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Numbers   23 - 25

Numbers 23

Balaam’s First Oracle

Numbers 23:1     And Balaam said to Balak, “Build for me here seven altars, and prepare for me here seven bulls and seven rams.” 2 Balak did as Balaam had said. And Balak and Balaam offered on each altar a bull and a ram. 3 And Balaam said to Balak, “Stand beside your burnt offering, and I will go. Perhaps the LORD will come to meet me, and whatever he shows me I will tell you.” And he went to a bare height, 4 and God met Balaam. And Balaam said to him, “I have arranged the seven altars and I have offered on each altar a bull and a ram.” 5 And the LORD put a word in Balaam’s mouth and said, “Return to Balak, and thus you shall speak.” 6 And he returned to him, and behold, he and all the princes of Moab were standing beside his burnt offering. 7 And Balaam took up his discourse and said,

“From Aram Balak has brought me,
the king of Moab from the eastern mountains:
‘Come, curse Jacob for me,
and come, denounce Israel!’
8 How can I curse whom God has not cursed? How can I denounce whom the LORD has not denounced?
9 For from the top of the crags I see him,
from the hills I behold him;
behold, a people dwelling alone,
and not counting itself among the nations!
10 Who can count the dust of Jacob
or number the fourth part of Israel?
Let me die the death of the upright,
and let my end be like his!”

11 And Balak said to Balaam, “What have you done to me? I took you to curse my enemies, and behold, you have done nothing but bless them.” 12 And he answered and said, “Must I not take care to speak what the LORD puts in my mouth?”

Balaam’s Second Oracle

13 And Balak said to him, “Please come with me to another place, from which you may see them. You shall see only a fraction of them and shall not see them all. Then curse them for me from there.” 14 And he took him to the field of Zophim, to the top of Pisgah, and built seven altars and offered a bull and a ram on each altar. 15 Balaam said to Balak, “Stand here beside your burnt offering, while I meet the LORD over there.” 16 And the LORD met Balaam and put a word in his mouth and said, “Return to Balak, and thus shall you speak.” 17 And he came to him, and behold, he was standing beside his burnt offering, and the princes of Moab with him. And Balak said to him, “What has the LORD spoken?” 18 And Balaam took up his discourse and said,

“Rise, Balak, and hear;
give ear to me, O son of Zippor:
19 God is not man, that he should lie,
or a son of man, that he should change his mind.
Has he said, and will he not do it?
Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it?
20 Behold, I received a command to bless:
he has blessed, and I cannot revoke it.
21 He has not beheld misfortune in Jacob,
nor has he seen trouble in Israel.
The LORD their God is with them,
and the shout of a king is among them.
22 God brings them out of Egypt
and is for them like the horns of the wild ox.
23 For there is no enchantment against Jacob,
no divination against Israel;
now it shall be said of Jacob and Israel,
‘What has God wrought!’
24 Behold, a people! As a lioness it rises up
and as a lion it lifts itself;
it does not lie down until it has devoured the prey
and drunk the blood of the slain.”

25 And Balak said to Balaam, “Do not curse them at all, and do not bless them at all.” 26 But Balaam answered Balak, “Did I not tell you, ‘All that the LORD says, that I must do’?” 27 And Balak said to Balaam, “Come now, I will take you to another place. Perhaps it will please God that you may curse them for me from there.” 28 So Balak took Balaam to the top of Peor, which overlooks the desert. 29 And Balaam said to Balak, “Build for me here seven altars and prepare for me here seven bulls and seven rams.” 30 And Balak did as Balaam had said, and offered a bull and a ram on each altar.

Numbers 24

Balaam’s Third Oracle

Numbers 24:1     When Balaam saw that it pleased the LORD to bless Israel, he did not go, as at other times, to look for omens, but set his face toward the wilderness. 2 And Balaam lifted up his eyes and saw Israel camping tribe by tribe. And the Spirit of God came upon him, 3 and he took up his discourse and said,

“The oracle of Balaam the son of Beor,
the oracle of the man whose eye is opened,
4 the oracle of him who hears the words of God,
who sees the vision of the Almighty,
falling down with his eyes uncovered:
5 How lovely are your tents, O Jacob,
your encampments, O Israel!
6 Like palm groves that stretch afar,
like gardens beside a river,
like aloes that the LORD has planted,
like cedar trees beside the waters.
7 Water shall flow from his buckets,
and his seed shall be in many waters;
his king shall be higher than Agag,
and his kingdom shall be exalted.
8 God brings him out of Egypt
and is for him like the horns of the wild ox;
he shall eat up the nations, his adversaries,
and shall break their bones in pieces
and pierce them through with his arrows.
9 He crouched, he lay down like a lion
and like a lioness; who will rouse him up?
Blessed are those who bless you,
and cursed are those who curse you.”

10 And Balak’s anger was kindled against Balaam, and he struck his hands together. And Balak said to Balaam, “I called you to curse my enemies, and behold, you have blessed them these three times. 11 Therefore now flee to your own place. I said, ‘I will certainly honor you,’ but the LORD has held you back from honor.” 12 And Balaam said to Balak, “Did I not tell your messengers whom you sent to me, 13 ‘If Balak should give me his house full of silver and gold, I would not be able to go beyond the word of the LORD, to do either good or bad of my own will. What the LORD speaks, that will I speak’? 14 And now, behold, I am going to my people. Come, I will let you know what this people will do to your people in the latter days.”

Balaam’s Final Oracle

15 And he took up his discourse and said,

“The oracle of Balaam the son of Beor,
the oracle of the man whose eye is opened,
16 the oracle of him who hears the words of God,
and knows the knowledge of the Most High,
who sees the vision of the Almighty,
falling down with his eyes uncovered:
17 I see him, but not now;
I behold him, but not near:
a star shall come out of Jacob,
and a scepter shall rise out of Israel;
it shall crush the forehead of Moab
and break down all the sons of Sheth.
18 Edom shall be dispossessed;
Seir also, his enemies, shall be dispossessed.
Israel is doing valiantly.
19 And one from Jacob shall exercise dominion
and destroy the survivors of cities!”

20 Then he looked on Amalek and took up his discourse and said,

“Amalek was the first among the nations,
but its end is utter destruction.”

21 And he looked on the Kenite, and took up his discourse and said,

“Enduring is your dwelling place,
and your nest is set in the rock.
22 Nevertheless, Kain shall be burned
when Asshur takes you away captive.”

23 And he took up his discourse and said,

“Alas, who shall live when God does this?
24 But ships shall come from Kittim
and shall afflict Asshur and Eber;
and he too shall come to utter destruction.”

25 Then Balaam rose and went back to his place. And Balak also went his way.

Numbers 25

Baal Worship at Peor

Numbers 25:1     While Israel lived in Shittim, the people began to whore with the daughters of Moab. 2 These invited the people to the sacrifices of their gods, and the people ate and bowed down to their gods. 3 So Israel yoked himself to Baal of Peor. And the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel. 4 And the LORD said to Moses, “Take all the chiefs of the people and hang them in the sun before the LORD, that the fierce anger of the LORD may turn away from Israel.” 5 And Moses said to the judges of Israel, “Each of you kill those of his men who have yoked themselves to Baal of Peor.”

6 And behold, one of the people of Israel came and brought a Midianite woman to his family, in the sight of Moses and in the sight of the whole congregation of the people of Israel, while they were weeping in the entrance of the tent of meeting. 7 When Phinehas the son of Eleazar, son of Aaron the priest, saw it, he rose and left the congregation and took a spear in his hand 8 and went after the man of Israel into the chamber and pierced both of them, the man of Israel and the woman through her belly. Thus the plague on the people of Israel was stopped. 9 Nevertheless, those who died by the plague were twenty-four thousand.

The Zeal of Phinehas

10 And the LORD said to Moses, 11 “Phinehas the son of Eleazar, son of Aaron the priest, has turned back my wrath from the people of Israel, in that he was jealous with my jealousy among them, so that I did not consume the people of Israel in my jealousy. 12 Therefore say, ‘Behold, I give to him my covenant of peace, 13 and it shall be to him and to his descendants after him the covenant of a perpetual priesthood, because he was jealous for his God and made atonement for the people of Israel.’”

14 The name of the slain man of Israel, who was killed with the Midianite woman, was Zimri the son of Salu, chief of a father’s house belonging to the Simeonites. 15 And the name of the Midianite woman who was killed was Cozbi the daughter of Zur, who was the tribal head of a father’s house in Midian.

16 And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 17 “Harass the Midianites and strike them down, 18 for they have harassed you with their wiles, with which they beguiled you in the matter of Peor, and in the matter of Cozbi, the daughter of the chief of Midian, their sister, who was killed on the day of the plague on account of Peor.”

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‘God Did the Work, Period’

By John Piper 2/21/208

     I recalled this morning (with more emotion than I expected) that one of the fears of my life as a boy growing up in Greenville, South Carolina, was that Billy Graham would die. I know there was a good deal of immature failure in that fear to trust the God who is quite able to run the world without Billy Graham. But it does give you a glimpse of the role he played as a kind of sun holding the planets in place in the solar system of my religious world in the late 1950s.

     Now I am 72 in Minneapolis (remember “Box 123”?!), not a teenager in South Carolina. And Billy died today at the age of 99. This morning I have been singing his songs (“Just as I Am” and “How Great Thou Art”). The flood of emotion they awaken, after a lifetime of profound associations, is a sweet sorrow. Thank you, Lord, that you answered my boyish prayers and preserved his life as long as you did. And not just his life, but his faith and his witness.

I Surrender All

     Billy Graham was born on November 7, 1918, in North Carolina. In 1934, under the preaching of evangelist Mordecai Ham, Billy was converted to Christ. He attended Bob Jones University in Cleveland, Tennessee, for one year and spent three and a half years at Florida Bible Institute in Tampa. In March of 1938, he first sensed God’s calling to preach.

One night in March, 1938, Billy Graham returned from his walk and reached the 18th green immediately before the school’s front door. “The trees were loaded with Spanish moss, and in the moonlight it was like a fairyland.” He sat on the edge of the green, looking up at the moon and stars, aware of a warm breeze from the south. The tension snapped. “I remember getting on my knees and saying, ‘God, if you want me to preach, I will do it.’ Tears streamed down my cheeks as I made this great surrender to become an ambassador for Jesus Christ.” (John Pollock, Billy Graham: The authorized biography)

     In the summer vacation of 1937, he had asked Emily Cavanaugh to marry him. In May of 1938, she said no.

     Billy was ordained in 1939. The first time he gave his own “altar call” he was at a little church on the Gulf Coast, with 100 people present. Thirty-two young men and women came forward (Billy Graham: The authorized biography).

     In the fall of 1940, he entered Wheaton College. He met Ruth Bell in the lobby of Williston Hall — the same dormitory where my wife Noël lived as we were dating at Wheaton.

     Ruth told Billy that she was unsure after all. She feared that her desire to be his wife denied a clear missionary call, unless he were bound for Tibet. “He went and prayed about the mission field, and he just had no leading whatsoever. Finally he said, ‘Well, do you think God brought us together?’ — and I had to admit I felt God had.” Billy pointed out that the husband is head of the wife: “The Lord leads me and you follow.” Ruth agreed, in faith. (Pollock, 26)

     They were married August 13, 1943.

