Numbers 31 - 32
Vengeance on MidianNumbers 31:1 The LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 2 “Avenge the people of Israel on the Midianites. Afterward you shall be gathered to your people.” 3 So Moses spoke to the people, saying, “Arm men from among you for the war, that they may go against Midian to execute the LORD’s vengeance on Midian. 4 You shall send a thousand from each of the tribes of Israel to the war.” 5 So there were provided, out of the thousands of Israel, a thousand from each tribe, twelve thousand armed for war. 6 And Moses sent them to the war, a thousand from each tribe, together with Phinehas the son of Eleazar the priest, with the vessels of the sanctuary and the trumpets for the alarm in his hand. 7 They warred against Midian, as the LORD commanded Moses, and killed every male. 8 They killed the kings of Midian with the rest of their slain, Evi, Rekem, Zur, Hur, and Reba, the five kings of Midian. And they also killed Balaam the son of Beor with the sword. 9 And the people of Israel took captive the women of Midian and their little ones, and they took as plunder all their cattle, their flocks, and all their goods. 10 All their cities in the places where they lived, and all their encampments, they burned with fire, 11 and took all the spoil and all the plunder, both of man and of beast. 12 Then they brought the captives and the plunder and the spoil to Moses, and to Eleazar the priest, and to the congregation of the people of Israel, at the camp on the plains of Moab by the Jordan at Jericho.
13 Moses and Eleazar the priest and all the chiefs of the congregation went to meet them outside the camp. 14 And Moses was angry with the officers of the army, the commanders of thousands and the commanders of hundreds, who had come from service in the war. 15 Moses said to them, “Have you let all the women live? 16 Behold, these, on Balaam’s advice, caused the people of Israel to act treacherously against the LORD in the incident of Peor, and so the plague came among the congregation of the LORD. 17 Now therefore, kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman who has known man by lying with him. 18 But all the young girls who have not known man by lying with him keep alive for yourselves. 19 Encamp outside the camp seven days. Whoever of you has killed any person and whoever has touched any slain, purify yourselves and your captives on the third day and on the seventh day. 20 You shall purify every garment, every article of skin, all work of goats’ hair, and every article of wood.”
21 Then Eleazar the priest said to the men in the army who had gone to battle: “This is the statute of the law that the LORD has commanded Moses: 22 only the gold, the silver, the bronze, the iron, the tin, and the lead, 23 everything that can stand the fire, you shall pass through the fire, and it shall be clean. Nevertheless, it shall also be purified with the water for impurity. And whatever cannot stand the fire, you shall pass through the water. 24 You must wash your clothes on the seventh day, and you shall be clean. And afterward you may come into the camp.”
25 The LORD said to Moses, 26 “Take the count of the plunder that was taken, both of man and of beast, you and Eleazar the priest and the heads of the fathers’ houses of the congregation, 27 and divide the plunder into two parts between the warriors who went out to battle and all the congregation. 28 And levy for the LORD a tribute from the men of war who went out to battle, one out of five hundred, of the people and of the oxen and of the donkeys and of the flocks. 29 Take it from their half and give it to Eleazar the priest as a contribution to the LORD. 30 And from the people of Israel’s half you shall take one drawn out of every fifty, of the people, of the oxen, of the donkeys, and of the flocks, of all the cattle, and give them to the Levites who keep guard over the tabernacle of the LORD.” 31 And Moses and Eleazar the priest did as the LORD commanded Moses.
32 Now the plunder remaining of the spoil that the army took was 675,000 sheep, 33 72,000 cattle, 34 61,000 donkeys, 35 and 32,000 persons in all, women who had not known man by lying with him. 36 And the half, the portion of those who had gone out in the army, numbered 337,500 sheep, 37 and the LORD’s tribute of sheep was 675. 38 The cattle were 36,000, of which the LORD’s tribute was 72. 39 The donkeys were 30,500, of which the LORD’s tribute was 61. 40 The persons were 16,000, of which the LORD’s tribute was 32 persons. 41 And Moses gave the tribute, which was the contribution for the LORD, to Eleazar the priest, as the LORD commanded Moses.
42 From the people of Israel’s half, which Moses separated from that of the men who had served in the army— 43 now the congregation’s half was 337,500 sheep, 44 36,000 cattle, 45 and 30,500 donkeys, 46 and 16,000 persons— 47 from the people of Israel’s half Moses took one of every 50, both of persons and of beasts, and gave them to the Levites who kept guard over the tabernacle of the LORD, as the LORD commanded Moses.
48 Then the officers who were over the thousands of the army, the commanders of thousands and the commanders of hundreds, came near to Moses 49 and said to Moses, “Your servants have counted the men of war who are under our command, and there is not a man missing from us. 50 And we have brought the LORD’s offering, what each man found, articles of gold, armlets and bracelets, signet rings, earrings, and beads, to make atonement for ourselves before the LORD.” 51 And Moses and Eleazar the priest received from them the gold, all crafted articles. 52 And all the gold of the contribution that they presented to the LORD, from the commanders of thousands and the commanders of hundreds, was 16,750 shekels. 53 (The men in the army had each taken plunder for himself.) 54 And Moses and Eleazar the priest received the gold from the commanders of thousands and of hundreds, and brought it into the tent of meeting, as a memorial for the people of Israel before the LORD.
Reuben and Gad Settle in GileadNumbers 32:1 Now the people of Reuben and the people of Gad had a very great number of livestock. And they saw the land of Jazer and the land of Gilead, and behold, the place was a place for livestock. 2 So the people of Gad and the people of Reuben came and said to Moses and to Eleazar the priest and to the chiefs of the congregation, 3 “Ataroth, Dibon, Jazer, Nimrah, Heshbon, Elealeh, Sebam, Nebo, and Beon, 4 the land that the LORD struck down before the congregation of Israel, is a land for livestock, and your servants have livestock.” 5 And they said, “If we have found favor in your sight, let this land be given to your servants for a possession. Do not take us across the Jordan.”
6 But Moses said to the people of Gad and to the people of Reuben, “Shall your brothers go to the war while you sit here? 7 Why will you discourage the heart of the people of Israel from going over into the land that the LORD has given them? 8 Your fathers did this, when I sent them from Kadesh-barnea to see the land. 9 For when they went up to the Valley of Eshcol and saw the land, they discouraged the heart of the people of Israel from going into the land that the LORD had given them. 10 And the LORD’s anger was kindled on that day, and he swore, saying, 11 ‘Surely none of the men who came up out of Egypt, from twenty years old and upward, shall see the land that I swore to give to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, because they have not wholly followed me, 12 none except Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite and Joshua the son of Nun, for they have wholly followed the LORD.’ 13 And the LORD’s anger was kindled against Israel, and he made them wander in the wilderness forty years, until all the generation that had done evil in the sight of the LORD was gone. 14 And behold, you have risen in your fathers’ place, a brood of sinful men, to increase still more the fierce anger of the LORD against Israel! 15 For if you turn away from following him, he will again abandon them in the wilderness, and you will destroy all this people.”
16 Then they came near to him and said, “We will build sheepfolds here for our livestock, and cities for our little ones, 17 but we will take up arms, ready to go before the people of Israel, until we have brought them to their place. And our little ones shall live in the fortified cities because of the inhabitants of the land. 18 We will not return to our homes until each of the people of Israel has gained his inheritance. 19 For we will not inherit with them on the other side of the Jordan and beyond, because our inheritance has come to us on this side of the Jordan to the east.” 20 So Moses said to them, “If you will do this, if you will take up arms to go before the LORD for the war, 21 and every armed man of you will pass over the Jordan before the LORD, until he has driven out his enemies from before him 22 and the land is subdued before the LORD; then after that you shall return and be free of obligation to the LORD and to Israel, and this land shall be your possession before the LORD. 23 But if you will not do so, behold, you have sinned against the LORD, and be sure your sin will find you out. 24 Build cities for your little ones and folds for your sheep, and do what you have promised.” 25 And the people of Gad and the people of Reuben said to Moses, “Your servants will do as my lord commands. 26 Our little ones, our wives, our livestock, and all our cattle shall remain there in the cities of Gilead, 27 but your servants will pass over, every man who is armed for war, before the LORD to battle, as my lord orders.”
28 So Moses gave command concerning them to Eleazar the priest and to Joshua the son of Nun and to the heads of the fathers’ houses of the tribes of the people of Israel. 29 And Moses said to them, “If the people of Gad and the people of Reuben, every man who is armed to battle before the LORD, will pass with you over the Jordan and the land shall be subdued before you, then you shall give them the land of Gilead for a possession. 30 However, if they will not pass over with you armed, they shall have possessions among you in the land of Canaan.” 31 And the people of Gad and the people of Reuben answered, “What the LORD has said to your servants, we will do. 32 We will pass over armed before the LORD into the land of Canaan, and the possession of our inheritance shall remain with us beyond the Jordan.”
33 And Moses gave to them, to the people of Gad and to the people of Reuben and to the half-tribe of Manasseh the son of Joseph, the kingdom of Sihon king of the Amorites and the kingdom of Og king of Bashan, the land and its cities with their territories, the cities of the land throughout the country. 34 And the people of Gad built Dibon, Ataroth, Aroer, 35 Atroth-shophan, Jazer, Jogbehah, 36 Beth-nimrah and Beth-haran, fortified cities, and folds for sheep. 37 And the people of Reuben built Heshbon, Elealeh, Kiriathaim, 38 Nebo, and Baal-meon (their names were changed), and Sibmah. And they gave other names to the cities that they built. 39 And the sons of Machir the son of Manasseh went to Gilead and captured it, and dispossessed the Amorites who were in it. 40 And Moses gave Gilead to Machir the son of Manasseh, and he settled in it. 41 And Jair the son of Manasseh went and captured their villages, and called them Havvoth-jair. 42 And Nobah went and captured Kenath and its villages, and called it Nobah, after his own name.
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Why Doesn’t God Answer All My Prayers?
By J. Warner Wallace 2/21/2018
You don’t have to be a Christian long to recognize you don’t always get what you pray for. Why doesn’t God seem to answer all our prayers? Is it because we aren’t praying properly, or have we simply failed to recognize God’s answer? Our ideas about prayer and God’s ideas about prayer are sometimes very different. Look at Jesus’ model supplication in the Gospel of Luke: “Father, hallowed be your name.
(Lk 11:2–4)2 And he said to them, “When you pray, say:
Your kingdom come.
3 Give us each day our daily bread,
4 and forgive us our sins,
for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us.
