest occurrence in extant Aramaic documents. To be sure there is a regrettable paucity of Aramaic materials from the pre-Christian centuries, but the classification of Hebrew words as Aramaisms ought to be established upon more solid grounds than mere scholarly conjecture. When we remember that critics have on the basis of Aramaisms assigned about 1500 verses of pre-exilic literature to a post-exilic date, it is reasonable to demand written documentation to verify the Aramaic status of these words. To be sure, there are some linguistic tests by which a genuine Aramaism can be distinguished in Hebrew, even apart from such documentation. That is to say, if the word in question contains one of seven telltale consonants, and if that same root exists in other Semitic languages, it is usually possible to tell whether a word is authentically Aramaic and borrowed by the Hebrew author as a loanword.
The significant consonants are listed below in Arabic (which usually preserves the most primitive Semitic pronunciation), Hebrew, and Aramaic, with a sample word to illustrate each shift. The meaning of the word is given at the commencement of the row. (Ḏ represents the sound of th in this; š is sh in she; ṯ is th in thing; ẓ is a deepthroated z sound which is close to a th in this; ṣ is an intense s that is close to a ts in quality; ṭ is a deep-throated t sound made slightly back of the position of ordinary t; d is a deep-throated sound resembling d followed by voiced th in a -dth combination; ˓ is a sort of grunt or snarl which is made deep in the throat as the throat muscles are tightened up; ḥ is a deep-throated kh sound like ch in Loch Lomond.)
COMPARISON OF PRONUNCIATIONS
(1) “to sacrifice”
(2) “to break”
(3) “to look at, guard”
(4) “land, country”
The Problem Of The Old Testament
By James Orr 1907
III. DIFFICULTIES OF CRITICAL THEORY ON AGE AND ORIGIN (CONT)
2. The next natural branch of inquiry relates to the testimony of the book itself as to the circumstances of its own origin. To the ordinary reader it might seem as if no doubt whatever could rest on this point. The book would appear in the most explicit fashion to claim for itself a Mosaic origin. Not only are the discourses it contains affirmed to have been delivered by Moses in the Arabah of Moab — this might be accounted for by literary impersonation — but at the close there are express attestations that Moses wrote his law, and delivered it into the custody of the priests for safe preservation. “And Moses wrote this law,” we read, “and delivered it unto the priests, the sons of Levi.… When Moses had made an end of writing the words of this law in a book, until they were finished, Moses commanded the Levites, which bare the ark of the covenant of Jehovah, saying, Take this book of the law, and put it by the side of the ark,” etc. In view of these declarations, one does not well know what to make of the remarkable statement of Dr. Driver that, “though it may appear paradoxical to say so, Deuteronomy does not claim to be written by Moses.” The paradox Dr. Driver defends is, at all events, not one accepted by the leaders of the critical school, who lay stress upon the fact that the writer obviously intended his book to be received as genuinely Mosaic, and in that way sought to gain authority for its teachings. It was undoubtedly as a genuine work of Moses — subject, of course, to any necessary revisional processes — that it was received by Josiah and his contemporaries.
There is, however, the possibility of a mediating view, which must in justice be taken account of, though it is not one, it seems to us, which greatly helps the newer critics. First, we should say, as respects the scope of the above testimony, we entirely agree that the words, “Moses wrote this law,” cannot, in the connection in which they stand, be fairly extended, as has sometimes been attempted, to cover the whole Pentateuch. On the other hand, we see no fitness or probability in confining them, with Delitzsch4 and many others, to the “kernel” of the Mosaic law in chaps. 12–26 . The word torah must be taken here in its widest sense as covering the hortatory and admonitory parts of the book, not less than its strictly legal portions. The godly of later times, who found their souls’ nourishment and delight in the “law of Jehovah” (cf. Pss. 1, 19:7 ff., 119, etc.), had, we may be sure, other material before them than the bare legal precepts of either the Deuteronomic or the Priestly Code. The notice can only fairly be understood as meaning that Moses put in writing, and delivered to the priests, the substance, if not the letter, of what he had just been saying; and such a statement, once and again repeated in the book (cf. in addition to the above, chap. 17:18 ), must, for those who recognise its honesty of intent, always have the greatest weight. But, this being granted, the question remains whether the words “this law” necessarily apply to the discourses precisely as we have them, i.e., in their present literary form. Assuming that Moses, as Delitzsch conjectures, “before his departure left behind with the priestly order an autograph torah to be preserved and disseminated,” may we not reasonably suppose that, in the book as we possess it, we have, not a literal transcription of that torah, but a “free literary reproduction” of its contents, in the form best adapted for general instruction and edification, with occasional developments and modifications suited to the time of its origin? So again Delitzsch and not a few others think. “The Deuteronomian,” he says, “has completely appropriated the thoughts and language of Moses, and from a genuine oneness of mind with him reproduces them in the highest intensity of divine inspiration.”
There will be little doubt, we think, as to the admissibility of this “reproduction” theory, if the circumstances are shown to require it. It implies no purpose to deceive, and stands on a different footing from theories which, under the name “development,” assume the attribution to Moses of ideas, laws, and institutions, not only unknown to him, but, if the critical hypothesis is correct, actually in conflict with his genuine legislation. Perhaps, also, in a modified degree, some recasting in form and language, in the sense of this hypothesis, must be admitted, if we suppose — what is very probable — that the script which Moses used was other than the ancient Hebrew, or grant that the discourses were written out rather in substance than in full detail — leaving it to the transcriber or interpreter to fill out, and give the living impression of scene and voice. If this was done (as we believe it must have been) when the remembrance or tradition of Moses and his time was still vivid and reliable, it would give us a book such as we have in Deuteronomy. On the other hand, if so much is admitted about Moses, the question which must always recur regarding this theory, even to the very limited extent indicated, is—Cui bono? If, as Delitzsch supposes, the contents of Deuteronomy are substantially Mosaic, — if Moses really delivered testamentary discourses, and in some form wrote them down for posterity, — whence the necessity for this literary “double” to re-write and improve them? Why should the form in which Moses spoke and wrote them not be substantially that in which we have them? Shall we suppose that the actual discourses were less grand and sustained in style — less tender, glowing, and eloquent — than those we possess, — that they contained less recitation of God’s dealings, less expostulation, exhortation, and affectionate appeal, — or were less impressive in their counsels and warnings? Or that Moses, when he came to write them down — “till they were finished,” says the text — was not able to make as noble and powerful a record of them as any inspired man of a later date? We, at least, have a less mean idea of Moses, the man of God, and of his literary capabilities. We have a full and vivid picture of him, and specimens of his style of thought and pleading, in the history; we can judge of his lofty gifts, if the Ode at the Red Sea, or the Song in Deuteronomy, 2 are from his pen; and we may well believe that, of all men living, he was the one most capable of giving worthy literary form to his own addresses. If the book, in substance, is from Moses, very cogent reasons must be shown for putting it, even in its literary form, at a much later date.
In reality, however, so far as critics of the newer time are concerned, such a hypothesis as we have been considering is wholly in the air. Possessed of quite other ideas of what must have been, these writers will hardly entertain even the possibility, either of Moses having written these discourses, or of his being able to write them. For them the Mosaic age is literally, as Duhm says, “wiped out.” Underlying their refusal of Deuteronomy to Moses will generally be found the denial that we know anything definitely at all about Moses, or of his literary capabilities, or that he delivered any testamentary discourses, or that any of the laws or institutions ordinarily attributed to him — even the Ten Commandments — are actually of his age. In that case, Delitzsch’s hypothesis, with other mediating views, falls, and we are brought back essentially to the old alternative. The thorough - paced critic will have nothing to say to a hypothetical or traditionary basis for a book admitted to belong in its present shape to the age of the kings. Kuenen will allow no alternative between “authenticity” and “literary fiction.”
3. When, finally, from the external attestation, we turn to the internal character of the book — and it is here the strength of the critical position is held to lie — we find a series of phenomena which, so far from supporting, throw very great, if not insuperable, obstacles in the way of its ascription to the age of Josiah. On these the minifying end of the critical telescope is persistently turned, while the magnifying end is brought to bear in its full power on any difficulties that seem to tell against an earlier date. We have to remember that the book, on the critical view, was composed with the express design of calling into being such a reformation as that which followed its “discovery” in the reign of Josiah. The proof of its origin in that age is held to be its suitability to the conditions of the time, and the stress it lays on the demand for centralisation of worship. When, however, we open the book itself, we are forcibly struck by the absence of clear evidence of any such design on the part of the author, and by the numerous indications of unsuitability to the age in which it is believed to have been composed. The book and the history, in a word, do not fit each other.