His Crisis of Faith

     In August, 1949, his faith in the Bible was put to the test. It came to a climax at a student conference in the San Bernardino mountains of California. Charles Templeton had asked questions about the Bible’s truthfulness that Billy could not answer.

     Billy went out in the forest and wandered up the mountain, praying as he walked, “Lord, what shall I do? What shall be the direction of my life?”      I find it interesting that the forest he mentions is Forest Falls where my youngest son lives.

     He had reached what he believed to be a crisis.

     He saw that intellect alone could not resolve the question of authority. You must go beyond intellect. He thought of the faith used constantly in daily life: he did not know how a train or plane or car worked, but he rode them. . . . Was it only in things of the spirit that such faith was wrong?

     “So I went back and I got my Bible, and I went out in the moonlight. And I got to a stump and put the Bible on the stump, and I knelt down, and I said, ‘Oh, God; I cannot prove certain things. I cannot answer some of the questions Chuck is raising and some of the other people are raising, but I accept this book by faith as the Word of God.’” (Pollock, 53)

     That next month came the decisive turning point in Billy’s global evangelism, the Los Angeles Crusade. Overnight he became a nationally known figure. One year later, Newsweek called him “America’s greatest living evangelist” (May 1, 1950).

‘Sheer Sovereignty Chose Me’

     He never lost the unshakable conviction that God had called him sovereignly to the work of evangelism and that he owed everything to God’s initiative.

     “With all my heart as I look back on my life, [I believe] I was chosen to do this particular work [of evangelizing] as a man might have been chosen to go into East Harlem and work there, or to the slums of London like General Booth was. I believe that God in his sovereignty — I have no other answer for this — sheer sovereignty, chose me to do this work and prepared me in his own way.” (Christopher Catherwood, Five Evangelical Leaders, 234)

     For all the technology he employed, he relied profoundly on the Holy Spirit in the work of evangelism.

     He told students in 1964 at Harvard Divinity School . . . “I used to think that in evangelism I had to do it all, but now I approach evangelism with a totally different attitude. I approach it with complete relaxation. First of all, I don’t believe that any man can come to Christ unless the Holy Spirit has prepared his heart. Secondly, I don’t believe any man can come to Christ unless God drives him. My job is to proclaim the message. It’s the Holy Spirit’s job to do the work, period.” (Catherwood, 230)

     When it was not yet the politically correct thing to do, he was an advocate for racial integration and respect.

     In 1972, Graham accepted an invitation to speak in Durban and Johannesburg provided that the audiences were racially integrated. The South African government disliked this and only reluctantly agreed. . . . Howard Jones recalls [Martin Luther] King telling Graham, “Your crusades have done more to help race relations than anything else I know.” (Catherwood, 209)

Two Roots of His Message

     He is famous for saying that he preached too much and studied too little.

     One of my great regrets is that I have not studied enough. I wish I had studied more and preached less. People have pressured me into speaking to groups when I should have been studying and preparing. Donald Barnhouse said that if he knew the Lord was coming in three years, he would spend two of them studying and one preaching. I’m trying to make it up. (Christianity Today, September 23, 1977)

     This is especially ironic in view of Pollock’s 1966 description of Billy’s habits of study:

     Beyond all else Billy Graham studies the Bible, the supreme authority for his belief and action. Every day he reads five Psalms, covering the psalter in a month, and one chapter of Proverbs, the book that “shows us how to relate our own lives to our fellow men.” He reads through a Gospel each week, using commentaries and modern translations, and constantly returns to the Acts of the Apostles. He annotates throughout the Bible. “Sometimes His word makes such an impact on me that I have to put the Bible down and walk around for a few moments to catch my breath.” (Pollock, 248)

     All of this was saturated with prayer. “I have so many decisions to make each day, and so many problems, that I have to pray all the time” (Pollock, 248).

     Surely John Pollock is right that “prayer and Bible reading, inextricably intertwined, are the tap roots of Billy Graham’s character and of his message” (248).

Into Everlasting Joy

     There are different ways to measure the greatness of a man’s impact. One would be the institutions that were created in the wake of his influence. Another would be the shaping power of his ideas in the culture at large. Another would be the methodological and stylistic impact of his way of doing things on the religious life of America.

     “His greatest impact is the eternal difference he made in leading countless persons, from all over the world, out of destruction into everlasting joy.”

     Another would be the incalculable eternal difference in being the human instrument in God’s hands, bringing hundreds of thousands of people out of darkness into light, and out of Satan’s authority into God’s family, and out of condemnation into forgiveness, and out of sin into holiness, and out of hell into everlasting joy with God. Not to mention the billions of practical effects for good in the way these people’s lives were changed in this world.

     While only God can rightly assess the ripple effect of a person’s life in all the ways it has influence, my own judgment would be that Billy Graham’s greatest impact is the eternal difference he made in leading countless persons, from all over the world, out of destruction into everlasting joy and love. This was his primary mission. “Because God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).

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      (@JohnPiper) is founder and teacher of desiringGod.org and chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary. For 33 years, he served as pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis, Minnesota.

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The Problem Of The Old Testament

By James Orr 1907


Finally, a word should perhaps be said on the alleged “contradiction” between the law in  Ex. 21:12–14, and the Deuteronomic appointment of three cities of refuge (chap.  4:41–43; cf.  19:1 ff.). The asylum in the older law, Wellhausen argues, is the altar; now “in order not to abolish the right of asylum along with altars [mark the change to the plural], he [the Deuteronomist] appoints special cities of refuge for the innocent who are pursued by the avenger of blood.” It is a little difficult to understand how anyone could hope to persuade the people of Josiah’s age that three cities of refuge had been appointed by Moses (three more afterwards) when, ex hypothesi, they knew perfectly well that up to their day no such cities existed. The whole objection, however, is largely a creation of the critic’s fancy, as shown by the fact that the future appointment of a place of refuge for the manslayer is provided for in the very law of Exodus to which appeal is made (chap.  21:13).

3. For the above reasons we cannot allow that a case has been made out on the ground of discrepancies in laws and history for denying the Deuteronomic discourses to the great lawgiver with whose name they are connected. When these are set aside, there remain as proofs of post-Mosaic origin chiefly incidental expressions, as “other side of (or beyond) Jordan,” “unto this day,” and the like. The first of these expressions— “other side of Jordan” — is much relied on, as showing that the standpoint of the author of the book was the Western side of Jordan. If we have not hitherto taken notice of this favourite argument, it is principally because, after the fairest consideration we have been able to give it, it seems to us to have extremely little force. So far as the expression occurs in the framework of the book (e.g., chap.  1:1, 5 ), it occasions little difficulty, but it may appear to be different when it is found in the discourses themselves. It does occur there, but (as also in the framework) with an application both to the Eastern (chap.  3:8 ), and, more commonly, to the Western (chaps.  3:20, 25; 11:30 ), sides of the Jordan. Very generally there is some determinative clause attached, to show which side is meant — “beyond Jordan, toward the sunrising” (chap.  4:41, 46 ), “eastward” (ver.  49 ), “behind the way of the going down of the sun” (chap.  11:30 ), etc. It is most natural to conclude that the phrase “beyond Jordan” was a current geographical designation for the Moabite side of the river; but that, along with this, there went a local usage, determined by the position of the speaker. Far more reasonably may we argue from the minute and serious care of the writer in his geographical and chronological notices in the introduction to the discourses and elsewhere, that he means his book to be taken as a genuine record of the last utterances of the lawgiver.

It may be serviceable at this stage to sum up the conclusions to which the discussions in this chapter have conducted us.

1. The discovery of “the book of the law” in Josiah’s day was a genuine discovery, and the book then found was already old.

2. The age of Manasseh was unsuitable for the composition of  Deuteronomy, and there is no evidence of its composition in that age. The ideas of  Deuteronomy no doubt lay behind Hezekiah’s reformation, but there is no evidence of the presence of the book, or of its composition, at or about that time. Had it been newly composed, or then appeared for the first time, we should have expected it to make a sensation, as it did afterwards in the time of Josiah. The question also would again arise as to its Mosaic claim, and the acknowledgment of this by Hezekiah and his circle.

3. From Hezekiah upwards till at least the time of the Judges, or the immediately post-Mosaic age, there is no period to which the composition of the book can suitably be referred, nor is there any evidence of its composition in that interval. Traces of its use may be thought to be found in the revision of  Joshua, in speeches like those of Solomon (  1 Kings 8 ), in Amaziah’s action (  2 Kings 14:5, 6 ), and in allusions in the early prophets. But this we do not at present urge.

4. The book definitely gives itself out as a reproduction of the speeches which Moses delivered in the Arabah of Moab before his death, and expressly declares that Moses wrote his addresses (“this law”), and gave the book into custody of the priests.

5. The internal character of the book, in its Mosaic standpoint, its absence of reference to the division of the kingdom, and the archaic and obsolete character of many of its laws, supports the claim to a high antiquity and a Mosaic origin.

6. The supposition that  Deuteronomy is “a free reproduction,” or elaboration, of written addresses left by Moses, by one who has fully entered into his spirit, and continues his work, while not inadmissible, if the facts are shown to require it, is unnecessary, and, in view of the actual character of the book, not probable. The literary gifts of Moses were amply adequate to the writing of his own discourses in their present form. This is not to deny editorial revision and annotation.

7. There are no conclusive reasons in the character of the laws or of the historical retrospects for denying the authorship of the discourses, in this sense, to Moses.

8. It seems implied in  Deut. 31:9, 24–26, that  Deuteronomy originally subsisted as a separate book. It may have done so for a longer or shorter period, and separate copies may have continued to circulate, even after its union with the other parts of the Pentateuch. It was probably a separate authentic copy which was deposited in the temple, and was found there by Hilkiah.

9. It is possible, as some have thought, that the JE Pentateuchal history may originally have contained a brief account of the testamentary discourses of Moses, and of his death (cf. the fragment, chap.  31:14, 15, 23 ). This would be superseded when  Deuteronomy was united with the rest of the Pentateuch.

10. The historical laws and narratives which  Deuteronomy presupposes must, in some form, have existed earlier than the present book, if not earlier than the delivery of the discourses. These also, therefore, are pushed back, in essentials, into the Mosaic age. They need not, however, have been then completed, or put together in their present shape; or may only have furnished the basis for our present narratives.

The relation of Deuteronomy to the Priestly Writing has yet to be considered.

NOTE. — Steuernagel’s Theory of  Deuteronomy: A word should perhaps be said on the novel theory of  Deuteronomy expounded by C. Steuernagel in his work, Deuteronomium und Josua (1900). Discarding, with much else (as the dependence of  Deuteronomy on the Book of the Covenant), the view of a division of the Book into hortatory and legal portions, Steuernagel contends for a division, as it were transversely, into sections, distinguished respectively by the use of the singular (“thou,” “thy,” etc.) and the plural (“ye,” “your,” etc.) numbers (Sg and Pl). These sections (Pl being itself highly composite) were united in the pre-Josianic period, and subsequently underwent extensive enlargements and redactional changes. It is difficult not to regard this theory as another instance of misplaced ingenuity. The use of singular and plural affords no sufficient ground for distinguishing different authors. The nation addressed as “thou” was also a “ye,” and there is a free transition throughout from the one mode of speech to the other, often within the limits of the same verse or paragraph (cf., e.g.,  Deut. 1:31; 4:10, 11; 25, 26; 34–36; 6:1–3; 17, 18; 8:1, 2; 19, 20; 9:7; 11:12, 13, etc.).

