Numbers 21 - 22
The Burning BushNumbers 21:1 Now Moses was keeping the flock of his father-in-law, Jethro, the priest of Midian, and he led his flock to the west side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. 2 And the angel of the LORD appeared to him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush. He looked, and behold, the bush was burning, yet it was not consumed. 3 And Moses said, “I will turn aside to see this great sight, why the bush is not burned.” 4 When the LORD saw that he turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.” 5 Then he said, “Do not come near; take your sandals off your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.” 6 And he said, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God.
7 Then the LORD said, “I have surely seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters. I know their sufferings, 8 and I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey, to the place of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. 9 And now, behold, the cry of the people of Israel has come to me, and I have also seen the oppression with which the Egyptians oppress them. 10 Come, I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring my people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt.” 11 But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?” 12 He said, “But I will be with you, and this shall be the sign for you, that I have sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall serve God on this mountain.”
13 Then Moses said to God, “If I come to the people of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what shall I say to them?” 14 God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel: ‘I AM has sent me to you.’ ” 15 God also said to Moses, “Say this to the people of Israel: ‘The LORD, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you.’ This is my name forever, and thus I am to be remembered throughout all generations. 16 Go and gather the elders of Israel together and say to them, ‘The LORD, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob, has appeared to me, saying, “I have observed you and what has been done to you in Egypt, 17 and I promise that I will bring you up out of the affliction of Egypt to the land of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites, a land flowing with milk and honey.” ’ 18 And they will listen to your voice, and you and the elders of Israel shall go to the king of Egypt and say to him, ‘The LORD, the God of the Hebrews, has met with us; and now, please let us go a three days’ journey into the wilderness, that we may sacrifice to the LORD our God.’ 19 But I know that the king of Egypt will not let you go unless compelled by a mighty hand. 20 So I will stretch out my hand and strike Egypt with all the wonders that I will do in it; after that he will let you go. 21 And I will give this people favor in the sight of the Egyptians; and when you go, you shall not go empty, 22 but each woman shall ask of her neighbor, and any woman who lives in her house, for silver and gold jewelry, and for clothing. You shall put them on your sons and on your daughters. So you shall plunder the Egyptians.”
Balak Summons BalaamNumbers 22:1 Then the people of Israel set out and camped in the plains of Moab beyond the Jordan at Jericho. 2 And Balak the son of Zippor saw all that Israel had done to the Amorites. 3 And Moab was in great dread of the people, because they were many. Moab was overcome with fear of the people of Israel. 4 And Moab said to the elders of Midian, “This horde will now lick up all that is around us, as the ox licks up the grass of the field.” So Balak the son of Zippor, who was king of Moab at that time, 5 sent messengers to Balaam the son of Beor at Pethor, which is near the River in the land of the people of Amaw, to call him, saying, “Behold, a people has come out of Egypt. They cover the face of the earth, and they are dwelling opposite me. 6 Come now, curse this people for me, since they are too mighty for me. Perhaps I shall be able to defeat them and drive them from the land, for I know that he whom you bless is blessed, and he whom you curse is cursed.”
7 So the elders of Moab and the elders of Midian departed with the fees for divination in their hand. And they came to Balaam and gave him Balak’s message. 8 And he said to them, “Lodge here tonight, and I will bring back word to you, as the LORD speaks to me.” So the princes of Moab stayed with Balaam. 9 And God came to Balaam and said, “Who are these men with you?” 10 And Balaam said to God, “Balak the son of Zippor, king of Moab, has sent to me, saying, 11 ‘Behold, a people has come out of Egypt, and it covers the face of the earth. Now come, curse them for me. Perhaps I shall be able to fight against them and drive them out.’ ” 12 God said to Balaam, “You shall not go with them. You shall not curse the people, for they are blessed.” 13 So Balaam rose in the morning and said to the princes of Balak, “Go to your own land, for the LORD has refused to let me go with you.” 14 So the princes of Moab rose and went to Balak and said, “Balaam refuses to come with us.”
15 Once again Balak sent princes, more in number and more honorable than these. 16 And they came to Balaam and said to him, “Thus says Balak the son of Zippor: ‘Let nothing hinder you from coming to me, 17 for I will surely do you great honor, and whatever you say to me I will do. Come, curse this people for me.’ ” 18 But Balaam answered and said to the servants of Balak, “Though Balak were to give me his house full of silver and gold, I could not go beyond the command of the LORD my God to do less or more. 19 So you, too, please stay here tonight, that I may know what more the LORD will say to me.” 20 And God came to Balaam at night and said to him, “If the men have come to call you, rise, go with them; but only do what I tell you.” 21 So Balaam rose in the morning and saddled his donkey and went with the princes of Moab.
Balaam’s Donkey and the Angel22 But God’s anger was kindled because he went, and the angel of the LORD took his stand in the way as his adversary. Now he was riding on the donkey, and his two servants were with him. 23 And the donkey saw the angel of the LORD standing in the road, with a drawn sword in his hand. And the donkey turned aside out of the road and went into the field. And Balaam struck the donkey, to turn her into the road. 24 Then the angel of the LORD stood in a narrow path between the vineyards, with a wall on either side. 25 And when the donkey saw the angel of the LORD, she pushed against the wall and pressed Balaam’s foot against the wall. So he struck her again. 26 Then the angel of the LORD went ahead and stood in a narrow place, where there was no way to turn either to the right or to the left. 27 When the donkey saw the angel of the LORD, she lay down under Balaam. And Balaam’s anger was kindled, and he struck the donkey with his staff. 28 Then the LORD opened the mouth of the donkey, and she said to Balaam, “What have I done to you, that you have struck me these three times?” 29 And Balaam said to the donkey, “Because you have made a fool of me. I wish I had a sword in my hand, for then I would kill you.” 30 And the donkey said to Balaam, “Am I not your donkey, on which you have ridden all your life long to this day? Is it my habit to treat you this way?” And he said, “No.”
31 Then the LORD opened the eyes of Balaam, and he saw the angel of the LORD standing in the way, with his drawn sword in his hand. And he bowed down and fell on his face. 32 And the angel of the LORD said to him, “Why have you struck your donkey these three times? Behold, I have come out to oppose you because your way is perverse before me. 33 The donkey saw me and turned aside before me these three times. If she had not turned aside from me, surely just now I would have killed you and let her live.” 34 Then Balaam said to the angel of the LORD, “I have sinned, for I did not know that you stood in the road against me. Now therefore, if it is evil in your sight, I will turn back.” 35 And the angel of the LORD said to Balaam, “Go with the men, but speak only the word that I tell you.” So Balaam went on with the princes of Balak.
36 When Balak heard that Balaam had come, he went out to meet him at the city of Moab, on the border formed by the Arnon, at the extremity of the border. 37 And Balak said to Balaam, “Did I not send to you to call you? Why did you not come to me? Am I not able to honor you?” 38 Balaam said to Balak, “Behold, I have come to you! Have I now any power of my own to speak anything? The word that God puts in my mouth, that must I speak.” 39 Then Balaam went with Balak, and they came to Kiriath-huzoth.
40 And Balak sacrificed oxen and sheep, and sent for Balaam and for the princes who were with him.
41 And in the morning Balak took Balaam and brought him up to Bamoth-baal, and from there he saw a fraction of the people.
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How to ERASE Logical Fallacies
By Kenneth Richard Samples 2/14/2017
An essential skill to develop—particularly if you intend to discuss the truth of your faith with others—is how to understand, evaluate, and present a logical argument. Though it might seem complex and rather intimidating, an argument in logic is really a very simple thing. To have an argument you must make a claim (called the conclusion, or the central point of the argument) and provide support (called premises, or evidence, facts, and reasons) for believing the claim to be true or correct. To have a good argument (logically sound or cogent), your premises must be (1) true, (2) pertinent to your central claim, and (3) sufficient to justify the conclusion.
What Are Fallacies?
A fallacy occurs when a logical argument contains a specific defect. A defect is a mistake in the reasoning process which causes an argument to break down (or fail to adequately support the conclusion). Left unrecognized and uncorrected, that failure leads to a defeated (unsound or not cogent) argument. Bad arguments provide no logical justification for their claims. Thus the person who reasons carefully will attempt to understand and thus avoid committing the common fallacies that serve to shipwreck arguments.
E-R-A-S-E the Fallacies
Various fallacies (errors in reasoning) describe breakdowns in the all-important premise-conclusion relationship. As stated earlier, for the conclusion of an argument to be adequately supported, all premises must be true, and the argument must employ correct reasoning in using them. Here’s a logical checklist to follow that will help you avoid or erase the most common and dangerous fallacies.
Click here for entire article
Books by Kenneth Richard Samples
God among Sages: Why Jesus Is Not Just Another Religious Leader
A World of Difference: Putting Christian Truth-Claims to the Worldview Test (Reasons to Believe)
God among Sages: Why Jesus Is Not Just Another Religious Leader
Christian Endgame: Careful Thinking about the End Times
Christianity's Most Dangerous Idea (Ebook Shorts)
About Kenneth Richard Samples: I believe deeply that "all truth is God’s truth." That historic affirmation means that when we discover and grasp truth in the world and in life we move closer to its divine Author.
As an RTB scholar I have a great passion to help people understand and see the truth and relevance of Christianity's truth-claims. My writings and lectures at RTB focus on showing how the great doctrinal truths of the faith (the Trinity, the Incarnation, the Atonement, creation ex nihilo, salvation by grace, etc.) are uniquely compatible with reason.
I work to help myself and others fulfill Peter's words in 2 Peter 3:18: "But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen."
The Institutes of the Christian Religion
Translated by Henry Beveridge
16. From this doctrine faith derives manifold advantages.  First,
it perceives that the Lord, by his ascension to heaven, has opened up
the access to the heavenly kingdom, which Adam had shut. For having
entered it in our flesh, as it were in our name, it follows, as the
Apostle says, that we are in a manner now seated in heavenly places,
not entertaining a mere hope of heaven, but possessing it in our head.
Secondly, faith perceives that his seat beside the Father is not
without great advantage to us. Having entered the temple not made with
hands, he constantly appears as our advocate and intercessor in the
presence of the Father; directs attention to his own righteousness, so
as to turn it away from our sins; so reconciles him to us, as by his
intercession to pave for us a way of access to his throne, presenting
it to miserable sinners, to whom it would otherwise be an object of
dread, as replete with grace and mercy. Thirdly, it discerns his power,
on which depend our strength, might, resources, and triumph over hell,
"When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive," (Eph. 4:8).
Spoiling his foes, he gave gifts to his people, and daily loads them
with spiritual riches. He thus occupies his exalted seat, that thence
transferring his virtue unto us, he may quicken us to spiritual life,
sanctify us by his Spirit, and adorn his Church with various graces, by
his protection preserve it safe from all harm, and by the strength of
his hand curb the enemies raging against his cross and our salvation;
in fine, that he may possess all power in heaven and earth, until he
have utterly routed all his foes, who are also ours and completed the
structure of his Church. Such is the true nature of the kingdom, such
the power which the Father has conferred upon him, until he arrive to
complete the last act by judging the quick and the dead.
