Numbers 26 - 27
Census of the New GenerationNumbers 26:1 After the plague, the LORD said to Moses and to Eleazar the son of Aaron, the priest, 2 “Take a census of all the congregation of the people of Israel, from twenty years old and upward, by their fathers’ houses, all in Israel who are able to go to war.” 3 And Moses and Eleazar the priest spoke with them in the plains of Moab by the Jordan at Jericho, saying, 4 “Take a census of the people, from twenty years old and upward,” as the LORD commanded Moses. The people of Israel who came out of the land of Egypt were:
5 Reuben, the firstborn of Israel; the sons of Reuben: of Hanoch, the clan of the Hanochites; of Pallu, the clan of the Palluites; 6 of Hezron, the clan of the Hezronites; of Carmi, the clan of the Carmites. 7 These are the clans of the Reubenites, and those listed were 43,730. 8 And the sons of Pallu: Eliab. 9 The sons of Eliab: Nemuel, Dathan, and Abiram. These are the Dathan and Abiram, chosen from the congregation, who contended against Moses and Aaron in the company of Korah, when they contended against the LORD 10 and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them up together with Korah, when that company died, when the fire devoured 250 men, and they became a warning. 11 But the sons of Korah did not die.
12 The sons of Simeon according to their clans: of Nemuel, the clan of the Nemuelites; of Jamin, the clan of the Jaminites; of Jachin, the clan of the Jachinites; 13 of Zerah, the clan of the Zerahites; of Shaul, the clan of the Shaulites. 14 These are the clans of the Simeonites, 22,200.
15 The sons of Gad according to their clans: of Zephon, the clan of the Zephonites; of Haggi, the clan of the Haggites; of Shuni, the clan of the Shunites; 16 of Ozni, the clan of the Oznites; of Eri, the clan of the Erites; 17 of Arod, the clan of the Arodites; of Areli, the clan of the Arelites. 18 These are the clans of the sons of Gad as they were listed, 40,500.
19 The sons of Judah were Er and Onan; and Er and Onan died in the land of Canaan. 20 And the sons of Judah according to their clans were: of Shelah, the clan of the Shelanites; of Perez, the clan of the Perezites; of Zerah, the clan of the Zerahites. 21 And the sons of Perez were: of Hezron, the clan of the Hezronites; of Hamul, the clan of the Hamulites. 22 These are the clans of Judah as they were listed, 76,500.
23 The sons of Issachar according to their clans: of Tola, the clan of the Tolaites; of Puvah, the clan of the Punites; 24 of Jashub, the clan of the Jashubites; of Shimron, the clan of the Shimronites. 25 These are the clans of Issachar as they were listed, 64,300.
26 The sons of Zebulun, according to their clans: of Sered, the clan of the Seredites; of Elon, the clan of the Elonites; of Jahleel, the clan of the Jahleelites. 27 These are the clans of the Zebulunites as they were listed, 60,500.
28 The sons of Joseph according to their clans: Manasseh and Ephraim. 29 The sons of Manasseh: of Machir, the clan of the Machirites; and Machir was the father of Gilead; of Gilead, the clan of the Gileadites. 30 These are the sons of Gilead: of Iezer, the clan of the Iezerites; of Helek, the clan of the Helekites; 31 and of Asriel, the clan of the Asrielites; and of Shechem, the clan of the Shechemites; 32 and of Shemida, the clan of the Shemidaites; and of Hepher, the clan of the Hepherites. 33 Now Zelophehad the son of Hepher had no sons, but daughters. And the names of the daughters of Zelophehad were Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milcah, and Tirzah. 34 These are the clans of Manasseh, and those listed were 52,700.
35 These are the sons of Ephraim according to their clans: of Shuthelah, the clan of the Shuthelahites; of Becher, the clan of the Becherites; of Tahan, the clan of the Tahanites. 36 And these are the sons of Shuthelah: of Eran, the clan of the Eranites. 37 These are the clans of the sons of Ephraim as they were listed, 32,500. These are the sons of Joseph according to their clans.
38 The sons of Benjamin according to their clans: of Bela, the clan of the Belaites; of Ashbel, the clan of the Ashbelites; of Ahiram, the clan of the Ahiramites; 39 of Shephupham, the clan of the Shuphamites; of Hupham, the clan of the Huphamites. 40 And the sons of Bela were Ard and Naaman: of Ard, the clan of the Ardites; of Naaman, the clan of the Naamites. 41 These are the sons of Benjamin according to their clans, and those listed were 45,600.
42 These are the sons of Dan according to their clans: of Shuham, the clan of the Shuhamites. These are the clans of Dan according to their clans. 43 All the clans of the Shuhamites, as they were listed, were 64,400.
44 The sons of Asher according to their clans: of Imnah, the clan of the Imnites; of Ishvi, the clan of the Ishvites; of Beriah, the clan of the Beriites. 45 Of the sons of Beriah: of Heber, the clan of the Heberites; of Malchiel, the clan of the Malchielites. 46 And the name of the daughter of Asher was Serah. 47 These are the clans of the sons of Asher as they were listed, 53,400.
48 The sons of Naphtali according to their clans: of Jahzeel, the clan of the Jahzeelites; of Guni, the clan of the Gunites; 49 of Jezer, the clan of the Jezerites; of Shillem, the clan of the Shillemites. 50 These are the clans of Naphtali according to their clans, and those listed were 45,400.
51 This was the list of the people of Israel, 601,730.
52 The LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 53 “Among these the land shall be divided for inheritance according to the number of names. 54 To a large tribe you shall give a large inheritance, and to a small tribe you shall give a small inheritance; every tribe shall be given its inheritance in proportion to its list. 55 But the land shall be divided by lot. According to the names of the tribes of their fathers they shall inherit. 56 Their inheritance shall be divided according to lot between the larger and the smaller.”
57 This was the list of the Levites according to their clans: of Gershon, the clan of the Gershonites; of Kohath, the clan of the Kohathites; of Merari, the clan of the Merarites. 58 These are the clans of Levi: the clan of the Libnites, the clan of the Hebronites, the clan of the Mahlites, the clan of the Mushites, the clan of the Korahites. And Kohath was the father of Amram. 59 The name of Amram’s wife was Jochebed the daughter of Levi, who was born to Levi in Egypt. And she bore to Amram Aaron and Moses and Miriam their sister. 60 And to Aaron were born Nadab, Abihu, Eleazar, and Ithamar. 61 But Nadab and Abihu died when they offered unauthorized fire before the LORD. 62 And those listed were 23,000, every male from a month old and upward. For they were not listed among the people of Israel, because there was no inheritance given to them among the people of Israel.
63 These were those listed by Moses and Eleazar the priest, who listed the people of Israel in the plains of Moab by the Jordan at Jericho. 64 But among these there was not one of those listed by Moses and Aaron the priest, who had listed the people of Israel in the wilderness of Sinai. 65 For the LORD had said of them, “They shall die in the wilderness.” Not one of them was left, except Caleb the son of Jephunneh and Joshua the son of Nun.
The Daughters of ZelophehadNumbers 27:1 Then drew near the daughters of Zelophehad the son of Hepher, son of Gilead, son of Machir, son of Manasseh, from the clans of Manasseh the son of Joseph. The names of his daughters were: Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milcah, and Tirzah. 2 And they stood before Moses and before Eleazar the priest and before the chiefs and all the congregation, at the entrance of the tent of meeting, saying, 3 “Our father died in the wilderness. He was not among the company of those who gathered themselves together against the LORD in the company of Korah, but died for his own sin. And he had no sons. 4 Why should the name of our father be taken away from his clan because he had no son? Give to us a possession among our father’s brothers.”
5 Moses brought their case before the LORD. 6 And the LORD said to Moses, 7 “The daughters of Zelophehad are right. You shall give them possession of an inheritance among their father’s brothers and transfer the inheritance of their father to them. 8 And you shall speak to the people of Israel, saying, ‘If a man dies and has no son, then you shall transfer his inheritance to his daughter. 9 And if he has no daughter, then you shall give his inheritance to his brothers. 10 And if he has no brothers, then you shall give his inheritance to his father’s brothers. 11 And if his father has no brothers, then you shall give his inheritance to the nearest kinsman of his clan, and he shall possess it. And it shall be for the people of Israel a statute and rule, as the LORD commanded Moses.’”
Joshua to Succeed Moses12 The LORD said to Moses, “Go up into this mountain of Abarim and see the land that I have given to the people of Israel. 13 When you have seen it, you also shall be gathered to your people, as your brother Aaron was, 14 because you rebelled against my word in the wilderness of Zin when the congregation quarreled, failing to uphold me as holy at the waters before their eyes.” (These are the waters of Meribah of Kadesh in the wilderness of Zin.) 15 Moses spoke to the LORD, saying, 16 “Let the LORD, the God of the spirits of all flesh, appoint a man over the congregation 17 who shall go out before them and come in before them, who shall lead them out and bring them in, that the congregation of the LORD may not be as sheep that have no shepherd.” 18 So the LORD said to Moses, “Take Joshua the son of Nun, a man in whom is the Spirit, and lay your hand on him. 19 Make him stand before Eleazar the priest and all the congregation, and you shall commission him in their sight. 20 You shall invest him with some of your authority, that all the congregation of the people of Israel may obey. 21 And he shall stand before Eleazar the priest, who shall inquire for him by the judgment of the Urim before the LORD. At his word they shall go out, and at his word they shall come in, both he and all the people of Israel with him, the whole congregation.” 22 And Moses did as the LORD commanded him. He took Joshua and made him stand before Eleazar the priest and the whole congregation, 23 and he laid his hands on him and commissioned him as the LORD directed through Moses.
ESV Study Bible
What I'm Reading
Demanding Evidence for God While Denying Evidence for God
By Lenny Esposito 5/9/2016
"Not enough evidence!" That's the claim I hear over and over when asking atheists why they don't believe in God. Even when famous atheist philosopher Bertrand Russell was asked what he would say if he were to come face to face with God after his death, Russell famously replied, "I probably would ask, 'Sir, why did you not give me better evidence?"