(1) It is extremely doubtful if “centralisation of worship,” in the critical acceptation of that phrase, was the dominant motive in Josiah’s reformation at all. The idea of the unlawfulness of worship — even of Jehovah — on high places need not have been absent; it had, we believe, been in the background of men’s minds ever since the founding of Solomon’s temple. But it was not that which so strangely moved Josiah to alarm and action. His reformation from beginning to end was a crusade against the idolatry which had everywhere infected Church and state—central sanctuary included, — and the “high places” were put down as part of this stern suppression of all idolatrous and heathenish practices. Of a movement for unity of worship as such the narrative gives not a single hint. On the other hand, when we look to Deuteronomy, we find little or nothing that points directly to a consuming zeal against the “high places” — in Josiah’s time the crying sin, because the chief centres of idolatry, in Judah. There are warnings against falling into the idolatries and other abominations of the Canaanites, when the land should be possessed, and in chaps. 7:5, 25, 12:2–4, injunctions to “utterly destroy” the sanctuaries, altars, pillars, Asherahs, and graven images of these former inhabitants. But there is nothing peculiarly Josianic in this — it is all there already in the older Book of the Covenant. Still further, while Deuteronomy gives prominence to the idea of the centralisation of worship at the sanctuary, it is far from correct to say that this is the dominating idea of the book — the one grand idea which inspires it. It has its place in chap. 12, and recurs in the regulations for feasts, tithing, and priestly duty; but the preceding discourses have nothing to say of it, and in the Code it appears with a multitude of other laws, some of them more fundamental than itself. The bulk of the laws in the book, as will appear below, are taken from the Book of the Covenant; others are from a priestly source yet to be investigated.
(2) Here already is a puzzling problem for the critics — to account for the relevancy of this wide range of laws, many of them dealing with seemingly trivial matters, in a book assumed to be specially composed to effect a reformation in worship. The irrelevancy of the greater number of the precepts for such a purpose is obvious at a glance. But the incongruity of the Code in structure and contents with the supposed occasion of its origin appears in other respects. The most favourable view of the book is that it is a corpus of old laws reproduced in a hortatory setting with special adaptation to the circumstances of a late time. Yet in point of form everything is thrown back into the age of Moses. The standpoint of the speaker is the East of Jordan, with the prospect of the people’s immediately entering Canaan; Israel is treated in its unbroken unity as a nation (“all Israel”), and there is not a hint anywhere of the great division that, centuries before Josiah’s time, had rent the kingdom into twain, and had ended in the destruction of one of its branches (Ephraim). What is even more remarkable, the laws frequently are, not only long obsolete, but of a character ludicrously out of place in a reforming Code of the end of the seventh century. We need not dwell at length on these anachronisms of the Code, which have been so often pointed out, — the law, e.g., for the extermination of the Canaanites, when no Canaanites remained to be exterminated; the injunction to destroy the Amalekites; the rules for military service (inapplicable to the later time), for besieging of foreign cities, for arrangements in the camp; the warnings against choosing a foreigner for a king, and causing to return to Egypt, the friendly tone towards Edom, so strangely in contrast with the hostile spirit of the prophets; and the like. These things may seem as the small dust of the balance to the critic, but they may not appear so insignificant to others. Dr. Driver’s answer, that the injunctions against the Canaanites and Amalekites are repeated from the older legislation, and “in a recapitulation of Mosaic principles addressed ex hypothesi to the people when they were about to enter Canaan, would be naturally included,” only corroborates our point, that they were suitable to the times of Moses, but not to those of Josiah. The difficulty is not touched why a writer in that age should go out of his way to include them, when they did not bear on his purpose, and had no relevancy to existing conditions. But even in the matter of reformation of worship, it is important to observe that the laws in Deuteronomy were not of a kind that could be, or were, enforced by Josiah in their integrity. In the Code, e.g., it is ordained that idolaters of every degree, with all who secretly or openly entice to idolatry, are to be unsparingly put to death. Josiah, it is true, slew the priests of the high places of Samaria upon their altars. But he did not attempt any such drastic measures in Judah. He brought up, instead, the priests of the high places to Jerusalem, and allowed them to “eat of the unleavened bread among their brethren.” It is one of the most singular instances of the reading of a preconceived theory into a plain text, when, in face of the law ordaining death for all idolatry, these “disestablished priests” of the high places are regarded as the Levites of Deut. 18:8, for whom provision is made out of the temple dues. Of course, there is not a syllable hinting at “disestablished priests” of the high places in the provisions of Deuteronomy for the Levites. The latter, besides, were permitted to minister at the sanctuary, while Josiah’s priests were not.
The Cure For Despair (2005)
By Richard S. AdamsDespair is a dangerous thing. Do you think the disciples despaired after falling asleep in Gethsemane? Jesus said, “I am deeply grieved, even to death; remain here, and stay awake with me.” (Mt 26:38)
(Mt 26:38) Then he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me.” ESV
We know the story. Is it any wonder after the crucifixion they were cowering and hiding from public scrutiny? There was far more going on here than just worrying about the Roman authorities. They had the incredible opportunity to encourage Jesus by staying awake, but they blew it. They must have felt it was unforgivable to have fallen asleep instead of watching over Jesus. Surely guilt weighed heavily upon them.
Who has not felt the sense of the irreparable? Words we cannot take back, deeds we cannot undo, missed opportunities to act. It is far worse when people you love suffer because of your mistakes. If, as a husband, father, son or friend someone special to you suffers because of something you did or did not do, something you said, whatever, it is a pain and a regret that never goes away. Sins may be forgiven, but the consequences are deep scars. If you care about others you probably know what I am talking about. It is no surprise then that despair is such a powerful immobilizer. Who has not said, “It’s all over now, there is no point in trying anymore?”
So then, what makes us get up and keep going? What made the disciples come out of hiding to become martyrs to the testimony of the risen Christ? There were no pharmaceuticals then; no butterflies drifting gently over you at night to help you sleep, no pills to make you smile, no energy drinks to get you going, not even coffee to breathe life into old bones like mine. (Funny, old bones like mine, but I wrote this years ago)
Have you experienced a funk so deep you were unable to lift yourself up or out? What happened to the disciples that shattered the gloom and despair that shrouded them?
Intellectual ability and awareness, diligent discipline, stubborn denial, emotional embarrassment, fear, and even the anger that reacts to unsympathetic criticism can motivate us to do things beyond our normal capability. Despair, however, is a spiritual sickness that demands a spiritual cure.
For some of us the cure can be found in our knowledge that we are loved and forgiven by family and friends; that we matter to them. For others it might be the awareness of being needed by a child, parent, friend or even a stranger. Our surrender, our failure will hurt them so we keep moving. For others it might be the knowledge that through it all, if we have made a real profession of faith, God loves us. In all cases, for those of us saved by Christ and for thse of us who have yet to meet the Savior, the sustainable cure for despair is love.
The resurrection of Jesus brought the disciples back to life. It was a testimonial act by the Father, sending Jesus, that they were, contrary to how they felt, loved. Love, not power, not knowledge, not wealth, is the only sustainable key to breaking the power of despair. Breaking the power of despair is the mission of the Church and the mission of the child of God. When compassion motivates people to invest themselves in others … the kingdom of God is drawing near. Reach out and take it.
(2023) I am so much older today than back then. I am so grateful, thankful. The Lord has not changed because God does not change, but as I seek to move ever closer to my Redeemer and Savior, I see Him more and more clearly every day. Yes, God is all powerful, holding all things together by the power of His Word, as it says in Colossians, but I am increasingly amazed at His tenderness. He is Holy, so He will surely judge this world, but what a gift when we begin to see the heart of God.
Richard S. Adams | Lover of Christ, husband of Lily, father of four, grandfather of eleven, Masters in Divinity and Certificate in Spiritual Direction. On staff at George Fox Evangelical Seminary 1/2009 to 7/2018.