And lead us not into temptation.” ESV
Recognize the Holy Nature of God | Jesus begins by praising God and recognizing His holiness. He wants God’s will to be accomplished first, even before asking for anything for Himself. The Bible tells us that we must put God first if we want our prayers to be heard (Ezekiel 14:3, John 15:7). We’re called to abide in God first and put aside all other idols in our lives before we ask God for something.
Recognize Our Desperate Need Related to Forgiveness | The last part of Jesus’ prayer is centered entirely on the truth about each of us as believers. Jesus recognizes our need for forgiveness and our need to forgive others. More importantly, Jesus recognizes our natural fallen tendency to slip into sin and our need for God’s help in this area. The Bible says we must be honest about our sinful condition if we want our prayers to be heard (Isaiah 59:1-2). Honest confession is often missing from our conversations with God, but Jesus (the only perfect man who ever lived) did not deny our need for forgiveness. If He is modeling this for us, it must be important to God. Our need to examine our fallen nature is important because it helps us see God for who he really is (especially when compared to us).
Recognize the Simplicity of Our Material Need | In the middle of the Lord’s prayer, Jesus submits a simple request: “give us this day our daily bread”. Simple, immediate and humble. The request is focused more on our needs than our wants, and it asks for no more than what is required in the “here and now”. Jesus asks for more than His own need; His prayer is concerned with the needs of others (Proverbs 21:13). The Bible says we must be concerned with others if we want our prayers to be heard.
“Father, hallowed be your name.
James "Jim" Warner Wallace (born June 16, 1961) is an American homicide detective and Christian apologist. Wallace is a Senior Fellow at the Colson Center for Christian Worldview and an Adjunct Professor of Apologetics at Biola University in La Mirada, California. He has authored several books, including Cold-Case Christianity, God’s Crime Scene, and Forensic Faith, in which he applies principles of cold case homicide investigation to apologetic concerns such as the existence of God and the reliability of the Gospels.
The Right and Wrong Reasons to Pursue Apologetics
By Chab123 (Eric Chabot) 2/22/2018
A ways back I remember reading an article by William Lane Craig about advice for people who want be an apologist. In all honesty, Craig probably knows many people who have come to him asking for advice. I think he would admit that many of them want to live the life he has and is living (e.g.,lots of speaking gigs/debates, lots of fans, lots of attention, etc). The more I have thought about this issue, I can list some of the right and wrong reasons to pursue a career in apologetics. Or, perhaps here are some of the right and wrong reasons for being very active in the field of apologetics.
Wrong Reasons | #1: The Need for Attention | Given the overload of reality TV shows and celebrity worship, the last thing we need are apologists who have a narcissism problem. If you are craving attention and affirmation, than that can’t be motivation for being a player in apologetics. I am not saying that it is a bad thing to be encouraged and noted at all for contributions in the field of apologetics. However, we need to check ourselves in this area.
#2: The need to tear people down with knowledge | Sean McDowell gives us some tips on this one:
“Youth Specialties president Mark Matlock wrote a compelling essay about apologetics and emotional development.3 In it, he argued that apologetics often attracts people who have been emotionally hurt, and in turn, who use apologetics to hurt other people. He’s absolutely right. As the saying famously goes, “Hurt people hurt people.” There is power in knowledge. And many people seek power by gaining more information so they can control and even humiliate other people. If you are an apologist, I encourage you to ask yourself some deep questions: Why (honestly) are you an apologist? Is your heart genuinely broken for non-Christians? Do you pray for humility and guidance in your research and conversations with both Christians and non-Christians? I hope so.”
#3: The Need to Look Really Smart | Don’t get me wrong. I know we have an anti-intellectualism problem in the Church. I also know we have a fideism problem as well. But if you want to be an apologist to show people how smart you really are (and boast about your degrees), that is probably not a good thing. If anything, this only reveals that there is some sort of insecurity here. We need to check ourselves in this area.
Right Reasons: | #1: We want the Church strengthened and confident in their faith | Apologists work hard! They have to answer a lot of objections and have to be very knowledgeable about a variety of disciplines. We want Christians confident so that they will in turn want to obey the commands of Jesus (e.g., preach the Gospel and make disciples).
Chab123 (Eric Chabot): Southern Evangelical Seminary, M.A. Religious Studies, 2010, Cross Examined, Apologetics Instructors Academy, Graduate, 2008, Memberships: The Evangelical Philosophical Society
Motivating God’s people to understand the need for outreach and apologetic training, contemporary issues in the culture, the need for Christians to engage the university, confronting the current intellectual crisis in the local congregation, philosophy of religion, epistemology, the resurrection, Christian origins, the relationship between early Christology and Jewish monotheism, the relationship between the Tanakh (acronym that is formed from the first three parts of the Hebrew Bible: Torah (the first five books of the Bible), Nevi’ im (the Prophets), and K’ tuvim (the Writings) and the New Testament, the relationship between Israel and the church, Christian theism and other worldviews, apologetic systems, historical method, the genre of the New Testament, the relationship between science and theology, and biblical hermeneutics.
Ministry Experience: Campus outreach minister since 2004.
Founder and Director of Ratio Christi, an apologetics ministry at the The Ohio State University. Website: http://ratiochristi.org/. We have had several well known speakers to the campus such as William Lane Craig, Frank Turek, Michael Licona, Michael Brown, Paul Nelson and others. We have also done students debates on the campus.
What Is the Unforgivable Sin?
By David Mathis 2/23/2018
“Blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven.”It’s one of Jesus’s most enigmatic, controversial, and haunting statements. In the last two millennia, many a tortured soul have wrestled over this warning. Have I committed “the unforgivable sin”? When I addressed my angry profanity to God, when I spoke rebelliously against him, did I commit unforgivable blasphemy? Or, perhaps more often, especially in today’s epidemic of Internet porn, “Could I really be saved if I keep returning to the same sin I have vowed so many times never to return to again?”
Despite the enigma and controversy, we do have a simple pathway to clarity. Jesus’s “blasphemy against the Spirit” statement only appears in the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke). If we get a concrete sense of what he did (and didn’t) mean there, then we’re positioned to answer what such “unforgivable sin” might (and might not) mean for us today.
What Jesus Actually Said | Jesus hadn’t been teaching in public long when his hearers began comparing him to their teachers, called “the scribes,” part of the conservative Jewish group known as the Pharisees. The growing crowds “were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one who had authority, and not as the scribes” (Mark 1:22). The scribes heard the comparison and felt the tension, and soon escalated it (Mark 2:6, 16), as these Bible teachers of the day, with their many added traditions, quickly grew in their envy, and then hatred, for Jesus. The threat is so great these conservatives even are willing to cross the aisle to conspire with their liberal rivals, the Herodians (Mark 3:6).
The showdown comes in Mark 3:22–30 (Matthew 12:22–32). Scribes have descended from Jerusalem to set straight the poor, deceived people of backwater Galilee. “He is possessed by Beelzebul,” they say. “By the prince of demons he casts out the demons” (Mark 3:22).
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David Mathis (@davidcmathis) is executive editor for desiringGod.org, pastor at Cities Church in Minneapolis/Saint Paul, and adjunct professor for Bethlehem College & Seminary. He is the husband of Megan, father of four, and his regular articles are available online at desiringGod.org/mathis.
David Mathis Books:
- 1 Habits of Grace Study Guide: Enjoying Jesus through the Spiritual Disciplines
- 2 Acting the Miracle: God's Work and Ours in the Mystery of Sanctification
- 3 Finish the Mission: Bringing the Gospel to the Unreached and Unengaged
- 4 How to Stay Christian in Seminary
- 5 The Romantic Rationalist: God, Life, and Imagination in the Work of C. S. Lewis
- 6 Thinking. Loving. Doing.: A Call to Glorify God with Heart and Mind
- 7 Cross: Unrivaled Christ, Unstoppable Gospel, Unreached Peoples, Unending Joy
- 8 With Calvin in the Theater of God: The Glory of Christ and Everyday Life
- 9 Finish the Mission (First) (9/19/12)
Is Religion Responsible for the Most Wars and Violence?
By Douglas Beaumont 2/22/2018
Introduction | I was listening to NPR the other day and heard this little bit of oft-repeated tripe: “Religion has been responsible for more violence and wars than any other blah, blah, blah.” Does this atheistic motto have any credibility? Let’s have a look.
While the religious beliefs of the conquering nation were often imposed once it took power, this was a method of indoctrination to crush future rebellion (like assimilation through intermarriage, languages, cultural syncretism, etc.). Doing so showed the “superiority” of the conqueror when they placed their “gods” on display. This also allowed these empires to use religion as a test for loyalty – but the wars they fought were for power and wealth, not faith. None of them fought wars for their religion (Hussein, for example, killed members of his own religion), although each held to strong philosophies and world views – the motivation for their wars was not religious dispute. (Unless one counts Atheism as a religion.*)
Ancient World Empires | Which of these world empires ever fought against, or conquered another nation, due to religious beliefs?
Ancient and Modern War Leaders | What about the leaders of the most violent people groups? How many of them fought wars to further their own religion?
Modern and Contemporary Wars
While the religious beliefs of the conquering nation were often imposed once it took power, this was a method of indoctrination to crush future rebellion (like assimilation through intermarriage, languages, cultural syncretism, etc.). Doing so showed the “superiority” of the conqueror when they placed their “gods” on display. This also allowed these empires to use religion as a test for loyalty – but the wars they fought were for power and wealth, not faith.
None of them fought wars for their religion (Hussein, for example, killed members of his own religion), although each held to strong philosophies and world views – the motivation for their wars was not religious dispute. (Unless one counts Atheism as a religion.*)
Read The Psalms In "1" Year
Psalm 24The King of Glory
24 A Psalm Of David.
1 The earth is the LORD’s and the fullness thereof,
the world and those who dwell therein,
2 for he has founded it upon the seas
and established it upon the rivers.
3 Who shall ascend the hill of the LORD?
And who shall stand in his holy place?
4 He who has clean hands and a pure heart,
who does not lift up his soul to what is false
and does not swear deceitfully.
5 He will receive blessing from the LORD
and righteousness from the God of his salvation.
6 Such is the generation of those who seek him,
who seek the face of the God of Jacob. Selah
His Winnowing Fork Is in His Hand
By Albert Mohler 12/02/2016
The Christian celebration of Christmas brings essential truths into clearer view. The central fact of the incarnation of the Son of God looms before us as the dividing line of all human history and the fulfillment of God’s promises. Priests and prophets and kings had long awaited the coming of the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. At Christmas we declare what the angelic host announced to shepherds on a Bethlehem night: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased.” [Luke 2:14].