The demand for evidence can seem like reasonable request, but it can also serve as a smokescreen for those who are unwilling to believe. For example, developmental biologist Lewis Wolpert stated he rejected God fairly early in his life because he could find no evidence for God at all. In a radio show where he debated intelligent design with William Dembski, Wolpert said over and over again there is nothing he could see by studying the molecular machinery required for living cells to function that could serve as evidence for any kind of intelligence. Dembski asked "Is there nothing that biological systems can exhibit that would point you to a designer?" Wolpert emphatically replied, "Absolutely nothing, absolutely nothing." This corresponded with his previous statement that "What we know about biology can all be explained in terms of the behaviors of cells."
Intelligent Messages Hidden in DNA | Is Wolpert's claim true? Is anything one finds in the cell able to be explained by cellular behavior? Earlier in their conversation Dembski alluded to the work of cellular biologist J. Craig Venter. Venter and his team made the headlines at that same time by assembling the DNA for a replicating synthetic bacteria (M. mycoides JCVI-syn1.0) one base pair at a time using computers. Singularity University reported, "To verify that they had synthesized a new organism and not assembled the DNA from another natural bacteria, scientists encoded a series of 'watermarks' into the genes" of Venter's bacterial DNA. He coded his own name, a URL address, and other messages.
Let's now imagine a scenario where in 50 or 100 years, people are catching a strange new disease. Scientists have narrowed the illness to a foreign bacteria that doesn't behave like anything they've ever seen before. Wolpert's students isolate the bacteria in the lab and map its DNA structure to try and find a way to figure out where it came from. There, they find Venter's name encoded in the nucleotide, but because they have adopted Wolpert's standard that nothing inside the cell can count as evidence, they cannot assume there was an initial intelligence behind the origin of this bacteria. Venter's work cannot be counted as evidence because it appears inside the cell, and appealing to an intelligence as the origin of this new bacterial strain is supposedly the science-stopper.
Lenny Esposito is president and founder of Come Reason Ministries, a Christian apologetics organization, and author of the popular www.comereason.org Web site. He has taught apologetics and Christian worldview for over 17 years and has authored hundreds articles dealing with intellectually strenuous topics such as the existence of God, theology, philosophy, social issues and Biblical difficulties.
Lenny is an in-demand speaker, teaching at conferences, churches, and schools across the nation. He is a contributor to the popular Apologetics Study Bible for Students and his articles have appeared in the Los Angeles Times and the Southern California Christian Times. He has debated many topics on faith and reason and the rationality of the Christian worldview; his most recent debate being against well-known atheists and author Dr. Richard Carrier on the question "Does God Exist?"
Lenny is a pioneer in online ministry efforts when he began using the Web to reach others near its beginnings in 1995. He produces one of the top 16 apologetics podcasts according to Apologetics 315 and his site has been viewed millions of times by visitors from nearly every country in the world.
Lenny is a member of the Evangelical Philosophical Society and the Evangelical Theological Society.
How Pastors Perceive Domestic Violence Differently
By Bob Smietana 2/20/2017
When it comes to domestic violence, Protestant pastors want to be helpful but often don’t know where to start.
Most say their church would be a safe haven for victims of domestic violence.
But many don’t know if anyone in their church has been a victim of domestic violence. And only half say they have a plan in place to help if a victim comes forward.
Those are among the findings of a new report on churches and domestic abuse from LifeWay Research, based on a phone survey of 1,000 Protestant senior pastors.
The study was sponsored by Autumn Miles, a radio host and speaker whose church was caught off guard when she told them about her domestic violence experience.
Too many husbands don't understand that before their wife is their wife, before she is the mother of their children, before she is even, hopefully, their best friend, she is God's little girl and should be treated as such. Bob Smietana is a senior writer for Nashville-based Facts & Trends magazine. He lives in Nashville, Tenn. Click here
The Institutes of the Christian Religion
Translated by Henry Beveridge
THE MODE OF OBTAINING THE GRACE OF CHRIST. THE BENEFITS IT CONFERS, AND THE EFFECTS RESULTING FROM IT.
The two former Books treated of God the Creator and Redeemer. This Book, which contains a full exposition of the Third Part of the Apostles' Creed, treats of the mode of procuring the grace of Christ, the benefits which we derive and the effects which follow from it, or of the operations of the Holy Spirit in regard to our salvation.
The subject is comprehended under seven principal heads, which almost all point to the same end, namely, the doctrine of faith.
I. As it is by the secret and special operation of the Holy Spirit that we enjoy Christ and all his benefits, the First Chapter treats of this operation, which is the foundation of faith, new life, and all holy exercises.
II. Faith being, as it were, the hand by which we embrace Christ the Redeemer, offered to us by the Holy Spirit, Faith is fully considered in the Second Chapter.
III. In further explanation of Saving Faith, and the benefits derived from it, it is mentioned that true repentance always flows from true faith. The doctrine of Repentance is considered generally in the Third Chapter, Popish Repentance in the Fourth Chapter, Indulgences and Purgatory in the Fifth Chapter. Chapters Sixth to Tenth are devoted to a special consideration of the different parts of true Repentance--viz. mortification of the flesh, and quickening of the Spirit.
IV. More clearly to show the utility of this Faith, and the effects resulting from it, the doctrine of Justification by Faith is explained in the Eleventh Chapter, and certain questions connected with it explained from the Twelfth to the Eighteenth Chapter. Christian liberty a kind of accessory to Justification, is considered in the Nineteenth Chapter.
V. The Twentieth Chapter is devoted to Prayer, the principal exercise of faith, and, as it were, the medium or instrument through which we daily procure blessings from God.
VI. As all do not indiscriminately embrace the fellowship of Christ offered in the Gospel, but those only whom the Lord favors with the effectual and special grace of his Spirit, lest any should impugn this arrangement, Chapters Twenty-First to Twenty-Fourth are occupied with a necessary and apposite discussion of the subject of Election.
VII. Lastly, As the hard warfare which the Christian is obliged constantly to wage may have the effect of disheartening him, it is shown how it may be alleviated by meditating on the final resurrection. Hence the subject of the Resurrection is considered in the Twenty-Fifth Chapter.
Christian Classics Ethereal Library / Public Domain
Institutes of the Christian Religion
Clarifying Objections against Bible Reliability
By Lenny Esposito 1/11/2017
There's an old joke about a professor walking at his University and sees a young Christian from a small town reading the book of Exodus. "Praise God!" the youth exclaims, "What a miracle! God parted the Red Sea so Israel could pass through!" The prof decides to dispel the backwards beliefs of the yokel, telling him, "I think you're misinformed. Scholars have concluded that what you read as the Red Sea is really the Sea of Reeds. That area is really only covered buy a few inches of water, so the Red Sea wasn't really parted. Education has debunked that miracle, so there's nothing there to shout praises for."
The student sheepishly thanked the teacher for enlightening him to this new-found knowledge. Feeling a bit cocky as he began to walk away, the professor was surprised to suddenly hear the student exclaiming the greatness of God and his miracles all the louder. Turning on a dime, the lecturer quickly returned to the student and snapped "Didn't you believe what I said?"
"Yes sir, I did." answered the lad. "But then I kept reading and it says here that God drowned all of Pharaoh's army in those few inches of water. What a mighty miracle of God!"
Two Types of Charges against Scripture | Certainly one of the more persistent objections Christians hear to their faith is the Bible is untrustworthy. I've heard this charge raised in many different venues. Sometimes Christians will rush in to defend the Bible with stats and quotes, but this would be a mistake. As I've engaged skeptics in colleges and universities who question the veracity of the Bible, their objections are not monolithic. Different people have different objections to the Scriptures, and it is important that in conversation you address the specific objection in the objector's mind.
The first thing that I ask someone who claims the Bile can't be trusted is "in what way can't it be trusted? Can you be more specific?" This helps shape the conversation going forward so I know where to place my emphasis. Objections to the Bible come in one of two main categories: either doubting the accuracy of the text or doubting the fidelity of the accounts. Each category will need to be answered very differently. Let's take a look at both so you can more easily identify them.
Read The Psalms In "1" Year
Psalm 22Why Have You Forsaken Me?
22 To The Choirmaster. According To The Doe Of The Dawn. A Psalm Of David.
25 From you comes my praise in the great congregation;
my vows I will perform before those who fear him.
26 The afflicted shall eat and be satisfied;
those who seek him shall praise the LORD!
May your hearts live forever!
27 All the ends of the earth shall remember
and turn to the LORD,
and all the families of the nations
shall worship before you.
28 For kingship belongs to the LORD,
and he rules over the nations.
29 All the prosperous of the earth eat and worship;
before him shall bow all who go down to the dust,
even the one who could not keep himself alive.
30 Posterity shall serve him;
it shall be told of the Lord to the coming generation;
31 they shall come and proclaim his righteousness to a people yet unborn,
that he has done it.
Luke 8 Don Carson
By Don Carson 2/22/2018
ACCORDING TO Luke 8:19-21, “Jesus’ mother and brothers came to see him” but were unable to achieve their objective owing to the press of the crowd. Word was passed up to Jesus: “Your mother and brothers are standing outside, wanting to see you” – apparently under the assumption that Jesus himself would make his way to them, or use his authority to ensure that a passage was opened up for them. After all, this was a culture much less individualistic than our own, much more oriented to the family and the extended family.
That is what makes Jesus’ answer astonishing: “My mother and brothers are those who hear God’s word and put it into practice” (8:21). Four things must be said.
First, this is not an isolated passage. Once Jesus begins his public ministry, on no occasion, until the cross, does he betray any slight preference for his own family members, including his mother. In every instance, he either quietly distances himself from them (as here and 11:27-28), or else gently rebukes them (e.g., John 2:1-11). There is no exception. Those who argue that Mary has an inside track into the affections and blessings that only Jesus can bestow cannot responsibly adduce evidence from these texts.
Second, the reasons for Jesus’ conduct are not hard to find. Quite apart from this passage, the Gospels keep drawing attention to Jesus’ uniqueness. In the context of Luke, the familial connection is overshadowed by Jesus’ virginal conception, which is tied to Jesus’ mission and to who he is. Judging by the book of Acts, even Jesus’ natural family had to come to terms, after the resurrection, with who this son and brother of theirs really was, and they became part of the Christian community that worshiped him.
Third, not for a moment does this suggest Jesus was callous toward the feelings of his family. One of the most touching moments in the gospel of John pictures Jesus on the cross, almost with his dying breath providing the care and stability needed to his distraught mother (John 19:26-27).