17. Christ, indeed, gives his followers no dubious proofs of present power, but as his kingdom in the world is in a manner veiled by the humiliation of a carnal condition, faith is most properly invited to meditate on the visible presence which he will exhibit on the last day. For he will descend from heaven in visible form, in like manner as he was seen to ascend,  and appear to all, with the ineffable majesty of his kingdom, the splendour of immortality, the boundless power of divinity, and an attending company of angels. Hence we are told to wait for the Redeemer against that day on which he will separate the sheep from the goats and the elect from the reprobate, and when not one individual either of the living or the dead shall escape his judgment. From the extremities of the universe shall be heard the clang of the trumpet summoning all to his tribunal; both those whom that day shall find alive, and those whom death shall previously have removed from the society of the living. There are some who take the words, quick and dead, in a different sense;  and, indeed, some ancient writers appear to have hesitated as to the exposition of them; but our meaning being plain and clear, is much more accordant with the Creed which was certainly written for popular use. There is nothing contrary to it in the Apostle's declaration, that it is appointed unto all men once to die. For though those who are surviving at the last day shall not die after a natural manner, yet the change which they are to undergo, as it shall resemble, is not improperly called, death (Heb. 9:27). "We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed," (1 Cor. 15:51). What does this mean? Their mortal life shall perish and be swallowed up in one moment, and be transformed into an entirely new nature. Though no one can deny that that destruction of the flesh will be death, it still remains true that the quick and the dead shall be summoned to judgment (1 Thess. 4:16); for "the dead in Christ shall rise first; then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the lord in the air." Indeed, it is probable, that these words in the Creed were taken from Peter's sermon as related by Luke (Acts 10:42), and from the solemn charge of Paul to Timothy (2 Tim. 4:1).
18. It is most consolatory to think, that judgment is vested in him who has already destined us to share with him in the honour of judgment (Mt. 19:28); so far is it from being true, that he will ascend the judgment-seat for our condemnation. How could a most merciful prince destroy his own people? how could the head disperse its own members? how could the advocate condemn his clients? For if the Apostle, when contemplating the interposition of Christ, is bold to exclaim, "Who is he that condemneth?" (Rom. 8:33), much more certain is it that Christ, the intercessor, will not condemn those whom he has admitted to his protection. It certainly gives no small security, that we shall be sisted at no other tribunal than that of our Redeemer, from whom salvation is to be expected; and that he who in the Gospel now promises eternal blessedness, will then as judge ratify his promise.  The end for which the Father has honoured the Son by committing all judgment to him (John 5:22), was to pacify the consciences of his people when alarmed at the thought of judgment. Hitherto I have followed the order of the Apostles' Creed, because it states the leading articles of redemption in a few words, and may thus serve as a tablet in which the points of Christian doctrine, most deserving of attention, are brought separately and distinctly before us.  I call it the Apostles' Creed, though I am by no means solicitous as to its authorship. The general consent of ancient writers certainly does ascribe it to the Apostles, either because they imagined it was written and published by them for common use, or because they thought it right to give the sanction of such authority to a compendium faithfully drawn up from the doctrine delivered by their hands. I have no doubt, that, from the very commencement of the Church, and, therefore, in the very days of the Apostles, it held the place of a public and universally received confession, whatever be the quarter from which it originally proceeded. It is not probable that it was written by some private individual, since it is certain that, from time immemorial, it was deemed of sacred authority by all Christians. The only point of consequence we hold to be incontrovertible--viz. that it gives, in clear and succinct order, a full statement of our faith, and in every thing which it contains is sanctioned by the sure testimony of Scripture. This being understood, it were to no purpose to labour anxiously, or quarrel with any one as to the authorship, unless, indeed, we think it not enough to possess the sure truth of the Holy Spirit, without, at the same time, knowing by whose mouth it was pronounced, or by whose hand it was written.
19. When we see that the whole sum of our salvation, and every single part of it, are comprehended in Christ, we must beware of deriving even the minutes portion of it from any other quarter. If we seek salvation, we are taught by the very name of Jesus that he possesses it;  if we seek any other gifts of the Spirit, we shall find them in his unction; strength in his government; purity in his conception; indulgence in his nativity, in which he was made like us in all respects, in order that he might learn to sympathise with us: if we seek redemption, we shall find it in his passion; acquittal in his condemnation; remission of the curse in his cross; satisfaction in his sacrifice; purification in his blood; reconciliation in his descent to hell; mortification of the flesh in his sepulchre; newness of life in his resurrection; immortality also in his resurrection; the inheritance of a celestial kingdom in his entrance into heaven; protection, security, and the abundant supply of all blessings, in his kingdom; secure anticipation of judgment in the power of judging committed to him. In fine, since in him all kinds of blessings are treasured up, let us draw a full supply from him, and none from any other quarter. Those who, not satisfied with him alone, entertain various hopes from others, though they may continue to look to him chiefly, deviate from the right path by the simple fact, that some portion of their thought takes a different direction. No distrust of this description can arise when once the abundance of his blessings is properly known.
 Latin, "Supremi decreti." French, "Decret eternel et inviolable;"--Eternal and inviolable decree.
 It is not adverted to by Augustine, Lib. 1. De Symbolo de Catechumenos.
 The French of this sentence is, "Dont on peut conjecturer qu'il a esté tantost aprés le tems des Apostres adjousté; mais que peu a peu il est venu en usage."--Whence we may conjecture that it was added some time after the days of the Apostles, but gradually came into use.
 The French is, "Pour colorer leur fantasie, ils tirent par les cheveux quelques temoignages."--To colour their fancy, they pull by the hair (violently wrest) certain passages.
 See Justin, Ambrose, Jerome. The opinions of the Fathers and Rabbis on Hell and Limbus are collected by Peter Martyr, Loci Communes, Lib. 3 Loc. 16 sect. 8; see Augustine, Ep. 99.
 French, "Les autres translatent Reverence ou Pieté; mais la Grammaire et la matiere qui est la tracté monstrent que c'est mal ? propos."--Others translate Reverence or Piety; but Grammar and the subject-matter show that they do it very unseasonably
 See Cyril. Lib. 2 De Recta Fide ad Reginas; Item, Hilarius de Trinitate, Lib. 4 c. 2 and 3.
 Vide Luther, tom. 1 in Concione de Morte, fol. 87.
 Ephes. 1:20; Phil. 2:9; 1 Cor. 15:27; Ephes. 4:15; Acts 2:33; 3:21; Heb. 1:4.
 August. de Fide et Symbolo, cap. 8; Eph. 2:6; Heb. 7:25; 9:11.
 Acts 1:11; Mt. 24:30; 25:31; 1 Thess. 4:16, 17.
 The French is, "Il y en a aucuns qui exposent par les vivans et les morts les bons et les mauvais."--There are some who, by the quick and the dead, understand the good and the bad.
 Vide Ambros. de Jac. et Vita Beata, Lib. 1 c. 6.
 The French is, "Jusques ici j'ay suivi l'ordre du Symbole qu'on appelle des Apostres, pource que la nous pouvons voir comme en un tableau, par les articles qui y sont contenus, en quoy gist nostre salut: et par ce moyen aussi entendons a quelles choses il nous faut arrester pour obtenir salut en Jesus Christ."--Hitherto I have followed the order of what is called the Apostles' Creed, because there we may see, as in a tablet, by the articles which are contained in it, wherein consists our salvation, and by this means also understand on that things we ought to dwell in order to obtain salvation in Jesus Christ.
 Acts 4:12; 1 Cor. 1:30; Heb. 2:17; Gal. 3:3.
Christian Classics Ethereal Library / Public Domain
Institutes of the Christian Religion
10 Reasons You Should Read Fleming Rutledge’s ‘The Crucifixion’
By Andrew Wilson 2/17/2017
Fleming Rutledge’s The Crucifixion: Understanding the Death of Jesus Christ is an extraordinary book. It’s theologically deep and beautifully written, pastoral and scholarly, ecumenical and evangelical. Like its author, it’s Episcopal but not as you know it. It’s endorsed by people you rarely find endorsing the same book: Stephen Westerholm and David Bentley Hart, Kate Sonderegger and Stanley Hauerwas, Larry Hurtado and Robert Jenson. In some ways, it’s the successor to John Stott’s The Cross of Christ; in other ways, it’s nothing like it. Readers looking for something on the cross that incorporates both richness and retrieval should forget N. T. Wright’s latest offer and get this book.
In no particular order, here are 10 reasons why.
1. Beautiful scholarship and scholarly beauty. | Few books achieve such marks. Rutledge writes as a preacher, full of imagery and pathos, illustration and contemporary application. When she talks about radical evil, or the judgment seat of Christ, we are caught up in high drama, sensing the depth and intensity of what’s at stake, rather than (as can often be true) feeling like we’re watching someone solve a math problem.
At the same time, she engages with a remarkable breadth of secondary literature from a variety of disciplines, and in most of this she represents complex debates judiciously and clearly. It’s not surprising to read that the book took close to 20 years to write.
2. The significance of her argument. | Rutledge’s central argument is right and vitally important, yet it’s also frequently unappreciated, ignored, or even rejected outright. In two sentences:
Andrew Wilson is the teaching pastor at King's Church, London. He is the author of The Life We Never Expected: Hopeful Reflections on the Challenges of Parenting Children with Special Needs, and you can follow him on Twitter.
20 Quotes from Sinclair Ferguson’s New Book on Sanctification
By Justin Dillehay 2/11/2017
The following 20 quotes caught my attention as I read Sinclair Ferguson’s new book, Devoted to God: Blueprints for Sanctification. Thanks to Tony Reinke for inspiring the 20 quotes idea.
“ What then is God’s holiness? What do we mean when we say ‘Holy Father’ and ‘Holy Son’ and ‘Holy Spirit’ and ‘Holy Trinity’? We mean the perfectly pure devotion of each of these three persons to the other two. We mean the attribute in the Trinity that corresponds to the ancient words that describe marriage: ‘forsaking all other, and cleaving only unto thee’—absolute, permanent, exclusive, pure, irreversible, and fully expressed devotion.”