There is no more important message than this — the greatest good news the world has ever heard. Arrayed before us today is the December 2016 graduating class of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. They are ready to take their place in that long line of faithful ministry and preaching that reaches back to the apostles and continues throughout the centuries until this day. They are called by God to the Christian ministry and to serve the cause of Christ, to preach the good news of the Gospel, to shepherd the church of God.
An outsider looking in on this event today would recognize its basic form and its intentional formality. Something of consequence is happening here — and it shows. But the outsider would almost surely fail to understand what makes this graduating class of Christian ministers so different from other graduating classes at other institutions. It is a distinction we dare not miss.
My text is from the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 3, verses 1-12:
In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah when he said, “The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord; make his paths straight.’” Now John wore a garment of camel’s hair and a leather belt around his waist, and his food was locusts and wild honey. Then Jerusalem and all Judea and all the region about the Jordan were going out to him, and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father,’ for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham. Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. “I baptize you with water for repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into the barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”
Dr. R. Albert Mohler Jr. serves as president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary – the flagship school of the Southern Baptist Convention and one of the largest seminaries in the world.Albert Mohler Books | Go to Books Page
The Doctrines of Grace: By His Grace and for His Glory
By Steven J. Lawson 1/8/2018
“Those who have received salvation are to attribute it to sovereign grace alone, and to give all the praise to Him, who makes them to differ from others.” --- Jonathan Edwards
The doctrines of grace are so called because these five major headings of theology, often identified as the five points of biblical Calvinism, contain the purest expression of the saving grace of God. Each of these five doctrines—radical depravity, sovereign election, definite atonement, irresistible call, and preserving grace—supremely display the sovereign grace of God. These five headings stand together as one comprehensive statement of the saving purposes of God. For this reason, there is really only one point to the doctrines of grace, namely, that God saves sinners by His grace and for His glory. These two realities—God’s grace and glory—are inseparably bound together. Whatever most magnifies God’s grace most magnifies His glory. And that which most exalts God’s grace is the truth expressed in the doctrines of grace.
On the other hand, compromising any one of the five points dilutes and diminishes the grace of God. For instance, to speak of a mere partial corruption of man, one in which the lost sinner is only spiritually sick in his sin, makes a misdiagnosis that grossly diminishes the grace of God. Likewise, to espouse a conditional election that is dependent upon God’s foresight of man’s faith corrupts the grace of God. To teach that Christ made a universal atonement, making salvation possible for all (though actual for none), cheapens the grace of God. To believe in a resistible call that allows for the free will of man compromises the grace of God. And to think of reversible grace, which would allow man to fall away from the faith, contaminates the pure grace of God. These views undermine the grace of God, and because of that, sad to say, they rob God of His glory. And yet, such views are widely held in the church today. In any syncretistic Arminian scheme of theology, salvation is seen as being partly of God and partly of man—whether it be that man adds his good works or that he contributes his own self-generated faith to the finished work of Christ. These schemes divide the glory between God and man. To whatever extent one deviates from any of the five doctrines of grace, one marginalizes the glory that is due to God alone for the salvation of sinners.
Giving Glory to God Alone | Writing shortly before his death in 2000, James Montgomery Boice noted:
“Having a high view of God means something more than giving glory to God … it means giving glory to God alone. This is the difference between Calvinism and Arminianism. While the former declares that God alone saves sinners, the latter gives the impression that God enables sinners to have some part in saving themselves. Calvinism presents salvation as the work of the triune God—election by the Father, redemption in the Son, calling by the Spirit. Furthermore, each of these saving acts is directed toward the elect, thereby infallibly securing their salvation. By contrast, Arminianism views salvation as something that God makes possible but that man makes actual. This is because the saving acts of God are directed toward different persons: the Son’s redemption is for humanity in general; the Spirit’s calling is only for those who hear the gospel; narrower still, the Father’s election is only for those who believe the gospel. Yet in none of these cases (redemption, calling, or election) does God actually secure the salvation of even one sinner! The inevitable result is that rather than depending exclusively on divine grace, salvation depends partly on a human response. So although Arminianism is willing to give God the glory, when it comes to salvation, it is unwilling to give Him all the glory. It divides the glory between heaven and earth, for if what ultimately makes the difference between being saved and being lost is man’s ability to choose God, then to just that extent God is robbed of His glory. Yet God Himself has said, ‘I will not yield My glory to another’ (Isa. 48:11).”
This is why the doctrines of grace are so desperately needed in our churches. They give glory to God alone. They define salvation as being all of God. When salvation is correctly perceived in this way, then—and only then—God receives all the glory for it. Only sola gratia produces soli Deo gloria.
This excerpt is taken from Foundations of Grace by Steven J. Lawson.
Per Amazon | Dr. Steven J. Lawson is founder and president of OnePassion Ministries, a ministry designed to bring about a new reformation in the church. He is a teaching fellow for Ligonier Ministries, director of the Doctor of Ministry program at The Master's Seminary, and a visiting professor in the Doctor of Ministry program at the Ligonier Academy of Biblical and Theological Studies.
Steven Lawson | Go to Books Page
The Prophetic Period According to Wellhausen
By Gleason Archer Jr.
Isaiah 1:11–17 is another prophetic utterance along the same line: “What unto me is the multitude of your sacrifices? saith Jehovah: I have had enough of the burnt-offerings of rams, and the fat of fed beasts.… Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil; learn to do well; seek justice, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow.” This is interpreted by Wellhausians to be a plea to do away with the ceremonialism of blood sacrifices and get down to the business of performing meritorious good works, thus earning their salvation (just as good Liberals of our modern age are expected to do). But that this exegesis falls wide of the mark is sufficiently indicated by the statement in verse 15: “And when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you; yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear: your hands are full of blood.” If the previous remarks amounted to a rejection of blood sacrifice as such, then it must logically follow here that prayer also is being rejected as such, since the same type of expression is used in both cases. But not even the most enlightened modern Liberal would like to think that the prophet Isaiah was opposed to prayer; if only from the standpoint of subjective therapy, prayer must be regarded as both beneficial and praiseworthy. All parties would acknowledge that the prophet is not denying the validity of prayer, but only the prayer of bloody-handed, unrepentant miscreants who mock God by the very prayers they mouth. In other words, acceptable worship must be based upon a true and living faith as it finds expression in a God-fearing life. Hence it follows that the same principle governs in Isaiah’s deprecatory remarks about sacrifices and feast days. By no means does he deny that they were ordained of God in the law of Moses.
Jeremiah 7:22–23: “For I spake not unto your fathers, nor commanded them in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, concerning burnt-offerings or sacrifices: but this thing I commanded them, saying, Hearken unto my voice, and I will be your God, and ye shall be my people; and walk ye in all the way that I command you, that it may be well with you.” What could be more obvious, asks the critic, than that Jeremiah here is denying (ca. 600 B.C.) that God had ever spoken to Moses about the sacrificial cultus? Obviously the material of P could not yet have been composed by that time, but only centuries later, as an addendum to J, E, and D, otherwise Jeremiah would never have made a statement like that. But if we analyze what the prophet is actually saying in this passage, we find that the words quoted come from Ex. 19, before even the first installment of the law was revealed to Moses by God, even before the promulgation of the Ten Commandments in Ex. 20. It certainly was true that “in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt” God had not yet said anything to the Israelites about sacrifice or burnt offering. (Even the Passover lamb involved no altar, according to Ex. 12. ) He first closed with them on the basis of a covenant engagement requiring absolute and unconditional obedience as a condition of the covenant. It was only afterward that the provisions concerning sacrifice were outlined to Moses. The point was that Jeremiah’s contemporaries had been substituting ritual ceremonies for genuine piety, and they needed to be reminded that historically God’s first summons to Israel had been for absolute obedience to His moral law before He ever gave them a provision for sins in the atoning blood of the altar of sacrifice. Incidentally, it is instructive to note Jeremiah’s cordial approval of the sacrificial system elsewhere in his prophecy: 17:19–27, concerning hallowing the Sabbath; 31:14, God will satiate the priests with fatness; 33:11, 18, the Levitical priests shall “never lack a man before Me to offer burnt offerings, to burn grain offerings, and to prepare sacrifices continually.”
Thus the Documentarian critics assigned virtually all cultic regulations to the Priestly School of the post-exilic period. But they regarded certain of the noncultic legal provisions of the Torah as originating with E or J-E, notably the book of the covenant (Ex. 21–23 ). This body of law was supposed to have evolved from the experience of Israel in the land of Canaan over a period of four or five centuries after the conquest. This code did not suggest the unique legitimacy of one central sanctuary. On the contrary, it sanctioned any number of local sanctuaries, according to Ex. 20:24: “An altar of earth shalt thou make unto me, and shalt sacrifice thereon thy burnt-offerings … in every place where I record my name I will come unto thee and I will bless thee.” Closer examination, however, shows that this passage is not referring to the possibility of multiple sanctuaries at all, but only to the type of altar to be used for God’s worship, prior to the fashioning of the bronze altar for the tabernacle. Not until later (as is recorded in Ex. 40 ) was the tabernacle completed and the divinely prescribed altar dedicated. No doubt also it was to serve as a principle to follow in situations where resort to the altar at the central sanctuary was impractical (as for example where Elijah built his altar on Mount Carmel, 1 Kings 18:31 ). Allis (FBM, p. 173) suggests that the words of Ex. 20:24 translated, “in every place where I record my name,” might be better rendered, “in all of the place” (bekol-hammāqōm), that is, in all of Palestine. (Properly speaking, “in every place” would be bekol māqōm, without the definite article ha-.) The idea then would be that in all of the Holy Land, where God will cause His name to be remembered, He will come to His worshipers and bless them.
In general, the Documentarians insist that the historical fact that many local sanctuaries were maintained in Israel prior to Josiah’s reign is proof positive that there could have been no Mosaic laws in existence forbidding them. Had there been such laws, they would of course have been obeyed. But this reasoning is vitiated by the undeniable fact that even after the reform of Josiah in 621 B.C., idolatrous high places continued to be maintained in Judah (cf. Ezek. 6:3 ). The critics acknowledge that “Mosaic” laws forbidding all other sanctuaries besides the local one were solemnly adopted in the reign of Josiah. Yet in the time of Zedekiah, Josiah’s third successor, the high places were still in operation. In this case the Wellhausians themselves must acknowledge that this law was broken even after its enactment. If so, why may this not have been the case in preceding centuries as well, that local sanctuaries were maintained even after the temple of Solomon had been dedicated? In general we may say that the argument that laws could not have existed simply because they were ignored, is altogether too naive. On such a basis one would have to deny that there are any laws against robbery or adultery in existence in modern America!