Fourth, the force of the passage before us must not be missed: Jesus insists that those closest to him, those he “owns” as his, those who have ready access to him, those who are part of his real family, are henceforth not his natural relatives, but “those who hear God’s word and put it into practice” (8:21). Unlike many rulers, Jesus showed no interest in a natural dynasty. Nor was his ultimate focus on his tribe, clan, or nuclear family. He came to call into permanent being the family of God – and they are characterized by the obedient hearing of God’s word.
Don Carson is research professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois, and co-founder (with Tim Keller) of The Gospel Coalition. He has authored numerous books, and recently edited The Enduring Authority of the Christian Scriptures (Eerdmans, 2016).Don Carson Books | Go to Books Page
Wellhausen’s Reconstruction of Hebrew History in the Preprophetic and Prophetic Period (cont)
By Gleason Archer Jr.
The Documentarians discerned in the preprophetic period a development from the grosser polytheism of the patriarchal period to a sort of monolatry whereby the Hebrew tribes came increasingly to devote their loyalty to Yahweh alone, as being their own national god. The plural background of this god was, of course, betrayed by the plural state of their commonest word for “God,” namely Elōhɩ̂m, with its plural -ɩ̂m ending. (Actually this is more properly to be regarded as the plural of majesty.) In the period of the Judges, we find Jephthah negotiating with the Ammonites in these terms ( Judg. 11:24 ): “Will you not possess what Chemosh your god gives you to possess? And all that Yahweh our God has dispossessed before us, we will possess.” (But it is quite obvious from the situation that Jephthah is not speaking as a theologian but as a foreign diplomat, negotiating with them in terms which they could understand as he appealed to their sense of fair play.) Even King David is thought to have conceded the existence of other gods in 1 Sam. 26:19: “They have driven me out this day that I should have no share in the heritage of Jehovah, saying, Go, serve other gods.” (But this expression was simply the ancient equivalent of “serving under another flag”; even the monotheistic Deuteronomist uses this type of language: “Jehovah will bring thee … unto a nation that thou hast not known, thou nor thy fathers; and there shalt thou serve other gods, wood and stone” [ Deut. 28:36 ]. Here the service of foreign gods simply refers to servitude in a land dominated by a false heathen religion.)
The Wellhausians also insist that Hos. 3:4, “For the children of Israel shall abide many years without king, and without prince, and without sacrifice, and without [cultic] pillar, and without ephod or teraphim,” implies that the idolatrous pillars and the teraphim (household gods) were regarded by Hosea as legitimate, since the king and sacrifice, and so forth, were coupled with them in this clause. On the contrary, however, careful attention to context shows that everything cultic which is listed in this verse is regarded by the author as illegitimate and under the condemnation of God: the unsanctioned Israelite dynasty (cf. Hos. 8:4, “They have set up kings, but not by me”), the non-Levitical priesthood, the unacceptable sacrifice not offered at the Jerusalem altar, and all the rest. No legitimacy is implied in this verse, after all, for the next verse states that in the latter day the Israelites will return to their true God and to David, their proper king, and worship in all purity and holiness — as they were not then doing.
Such are the textual bases for the higher critical reconstruction of the religious history of Israel prior to the rise of the writing prophets. These arguments turn out to afford very tenuous support for the theory of primitivism and polytheism in the post-Abrahamic period, and all their alleged proof texts are capable of a far different interpretation which better accords with the rest of the evidence.
The Problem Of The Old Testament
By James Orr 1907
Difficulties and Perplexities of the Critical Hypothesis: The Priestly Writing. I. The Code
“Nothing in fact is simpler than the Grafian hypothesis: it needs only the transference of a single source — the collection of laws named commonly the Grundschrift, by others the Book of Origins, the Writing of the Older Elohist, or of the Annalist, which we would call the Book of Priestly Law or Religion — into the post-exilian time, into the period of Ezra and Nehemiah, and at one stroke the ‘Mosaic’ period is wiped out.” — DUHM.
“I have specially drawn attention to the fact that one result of these criticisms must inevitably be that, for all those who are convinced of the substantial truth of the above results, the whole ritualistic system, as a system of divine institution, comes at once to the ground.… The whole support of this system is struck away, when it is once ascertained that the Levitical legislation of the Pentateuch is entirely the product of a very late age, a mere figment of the post-captivity priesthood.” — COLENSO.
“But, if we place at the head of their whole history [the Hebrew nation’s] a great positive act of the will, a legislation by which the natural development is forestalled, and its course prescribed, we account for the rise of that discrepancy [the sense of guilt, consciousness of departure from the known will of God] and the peculiar tone of the national character among the Hebrews.” — DE WETTE (against VATKE).
“But again the questioning spirit revives when one is asked to believe that Moses is partly at least a historic figure. Alas! how gladly would one believe it! But where are the historical elements?… No one can now be found to doubt that Sargon is a historical personage with mythic accretions. But can one really venture to say the like of Moses!” — CHEYNE.
IT was indicated in our sketch of the critical development that the greatest revolution in Pentateuchal criticism up to the present has been the acceptance by the majority of scholars of the Graf-Wellhausen contention that the legislation of the middle books of the Pentateuch, instead of being, as was formerly all but universally supposed, the oldest, is in reality the very youngest of the constituent elements in that composite work — not, as it professes to be, a creation of the work of Moses, but a production of priestly scribes in exilian and post-exilian times. Up to the appearance of Graf’s work on The Historical Books of the Old Testament in 1866, as was then pointed out, though earlier writers like Von Bohlen, George, and Vatke had advocated the idea, and Reuss, Graf’s teacher, had been inculcating it in his class-room at Strassburg, the hypothesis of a post-exilian origin of the law had met with no general acceptance. De Wette repudiated it; Bleek declared it to be “decidedly false to hold with Vater, Von Bohlen, Vatke, and George, that Deuteronomy, with the laws it contains, is older than the foregoing books with their legislation”; even Kuenen, in 1861, pronounced its grounds to be “not worthy of refutation.” Since the publication of Graf’s book, the tide has decisively turned, and the previously rejected theory has now become the dominant (though by no means the universally-accepted) hypothesis among critical scholars.
There are many reasons, apart from the skill and plausibility with which its case has been presented, which account for the fascination of this theory for minds that have already yielded assent to the previous critical developments. It is not without justice, as we shall by and by see, that the claim is made for the Wellhausen hypothesis that it is the logical outcome of the whole critical movement of last century. A chief value of the theory is that, by the very startlingness of its conclusions, it compels a halt, and summons to a reconsideration of the long course by which its results have been reached.
I. GRAF-WELLHAUSEN THEORY OF THE PRIESTLY CODE
We shall best begin by sketching more fully than has yet been done the Graf-Wellhausen position. The problem relates, as said, to the age and character of that large body of laws found in Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers, which forms the kernel of the writing described by the critics as the Priestly Code. Whereas formerly this Levitical legislation was held to be at least older than Deuteronomy, and probably in its main parts Mosaic, the newer theory supposes it to be the work of scribes in the exile, or after. It is not, indeed, contended, as we shall find, that everything in the Code was absolutely the creation of that time. There had been, of course, a temple, priesthood, religious institutions, sacrificial ritual, priestly rules and technique. Still the law, as elaborated in the exile, was practically a new thing. What belonged to the practice of a previous age was taken up, transformed, had a new meaning put into it, was brought under new leading ideas, was developed and enlarged by new rites and institutions. Above all, in order to clothe it with a Mosaic character, and secure for it the necessary authority, old and new alike were thrown back into the age of Moses and the wilderness, and were represented as originating and being put into force there. This Mosaic dress was a fiction. The elaborate descriptions of the tabernacle and its arrangements, the dispositions of the camp in the wilderness, the accounts of the consecration of Aaron and his sons, of the choice and setting apart of the Levites, of the origin of the passover, etc. — all was a “product of imagination.”
The idea of the Code was not wholly original. The first conception and sketch of a Priestly Code was in Ezekiel’s vision of the restored temple in the closing chapters of his book. The scheme of the scribes, however, was not that of Ezekiel, but was independently wrought out. A chief feature borrowed from the prophet’s programme was the idea of the Levites as a class of temple servants subordinate to the priests. It will be seen below how, in Ezek. 44, the law is laid down that the priests who had gone astray into idolatry were to be degraded from their priestly office, and made servants in the sanctuary. Only the Zadokites, who had remained faithful, were to retain their priestly dignity. This, according to the theory, is the origin of the class of Levites. The priests thus degraded were, it is contended, the “disestablished priests” of the high places, for whom some sort of provision had to be made. We are called to trace here a development. Deuteronomy had, it is alleged, allowed such “disestablished priests” the full rights of priesthood when they came up to the temple; Ezekiel degrades them to the rank known afterwards as Levites: now the Priests’ Code gives them a permanent standing in the sanctuary, and represents them as always having had this secondary position, and as having been originally honourably set apart by Jehovah for His service in the wilderness. The Israelites being thus organised as a hierarchy — “the clergy the skeleton, the high priest the head, and the tabernacle the heart” — liberal provision is made for the sacred body. Tithes, hitherto unknown for such a purpose, are appointed for the support of the priests and Levites, and the priestly revenues are otherwise greatly enlarged. Forty-eight cities, with pasturages, are — only, of course, on paper — set apart for the Levitical order. The sacrificial system, now centralised in the tabernacle, is enlarged, and recast in its provisions. Sin - and trespass - offerings (the sin-offering is held by Wellhausen to appear first in Ezekiel ) are introduced; a cycle of feasts is established, with new historical meanings; an annual day of atonement — previously unheard of — is instituted. Sacrifice loses its older joyous character, and becomes an affair of the priesthood — a ritual of atonement, with associations of gloom.
Still better to facilitate the introduction of this novel scheme, a history is invented to suit it. In its preparatory part in Genesis, this history goes back to the creation, and is marked in the patriarchal period by the rigid exclusion of all sacrifices; in the Mosaic part, there is the freest indulgence in the invention of incidents, lists, genealogies, numbers, etc. All this, if we accept Wellhausen’s view, was, some time before the coming of Ezra to Jerusalem in 458 B.C., put together in Babylon; was afterwards combined with the previously existing JE and D, which knew nothing of such legislation, and indeed in a multitude of ways contradicted it; finally, in 444 B.C., as related in Neh. 8, was produced and read by Ezra to the people, was accepted by them, and became thenceforth the foundation of post-exilic religion. Precisely at this crucial point, however, a serious divergence of opinion reveals itself in the school. According to Wellhausen, it was the completed Pentateuch, substantially, that was brought by Ezra to Jerusalem, and read by him to the people; according to perhaps the majority of his followers, it was only the Priests’ Code that was then made known, and the combination with JE and D did not take place till later, after new redactions and developments of the Code. Wellhausen, who retains his opinion, argues convincingly that the narrative (cf. Neh. 9 ) clearly requires that the book should be the whole Pentateuch; the others as triumphantly ask how Codes of laws, which ex hypothesi were in flat contradiction of each other, could simultaneously be brought forward with any hope of acceptance! We agree that neither set of critics succeeds in answering the others’ reasons.