The Pilgrim's Progress From This World To That Which Is To Come;
Delivered Under The Similitude Of A Dream
By John Bunyan 1678
THE TENTH STAGEThis done, they compassed them round on every side; some went before, some behind, and some on the right hand, and some on the left, (as it were to guard them through the upper regions,) continually sounding as they went, with melodious noise, in notes on high; so that the very sight was to them that could behold it as if heaven itself was come down to meet them. Thus, therefore, they walked on together; and, as they walked, ever and anon these trumpeters, even with joyful sound, would, by mixing their music with looks and gestures, still signify to Christian and his brother how welcome they were into their company, and with what gladness they came to meet them. And now were these two men, as it were, in heaven, before they came to it, being swallowed up with the sight of angels, and with hearing of their melodious notes. Here also they had the city itself in view; and they thought they heard all the bells therein to ring, to welcome them thereto. But, above all, the warm and joyful thoughts that they had about their own dwelling there with such company, and that for ever and ever; oh, by what tongue or pen can their glorious joy be expressed! Thus they came up to the gate.
Now when they were come up to the gate, there was written over it, in letters of gold,
“BLESSED ARE THEY THAT DO HIS COMMANDMENTS, THAT THEY MAY HAVE RIGHT TO THE TREE OF LIFE, AND MAY ENTER IN THROUGH THE GATES INTO THE CITY.”
Then I saw in my dream, that the shining men bid them call at the gate: the which when they did, some from above looked over the gate, to wit, Enoch, Moses, and Elijah, etc., to whom it was said, These pilgrims are come from the City of Destruction, for the love that they bear to the King of this place; and then the pilgrims gave in unto them each man his certificate, which they had received in the beginning: those therefore were carried in unto the King, who, when he had read them, said, Where are the men? To whom it was answered, They are standing without the gate. The King then commanded to open the gate, “That the righteous nation (said he) that keepeth the truth may enter in.”
Isa. 26:2 Open the gates,
that the righteous nation that keeps faith may enter in. ESV
“ENTER YE INTO THE JOY OF YOUR LORD.”
I also heard the men themselves, that they sang with a loud voice, saying,
“BLESSING, AND HONOR, AND GLORY, AND POWER, BE UNTO HIM THAT SITTETH UPON THE THRONE, AND UNTO THE LAMB, FOR EVER AND EVER.”
Now, just as the gates were opened to let in the men, I looked in after them, and behold the city shone like the sun; the streets also were paved with gold; and in them walked many men, with crowns on their heads, palms in their hands, and golden harps, to sing praises withal.
There were also of them that had wings, and they answered one another without intermission, saying, Holy, holy, holy is the Lord. And after that they shut up the gates; which, when I had seen, I wished myself among them.
Now, while I was gazing upon all these things, I turned my head to look back, and saw Ignorance come up to the river side; but he soon got over, and that without half the difficulty which the other two men met with. For it happened that there was then in that place one Vain-Hope, a ferryman, that with his boat helped him over; so he, as the other I saw, did ascend the hill, to come up to the gate; only he came alone, neither did any man meet him with the least encouragement. When he was come up to the gate, he looked up to the writing that was above, and then began to knock, supposing that entrance should have been quickly administered to him; but he was asked by the men that looked over the top of the gate, Whence come you? and what would you have? He answered, I have ate and drank in the presence of the King, and he has taught in our streets. Then they asked him for his certificate, that they might go in and show it to the King: so he fumbled in his bosom for one, and found none. Then said they, Have you none? but the man answered never a word. So they told the King, but he would not come down to see him, but commanded the two shining ones, that conducted Christian and Hopeful to the city, to go out and take Ignorance, and bind him hand and foot, and have him away. Then they took him up, and carried him through the air to the door that I saw in the side of the hill, and put him in there. Then I saw that there was a way to hell, even from the gate of heaven, as well as from the City of Destruction. So I awoke, and behold it was a dream.
Now, reader, I have told my dream to thee,
See if thou canst interpret it to me,
Or to thyself, or neighbor: but take heed
Of misinterpreting; for that, instead
Of doing good, will but thyself abuse:
By misinterpreting, evil ensues.
Take heed, also, that thou be not extreme
In playing with the outside of my dream;
Nor let my figure or similitude
Put thee into a laughter, or a feud.
Leave this for boys and fools; but as for thee,
Do thou the substance of my matter see.
Put by the curtains, look within my veil,
Turn up my metaphors, and do not fail.
There, if thou seekest them, such things thou’lt find
As will be helpful to an honest mind.
What of my dross thou findest there, be bold
To throw away, but yet preserve the gold.
What if my gold be wrapped up in ore?
None throw away the apple for the core:
But if thou shalt cast all away as vain,
I know not but ’t will make me dream again.
The Continual Burnt Offering
By H.A. Ironside - 1941
February 181 Samuel 18:1 As soon as he had finished speaking to Saul, the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul.
1 Samuel 18:3 Then Jonathan made a covenant with David, because he loved him as his own soul. ESV
The beautiful record of the friendship between Jonathan, the heir to the throne of Israel, and David, the outlawed hero whom the people revered, is one of the most interesting and affecting stories in all literature. The Greek tale of Damon and Pythias is perhaps its nearest counterpart in secular literature.
It illustrates in a remarkable way that heart devotion to Christ, “great David’s greater Son,” which should characterize every truly converted soul. David’s victory over Goliath typifies Christ’s triumph over “him who had the power of death, that is, the devil” (Hebrews 2:14). It was this that won Jonathan’s heart and caused him to love David as his own soul. He should have challenged the giant, but David took his place. Henceforth the youthful victor had the preeminence in the mind of the prince-royal, who stripped himself to honor the deliverer of Israel (1 Samuel 18:1-4).
Hebrews 2:14 Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil,
1 Samuel 18:1 As soon as he had finished speaking to Saul, the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul. 2 And Saul took him that day and would not let him return to his father’s house. 3 Then Jonathan made a covenant with David, because he loved him as his own soul. 4 And Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that was on him and gave it to David, and his armor, and even his sword and his bow and his belt. ESV
Jesus, these eyes have never seen
That radiant form of Thine;
The veil of sense hangs dark between
Thy blessed face and mine.
I see Thee not, I hear Thee not,
Yet art Thou oft with me;
And earth hath ne’er so dear a spot
As where I meet with Thee.
Yet though I have not seen, and still
Must rest in faith alone;
I love Thee, dearest Lord, and will,
Unseen, but not unknown.
When death these mortal eyes shall seal,
And still this throbbing heart,
The rending veil shall Thee reveal,
All glorious as Thou art.