So far as the Mosaic prohibition of local sanctuaries is concerned, it ought to be pointed out that not even Deuteronomy prohibits the erection of local altars to Yahweh until such time as God shall have indicated His choice of a holy capital city in which alone it would be permissible to present sacrifice. In Deut. 12:10–11, the regulation is made that after the Lord has given His people rest from all their enemies round about — which did not take place until the reign of David — then God would choose a special place for worship to which all Israel should resort for cultic purposes. Hence there is no contradiction at all between E (in Ex. 20:24 ) and D (in Deut. 12:10–11 ). Moreover, it should be observed that wherever the idolatrous high places, or even Jehovah - worshiping high places are referred to in the Hebrew record after the consecration of Solomon’s temple, they are always spoken of as deviations from the Mosaic law, and the successive kings of Judah are often judged as to their character by whether or not they removed the “high places.” On the other hand, even J offers considerable difficulty to the theory that no centrality of worship was cherished as an ideal at the time of the Exodus, for in Ex. 23:17 it is required that all Israelite males “appear before Jehovah” three times a year (that is, at the three great feasts of Passover, Pentecost, and Tabernacles). There would hardly be any point to this provision if all that was required was to put in an appearance at one’s own local shrine. Thus even the earliest stratum of the Pentateuch (according to the JEDP hypothesis) implies a central point of worship as prescribed by Jehovah.
In this connection it should be noted that the Wellhausen School tends to dismiss the Mosaic tabernacle as a figment of the imagination of the Priestly School. There never was any such structure as the tabernacle, they feel, but it was invented by the Priestly School to furnish a Mosaic sanction for the Jerusalem temple. In the interests of this theory, therefore, all references to the tabernacle are automatically assigned to P in the Pentateuch, and also those passages where reference is made to the tabernacle in Joshua, Judges, and Samuel. Having thus by definition assigned all mention of the tabernacle to the Priestly School, it becomes possible for these critics to come up with the triumphant conclusion that no pre-exilic work ever makes any mention of the tabernacle. But this of course is a mere question - begging procedure, rather than an objective handling of the evidence.
Further embarrassment is furnished to this theory (that there was no central sanctuary regulation until Josiah’s time) by the positive indications of the record of pre-Josianic times contained in Kings. Certainly the dedicatory prayer of Solomon (cf. especially 1 Kings 8:29–30 ) implies the unique validity of this temple and its altar, as if already in Solomon’s time it was the only lawful and proper place of worship for believing Israel. After his accession in 931 B.C., Jeroboam found it necessary to restrain his subjects of the northern ten tribes from going down to Jerusalem to worship by resorting to the erection of a rival sanctuary in Bethel containing a golden calf ( 1 Kings 12:26–28 ). This concern of Jereboam’s presupposes the previously unique status of the Jerusalem temple as the central sanctuary in Solomon’s time, for it is unlikely that there had been a multiplicity of local sanctuaries practicing idolatry during the Divided Monarchy when not a single idolatrous cult object has yet been found in Israelite strata from this period (Aalders, A Short Introduction to the Pentateuch [London: Tyndale], 1949, p. 81). As for the period of Hezekiah, a good century before Josiah’s reform, the Hebrew record declares that he enforced the unique claim of the Jerusalem temple by forcibly suppressing all sacrifice and worship at the local high places throughout his domain. It is very difficult to dispose of this reform under Hezekiah as a fictitious prototype of the Josianic revival, as some critics attempt to do. The record of Sennacherib’s attempt to capture Jerusalem by threats and negotiation is very circumstantial and convincing as to its historicity. In the course of his parley with the Jewish envoy, the Assyrian commander, Rabshakeh, seeks to discourage the defenders of Jerusalem from looking to Jehovah for deliverance, saying: “But if ye say unto me, We trust in Jehovah our God; is not that he, whose high places and whose altars Hezekiah hath taken away, and hath said unto Judah and to Jerusalem, Ye shall worship before this altar in Jerusalem?” ( 2 Kings 18:22 ). This incidental reference to Hezekiah’s enforcement of the unique claim of the Jerusalem temple is corroborative testimony of a very high order. It is hard to explain this away as a “priestly” embellishment, since the critics do not otherwise contest the authenticity of this account of Sennacherib’s invasion.
The Pilgrim's Progress From This World To That Which Is To Come;
Delivered Under The Similitude Of A Dream (Part 2)
By John Bunyan 1678
THE SECOND STAGESo I saw in my dream, that they walked on their way, and had the weather very comfortable to them.
Then Christiana began to sing, saying,
Blessed be the day that I began
A pilgrim for to be;
And blessed also be the man
That thereto moved me.
’Tis true, ’t was long ere I began
To seek to live for ever;
But now I run fast as I can:
’Tis better late than never.
Our tears to joy, our fears to faith,
Are turned, as we see;
Thus our beginning (as one saith)
Shows what our end will be.
Well, said she, my sons, you transgress, for that fruit is none of ours; but she did not know that it belonged to the enemy: I’ll warrant you, if she had she would have been ready to die for fear. But that passed, and they went on their way. Now, by that they were gone about two bow-shots from the place that led them into the way, they espied two very ill-favored ones coming down apace to meet them. With that, Christiana and Mercy her friend covered themselves with their veils, and so kept on their journey: the children also went on before; so that at last they met together. Then they that came down to meet them, came just up to the women, as if they would embrace them; but Christiana said, stand back, or go peaceably as you should. Yet these two, as men that are deaf, regarded not Christiana’s words, but began to lay hands upon them: at that Christiana waxing very wroth, spurned at them with her feet. Mercy also, as well as she could, did what she could to shift them. Christiana again said to them, Stand back, and be gone, for we have no money to lose, being pilgrims, as you see, and such too as live upon the charity of our friends.
ILL-FAV. Then said one of the two men, We make no assault upon you for money, but are come out to tell you, that if you will but grant one small request which we shall ask, we will make women of you for ever.
CHR. Now Christiana, imagining what they should mean, made answer again, We will neither hear, nor regard, nor yield to what you shall ask. We are in haste, and cannot stay; our business is a business of life and death. So again she and her companion made a fresh essay to go past them; but they letted them in their way.
ILL-FAV. And they said, We intend no hurt to your lives; it is another thing we would have.
CHR. Aye, quoth Christiana, you would have us body and soul, for I know it is for that you are come; but we will die rather upon the spot, than to suffer ourselves to be brought into such snares as shall hazard our well-being hereafter. And with that they both shrieked out, and cried, Murder! murder! and so put themselves under those laws that are provided for the protection of women.
Deut. 22:25–27 25 “But if in the open country a man meets a young woman who is betrothed, and the man seizes her and lies with her, then only the man who lay with her shall die. 26 But you shall do nothing to the young woman; she has committed no offense punishable by death. For this case is like that of a man attacking and murdering his neighbor, 27 because he met her in the open country, and though the betrothed young woman cried for help there was no one to rescue her. ESV
But the men still made their approach upon them, with design to prevail against them. They therefore cried out again.
Now they being, as I said, not far from the gate in at which they came, their voice was heard from whence they were, thither: wherefore some of the house came out, and knowing that it was Christiana’s tongue, they made haste to her relief. But by that they were got within sight of them, the women were in a very great scuffle; the children also stood crying by. Then did he that came in for their relief call out to the ruffians, saying, What is that thing you do? Would you make my Lord’s people to transgress? He also attempted to take them, but they did make their escape over the wall into the garden of the man to whom the great dog belonged; so the dog became their protector. This Reliever then came up to the women, and asked them how they did. So they answered, We thank thy Prince, pretty well, only we have been somewhat affrighted: we thank thee also for that thou camest in to our help, otherwise we had been overcome.
RELIEVER. So, after a few more words, this Reliever said as followeth: I marveled much, when you were entertained at the gate above, seeing ye knew that ye were but weak women, that you petitioned not the Lord for a conductor; then might you have avoided these troubles and dangers; for he would have granted you one.
CHR. Alas! said Christiana, we were so taken with our present blessing, that dangers to come were forgotten by us. Besides, who could have thought, that so near the King’s palace there could have lurked such naughty ones? Indeed, it had been well for us had we asked our Lord for one; but since our Lord knew it would be for our profit, I wonder he sent not one along with us.
REL. It is not always necessary to grant things not asked for, lest by so doing they become of little esteem; but when the want of a thing is felt, it then comes under, in the eyes of him that feels it, that estimate that properly is its due, and so consequently will be thereafter used. Had my Lord granted you a conductor, you would not either so have bewailed that oversight of yours, in not asking for one, as now you have occasion to do. So all things work for good, and tend to make you more wary.
CHR. Shall we go back again to my Lord, and confess our folly, and ask one?
REL. Your confession of your folly I will present him with. To go back again, you need not, for in all places where you shall come, you will find no want at all; for in every one of my Lord’s lodgings, which he has prepared for the reception of his pilgrims, there is sufficient to furnish them against all attempts whatsoever. But, as I said, He will be inquired of by them, to do it for them.
Ezek. 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
And ’tis a poor thing that is not worth asking for. When he had thus said, he went back to his place, and the pilgrims went on their way.
MER. Then said Mercy, What a sudden blank is here! I made account that we had been past all danger, and that we should never see sorrow more.
CHR. Thy innocency, my sister, said Christiana to Mercy, may excuse thee much; but as for me, my fault is so much the greater, for that I saw this danger before I came out of the doors, and yet did not provide for it when provision might have been had. I am much to be blamed.
MER. Then said Mercy, How knew you this before you came from home? Pray open to me this riddle.
CHR. Why, I will tell you. Before I set foot out of doors, one night as I lay in my bed I had a dream about this; for methought I saw two men, as like these as ever any in the world could look, stand at my bed’s feet, plotting how they might prevent my salvation. I will tell you their very words. They said, (it was when I was in my troubles,) What shall we do with this woman? for she cries out, waking and sleeping, for forgiveness: if she be suffered to go on as she begins, we shall lose her as we have lost her husband. This you know might have made me take heed, and have provided when provision might have been had.