     The Problem of the Old Testament

The Institutes of the Christian Religion

Translated by Henry Beveridge

     CHAPTER 17.


The three leading divisions of this chapter are,--I. A proof from reason and from Scripture that the grace of God and the merit of Christ (the prince and author of our salvation) are perfectly compatible, sec. 1 and 2. II. Christ, by his obedience, even to the death of the cross (which was the price of our redemption), merited divine favour for us, sec. 3-5. III. The presumptuous rashness of the Schoolmen in treating this branch of doctrine.


1. Christ not only the minister, but also the author and prince of salvation. Divine grace not obscured by this mode of expression. The merit of Christ not opposed to the mercy of God, but depends upon it.

2. The compatibility of the two proved by various passages of Scripture.

3. Christ by his obedience truly merited divine grace for us.

4. This grace obtained by the shedding of Christ's blood, and his obedience even unto death.

5. In this way he paid our ransom.

6. The presumptuous manner in which the Schoolmen handle this subject.

1. A question must here be considered by way of supplement. Some men too much given to subtilty, while they admit that we obtain salvation through Christ, will not hear of the name of merit, by which they imagine that the grace of God is obscured; and therefore insist that Christ was only the instrument or minister, not the author or leader, or prince of life, as he is designated by Peter (Acts 3:15). I admit that were Christ opposed simply, and by himself, to the justice of God, there could be no room for merit, because there cannot be found in man a worth which could make God a debtor; nay, as Augustine says most truly, [269] "The Saviour, the man Christ Jesus, is himself the brightest illustration of predestination and grace: his character as such was not procured by any antecedent merit of works or faith in his human nature. Tell me, I pray, how that man, when assumed into unity of person by the Word, co-eternal with the Father, as the only begotten Son at God, could merit this."--"Let the very fountain of grace, therefore, appear in our head, whence, according to the measure of each, it is diffused through all his members. Every man, from the commencement of his faith, becomes a Christian, by the same grace by which that man from his formation became Christ." Again, in another passage, "There is not a more striking example of predestination than the mediator himself. He who made him (without any antecedent merit in his will) of the seed of David a righteous man never to be unrighteous, also converts those who are members of his head from unrighteous into righteous" and so forth. Therefore when we treat of the merit of Christ, we do not place the beginning in him, but we ascend to the ordination of God as the primary cause, because of his mere good pleasure he appointed a Mediator to purchase salvation for us. Hence the merit of Christ is inconsiderately opposed to the mercy of God. It is a well known rule, that principal and accessory are not incompatible, and therefore there is nothing to prevent the justification of man from being the gratuitous result of the mere mercy of God, and, at the same time, to prevent the merit of Christ from intervening in subordination to this mercy. The free favour of God is as fitly opposed to our works as is the obedience of Christ, both in their order: for Christ could not merit anything save by the good pleasure of God, but only inasmuch as he was destined to appease the wrath of God by his sacrifice, and wipe away our transgressions by his obedience: in one word, since the merit of Christ depends entirely on the grace of God (which provided this mode of salvation for us), the latter is no less appropriately opposed to all righteousness of men than is the former.

2. This distinction is found in numerous passages of Scripture: "God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him might not perish," (John 3:16). We see that the first place is assigned to the love of God as the chief cause or origin, and that faith in Christ follows as the second and more proximate cause. Should any one object that Christ is only the formal cause, [270] he lessens his energy more than the words justify. For if we obtain justification by a faith which leans on him, the groundwork of our salvation must be sought in him. This is clearly proved by several passages: "Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins," (1 John 4:10). These words clearly demonstrate that God, in order to remove any obstacle to his love towards us, appointed the method of reconciliation in Christ. There is great force in this word "propitiation"; for in a manner which cannot be expressed, God, at the very time when he loved us, was hostile to us until reconciled in Christ. To this effect are all the following passages: "He is the propitiation for our sins;" "It pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell, and having made peace by the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself;" "God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them;" "He has made us accepted in the Beloved," "That he might reconcile both into one body by the cross." [271] The nature of this mystery is to be learned from the first chapter to the Ephesians, where Paul, teaching that we were chosen in Christ, at the same time adds, that we obtained grace in him. How did God begin to embrace with his favour those whom he had loved before the foundation of the world, unless in displaying his love when he was reconciled by the blood of Christ? As God is the fountain of all righteousness, he must necessarily be the enemy and judge of man so long as he is a sinner. Wherefore, the commencement of love is the bestowing of righteousness, as described by Paul: "He has made him to be sin for us who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him," (2 Cor. 5:21). He intimates, that by the sacrifice of Christ we obtain free justification, and become pleasing to God, though we are by nature the children of wrath, and by sin estranged from him. This distinction is also noted whenever the grace of Christ is connected with the love of God (2 Cor. 13:13); whence it follows, that he bestows upon us of his own which he acquired by purchase. For otherwise there would be no ground for the praise ascribed to him by the Father, that grace is his, and proceeds from him.

3. That Christ, by his obedience, truly purchased and merited grace for us with the Father, is accurately inferred from several passages of Scripture. I take it for granted, that if Christ satisfied for our sins, if he paid the penalty due by us, if he appeased God by his obedience; in fine, if he suffered the just for the unjust, salvation was obtained for us by his righteousness; which is just equivalent to meriting. Now, Paul's testimony is, that we were reconciled, and received reconciliation through his death (Rom. 5:11). But there is no room for reconciliation unless where offence [272] has preceded. The meaning, therefore, is, that God, to whom we were hateful through sin, was appeased by the death of his Son, and made propitious to us. And the antithesis which immediately follows is carefully to be observed, "As by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous," (Rom. 5:19). For the meaning is--As by the sin of Adam we were alienated from God and doomed to destruction, so by the obedience of Christ we are restored to his favour as if we were righteous. The future tense of the verb does not exclude present righteousness, as is apparent from the context. For he had previously said, "the free gift is of many offences unto justification."

4. When we say, that grace was obtained for us by the merit of Christ, our meaning is, that we were cleansed by his blood, that his death was an expiation for sin, "His blood cleanses us from all sin." "This is my blood, which is shed for the remission of sins," (1 John 1:7; Luke 22:20). If the effect of his shed blood is, that our sins are not imputed to us, it follows, that by that price the justice of God was satisfied. To the same effect are the Baptist's words, "Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world," (John 1:29). For he contrasts Christ with all the sacrifices of the Law, showing that in him alone was fulfilled what these figures typified. But we know the common expression in Moses--Iniquity shall be expiated, sin shall be wiped away and forgiven. In short, we are admirably taught by the ancient figures what power and efficacy there is in Christ's death. And the Apostle, skilfully proceeding from this principle, explains the whole matter in the Epistle to the Hebrews, showing that without shedding of blood there is no remission (Heb. 9:22). From this he infers, that Christ appeared once for all to take away sin by the sacrifice of himself. Again, that he was offered to bear the sins of many (Heb. 9:12). He had previously said, that not by the blood of goats or of heifers, but by his own blood, he had once entered into the holy of holies, having obtained eternal redemption for us. Now, when he reasons thus, "If the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh: how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself to God, purge your consciences from dead works to serve the living God?" (Heb. 9:13, 14), it is obvious that too little effect is given to the grace of Christ, unless we concede to his sacrifice the power of expiating, appeasing, and satisfying: as he shortly after adds, "For this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of his death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance," (Heb. 9:15). But it is especially necessary to attend to the analogy which is drawn by Paul as to his having been made a curse for us (Gal. 3:13). It had been superfluous and therefore absurd, that Christ should have been burdened with a curse, had it not been in order that, by paying what others owed, he might acquire righteousness for them. There is no ambiguity in Isaiah's testimony, "He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was laid upon him; and with his stripes we are healed," (Is. 53:5). For had not Christ satisfied for our sins, he could not be said to have appeased God by taking upon himself the penalty which we had incurred. To this corresponds what follows in the same place, "for the transgression of my people was he stricken," (Is. 53:8). We may add the interpretation of Peter, who unequivocally declares, that he "bare our sins in his own body on the tree," (1 Pet. 2:24), that the whole burden of condemnation, of which we were relieved, was laid upon him.

5. The Apostles also plainly declare that he paid a price to ransom us from death: "Being justified freely by his grace, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: whom God has set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood," (Rom. 3:24, 25). Paul commends the grace of God, in that he gave the price of redemption in the death of Christ; and he exhorts us to flee to his blood, that having obtained righteousness, we may appear boldly before the judgment-seat of God. To the same effect are the words of Peter: "Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold," "but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot," (1 Pet. 1:18, 19). The antithesis would be incongruous if he had not by this price made satisfaction for sins. For which reason, Paul says, "Ye are bought with a price." Nor could it be elsewhere said, there is "one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; who gave himself a ransom for all," (1 Tim. 2:5, 6), had not the punishment which we deserved been laid upon him. Accordingly, the same Apostle declares, that "we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins," (Col. 1:14); as if he had said, that we are justified or acquitted before God, because that blood serves the purpose of satisfaction. With this another passage agrees--viz. that he blotted out "the handwriting of ordinances which was against us, which was contrary to us," (Col. 2:14). These words denote the payment or compensation which acquits us from guilt. There is great weight also in these words of Paul: "If righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain," (Gal. 2:21). For we hence infer, that it is from Christ we must seek what the Law would confer on any one who fulfilled it; or, which is the same thing, that by the grace of Christ we obtain what God promised in the Law to our works: "If a man do, he shall live in them," (Lev. 18:5). This is no less clearly taught in the discourse at Antioch, when Paul declares, "That through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins; and by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses," (Acts 13:38, 39). For if the observance of the Law is righteousness, who can deny that Christ, by taking this burden upon himself, and reconciling us to God, as if we were the observers of the Law, merited favour for us? Of the same nature is what he afterwards says to the Galatians: "God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law," (Gal. 4:4, 5). For to what end that subjection, unless that he obtained justification for us by undertaking to perform what we were unable to pay? Hence that imputation of righteousness without works, of which Paul treats (Rom. 4:5), the righteousness found in Christ alone being accepted as if it were ours. And certainly the only reason why Christ is called our "meat," (John 6:55), is because we find in him the substance of life. And the source of this efficacy is just that the Son of God was crucified as the price of our justification; as Paul says, Christ "has given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling savour," (Eph. 5:2); and elsewhere, he "was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification," (Rom. 4:25). Hence it is proved not only that salvation was given us by Christ, but that on account of him the Father is now propitious to us. For it cannot be doubted that in him is completely fulfilled what God declares by Isaiah under a figure, "I will defend this city to save it for mine own sakes and for my servant David's sake," (Isaiah 37:35). Of this the Apostle is the best witness when he says "Your sins are forgiven you for his name's sake," (1 John 2:12). For although the name of Christ is not expressed, John, in his usual manner, designates him by the pronoun "He," (aujtov"). In the same sense also our Lord declares, "As the living Father has sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me," (John 6:57). To this corresponds the passage of Paul, "Unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for his sake," (Phil. 1:29).