“Ministers of the gospel often have the privilege of occupying ‘the best seat in the house.’ You see the whole congregation when you preach. . . . You stand looking out on the people you love when the church gathers round the Lord’s table. You also get a better view of a couple taking their marriage vows than any of the groomsmen or bridesmaids or even the parents do. You stand only a few feet away. You orchestrate the event close up and personal. And then the moment comes (even in traditions where it never used to!) when you say: ‘You may now kiss your bride.’ People always love that moment. Personally, at this point in the service, I usually experience a deep instinct to look down, to unfocus my gaze. This is a moment for two people who love each other. It is not the time for an outsider to their unique relationship to be watching. Yes, perhaps at a distance. But not from up close and personal; you do not belong there. Perhaps the seraphim that surrounded the throne in Isaiah’s vision of God in his majestic holiness felt the same way. To gaze on the sheer intensity of this flow of triune holy love would be to endanger themselves. They must distance themselves, cover their faces, and be separate.” (3)
“The New Testament also stresses that justification and sanctification are both ours through faith in Jesus Christ. It is therefore not possible to be justified without being sanctified and then growing in holiness. This is why Hebrews says sanctification is essential, since without it none of us will ever see the Lord. In order to experience final salvation, sanctification is as necessary as justification. Why is this? Simply because there is no justification without sanctification. Both are given in Christ—our new status is always accompanied by our new condition. Justification never takes place apart from regeneration which is the inauguration of sanctification. Put differently, if Christ is not Lord of our lives, sanctifying us, how can he have become our Savior? Indeed unless we are actually being saved Christ has not become our Saviour. If he is our Saviour, the evidence of that will be—being saved; saved from the old life style into a new life style. Here then is one of the most important basic principles of the gospel. We are not justified on the basis of our sanctification; yet justification never takes place without sanctification beginning.” (9–10)
“Holiness is often seen as a rather metallic idea, perhaps tinged with hypocrisy or a ‘holier than thou’ atmosphere. By contrast Scripture teaches that holiness puts back into our lives the attractiveness of personal character for which humans were originally created but which has been so badly marred. Thus the Bible speaks about the beauty of holiness. Since there is an infinite beauty in God, when he makes us his personal possession reflections of the beauty of his holiness begin to appear in us too.” (12)
Justin Dillehay is a pastor of Grace Baptist Church in Hartsville, Tennessee, where he resides with his wife, Tilly. They blog at While We Wait. He is a graduate of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
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.
12 Many bulls encompass me;
strong bulls of Bashan surround me;
13 they open wide their mouths at me,
like a ravening and roaring lion.
14 I am poured out like water,
and all my bones are out of joint;
my heart is like wax;
it is melted within my breast;
15 my strength is dried up like a potsherd,
and my tongue sticks to my jaws;
you lay me in the dust of death.
16 For dogs encompass me;
a company of evildoers encircles me;
they have pierced my hands and feet—
17 I can count all my bones—
they stare and gloat over me;
18 they divide my garments among them,
and for my clothing they cast lots.
The Role of Experience
By R.C. Sproul 8/01/2017
We’re living in a day when personal experience has been elevated above everything else as the final criterion of right and wrong. Just think of all of the people who try to justify themselves on the basis of what they feel. Divorce is routinely excused on the basis of a married couple’s no longer feeling like they are in love. We are told that homosexuality should be embraced as a moral good because some homosexuals report having felt an attraction to the same sex from a young age. Even many professing Christians make their decisions about right and wrong based on what they feel.
It’s hard to have a discussion with someone who makes their experience the final arbiter of reality. Many people embrace the old adage that “a person with an experience is never at the mercy of a person with an argument.” Ultimately, we have to disagree with this assertion, but not because experience is not a valuable tutor. It can help us connect theory to practice and abstract concepts to concrete situations. It assists us in sifting through the nuances of living in this complex world. There are even some experiences that seem to prove that experience trumps argumentation. I think of the example of Roger Bannister. Before 1954, many people argued that no human being could run a mile in under four minutes. Bannister broke that record, proving by experience that the argument was invalid.
The problem is not that experience can never outweigh an argument; we know from the history of science that the experience of empirical investigation has often overturned prevailing arguments. The problem is the idea that the person with an experience is never at the mercy of a person with an argument. In many cases, sound argument trumps experience. This is particularly true when the debate concerns personal experience versus a sound understanding of the Word of God.
I remember one occasion on which a lady approached me and said, “Dr. Sproul, for thirty years I have been married to a kind man and a good provider who is not a Christian. Finally, I could no longer stand not having in common with him the most important thing in my life-my faith. So, I left him. But he’s been calling me daily and begging me to come back. What do you think God wants me to do?”
“That’s easy,” I said. “Your husband’s lack of Christian faith is no grounds for a divorce according to 1 Corinthians 7. So, God’s will is that you return to him.”
The woman did not like my answer and said it wasn’t a good one because I didn’t know what it was like to live with her husband. I responded, “Ma’am, you did not ask me what I would do if I were in your shoes. Perhaps I would have backed out long before you did, but that’s irrelevant to the matter. You asked me about the will of God, and that is clear in this situation. Your experience is not a license to disobey God.” I’m thankful to report that when the woman saw that she was asking God to make an exception just for her, she repented and returned to her husband.
That woman’s argument is duplicated every day among many Christians who subject the Word of God to their experience. Too often, when our experience conflicts with the Word of God, we set aside the Scriptures. We might take refuge in public opinion or the most recent psychological studies. We allow the common experience of people around us to become normative, denying the wisdom and authority of God in favor of the collective experience of fallen human beings.
Truthfully, we all know that experience is often a good teacher. But experience is never the best teacher. God, of course, is the best teacher. Why? Because He instructs us from the perspective of eternity and from the riches of His omniscience.
Sometimes we try to cover up our reliance on experience with more orthodox-sounding language. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve heard Christians tell me that the Holy Spirit led them to do things Scripture clearly forbids or that God gave them peace about their decision to act in a way that is clearly contrary to the law of God. But that’s blasphemous slander against the Spirit, as if He would ever countenance sin. It’s bad enough to blame the devil for our own decisions, but we put ourselves in grave danger when we appeal to the Spirit to justify our transgressions.
One of the most powerful devices of manipulation we’ve ever designed is to claim that we have experienced the Spirit’s approval of our actions. How can anyone dare contradict us if we claim divine authority for what we want to do? The result is that we end up silencing any questions about our behavior. But Scripture tells us that the Holy Spirit leads us to holiness, not to sin, and if the Spirit inspired the Scriptures, any experience we have that suggests we can go against biblical teaching cannot be from Him.
As long as we live on this side of heaven, we must deal with the fallenness of our bodies and souls. Seeking to make our experience determinative of right and wrong means repeating Adam and Eve’s sin. Why did they disobey the Lord? Because they trusted their experience that told them “the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise” (Gen. 3:6). They ignored the promises and warnings God revealed to them regarding the fruit of the forbidden tree. Experience can and should teach us, but it can never be the final arbiter of right and wrong. That role belongs to our Creator alone, and His Word gives us the standards by which we must live.
Robert Charles Sproul, 2/13/1939 – 12/14/2017 was an American theologian, author, and ordained pastor in the Presbyterian Church in America. Dr. R.C. Sproul was founder and chairman of Ligonier Ministries, an international Christian education and discipleship organization located near Orlando, Fla. He was also copastor of Saint Andrew’s Chapel in Sanford, Fla., chancellor of Reformation Bible College, and executive editor of Tabletalk magazine. Dr. Sproul has contributed dozens of articles to national evangelical publications, has spoken at conferences, churches, and schools around the world, and has written more than one hundred books. He also served as general editor of the Reformation Study Bible.R.C. Sproul Books | Go to Books Page
By Don Carson 5/13/2018
Recently I Was Phoned By a man who told me he wanted to put me on a retainer as his private theologian. Then, when he phoned or wrote again, I would try to answer his questions. Don Carson is research professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois, and co-founder (with Tim Keller) of The Gospel Coalition. He has authored numerous books, and recently edited The Enduring Authority of the Christian Scriptures (Eerdmans, 2016).
I did not bother asking what figure he had in mind. Nor do I want to question his motives: he may well have meant to help me or even honor me, or simply to pay his way. But knowing how easily my own motives can be corrupted, I told him that I could not possibly enter into that sort of arrangement with him. Preachers should not see themselves as being paid for what they do. Rather, they are supported by the people of God so that they are free to serve. If he wrote or called and asked questions, I would happily do my best to answer, using the criteria I use for whether or not I answer the countless numbers of questions I receive each year.
Numbers 22 begins the account of Balaam. His checkered life teaches us much, but the lesson that stands out in this first chapter is how dangerous it is for a preacher, or a prophet, to sacrifice independence on the altar of material prosperity. Sooner or later a love of money will corrupt ministry.
That Balaam was a prophet of God shows that there were still people around who retained some genuine knowledge of the one true God. The call of Abraham and the rise of the Israelite nation do not mean that there were no others who knew the one sovereign Creator: witness Melchizedek (Gen. 14). Moreover, Balaam clearly enjoyed some powerful prophetic gift: on occasion he spoke genuine oracles from God. He knew enough about this mysterious gift to grasp that it could not be turned on and off, and that if he was transmitting a genuine oracle he himself could not control its content. He could speak only what God gave him to say.
But that did not stop him from lusting after Balak’s offer of money. Balak saw Balaam as some sort of semi-magical character akin to a voodoo practitioner, someone to come and put a curse on the hated Israelites. God unambiguously forbids Balaam to go with Balak, for he has blessed the people Balak wants cursed. Balaam nags God; God relents and lets Balaam go, but only on condition that he does only what God tells him (22:20). At the same time, God stands against Balaam in judgment, for his going is driven by a greedy heart. Only the miraculous incident with the donkey instills sufficient fear in him that he will indeed guard his tongue (22:32-38).
Never stoop to become a peddler of the Word of God.
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Don Carson is research professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois, and co-founder (with Tim Keller) of The Gospel Coalition. He has authored numerous books, and recently edited The Enduring Authority of the Christian Scriptures (Eerdmans, 2016).Don Carson Books | Go to Books Page
The Problem Of The Old Testament
By James Orr 1907
IV. CRITICAL REASONS FOR LATE DATING OF THE BOOK: VALIDITY OF THESE (cont)
(2) There are alleged, next, certain historical discrepancies, some of them, we cannot but think, instructive examples of that Widerspruchsjägerei — “hunting for contradictions” — which Delitzsch not unjustly ascribes to the school of Wellhausen. The opponents of the unity of Deuteronomy find numerous inconsistencies in the different parts of the book itself (e.g., between chaps. 5–11 and 12–26, or between chaps. 1–4 and 5–26 ); but these the critical defenders of the unity find means of satisfactorily explaining. A slight extension of the same skill, we are persuaded, would enable them to dispose as satisfactorily of most of the others. On the general relation to the preceding history, it is agreed on all hands that the retrospects in Deuteronomy presuppose the narratives of JE, and reproduce them with substantial fidelity. The Wellhausen school, in accordance with its principles, denies any similar dependence on the P sections of the history; but this it is difficult to maintain in view of the considerable number of references to particulars, and turns of expression, found only in P. Only in P., e.g., is there mention of Moses and Aaron being debarred from Canaan as a punishment; of “seventy” as the number who went down to Egypt; of “twelve” as the number of the spies; of the making of the ark of acacia wood. The words, “Since the day that God created man upon the earth,” in chap. 4:32, seem a verbal reference to Gen. 1:26, 27; and there are numerous phraseological assonances with P in this fourth chapter, — “belonging usually to P,” says Carpenter,— “suggesting occasional contact with the school that produced P,” — and later, as “horses and chariots,” “hard bondage,” “stretched-out arm,” etc. (only in P). In no case, however, is there slavish dependence on the letter of the history. The speaker deals with his materials with the freedom and intimate knowledge of one who had been a chief actor in the events he recounts; amplifies, abbreviates supplies fresh details; groups according to subject rather than time; passes by swift association to related topics. It is this which in a few instances gives rise to the appearance of what the critics are pleased to call “contradictions.” Instead of telling against the genuineness of the book, they constitute, to our mind, one of the most convincing internal evidences of its genuineness. For what later composer, with the JE history before him, would have allowed himself these freedoms, or have wilfully laid himself open to the charge of “contradiction” of his sources?