--- Ray Palmer
The Continual Burnt Offering: Daily Meditations on the Word of God
The Institutes of the Christian Religion
Translated by Henry Beveridge
5. When it is asked then how Christ, by abolishing sin, removed the
enmity between God and us, and purchased a righteousness which made him
favourable and kind to us, it may be answered generally, that he
accomplished this by the whole course of his obedience. This id proved
by the testimony of Paul, "As by one man's disobedience many were made
sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous,"
(Rom. 5:19). And indeed he elsewhere extends the ground of pardon which
exempts from the curse of the law to the whole life of Christ, "When
the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a
woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law,"
(Gal. 4:4, 5). Thus even at his baptism he declared that a part of
righteousness was fulfilled by his yielding obedience to the command of
the Father. In short, from the moment when he assumed the form of a
servant, he began, in order to redeem us, to pay the price of
deliverance. Scripture, however, the more certainly to define the mode
of salvation, ascribes it peculiarly and specially to the death of
Christ. He himself declares that he gave his life a ransom for many
(Mt. 20:28). Paul teaches that he died for our sins (Rom. 4:25). John
Baptist exclaimed, "Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin
of the world," (John 1:29). Paul in another passage declares, "that we
are justified freely by his grace, through the redemption that is in
Christ Jesus: whom God has set forth to be a propitiation through faith
in his blood," (Rom. 3:25). "Again, being justified by his blood, we
shall be saved from wrath through him" (Rom. 5:9). Again "He has made
him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the
righteousness of God in him," (2 Cor. 5:21). I will not search out all
the passages, for the list would be endless, and many are afterwards to
be quoted in their order. In the Confession of Faith, called the
Apostles' Creed, the transition is admirably made from the birth of
Christ to his death and resurrection, in which the completion of a
perfect salvation consists. Still there is no exclusion of the other
part of obedience which he performed in life. Thus Paul comprehends,
from the beginning even to the end, his having assumed the form of a
servant, humbled himself, and become obedient to death, even the death
of the cross (Phil. 2:7). And, indeed, the first step in obedience was
his voluntary subjection; for the sacrifice would have been unavailing
to justification if not offered spontaneously. Hence our Lord, after
testifying, "I lay down my life for the sheep," distinctly adds, "No
man taketh it from me," (John 10:15, 18). In the same sense Isaiah
says, " Like a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he opened not his
mouth," (Is. 53:7). The Gospel History relates that he came forth to
meet the soldiers; and in presence of Pilate, instead of defending
himself, stood to receive judgment. This, indeed, he did not without a
struggle, for he had assumed our infirmities also, and in this way it
behoved him to prove that he was yielding obedience to his Father. It
was no ordinary example of incomparable love towards us to struggle
with dire terrors, and amid fearful tortures to cast away all care of
himself that he might provide for us. We must bear in minds that Christ
could not duly propitiate God without renouncing his own feelings and
subjecting himself entirely to his Father's will. To this effect the
Apostle appositely quotes a passage from the Psalms, "Lo, I come (in
the volume of the book it is written of me) to do thy will, O God,"
(Heb. 10:5; Ps. 40:7, 8). Thus, as trembling consciences find no rest
without sacrifice and ablution by which sins are expiated, we are
properly directed thither, the source of our life being placed in the
death of Christ. Moreover, as the curse consequent upon guilt remained
for the final judgment of God, one principal point in the narrative is
his condemnation before Pontius Pilate, the governor of Judea, to teach
us, that the punishment to which we were liable was inflicted on that
Just One. We could not escape the fearful judgment of God; and Christ,
that he might rescue us from it, submitted to be condemned by a mortal,
nay, by a wicked and profane man. For the name of Governor is mentioned
not only to support the credibility of the narrative, but to remind us
of what Isaiah says, that "the chastisement of our peace was upon him;"
and that "with his stripes we are healed," (Is. 53:5). For, in order to
remove our condemnation, it was not sufficient to endure any kind of
death. To satisfy our ransom, it was necessary to select a mode of
death in which he might deliver us, both by giving himself up to
condemnations and undertaking our expiation. Had he been cut off by
assassins, or slain in a seditious tumult, there could have been no
kind of satisfaction in such a death. But when he is placed as a
criminal at the bar, where witnesses are brought to give evidence
against him, and the mouth of the judge condemns him to die, we see him
sustaining the character of an offender and evil-doer. Here we must
attend to two points which had both been foretold by the prophets, and
tend admirably to comfort and confirm our faith. When we read that
Christ was led away from the judgment-seat to execution, and was
crucified between thieves, we have a fulfilment of the prophecy which
is quoted by the Evangelist, "He was numbered with the transgressors,"
(Is. 53:12; Mark 15:28). Why was it so? That he might bear the
character of a sinner, not of a just or innocent person, inasmuch as he
met death on account not of innocence, but of sin. On the other hand,
when we read that he was acquitted by the same lips that condemned him
(for Pilate was forced once and again to bear public testimony to his
innocence), let us call to mind what is said by another prophet, "I
restored that which I took not away," (Ps. 69:4). Thus we perceive
Christ representing the character of a sinner and a criminal, while, at
the same time, his innocence shines forth, and it becomes manifest that
he suffers for another's and not for his own crime. He therefore
suffered under Pontius Pilate, being thus, by the formal sentence of
the judge, ranked among criminals, and yet he is declared innocent by
the same judge, when he affirms that he finds no cause of death in him.
Our acquittal is in this that the guilt which made us liable to
punishment was transferred to the head of the Son of God (Is. 53:12).
We must specially remember this substitution in order that we may not
be all our lives in trepidation and anxiety, as if the just vengeance
which the Son of God transferred to himself, were still impending over
6. The very form of the death embodies a striking truth. The cross was cursed not only in the opinion of men, but by the enactment of the Divine Law. Hence Christ, while suspended on it, subjects himself to the curse. And thus it behoved to be done, in order that the whole curse, which on account of our iniquities awaited us, or rather lay upon us, might be taken from us by being transferred to him. This was also shadowed in the Law, since twm`a
, the word by which sin itself is properly designated, was applied to the sacrifices and expiations offered for sin. By this application of the term, the Spirit intended to intimate, that they were a kind of kaqarmavton (purifications), bearing, by substitutions the curse due to sin. But that which was represented figuratively in the Mosaic sacrifices is exhibited in Christ the archetype. Wherefore, in order to accomplish a full expiation, he made his soul to !`
, i.e., a propitiatory victim for sin (as the prophet says, Is. 53:5, 10), on which the guilt and penalty being in a manner laid, ceases to be imputed to us. The Apostle declares this more plainly when he says, that "he made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him," (2 Cor. 5:21). For the Son of God, though spotlessly pure, took upon him the disgrace and ignominy of our iniquities, and in return clothed us with his purity. To the same thing he seems to refer, when he says, that he "condemned sin in the flesh," (Rom. 8:3), the Father having destroyed the power of sin when it was transferred to the flesh of Christ. This term, therefore, indicates that Christ, in his death, was offered to the Father as a propitiatory victim; that, expiation being made by his sacrifice, we might cease to tremble at the divine wrath. It is now clear what the prophet means when he says, that "the Lord has laid upon him the iniquity of us all," (Is. 53:6); namely, that as he was to wash away the pollution of sins, they were transferred to him by imputation. Of this the cross to which he was nailed was a symbol, as the Apostle declares, "Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree: that the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ," (Gal. 3:13, 14). In the same way Peter says, that he "bare our sins in his own body on the tree," (1 Peter 2:24), inasmuch as from the very symbol of the curse, we perceive more clearly that the burden with which we were oppressed was laid upon him. Nor are we to understand that by the curse which he endured he was himself overwhelmed, but rather that by enduring it he repressed broke, annihilated all its force. Accordingly, faith apprehends acquittal in the condemnation of Christ, and blessing in his curse. Hence it is not without cause that Paul magnificently celebrates the triumph which Christ obtained upon the cross, as if the cross, the symbol of ignominy, had been converted into a triumphal chariot. For he says, that he blotted out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross: that "having spoiled principalities and powers he made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in it," (Col. 2:14, 15). Nor is this to be wondered at; for, as another Apostle declares, Christ, "through the eternal Spirit, offered himself without spot to God," (Heb. 9:14), and hence that transformation of the cross which were otherwise against its nature. But that these things may take deep root and have their seat in our inmost hearts, we must never lose sight of sacrifice and ablution. For, were not Christ a victim, we could have no sure conviction of his being ajpoluvtrwsi", ajntivlutron, kai; iJlasthvrion, our substitute-ransom and propitiation. And hence mention is always made of blood whenever scripture explains the mode of redemption: although the shedding of Christ's blood was available not only for propitiation, but also acted as a laver to purge our defilements.
7. The Creed next mentions that he "was dead and buried". Here again it is necessary to consider how he substituted himself in order to pay the price of our redemption. Death held us under its yoke, but he in our place delivered himself into its power, that he might exempt us from it. This the Apostle means when he says, "that he tasted death for every man," (Heb. 2:9). By dying he prevented us from dying; or (which is the same thing) he by his death purchased life for us (see Calvin in Psychopann). But in this he differed from us, that in permitting himself to be overcome of death, it was not so as to be engulfed in its abyss but rather to annihilate it, as it must otherwise have annihilated us; he did not allow himself to be so subdued by it as to be crushed by its power; he rather laid it prostrate, when it was impending over us, and exulting over us as already overcome. In fine, his object was, "that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage," (Heb. 2:14, 15). This is the first fruit which his death produced to us. Another is, that by fellowship with him he mortifies our earthly members that they may not afterwards exert themselves in action, and kill the old man, that he may not hereafter be in vigour and bring forth fruit. An effect of his burials moreover is that we as his fellows are buried to sin. For when the Apostle says, that we are ingrafted into the likeness of Christ's deaths and that we are buried with him unto sin, that by his cross the world is crucified unto us and we unto the world, and that we are dead with him, he not only exhorts us to manifest an example of his death, but declares that there is an efficacy in it which should appear in all Christians, if they would not render his death unfruitful and useless. Accordingly in the death and burial of Christ a twofold blessing is set before us--viz. deliverance from death, to which we were enslaved, and the mortification of our flesh (Rom. 6:5; Gal. 2:19, 6:14; Col. 3:3).