Such, in barest outline, is the nature of the scheme which is to take the place of the “traditional” view of the Mosaic origin of the Levitical legislation. It will, we venture to predict, be to future generations one of the greatest psychological puzzles of history how such a hypothesis, loaded, as we believe it to be, with external and internal incredibilities, should have gained the remarkable ascendency it has over so many able minds. It is a singular tribute to the genius of Wellhausen that he should have been able to secure this wide acceptance for his theory, and to make that appear to his contemporaries as the highest wisdom which nearly all his predecessors scouted as the extreme of folly. His feat is hardly second to that of Ezra himself, who, on this new showing, succeeded in imposing on his generation the belief that a complex system of laws and institutions had been given by Moses, and had been in operation since the days of that lawgiver, though, till the moment of his own promulgation, nothing had been heard of them by anyone present!
RE: Job's Friends
By Richard S. AdamsIt is indeed a terrible and miserable condition when you go through the valley of despair. The memory of having once walked in the high places of joy is a haunting shadow. It follows too closely behind, always reminding how things once were. I do not believe those who speak lightly about this condition. To be blind or suffer some other disability from birth is unimaginable. I believe it would be far worse, however, to become disabled in life, to know what you no longer can do, what you no longer have...
Can you look into compassionless eyes and see the hollow hearts that beat within? Do you think this gives you a better understanding of life? If so, at what price?
Do you understand the numbing sadness that hangs over each day when you remember those who have forgotten you and the doors you once opened for them? Like so many other books in the Bible the inherent power of Job is its ability to strike a chord, that secret, private chord within all of us that is so rarely played.
Circumstances can maneuver us to a place where we are ready to listen. I confess I have read the book of Job many times unscathed, only wanting to finish it. Now I find myself seeing the message of Job reflected not only in national and global politics, people I once knew who only wave in passing, but also in the purblind angels of the church.
The book of Job is now harsh and biting as I see it played out again and again in my life and the greater life in which we all participate.
One bleak chapter after another in Job culminates in a short chapter of final victory. Is this the Christian response to life and the call, no, the plea for mercy and justice? How does the statement, "They are better off in heaven" make you feel? Something empty always strikes deep within my heart when I hear someone say, “He or she is in a better place now.”
Is it just me, or like me, do you take no pleasure in empty chairs, unused dishes and fading memories?
The message of course is that whoever is no longer with us is with God now, but aren’t we supposed to be with Jesus now? Didn’t Jesus tell us He would never leave us or forsake us? Is the message of the Bible one of bifurcation or one of reconciliation? Is the timing of the Bible tomorrow or today, right now? Few of us, certainly not me, can compare our life to Job's. His circumstances are too incredible! We shudder just thinking about it.
I understand the message of Job is primarily concerned with trusting God and knowing that God's ways are beyond our comprehension, but shouldn't we also ask ourselves if we walk in the same sandals as Job's friends? Oh Lord let me not be like Eliphaz.
Richard S. Adams | Lover of Christ, husband of Lily, father of four, grandfather of eleven, Masters in Divinity and Certificate in Spiritual Direction. On staff at George Fox 1/2009 to 7/2018.
- Feb 5 Prosperity and the Camp Fire
- Feb 7 Job 6:14-23
- Feb 10 Spontaneous Generation
- Feb 14 Hindsight
- Feb 18 The Cure For Despair
- Feb 22 RE: Job's Friends
- Feb 23 Job 23:14
- Feb 25 No Time To Text
- Mar 5 Polemics and Caricature
- Apr 20 Death and My Master's Voice
- May 10 Ruth | Relationships
- June 18 Lincoln City 6/2/18
- July 14 Tom - Gen & Revelation
- July 15 Knowledge and World Peace
- July 16 The Church as Lobbyist
- Aug 3 Have You Noticed
- Nov 27 The Way The World Is
- Nov 30 The Renewal Of Israel
- Dec 11 Open Door
- Dec 20 Replacement Theology
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 1678TIM. Prithee, what new knowledge hast thou got, that so worketh off thy mind from thy friends, and that tempteth thee to go nobody knows where?
CHR. Then Christiana replied, I have been sorely afflicted since my husband’s departure from me; but especially since he went over the river. But that which troubleth me most is, my churlish carriage to him when he was under his distress. Besides, I am now as he was then; nothing will serve me but going on pilgrimage. I was a dreaming last night that I saw him. O that my soul was with him! He dwelleth in the presence of the King of the country; he sits and eats with him at his table; he is become a companion of immortals, and has a house now given him to dwell in, to which the best palace on earth, if compared, seems to me but a dunghill.
2 Cor. 5:1–4 1 For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. 2 For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling, 3 if indeed by putting it on we may not be found naked. 4 For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened—not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. ESV
The Prince of the place has also sent for me, with promise of entertainment, if I shall come to him; his messenger was here even now, and has brought me a letter, which invites me to come. And with that she plucked out her letter, and read it, and said to them, What now will you say to this?
TIM. Oh, the madness that has possessed thee and thy husband, to run yourselves upon such difficulties! You have heard, I am sure what your husband did meet with, even in a manner at the first step that he took on his way, as our neighbor Obstinate can yet testify, for he went along with him; yea, and Pliable too, until they, like wise men, were afraid to go any further. We also heard, over and above, how he met with the lions, Apollyon, the Shadow of Death, and many other things. Nor is the danger that he met with at Vanity Fair to be forgotten by thee. For if he, though a man, was so hard put to it, what canst thou, being but a poor woman, do? Consider also, that these four sweet babes are thy children, thy flesh and thy bones. Wherefore, though thou shouldest be so rash as to cast away thyself, yet, for the sake of the fruit of thy body, keep thou at home.
But Christiana said unto her, Tempt me not, my neighbor: I have now a price put into my hands to get gain, and I should be a fool of the greatest size if I should have no heart to strike in with the opportunity. And for that you tell me of all these troubles which I am like to meet with in the way, they are so far from being to me a discouragement, that they show I am in the right. The bitter must come before the sweet, and that also will make the sweet the sweeter. Wherefore, since you came not to my house in God’s name, as I said, I pray you to be gone, and not to disquiet me further.
Then Timorous reviled her, and said to her fellow, Come, neighbor Mercy, let us leave her in her own hands, since she scorns our counsel and company. But Mercy was at a stand, and could not so readily comply with her neighbor; and that for a two fold reason. 1. Her bowels yearned over Christiana. So she said within herself, if my neighbor will needs be gone, I will go a little way with her, and help her. 2. Her bowels yearned over her own soul; for what Christiana had said had taken some hold upon her mind. Wherefore she said within herself again, I will yet have more talk with this Christiana; and, if I find truth and life in what she shall say, I myself with my heart shall also go with her. Wherefore Mercy began thus to reply to her neighbor Timorous:
MER. Neighbor, I did indeed come with you to see Christiana this morning; and since she is, as you see, taking of her last farewell of the country, I think to walk this sunshiny morning a little with her, to help her on her way. But she told her not of her second reason, but kept it to herself.
TIM. Well, I see you have a mind to go a fooling too; but take heed in time, and be wise: while we are out of danger, we are out; but when we are in, we are in.
So Mrs. Timorous returned to her house, and Christiana betook herself to her journey. But when Timorous was got home to her house she sends for some of her neighbors, to wit, Mrs. Bat’s-Eyes, Mrs. Inconsiderate, Mrs. Light-Mind, and Mrs. Know-Nothing. So when they were come to her house, she falls to telling of the story of Christiana, and of her intended journey. And thus she began her tale:
TIM. Neighbors, having had little to do this morning, I went to give Christiana a visit; and when I came at the door I knocked, as you know it is our custom; and she answered, If you come in God’s name, come in. So in I went, thinking all was well; but, when I came in I found her preparing herself to depart the town, she, and also her children. So I asked her what was her meaning by that. And she told me, in short, that she was now of a mind to go on pilgrimage, as did her husband. She told me also of a dream that she had, and how the King of the country where her husband was, had sent an inviting letter to come thither.
Then said Mrs. Know-Nothing, And what, do you think she will go?
TIM. Aye, go she will, whatever comes on’t; and methinks I know it by this; for that which was my great argument to persuade her to stay at home, (to wit, the troubles she was like to meet with on the way,) is one great argument with her to put her forward on her journey. For she told me in so many words, The bitter goes before the sweet; yea, and forasmuch as it doth, it makes the sweet the sweeter.
MRS. BAT’S-EYES. Oh, this blind and foolish woman! said she; and will she not take warning by her husband’s afflictions? For my part, I see, if he were here again, he would rest himself content in a whole skin, and never run so many hazards for nothing.
Mrs. Inconsiderate also replied, saying, Away with such fantastical fools from the town: a good riddance, for my part, I say, of her; should she stay where she dwells, and retain this her mind, who could live quietly by her? for she will either be dumpish, or unneighborly, or talk of such matters as no wise body can abide. Wherefore, for my part, I shall never be sorry for her departure; let her go, and let better come in her room: it was never a good world since these whimsical fools dwelt in it. Then Mrs. Light-Mind added as followeth: Come, put this kind of talk away. I was yesterday at Madam Wanton’s, where we were as merry as the maids. For who do you think should be there but I and Mrs. Love-the-Flesh, and three or four more, with Mrs. Lechery, Mrs. Filth, and some others: so there we had music and dancing, and what else was meet to fill up the pleasure. And I dare say, my lady herself is an admirable well-bred gentlewoman, and Mr. Lechery is as pretty a fellow.
THE FIRST STAGE
By this time Christiana was got on her way, and Mercy went along with her: so as they went, her children being there also, Christiana began to discourse. And, Mercy, said Christiana, I take this as an unexpected favor, that thou shouldest set forth out of doors with me to accompany me a little in the way.