MER. Well, said Mercy, as by this neglect we have an occasion ministered unto us to behold our own imperfections, so our Lord has taken occasion thereby to make manifest the riches of his grace; for he, as we see, has followed us with unasked kindness, and has delivered us from their hands that were stronger than we, of his mere good pleasure.
Thus now, when they had talked away a little more time, they drew near to a house which stood in the way, which house was built for the relief of pilgrims, as you will find more fully related in the first part of these records of the Pilgrim’s Progress. So they drew on towards the house, (the house of the Interpreter;) and when they came to the door, they heard a great talk in the house. Then they gave ear, and heard, as they thought, Christiana mentioned by name; for you must know that there went along, even before her, a talk of her and her children’s going on pilgrimage. And this was the most pleasing to them, because they had heard that she was Christian’s wife, that woman who was some time ago so unwilling to hear of going on pilgrimage. Thus, therefore, they stood still, and heard the good people within commending her who they little thought stood at the door. At last Christiana knocked, as she had done at the gate before. Now, when she had knocked, there came to the door a young damsel, and opened the door, and looked, and behold, two women were there.
DAM. Then said the damsel to them, With whom would you speak in this place?
CHR. Christiana answered, We understand that this is a privileged place for those that are become pilgrims, and we now at this door are such: wherefore we pray that we may be partakers of that for which we at this time are come; for the day, as thou seest, is very far spent, and we are loth to-night to go any further.
DAM. Pray, what may I call your name, that I may tell it to my Lord within.
CHR. My name is Christiana; I was the wife of that pilgrim that some years ago did travel this way, and these be his four children. This maiden also is my companion, and is going on pilgrimage too.
INNOCENT. Then Innocent ran in, (for that was her name,) and said to those within, Can you think who is at the door? There is Christiana and her children, and her companion, all waiting for entertainment here. Then they leaped for joy, and went and told their Master. So he came to the door and looking upon her, he said, Art thou that Christiana whom Christian the good man left behind him when he betook himself to a pilgrim’s life?
CHR. I am that woman that was so hard-hearted as to slight my husband’s troubles, and that left him to go on in his journey alone, and these are his four children; but now I also am come, for I am convinced that no way is right but this.
INTER. Then is fulfilled that which is written of the man that said to his son, “Go work to-day in my vineyard; and he said to his father, I will not: but afterwards repented and went.”
Matt. 21:29 And he answered, ‘I will not,’ but afterward he changed his mind and went. ESV
Pilgrim's Progress (Illustrated): Updated, Modern English. More than 100 Illustrations.
The Continual Burnt Offering
By H.A. Ironside - 1941
February 242 Samuel 12:23 But now he is dead. Why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he will not return to me.” ESV
David’s confidence as to life after death and heavenly reunion shines out brightly here. He knew the child was with God. He knew that he, in spite of his sad failure, was also a child of God, and so he could look on in faith to a day when he would find the babe again and never be separated again. What consolation does this assurance afford in the time of bereavement! Our loved ones who have died in Christ are not lost to us. They are with Him in paradise. It is not according to God’s plan that they should return to this earth life to communicate with us, but we know that when we too are absent from the body we shall be present with the Lord, and shall find again our loved ones gone before.
And those dear loved of ours we miss so sorely,
Do they not, too, all glad, expectant, wait?
Till down the steeps of light, athrob with glory,
They’ll throng—that shining host—from Heaven’s gate!
We’ll meet them in that Resurrection morning!
We’ll find each dear, familiar, longed-for face;
We’ll know them e’en though radiant and transfigured;
Once more we’ll clasp our own—oh, gift of grace!
--- Mrs. Donald A. Day
The Continual Burnt Offering: Daily Meditations on the Word of God
The Problem Of The Old Testament
By James Orr 1907
3. There is yet, however, a third incredibility arising from the unsuitability of the Code itself. We found the Code of Deuteronomy to be in many respects unsuitable to the age of Josiah. But the unsuitability of Deuteronomy is slight compared with the lack of agreement in the Levitical Code with the state of things in the days of Ezra and Nehemiah. From the point of view of the theory, the Code was designed to be put in force after the return from the exile. The return, therefore, even in the exile, must have been confidently expected. Yet, when the Code is examined, nothing could seem less suitable for its purpose. The whole wilderness framework of the legislation was out of date and place in that late age. The sanctuary is a portable tabernacle, whereas the circumstances of the time demanded a temple. Many of the laws, like that requiring that all sacrifices should be offered at the door of the tabernacle, with the reason for this regulation, were quite out of keeping with the new conditions, had, indeed, no relevancy from the time when the people entered on a settled life in Canaan. Suitable in its place, if it precedes the relaxing rule of Deut. 12:15, it is unintelligible after. Other parts of the Code had to be dropped or changed, as inapplicable to the post-exilian order of things. There was, e.g., no ark, or priestly Urim or Thummim, in the second temple. The tax imposed by Nehemiah was a third part of a shekel, instead of the half-shekel of the law. The law, in one place, prescribes twenty-five years as the age for the Levites entering on service, and in another place thirty years. We find, however, that, after the return, neither of these laws was adopted, but, in accordance with a rule ascribed in Chronicles to David, the Levites commenced their duties at the age of twenty. A more striking example of unsuitability to contemporary conditions is found in the tithe - laws, declared to be a direct creation of the exile. The Levitical law in Numbers is based on the assumption of a large body of Levites, and a relatively small body of priests. The tithes are to be paid directly to the Levites, who are then required to give a tenth of what they receive to the priests. But these provisions were absolutely unsuitable to the times succeeding the exile, when, as we see from the Book of Ezra, the number of Levites who returned was very small, while the number of priests was large. Instead of ten Levites for every priest, the proportion may have been about twelve or thirteen priests for every Levite. This rendered completely nugatory the arrangements of the Code, and made readjustment inevitable. Wellhausen calls this discrepancy “a trifling circumstance,” but fails to explain why a law should have been promulgated so entirely unsuited to the actual situation. The history, besides, has no mention of the tithing of cattle under Nehemiah as prescribed by the law — only of tithes of field produce. As if to render the contrast more striking, while we have in the Code these rules about tithes, so absolutely unsuitable to the circumstances of the exile, with its numerous priests and handful of Levites, we have, on the other hand, mention in the history of an extensive personnel connected with the service of the temple — porters, Nethinim, children of Solomon’s servants, singing-men, and singing-women — of which, curiously enough, the law, supposed to be drawn up specially for this community, knows nothing. How is this to be rendered natural or conceivable on the critical assumption of the date of the Code?
III. THE ARGUMENT FROM SILENCE IN ITS BEARINGS ON THE CODE
We pass now from these initial incredibilities to the examination of the positive foundations of the critical theory; and here, if we mistake not, the impression produced by the above considerations will be more than confirmed. The argument for the exilian or post-exilian dating of the Priestly Code may be said to have two main branches: (1) the alleged silence of pre-exilian history and literature as to the peculiar institutions of the Code; and (2) the alleged incompatibility of the sanctuary and ritual arrangements of the pre-exilic time — mirrored to us in the history, the prophets, and the Book of Deuteronomy — with the Levitical regulations. We shall under the present head consider the general value of this argument from silence; we shall then inquire whether the silence regarding the laws and institutions of the Priests’ Code is as unbroken as is alleged; finally, we shall endeavour to show that the critical theory itself breaks down in its attempt to explain these institutions—this with special reference to the Ezekiel theory of the origin of the distinction of priests and Levites. The “incompatibility” argument has already been in considerable part anticipated, but will be touched upon as far as necessary.
The argument from mere silence then, to begin with that, is proverbially precarious; in a case like the present it is peculiarly so. It is easy to understand why a ritual law, which, all down, must have been largely an affair of the priests, should not frequently obtrude itself upon the view: when it does, as in the Books of Chronicles, it is set down as a mark of untrustworthiness. Particularly, the fact that the Levitical laws are, in their original form, adapted to a tabernacle, and to wilderness conditions, precludes the possibility of much reference to them in that form, after the people were settled in Canaan, and after a temple had been built. Assuming the sanctuary and sacrificial ordinances of the Code to have always been in the most perfect operation, — and it is certain that in many periods they were not, — it would still be unreasonable to expect that they should be constantly thrusting their heads into the story, and foolish to argue that, because they did not, therefore they had no existence. We take, however, broader ground, and propose to show, with the help of the critics themselves, that, notwithstanding the silence, a large part of the Code may have been, and indeed actually was, in operation.
1. On the showing of the Wellhausen theory itself, it is not difficult to establish that the argument from mere silence is far from conclusive. We fall back here on the admission freely made that everything in the Priestly Code is not new. It is allowed, on the contrary, that materially a great part of the Levitical legislation must have been in existence before the exile. Especially, as before in the case of Deuteronomy, when the object is to free the hypothesis from the aspect of fraud, remarkable concessions on this point are frequently made. If, at one time, we are told by Dr. Driver that “the pre-exilic period shows no indications of the legislation of P as being in operation,” at another time we are assured that “in its main stock, the legislation of P was not (as the critical view of it is sometimes represented by its opponents as teaching) ‘manufactured’ by the priests during the exile; it is based upon pre-existing temple usage.” We do not defend the consistency of these statements; the one is, in fact, as we shall immediately see, destructive of the other. The tendency in writers of this school is, in reality, to a kind of see - saw between these two positions; the one that the Priestly Code was in the main a simple “codification” of pre-exilic usage — a comparatively innocent hypothesis; and the other that the characteristic institutions of the Priestly Code — ark, tabernacle, Aaronic priests, Levites, tithes, Levitical cities, sin-offerings, day of atonement,” etc., were, one and all, the free creation of the exilic period — were then, despite Dr. Driver’s disclaimer, “manufactured” — and were absolutely unknown earlier. If the latter proposition cannot be maintained, the whole hypothesis goes to earth. Here again we are entitled to say that the critics must really make their choice. They cannot well be allowed at one time to employ arguments which are of no force unless on the assumption that the Levitical law is, as a whole, in matter as well as in form, new; and at another, to use arguments based on the contention that the bulk of the legislation is, in practice, old.