8. Here we must not omit the descent to hell, which was of no little importance to the accomplishment of redemption. For although it is apparent from the writings of the ancient Fathers, that the clause which now stands in the Creed was not formerly so much used in the churches, still, in giving a summary of doctrine, a place must be assigned to it, as containing a matter of great importance which ought not by any means to be disregarded. Indeed, some of the ancient Fathers do not omit it,  and hence we may conjecture, that having been inserted in the Creed after a considerable lapse of time, it came into use in the Church not immediately but by degrees.  This much is uncontroverted, that it was in accordance with the general sentiment of all believers, since there is none of the Fathers who does not mention Christ's descent into hell, though they have various modes of explaining it. But it is of little consequence by whom and at what time it was introduced. The chief thing to be attended to in the Creed is, that it furnishes us with a full and every way complete summary of faith, containing nothing but what has been derived from the infallible word of God. But should any still scruple to give it admission into the Creed, it will shortly be made plain, that the place which it holds in a summary of our redemption is so important, that the omission of it greatly detracts from the benefit of Christ's death. There are some again who think that the article contains nothing new, but is merely a repetition in different words of what was previously said respecting burial, the word Hell (Infernis) being often used in Scripture for sepulchre. I admit the truth of what they allege with regard to the not infrequent use of the term infernos for sepulchre; but I cannot adopt their opinion, for two obvious reasons. First, What folly would it have been, after explaining a matter attended with no difficulty in clear and unambiguous terms, afterwards to involve rather than illustrate it by clothing it in obscure phraseology? When two expressions having the same meaning are placed together, the latter ought to be explanatory of the former. But what kind of explanation would it be to say, the expression, "Christ was buried", means, that "he descended into hell"? My second reason is the improbability that a superfluous tautology of this description should have crept into this compendium, in which the principal articles of faith are set down summarily in the fewest possible number of words. I have no doubt that all who weigh the matter with some degree of care will here agree with me.
9. Others interpret differently--viz. That Christ descended to the souls of the Patriarchs who died under the law, to announce his accomplished redemption, and bring them out of the prison in which they were confined. To this effect they wrest the passage  in the Psalms "He hath broken the gates of brass, and cut the bars of iron in sunder." (Ps. 107:16); and also the passage in Zechariah, "I have sent forth thy prisoners out of the pit wherein is no water," (Zech. 9:11). But since the psalm foretells the deliverance of those who were held captive in distant lands, and Zechariah comparing the Babylonish disaster into which the people had been plunged to a deep dry well or abyss, at the same time declares, that the salvation of the whole Church was an escape from a profound pit, I know not how it comes to pass, that posterity imagined it to be a subterraneous cavern, to which they gave the name of Limbus. Though this fable has the countenance of great authors, and is now also seriously defended by many as truth,  it is nothing but a fable. To conclude from it that the souls of the dead are in prison is childish. And what occasion was there that the soul of Christ should go down thither to set them at liberty? I readily admit that Christ illumined them by the power of his Spirit, enabling them to perceive that the grace of which they had only had a foretaste was then manifested to the world. And to this not improbably the passage of Peter may be applied, wherein he says, that Christ "went and preached to the spirits that were in prison," (or rather "a watch-tower") (I Pet. 3:19). The purport of the context is, that believers who had died before that time were partakers of the same grace with ourselves: for he celebrates the power of Christ's death, in that he penetrated even to the dead, pious souls obtaining an immediate view of that visitation for which they had anxiously waited; while, on the other hand, the reprobate were more clearly convinced that they were completely excluded from salvation. Although the passage in Peter is not perfectly definite, we must not interpret as if he made no distinction between the righteous and the wicked: he only means to intimate, that the death of Christ was made known to both.
Christian Classics Ethereal Library / Public Domain
Institutes of the Christian Religion
Devotionals, notes, poetry and more
Seven seconds (2)
2/18/2018 Bob Gass
‘Who is wise…among you? Let them show it by…wisdom.’
(Jas 3:13) Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom. ESV
In the first seven seconds people often decide they do or don’t want to hear what you have to say. It may not be fair – but it’s a fact. In How to Talk So People Listen, communication expert Sonya Hamlin says when it comes to hearing and seeing, sight is the more important and powerful sense. She writes: ‘We remember 85 to 90 per cent of what we see, but less than 15 per cent of what we hear. Countless numbers of people have lost sales opportunities, ruined job interviews, or been turned down for dates because their appearance didn’t match someone else’s expectations. If you’re wise you’ll ask your family and friends if you’re inclined to display nonverbal cues that capture their attention and take the focus off what you’re trying to communicate.’ One pastor says: ‘I never realised how many nonverbal mistakes I was making until I saw myself on video. Now it’s my regular practice to go back and watch myself to determine not only what I said, but also how I said it. The tape doesn’t lie.’ Great actors can tell a story without saying a word, simply by using facial expressions. And whether you are aware of it or not, you convey a message by the expression on your face. Even people who pride themselves on ‘playing with a poker face’, and on their ability to not let other people know what they’re really thinking, convey an unspoken message of detachment. And that makes meaningful connection with other people well-nigh impossible. If your face is going to ‘talk’ – and it is – make sure you’re communicating the right thing.
UCB The Word For Today
by Bill Federer
Pilgrim’s Progress (Bunyan): Updated, Modern English. More than 100 Illustrations. was published this day, February 18, 1678. It was written John Bunyan, who was born in Bedford, England, and at age 29, became a Baptist minister. Bunyon was imprisoned over 12 years for preaching without a license. While in jail, he supported his family by making shoelaces. Pilgrim’s Progress, which is an allegory of a Christian’s journey to the Celestial City, has been translated into over 100 languages and, after the Bible, held the position as the world’s best-seller for hundreds of years. It could be found in nearly every colonial New England home.
Thomas R. Kelly
The heart is stretched through suffering, and enlarged. But 0 the agony of this enlarging of the heart, that one may be prepared to enter into the anguish of others! Yet the way of holy obedience leads out from the heart of God and extends through the Valley of the Shadow.
But there is also removable suffering, yet such as yields only to years of toil and fatigue and unconquerable faith and perchance only to death itself. The Cross as dogma is painless speculation; the Cross as lived suffering is anguish and glory. Yet God, out of the pattern of His own heart, has planted the Cross along the road of holy obedience. And He enacts in the hearts of those He loves the miracle of willingness to welcome suffering and to know it for what it is-the final seal of His gracious love. I dare not urge you to your Cross. But He, more powerfully, speaks within you and me, to our truest selves, in our truest moments, and disquiets us with the world's needs. By inner persuasions He draws us to a few very definite tasks, our tasks, God's burdened heart particularizing His burdens in us. And He gives us the royal blindness of faith, and the seeing eye of the sensitized soul, and the grace of unflinching obedience. Then we see that nothing matters, and that everything matters, and that this my task matters for me and for my fellow men and for Eternity. And if we be utterly humble we may be given strength to be obedient even unto death, yea the death of the Cross.
In my deepest heart I know that some of us have to face our comfortable, self-oriented lives all over again. The times are too tragic, God's sorrow is too great, man's night is too dark, the Cross is too glorious for us to live as we have lived, in anything short of holy obedience. It may or it may not mean change in geography, in profession, in wealth, in earthly security. It does mean this: Some of us will have to enter upon a vow of renunciation and of dedication to the "Eternal Internal" which is as complete and as irrevocable as was the vow of the monk of the Middle Ages. Little groups of such utterly dedicated souls, knowing one another in Divine Fellowship, must take an irrevocable vow to live in this world yet not of this world, Franciscans of the Third Order, and if it be His will, kindle again the embers of faith in the midst of a secular world. Our meetings were meant to be such groups, but now too many of them are dulled and cooled and flooded by the secular. But within our meetings such inner bands of men and women, internally set apart, living by a vow of perpetual obedience to the Inner Voice, in the world yet not of the world, ready to go the second half, obedient as a shadow, sensitive as a shadow, selfless as a shadow-such bands of humble prophets can recreate the Society of Friends and the Christian church and shake the countryside for ten miles around.
A Testament of Devotion
Compiled by Richard S. Adams
The aim and final end of all music
should be none other than the glory of God
and the refreshment of the soul.