MER. Then said young Mercy, (for she was but young,) If I thought it would be to purpose to go with you, I would never go near the town any more.
CHR. Well, Mercy, said Christiana, cast in thy lot with me: I well know what will be the end of our pilgrimage: my husband is where he would not but be for all the gold in the Spanish mines. Nor shalt thou be rejected, though thou goest but upon my invitation. The King, who hath sent for me and my children, is one that delighteth in mercy. Besides, if thou wilt, I will hire thee, and thou shalt go along with me as my servant. Yet we will have all things in common betwixt thee and me: only go along with me.
MER. But how shall I be ascertained that I also should be entertained? Had I this hope but from one that can tell, I would make no stick at all, but would go, being helped by Him that can help, though the way was never so tedious.
CHR. Well, loving Mercy, I will tell thee what thou shalt do: go with me to the Wicket-gate, and there I will further inquire for thee; and if there thou shalt not meet with encouragement, I will be content that thou return to thy place: I will also pay thee for thy kindness which thou showest to me and my children, in the accompanying of us in the way that thou dost.
MER. Then will I go thither, and will take what shall follow; and the Lord grant that my lot may there fall, even as the King of heaven shall have his heart upon me.
Christiana then was glad at heart, not only that she had a companion, but also for that she had prevailed with this poor maid to fall in love with her own salvation. So they went on together, and Mercy began to weep. Then said Christiana, Wherefore weepeth my sister so?
MER. Alas! said she, who can but lament, that shall but rightly consider what a state and condition my poor relations are in, that yet remain in our sinful town? And that which makes my grief the more heavy is, because they have no instructor, nor any to tell them what is to come.
CHR. Pity becomes pilgrims; and thou dost weep for thy friends, as my good Christian did for me when he left me: he mourned for that I would not heed nor regard him; but his Lord and ours did gather up his tears, and put them into his bottle; and now both I and thou, and these my sweet babes, are reaping the fruit and benefit of them. I hope, Mercy, that these tears of thine will not be lost; for the truth hath said, that “they that sow in tears shall reap in joy.” And “he that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.”
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. ESV
Then said Mercy,
“Let the Most Blessed be my guide,
If it be his blessed will,
Unto his gate, into his fold,
Up to his holy hill.
And let him never suffer me
To swerve, or turn aside
From his free-grace and holy ways,
Whate’er shall me betide.
And let him gather them of mine
That I have left behind;
Lord, make them pray they may be thine,
With all their heart and mind.”
Pilgrim's Progress (Illustrated): Updated, Modern English. More than 100 Illustrations.
The Continual Burnt Offering
By H.A. Ironside - 1941
February 222 Samuel 7:25 And now, O LORD God, confirm forever the word that you have spoken concerning your servant and concerning his house, and do as you have spoken. ESV
This is faith’s response to the promises of God, “Do as You have said.” Nothing can turn aside that which God has planned. He works everything according to the counsel of His own will. He gives quietness none can disturb. He never promises one thing and does another. His Word is unchangeable and His covenant is everlasting. Overwhelmed with the assurances of blessing not only for the present but for a long time to come, David bows his head in the presence of God and puts his Amen to what He has covenanted. He who confides in the sure Word of the Lord will never be put to shame.
Genesis 32:12 But you said, ‘I will surely do you good, and make your offspring as the sand of the sea, which cannot be numbered for multitude.’ ”
Psalm 119:49 Remember your word to your servant,
in which you have made me hope.
Ezekiel 36:37 “Thus says the Lord GOD: This also I will let the house of Israel ask me to do for them: to increase their people like a flock. ESV
I know not by what methods rare,
But this I know, God answers prayer.
I know that He has given His Word,
Which tells me prayer is always heard,
And will be answered, soon or late;
And so I pray, and calmly wait.
I know not if the blessing sought,
Will come in just the way I thought,
But leave my prayers with Him alone,
Whose will is wiser than my own,
Assured that He will grant my quest.
Or send some answer far more blest.
The Continual Burnt Offering: Daily Meditations on the Word of God
Devotionals, notes, poetry and more
Remember those who have helped you
2/22/2018 Bob Gass
‘You sent help more than once.’
(Php 4:16-17) Even in Thessalonica you sent me help for my needs once and again. 17 Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that increases to your credit. ESV
Charles Swindoll tells the story of the giving tree: ‘When the boy was young he swung from the tree’s branches, ate her apples, and slept in her shade…But as he grew up he spent less and less time with the tree. “Come on, let’s play,” said the tree. But the young man was only interested in money. “Then take all my apples and sell them,” said the tree. The man did, and the tree was happy. He didn’t return for a long time, but the tree smiled when he passed by one day. “Come on, let’s play!” But the man, older and tired of the world, wanted to get away from it all. “Cut me down. Take my trunk, make a boat, then you can sail away,” said the tree. The man did, and the tree was happy. Many seasons passed – and the tree waited. Finally the man returned, too old to play, or pursue riches, or sail the seas. “I have a pretty good stump left. Sit down here and rest,” said the tree. The man did, and the tree was happy.’ Swindoll continues: ‘I stared into the fire, reviewing my life as I grew older with the tree and the boy. I identified with both – and it hurt. How many giving trees have there been? How many people have given themselves so I might grow, accomplish my goals, and find wholeness and satisfaction? Thank you, Lord, for each one. That night I crawled into bed. I had wept, now I was smiling. “Good night, Lord.” I was a humble man. Thankful I’d taken time to reflect.’ Paul remembered those who helped him – and so should you.
UCB The Word For Today
by Bill Federer
George Washington was born this day, February 22, 1732. In his Inaugural Address, he said: “It would be peculiarly improper to omit, in this first official act, my fervent supplications to that Almighty Being who rules over the universe.” Washington continued: “ ‘No people can be bound to acknowledge and adore the Invisible Hand which conducts the affairs of men more than the people of the United States. Every step by which they have advanced to the character of an independent nation seems to have been distinguished by some token of Providential agency.”
Thomas R. Kelly
"See how these Christians love one another" might well have been a spontaneous exclamation in the days of the apostles. The Holy Fellowship, the Blessed Community has always astonished those who stood without it. The sharing of physical goods in the primitive church is only an outcropping of a profoundly deeper sharing of a Life, the base and center of which is obscured, to those who are still oriented about self, rather than about God. To others, tragic to say, the very existence of such a Fellowship within a common Life and Love is unknown and unguessed. In its place, psychological and humanistic views of the essential sociality and gregariousness of man seek to provide ,a social theory of church memo bership. From these views spring church programs of mere sociability and social contacts. The precious word Fellowship becomes identified with a purely horizontal relation of man to man, not with that horizontal-vertical relationship of man to man in God.
But every period of profound re-discovery of God's joyous immediacy is a period of emergence of this amazing group inter-knittedness of God-enthralled men and women who know one another in Him. It appeared in vivid form among the early Friends. The early days of the Evangelical movement showed the same bondedness in love. The disclosure of God normally brings the disclosure of the Fellowship. We don't create it deliberately; we find it and we find ourselves increasingly within it as we find ourselves increasingly within Him. It is the holy matrix of "the communion of the saints," the body of Christ which is His church. William C. Braithwaite says in the Rowntree Series, that it was a tragic day when the Quakers ceased to be a Fellowship and became a Society of Friends. Yet ever within that Society, and ever within the Christian church, has existed the Holy Fellowship, the Blessed Community, an ekklesiola in ekklesia, a little church within the church.
Yet still more astonishing is the Holy Fellowship, the Blessed Community, to those who are within it. Yet can one be surprised at being at home? In wonder and awe we find ourselves already interknit within unofficial groups of kindred souls. A "chance" conversation comes, and in a few moments we know that we have found and have been found by another member of the Blessed Community. Sometimes we are thus suddenly knit together in the bonds of a love far faster than those of many years' acquaintance. In unbounded eagerness we seek for more such fellowship, and wonder at the apparent lethargy of mere "members."
In the Fellowship cultural and educational and national and racial differences are leveled. Unlettered men are at ease with the truly humble scholar who lives in the Life, and the scholar listens with joy and openness to the precious experiences of God's dealing with the workingman. We find men with chilly theologies but with glowing hearts. We overleap the boundaries of church membership and find Lutherans and Roman Catholics, Jews and Christians, within the Fellowship. We re-read the poets and the saints, and the Fellowship is enlarged. With urgent hunger we read the Scriptures, with no thought of pious exercise, but in order to find more friends for the soul. We brush past our historical learning in the Scriptures, to seize upon those writers who lived in the Center, in the Life and in the Power. Particularly does devotional literature become illuminated, for the Imitation of Christ, and Augustine's Confessions, and Brother Lawrence's Practice of the Presence of God speak the language of the souls who live at the Center. Time telescopes and vanishes, centuries and creeds are overleaped. The incident of death puts no boundaries to the Blessed Community, wherein men live and love and work and pray in that Life and Power which gave forth the Scriptures. And we wonder and grieve at the overwhelmingly heady preoccupation of religious people with problems, problems, unless they have first come into the Fellowship of the Light.
A Testament of Devotion
Compiled by Richard S. Adams
Are we detached enough from our own spiritual hysterics
to wait on God?
To wait is not to sit with folded hands,
but to learn to do what we are told.
--- Oswald Chambers
We all therefore have to face this ultimate and final question: Do we accept the BIBLE as the Word of G-D, as the sole authority in all matters of faith and practice, or do we not? Is the whole of my thinking governed by Scripture, or do I come with my reason and pick and choose out of Scripture and sit in judgment upon it, putting myself and modern knowledge forward as the ultimate standard and authority?
The issue is crystal clear. Do I accept Scripture as a revelation from G-D, or do I trust to speculation, human knowledge, human learning, human understanding and human reasons. Or, putting it still more simply, Do I pin my faith to, and subject all my thinking to, what I read in the BIBLE? Or do I defer to modern knowledge, to modern learning, to what people think today, to what we know at this present time which was not known in the past? It is inevitable that we occupy one or the other of those two positions.
--- D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones
Christians are Christlike: none deserve the name of Christians that are not so, in their prevailing character.… The branch is of the same nature with the stock and root, has the same sap, and bears the same sort of fruit. The members have the same kind of life with the head. It would be strange if Christians should not be of the same temper and spirit that Christ is of; when they are his flesh and his bone, yea are one spirit (1 Corinthians 6:17), and live so, that it is not they that live, but Christ that lives in them.