But what, taken at their utmost, do these “contradictions” amount to? We shall glance at a few of the chief cases. It is to be borne in mind that the question here is not, whether Moses wrote personally the JE or P sections of the Pentateuch, but whether there is such contradiction with these as to forbid us ascribing the discourses in Deuteronomy to Moses as their speaker. We do not disprove, e.g., the Mosaic character of the discourses by showing, e.g., that the P sections are not directly, or at all from Moses’ pen.
A first instance of discrepancy is, that in Deuteronomy (1:9 ff.) Moses reminds the people how, with their consent, he appointed judges over them; in Ex. 18 we are told that this plan was originally suggested to Moses by Jethro. We submit that there is not here the shadow of a real difficulty? Can it be supposed that the composer of the book, whoever he was, imagined that there was any conflict? Yet this is one of two “discrepancies” which Dr. Driver allows “are not absolutely incompatible” with Moses’ authorship. The other is, that in Deuteronomy (1:22, 23 ) the people ask that spies be sent to search the land, while in Num. 13:1 (P), Jehovah gives the order for the mission. “Not absolutely incompatible”!
As an example of a discrepancy held to be irreconcilable with Mosaic authorship, we take the passages relating to Jehovah’s anger against Moses, and the prohibition to enter Canaan. “In Num. 20:12 (cf. 27:13 ff.; Deut. 32:50 ff.),” we are told, “Moses is prohibited to enter Canaan on account of his presumption in striking the rock at Kadesh, in the thirty-ninth year of the Exodus; here ( Deut. 1:37, 38; 3:26; 4:21 ), the ground of the prohibition is Jehovah’s anger with him on account of the people, upon an occasion which is plainly fixed by the context for the second year of the Exodus, thirty-seven years previously.” We invite the reader to compare carefully the passages, and judge for himself whether there is any real basis for this assertion. In three places in his address, Moses refers to his exclusion from Canaan, and in one of them tells of his pleading with Jehovah (fixed in the fortieth year, chap. 3:23 ) to have the sentence reversed. The narrative of this exclusion is given at length in Numbers, with the rebellion of the people that led to it, and the permission to view the land alluded to in Deut. 3:27 (cf. Num. 27:12, 13 ). It is surely only the hyper-acute sense of a critic that can see in the words “for your sakes,” which evidently refer to the provocation of the people that occasioned the offence of Moses ( Num. 20:2 ff.), a “contradiction” of the statement that he, with Aaron, personally sinned at Meribah ( Num. 20:10 ); while the assertion that the incident is “plainly fixed” in Deut. 1:37 in the second year of the Exodus is a “plain” misreading of the text. Moses is speaking in the context of the exclusion of that older generation from Canaan, and by a natural association he alludes in passing to how the rebellious spirit of the living generation had brought a similar sentence of exclusion on himself. The discourses are full of such rapid transitions, determined not by chronology, but by the connection of the thought. Cf., e.g., chap. 1:9, where the discourse turns back to events a year before the command in ver. 6; chap. 2:1, 2, where there is a leap over thirty-seven or thirty-eight years; chaps. 9, 10, where 10:1 resumes, with the words “at that time,” the transactions at Horeb, left far behind in chap. 9:22 ff.
The mission of the spies, alluded to above, is itself a fruitful source of “contradictions,” occasioned, however, mainly by the merciless way in which the narrative in Numbers is torn up. The incident will be examined in detail in a future chapter; only the main point, therefore, need be anticipated here. Deuteronomy, it is said, following JE, knows nothing of Joshua as one of the spies, and represents the search party, in contrast with P, as proceeding only as far as Eshcol (chap. 1:24, 25 ). Yet Deuteronomy knows of the choosing of “twelve” spies, “one of a tribe,” as in Num. 13:2 (P), where Joshua is included in the list (ver. 8 ); and the statement in Deut. 1:38 that Joshua (as well as Caleb, ver. 36 ) would enter the land, connects most naturally with the promise given in Num. 14:30. If the letter in JE is pressed to mean that Caleb only was to enter the land, it would seem to exclude Joshua, not only from the number of the spies, but from Canaan, which cannot be the meaning. In the JE narrative also it is clearly implied, as will be afterwards seen, that the spies, or some of them (for there surely were several parties; they did not all march in a body), went through the whole land ( Num. 13:28, 29 ).
The last-named instance is one of several involving the question of the possibility of an acquaintance of Deuteronomy with the P history. The denial of such acquaintance is founded in part on the mention of Dathan and Abiram, and the silence about Korah, in chap. 11:6. Here, it is concluded, the mention of Korah is omitted because he had no place in the JE narration. This, however, we would point out, does not necessarily follow. Apart from the question of “sources” in Num. 16, it is evident that, in the combined uprising there narrated, Dathan and Abiram represented the general spirit of murmuring in the congregation (vers. 12–15 ), while Korah stood for the Levites, in their aspiration after the privileges of the priesthood (vers. 8–11 ). This of itself is sufficient reason why Moses, in his address to the people, should refer only to the former.
A more definite “contradiction” — likewise implicated with intricate questions of analysis — is in the brief notice of Aaron’s death, and of the journeyings of the people in chap. 10:6, 7, as compared with the notice in the list of stations in Num. 33. In Deuteronomy, Aaron is stated to have died at Moserah, while his death is placed in Numbers (ver. 38 ) at Mount Hor; in Deuteronomy, four stations are mentioned in the journeyings (Bene-Jaakan, Moserah, Gudgodah, Jotbathah), but in Numbers (vers. 31, 32 ) the first two are named in inverse order. Moserah, however, as we discover from comparison, was in the immediate neighbourhood of Hor, and there is evidence in the list in Numbers itself that after wandering southwards to Eziongeber, at the Red Sea, and turning again northwards, the people returned in the fortieth year from Kadesh to the district of Mount Hor, where Aaron died (vers. 35–39; cf. Num. 20 ). The old camping spots would then be revisited, as stated in Deuteronomy. The mention of these places may thus be regarded rather as an undersigned corroboration of the accuracy of the list in Numbers.
Theology for Beggars (Part 1)
By David Owen Filson 2/18/2017
On February 19th the "scrawny shrimp," as he was affectionately called, stood startled, as his lecture on Romans was interrupted by news no one wanted to hear. Hardly able to gather himself, Philip Melanchthon tearfully announced to his students assembled in the great hall at Lutherhause, "Ach, obiit auriga et currus Israel!" (Alas, the charioteer of Israel has fallen!") This note, which Luther wrote in Latin, is concluded by a burst of German, "Wir sind alle Bettler." Then--resuming the Latin--Luther wrote, "Hoc est verum." ("We are all beggars. This is true.")
Biographer Roland Bainton suggests Martin Luther had done the work of five men in his lifetime. By February 18th, 1546, it caught up with him. Returning from a trip to Eisleben, marked by weeks of efforts to reconcile two brother counts of Mansfeld, his heart was failing him. The weather had been terribly disagreeable. This didn't help. Luther, admittedly feeling his age and frailty, wearily took ill. As the story goes, his companions managed to find lodging for him in a nearby house. His condition worsening, one of them asked, "Dr. Luther, do you want to die standing firm on Christ and the doctrine you have taught." Breaking his labored breathing of prayer and scriptures, a distinct "Ya!" leaped from his lips. Between 2-3am, Luther died a good death - full circle, in the very town in which he was born 62 years prior.
One of the most telling pieces to this dramatic conclusion to a dramatic earthly journey is a note Luther scratched out just two days earlier. Knowing his dire condition, he penned something of a humble epilogue to his life, churchmanship, the Scripture he adored, and the "doctrine he had taught:"
"No one can understand Virgil in his Bucolics and Georgics unless he has spent five years as a shepherd or farmer. No one understands Cicero in his letters unless he has served under an outstanding government for twenty years. No one should believe that he has tasted the Holy Scriptures sufficiently unless he has spent one hundred years leading churches with the prophets. That is why: 1. John the Baptist, 2, Christ, 3. The Apostles were a prodigious miracle. Do not profane this divine Aeneid, but bow down to it and honor its vestiges." Luther: Man Between God and the Devil
This note, which Luther wrote in Latin, is concluded by a burst of German, "Wir sind alle Bettler." Then--resuming the Latin--Luther wrote, "Hoc est verum." ("We are all beggars. This is true.")Click here for entire article
Here I Stand: A Life of Martin Luther
Luther on the Christian Life: Cross and Freedom
Luther: Man Between God and the Devil
The Pilgrim's Progress From This World To That Which Is To Come;
Delivered Under The Similitude Of A Dream (Part 2)
By John Bunyan 1678
COURTEOUS COMPANIONSSome time since, to tell you my dream that I had of Christian the pilgrim, and of his dangerous journey towards the Celestial country, was pleasant to me and profitable to you. I told you then also what I saw concerning his wife and children, and how unwilling they were to go with him on pilgrimage; insomuch that he was forced to go on his progress without them; for he durst not run the danger of that destruction which he feared would come by staying with them in the City of Destruction: wherefore, as I then showed you, he left them and departed.
Now it hath so happened, through the multiplicity of business, that I have been much hindered and kept back from my wonted travels into those parts whence he went, and so could not, till now, obtain an opportunity to make further inquiry after those whom he left behind, that I might give you an account of them. But having had some concerns that way of late, I went down again thitherward. Now, having taken up my lodging in a wood about a mile off the place, as I slept, I dreamed again.
And as I was in my dream, behold, an aged gentleman came by where I lay; and, because he was to go some part of the way that I was traveling, methought I got up and went with him. So, as we walked, and as travelers usually do, I was as if we fell into a discourse; and our talk happened to be about Christian and his travels; for thus I began with the old man:
Sir, said I, what town is that there below, that lieth on the left hand of our way?
Then said Mr. Sagacity, (for that was his name,) It is the City of Destruction, a populous place, but possessed with a very ill-conditioned and idle sort of people.
I thought that was that city, quoth I; I went once myself through that town; and therefore know that this report you give of it is true.