6. To inquire, as Lombard and the Schoolmen do (Sent. Lib. 3 Dist. 18), whether he merited for himself, is foolish curiosity. Equally rash is their decision when they answer in the affirmative. How could it be necessary for the only Son of God to come down in order to acquire some new quality for himself? The exposition which God gives of his own purpose removes all doubt. The Father is not said to have consulted the advantage of his Son in his services, but to have given him up to death, and not spared him, because he loved the world (Rom. 8). The prophetical expressions should be observed: "To us a Son is born;" "Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion: shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee," (Isaiah 9:6; Zech. 9:9). It would otherwise be a cold commendation of love which Paul describes, when he says, "God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us," (Rom. 5:8). Hence, again, we infer that Christ had no regard to himself; and this he distinctly affirms, when he says, "For their sakes I sanctify myself," (John 17:19). He who transfers the benefit of his holiness to others, testifies that he acquires nothing for himself. And surely it is most worthy of remark, that Christ, in devoting himself entirely to our salvation, in a manner forgot himself. It is absurd to wrest the testimony of Paul to a different effect: "Wherefore God has highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name," (Phil. 2:9). [273] By what services could a man merit to become the judge of the world, the head of angels, to obtain the supreme government of God, and become the residence of that majesty of which all the virtues of men and angels cannot attain one thousandth part? The solution is easy and complete. Paul is not speaking of the cause of Christ's exaltation, but only pointing out a consequence of it by way of example to us. The meaning is not much different from that of another passage: "Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory?" (Luke 24:26).



[269] August. de Prædest. Sanct. Lib. 1 c. 15; De Bono Perseverantia, cap. ult. See supra, chapter 14 sec. 7.

[270] The French adds, "C'est a dire, qui n'emporte en soy vrai effect;"--that is to say, which in itself produces no true effect.

[271] 1 John 2:2; Col. 1:19, 20; 2 Cor. 5:19; Eph. 1:6; 2:16.

[272] French, "Offense, haine, divorce;"--offence, hatred, divorce.

[273] The sentence stands thus in the French:--"Les Sorbonnistes pervertissent le passage de S. Paul, l'appliquans a ce propos c'est que pource que Jesus Christ s'est humilié, le Pere l'a exalté et lui donné un nom souverain:"--The Sorbonnists pervert the passage of St Paul, and apply it in this way--that because Christ humbled himself, the Father exalted him, and gave him a sovereign name.



     Christian Classics Ethereal Library / Public Domain

     Institutes of the Christian Religion

Why Evolutionary "Just So" Stories Fail

By Sean McDowell 9/28/2016

     During my graduate philosophy work at Talbot, I took an independent study on Darwinism and intelligent design. My guiding professor, Dr. Garry Deweese, had me read books on both sides of the debate, including Darwin’s Dangerous Idea by Daniel Dennett and The Blind Watchmaker by Richard Dawkins.

     It was during this study that I began to understand the concept of a “just-so” story, and it has stuck with me ever since. Essentially, to save the Darwinian paradigm, Darwinists sometimes come up with logically possible, but evidentially unsubstantiated stories to account for some recalcitrant feature in the natural world (yes, Christian apologists can sometimes be accused of doing the same thing to explain apparent contradictions in the Bible. But that is a story for another time).

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Books By Sean McDowell

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

Read The Psalms In "1" Year

Psalm 22

Why Have You Forsaken Me?
22 To The Choirmaster. According To The Doe Of The Dawn. A Psalm Of David.

19 But you, O LORD, do not be far off!
O you my help, come quickly to my aid!
20 Deliver my soul from the sword,
my precious life from the power of the dog!
21 Save me from the mouth of the lion!
You have rescued me from the horns of the wild oxen!

22 I will tell of your name to my brothers;
in the midst of the congregation I will praise you:
23 You who fear the LORD, praise him!
All you offspring of Jacob, glorify him,
and stand in awe of him, all you offspring of Israel!
24 For he has not despised or abhorred
the affliction of the afflicted,
and he has not hidden his face from him,
but has heard, when he cried to him.

ESV Study Bible

Exodus 4

By Don Carson 2/21/2018

     In Exodus 4 two elements introduce complex developments that stretch forward to the rest of the Bible.

     The first is the reason God gives as to why Pharaoh will not be impressed by the miracles that Moses performs. God declares, “I will harden his heart so that he will not let the people go” (4:21). During the succeeding chapters, the form of expression varies: not only “I will harden Pharaoh’s heart” (7:3), but also “Pharaoh’s heart became hard” or “was hard” (7:13, 22; 8:19, etc.) and “he hardened his heart” (8:15, 32, etc). No simple pattern is discernible in these references. On the one hand, we cannot say that the pattern works up from “Pharaoh hardened his heart” to “Pharaoh’s heart was hardened” to “God hardened Pharaoh’s heart” (as if God’s hardening were nothing more than the divine judicial confirmation of a pattern the man had chosen for himself); on the other hand, we cannot say that the pattern simply works down from “God hardened Pharaoh’s heart” to “Pharaoh’s heart was hardened” to “Pharaoh hardened his heart” (as if Pharaoh’s self-imposed hardening was nothing more than the inevitable out-working of the divine decree).

     Three observations may shed some light on these texts. (a) Granted the Bible’s storyline so far, the assumption is that Pharaoh is already a wicked person. In particular, he has enslaved the covenant people of God. God has not hardened a morally neutral man; he has pronounced judgment on a wicked man. Hell itself is a place where repentance is no longer possible. God’s hardening has the effect of imposing that sentence a little earlier than usual. (b) In all human actions, God is never completely passive: this is a theistic universe, such that “God hardens Pharaoh’s heart” and “Pharaoh hardened his own heart,” far from being disjunctive statements, are mutually complementary. (c) This is not the only passage where this sort of thing is said. See, for instance, 1 Kings 22; Ezekiel 14:9; and above all 2 Thessalonians 2:11-12: “For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness.”

     The second forward-looking element is the “son” terminology: “Israel is my firstborn son, and I told you, ‘Let my son go, so he may worship me.’ But you refused to let him go; so I will kill your firstborn son” (Ex. 4:22-23). This first reference to Israel as the son of God develops into a pulsating typology that embraces the Davidic king as the son par excellence, and results in Jesus, the ultimate Son of God, the true Israel and the messianic King.

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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).

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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

     For they say, that now he is so in the affections of his Prince, that his Sovereign is so much concerned with the indignities that were cast upon Christian when he became a pilgrim, that he will look upon all as if done unto himself,

Luke 10:16 “The one who hears you hears me, and the one who rejects you rejects me, and the one who rejects me rejects him who sent me.”   ESV

and no marvel, for it was for the love that he had to his Prince that he ventured as he did.

     I dare say, quoth I; I am glad on’t; I am glad for the poor man’s sake, for that now he has rest from his labor, and for that he now reapeth the benefit of his tears with joy; and for that he has got beyond the gun-shot of his enemies, and is out of the reach of them that hate him.

Rev. 14:13 And I heard a voice from heaven saying, “Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.” “Blessed indeed,” says the Spirit, “that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them!”   ESV

Psa. 126:5-6 Those who sow in tears
shall reap with shouts of joy!
6 He who goes out weeping,
bearing the seed for sowing,
shall come home with shouts of joy,
bringing his sheaves with him.

I also am glad for that a rumor of these things is noised abroad in this country; who can tell but that it may work some good effect on some that are left behind? But pray, sir, while it is fresh in my mind, do you hear anything of his wife and children? Poor hearts! I wonder in my mind what they do.

     SAG. Who? Christiana and her sons? They are like to do as well as Christian did himself; for though they all played the fool at first, and would by no means be persuaded by either the tears or entreaties of Christian, yet second thoughts have wrought wonderfully with them: so they have packed up, and are also gone after him. Better and better, quoth I: but, what! wife and children, and all?

     SAG. It is true: I can give you an account of the matter, for I was upon the spot at the instant, and was thoroughly acquainted with the whole affair.

     Then, said I, a man, it seems, may report it for a truth.

     SAG. You need not fear to affirm it: I mean, that they are all gone on pilgrimage, both the good woman and her four boys. And being we are, as I perceive, going some considerable way together, I will give you an account of the whole matter.

     This Christiana, (for that was her name from the day that she with her children betook themselves to a pilgrim’s life,) after her husband was gone over the river, and she could hear of him no more, her thoughts began to work in her mind. First, for that she had lost her husband, and for that the loving bond of that relation was utterly broken betwixt them. For you know, said he to me, nature can do no less but entertain the living with many a heavy cogitation, in the remembrance of the loss of loving relations. This, therefore, of her husband did cost her many a tear. But this was not all; for Christiana did also begin to consider with herself, whether her unbecoming behavior towards her husband was not one cause that she saw him no more, and that in such sort he was taken away from her. And upon this came into her mind, by swarms, all her unkind, unnatural, and ungodly carriage to her dear friend; which also clogged her conscience, and did load her with guilt. She was, moreover, much broken with recalling to remembrance the restless groans, brinish tears, and self-bemoanings of her husband, and how she did harden her heart against all his entreaties and loving persuasions of her and her sons to go with him; yea, there was not any thing that Christian either said to her, or did before her, all the while that his burden did hang on his back, but it returned upon her like a flash of lightning, and rent the caul of her heart in sunder; especially that bitter outcry of his, “What shall I do to be saved?” did ring in her ears most dolefully.

     Then said she to her children, Sons, we are all undone. I have sinned away your father, and he is gone: he would have had us with him, but I would not go myself: I also have hindered you of life. With that the boys fell into tears, and cried out to go after their father. Oh, said Christiana, that it had been but our lot to go with him! then had it fared well with us, beyond what it is like to do now. For, though I formerly foolishly imagined, concerning the troubles of your father, that they proceeded of a foolish fancy that he had, or for that he was overrun with melancholy humors; yet now it will not out of my mind, but that they sprang from another cause; to wit, for that the light of life was given him,

James 1:23–25 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. 24 For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. 25 But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.   ESV

John 8:12 Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”   ESV

by the help of which, as I perceive, he has escaped the snares of death.

Prov. 14:The fear of the LORD is a fountain of life,
that one may turn away from the snares of death.

Then they all wept again, and cried out, Oh, woe worth the day!

     The next night Christiana had a dream; and, behold, she saw as if a broad parchment was opened before her, in which were recorded the sum of her ways; and the crimes, as she thought looked very black upon her. Then she cried out aloud in her sleep, “Lord, have mercy upon me a sinner!”

Luke 18:13 But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’   ESV

and the little children heard her.

     After this she thought she saw two very ill-favored ones standing by her bedside, and saying, What shall we do with this woman? for she cries out for mercy, waking and sleeping: if she be suffered to go on as she begins, we shall lose her as we have lost her husband. Wherefore we must, by one way or other, seek to take her off from the thoughts of what shall be hereafter, else all the world cannot help but she will become a pilgrim.

     Now she awoke in a great sweat, also a trembling was upon her: but after a while she fell to sleeping again. And then she thought she saw Christian, her husband, in a place of bliss among many immortals, with a harp in his hand, standing and playing upon it before One that sat on a throne with a rainbow about his head. She saw also, as if he bowed his head with his face to the paved work that was under his Prince’s feet, saying, “I heartily thank my Lord and King for bringing me into this place.” Then shouted a company of them that stood round about, and harped with their harps; but no man living could tell what they said but Christian and his companions.