--- Jonathan Edwards
If a man cannot be a Christian in the place where he is, he cannot be a Christian anywhere.
--- Henry Ward Beecher
... from here, there and everywhere
University of Virginia Library 1994
1757, 1758. Visit to the Families of Friends at Burlington -- Journey to Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, and North Carolina -- Considerations on the State of Friends there, and the Exercise he was under in Travelling among those so generally concerned in keeping Slaves, with some Observations on this Subject -- Epistle to Friends at New Garden and Crane Creek -- Thoughts on the Neglect of a Religious Care in the Education of the Negroes.
THIRTEENTH fifth month, 1757. -- Being in good health, and abroad with Friends visiting families, I lodged at a Friend's house in Burlington. Going to bed about the time usual with me, I awoke in the night, and my meditations, as I lay, were on the goodness and mercy of the Lord, in a sense whereof my heart was contrited. After this I went to sleep again; in a short time I awoke; it was yet dark, and no appearance of day or moonshine, and as I opened mine eyes I saw a light in my chamber, at the apparent distance of five feet, about nine inches in diameter, of a clear, easy brightness, and near its centre the most radiant. As I lay still looking upon it without any surprise, words were spoken to my inward ear, which filled my whole inward man. They were not the effect of thought, nor any conclusion in relation to the appearance, but as the language of the Holy One spoken in my mind. The words were, CERTAIN EVIDENCE OF DIVINE TRUTH. They were again repeated exactly in the same manner, and then the light disappeared.
Feeling the exercise in relation to a visit to the Southern Provinces to increase upon me, I acquainted our Monthly Meeting therewith, and obtained their certificate. Expecting to go alone, one of my brothers who lived in Philadelphia, having some business in North Carolina, proposed going with me part of the way; but as he had a view of some outward affairs, to accept of him as a companion was some difficulty with me, whereupon I had conversation with him at sundry times. At length feeling easy in my mind, I had conversation with several elderly Friends of Philadelphia on the subject, and he obtaining a certificate suitable to the occasion, we set off in the fifth month, 1757. Coming to Nottingham week-day meeting, we lodged at John Churchman's, where I met with our friend, Benjamin Buffington, from New England, who was returning from a visit to the Southern Provinces. Thence we crossed the river Susquehanna, and lodged at William Cox's in Maryland.
Soon after I entered this province a deep and painful exercise came upon me, which I often had some feeling of, since my mind was drawn toward these parts, and with which I had acquainted my brother before we agreed to join as companions. As the people in this and the Southern Provinces live much on the labor of slaves, many of whom are used hardly, my concern was that I might attend with singleness of heart to the voice of the true Shepherd and be so supported as to remain unmoved at the faces of men.
As it is common for Friends on such a visit to have entertainment free of cost, a difficulty arose in my mind with respect to saving my money by kindness received from what appeared to me to be the gain of oppression. Receiving a gift, considered as a gift, brings the receiver under obligations to the benefactor, and has a natural tendency to draw the obliged into a party with the giver. To prevent difficulties of this kind, and to preserve the minds of judges from any bias, was that Divine prohibition: "Thou shalt not receive any gift; for a gift bindeth the wise, and perverteth the words of the righteous." (Exod. xxiii. 8.) As the disciples were sent forth without any provision for their journey, and our Lord said the workman is worthy of his meat, their labor in the gospel was considered as a reward for their entertainment, and therefore not received as a gift; yet, in regard to my present journey, I could not see my way clear in that respect. The difference appeared thus: the entertainment the disciples met with was from them whose hearts God had opened to receive them, from a love to them and the truth they published; but we, considered as members of the same religious society, look upon it as a piece of civility to receive each other in such visits; and such receptions, at times, is partly in regard to reputation, and not from an inward unity of heart and spirit. Conduct is more convincing than language, and where people, by their actions, manifest that the slave-trade is not so disagreeable to their principles but that it may be encouraged, there is not a sound uniting with some Friends who visit them.
The prospect of so weighty a work, and of being so distinguished from many whom I esteemed before myself, brought me very low, and such were the conflicts of my soul that I had a near sympathy with the Prophet, in the time of his weakness, when he said: "If thou deal thus with me, kill me, I pray thee, if I have found favor in thy sight." (Num. xi. 15.) But I soon saw that this proceeded from the want of a full resignation to the Divine will. Many were the afflictions which attended me, and in great abasement, with many tears, my cries were to the Almighty for his gracious and fatherly assistance, and after a time of deep trial I was favored to understand the state mentioned by the Psalmist more clearly than ever I had done before; to wit: "My soul is even as a weaned child." (Psalm cxxxi. 2.) Being thus helped to sink down into resignation, I felt a deliverance from that tempest in which I had been sorely exercised, and in calmness of mind went forward, trusting that the Lord Jesus Christ, as I faithfully attended to him, would be a counselor to me in all difficulties, and that by His strength I should be enabled even to leave money with the members of society where I had entertainment, when I found that omitting it would obstruct that work to which I believed He had called me. As I copy this after my return, I may here add, that oftentimes I did so under a sense of duty. The way in which I did it was thus: when I expected soon to leave a Friend's house where I had entertainment, if I believed that I should not keep clear from the gain of oppression without leaving money, I spoke to one of the heads of the family privately, and desired them to accept of those pieces of silver, and give them to such of their negroes as they believed would make the best use of them; and at other times I gave them to the negroes myself, as the way looked clearest to me. Before I came out, I had provided a large number of small pieces for this purpose and thus offering them to some who appeared to be wealthy people was a trial both to me and them. But the fear of the Lord so covered me at times that my way was made easier than I expected; and few, if any, manifested any resentment at the offer, and most of them, after some conversation, accepted of them.
John Woolman's Journal
by D.H. Stern
but the perverse tongue will be cut off.
32 The lips of the righteous know what is wanted,
but the mouth of the wicked [knows] deceit.
Complete Jewish Bible : An English Version of the Tanakh (Old Testament) and B'Rit Hadashah (New Testament)
A Daily Devotional by Oswald Chambers
The discipline of spiritual tenacity
Be still, and know that I am God. --- Psalm 46:10.
Tenacity is more than endurance, it is endurance combined with the absolute certainty that what we are looking for is going to transpire. Tenacity is more than hanging on, which may be but the weakness of being too afraid to fall off. Tenacity is the supreme effort of a man refusing to believe that his hero is going to be conquered. The greatest fear a disciple has is not that he will be damned, but that Jesus Christ will be worsted, that the things He stood for—love and justice and forgiveness and kindness among men—will not win out in the end; the things He stands for look like will-o’-the-wisps. Then comes the call to spiritual tenacity, not to hang on and do nothing, but to work deliberately on the certainty that God is not going to be worsted.
If our hopes are being disappointed just now, it means that they are being purified. There is nothing noble the human mind has ever hoped for or dreamed of that will not be fulfilled. One of the greatest strains in life is the strain of waiting for God. “Because thou hast kept the word of My patience.”
Remain spiritually tenacious.
My Utmost for His Highest
the Poetry of R.S. Thomas
not too far
from the tree of science.
since I sought and failed
to steal from it,
somewhere within sight
of the tree of poetry
that is eternity wearing
the green leaves of time.
Selected poems, 1946-1968
The eager disciple
There was the eager disciple (v. 57) who volunteered to follow Jesus anywhere—till Jesus warned that discipleship might be uncomfortable. There was the reluctant disciple (v. 59) who, when commanded to follow, wanted to wait until his father had died and been buried! Jesus rejected the excuse. “Go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” There is no evidence that this reluctant disciple obeyed.
There was also the someday disciple (v. 61), who wanted only a little time. Just to say good-bye to the home folks. Then, someday soon, he would follow. This too was unsatisfactory.
You see, what Jesus seeks is the now disciple (v. 62). Jesus wants the person who will put his or her hand to the plow and, without looking back, move straight out to do God’s will.
The figure of the plowman is succinct. As a teen, I plowed with an old one-horse hand plow, settling the reins around my shoulders, grasping the handles firmly, struggling to hold the blade level and steady, to make an even furrow. As the first furrow was cut into the virgin ground, I picked out a pair of marks at the far end of the field to line up carefully. If I looked back, the plow wandered, and the furrow snaked off across the field. Only by looking ahead, with eyes fixed on my guiding marks, could I do my job.
This is what Jesus asks of us. To fix our eyes ahead, on Him, and not to look back. We are to take the plow, now, and commit ourselves to His task.
Lessons for Everyday Living
The Talmud was originally an “oral law:” it was for a long rime memorized and passed on, without being written down. This necessitated a terse, sparse style that could be committed to memory and easily recalled. Thus, more was left unsaid in a discussion than was actually expressed. The Rabbis who taught and transmitted these statements knew their own intent; they could elucidate their brief teachings with precise explanations and extensive commentaries. However, once the Oral Torah was written down and the original teachers passed from the scene, there could never be total certainty as to what the text actually meant. In some ways, studying Talmud is like playing a 2,000-year-old game of “Telephone,” where one person whispers a message to a second, who whispers it to a third: We try to make sense of a communication that sometimes seems incomprehensible.
A common difficulty is found in an extended debate or conversation. Two Rabbis argue back and forth, sometimes in multiple exchanges. But instead of identifying the speaker at each stage, the Gemara simply notes “He said …” and “he said …”. It requires the concentration of a chess-master to follow each move, and to keep track of who is saying what.
Western civilization is much beholden to Greek values, philosophy, and thought. The Greek approach to logic, exemplified by the “outline form”—is the one we have been inculcated with in all of our educational endeavors. We move from the general to the specific, from the simple to the complex, starting at the “beginning,” moving to the “middle,” and finishing up at the “end.” At any given point we know where we are, where we’ve been, and where we are headed.
Rabbinic logic is of a totally different nature. It does not function on the same horizontal (beginning to end) or vertical (bottom to top) planes. A circle is a more appropriate model: Without beginning or end, going on eternally. (Consider the Jewish custom of finishing the yearly reading of the Torah and then immediately beginning the cycle all over again.) You can start learning Talmud with any text. You break into the circle at any point and then move on from there.