If heed is not paid to this,
it is not true music
but a diabolical bawling and twanging.
--- Johann Sebastian Bach
Life is the cradle of eternity. As the man is to the animal in the slowness of his evolution, so is the spiritual man to the natural man. Foundations which have to bear the weight of an eternal life must be surely laid. Character is to wear forever; who will wonder or grudge that it cannot be developed in a day?
--- Henry Drummond
Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others.
Peace is a gift, but it does not come magically through our passivity. Only in our faithful response to God’s call do we receive God’s peace.
--- Sandra Cronk
... from here, there and everywhere
University of Virginia Library 1994
Book One / Thoughts Helpful In The Life Of The Soul
Ninth month, 1753. -- In company with my well-esteemed friend, John Sykes, and with the unity of Friends, I travelled about two weeks, visiting Friends in Buck's County. We labored in the love of the Gospel, according to the measure received; and through the mercies of Him who is strength to the poor who trust in him, we found satisfaction in our visit. In the next winter, way opening to visit Friends' families within the compass of our Monthly Meeting, partly by the labors of two Friends from Pennsylvania, I joined in some part of the work, having had a desire some time that it might go forward amongst us.
About this time, a person at some distance lying sick, his brother came to me to write his will. I knew he had slaves, and, asking his brother, was told he intended to leave them as slaves to his children. As writing is a profitable employ, and as offending sober people was disagreeable to my inclination, I was straitened in my mind; but as I looked to the Lord, he inclined my heart to his testimony. I told the man that I believed the practice of continuing slavery to this people was not right, and that I had a scruple in my mind against doing writings of that kind; that though many in our Society kept them as slaves, still I was not easy to be concerned in it, and desired to be excused from going to write the will. I spake to him in the fear of the Lord, and he made no reply to what I said, but went away; he also had some concerns in the practice, and I thought he was displeased with me. In this case I had fresh confirmation that acting contrary to present outward interest, from a motive of Divine love and in regard to truth and righteousness, and thereby incurring the resentments of people, opens the way to a treasure better than silver, and to a friendship exceeding the friendship of men.
The manuscript before mentioned having laid by me several years, the publication of it rested weightily upon me, and this year I offered it to the revisal of my friends, who, having examined and made some small alterations in it, directed a number of copies thereof to be published and dispersed amongst members of our Society.
In the year 1754 I found my mind drawn to join in a visit to Friends' families belonging to Chesterfield Monthly Meeting, and having the approbation of our own, I went to their Monthly meeting in order to confer with Friends, and see if way opened for it. I had conference with some of their members, the proposal having been opened before in their meeting, and one Friend agreed to join with me as a companion for a beginning; but when meeting was ended, I felt great distress of mind, and doubted what way to take, or whether to go home and wait for greater clearness. I kept my distress secret, and going with a friend to his house, my desires were to the great Shepherd for his heavenly instruction. In the Morning I felt easy to proceed on the visit, though very low in my mind. As mine eye was turned to the Lord, waiting in families in deep reverence before him, he was pleased graciously to afford help, so that we had many comfortable opportunities, and it appeared as a fresh visitation to some young people. I spent several weeks this winter in the service, part of which time was employed near home. And again in the following winter I was several weeks in the same service; some part of the time at Shrewsbury, in company with my beloved friend, John Sykes; and I have cause humbly to acknowledge that through the goodness of the Lord our hearts were at times enlarged in his love, and strength was given to go through the trials which, in the course of our visit, attended us.
From a disagreement between the powers of England and France, it was now a time of trouble on this continent, and an epistle to Friends went forth from our general spring meeting, which I thought good to give a place in this Journal.
An Epistle from our general Spring Meeting of ministers and elders for Pennsylvania and New Jersey, held at Philadelphia, from the 29th of the third month to the 1st of the fourth month, inclusive, 1755.
TO FRIENDS ON THE CONTINENT OF AMERICA: -- DEAR FRIENDS, -- In an humble sense of Divine goodness, and the gracious continuation of God's love to his people, we tenderly salute you, and are at this time therein engaged in mind, that all of us who profess the truth, as held forth and published by our worthy predecessors in this latter age of the world, may keep near to that Life which is the light of men, and be strengthened to hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering, that our trust may not be in man, but in the Lord alone, who ruleth in the army of heaven and in the kingdoms of men, before whom the earth is "as the dust of the balance, and her inhabitants as grass-hoppers." (Isa. xl. 22.)
Being convinced that the gracious design of the Almighty in sending his Son into the world was to repair the breach made by disobedience, to finish sin and transgression, that his kingdom might come, and his will be done on earth as it is in heaven, we have found it to be our duty to cease from those national contests which are productive of misery and bloodshed, and submit our cause to him, the Most High, whose tender love to his children exceeds the most warm affections of natural parents, and who hath promised to his seed throughout the earth, as to one individual, "I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee." (Heb. xiii. 5.) And we, through the gracious dealings of the Lord our God, have had experience of that work which is carried on, not by earthly might, "nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith the Lord of Hosts." (Zech. iv. 6.) By which operation that spiritual kingdom is set up, which is to subdue and break in pieces all kingdoms that oppose it, and shall stand forever. In a deep sense thereof, and of the safety, stability, and peace that are in it, we are desirous that all who profess the truth may be inwardly acquainted with it, and thereby be qualified to conduct ourselves in all parts of our life as becomes our peaceable profession; and we trust as there is a faithful continuance to depend wholly upon the almighty arm, from one generation to another, the peaceable kingdom will gradually be extended "from sea to sea, and from the river to the ends of the earth" (Zech. ix. 10), to the completion of those prophecies already begun, that "nation shall not lift up a sword against nation, nor learn war anymore." (Isa. ii. 4. Micah iv. 3.)
And, dearly beloved friends, seeing that we have these promises, and believe that God is beginning to fulfil them, let us constantly endeavor to have our minds sufficiently disentangled from the surfeiting cares of this life, and redeemed from the love of the world, that no earthly possessions nor enjoyments may bias our judgments, or turn us from that resignation and entire trust in God to which his blessing is most surely annexed; then may we say, "Our Redeemer is mighty, he will plead our cause for us." (Jer. l. 34.) And if, for the further promoting of his most gracious purposes in the earth, he should give us to taste of that bitter cup of which his faithful ones have often partaken, O that we might be rightly prepared to receive it!
And now, dear friends, with respect to the commotions and stirrings of the powers of the earth at this time near us, we are desirous that none of us may be moved thereat, but repose ourselves in the munition of that rock which all these shakings shall not move, even in the knowledge and feeling of the eternal power of God, keeping us subjectly given up to his heavenly will, and feeling it daily to mortify that which remains in any of us which is of this world; for the worldly part in any is the changeable part, and that is up and down, full and empty, joyful and sorrowful, as things go well or ill in this world. For as the truth is but one, and many are made partakers of its spirit, so the world is but one, and many are made partakers of the spirit of it; and so many as do partake of it, so many will be straitened and perplexed with it. But they who are single to the truth, waiting daily to feel the life and virtue of it in their hearts, shall rejoice in the midst of adversity, and have to experience with the prophet, that, "although the fig-tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labor of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls; yet will they rejoice in the Lord, and joy in the God of their salvation." (Hab. iii. 17, 18)
If, contrary to this, we profess the truth, and, not living under the power and influence of it, are producing fruits disagreeable to the purity thereof, and trust to the strength of man to support ourselves, our confidence therein will be vain. For he who removed the hedge from his vineyard, and gave it to be trodden under foot by reason of the wild grapes it produced (Isa. v. 6), remains unchangeable; and if, for the chastisement of wickedness and the further promoting of his own glory, he doth arise, even to shake terribly the earth, who then may oppose him, and prosper?
We remain, in the love of the Gospel, your friends and brethren.
(Signed by fourteen Friends.)
John Woolman's Journal
by D.H. Stern
the ruin of the poor is their poverty.
16 The activity of the righteous is for life;
the income of the wicked is for sin.
17 He who observes discipline is on the way to life;
but he who ignores correction is making a mistake.
Complete Jewish Bible : An English Version of the Tanakh (Old Testament) and B'Rit Hadashah (New Testament)
A Daily Devotional by Oswald Chambers
The initiative against despair
Rise let us be going. --- Matthew 26:46.