SAG. Too true! I wish I could speak truth in speaking better of them that dwell therein.
Well, sir, quoth I, then I perceive you to be a well-meaning man, and so one that takes pleasure to hear and tell of that which is good. Pray, did you never hear what happened to a man some time ago of this town, (whose name was Christian,) that went on a pilgrimage up towards the higher regions?
SAG. Hear of him! Aye, and I also heard of the molestations, troubles, wars, captivities, cries, groans, frights, and fears, that he met with and had on his journey. Besides, I must tell you, all our country rings of him; there are but few houses that have heard of him and his doings, but have sought after and got the records of his pilgrimage; yea, I think I may say that his hazardous journey has got many well-wishers to his ways; for, though when he was here he was fool in every man’s mouth, yet now he is gone he is highly commended of all. For ’tis said he lives bravely where he is: yea, many of them that are resolved never to run his hazards, yet have their mouths water at his gains.
They may, quoth I, well think, if they think any thing that is true, that he liveth well where he is; for he now lives at, and in the fountain of life, and has what he has without labor and sorrow, for there is no grief mixed therewith. But, pray what talk have the people about him?
SAG. Talk! the people talk strangely about him: some say that he now walks in white,
Rev. 3:4 Yet you have still a few names in Sardis, people who have not soiled their garments, and they will walk with me in white, for they are worthy. ESV
that he has a chain of gold about his neck; that he has a crown of gold, beset with pearls, upon his head: others say, that the shining ones, who sometimes showed themselves to him in his journey, are become his companions, and that he is as familiar with them where he is, as here one neighbor is with another. Besides, it is confidently affirmed concerning him, that the King of the place where he is has bestowed upon him already a very rich and pleasant dwelling at court, and that he every day eateth and drinketh, and walketh and talketh with him, and receiveth of the smiles and favors of him that is Judge of all there.
Zech. 3:7 “Thus says the LORD of hosts: If you will walk in my ways and keep my charge, then you shall rule my house and have charge of my courts, and I will give you the right of access among those who are standing here. ESV
Luke 14:14-15 14 and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the just.”
15 When one of those who reclined at table with him heard these things, he said to him, “Blessed is everyone who will eat bread in the kingdom of God!” ESV
Moreover, it is expected of some, that his Prince, the Lord of that country, will shortly come into these parts, and will know the reason, if they can give any, why his neighbors set so little by him, and had him so much in derision, when they perceived that he would be a pilgrim.
Jude 14-15 14 It was also about these that Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied, saying, “Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of his holy ones, 15 to execute judgment on all and to convict all the ungodly of all their deeds of ungodliness that they have committed in such an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things that ungodly sinners have spoken against him.” ESV
Pilgrim's Progress (Illustrated): Updated, Modern English. More than 100 Illustrations.
The Continual Burnt Offering
By H.A. Ironside - 1941
February 201 Samuel 30:6 And David was greatly distressed, for the people spoke of stoning him, because all the people were bitter in soul, each for his sons and daughters. But David strengthened himself in the LORD his God. ESV
It was a dark day in David’s life, probably the most trying ordeal he had been called upon to pass through. Because of the disaster that had befallen the families of his devoted followers, even they questioned his wisdom and righteousness and threatened to stone him as though he were responsible for all that had taken place. Self-defence was useless. It would have been a waste of effort to explain. So he turned from man to God and found encouragement there. It is a great thing to put God between the soul and adverse circumstances. He never fails the one who confides in Him. David’s confidence was soon rewarded and his men realized as never before that God was with him.
Genesis 32:7 Then Jacob was greatly afraid and distressed. He divided the people who were with him, and the flocks and herds and camels, into two camps,
Psalm 25:17 The troubles of my heart are enlarged;
bring me out of my distresses.
Psalm 42:11 Why are you cast down, O my soul,
and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
my salvation and my God.
Psalm 116:3 The snares of death encompassed me;
the pangs of Sheol laid hold on me;
I suffered distress and anguish.
4 Then I called on the name of the LORD:
“O LORD, I pray, deliver my soul!”
Psalm 116:10 I believed, even when I spoke:
“I am greatly afflicted”;
2 Corinthians 4:8 We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair;
2 Corinthians 7:5 For even when we came into Macedonia, our bodies had no rest, but we were afflicted at every turn — fighting without and fear within. ESV
One there is above all others,
Well deserves the name of Friend;
His is love beyond a brother’s:
Costly, free and knows no end.
Which of all our friends to save us,
Could or would have shed his blood?
But our Jesus died to have us
Reconciled in Him to God.
Oh, for grace our hearts to soften!
Teach us, Lord, at length to love;
We, alas! forget too often
What a Friend we have above.
The Continual Burnt Offering: Daily Meditations on the Word of God
Wellhausen’s Reconstruction of Hebrew History in the Preprophetic and Prophetic Period
By Gleason Archer Jr.
Introduction: Wellhausen’s Reconstruction (Preprophetic and Prophetic Period
IN ORDER TO SUPPLEMENT the rather brief indications of chapter 6 as to the reinterpretation of Hebrew religious history developed by the Documentarians in the nineteenth century, it will be appropriate here to examine it in somewhat greater detail and to analyze its weaknesses. This discussion will be divided into two chapters for convenience’ sake; the treatment of the Priestly Period will be deferred until chapter 12.
It will be recalled that the Wellhausen school regarded the 850 B.C. J and 750 B.C. E as the earliest written portions of the Pentateuch. These represented the earlier phase of the prophetic period (apart from the oral prophets who went back to Samuel’s time). From the time of the Judges, of Moses, and of the patriarchs, we have, according to this theory, only garbled traditions handed down by word of mouth over a period of many centuries, and which were finally committed to writing in J and E. How were these oral traditions to be sifted scientifically so as to separate the original fact from legendary or slanted accretions? The Documentarians found a ready method for this in the methodology of Hegelian philosophy and Darwinian evolutionism which were then at the very height of fashion in philosophical circles.
As A. Noordtzy of Utrecht pointed out in “The Old Testament Problem,” the nineteenth century was dominated by an anthropocentric viewpoint. Man came to be regarded as an end in himself, and God existed only as a means to be used for man’s benefit. The idea of evolution had captured the thinking of that day, and was thought to furnish the best key to the understanding of history as well as of nature. Religion was discussed only from the standpoint of its subjective benefits to man. All possibility of special revelation from a personal God was discounted, and the religious side of man was to be explained by a natural process of development as a mere expression of his cultural activity. Since a study of comparative religions showed a consistent pattern of progress, as they thought, from primitive animism or fetishism to polydemonism, then to polytheism, monolatry, and finally monotheism, they concluded that Israel’s religion must have developed along similar lines. The present form of the Hebrew text of the Torah does not testify to anything but a monotheistic viewpoint, but this is to be explained as the reworking of the ancient traditions by the priestly school of the post-exilic period, who imposed their fully evolved monotheistic viewpoint upon them. Even J and E belonged to an age dominated by the monotheism of the eighth-century prophets (notably Amos in the vanguard of these), and the original animism and polytheism of the patriarchs were thus veneered over to conform to the later theology. But a keen-scented practitioner of comparative religions could nevertheless ferret out some of the traces of the more primitive belief by sloughing off all the monotheistic accretions. Proceeding upon the assumption that Israel’s religion must have been of natural origin, not supernatural, these nineteenth-century analysts (such as E. B. Taylor, Schultze, and W. Robertson Smith) exploited every slightest detail in the ancient record which might be reinterpreted to indicate a submonotheistic faith.
Much dependence was laid upon the supposed analogy of the development of the religion of non-Israelite nations in the ancient Near East. In Egypt, for example, by a process of syncretism (explaining a group of similar gods as only manifestations or phases of the one basic god) the Egyptians ascended from the exuberant polytheism of an earlier age to a higher stage very close to monolatry by the Eighteenth Dynasty, when Amon-Re’ was exalted as the supreme deity of whom all lesser gods were but secondary phases. This in turn paved the way for the quasi-monotheism of King Akhnaton (1387–1366 B.C.), which represented the high point in Egyptian religion. In Babylon we find a supposedly similar development in the elevation of the god Marduk to supremacy, subsuming all other deities under him. In Greece the colorful polytheism of Homer gave way in later centuries to the monotheistic philosophies of Xenophanes and Plato (who so often referred to ho theos, “the god”). Progress toward monotheism, then, was simply part of a general evolutionary process through which Israel must have passed, like any other ancient nation.
The fact remains, however, that the actual data of comparative religions render this argument from analogy altogether untenable. It is an incontestable fact of history that no other nation (apart from those influenced by the Hebrew faith) ever did develop a true monotheistic religion which commanded the general allegiance of its people. Isolated figures may be pointed out like Akhnaton and Xenophanes (both of whom also spoke of “gods” in the plural number), but it remains incontrovertible that neither the Egyptians nor the Babylonians nor the Greeks ever embraced a monotheistic faith on a national basis. Right down to the days of Christ and the apostles, the inhabitants of those lands and of all other nations of which we have any knowledge were firmly committed to a belief in many gods and goddesses, composing a pantheon of celestial government. They believed in sky-gods, water-gods, tree-gods, earth-gods, and all the rest, just about as their forefathers had thousands of years before. While the philosophic schools may have reduced the gods to one impersonal essence (such as the Stoics), or denied the existence of God altogether (such as the Epicureans), or simply occupied the middle ground of agnosticism, the great masses of their countrymen still clung to a belief in the ancestral deities, along with an assortment of foreign gods (including those which were imported from Egypt and Asia) to give their religion a dash of exotic color.
Devotionals, notes, poetry and more
Handling panic attacks
2/20/2018 Bob Gass
‘Do not be afraid of sudden fear.’
(Pr 3:25) Do not be afraid of sudden terror or of the ruin of the wicked, when it comes, ESV
In the Bible panic attacks are referred to as ‘sudden fear’. You can’t breathe, your palms sweat, your chest gets tight, and you feel weak. If you’ve ever experienced a panic attack, you’ll recognise these symptoms. Doctors estimate that in our stress - filled world, about a third of us experience at least one panic attack a year. If you are one of them, here are some things you can do to help yourself: 1) Breathe deeply. Panic makes you breathe in short, shallow bursts, whereas breathing deeply helps to calm and relax you. So, when you start to feel overwhelmed, stop and breathe the name of Jesus. Try it; it works! 2) Talk to yourself. Say, ‘By God’s grace I can handle this’ (see 2 Corinthians 12:9). If you respond with more panic you’ll just end up in double trouble. Allowing yourself to feel panic without reacting to it may sound difficult at first, but it helps you break the cycle and take control of your thinking. 3) Do something calming. This may be the last thing you feel like doing, because panic attacks make you instinctively think thoughts that feed your fear. So, take a minute and whisper a prayer, quote a Scripture, listen to inspirational music, or talk to a friend. And if your panic attacks continue, there’s no shame in getting professional help. After all, it’s God who gives doctors the skills and abilities to intervene. Here’s a Scripture you should write down and keep handy: ‘You can go to bed without fear…and sleep soundly. You need not be afraid of sudden disaster…for the Lord is your security’ (Proverbs 3:24-26 NLT).