     Next morning, when she was up, had prayed to God, and talked with her children a while, one knocked hard at the door; to whom she spake out, saying, “If thou comest in God’s name, come in.” So he said, “Amen;” and opened the door, and saluted her with, “Peace be to this house.” The which when he had done, he said, “Christiana, knowest thou wherefore I am come?” Then she blushed and trembled; also her heart began to wax warm with desires to know from whence he came, and what was his errand to her. So he said unto her, “My name is Secret; I dwell with those that are on high. It is talked of where I dwell as if thou hadst a desire to go thither: also there is a report that thou art aware of the evil thou hast formerly done to thy husband, in hardening of thy heart against his way, and in keeping of these babes in their ignorance. Christiana, the Merciful One has sent me to tell thee, that he is a God ready to forgive, and that he taketh delight to multiply the pardon of offences. He also would have thee to know, that he inviteth thee to come into his presence, to his table, and that he will feed thee with the fat of his house, and with the heritage of Jacob thy father.

     “There is Christian, thy husband that was, with legions more, his companions, ever beholding that face that doth minister life to beholders; and they will all be glad when they shall hear the sound of thy feet step over thy Father’s threshold.”

     Christiana at this was greatly abashed in herself, and bowed her head to the ground. This visitor proceeded, and said, “Christiana, here is also a letter for thee, which I have brought from thy husband’s King.” So she took it, and opened it, but it smelt after the manner of the best perfume.

Song 1:your anointing oils are fragrant;
your name is oil poured out;
therefore virgins love you.

Also it was written in letters of gold. The contents of the letter were these, That the King would have her to do as did Christian her husband; for that was the way to come to his city, and to dwell in his presence with joy for ever. At this the good woman was quite overcome; so she cried out to her visitor, Sir, will you carry me and my children with you, that we also may go and worship the King?

     Then said the visitor, Christiana, the bitter is before the sweet. Thou must through troubles, as did he that went before thee, enter this Celestial City. Wherefore I advise thee to do as did Christian thy husband: go to the Wicket-gate yonder, over the plain, for that stands at the head of the way up which thou must go; and I wish thee all good speed. Also I advise that thou put this letter in thy bosom, that thou read therein to thyself and to thy children until you have got it by heart; for it is one of the songs that thou must sing while thou art in this house of thy pilgrimage,

Psalm 119:54 Your statutes have been my songs
in the house of my sojourning.

also this thou must deliver in at the further gate.

     Now I saw in my dream, that this old gentleman, as he told me the story, did himself seem to be greatly affected therewith. He moreover proceeded, and said, So Christiana called her sons together, and began thus to address herself unto them: “My sons, I have, as you may perceive, been of late under much exercise in my soul about the death of your father: not for that I doubt at all of his happiness, for I am satisfied now that he is well. I have also been much affected with the thoughts of my own state and yours, which I verily believe is by nature miserable. My carriage also to your father in his distress is a great load to my conscience; for I hardened both mine own heart and yours against him, and refused to go with him on pilgrimage.

     The thoughts of these things would now kill me outright, but that for a dream which I had last night, and but that for the encouragement which this stranger has given me this morning. Come, my children, let us pack up, and begone to the gate that leads to the Celestial country, that we may see your father, and be with him and his companions in peace, according to the laws of that land.

     Then did her children burst out into tears, for joy that the heart of their mother was so inclined. So their visitor bid them farewell; and they began to prepare to set out for their journey.

     But while they were thus about to be gone, two of the women that were Christiana’s neighbors came up to her house, and knocked at her door. To whom she said as before, If you come in God’s name, come in. At this the women were stunned; for this kind of language they used not to hear, or to perceive to drop from the lips of Christiana. Yet they came in: but behold, they found the good woman preparing to be gone from her house.

     So they began, and said, Neighbor, pray what is your meaning by this?

     Christiana answered, and said to the eldest of them, whose name was Mrs. Timorous, I am preparing for a journey.

     This Timorous was daughter to him that met Christian upon the Hill of Difficulty, and would have had him go back for fear of the lions.

     TIM. For what journey, I pray you?

     CHR. Even to go after my good husband. And with that she fell a weeping.

     TIM. I hope not so, good neighbor; pray, for your poor children’s sake, do not so unwomanly cast away yourself.

     CHR. Nay, my children shall go with me; not one of them is willing to stay behind.

     TIM. I wonder in my very heart what or who has brought you into this mind!

     CHR. O neighbor, knew you but as much as I do, I doubt not but that you would go along with me.

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

Wellhausen’s Reconstruction of Hebrew History in the Preprophetic and Prophetic Period (cont)

By Gleason Archer Jr.

     This is the verdict of history: only Israel appeared with a monotheistic religion on a national basis. This is a fact that demands a reasonable explanation in face of the utter contrast which the Hebrew nation presented to all its ancient neighbors. It does not reduce the difficulty to hypothecate a polytheistic origin for Israel’s religion, for this only accentuates the problem of explaining how in Israel — and only in Israel — polytheism gave way to monotheism. (Since both the Christian faith and the Islamic religion developed directly from Hebrew monotheism, they furnish no exception to the uniqueness of Israel’s religion.) So far as this writer is aware, there is no other reasonable explanation of this fact except that which is given by the Old Testament itself, that Israel derived this monotheistic faith by direct revelation from God. It was no product of the natural Hebrew “genius for religion” (as is often asserted), for the Scripture record witnesses rather to the natural Hebrew genius for irreligion and apostasy. It attests the readiness of the ancient Israelites to adopt the polytheism of their heathen neighbors and forsake their covenant relationship with Jehovah. At least until the time of the Exile (587 B.C.), the Hebrew Scriptures themselves affirm that the ten northern tribes first, and then the two tribes of the Southern Kingdom, were constantly straying off into the worship of degenerate foreign deities and attempting to break away from God’s revealed Word. The fact that they did not permanently fall away is uniformly represented as being due to the hindering power of God’s grace and of His continued message to them through the prophets.

The Preprophetic Period According to Wellhausen

     Following the guiding principles of comparative religions, it was possible for the architects of the Documentary Hypothesis to “discover” traces of lower religion in the faith of primitive Israel. Animism, for example, shimmers through the account of Jacob’s sleeping on a stone pillow at Bethel (  Gen. 28:18 ); of course this stone was actually a cult object, somewhat like the sacred Black Stone of the Kaabah in Mecca. Stone worship must also lie behind the account of the cairn erected by Jacob and Laban in Gilead (  Gen. 31:47 ). Did not the idolatrous Canaanites set up a stone pillar beside their altars on the high places, in the belief that the local Baal would reside in that stone, and sally forth to feast upon their sacrifices? The fact that idolatrous Israelites followed the same practice when they took over the high places from the Canaanites testifies to their adherence to stone worship even in the last stages of the Divided Monarchy.

     As for tree worship, even the idealized figure of Abraham, if he ever really existed (and some critics, like Noldeke, were prepared to question this), had faith in sacred trees. Witness the reference to his sojourning by the “terebinth of Moreh” in  Gen. 12:6. (Mōreh in this case would signify teacher, from hōrah, to “teach,” because the devout could hear the tree speak to them by the rustling of its leaves — just like the oaks of Zeus at Dodona.) Later on we find him setting up his headquarters by the “oaks of Mamre” in  Gen. 14:13; he must have worshiped these trees also. In post-Mosaic times we have the significant instance of the prophetess Deborah, who made her headquarters by a sacred palm tree (  Judg. 4:5 ). Other traces of animism are found in the legislation attributed to Moses. For example,  Ex. 20:25 provides that any altar erected to Yahweh must be made of unhewn stone. Why unhewn? To avoid the possibility of engraving cult symbols on the altar (as we might naturally infer after a command against graven images), or was it to obviate offending the daemon who was superstitiously supposed to inhabit the stone in its natural, unhewn state? To comparative religionists, of course, only the latter explanation would commend itself. Likewise also in the injunction in  Lev. 19:9 to avoid mowing or gleaning the comers of the wheat field, the original reason was to avoid giving offense to the vegetable spirit who was believed to reside in the standing grain; the ostensible reason given in P (to afford a little free grain for the destitute of the community) was a later refinement.

     As for idolatry, the Documentary reconstruction of Hebrew history could find abundant evidence that the religion of early Israel was both idolatrous and polytheistic. We may feel certain, according to these critics, that the worship of the golden calf (  Ex. 32 ) was endorsed by Moses (especially if we regard the image as a cultic representation of Yahweh Himself). Otherwise there would have been an energetic protest made in 930 B.C. when Jeroboam I of Israel set up the calf images at Bethel and Dan — a measure to which he never would have resorted had there been any written Mosaic law forbidding idolatry. It was only later, under the influence of the new monotheistic prophetic school of the E period (and later on with the Priestly School, of course), that the original tradition was so altered as to make Moses disapprove of this calf worship, and the later invented figure of Aaron is charged with responsibility for having fashioned it in the first place. It is alleged that Elijah failed to utter any condemnation of these calves of Jeroboam (ca. 860–850 B.C.), showing that he was not scandalized by Jehovah worship carried on with the aid of images (but see  1 Kings 18:18, “I have not troubled Israel, but you and your father’s house, in that you have forsaken the commandments of the Lord and have followed Baalim,” whose worship always involved praying to the idol of Baal). But otherwise, since we have virtually no record of Elijah’s preaching preserved to us, this is a very questionable assertion to make. We certainly do have a record of an outright condemnation of the image and altar of Jeroboam at Bethel by an anonymous Jewish prophet of an earlier generation than Elijah’s, according to  1 Kings 13. It is claimed that not even Amos himself condemned the calves. Yet this assertion runs counter to the condemnation of the Ephraimite cultus found in  Amos 3:14, “On the day that I punish Israel’s transgressions, I will also punish the altars of Bethel; The horns of the altar will be cut off” (NASB). As for the brazen serpent of Moses (  Num. 21:8–9 ), preserved until Hezekiah’s time in the national sanctuary (cf.  2 Kings 18:4 ), the Wellhausen school felt confident that this was a perfectly respected idol of the serpent-god, patron of the tribe of Levi, until the eighth century, when the prophetic monotheistic party gained dominance in Judah, and Hezekiah had it destroyed. But this is mere conjecture devoid of any objective evidence.

     The same critics feel certain that infant sacrifice was sanctioned by the primitive faith of early Israel. The provision of  Ex. 22:29 (J-E) that a firstborn son must be redeemed by a special offering presupposes that originally firstborn sons were sacrificed on the altar, just like the firstlings of the livestock. Not until the time of D (it is claimed) was a clear distinction made between the two. (Yet compare  Ex. 13:1–2, a P passage, where no clearer distinction is made between firstborn sons and firstlings than in  Ex. 22:29. ) The perfectly reasonable principle enunciated by the Hebrew text, that God challenged a special propriety in the firstborn because of His having protected all the Hebrew firstborn during the night of the Passover, is ignored completely as a mere “priestly” rationalization.

     Early Israel, according to these critics, had no written laws at all (even though the Sumerians, Babylonians, Assyrians, and Hittites codified their laws as early as the time of Moses or earlier), and the oldest legislation preserved to us in the Torah is the so-called ritual decalogue of J, in  Ex. 34:11–26. Aside from the fact that this passage begins without any introductory formula as a decalogue, and that it really contains not ten commandments but eight, it remains extremely unlikely that the fundamental written law of the Hebrew people (as late as 850 B.C.) should omit all sanctions against murder, adultery, larceny, fraud, and dishonor to parents. Yet, none of these offenses is mentioned in this so-called decalogue. It should be observed that stringent provisions on nearly all these subjects were codified in the Babylonian Code of Hammurabi (ca. 1750 B.C.) as well as in the Hittite and Sumerian codes. Chapter 125 of the Egyptian Book of the Dead lists virtually all these crimes in the negative confessions which the deceased was expected to make before the assembled judgment-gods of the netherworld. Is it credible that only the Hebrews were too backward to condemn such sins, when those pagan neighbors with whom they were most closely associated had written condemnation of them in their legal and religious literature for nearly fifteen hundred years previously? (The main nucleus of the Book of the Dead was at least that early.) This would seem to put too great a strain upon the credulity of even the most partisan devotees of scientific naturalism if they were to pay any attention at all to such flimsy arguments based upon mere Hegelian dialetic.