The disciples went to sleep when they should have kept awake, and when they realized what they had done it produced despair. The sense of the irreparable is apt to make us despair, and we say—‘It is all up now, it is no use trying any more.’ If we imagine that this kind of despair is exceptional, we are mistaken, it is a very ordinary human experience. Whenever we realize that we have not done that which we had a magnificent opportunity of doing, then we are apt to sink in despair, and Jesus Christ comes and says— ‘Sleep on now, that opportunity is lost for ever, you cannot alter it, but arise and go to the next thing.’ Let the past sleep, but let it sleep on the bosom of Christ, and go out into the irresistible future with Him.
There are experiences like this in each of our lives. We are in despair, the despair that comes from actualities, and we cannot lift ourselves out of it. The disciples in this instance had done a downright unforgivable thing; they had gone to sleep instead of watching with Jesus, but He came with a spiritual initiative against their despair and said— ‘Arise and do the next thing.’ If we are inspired of God, what is the next thing? To trust Him absolutely and to pray on the ground of His Redemption.
Never let the sense of failure corrupt your new action.
My Utmost for His Highest
the Poetry of RS Thomas
Deliver me from the long drought
of the mind. Let leaves
from the deciduous Cross
fall on us, washing
us clean, turning our autumn
to gold by the affluence of their fountain.
Laboratories of the Spirit
The Parables: Matthew 13:1–52
The same day that Jesus spoke out, warning His hearers of the tragedy which rejection of the King and kingdom was to bring on them, He sat in a boat to teach the gathering crowds. He “told them many things in parables” (v. 3).
There are a multitude of parables in the Bible. The word itself means to “set alongside,” and it is a normal pattern of Scripture to illustrate by setting concrete and familiar illustrations alongside abstract concepts (cf. 2 Sam. 12:1–7; Jdg. 9:8–15; and Isa. 5:1–7 for Old Testament examples). Sometimes parables are allegories, such as the story of the Good Samaritan through which Jesus answered the man who wondered aloud, “Who is my neighbor?”
But there is something very different about the parables recorded in Matthew 13. Rather than illuminating what Jesus said, they seem almost to obscure it!
Why then did Jesus speak in parables? There are several hints in the text. Asked this question by the disciples, Jesus said, “Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing they do not hear or understand” (v. 13). The crowds, in rejecting Jesus’ clear presentation of Himself as their King, had closed their eyes to truth. Now Jesus would speak less clear words to them, lest they be even more responsible.
It is also possible that Jesus adopted parables here to keep His listeners concentrating on the choice they had to make for or against Him. We need to remember that the Israelites had a clear notion of what the kingdom would be like. They would not be shaken from this single conception to accept new truth, which might modify their expectations. Jesus later explained to His disciples that the parables were spoken to them (v. 16). What they dealt with was a dimension of the kingdom which was not the subject of earlier Old Testament revelation. The parables, Jesus said, fulfill this prophecy:
I will open My mouth in parables; I will utter things hidden since the Creation of the world. --- Matthew 13:35.
These parables deal with dimensions of the kingdom which Israel did not suspect existed. They deal, in fact, with those dimensions of the kingdom which you and I experience today and will experience until, at the return of Jesus, the Old Testament’s prophesied kingdom rule is established.
No wonder the disciples, themselves steeped in the Old Testament’s lore, were also puzzled and had to ask Jesus, “Explain to us the Parable of the Weeds in the Field” (v. 36). Only later could they look back and see in Jesus’ words the portrait of a time between the Lord’s resurrection and the establishment of the earthly kingdom in its expected form. These, then, are parables of contrast. By contrast they illuminate key differences between the prophesied kingdom reign and the present servant form of the kingdom over which Jesus now rules.
Jesus concluded His seven parables with a question: “Have you understood all these things?” (v. 51) Afraid to say no, the Twelve nodded yes. Both the old and the new are elements in the kingdom which Christ came to bring. Only later would they begin to understand the deep implications for the church of the unexpected form of the kingdom which Jesus expressed in His parables.
The Teacher's Commentary
Lessons for Everyday Living
The process of teaching continued in both in Israel and Babylonia. Almost as soon as the Mishnah was completed, the Rabbis found that new situations or cases arose which were not covered by the Mishnah. Just as previous generations had studied the Bible to apply it to their day, subsequent generations of Rabbis sat down and studied the Mishnah, scrutinizing, analyzing, and interpreting it and debating how it should be applied to their own times and situations. They drew on the great storehouse of traditions that they had received, such as the Midrash and the baraitot (those first- and second-century teachings that Rabbi Yehudah Ha-Nasi had not included in his edition of the Mishnah). And they used their own insights and logic to try to explain what the Mishnah meant and how it was to be applied. For over three centuries, this giant corpus of material grew. Known as Gemara, it was then edited and ultimately put into writing. The Mishnah and Gemara together came to be called the Talmud. (In fact, the term “Gemara” originally meant a terse statement with little or no explanation. What we now call “Gemara” was at first called simply “Talmud.” During the Middle Ages, the word Gemara came to replace Talmud in an attempt to fool Christian censors.)
Swimming in the Sea of Talmud: Lessons for Everyday Living
Thomas A Kempis
Book One / Thoughts Helpful In The Life Of The Soul
The Eighteenth Chapter / The Example Set Us By The Holy Fathers
CONSIDER the lively examples set us by the saints, who possessed the light of true perfection and religion, and you will see how little, how nearly nothing, we do. What, alas, is our life, compared with theirs? The saints and friends of Christ served the Lord in hunger and thirst, in cold and nakedness, in work and fatigue, in vigils and fasts, in prayers and holy meditations, in persecutions and many afflictions. How many and severe were the trials they suffered—the Apostles, martyrs, confessors, virgins, and all the rest who willed to follow in the footsteps of Christ! They hated their lives on earth that they might have life in eternity.
How strict and detached were the lives the holy hermits led in the desert! What long and grave temptations they suffered! How often were they beset by the enemy! What frequent and ardent prayers they offered to God! What rigorous fasts they observed! How great their zeal and their love for spiritual perfection! How brave the fight they waged to master their evil habits! What pure and straightforward purpose they showed toward God! By day they labored and by night they spent themselves in long prayers. Even at work they did not cease from mental prayer. They used all their time profitably; every hour seemed too short for serving God, and in the great sweetness of contemplation, they forgot even their bodily needs.
They renounced all riches, dignities, honors, friends, and associates. They desired nothing of the world. They scarcely allowed themselves the necessities of life, and the service of the body, even when necessary, was irksome to them. They were poor in earthly things but rich in grace and virtue. Outwardly destitute, inwardly they were full of grace and divine consolation. Strangers to the world, they were close and intimate friends of God. To themselves they seemed as nothing, and they were despised by the world, but in the eyes of God they were precious and beloved. They lived in true humility and simple obedience; they walked in charity and patience, making progress daily on the pathway of spiritual life and obtaining great favor with God.
They were given as an example for all religious, and their power to stimulate us to perfection ought to be greater than that of the lukewarm to tempt us to laxity.
How great was the fervor of all religious in the beginning of their holy institution! How great their devotion in prayer and their rivalry for virtue! What splendid discipline flourished among them! What great reverence and obedience in all things under the rule of a superior! The footsteps they left behind still bear witness that they indeed were holy and perfect men who fought bravely and conquered the world.
Today, he who is not a transgressor and who can bear patiently the duties which he has taken upon himself is considered great. How lukewarm and negligent we are! We lose our original fervor very quickly and we even become weary of life from laziness! Do not you, who have seen so many examples of the devout, fall asleep in the pursuit of virtue!
The Imitation Of Christ
Joseph of Arimathea, a prominent member of the Council, who was himself waiting for the kingdom of God, went boldly to Pilate and asked for Jesus’ body.… So Joseph bought some linen cloth, took down the body, wrapped it in the linen, and placed it in a tomb cut out of rock.
--- Mark 15:43, 46.
The time had come when he must boldly act as Christ’s disciple. ( C.H. Spurgeon's sermons on men of the New Testament (Library of Spurgeon's sermons) )
I do not suppose that he fully understood the design of our Lord’s death. He had some knowledge of it but not such a knowledge as we have now that the Spirit of God has appeared in all his fullness and taught us the meaning of the Cross.