Let us, however, accept, as we are glad to do, the statement that “the main stock” of the legislation of P is “based upon pre-existing temple usage,” and see what follows. The observance of this “main stock” before the exile either appears in the history, or it does not. If it does not, what becomes of the argument from silence against the other institutions? If it does, what becomes of Wellhausen’s statement that “no trace can be found of acquaintance with the Priestly Code, but, on the other hand, very clear indications of ignorance of its contents?” It is nothing to the purpose to reply, as is commonly done, that before the exile there was indeed praxis — usage — but no written Priestly Code, or Code of ritual law attributed to Moses. For (1) the very ground on which the existence of a written Code is denied is that there is no proof of the practice; and (2) if the practice is allowed, who is to certify that a written law, regulating the practice, was not there? Against the existence of a written law, we have only Wellhausen’s dogmatic dictum, repeated by other critics, that, so long as the cultus lasted, people would not concern themselves with reducing it to the form of a Code. It was only when it had passed away that men thought of reducing it to writing. That, however, Wellhausen certainly cannot prove, and his view is not that of older and of a good many recent scholars. Nor has it probability in itself. Are written Codes — especially in the light of modern knowledge — so entirely unknown to antiquity as to warrant anyone in saying a priori that, even where an elaborate ritual is acknowledged to be in operation, a Code regulating it cannot have existed?
2. There is an admitted “pre-existing temple usage,” constituting “the main stock” of the priestly law; reflection may next convince us that this “pre-existing usage must have covered a much larger part of the Levitical Code than is commonly realised. There existed at least a splendid temple, with outer and inner divisions; a sacred ark; temple furniture and utensils; a hereditary priesthood. The priests would have their sacred vestments, prescribed duties, ritual lore, their technique in the manipulation of the different kinds of sacrifices, their recognised rules for the discernment and treatment of leprosy, their rules for ceremonial purification, their calendar of sacred festivals, etc. These things existed; assume the laws relating to them to be written down, what ground have we for supposing that they would have differed greatly from the laws preserved to us in Leviticus and Numbers? Yet how little of all this obtrudes itself in the history? Nothing, we have again to point out, is gained by the substitution of praxis for written law; for it is not the written law, usually, but the practice, that history takes cognisance of, and, if silence in the history is compatible with the practice, it must also be compatible with the existence of any Code that regulates it. How far this reaches will appear more clearly if we look at specific instances.
Devotionals, notes, poetry and more
Strengthen your faith (2)
2/24/2018 Bob Gass
‘Position yourselves, stand still and see the [deliverance] of the LORD, who is with you.’
(2 Ch 20:17) You will not need to fight in this battle. Stand firm, hold your position, and see the salvation of the LORD on your behalf, O Judah and Jerusalem.’ Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed. Tomorrow go out against them, and the LORD will be with you.” ESV
When you doubt God you disappoint Him, because He deserves better. So, you must seek to strengthen your faith, because faith honours God and God honours faith. And He will send opportunities disguised as problems designed to strengthen your faith. When Job lost his health, his wealth, and his children, the Bible says he ‘fell to the ground and worshipped’ (Job 1:20 NKJV). Job didn’t worship God because of his circumstances, but in spite of them. Notice the two things he did: 1) He looked up. He recognised God’s sovereign right to decide all things. He trusted God’s loving character and believed He would ultimately do what was best for him. And you must do that too! 2) He listened for a word. He realised this testing time was also a teaching time, so he declared, ‘He knows the way that I take; when He has tested me, I shall come forth as gold’ (Job 23:10 NKJV). Like gold being processed by the refiner, Job trusted God to bring out the best in him. Was it easy to do? No. We want to cling to the familiar and return to the safety of yesterday, even though we know it’s not what God wants for us. The fears, surprises, and adversity that lie around the bend make us want to cut and run. But if you do, you’ll short-circuit God’s plan for your life. What should you do instead? Position yourself in faith: ‘Stand still and see the [deliverance] of the Lord, who is with you.’ Whatever you are going through right now, remember that God is ‘with you’.
UCB The Word For Today
by Bill Federer
“Remember the Alamo” was the cry of the Texas army. The battle began today, February 24th, 1836, when three thousand Mexicans attacked 182 Texans. Within thirteen days, all defenders were killed, including Davy Crockett and James Bowie. The Texas Declaration of Independence stated: “General Antonio Lopez Santa Ana, who having overturned the constitution of his country, now offers, as the cruel alternative, either abandon our homes… or submit to the most intolerable of all tyranny…. [He] denies us the right of worshiping the Almighty according to the dictates of our own conscience.”
Thomas R. Kelly
No single person can hold all dedicated souls within his compass in steadfast Fellowship with equal vividness, There are degrees of Fellowship, from wider, more diffused relations of love to nearer, more intense inter-knittedness. As each of us is at a point in space which compels us to a perspective relationship to all things, some near, some far, so each of us is dear to some and remote from others in the bonds of love.
Within the wider Fellowship emerges the special circle of a few on whom, for each of us, a particular emphasis of nearness has fallen. These are our special gift and task. These we "carry" by inward, wordless prayer. By an interior act and attitude we lift them repeatedly before the throne and hold them there in power. This is work, real labor of the soul. It takes energy but it is done in joy. But the membership of such special groups is different and overlapping. From each individual the bonds of special fellowship radiate near and far. The total effect, in a living Church, would be sufficient intersection of these bonds to form a supporting, carrying network of love for the whole of mankind. Where the Fellowship is lacking the Church invisible is lacking and the Kingdom of God has not yet come. For these bonds of divine love and "carrying" are the stuff of the Kingdom of God. He who is in the Fellowship is in the Kingdom.
Two people, three people, ten people may be in living touch with one another through Him who underlies their separate lives. This is an astounding experience, which I can only describe but cannot explain in the language of science. But in vivid experience of divine Fellowship it is there. We know that these souls are with us, lifting their lives and ours continuously to God and opening themselves, with us, in steady and humble obedience to Him. It is as if the boundaries of our self were enlarged, as if we were within them and as if they were within us. Their strength, given to them by God, becomes our strength, and our joy, given to us by God, becomes their joy. In confidence and love we live together in Him. On the borders of the experience lie amazing events, at which reputable psychologists scoff, and for which I would not try any accounting. But the solid kernel of community of life in God is in the center of the experience, renewing our life and courage and commitment and love. For daily and hourly the cosmic Sacrament is enacted, the Bread and the Wine are divided amongst us by a heavenly Ministrant, and the substance of His body becomes Our life and the substance of His blood flows in our veins. Holy is the Fellowship, wondrous is the Ministrant, marvelous is the Grail.
A Testament of Devotion
Compiled by Richard S. Adams
Concern for the symbol has completely disappeared from our science. And yet, if one were to give oneself the trouble, one could easily find, in certain parts at least of contemporary mathematics... symbols as clear, as beautiful, and as full of spiritual meaning as that of the circle and mediation. From modern thought to ancient wisdom the path would be short and direct, if one cared to take it.
--- Simone Weil
“Oh Lord, why does Thou receive these men?”
And He will say: “This is why I receive them, oh ye wise,
this is why I receive them, oh ye of understanding,
that not one of them believed himself to be worthy of this.”
--- Fyodor Dostoevsky
The best of a book is not the thought which it contains,
but the thought which it suggests;
just as the charm of music dwells not in the tones
but in the echoes of our hearts.
--- John Greenleaf Whittier
Music takes us out of the actual and whispers to us dim secrets that startle our wonder as to who we are, and for what, whence, and whereto.
--- Ralph Waldo Emerson
... from here, there and everywhere
by Dr. David Wells
In time, as the New Testament letters were completed and the canon was eventually closed, there seems little doubt that the whole apostolic exposition of the disclosure of God, of his character, acts, and will (especially as these were revealed in Christ), became the substance of what was confessed. To be a believer, then as later, meant believing what the apostles taught. It is in this sense that apostolic succession is a New Testament truth. Believers succeed the apostles as they accept what the apostles taught. It is a succession not of ecclesiastical power as the Church of Rome teaches but of doctrine.
This is why the apostles not only framed Christian faith in doctrinal terms but called for its preservation and protection in this form. There is no Christian faith in the absence of "sound doctrine" (1 Tim. 1:10; Tit. 1:9), "sound instruction" (1 Tim. 6:3), or the "pattern of sound teaching" (2 Tim. 1:13-14). It is this doctrine, or, more precisely, the truth it contains and expresses, that was "taught" by the apostles and "delivered" to the Church. It is this message that is our only ground for hope (Tit. 1:9) and salvation (1 Cor. 15:2; 1 Pet. 1:23-25). Without it, we have neither the Father nor the Son (2 John 9). Indeed, Paul says that we can grow in Christ only if we stay within this doctrinal framework, for its truth provides the means of our growth (Col. 2:6). It is no wonder that Christians are urged not to depart from the apostolic teaching they received "in the beginning" (John 2:7, 24, 26; 3:11) or from what they had heard (Heb. 2:1), for it is the "faith once for all entrusted to the saints" (Jude 3). Nor should we be amazed to read of Paul's admonition to Timothy that it is only by adhering to this "good teaching" that he will become a "good minister of Jesus Christ" (1 Tim. 4:6). For all of these reasons, the apostles instructed believers to "guard" this faith (2 Tim. 1:13-14; 4:3; cf. Tit. 1:9; Gal. 1:9), defend it (Jude 3), "stand firm" in it, not to "drift" from it, to become "established" in it, and to transmit it intact to succeeding generations.
No one who is familiar with apostolic teaching and practice could imagine that bare, credal orthodoxy alone is being advocated in these passages. It is clear, for example, both from the structure of many of Paul's letters and from many of his specific statements, that he saw belief and practice as inextricably related to each other, the former being the foundation of the latter and the latter being the evidence of the working of the former. This same correlation is forcefully presented in John's first epistle, in which three tests are developed for discerning the presence and authenticity of a biblical spirituality: believing the right doctrine (2:18-27; 4:1-6, 13-21), obedience to right doctrine (2:3-6; 2:28-3:10), and giving expression to right doctrine in a life of love (2:7-11; 3:11-18; 4:7-12). Obedience and love are not substitutes for or alternatives to the doctrine, however; they are the ways — the indispensable ways — in which doctrine is to be worked out in our character, attitudes, relationships, and work. The apostolic exposition of God, his character, his acts, and his will (especially as these were focused in the giving of his incarnate Son) form the foundation without which one cannot have Christian faith.
It is only our familiarity with the New Testament language that hides from us the explosiveness of the apostolic conclusions. Why were they so adamant about the preservation, appropriation, and propagation of this doctrinally framed teaching? The answer is that it is the "truth" (2 Cor. 4:6; Eph. 1:13; Col. 1:5; 2 Tim. 2:15; Tit. 1:14; 1 Pet. 1:22; 2 Pet. 1:12; James 1:8; 3 John 4). It is only by coming to know this "truth" that one comes to know God, for he can be known only through Christ who is the center and object of this teaching (Tit. 2:4; Heb. 10:26; 1 Pet. 1:22; cf. 2 Tim. 3:7).