(2 Co 12:9) But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. ESV
(Pr 3:24–26) 24 If you lie down, you will not be afraid;
when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet.
25 Do not be afraid of sudden terror
or of the ruin of the wicked, when it comes,
26 for the LORD will be your confidence
and will keep your foot from being caught. ESV
by Bill Federer
A Colonel during the Revolutionary War, he fought in the battles of Long Island and Saratoga, built the fortifications at Breed’s Hill and commanded the Colonial Militia at the Battle of Bunker Hill. His name was William Prescott and he was born this day, February 20, 1726. When the British blockaded the Boston harbor, William Prescott wrote to the city’s inhabitants: “Providence has placed you where you must stand the first shock… We… must sink or swim together…. Let us… stand fast in the liberty wherewith Christ has made us free. And may He… grant us deliverance.”
Thomas R. Kelly
This amazing simplification comes when we "center down," when life is lived with singleness of eye, from a holy Center where the breath and stillness of Eternity are heavy upon us and we are wholly yielded to Him. Some of you know this holy, recreating Center of eternal peace and joy and live in it day and night. Some of you may see it over the margin and wistfully long to slip into that amazing Center where the soul is at home with God. Be very faithful to that wistful longing. It is the Eternal Goodness calling you to return Home, to feed upon green pastures and walk beside still waters and live in the peace of the Shepherd's presence. It is the life beyond fevered strain. We are called beyond strain, to peace and power and joy and love and thorough abandonment of self. We are called to put our hands trustingly in His hand and walk the holy way, in no anxiety assuredly resting in Him.
Douglas Steere wisely says that true religion often appears to be the enemy of the moralist. For religion cuts across the fine distinctions between the several virtues and gathers all virtues into the one supreme quality of love. The wholly obedient life is mastered and unified and simplified and gathered up into the love of God and it lives and walks among men in the perpetual flame of that radiant love. For the simplified man loves God with all his heart and mind and soul and strength and abides trustingly in that love. Then indeed do we love our neighbors. And the Fellowship of the Horny Hands is identical with the Fellowship of the Transfigured Face, in this MaryMartha life.
In this day when the burdens of humanity press so heavily upon us I would begin not first with techniques of service but with the most "Serious Call to a Devout Life," a life of such humble obedience to the Inner Voice as we have scarcely dared to dream. Hasten unto Him who calls you in the silences of your heart. The Hound of Heaven is ever near us, the voice of the Shepherd is calling us home. Too long have we lingered in double-minded obedience and dared not the certainties of His love. For Him do ye seek, all ye pearl merchants. He is "the food of grown men." Hasten unto Him who is the chief actor of the drama of time and Eternity. It is not too late to love Him utterly and obey Him implicitly and be baptized with the power of the apostolic life. Hear the words of Saint Augustine, as he rued his delay of commitment to Him. "Too late loved I Thee, 0 Thou beauty of ancient days, yet ever new! Too late I loved Thee! And behold, Thou wert within and I abroad, and there I searched for Thee; deformed I, plunging amid those fair forms which Thou hadst made. Thou wert with me but I was not with Thee. Things held me far from Thee which, unless they were in Thee, were not at all. Thou calledst and shoutedst, and burstedst my deafness. Thou flashedst, shonest, and scattered my blindness. Thou breathedst odors, and I drew in breath and pant for Thee. I tasted, and hunger and thirst. Thou touchedst me and I burned for Thy peace. When I shall with my whole soul cleave to Thee, I shall nowhere have sorrow or labor, and my life shall live as wholly full of Thee."
A Testament of Devotion
Compilation by RickAdams7
We are not to simply bandage the wounds of victims
beneath the wheels of injustice,
we are to drive a spoke into the wheel itself.
--- Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Without the Way,
there is no going;
Without the Truth,
there is no knowing;
Without the Life,
there is no living.
--- Thomas à Kempis
Atheists – What reason have they for saying that we cannot rise from the dead? What is more difficult, to be born or to rise again; that what has never been shall be, or that what has been should be again? Is it more difficult to come into existence than to return to it? Habit makes the one appear easy to us; want of habit makes the other impossible.
--- Blaise Pascal
The same God that gave the Christian laws to men, gave the laws of nature to the creatures.
--- Stanley Baldwin
... from here, there and everywhere
University of Virginia Library 1994
Book One / Thoughts Helpful In The Life Of The Soul
Until this year, 1756, I continued to retail goods, besides following my trade as a tailor; about which time I grew uneasy on account of my business growing too cumbersome. I had begun with selling trimmings for garments, and from thence proceeded to sell cloths and linens; and at length, having got a considerable shop of goods, my trade increased every year, and the way to large business appeared open, but I felt a stop in my mind.
Through the mercies of the Almighty, I had, in a good degree, learned to be content with a plain way of living. I had but a small family; and, on serious consideration, believed truth did not require me to engage much in cumbering affairs. It had been my general practice to buy and sell things really useful. Things that served chiefly to please the vain mind in people, I was not easy to trade in; seldom did it; and whenever I did I found it weaken me as a Christian.
The increase of business became my burden; for though my natural inclination was toward merchandise, yet I believed truth required me to live more free from outward cumbers; and there was now a strife in my mind between the two. In this exercise my prayers were put up to the Lord, who graciously heard me, and gave me a heart resigned to his holy will. Then I lessened my outward business, and, as I had opportunity, told my customers of my intentions, that they might consider what shop to turn to; and in a while I wholly laid down merchandise, and followed my trade as a tailor by myself, having no apprentice. I also had a nursery of apple-trees, in which I employed some of my time in hoeing, grafting, trimming, and inoculating. In merchandise it is the custom where I lived to sell chiefly on credit, and poor people often get in debt; when payment is expected, not having wherewith to pay, their creditors often sue for it at law. Having frequently observed occurrences of this kind, I found it good for me to advise poor people to take such goods as were most useful, and not costly.
In the time of trading I had an opportunity of seeing that the too liberal use of spirituous liquors and the custom of wearing too costly apparel led some people into great inconveniences; and that these two things appear to be often connected with each other. By not attending to that use of things which is consistent with universal righteousness, there is an increase of labor which extends beyond what our Heavenly Father intends for us. And by great labor, and often of much sweating, there is even among such as are not drunkards a craving of liquors to revive the spirits; that partly by the luxurious drinking of some, and partly by the drinking of others (led to it through immoderate labor), very great quantities of rum are every year expended in our colonies; the greater part of which we should have no need of, did we steadily attend to pure wisdom.
When men take pleasure in feeling their minds elevated with strong drink, and so indulge their appetite as to disorder their understandings, neglect their duty as members of a family or civil society, and cast off all regard to religion, their case is much to be pitied. And where those whose lives are for the most part regular, and whose examples have a strong influence on the minds of others, adhere to some customs which powerfully draw to the use of more strong liquor than pure wisdom allows, it hinders the spreading of the spirit of meekness, and strengthens the hands of the more excessive drinkers. This is a case to be lamented.
Every degree of luxury hath some connection with evil; and if those who profess to be disciples of Christ, and are looked upon as leaders of the people, have that mind in them which was also in Christ, and so stand separate from every wrong way, it is a means of help to the weaker. As I have sometimes been much spent in the heat and have taken spirits to revive me, I have found by experience, that in such circumstances the mind is not so calm, nor so fitly disposed for Divine meditation, as when all such extremes are avoided. I have felt an increasing care to attend to that Holy Spirit which sets right bounds to our desires, and leads those who faithfully follow it to apply all the gifts of Divine Providence to the purposes for which they were intended. Did those who have the care of great estates attend with singleness of heart to this heavenly Instructor, which so opens and enlarges the mind as to cause men to love their neighbors as themselves, they would have wisdom given them to manage their concerns, without employing some people in providing luxuries of life, or others in laboring too hard; but for want of steadily regarding this principle of Divine love, a selfish spirit takes place in the minds of people, which is attended with darkness and manifold confusions in the world.
Though trading in things useful is an honest employ, yet through the great number of superfluities which are bought and sold, and through the corruption of the times, they who apply to merchandise for a living have great need to be well experienced in that precept which the Prophet Jeremiah laid down for his scribe: "Seekest thou great things for thyself? Seek them not."
John Woolman's Journal
by D.H. Stern
and he doesn’t mix sorrow with it.
23 To a fool, vileness is like a game,
as is wisdom to a person of discernment.
24 What a fool dreads will overtake him,
but the righteous will be given his desire.
25 When the storm has passed, the wicked are gone;
but the righteous are firmly established forever.
26 Like vinegar to the teeth and smoke to the eyes
is a lazy person to his employer.
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 dreaming
Arise, let us go hence. --- John 14:31.
Dreaming about a thing in order to do it properly is right; but dreaming about it when we should be doing it is wrong. After Our Lord had said those wonderful things to His disciples, we might have expected that He would tell them to go away and meditate over them all; but Our Lord never allowed ‘mooning.’ When we are getting into contact with God in order to find out what He wants, dreaming is right; but when we are inclined to spend our time in dreaming over what we have been told to do, it is a bad thing and God’s blessing is never on it. God’s initiative is always in the nature of a stab against this kind of dreaming, the stab that bids us “neither sit nor stand but go.”
If we are quietly waiting before God and He has said—“Come ye yourselves apart,” then that is meditation before God in order to get at the line He wants; but always beware of giving over to mere dreaming when once God has spoken. Leave Him to be the source of all your dreams and joys and delights, and go out and obey what He has said. If you are in love, you do not sit down and dream about the one you love all the time, you go and do something for him; and that is what Jesus Christ expects us to do. Dreaming after God has spoken is an indication that we do not trust Him.
My Utmost for His Highest
the Poetry of RS Thomas
The New Mariner
In the silence
that is his chosen medium
of communication and telling
others about it
in words. Is there no way
not to be the sport
of reason? For me now
there is only the God-space
into which I send out
my probes. I had looked forward
to old age as a time
of quietness, a time to draw
my horizons about me,
to watch memories ripening
in the sunlight of a walled garden.
But there is the void
over my head and the distance
within that the tireless signals
come from. And astronaut
on impossible journeys
to the far side of the self
I return with messages
I cannot decipher, garrulous
about them, worrying the car
of the passer-by, hot on his way
to the marriage of plain fact
with plain fact.
The Poems of R.S. Thomas
We have a deep need for redemption. As Israel was in slavery, so all men are lost and powerless under the sway of sin.
Only God’s action can deliver. God had to intervene in acts of power to break the authority of Pharaoh over Israel. God Himself had to intervene, in Jesus Christ, to save us.