While western logic assumes you know only what you have been taught previously, rabbinic logic works under the assumption that you are already familiar with everything the Rabbis are discussing. This requires the learner to stop frequently along the way, to pause, and “catch up” by looking up and learning another source or concept before being able to continue. In some sense, it is like learning to swim by being thrown into the deep end of the pool. At first it’s a struggle to even stay afloat. But after a while, you find yourself navigating quite freely and capably in even the most difficult conditions. This means, however, that you can’t go very quickly. The Talmud cannot be “read”; it is learned, slowly, methodically, and thoroughly, step by step.
The Rabbis operated on the “logic of association.” One idea brings to mind a second, and that leads us to a third. For example, early in Masekhet Shabbat, there is a discussion about candle lighting at the onset of the Sabbath. That leads the Rabbis to consider candle lighting for the festival of Hanukkah. Once involved in the laws of lighting the candles, the Rabbis move on to discuss the origin and meaning of Hanukkah. When the topic of Hanukkah is completed, the Gemara returns to its original subject, Shabbat, as if saying, “Oh yes, where were we?” Going off on tangents is typical of the Talmud. We are thus taught: No topic is off-limits. Everything in the Talmud—and in life—is interrelated and interdependent. Every text is “relevant” and personal because any text can and does lead us into any and every subject.
The Daily Hallel
"In expressing his view regarding a whole series of religious practices that were then entirely optional, Rabbi Jose, a second-century Talmudic sage, said, “Let my lot (meaning in this life and in the afterlife) be with those who complete Hallel every day” (Shabbat 118b). The Talmud then proceeds to explain that Rabbi Jose was not referring to the group of psalms that we designate today as Hallel and recite only on holidays, but to the groups of psalms that we say every day, and call Pesukei d’ Zimra. This is known as “the daily hallel.”
This remained an entirely optional part of the service for a long time, as a sort of voluntary offering. Saadia Gaon explained it this way: “Our nation willingly offered to read songs and praises to the Holy One, blessed be He … “ Maimonides put it this way: “The sages regarded as praise worthy those who every day read the psalms from Tehilah l’David (Psalm 145) until the end of the book (Psalm 150) … (Hil. Tefilah 7:12). It was said mainly by pious individuals who were meticulous about putting themselves into the proper spirit for the obligatory prayers (Berakhot 5:1).”
To Pray As A Jew: A Guide To The Prayer Book And The Synagogue Service
Great Is the LORD
145 A SONG OF PRAISE. OF DAVID.
1 I will extol you, my God and King,
and bless your name forever and ever.
2 Every day I will bless you
and praise your name forever and ever.
3 Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised,
and his greatness is unsearchable.
4 One generation shall commend your works to another,
and shall declare your mighty acts.
5 On the glorious splendor of your majesty,
and on your wondrous works, I will meditate.
6 They shall speak of the might of your awesome deeds,
and I will declare your greatness.
7 They shall pour forth the fame of your abundant goodness
and shall sing aloud of your righteousness.
8 The LORD is gracious and merciful,
slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
9 The LORD is good to all,
and his mercy is over all that he has made.
10 All your works shall give thanks to you, O LORD,
and all your saints shall bless you!
11 They shall speak of the glory of your kingdom
and tell of your power,
12 to make known to the children of man your mighty deeds,
and the glorious splendor of your kingdom.
13 Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom,
and your dominion endures throughout all generations.
[The LORD is faithful in all his words
and kind in all his works.]
14 The LORD upholds all who are falling
and raises up all who are bowed down.
15 The eyes of all look to you,
and you give them their food in due season.
16 You open your hand;
you satisfy the desire of every living thing.
17 The LORD is righteous in all his ways
and kind in all his works.
18 The LORD is near to all who call on him,
to all who call on him in truth.
19 He fulfills the desire of those who fear him;
he also hears their cry and saves them.
20 The LORD preserves all who love him,
but all the wicked he will destroy.
21 My mouth will speak the praise of the LORD,
and let all flesh bless his holy name forever and ever.
Put Not Your Trust in Princes
146 Praise the LORD!
Praise the LORD, O my soul!
2 I will praise the LORD as long as I live;
I will sing praises to my God while I have my being.
3 Put not your trust in princes,
in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation.
4 When his breath departs, he returns to the earth;
on that very day his plans perish.
5 Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob,
whose hope is in the LORD his God,
6 who made heaven and earth,
the sea, and all that is in them,
who keeps faith forever;
7 who executes justice for the oppressed,
who gives food to the hungry.
The LORD sets the prisoners free;
8 the LORD opens the eyes of the blind.
The LORD lifts up those who are bowed down;
the LORD loves the righteous.
9 The LORD watches over the sojourners;
he upholds the widow and the fatherless,
but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin.
10 The LORD will reign forever,
your God, O Zion, to all generations.
Praise the LORD!
He Heals the Brokenhearted
147 Praise the LORD!
For it is good to sing praises to our God;
for it is pleasant, and a song of praise is fitting.
2 The LORD builds up Jerusalem;
he gathers the outcasts of Israel.
3 He heals the brokenhearted
and binds up their wounds.
4 He determines the number of the stars;
he gives to all of them their names.
5 Great is our Lord, and abundant in power;
his understanding is beyond measure.
6 The LORD lifts up the humble;
he casts the wicked to the ground.
7 Sing to the LORD with thanksgiving;
make melody to our God on the lyre!
8 He covers the heavens with clouds;
he prepares rain for the earth;
he makes grass grow on the hills.
9 He gives to the beasts their food,
and to the young ravens that cry.
10 His delight is not in the strength of the horse,
nor his pleasure in the legs of a man,
11 but the LORD takes pleasure in those who fear him,
in those who hope in his steadfast love.
12 Praise the LORD, O Jerusalem!
Praise your God, O Zion!
13 For he strengthens the bars of your gates;
he blesses your children within you.
14 He makes peace in your borders;
he fills you with the finest of the wheat.
15 He sends out his command to the earth;
his word runs swiftly.
16 He gives snow like wool;
he scatters frost like ashes.
17 He hurls down his crystals of ice like crumbs;
who can stand before his cold?
18 He sends out his word, and melts them;
he makes his wind blow and the waters flow.
19 He declares his word to Jacob,
his statutes and rules to Israel.
20 He has not dealt thus with any other nation;
they do not know his rules.
Praise the LORD!
Praise the Name of the LORD
148 Praise the LORD!
Praise the LORD from the heavens;
praise him in the heights!
2 Praise him, all his angels;
praise him, all his hosts!
3 Praise him, sun and moon,
praise him, all you shining stars!
4 Praise him, you highest heavens,
and you waters above the heavens!
5 Let them praise the name of the LORD!
For he commanded and they were created.
6 And he established them forever and ever;
he gave a decree, and it shall not pass away.
7 Praise the LORD from the earth,
you great sea creatures and all deeps,
8 fire and hail, snow and mist,
stormy wind fulfilling his word!
9 Mountains and all hills,
fruit trees and all cedars!
10 Beasts and all livestock,
creeping things and flying birds!
11 Kings of the earth and all peoples,
princes and all rulers of the earth!
12 Young men and maidens together,
old men and children!
13 Let them praise the name of the LORD,
for his name alone is exalted;
his majesty is above earth and heaven.
14 He has raised up a horn for his people,
praise for all his saints,
for the people of Israel who are near to him.
Praise the LORD!
Sing to the LORD a New Song
149 Praise the LORD!
Sing to the LORD a new song,
his praise in the assembly of the godly!
2 Let Israel be glad in his Maker;
let the children of Zion rejoice in their King!
3 Let them praise his name with dancing,
making melody to him with tambourine and lyre!
4 For the LORD takes pleasure in his people;
he adorns the humble with salvation.
5 Let the godly exult in glory;
let them sing for joy on their beds.
6 Let the high praises of God be in their throats
and two-edged swords in their hands,
7 to execute vengeance on the nations
and punishments on the peoples,
8 to bind their kings with chains
and their nobles with fetters of iron,
9 to execute on them the judgment written!
This is honor for all his godly ones.
Praise the LORD!
Let Everything Praise the LORD
150 Praise the LORD!
Praise God in his sanctuary;
praise him in his mighty heavens!
2 Praise him for his mighty deeds;
praise him according to his excellent greatness!
3 Praise him with trumpet sound;
praise him with lute and harp!
4 Praise him with tambourine and dance;
praise him with strings and pipe!
5 Praise him with sounding cymbals;
praise him with loud clashing cymbals!
6 Let everything that has breath praise the LORD!
Praise the LORD!
Thomas A Kempis
Book One / Thoughts Helpful In The Life Of The Soul
The Twenty-Second Chapter / Thoughts On The Misery Of Man
WHEREVER you are, wherever you go, you are miserable unless you turn to God. So why be dismayed when things do not happen as you wish and desire? Is there anyone who has everything as he wishes? No—neither I, nor you, nor any man on earth. There is no one in the world, be he Pope or king, who does not suffer trial and anguish.
Who is the better off then? Surely, it is the man who will suffer something for God. Many unstable and weak-minded people say: “See how well that man lives, how rich, how great he is, how powerful and mighty.” But you must lift up your eyes to the riches of heaven and realize that the material goods of which they speak are nothing. These things are uncertain and very burdensome because they are never possessed without anxiety and fear. Man’s happiness does not consist in the possession of abundant goods; a very little is enough.
Living on earth is truly a misery. The more a man desires spiritual life, the more bitter the present becomes to him, because he understands better and sees more clearly the defects, the corruption of human nature. To eat and drink, to watch and sleep, to rest, to labor, and to be bound by other human necessities is certainly a great misery and affliction to the devout man, who would gladly be released from them and be free from all sin. Truly, the inner man is greatly burdened in this world by the necessities of the body, and for this reason the Prophet prayed that he might be as free from them as possible, when he said: “From my necessities, O Lord, deliver me.” (Psalm 25:17)
But woe to those who know not their own misery, and greater woe to those who love this miserable and corruptible life. Some, indeed, can scarcely procure its necessities either by work or by begging; yet they love it so much that, if they could live here always, they would care nothing for the kingdom of God.
How foolish and faithless of heart are those who are so engrossed in earthly things as to relish nothing but what is carnal! Miserable men indeed, for in the end they will see to their sorrow how cheap and worthless was the thing they loved.
The saints of God and all devout friends of Christ did not look to what pleases the body nor to the things that are popular from time to time. Their whole hope and aim centered on the everlasting good. Their whole desire pointed upward to the lasting and invisible realm, lest the love of what is visible drag them down to lower things.