The apostles asserted that Christ alone is the truth in the midst of a world that was more religiously diverse than any we have known in the West until relatively recently. We today are far closer in religious temper to apostolic times than any period since the Reformation. Indeed, most of the modern period in the West has been quite unlike apostolic times inasmuch as we have been spared interreligious conflict and much of the doubt that invariably accompanies such conflict. It is, therefore, hard to imagine a more specious argument than the one advanced along many fronts today, backed actively by the World Council of Churches and implicitly by the documents of the Second Vatican Council, that the contemporary experience of religious pluralism is the reason that the apostolic formulation of faith can no longer be held! Such assertions make the apostles and often Jesus himself look like innocents who were spared the dreadful dilemmas that, sadly, we have to face with such flinty honesty, in the process divesting ourselves of the very truth that they insisted must be preserved.
This book was published 12/31/96. I confess I struggled in the first two chapters. After that, a great read.
No Place for Truth: or Whatever Happened to Evangelical Theology?
University of Virginia Library 1994
Fourteenth of fifth month. -- I was this day at Camp Creek Monthly Meeting, and then rode to the mountains up James River, and had a meeting at a Friend's house, in both which I felt sorrow of heart, and my tears were poured out before the Lord, who was pleased to afford a degree of strength by which way was opened to clear my mind amongst Friends in those places. From thence I went to Fork Creek, and so to Cedar Creek again, at which place I now had a meeting. Here I found a tender seed, and as I was preserved in the ministry to keep low with the truth, the same truth in their hearts answered it, that it was a time of mutual refreshment from the presence of the Lord. I lodged at James Standley's, father of William Standley, one of the young men who suffered imprisonment at Winchester last summer on account of their testimony against fighting, and I had some satisfactory conversation with him concerning it. Hence I went to the Swamp Meeting, and to Wayanoke Meeting, and then crossed James River, and lodged near Burleigh. From the time of my entering Maryland I have been much under sorrow, which of late so increased upon me that my mind was almost overwhelmed, and I may say with the Psalmist, "In my distress I called upon the Lord, and cried to my God," who, in infinite goodness, looked upon my affliction, and in my private retirement sent the Comforter for my relief, for which I humbly bless His holy name.
The sense I had of the state of the churches brought a weight of distress upon me. The gold to me appeared dim, and the fine gold changed, and though this is the case too generally, yet the sense of it in these parts hath in a particular manner borne heavy upon me. It appeared to me that through the prevailing of the spirit of this world the minds of many were brought to an inward desolation, and instead of the spirit of meekness, gentleness, and heavenly wisdom, which are the necessary companions of the true sheep of Christ, a spirit of fierceness and the love of dominion too generally prevailed. From small beginnings in error great buildings by degrees are raised, and from one age to another are more and more strengthened by the general concurrence of the people; and as men obtain reputation by their profession of the truth, their virtues are mentioned as arguments in favor of general error; and those of less note, to justify themselves, say, such and such good men did the like. By what other steps could the people of Judah arise to that height in wickedness as to give just ground for the Prophet Isaiah to declare, in the name of the Lord, "that none calleth for justice, nor any pleadeth for truth" (Isa. lix. 4), or for the Almighty to call upon the great city of Jerusalem just before the Babylonish captivity, "If ye can find a man, if there be any who executeth judgment, that seeketh the truth, and I will pardon it"? (Jer. v. 1.)
The prospect of a way being open to the same degeneracy, in some parts of this newly settled land of America, in respect to our conduct towards the negroes, hath deeply bowed my mind in this journey, and though briefly to relate how these people are treated is no agreeable work, yet, after often reading over the notes I made as I travelled, I find my mind engaged to preserve them. Many of the white people in those provinces take little or no care of negro marriages; and when negroes marry after their own way, some make so little account of those marriages that with views of outward interest they often part men from their wives by selling them far asunder, which is common when estates are sold by executors at vendue. Many whose labor is heavy being followed at their business in the field by a man with a whip, hired for that purpose, have in common little else allowed but one peck of Indian corn and some salt, for one week, with a few potatoes; the potatoes they commonly raise by their labor on the first day of the week. The correction ensuing on their disobedience to overseers, or slothfulness in business, is often very severe, and sometimes desperate.
Men and women have many times scarcely clothes sufficient to hide their nakedness, and boys and girls ten and twelve years old are often quite naked amongst their master's children. Some of our Society, and some of the society called Newlights, use some endeavors to instruct those they have in reading; but in common this is not only neglected, but disapproved. These are the people by whose labor the other inhabitants are in a great measure supported, and many of them in the luxuries of life. These are the people who have made no agreement to serve us, and who have not forfeited their liberty that we know of. These are the souls for whom Christ died, and for our conduct towards them we must answer before Him who is no respecter of persons. They who know the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom he hath sent, and are thus acquainted with the merciful, benevolent, gospel spirit, will therein perceive that the indignation of God is kindled against oppression and cruelty, and in beholding the great distress of so numerous a people will find cause for mourning.
From my lodgings I went to Burleigh Meeting, where I felt my mind drawn in a quiet, resigned state. After a long silence I felt an engagement to stand up, and through the powerful operation of Divine love we were favored with an edifying meeting. The next meeting we had was at Black-Water, and from thence went to the Yearly Meeting at the Western Branch. When business began, some queries were introduced by some of their members for consideration, and, if approved, they were to be answered hereafter by their respective Monthly Meetings. They were the Pennsylvania queries, which had been examined by a committee of Virginia Yearly Meeting appointed the last year, who made some alterations in them, one of which alterations was made in favor of a custom which troubled me. The query was, "Are there any concerned in the importation of negroes, or in buying them after imported?" which was thus altered, "Are there any concerned in the importation of negroes, or buying them to trade in?" As one query admitted with unanimity was, "Are any concerned in buying or vending goods unlawfully imported, or prize goods?" I found my mind engaged to say that as we profess the truth, and were there assembled to support the testimony of it, it was necessary for us to dwell deep and act in that wisdom which is pure, or otherwise we could not prosper. I then mentioned their alteration, and referring to the last-mentioned query, added, that as purchasing any merchandise taken by the sword was always allowed to be inconsistent with our principles, so negroes being captives of war, or taken by stealth, it was inconsistent with our testimony to buy them; and their being our fellow-creatures, and sold as slaves, added greatly to the iniquity. Friends appeared attentive to what was said; some expressed a care and concern about their negroes; none made any objection, by way of reply to what I said, but the query was admitted as they had altered it.
As some of their members have heretofore traded in negroes, as in other merchandise, this query being admitted will be one step further than they have hitherto gone, and I did not see it my duty to press for an alteration, but felt easy to leave it all to Him who alone is able to turn the hearts of the mighty, and make way for the spreading of truth on the earth, by means agreeable to his infinite wisdom. In regard to those they already had, I felt my mind engaged to labor with them. and said that as we believe the Scriptures were given forth by holy men, as they were moved by the Holy Ghost, and many of us know by experience that they are often helpful and comfortable, and believe ourselves bound in duty to teach our children to read them; I believed that if we were divested of all selfish views, the same good spirit that gave them forth would engage us to teach the negroes to read, that they might have the benefit of them. Some present manifested a concern to take more care in the education of their negroes.
John Woolman's Journal
by D.H. Stern
but the duplicity of the treacherous destroys them.
4 On the day of wrath, wealth doesn’t help;
but righteousness rescues from death.
Complete Jewish Bible : An English Version of the Tanakh (Old Testament) and B'Rit Hadashah (New Testament)
A Daily Devotional by Oswald Chambers
The delight of sacrifice
I will very gladly spend and be spent for you.
--- 2 Cor. 12:15.
When the Spirit of God has shed abroad the love of God in our hearts, we begin deliberately to identify ourselves with Jesus Christ’s interests in other people, and Jesus Christ is interested in every kind of man there is. We have no right in Christian work to be guided by our affinities; this is one of the biggest tests of our relationship to Jesus Christ. The delight of sacrifice is that I lay down my life for my Friend, not fling it away, but deliberately lay my life out for Him and His interests in other people, not for a cause. Paul spent himself for one purpose only—that he might win men to Jesus Christ. Paul attracted to Jesus all the time, never to himself. “I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.” When a man says he must develop a holy life alone with God, he is of no more use to his fellow men: he puts himself on a pedestal, away from the common run of men. Paul became a sacramental personality; wherever he went, Jesus Christ helped Himself to his life. Many of us are after our own ends, and Jesus Christ cannot help Himself to our lives. If we are abandoned to Jesus, we have no ends of our own to serve. Paul said he knew how to be a ‘door-mat’ without resenting it, because the mainspring of his life was devotion to Jesus. We are apt to be devoted not to Jesus Christ but to the things which emancipate us spiritually. That was not Paul’s motive: “I could wish myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren”—wild, extravagant—is it? When a man is in love it is not an exaggeration to talk in that way, and Paul is in love with Jesus Christ.
My Utmost for His Highest
the Poetry of R.S. Thomas
Thirteen Blackbirds Look at a Man
It is calm.
It is as though
we lived in a garden
that had not yet arrived
at the knowledge of
good and evil.
But there is a man in it.
There will be
rain falling vertically
from an indifferent
sky. There will stare out
from behind its
bars the face of the man
who is not enjoying it.
than a blackberry
bush. As the sun comes up
fresh, what is the darkness
stretching from horizon
to horizon? It is the shadow
of the forked man.
We have eaten
the blackberries and spat out
the seeds, but they lie
glittering like the eyes of a man.
After we have stopped
singing, the garden is disturbed
by echoes, it is
the man whistling, expecting
everything to come to him.
We wipe our beaks
on the branches
wasting the dawn's
jewellery to get rid
of the taste of a man.
which is not the case
with a man, our
bills give us no trouble.
Who said the
number was unlucky?
It was a man, who,
trying to pass us,
had his licence endorsed
In the cool
of the day the garden
seems given over
to blackbirds. Yet
we know also that somewhere
there is a man in hiding.
To us there are
eggs and there are
Backbirds. But there is the man,
too, trying without feathers
to incubate a solution.
We spread our
our air space. A man stands
nder us and worries
at his ability to do the same.