New life emerges from death: the Lamb must die. The Passover lamb’s blood on the door protected Israel from the death angel. It is the blood of Christ, shed for the sins of the world, which provides our salvation.
Our new life is to be marked by a holiness we do not have. Israel’s response to God after deliverance demonstrated her need for standards and for a clear revelation of God’s expectations. God is concerned about our righteousness as well: we are called to bear the image of His Son. The standard revealed in words in the Law has been unveiled in person by Jesus.
We fall short of the goal to which God calls us. The Law defined the pathway of love for Israel. At the same time it demonstrated conclusively that Israel fell short. The New Testament also defines, in terms of principles rather than rules, the pathway of love. A look into the New Testament shows that we, like Israel, fall short of being all that God calls us to be.
These are central messages that God gave Israel in the events we’ve read about. Today the record of those events speaks the same messages to you and to me that were spoken to Israel. The last of these messages—the revelation that even after redemption we stand in need—launches us into an exciting segment of Scripture. God reminds us that we are a needy people. But He also gives us insight into the way He plans to meet that very need!
The Teacher's Commentary
Lessons for Everyday Living
The title “Rabbi” (or rah-bee as it is pronounced in Hebrew) comes from a root word meaning “great.” (In Babylonia, a slightly different title with the same meaning evolved; there, the Rabbis were called Rav.) During the period of the Talmud, one did not receive the title Rabbi by enrolling in a rabbinical seminary and completing a fixed course of study. It was conveyed upon a man by his teacher after having studied for a significant period of time. Ordination was often accompanied by semikhah, a ceremonial “laying on of the hands.” A Rabbi could then decide religious questions and, with additional training, could serve as a judge in civil cases.
In this book, the term “the Rabbis” (capitalized) refers to the sages mentioned in the Talmud.
There was no such thing as a “professional rabbinate” during talmudic times. Rabbis received no salaries; they were not employed by synagogues. The Rabbis were men of great learning but people who had professions in which they worked and earned their livelihood. We find Rabbis who did everything from being a blacksmith to brewing and selling beer.
Sometimes, Rabbis gave public RS Thomas or lectures on Shabbat on the most basic issues of Jewish law and ethics. Other times, they debated and argued among themselves, in the study houses, on the most complex and arcane of legal subjects. They were the ones to whom people now turned in trying to understand what God wanted of them.
Rabbi Yoḥanan ben Zakkai is the most significant figure in the generation following the destruction of the Temple. He moved the seat of power from Jerusalem to the town of Yavneh. He attracted other great teachers and together they studied and taught the Torah and then began to build a new religion out of the ashes of the old. The synagogue came to take the place of the Temple; prayer took the place of sacrifice.
The Rabbis of the next five generations (spanning approximately one hundred fifty years) came to be known as the Tannaim (from the Aramaic word “repeaters,” because they memorized, repeated, and passed on the traditions). It was their work which ultimately culminated in the Mishnah.
Babylonia was already a major center of Jewish life, rivaling Israel. Beginning in the third century, rabbinic study houses began to flourish there. The Rabbis in Babylonia began to study and expand on the Mishnah in the same way that Rabbis in Israel did. These teachers in the post-Mishnaic period, in both Babylonia and Israel, were known as the Amoraim (Aramaic for “explainers”).
Some time in the early fifth century in Israel, the record of the teachings and discussions of the Amoraim based on, but not limited to, the Mishnah were gathered and edited and became known as the Gemara. The same process occurred in Babylonia a century or two later. Some time between the sixth and the seventh centuries, a new work appeared: Made up of the Mishnah and the Gemara, it came to be known as the Talmud.
Swimming in the Sea of Talmud: Lessons for Everyday Living
Noah Riner at Convocation 9/20/2005
You've been told that you are a special class. A quick look at the statistics confirms that claim: quite simply, you are the smartest and most diverse group of freshmen to set foot on the Dartmouth campus. You have more potential than all of the other classes. You really are special.
But it isn't enough to be special. It isn't enough to be talented, to be beautiful, to be smart. Generations of amazing students have come before you, and have sat in your seats. Some have been good, some have been bad. All have been special.
In fact, there's quite a long list of very special, very corrupt people who have graduated from Dartmouth. William Walter Remington, Class of 1939, started out as a Boy Scout and a choirboy and graduated Phi Beta Kappa. He ended up as a Soviet spy, was convicted of perjury and beaten to death in prison.
Daniel Mason '93 was just about to graduate from Boston Medical School when he shot two men – killing one – after a parking dispute.
Just a few weeks ago, I read in the D about PJ Halas, Class of 1998. His great uncle George founded the Chicago Bears, and PJ lived up to the family name, co-captaining the basketball team his senior year at Dartmouth and coaching at a high school team following graduation. He was also a history teacher, and, this summer, he was arrested for sexually assualting a 15-year-old student.
These stories demonstrate that it takes more than a Dartmouth degree to build character.
As former Dartmouth President John Sloan Dickey said, at Dartmouth our business is learning. And I'll have to agree with the motto of Faber College, featured in the movie Animal House, "Knowledge is Good." But if all we get from this place is knowledge, we've missed something. There's one subject that you won't learn about in class, one topic that orientation didn't cover, and that your UGA won't mention: character.
What is the purpose of our education? Why are we at Dartmouth?
Martin Luther King, Jr. said:
"But education which stops with efficiency may prove the greatest menace to society…. We must remember that intelligence is not enough. Intelligence plus character – that is the goal of true education."
We hear very little about character in our classrooms, yet, as Dr. King suggests, the real problem in the world is not a lack of education.
For example, in the past few weeks we've seen some pretty revealing things happening on the Gulf Coast in the wake of hurricane Katrina. We've seen acts of selfless heroism and millions around the country have united to help the refugees. On the other hand, we've been disgusted by the looting, violence, and raping that took place even in the supposed refuge areas. In a time of crisis and death, people were paddling around in rafts, stealing TV's and VCR's. How could Americans go so low?
My purpose in mentioning the horrible things done by certain people on the Gulf Coast isn't to condemn just them; rather it's to condemn all of us. Supposedly, character is what you do when no one is looking, but I'm afraid to say all the things I've done when no one was looking. Cheating, stealing, lusting, you name it - How different are we? It's easy to say that we've never gone that far: never stolen that much; never lusted so much that we'd rape; and the people we've cheated, they were rich anyway.
Let's be honest, the differences are in degree. We have the same flaws as the individuals who pillaged New Orleans. Ours haven't been given such free range, but they exist and are part of us all the same.
The Times of London once asked readers for comments on what was wrong with the world. British author, G. K. Chesterton responded simply: "Dear Sir, I am."
Not many of us have the same clarity that Chesterton had. Just days after Hurricane Katrina had ravaged the Gulf Coast, politicians and pundits were distributing more blame than aid. It's so easy to see the faults of others, but so difficult to see our own. In the words of Cassius in Shakespeare's Julius Caesar, "the fault, dear Brutus is not in our stars but in ourselves."
Character has a lot to do with sacrifice, laying our personal interests down for something bigger. The best example of this is Jesus. In the Garden of Gethsemane, just hours before his crucifixion, Jesus prayed, "Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done." He knew the right thing to do. He knew the cost would be agonizing torture and death. He did it anyway. That's character.
Jesus is a good example of character, but He's also much more than that. He is the solution to flawed people like corrupt Dartmouth alums, looters, and me.
It's so easy to focus on the defects of others and ignore my own. But I need saving as much as they do.
Jesus' message of redemption is simple. People are imperfect, and there are consequences for our actions. He gave His life for our sin so that we wouldn't have to bear the penalty of the law; so we could see love. The problem is me; the solution is God's love: Jesus on the cross, for us.
In the words of Bono:
[I]f only we could be a bit more like Him, the world would be transformed. …When I look at the Cross of Christ, what I see up there is all my s—- and everybody else's. So I ask myself a question a lot of people have asked: Who is this man? And was He who He said He was, or was He just a religious nut? And there it is, and that's the question.
You want the best undergraduate education in the world, and you've come to the right place to get that. But there's more to college than achievement. With Martin Luther King, we must dream of a nation – and a college – where people are not judged by the superficial, "but by the content of their character."
Thus, as you begin your four years here, you've got to come to some conclusions about your own character because you won't get it by just going to class. What is the content of your character? Who are you? And how will you become what you need to be?
It appears this link has been removed, but I want to keep what was written.
Thomas A Kempis
The Twentieth Chapter / The Love Of Solitude and Silence
SEEK a suitable time for leisure and meditate often on the favors of God. Leave curiosities alone. Read such matters as bring sorrow to the heart rather than occupation to the mind. If you withdraw yourself from unnecessary talking and idle running about, from listening to gossip and rumors, you will find enough time that is suitable for holy meditation.
Very many great saints avoided the company of men wherever possible and chose to serve God in retirement. “As often as I have been among men,” said one writer, “I have returned less a man.” We often find this to be true when we take part in long conversations. It is easier to be silent altogether than not to speak too much. To stay at home is easier than to be sufficiently on guard while away. Anyone, then, who aims to live the inner and spiritual life must go apart, with Jesus, from the crowd.
No man appears in safety before the public eye unless he first relishes obscurity. No man is safe in speaking unless he loves to be silent. No man rules safely unless he is willing to be ruled. No man commands safely unless he has learned well how to obey. No man rejoices safely unless he has within him the testimony of a good conscience.
More than this, the security of the saints was always enveloped in the fear of God, nor were they less cautious and humble because they were conspicuous for great virtues and graces. The security of the wicked, on the contrary, springs from pride and presumption, and will end in their own deception.
Never promise yourself security in this life, even though you seem to be a good religious, or a devout hermit. It happens very often that those whom men esteem highly are more seriously endangered by their own excessive confidence. Hence, for many it is better not to be too free from temptations, but often to be tried lest they become too secure, too filled with pride, or even too eager to fall back upon external comforts.
If only a man would never seek passing joys or entangle himself with worldly affairs, what a good conscience he would have. What great peace and tranquillity would be his, if he cut himself off from all empty care and thought only of things divine, things helpful to his soul, and put all his trust in God.
No man deserves the consolation of heaven unless he persistently arouses himself to holy contrition. If you desire true sorrow of heart, seek the privacy of your cell and shut out the uproar of the world, as it is written: “In your chamber bewail your sins.” There you will find what too often you lose abroad.
Your cell will become dear to you if you remain in it, but if you do not, it will become wearisome. If in the beginning of your religious life, you live within your cell and keep to it, it will soon become a special friend and a very great comfort.
In silence and quiet the devout soul advances in virtue and learns the hidden truths of Scripture. There she finds a flood of tears with which to bathe and cleanse herself nightly, that she may become the more intimate with her Creator the farther she withdraws from all the tumult of the world. For God and His holy angels will draw near to him who withdraws from friends and acquaintances.
It is better for a man to be obscure and to attend to his salvation than to neglect it and work miracles. It is praiseworthy for a religious seldom to go abroad, to flee the sight of men and have no wish to see them.