Do not lose heart, then, my brother, in pursuing your spiritual life. There is yet time, and your hour is not past. Why delay your purpose? Arise! Begin at once and say: “Now is the time to act, now is the time to fight, now is the proper time to amend.”
When you are troubled and afflicted, that is the time to gain merit. You must pass through water and fire before coming to rest. Unless you do violence to yourself you will not overcome vice.
So long as we live in this fragile body, we can neither be free from sin nor live without weariness and sorrow. Gladly would we rest from all misery, but in losing innocence through sin we also lost true blessedness. Therefore, we must have patience and await the mercy of God until this iniquity passes, until mortality is swallowed up in life.
How great is the frailty of human nature which is ever prone to evil! Today you confess your sins and tomorrow you again commit the sins which you confessed. One moment you resolve to be careful, and yet after an hour you act as though you had made no resolution.
We have cause, therefore, because of our frailty and feebleness, to humble ourselves and never think anything great of ourselves. Through neglect we may quickly lose that which by God’s grace we have acquired only through long, hard labor. What, eventually, will become of us who so quickly grow lukewarm? Woe to us if we presume to rest in peace and security when actually there is no true holiness in our lives. It would be beneficial for us, like good novices, to be instructed once more in the principles of a good life, to see if there be hope of amendment and greater spiritual progress in the future.
The Imitation Of Christ
You yourselves are God’s temple and God’s Spirit lives in you. 1 Corinthians 3:16.
Doubtless the church is the kingdom, the home, the temple of the Spirit; but how? ( Sermons, preached before the University of Oxford ) The Spirit governing the church is not like a human monarch, controlling his or her subjects, so to speak, as a force above and outside them. The Spirit is not only an atmosphere in which the church’s members move and breathe. He is not any merely external power or influence. The presence of the Spirit in the church is realized by his presence in the separate souls of her children. He is given without measure to the whole because he is given in a measure to each. Although he lives in souls because he lives in the church, yet the collective church is the temple of deity because the souls of regenerated Christians are already so many tenements in which the Heavenly Guest deigns to tarry and to bless.
The presence on which he insists is ultimately a presence in the individual. Such was to be the law of the messianic kingdom: each of its subjects was to be gifted with an inward presence of the Holy One.
The [Spirit’s] presence carries with it the gift of a new nature, the nature of God’s sinless Son. Along with this Spirit comes the gift of a new moral being, a new capacity and direction to the affections and the will, a clear perception of the truth by the renewed intelligence. And it becomes us today to remember that this gift dates from the morning of the first Christian Pentecost.
That intimate, absorbing, transforming gift of himself by God presupposes a recipient unlike all creatures that merely grow and feel, while they are incapable of reflective thought and self-determination. The human being, as an immortal spirit, is the temple of God. But how the divine Spirit enters into the human, who will say? But just so far as we bear constantly in mind the immateriality of our real selves can we understand the high privilege to which we are called in Christ. The presence of the Spirit, having its seat in the immortal human spirit, is inseparable from the presence of the incarnate Christ. This sanctification of the Christian’s whole being radiates from the sanctification of the inmost self-consciousness, involving the self-dedication to God of that imperishable center of life, that “I,” which is at the root of all feeling and all thought, which is each person’s true, indivisible, inmost self.
--- H. P. Liddon
Take Heart: Daily Devotions with the Church's Great Preachers
In Europe at the turn of the thirteenth century hundreds of great Gothic cathedrals were erected, among them the famous Notre Dame in Paris. A young man, studying at the University of Paris, watched with interest. He listened to reports of crusader armies and discussed theology with his fellow students. They didn’t dream he was destined to become the most powerful man in the world.
He was Giovanni Lotario de’ Conti, and his interests were law and theology. Then he entered the service of the church. On February 22, 1198, at the young age of 37, he was consecrated pope, and immediately chose the name Innocent III.
The new pope wanted the papacy to reflect the mysterious majesty and Gothic splendor of the new cathedrals like Notre Dame, and he set out at once to become absolute ruler over both church and state. He wrote to kings, princes, scholars, and universities, seeking to influence events in Europe. He organized new crusades to capture the Holy Land. He identified heresy and worked hard to root it out. He massacred dissenters. He expanded papal control of central Italy. He involved himself in the selection of kings and emperors. He forced King Philip II to return to his wife. He brought England’s King John to his knees. In one way or another, he dominated the leaders of Europe, insisting that he was their spiritual leader.
Pope Innocent also made his mark on church dogma. In 1215 he convened the Fourth Lateran Council in Rome. The council issued 70 pronouncements, the most significant involving the Lord’s Supper. The council decreed that the elements of the Eucharist actually possess the substance of the body and blood of Christ, a doctrine known as transubstantiation.
Pope Innocent died in 1216 at age 56. “No other mortal,” wrote one historian, “has before or since wielded such power.”
He had gained the whole world.
What will you gain, if you own the whole world but destroy yourself? What would you give to get back your soul?
--- Matthew 16:26.
On This Day 365 Amazing And Inspiring Stories About Saints, Martyrs And Heroes
Daily Readings / CHARLES H. SPURGEON
Morning - February 22
“His bow abode in strength, and the arms of his hands were made strong by the hands of the mighty God of Jacob.” --- Genesis 49:24.
That strength which God gives to his Josephs is real strength; it is not a boasted valour, a fiction, a thing of which men talk, but which ends in smoke; it is true—divine strength. Why does Joseph stand against temptation? Because God gives him aid. There is nought that we can do without the power of God. All true strength comes from “the mighty God of Jacob.” Notice in what a blessedly familiar way God gives this strength to Joseph—“The arms of his hands were made strong by the hands of the mighty God of Jacob.” Thus God is represented as putting his hands on Joseph’s hands, placing his arms on Joseph’s arms. Like as a father teaches his children, so the Lord teaches them that fear him. He puts his arms upon them. Marvellous condescension! God Almighty, Eternal, Omnipotent, stoops from his throne and lays his hand upon the child’s hand, stretching his arm upon the arm of Joseph, that he may be made strong! This strength was also covenant strength, for it is ascribed to “the mighty God of Jacob.” Now, wherever you read of the God of Jacob in the Bible, you should remember the covenant with Jacob. Christians love to think of God’s covenant. All the power, all the grace, all the blessings, all the mercies, all the comforts, all the things we have, flow to us from the well-head, through the covenant. If there were no covenant, then we should fail indeed; for all grace proceeds from it, as light and heat from the sun. No angels ascend or descend, save upon that ladder which Jacob saw, at the top of which stood a covenant God. Christian, it may be that the archers have sorely grieved you, and shot at you, and wounded you, but still your bow abides in strength; be sure, then, to ascribe all the glory to Jacob’s God.
Evening - February 22
“The Lord is slow to anger, and great in power.” --- Nahum 1:3.
Jehovah “is slow to anger.” When mercy cometh into the world she driveth winged steeds; the axles of her chariot-wheels are red hot with speed; but when wrath goeth forth, it toileth on with tardy footsteps, for God taketh no pleasure in the sinner’s death. God’s rod of mercy is ever in his hands outstretched; his sword of justice is in its scabbard, held down by that pierced hand of love which bled for the sins of men. “The Lord is slow to anger,” because he is GREAT IN POWER. He is truly great in power who hath power over himself. When God’s power doth restrain himself, then it is power indeed: the power that binds omnipotence is omnipotence surpassed. A man who has a strong mind can bear to be insulted long, and only resents the wrong when a sense of right demands his action. The weak mind is irritated at a little: the strong mind bears it like a rock which moveth not, though a thousand breakers dash upon it, and cast their pitiful malice in spray upon its summit. God marketh his enemies, and yet he bestirs not himself, but holdeth in his anger. If he were less divine than he is, he would long ere this have sent forth the whole of his thunders, and emptied the magazines of heaven; he would long ere this have blasted the earth with the wondrous fires of its lower regions, and man would have been utterly destroyed; but the greatness of his power brings us mercy. Dear reader, what is your state this evening? Can you by humble faith look to Jesus, and say, “My substitute, thou art my rock, my trust”? Then, beloved, be not afraid of God’s power; for by faith you have fled to Christ for refuge, the power of God need no more terrify you, than the shield and sword of the warrior need terrify those whom he loves. Rather rejoice that he who is “great in power” is your Father and Friend.
Morning and Evening
THEY’LL KNOW WE ARE CHRISTIANS BY OUR LOVE
Words and Music by Peter Scholtes, 1938–
A new commandment I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. All men will know that you are My disciples if you love one another.
(John 13:34, 35)
It’s easy to talk sentimentally about love. It’s much more difficult to apply it to needy people and situations. The Scriptures clearly teach, however, that the proof of God’s presence within our lives is our willingness to share His love with humanity. The earthly badge of our heavenly citizenship is our love relationship with others.
A life of love is a deliberate choice on our part. We must choose this lifestyle against our natural bent for self-centeredness. Soon, with the Holy Spirit’s enablement, our new life of love becomes a natural behavior. Then the emotional feelings of inner fulfillment follow. Responding to the needs of others will never be a duty; rather it should be a privilege of normal Christian living. Our love in action will bring joy to a brother or sister in Christ and even show nonbelievers that we are Christians not only in name but in deed as well.
We are one in the Spirit, we are one in the Lord, we are one in the Spirit, we are one in the Lord, and we pray that all unity may one day be restored: And they’ll know we are Christians by our love, by our love; Yes, they’ll know we are Christians by our love.
We will walk with each other, we will walk hand in hand, we will walk with each other, we will walk hand in hand, and together we’ll spread the news that God is in our land: And they’ll know we are Christians by our love, by our love; Yes, they’ll know we are Christians by our love.
We will work with each other, we will work side by side, we will work with each other, we will work side by side, and we’ll guard each man’s dignity and save each man’s pride: And they’ll know we are Christians by our love, by our love; Yes, they’ll know we are Christians by our love.
All praise to the Father, from whom all things come, and all praise to Christ Jesus, His only Son, and all praise to the Spirit, who makes us one: And they’ll know we are Christians by our love; Yes, they’ll know we are Christians by our love.
For Today: Matthew 22:39; John 17:22; 1 Corinthians 16:14; 1 Peter 1:22; 1 John 3:23.
Look around in your local church. Is there someone needing a helping hand? Does a new mother need a meal taken in or the washing done? Can you help an elderly person with some home repairs? Consider this ---
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