     A Survey of Old Testament Introduction

The Continual Burnt Offering

By H.A. Ironside - 1941

February 21
2 Samuel 3:33 And the king lamented for Abner, saying,

“Should Abner die as a fool dies?  ESV

     It was David who asked the question as he lamented the treachery of Joab in slaying Abner at the very time that the former captain of Saul’s host had yielded allegiance to him whom God had made king in Saul’s place. And the answer to the question must be in the affirmative. Abner did die as a fool dies. He had slain Asahel the brother of Joab, much against his own will, but in order to save his life. He was guilty of manslaughter. Joab was the avenger of blood. Hebron was a city of refuge. Abner was entitled to asylum there, but he left the place of safety to go out and discuss matters with Joab who treacherously slew him. Thus he died because he failed to avail himself of the protection that God had provided for him. Alas, how many there are who take the same foolish course!  Christ is the only city of refuge today.  Those who flee to Him find shelter from the avenger. Apart from Him there is no safety.

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 1:8 For we do not want you to be unaware, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. 9 Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death.  But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God  who raises the dead.

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.

Hail, sovereign love, which first began
The scheme to rescue fallen man!
Hail, matchless, free, eternal grace,
Which gave my soul a Hiding Place!

Should sevenfold storms of thunder roll,
And shake this globe from pole to pole,
No thunderbolt shall daunt my face,
For Jesus is my Hiding Place.

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

  • Witnessing Women
    Doubting Disciples
  • Christ: Living Expositor
    1 Luke 24:13-32
  • Living Expositor
    2 Luke 24:13-32

     Devotionals, notes, poetry and more

UCB The Word For Today
     Where are you living today?
     2/21/2018    Bob Gass

     ‘To Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think…be glory…forever.’

(Eph 3:20–21) 20 Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. ESV

     Israel’s journey from Egypt to the Promised Land illustrates three different places you can choose to live: 1) The place of ‘not enough’. As slaves in Egypt they were forced to depend on Pharaoh for everything. And when you have to keep relying on anyone but God, you’re not truly free. Until you understand that God is your provider, you’ll live with a ‘not enough’ mentality. Elijah was living by a stream in the middle of a famine, and ravens brought him meat each day. Then one day the ravens didn’t show up, and the brook dried up. Why? God dried up a temporary source to drive Elijah back to his true source. Understand this: regardless of what or whom He uses – God is your source. He is called ‘Jehovah Jireh’, which means ‘the Lord will provide’. 2) The place of ‘just enough’. In the wilderness Israel had just enough manna for each day. It’s no fun struggling to just get by. But we appreciate what we have to struggle for, and we learn to trust God more. Plus, living through such seasons builds into us a tenacity to keep moving towards better things. 3) The place of ‘more than enough’. God’s plan for Israel was ‘a land in which you…will lack nothing’ (Deuteronomy 8:9 NKJV). And His goal for you is abundance in every area of life (see 2 Corinthians 9:8 NIV). Is that so you can hoard it? No, it’s so you can bless others and fulfil your assignment in life. So, stand on this Scripture: ‘To Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us…be glory…forever.’

(Dt 8:9) a land in which you will eat bread without scarcity, in which you will lack nothing, a land whose stones are iron, and out of whose hills you can dig copper. ESV

(2 Co 9:8) And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work ESV

Leviticus 15-16
Matthew 27:1-26

UCB The Word For Today

American Minute
     by Bill Federer

     Washington’s birthday and Lincoln’s birthday were celebrated in the month of February throughout the United States, but in 1971, in order to honor all Presidents, Richard Nixon declared the third Monday in February as “Presidents Day.” Of note is that every President swore into office with their hand upon a Bible, ended their oath with the phrase “So help me God,” and acknowledged a Supreme Being in their address upon assuming the Presidency. Eisenhower, Reagan and Bush are among those who included a prayer in their Inaugural Addresses.

American Minute

A Testament Of Devotion
     Thomas R. Kelly

     When we are drowned in the overwhelming seas of the love of God, we find ourselves in a new and particular relation to a few of our fellows. The relation is so surprising and so rich that we despair of finding a word glorious enough and weighty enough to name it. The word Fellowship is discovered, but the word is pale and thin in comparison with the rich volume and luminous bulk and warmth of the experience which it would designate. For a new kind of life sharing and of love has arisen of which we had had only dim hints before. Are these the bonds of love which knit together the early Christians, the very warp and woof of the Kingdom of God? In glad amazement and wonder we enter upon a relationship which we had not known the world contained for the sons of men. Why should such bounty be given to unworthy men like ourselves?

     By no means is every one of our friends seen in this new and special light. A wholly new alignment of our personal relations appears. Some men and women whom we have never known before, or whom we have noticed only as a dim background for our more special friendships, suddenly loom large, step forward in our attention as men and women whom we now know to the depths. Our earlier conversations with these persons may have been few and brief, but now we know them, as it were, from within. For we discern that their lives are already down within that Center which has found us. And we hunger for their fellowship, with a profound, insistent craving which will not be denied.

     Other acquaintances recede in significance; we know now that our relationships with them have always been nearer the surface of life. Many years of happy comradeship and common adventures we may have had together, but now we know that, at bottom, we have never been together in the deep silences of the Center, and that we never can be together, there where the light of Eternity shines still and bright. For until they, too, have become wholly God-en­thralled, Light-centered, they can be only good acquaintances with whom we pass the time of day. A yearning over them may set in, because of their dimness of vision, but the eye-to-eye relationship of love which binds together those who live in the Center is reserved for a smaller number. Drastically and re-creatively, Fellowship searches friendships, burning, dissolving, ennobling, transfiguring them in Heaven's glowing fire.

     Not only do our daily friendships become realigned; our religious friends are also seen anew. Many impressions of worth are confirmed, others are reversed. Some of the most active church leaders, well-known for their executive efficiency, people we have always admired, are shown, in the X-ray light of Eternity, to be agitated, half-committed, wistful, self-placating seekers, to whom the poise and serenity of the Everlasting have never come. The inexhaustible self-giving of others of our religious acquaintances we now understand, for the Eternal Love kindles an ardent and persistent readiness to do all things for, as well as through, Christ who strengthens us. In some we regret a well-intentioned, but feverish over-busyness, not completely grounded in the depths of peace, and we wish they would not blur the beauty of their souls by fast motion. Others, who may not have been effective speakers or weighty financiers or charming conversationalists or members of prominent families are found to be men and women on whom the dews of heaven have fallen indeed, who live continuously in the Center and who, in mature appreciation, understand our leaping heart and unbounded enthusiasm for God. And although they are not commissioned to any earthly office, yet they welcome us authoritatively into the Fellowship of Love.

A Testament of Devotion

Lean Into God
     Compiled by Richard S. Adams

Love always involves responsibility,
and love always involves sacrifice.
And we do not really love Christ
unless we are prepared to face His task
and to take up His Cross.
--- William Barclay

In all my perplexities and distresses,
the Bible has never failed
to give me light and strength.
--- Robert E. Lee

Give fools their gold, and knaves their power;
let fortune's bubbles rise and fall;
who sows a field, or trains a flower,
or plants a tree, is more than all.
--- John Greenleaf Whittier

The Holy Bible is not only great but is highly explosive literature. It works in strange ways and no living man can tell or know how the book in its journeying through the world has started an individual soul 10,000 different places into a new life, a new belief, a new conception, and a new faith.
--- Katherine Lee Bates (She wrote America The Beautiful)

... from here, there and everywhere

Journal of John Woolman 2/21
     University of Virginia Library 1994

     In the winter this year I was engaged with friends in visiting families, and through the goodness of the Lord we often-times experienced his heart-tendering presence amongst us.

     A Copy of a Letter written to a Friend

     "In this, thy late affliction, I have found a deep fellow-feeling with thee, and have had a secret hope throughout that it might please the Father of Mercies to raise thee up and sanctify thy troubles to thee; that thou being more fully acquainted with that way which the world esteems foolish, mayst feel the clothing of Divine fortitude, and be strengthened to resist that spirit which leads from the simplicity of the everlasting truth.

     "We may see ourselves crippled and halting, and from a strong bias to things pleasant and easy find an impossibility to advance forward; but things impossible with men are possible with God; and our wills being made subject to his, all temptations are surmountable.

     "This work of subjecting the will is compared to the mineral in the furnace, which, through fervent heat, is reduced from its first principle: 'He refines them as silver is refined; he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver.' By these comparisons we are instructed in the necessity of the melting operation of the hand of God upon us, to prepare our hearts truly to adore him, and manifest that adoration by inwardly turning away from that spirit, in all its workings, which is not of him. To forward this work the all-wise God is sometimes pleased, through outward distress, to bring us near the gates of death; that life being painful and afflicting, and the prospect of eternity opened before us, all earthly bonds may be loosened, and the mind prepared for that deep and sacred instruction which otherwise would not be received. If kind parents love their children and delight in their happiness, then he who is perfect goodness in sending abroad mortal contagions doth assuredly direct their use. Are the righteous removed by it? Their change is happy. Are the wicked taken away in their wickedness? The Almighty is clear. Do we pass through with anguish and great bitterness, and yet recover? He intends that we should be purged from dross, and our ear opened to discipline.

     "And now, as thou art again restored, after thy sore affliction and doubts of recovery, forget not Him who hath helped thee, but in humble gratitude hold fast his instructions, and thereby shun those by-paths which lead from the firm foundation. I am sensible of that variety of company to which one in thy business must be exposed; I have painfully felt the force of conversation proceeding from men deeply rooted in an earthly mind, and can sympathize with others in such conflicts, because much weakness still attends me.

     "I find that to be a fool as to worldly wisdom, and to commit my cause to God, not fearing to offend men, who take offence at the simplicity of truth, is the only way to remain unmoved at the sentiments of others.

     "The fear of man brings a snare. By halting in our duty, and giving back in the time of trial, our hands grow weaker, our spirits get mingled with the people, our ears grow dull as to hearing the language of the true Shepherd, so that when we look at the way of the righteous, it seems as though it was not for us to follow them.

     "A love clothes my mind while I write, which is superior to all expression; and I find my heart open to encourage to a holy emulation, to advance forward in Christian firmness. Deep humility is a strong bulwark, and as we enter into it we find safety and true exaltation. The foolishness of God is wiser than man, and the weakness of God is stronger than man. Being unclothed of our own wisdom, and knowing the abasement of the creature, we find that power to arise which gives health and vigor to us."