Oh, listen, you that are not on his side openly, you who have never worn his livery nor manifestly entered his service. He died for you! Those wounds were all for you. That bloody sweat, of which you still may see the marks on the countenance of the Crucified, was all for you; for you the thirst and fever, for you the bowing of the head and breathing his last. Can you be ashamed to own him? Will you not endure rebuke and scorn for his dear sake who bore all this for you? Now speak from your soul and say, “He loved me and gave himself for me.” If you cannot say that, you cannot be happy. But if you can, then what follows? Must you not love him and give yourself for him?
The Cross is a wondrous magnet, drawing to Jesus everyone of the true metal. It is as a banner lifted on high to which all who are loyal must rally. This fiery Cross, carried through all lands, will rouse the valiant and speed them to the field. Can you see your Lord suffering to the death for you—and then turn your back? If the Cross does not bring a person out, what will? If the spectacle of dying love does not quicken us into courageous affection for him, what can?
--- C. H. Spurgeon
Take Heart: Daily Devotions with the Church's Great Preachers
The Excellent Map
As I walked through the wilderness of this world, I lighted on a certain place where was a den, and laid me down in that place to sleep; and as I slept, I dreamed a dream. …
The dreamer? John Bunyan. The dream? Pilgrim’s Progress, one of history’s bestsellers, published on February 18, 1678. Bunyan tells the story of a pilgrim named Christian who encounters many trials, toils, and triumphs while traveling from the City of Destruction to the Celestial City.
Princeton’s Dr. Emile Gaillet, who read this book 50 times, said, “Next to the Bible, The Pilgrim’s Progress (Bunyan): Updated, Modern English. More than 100 Illustrations. rates highest among the classics. … The reason is that as I proceed along the appointed course, I need not only an authoritative book of instruction; I need a map. Bunyan’s masterpiece has provided us with the most excellent map found anywhere.”
In one memorable scene, Christian, finding the pathway difficult, climbed over a stile to walk in a meadowy bypath. Eventually the ground grew soggy and was covered with poisonous vines. The sky became black, and Christian spent the night huddled at the foot of an oak tree, caught in a downpour. The next Morning, Giant Despair came upon him, captured him, beat him, and imprisoned him in the dungeon of Doubting Castle with its grim battlements and thick, black walls. Christian tried to sing, but couldn’t. His mood was dungeon-dark. Giant Despair beat him mercilessly, and he grew weaker each day. At length he found in his cell a rope, a knife, and a bottle, the tools of suicide, and for a moment he was tempted to end his misery.
But one Evening about midnight he began to pray, and …
… a little before day, good Christian, as one half amazed, brake out into this passionate speech: What a fool am I, thus to lie in a stinking dungeon, when I may as well walk at liberty! I have a key in my bosom, called Promise, that will, I am sure, open any lock in Doubting Castle.
Using the key of God’s promises, Christian escaped, never again to fall into the clutches of Giant Despair or Doubting Castle.
I patiently waited, LORD, for you to hear my prayer.
You listened and pulled me from a lonely pit
Full of mud and mire.
You let me stand on a rock with my feet firm,
And you gave me a new song,
A song of praise to you.
--- Psalm 40:1-3a.
On This Day 365 Amazing And Inspiring Stories About Saints, Martyrs And Heroes
Daily Readings / CHARLES H. SPURGEON
Morning - February 18
“Shew me wherefore thou contendest with me.”
--- Job 10:2.
Perhaps, O tried soul, the Lord is doing this to develop thy graces. There are some of thy graces which would never be discovered if it were not for thy trials. Dost thou not know that thy faith never looks so grand in summer weather as it does in winter? Love is too often like a glow-worm, showing but little light except it be in the midst of surrounding darkness. Hope itself is like a star—not to be seen in the sunshine of prosperity, and only to be discovered in the night of adversity. Afflictions are often the black foils in which God doth set the jewels of his children’s graces, to make them shine the better. It was but a little while ago that on thy knees thou wast saying, “Lord, I fear I have no faith: let me know that I have faith.” Was not this really, though perhaps unconsciously, praying for trials?—for how canst thou know that thou hast faith until thy faith is exercised? Depend upon it, God often sends us trials that our graces may be discovered, and that we may be certified of their existence. Besides, it is not merely discovery, real growth in grace is the result of sanctified trials. God often takes away our comforts and our privileges in order to make us better Christians. He trains his soldiers, not in tents of ease and luxury, but by turning them out and using them to forced marches and hard service. He makes them ford through streams, and swim through rivers, and climb mountains, and walk many a long mile with heavy knapsacks of sorrow on their backs. Well, Christian, may not this account for the troubles through which thou art passing? Is not the Lord bringing out your graces, and making them grow? Is not this the reason why he is contending with you?
“Trials make the promise sweet;
Trials give new life to prayer;
Trials bring me to his feet,
Lay me low, and keep me there.”
Evening - February 18
“Father, I have sinned.” --- Luke 15:18.
It is quite certain that those whom Christ has washed in his precious blood need not make a confession of sin, as culprits or criminals, before God the Judge, for Christ has for ever taken away all their sins in a legal sense, so that they no longer stand where they can be condemned, but are once for all accepted in the Beloved; but having become children, and offending as children, ought they not every day to go before their heavenly Father and confess their sin, and acknowledge their iniquity in that character? Nature teaches that it is the duty of erring children to make a confession to their earthly father, and the grace of God in the heart teaches us that we, as Christians, owe the same duty to our heavenly Father. We daily offend, and ought not to rest without daily pardon. For, supposing that my trespasses against my Father are not at once taken to him to be washed away by the cleansing power of the Lord Jesus, what will be the consequence? If I have not sought forgiveness and been washed from these offences against my Father, I shall feel at a distance from him; I shall doubt his love to me; I shall tremble at him; I shall be afraid to pray to him: I shall grow like the prodigal, who, although still a child, was yet far off from his father. But if, with a child’s sorrow at offending so gracious and loving a Parent, I go to him and tell him all, and rest not till I realize that I am forgiven, then I shall feel a holy love to my Father, and shall go through my Christian career, not only as saved, but as one enjoying present peace in God through Jesus Christ my Lord. There is a wide distinction between confessing sin as a culprit, and confessing sin as a child. The Father’s bosom is the place for penitent confessions. We have been cleansed once for all, but our feet still need to be washed from the defilement of our daily walk as children of God.
Morning and Evening
HE LIFTED ME
Words and Music by Charles H. Gabriel, 1856–1932
He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; He set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God.
(Psalm 40:2, 3)
O the love that sought me! O the blood that bought me!
O the grace that brought me to the fold!
Wondrous grace that brought me to the fold!
--- W. Spencer Walton
Occasionally it is good for each of us as Christians to reflect seriously on a question such as this: “Where would I be today if God had not transformed my life, established my ways, and given me a life of joy and praise?” With all of the allurements of sin so rampant in today’s society, we must readily confess that except for the love and grace of God, we too could find ourselves with broken and shameful lives. But we have been accepted into the beloved and made children of the heavenly kingdom. Through the redemptive work of Christ, we have been given a new and higher “plane” on which to live. With the author and composer Charles Gabriel we can only exclaim, “O praise His name, He lifted me!” Such divine love on our behalf calls forth a response of thankful gratitude and a sincere desire to see other needy individuals share this redemptive experience.
Charles H. Gabriel was one of the best known and most prolific Gospel songwriters of the late 19th and early 20th century eras. His fame as a successful composer became widely known, especially with the use of his songs by Homer Rodeheaver in the large Billy Sunday evangelistic campaigns. “He Lifted Me” first appeared in the collection Revival Hymns, published in 1905.
In loving kindness Jesus came my soul in mercy to reclaim, and from the depths of sin and shame thru grace He lifted me.
He called me long before I heard, before my sinful heart was stirred, but when I took him at His word, forgiv’n He lifted me.
His brow was pierced with many a thorn; His hands by cruel nails were torn when from my guilt and grief, forlorn, in love He lifted me.
Now on a higher plain I dwell, and with my soul I know ’tis well; yet how or why, I cannot tell, He should have lifted me.
Chorus: From sinking sand He lifted me; with tender hand He lifted me; from shades of night to plains of light, O praise His name, He lifted me!
For Today: Psalm 40; Isaiah 61:10; Philippians 3:8; Revelation 1:5.
Express gratitude and praise to God for His transforming power and love in your life. Determine to share your testimony with another. Use this musical testimony as a reminder ---
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