Why wish to see what you are not permitted to have? “The world passes away and the concupiscence thereof.” Sensual craving sometimes entices you to wander around, but when the moment is past, what do you bring back with you save a disturbed conscience and heavy heart? A happy going often leads to a sad return, a merry Evening to a mournful dawn. Thus, all carnal joy begins sweetly but in the end brings remorse and death.
What can you find elsewhere that you cannot find here in your cell? Behold heaven and earth and all the elements, for of these all things are made. What can you see anywhere under the sun that will remain long? Perhaps you think you will completely satisfy yourself, but you cannot do so, for if you should see all existing things, what would they be but an empty vision?
Raise your eyes to God in heaven and pray because of your sins and shortcomings. Leave vanity to the vain. Set yourself to the things which God has commanded you to do. Close the door upon yourself and call to you Jesus, your Beloved. Remain with Him in your cell, for nowhere else will you find such peace. If you had not left it, and had not listened to idle gossip, you would have remained in greater peace. But since you love, sometimes, to hear news, it is only right that you should suffer sorrow of heart from it.
The Imitation Of Christ
--- Luke 22:31–32.
Observe what came before the sifting and went with the sifting.( C.H. Spurgeon's sermons on men of the New Testament (Library of Spurgeon's sermons) ) “But I have prayed for you.” Not, your brothers have prayed for you; not, you have prayed for yourself. But I have prayed for you. Jesus, that master in the art of prayer, that mighty advocate above, assures us that he has already prayed for us. Before the temptation, “I have prayed for you.” I foresaw all the danger in which you would be placed, and concerning that danger I have exercised my function as high priest and intercessor. What a comfort to any who are passing through deep waters! You only go where Jesus has gone before you with his intercession. Jesus has made provision for all your future in a prayer already presented: “I have prayed for you.” You may be much comforted by the prayers of a minister or of some Christian who has power with God, but what are all such intercessions compared with the praying of your Lord? It were well to have Noah, Samuel, and Moses praying for us, but better far to have Jesus say, “I have prayed for you.” Satan may have his sieve, but as long as Jesus wears his breastplate we will not be destroyed.
The object of the prayer of our Lord was “that your faith may not fail.” He knows where the vital point lies, and there he holds the shield. As long as the Christian’s faith is safe the Christian’s self is safe. Faith is the standard-bearer in every spiritual conflict; if the standard-bearer fall, then it is an evil day. Therefore our Lord prays that the standard-bearer may never fail to hold up the banner in the midst of the fray: “I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail.” If faith fails, everything fails—patience, hope, love, joy. Faith is the root; if this is not in order, then the leafage of the soul, which shows itself in other graces, will soon begin to wither.
Learn a lesson from this, my friend—that you take care to commend your faith to your God. Do not begin to doubt because you are tempted—that is to lay bare your breast. Do not doubt because you are attacked—that is to loosen your harness. Believe still. “I had fainted,” said David, “unless I had believed” (KJV). It must be one thing or the other with us. Believing or fainting, which shall it be?
--- C. H. Spurgeon
Take Heart: Daily Devotions with the Church's Great Preachers
When you’re tempted to stay in bed on rainy or cold Sunday Mornings, remember the sacrifice of early generations. Februarys were exceedingly difficult, for example, in Puritan New England. Judge Samuel Sewall once noted in his diary after an unusually frigid Sunday that “the communion bread was frozen pretty hard and rattled sadly in the plates.”
Ministers were forced to preach while wrapped in layers of coats, heads covered with caps, and hands cased in heavy mittens. According to Sewall, one Puritan preacher in Kittery, Maine, used to send his servant to the meetinghouse to find out how many had braved the snow. If only six or seven had come, the servant would ask them to return with him to the parsonage and listen to the sermon there.
Another entry in Sewall’s diary tells of a bitterly cold day when there was a “Great Coughing” in the meetinghouse, yet a newborn was carried in to be baptized. In harshest weather, women brought to the church little footstoves, filled with hot coals from home, around which children huddled by their mother’s feet beneath the pews. But after several churches burned down because of footstoves left behind, their use grew controversial.
In some communities it was customary on coldest Sundays for worshipers to bring “doggs” to curl at their masters’ feet and keep them warm. A few of the men sometimes smuggled another kind of warmth into the church. One such gentleman imbibed too much, and his drunken snores so disrupted the sermon that the deacons dragged him off to the tavern.
In one of his journal entries, Judge Sewall tells of a winter’s Sunday when his friend, Rev. Michael Wigglesworth, preached from the verse in Psalm 147 that says, “Who can stand the cold?” By the next Sunday, the entire congregation was so afflicted with illness that services were canceled for three weeks. On February 20, 1698 services resumed and Wigglesworth prayed and preached from the words, “At his command the ice melts.” The very next day, a thaw set in. It was regarded as a direct answer to his prayer.
As soon as God speaks, the earth obeys.
He covers the ground with snow like a blanket of wool,
And he scatters frost like ashes on the ground.
God sends down hailstones like chips of rocks.
Who can stand the cold?
--- Psalm 147:15-17.
On This Day 365 Amazing And Inspiring Stories About Saints, Martyrs And Heroes
Daily Readings / CHARLES H. SPURGEON
Morning - February 20
“God, that comforteth those that are cast down.” --- 2 Corinthians 7:6.
And who comforteth like him? Go to some poor, melancholy, distressed child of God; tell him sweet promises, and whisper in his ear choice words of comfort; he is like the deaf adder, he listens not to the voice of the charmer, charm he never so wisely. He is drinking gall and wormwood, and comfort him as you may, it will be only a note or two of mournful resignation that you will get from him; you will bring forth no Psalms of praise, no hallelujahs, no joyful sonnets. But let God come to his child, let him lift up his countenance, and the mourner’s eyes glisten with hope. Do you not hear him sing—
“’Tis paradise, if thou art here;
If thou depart, ’tis hell?”
You could not have cheered him: but the Lord has done it; “He is the God of all comfort.” There is no balm in Gilead, but there is balm in God. There is no physician among the creatures, but the Creator is Jehovah-rophi. It is marvellous how one sweet word of God will make whole songs for Christians. One word of God is like a piece of gold, and the Christian is the gold beater, and can hammer that promise out for whole weeks. So, then, poor Christian, thou needest not sit down in despair. Go to the Comforter, and ask him to give thee consolation. Thou art a poor dry well. You have heard it said, that when a pump is dry, you must pour water down it first of all, and then you will get water, and so, Christian, when thou art dry, go to God, ask him to shed abroad his joy in thy heart, and then thy joy shall be full. Do not go to earthly acquaintances, for you will find them Job’s comforters after all; but go first and foremost to thy “God, that comforteth those that are cast down,” and you will soon say, “In the multitude of my thoughts within me thy comforts delight my soul.”
Evening - February 20
“Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil.” --- Matthew 4:1.
A holy character does not avert temptation—Jesus was tempted. When Satan tempts us, his sparks fall upon tinder; but in Christ’s case, it was like striking sparks on water; yet the enemy continued his evil work. Now, if the devil goes on striking when there is no result, how much more will he do it when he knows what inflammable stuff our hearts are made of. Though you become greatly sanctified by the Holy Ghost, expect that the great dog of hell will bark at you still. In the haunts of men we expect to be tempted, but even seclusion will not guard us from the same trial. Jesus Christ was led away from human society into the wilderness, and was tempted of the devil. Solitude has its charms and its benefits, and may be useful in checking the lust of the eye and the pride of life; but the devil will follow us into the most lovely retreats. Do not suppose that it is only the worldly-minded who have dreadful thoughts and blasphemous temptations, for even spiritual-minded persons endure the same; and in the holiest position we may suffer the darkest temptation. The utmost consecration of spirit will not insure you against Satanic temptation. Christ was consecrated through and through. It was his meat and drink to do the will of him that sent him: and yet he was tempted! Your hearts may glow with a seraphic flame of love to Jesus, and yet the devil will try to bring you down to Laodicean lukewarmness. If you will tell me when God permits a Christian to lay aside his armour, I will tell you when Satan has left off temptation. Like the old knights in war time, we must sleep with helmet and breastplate buckled on, for the arch-deceiver will seize our first unguarded hour to make us his prey. The Lord keep us watchful in all seasons, and give us a final escape from the jaw of the lion and the paw of the bear.
Morning and Evening
HOW CAN I HELP BUT LOVE HIM?
Words and Music by Elton M. Roth, 1891–1951
For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And He died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for Him who died for them and was raised again.
(2 Corinthians 5:14, 15)
When I stand before the throne, dressed in beauty not my own;
When I see Thee as Thou art, love Thee with unceasing heart;
Then, Lord, shall I fully know—not till then—how much I owe.
We all need a strong compelling force to move us through life. Without this force we become stagnant. We can be driven by many different motives—wealth, power, prestige. The apostle Paul’s compulsion was an intense awareness of Christ’s atoning love for man and the responsibility he felt to share this truth with others. The apostle was so gripped by Christ that he counted his own life as nothing in the light of that love (Acts 20:24). Paul abandoned all ambitions as he sought to be a worthy follower and proclaimer of divine love.
Who can do anything other than love Christ after personally experiencing His divine love? Our love relationship with Christ will be demonstrated by our obedience to Him and the doing of His will for our lives (John 15:10). This obedience is not motivated by a desire for reward or a fear of punishment. It is simply a response of love for all that our Lord has done for us and for what He means in our daily lives.
The author and composer of this Gospel hymn, Elton M. Roth, was a traveling music evangelist for a period of time. Later he taught music in various Bible schools, including Biola College in Los Angeles. Mr. Roth published many anthems and over 100 hymns, including the popular “In My Heart There Rings a Melody.”
Down from His splendor in glory He came into a world of woe, took on Himself all my guilt and my shame—why should He love me so?
I am unworthy to take of His grace, wonderful grace so free; yet Jesus suffered and died in my place, e’en for a soul like me.
He is the fairest of thousands to me; His love is sweet and true; wonderful beauty in Him I now see, more than I ever knew.
Refrain: How can I help but love Him when He loved me so? How can I help but love Him when He loved me so?
For Today: Jeremiah 31:2, 3; 2 Corinthians 5:14; 1 Peter 1:8; 1 John 4:19; Jude 21.
Pray that God will let your life overflow with His love and joy. Begin with your family and go on from there.
Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions
Pt One | Mark 6:6-9
Pt Two | Mark 6:10-13; 30-32
Douglas Stuart | Dallas Theological Seminary
My Favorite Mistranslations: Proverbs 22:6
My Favorite Mistranslations: Jonah 1:2
Brett Meador | Athey Creek
Look And Live Numbers 21:4-9
s2-083 | 7-26-2015
m2-081 | 7-29-2015
Balaam's Blunders Numbers 22-25
s2-084 | 8-02-2015
m2-082 | 8-05-2015