     1. This pamphlet was published by Benjamin Franklin,1754.

     2. He seems to have regarded agriculture as the business most conducive to moral and physical health. He thought "if the leadings of the Spirit were more attended to, more people would be engaged in the sweet employment of husbandry, where labor is agreeable and healthful." He does not condemn the honest acquisition of wealth in other business free from oppression; even "merchandising," he thought, might be carried on innocently and in pure reason. Christ does not forbid the laying up of a needful support for family and friends; the command is, "Lay not up for YOURSELVES treasures on earth." From his little farm on the Rancocas he looked out with a mingled feeling of wonder and sorrow upon the hurry and unrest of the world; and especially was he pained to see luxury and extravagance overgrowing the early plainness and simplicity of his own religious society. He regarded the merely rich man with unfeigned pity. With nothing of his scorn he had all of Thoreau's commiseration, for people who went about bowed down with the weight of broad acres and great houses on their backs. -- Note in edition published byMessrs. Houghton Mifflin and Co.

John Woolman's Journal

Proverbs 10:27-30
     by D.H. Stern

27     The fear of ADONAI adds length to life,
but the years of the wicked are cut short.
28     What the righteous hope for will end in joy;
what the wicked expect will come to nothing.
29     The way of ADONAI is a stronghold to the upright
but ruin to those who do evil.
30     The righteous will never be moved,
but the wicked will not remain in the land.

Complete Jewish Bible : An English Version of the Tanakh (Old Testament) and B'Rit Hadashah (New Testament)
     The Pulpit Commentary


     The manners, customs, institutions, and general mode of life described in the book are such as belong especially to the times which are commonly called “patriarchal.” The pastoral descriptions have the genuine air of the wild, free, vigorous life of the desert. The city life (ch. 29.) is exactly that of the earliest settled communities, with councils of grey-bearded elders, judges in the gate (ch. 29:7), the chieftain at once judge and warrior (ch. 29:25), yet with written indictments (ch. 31:35) and settled forms of legal procedure (ch. 9:33; 17:3; 31:28). The civilization, if such it may be called, is of the primitive type, with rock-inscriptions (ch. 9:24), mining such as was practised by the Egyptians in the Sinaitic peninsula from B.C. 2000, great buildings, ruined sepulchres, tombs watched over by sculptured figures of the dead (ch. 21:32). The historical allusions touch nothing of a recent date, but only such ancient things as the Pyramids (ch. 3:14), the apostasy of Nimrod (ch. 9:9), the Flood (ch. 22:16), the destruction of the “cities of the plain” (ch. 18:15), and the like; they include no mention—not the faintest hint—of any of the great events of Israelite history, not even of the Exodus, the passage of the Red Sea, or the giving of the Law on Sinai, much less of the conquest of Canaan, or of the stirring times of the judges and the first great kings of Israel. It is inconceivable, as has been often said, that a writer of a late date, say of the time of Captivity, or of Josiah, or even of Solomon, should, in a long work like the Book of Job, intentionally and successfully avoid all reference to historical occurrences, and to changes in religious forms or doctrines of a date posterior to that of the events which form the subject of his narrative.

     It is a legitimate conclusion from these facts, that the Book of Job is probably more ancient than any other composition in the Bible, excepting, perhaps, the Pentateuch, or portions of it. It must almost certainly have been written before the promulgation of the Law. How long before is doubtful. Job’s term of life (two hundred to two hundred and fifty years) would seem to place him in the period between Eber and Abraham, or at any rate in that between Eber and Jacob, who lived only a hundred and forty-seven years, and after whom the term of human life seems to have rapidly shortened (Deut. 31:2; Ps. 90:10). The book, however, was not written until after Job’s death (ch. 42:17), and may have been written some considerable time after. On the whole, therefore, it seems most reasonable to place the composition towards the close of the patriarchal period, not very long before the Exodus.

     The only tradition which has come down to us with respect to the authorship of the Book of Job ascribes it to Moses. Aben Ezra (about A.D. 1150) declares this to be the general opinion of “the sages of blessed memory.” In the Talmud it is laid down as undoubted, “Moses wrote his own book” (i.e. the Pentateuch), “the section about Balaam, and Job.” The testimony may not possess much critical value, but it is the only tradition that we have. Apart from this, we float upon a sea of conjecture. The most ingenious of the conjectures put forward is that of Dr. Mill and Professor Lee, who think that Job himself put the discourses into a written form, and that Moses, having become acquainted with this work while he was in Midian, determined to communicate it to his countrymen, as analogous to the trial of their faith in Egypt; and, in order to render it intelligible to them, added the opening and concluding sections, which, it is remarked, are altogether in the style of the Pentateuch. A far less probable theory assigns the authorship of the bulk of the book to Elihu. Those who reject these views, yet allow the antiquity of the composition, can only suggest some unknown Palestinian author, some ἀνὴρ πολύτροπος, who, like the old hero of Ithaca,

          Πολλῶν ἀνθρώπων ἴδεν ἄστεα καὶ νόον ἔγνω,
          Πολλὰ δ᾽ ὄγ᾽ ἐν πόντῳ πάθεν ἄλγεα ὃν κατα θυμὸν,
          Ἀρνύμενος ψυχήν …

and who, “having broken free from the narrow littleness of the peculiar people, divorced himself from them outwardly as well as inwardly,” and having “travelled away into the world, lived long, perhaps all his life, in exile.” Such vague fancies are of little value; and the theory of Dr. Mill and Professor Lee, though unproved, is probably the nearest approach to the truth that can be made at the present day.

The Pulpit Commentary (23 Volume Set)

My Utmost For The Highest
     A Daily Devotional by Oswald Chambers

                Have you ever been carried away for Him?

     She hath wrought a good work on Me. --- Mark 14:6.

     If human love does not carry a man beyond himself, it is not love. If love is always discreet, always wise, always sensible and calculating, never carried beyond itself, it is not love at all. It may be affection, it may be warmth of feeling, but it has not the true nature of love in it.

     Have I ever been carried away to do something for God not because it was my duty, nor because it was useful, nor because there was anything in it at all beyond the fact that I love Him? Have I ever realized that I can bring to God things which are of value to Him, or am I mooning round the magnitude of His Redemption whilst there are any number of things I might be doing? Not Divine, colossal things which could be recorded as marvellous, but ordinary, simple human things which will give evidence to God that I am abandoned to Him? Have I ever produced in the heart of the Lord Jesus what Mary of Bethany produced?

     There are times when it seems as if God watches to see if we will give Him the abandoned tokens of how genuinely we do love Him. Abandon to God is of more value than personal holiness. Personal holiness focuses the eye on our own whiteness; we are greatly concerned about the way we walk and talk and look, fearful lest we offend Him. Perfect love casts out all that when once we are abandoned to God. We have to get rid of this notion—‘Am I of any use?’ and make up our minds that we are not, and we may be near the truth. It is never a question of being of use, but of being of value to God Himself. When we are abandoned to God, He works through us all the time.

My Utmost for His Highest

Taliesin 1952
     the Poetry of R.S. Thomas

                Taliesin 1952

I have been all men known to history,
Wondering at the world and at time passing;
I have seen evil, and the light blessing
Innocent love under a spring sky.

I have been Merlin wandering in the woods
Of a far country, where the winds waken
Unnatural voices, my mind broken
By a sudden acquaintance with man's rage.

I have been Glyn Dwr set in the vast night,
Scanning the stars for the propitious omen,
A leader of men, yet cursed by the crazed women
Mourning their dead under the same stars.

I have been Goronwy, forced from my own land
To taste the bitterness of the salt ocean;
I have known exile and a wild passion
Of longing changing to a cold ache.

King, beggar and fool, I have been all by turns,
Knowing the body's sweetness,
     the mind's treason;
Taliesin still, I show you a new world, risen,
Stubborn with beauty, out of the heart's need.

Selected poems, 1946-1968

Swimming In The Sea of Talmud
     Lessons for Everyday Living

     In the centuries following the completion of the Talmud, rabbis all over the world continued to build upon it. In various eras, they were known by different names: Savoraim, “reasoners,” who are actually part of the Talmud and who helped to put the final touches on the text in the sixth and seventh centuries; Geonim, “excellent ones,” who were the heads of the Babylonian academies from the end of the seventh century through the middle of the eleventh century; Rishonim, “early” authorities, until the sixteenth century; and Aḥaronim, “latter” authorities, after the sixteenth century (and the publication of the seminal work of Jewish law, the Shulḥan Arukh) who helped to shape the halakhic, or legal, decisions on issues raised in the Talmud.

     As each generation studied the Talmud, they put their own imprint on it. One can see this very graphically by looking at a page of the Talmud in the traditional Vilna printing and seeing the various commentaries that surround the text of the Mishnah and the Gemara, and help to elucidate them:

     Fifteen hundred years after it was “finished,” the Talmud continues to grow through new commentaries, translations and studies that are published each year. It is indeed appropriate to speak of “the sea of Talmud” because it is so immense, so deep, and so full of life.

Swimming in the Sea of Talmud: Lessons for Everyday Living

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
     Voices Of The Night : A Psalm Of Life

Tell me not, in mournful numbers,
Life is but an empty dream! —
For the soul is dead that slumbers,
And things are not what they seem.

Life is real! Life is earnest!
And the grave is not its goal;
Dust thou art, to dust returnest,
Was not spoken of the soul.

Not enjoyment, and not sorrow,
Is our destined end or way;
But to act, that each to-morrow
Find us farther than to-day.

Art is long, and Time is fleeting,
And our hearts, though stout and brave,
Still, like muffled drums, are beating
Funeral marches to the grave.

In the world's broad field of battle,
In the bivouac of Life,
Be not like dumb, driven cattle!
Be a hero in the strife!

Trust no Future, howe'er pleasant!
Let the dead Past bury its dead!
Act, — act in the living Present!
Heart within, and God o'erhead!

Lives of great men all remind us
We can make our lives sublime,
And, departing, leave behind us
Footprints on the sands of time;

Footprints, that perhaps another,
Sailing o'er life's solemn main,
A forlorn and shipwrecked brother,
Seeing, shall take heart again.

Let us, then, be up and doing,
With a heart for any fate;
Still achieving, still pursuing,
Learn to labor and to wait.

The Imitation Of Christ
     Thomas A Kempis

     Book One / Thoughts Helpful In The Life Of The Soul

     The Twenty-First Chapter / Sorrow Of Heart

     IF YOU wish to make progress in virtue, live in the fear of the Lord, do not look for too much freedom, discipline your senses, and shun inane silliness. Sorrow opens the door to many a blessing which dissoluteness usually destroys.

     It is a wonder that any man who considers and meditates on his exiled state and the many dangers to his soul, can ever be perfectly happy in this life. Lighthearted and heedless of our defects, we do not feel the real sorrows of our souls, but often indulge in empty laughter when we have good reason to weep. No liberty is true and no joy is genuine unless it is founded in the fear of the Lord and a good conscience.

     Happy is the man who can throw off the weight of every care and recollect himself in holy contrition. Happy is the man who casts from him all that can stain or burden his conscience.

     Fight like a man. Habit is overcome by habit. If you leave men alone, they will leave you alone to do what you have to do. Do not busy yourself about the affairs of others and do not become entangled in the business of your superiors. Keep an eye primarily on yourself and admonish yourself instead of your friends.

     If you do not enjoy the favor of men, do not let it sadden you; but consider it a serious matter if you do not conduct yourself as well or as carefully as is becoming for a servant of God and a devout religious.

     It is often better and safer for us to have few consolations in this life, especially comforts of the body. Yet if we do not have divine consolation or experience it rarely, it is our own fault because we seek no sorrow of heart and do not forsake vain outward satisfaction.

     Consider yourself unworthy of divine solace and deserving rather of much tribulation. When a man is perfectly contrite, the whole world is bitter and wearisome to him.

     A good man always finds enough over which to mourn and weep; whether he thinks of himself or of his neighbor he knows that no one lives here without suffering, and the closer he examines himself the more he grieves.

     The sins and vices in which we are so entangled that we can rarely apply ourselves to the contemplation of heaven are matters for just sorrow and inner remorse.

     I do not doubt that you would correct yourself more earnestly if you would think more of an early death than of a long life. And if you pondered in your heart the future pains of hell or of purgatory, I believe you would willingly endure labor and trouble and would fear no hardship. But since these thoughts never pierce the heart and since we are enamored of flattering pleasure, we remain very cold and indifferent. Our wretched body complains so easily because our soul is altogether too lifeless.

     Pray humbly to the Lord, therefore, that He may give you the spirit of contrition and say with the Prophet: “Feed me, Lord, with the bread of mourning and give me to drink of tears in full measure.” (Psalm 79:6)

The Imitation Of Christ

Take Heart
     February 21

     “Woman,” he said, “why are you crying?” --- John 20:15.

     Let us turn to the depth of Mary’s love. ( Wings of the Morning, The (The Morrison Classic Sermon Series) ) And how intensely she loved may be most surely gathered from her refusal to believe that he was lost. There was nothing more to be done; the grave was empty. Mary could not tear herself away but stood outside at the sepulcher weeping. There is a kind of love that faces facts, and it is a noble and courageous love. But there is an agony of love that hopes against hope and beats against all evidence. No one will ever doubt John’s love to Jesus. No one will ever doubt the love of Simon. But the fact remains that on that Easter morning Peter and John went to their homes again, and only a woman lingered by the grave. She must linger and watch in the teeth of all the facts. Measured by a test like that, there is not a disciple who can match the love of Mary.

     The unceasing wonder of it all is this, that to her first he should have showed himself, neither to John nor to Peter had there been a whisper—no moving of pierced feet across the garden—all that was kept for a woman who had been a sinner and out of whom there had been cast seven devils. It is very notable that the first word of Christ after he had risen from the dead was Woman. “Woman, why are you crying?”

     That he should pass by Pilate and the people and his mother and John and James and Simon Peter, that he should show himself first and foremost to a woman who had nothing to her credit but her love, I tell you that even the genius of a Shakespeare could never have conceived a scene like that.
--- George H. Morrison

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

On This Day   February 21
     Jeanne d’Arc

     A sorceress or a saint? Spiritual forces were active in her life, but from what source? The French called her a godsend; the English burned her as a witch.

     Joan was raised in a poor farming family in Champagne during the Hundred Years’ War when England was battling for possession of France. When Joan was 13, she had the first of many transcendental experiences, hearing voices accompanied by searing light. The saints, she determined, were commissioning her to save France. She set out to see the Dauphin (Prince). He attempted to disguise himself, but Joan wasn’t fooled. “The King of Heaven sends word by me,” she told him, “that you shall be anointed and crowned in the city of Reims. You are the heir to France, true son of the king.”

     The young man listened, for he doubted his legitimacy. His father was insane and his mother slept with many men. The Dauphin gave Joan an army just as France was losing the war. She rallied her forces and led them to a remarkable victory, liberating the city of Orleans. Soon she accompanied the Dauphin to Reims where he was enthroned King Charles VII.

     Joan’s voices warned her she hadn’t long to live, and she returned to battle only to be captured by the English. She stood trial for witchcraft on February 21, 1431, before a handpicked English church court. Her visions were pronounced “false and diabolical” and she was declared “heretical and schismatic.” On May 30, 1431 she was led to the Place du Vieux-Marche and burned at the stake. Her body was consumed by the flames; all but her heart, which terrified English guards seized from the ashes and threw into the river Seine. But her death inspired the French to recapture Paris and to drive the English from their country.

     Prodded by Charles, Pope Callixtus III declared Joan innocent of witchcraft in 1456. She became a patron saint of France.

     Saul took one look at the Philistine army and started shaking with fear. Then Saul told his officers, “Find me a woman who can talk to the spirits of the dead. … ” His servants told him, “There’s a woman at Endor who can talk to spirits of the dead.” That night, Saul put on different clothing so nobody would recognize him. Then he and two of his men went to the woman. --- 1 Samuel 28:5,7,8.

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

Morning and Evening
     Daily Readings / CHARLES H. SPURGEON

          Morning - February 21

     “He hath said.” --- Hebrews 13:5.

     If we can only grasp these words by faith, we have an all-conquering weapon in our hand. What doubt will not be slain by this two-edged sword? What fear is there which shall not fall smitten with a deadly wound before this arrow from the bow of God’s covenant? Will not the distresses of life and the pangs of death; will not the corruptions within, and the snares without; will not the trials from above, and the temptations from beneath, all seem but light afflictions, when we can hide ourselves beneath the bulwark of “He hath said”? Yes; whether for delight in our quietude, or for strength in our conflict, “He hath said” must be our daily resort. And this may teach us the extreme value of searching the Scriptures. There may be a promise in the Word which would exactly fit your case, but you may not know of it, and therefore you miss its comfort. You are like prisoners in a dungeon, and there may be one key in the bunch which would unlock the door, and you might be free; but if you will not look for it, you may remain a prisoner still, though liberty is so near at hand. There may be a potent medicine in the great pharmacopoeia of Scripture, and you may yet continue sick unless you will examine and search the Scriptures to discover what “He hath said.” Should you not, besides reading the Bible, store your memories richly with the promises of God? You can recollect the sayings of great men; you treasure up the verses of renowned poets; ought you not to be profound in your knowledge of the words of God, so that you may be able to quote them readily when you would solve a difficulty, or overthrow a doubt? Since “He hath said” is the source of all wisdom, and the fountain of all comfort, let it dwell in you richly, as “A well of water, springing up unto everlasting life.” So shall you grow healthy, strong, and happy in the divine life.

          Evening - February 21

     “Understandest thou what thou readest?” --- Acts 8:30.

     We should be abler teachers of others, and less liable to be carried about by every wind of doctrine, if we sought to have a more intelligent understanding of the Word of God. As the Holy Ghost, the Author of the Scriptures is he who alone can enlighten us rightly to understand them, we should constantly ask his teaching, and his guidance into all truth. When the prophet Daniel would interpret Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, what did he do? He set himself to earnest prayer that God would open up the vision. The apostle John, in his vision at Patmos, saw a book sealed with seven seals which none was found worthy to open, or so much as to look upon. The book was afterwards opened by the Lion of the tribe of Judah, who had prevailed to open it; but it is written first—“I wept much.” The tears of John, which were his liquid prayers, were, so far as he was concerned, the sacred keys by which the folded book was opened. Therefore, if, for your own and others’ profiting, you desire to be “filled with the knowledge of God’s will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding,” remember that prayer is your best means of study: like Daniel, you shall understand the dream, and the interpretation thereof, when you have sought unto God; and like John you shall see the seven seals of precious truth unloosed, after you have wept much. Stones are not broken, except by an earnest use of the hammer; and the stone-breaker must go down on his knees. Use the hammer of diligence, and let the knee of prayer be exercised, and there is not a stony doctrine in revelation which is useful for you to understand, which will not fly into shivers under the exercise of prayer and faith. You may force your way through anything with the leverage of prayer. Thoughts and reasonings are like the steel wedges which give a hold upon truth; but prayer is the lever, the prise which forces open the iron chest of sacred mystery, that we may get the treasure hidden within.

Morning and Evening

Amazing Grace
     February 21


     Carrie E. Breck, 1855–1934

     Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.
(Matthew 5:16)

     Our emotional soundness and even our physical health depend on the quality of our love for God. And as a result, we gain an attitude of love and concern for our fellowmen. Negative feelings of hate, anger, and selfishness can destroy the well-being of any individual. How important it is to allow God’s love to shine into our lives, not only for the good it brings to others but also for the health it brings to our own lives.

     True Christian love always seeks to lighten the burden of others and to bring happiness into their lives. We love others not only for what they are but also for what they can become once they too experience the warmth of divine love. Our lives can never remain the same once we learn to share God’s love in word and deed each day. The closer we get to Christ, the closer we get to one another.

     But believers are not known simply because they do good deeds. They do good works because they have experienced the supernatural love of Christ. The praise for this transformed life is then directed to the heavenly Father—never to themselves.

     Carrie Breck, the author of “When Love Shines In,” was known as a deeply devoted Christian and life-long Presbyterian. She wrote more than 2,000 poems while a mother of five children.

     Jesus comes with pow’r to gladden, when love shines in; ev’ry life that woe can sadden, when love shines in. Love will teach us how to pray; love will drive the gloom away, turn our darkness into day—when love shines in.
     How the world will grow with beauty, when love shines in, and the heart rejoice in duty, when love shines in. Trials may be sanctified, and the soul in peace abide; life will all be glorified—when love shines in.
     Darkest sorrow will grow brighter, when love shines in, and the heaviest burden lighter, when love shines in. ’Tis the glory that will throw light to show us where to go; O the heart shall blessing know—when love shines in.
     We may have unfading splendor, when love shines in, and a friendship true and tender, when love shines in. When earth’s vict’ries shall be won, and our life in heav’n begun, there will be no need of sun—when love shines in.      Chorus: When love shines in, how the heart is tuned to singing, when love shines in; in joy and peace to others bringing—when love shines in!

     For Today: Song of Solomon 8:7; Proverbs 4:18; Colossians 1:12.

     Seek by the Holy Spirit’s enablement to radiate Christ’s love in word and deed. Carry this musical truth with you ---

Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions

Numbers 23-25
     Jon Courson

Numbers 20-24
Jon Courson

click here

Numbers 25
Clean Out The Ditch!
Jon Courson

click here

Numbers 24:2-9
Beware The Blunder Of Balaam
Jon Courson

click here

Numbers 22-25
Jon Courson

click here

Jon Courson

Numbers 23-25
     Skip Heitzig

Numbers 24-25
Calvary Chapel NM

Skip Heitzig | Calvary Chapel NM

Numbers 23-25
     Paul LeBoutillier

Numbers 25-27
A Threat From Within
03-29-2017 | Paul LeBoutillier

Paul LeBoutillier | Calvary Chapel Ontario, Oregon

Numbers 23-25
     Brett Meador | Athey Creek

Balaam's Blunders Numbers 22-25
s2-084 | 8-02-2015

Numbers 22-25
m2-082 | 8-05-2015

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

The Secret to Becoming a Great Lover
John Riley | Biola University

Was Jesus an Advocate of Blind Faith?
Craig Hazen | Biola University

Will Heaven Be Worth It?
Clay Jones | Biola University

The Catastrophe of Following Jesus
Steve Porter | Biola University

Stretcher Bearers
Wayne Tesch | Biola University

Too Good to Be True
Michael Horton | Biola University

Anatomy of a Trial: Obstacle or Opportunity
John Hutchison | Biola University

Heat vs. Warmth
Barry Corey | Biola University

Global Ministry: Opportunities for Everbody
Monroe Brewer
Dallas Theological Seminary

Doing Missions Together | Mrs. Cindy Wiles
Dallas Theological Seminary

Character of Jesus | John Hannah
Dallas Theological Seminary