When night comes
like a visitor
from outer space
we stop our ears
lest we should hear tell
of the man in the moon.
at an end. The migrants
depart. When they return
in spring to the garden,
will there be a man among them?
The Poems of R.S. Thomas
Job wanted God to explain why he, a righteous man, had to suffer as he did. Also he wanted an explanation of why so many wicked folks went through life unpunished. This latter theme fills chap. 24, as the variety and intensity of sins and sinners and the suffering of their victims is spelled out in some detail.
24:2–12 The victims of the cruel and thieving wicked are forced to endure the most wretched of conditions — starvation, cold, and expulsion. These desperate circumstances and more are pictured in these verses in order to underscore the absence of justice and the seeming apathy of the divine judge.
24:2 The first two sins reflect the pastoral culture from which Job came. The moving of “boundary stones” was forbidden in Deut 19:14; Prov 22:28; 23:10. Stealing or seizing (cf. 20:19) flocks was, of course, forbidden in the law of Moses and in virtually every other law code yet discovered. It is possible that these two crimes were interconnected. By moving the boundaries while the flock grazed near the border, the thief thus brought them over to his side of the line.
24:3 This chiastically arranged verse introduces the victims of these crimes. They are the powerless members of the community, those with no men to lead their families 22:9. Deuteronomy 24:6 forbids seizing the means of livelihood as payment for a debt. The donkey and the ox were necessities for the “orphan” (“fatherless” in 22:9; 23:9) and the “widow” (Deut 10:12–19).
24:4 Several commentators and English translations rearrange the verses of this section, but if the flow seems irregular or the logic flawed, it must be remembered who was speaking and the extreme anguish that he was suffering. This is no trial lawyer with a polished presentation but a man with a dreadful disease, on an ash heap, accused of awful crimes by healthy friends with sick arguments. Only GNB and NIV make the passive verb in the second stich active. Such a move improves the parallelism, but it is less vivid than the NEB “the destitute huddle together.” The ungodly “thrust” and “force” the “poor” and “needy” “from the path” and “into hiding” (cf. Prov 28:28). Habel suggests a metaphorical interpretation: “When the property and possessions of the poor are appropriated, they are compelled to leave the mainstream of society and eke out an existence in the hidden corners of their community.”
24:5 How to arrange this long verse into lines is the major challenge of the translator. As Rowley says, “Innumerable emendations have been proposed, but none has been generally accepted.” The NIV has included all the words and presented three lines fairly equal in length. The three preceding verses reported what the wicked did; now the focus is on the situation of the oppressed victims. Like animals they spent their days gathering enough food to sustain life. The least productive area, the desert, was their harvest field and hunting ground.
24:6 The comparison seems to continue in this verse. Their extreme poverty is graphically illustrated, assuming that the “fodder” they gather is for themselves rather than their animals. “Gleaning” was regularly the way the poor fed themselves (cf. Lev 19:10; Ruth 2).
24:7 To the discomfort of banishment and starvation, Job added the hardship created by lack of shelter and clothing. Exodus 22:27 forbad keeping an outer garment overnight for collateral (Job 22:6).
24:8 Job’s picture of the poor and oppressed grows more pitiful with each verse. Now they are abandoned, starved, naked, and “drenched by mountain rains.”
24:9 The Hebrew verbs here are active, the subjects understood to be the wicked. Because of the shift in subject, the NIV resorted to passive verbs so that the orphan “is snatched” and the nursing infant “is seized.” In v. 3 the wicked wealthy took “the widow’s ox in pledge.” Here they take the suckling child for the same reason.
24:10 Except for the verb, v. 10a is identical to v. 7a. Like other phrases in this description of oppression, Job echoed terms that Eliphaz used in his accusation of Job. So “take in pledge” and “naked” were in 22:6, “hungry” in 22:7, and “widows” and “fatherless” in 22:9. The second stich is parallel to the two in v. 11. In the midst of plenty they must do without.
24:11 Surrounded by grain, olives, and wine, the oppressed workers must suffer starvation and thirst. The law provided that even the animals that trod out the grain should be allowed to nibble of it (Deut 25:4). Here, human beings are forbidden to partake of the rich man’s abundance for which they toil. The first line is uncertain. Of it Pope said, “The difficulties … are formidable and one can only guess at the meaning.” An NIV footnote gives a very possible alternative to “among the terraces” (lit. “between their walls”) as “between the millstones.” The verb occurs only here but is assumed to be related to yiṣhār, “[olive] oil.”
24:12 Job concluded his description of the abuses and exploitation of the poor by the rich by telling of their dying groans and vain cries for help. Job reached another low point in his view of divine justice and came almost as close to blasphemy as he did in 9:22–24. It appeared to him that God was oblivious to all this evil.
Word Biblical Commentary Vol. 34a, Mark 1-8:26 (guelich), 498pp
Verses 13 and 17 form the introduction and conclusion to this short list of serious offenses, crimes that parallel the sixth, seventh, and eighth commandments (Exod 20:13–15). The motif of darkness pervades this passage; all three offenses are committed at night. Verses 13–16 are all triplets.
24:13 “Light” is associated with right, just as darkness is with wrong. Evil people rebel against what is right and prefer darkness to light because they do not want their deeds to be seen.
24:14 The point of the verse is clear — murderers kill innocent and weak people. But the Hebrew says they do it “at the light.” It could be understood as a merismus (see comment at 1:20): By day they kill; by night they are like robbers.
Most commentaries and translations produce a better parallel and work around to what seems inconsistent with v. 13 by reading “at twilight” (AB), “at dusk” (NRSV), “before daylight” (NEB), “at dawn” (NASB, AAT), “when there is no light” (NAB, reading the preposition as a negative), “at evening” (NJPS).
24:15 The next category of malfeasance is adultery. This variety of sinner likewise prefers the darkness (Prov 7:8–9). He “covers/conceals/ disguises” the face, further to ensure anonymity. Murder and adultery, but not theft (cf. Exod 22:1–4), were capital crimes in ancient Israel (Gen 9:6; Exod 21:12; 22:2; Lev 20:10). Virtually all ancient law codes outside Israel dealt similarly with these offenses.
24:16 Verses 14–16 are framed by the word “light,” just as vv. 13–17 are enclosed by the opposites “light” and “morning.” Thieves also operate under cover of darkness for obvious reasons (John 3:20).
24:17 This summary verse maintains the themes of light and darkness. In v. 16c the text reads literally, “They do not know the light.” By contrast in v. 17, “They make friends with the terrors of darkness.” Both words in v. 17 for “darkness” are ṣalmāwet, “shadow of death” (Ps 23:4). Like all fast - talking lawbreakers they turn things upside down and call them by opposite names, so their “morning” is “darkness” (cf. Isa 5:20; 29:16; Amos 5:7; 6:12b; Matt 6:22–23).
On this depressing note Job ended his description of the wicked, who appear to go unpunished because of an apathetic God. Some psalms reflect a corresponding attitude, and so may some of God’s people today as they suffer defenselessly at the hands of others or watch tyrants misusing and victimizing the powerless.
Job: An Exegetical and Theological Exposition of Holy Scripture (The New American Commentary)
The tabernacle furnishings
(1) The bronze altar. There was only one door to this “tent of meeting.” Any person who wanted to come into God’s presence had to come through the one door which the plan of God provided. At the door, placed so that no one who entered could avoid it, stood the bronze altar. This was the altar of sacrifice; the place on which daily the prescribed offerings for Israel would be laid. As Leviticus would later make clear, “The life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar; it is the blood that makes atonement for one’s life” (Lev. 17:11). No one could approach God or receive the benefits of His presence without entering by the door of sacrifice and atonement.
Later Jesus would use this same picture in speaking of Himself. “I am the gate,” He announced. “Whoever enters through Me will be saved. I am the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd lays down His life for the sheep” (John 10:9, 11). The message is clear. Access to the benefits God has provided for us is ours only as we come to God in the single way He has planned.
(2) The bronze laver. The laver, a large container for water, was made of the same bronze metal as the altar. It stood at the entrance of the tabernacle itself, and was for the cleansing of those who entered the Presence. Jesus used a similar symbolism at the time of the Last Supper when He washed the disciples’ feet. They have been cleansed, He told them, so they did not need another “bath.” But as they had walked the dusty roads after the bathing, their feet needed to be washed again and again (John 13:2–12).
Believers have been cleansed by the blood of Christ. Yet daily we need to turn to God for cleansing. The provision of cleansing is clearly ours: “If we confess our sins [those daily failures that mar the lives even of those who have experienced salvation], He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).
The continual cleansing each of us needs is provided in Christ, and pictured in the laver before the tabernacle entrance. Purified, we can freely enter the presence of our God.
(3) The table of the bread of the Presence. Immediately inside the first veil a table was set. On this table, placed to the right in the chamber, was kept a constant supply of fresh food and drink. All that the believer needs to strengthen and sustain him is found in God’s presence.
(4) The golden lampstand. To the left as one entered the first chamber stood a seven-branched candlestick, so designed that there was a constant flow of oil to feed it. This was the sole source of light in the tabernacle. Natural light was blocked off by a series of curtains and coverings.
In the presence of God, He alone provides the light we need to see our way. And that light is enough.
(5) Golden altar of incense. Centered before the veil that separated the holy place and the most holy place stood an altar of incense. This altar spoke of worship and of other dimensions of prayer (cf. Rev. 8:3–4). Here praise and prayer blended as the priests approached the presence of God, awed and yet exalted by His closeness.
(6) The ark of the covenant. There was a single article of furniture within the most holy place. The thick veil that separated this chamber was moved only one time a year, when the high priest entered there alone on the high and holy Day of Atonement, carrying the blood of sacrifice to sprinkle on the mercy seat. It was here, in the inner chamber, that the presence of God was focused.
The veil itself communicates a message. The New Testament says that “the Holy Spirit was showing by this that the way into the most holy place had not yet been disclosed as long as the first tabernacle was still standing” (Heb. 9:8). The Bible tells us that at the moment of Christ’s death, “the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom” (Matt. 27:51).
There is for us the fullness of God’s presence, a fullness that goes beyond even the rich provision God made for His Old Testament people.
What then was the ark, and what did it speak of? The ark itself was a gold-covered chest, containing special reminders of God’s work for His people. There was a container of manna, speaking of complete and miraculous provision. There were the tablets on which the Ten Commandments were written, speaking of the righteousness God alone can produce. Later there was added Aaron’s rod, which miraculously budded and bore fruit, speaking of God’s power to bring life from the dead.
The ark itself was named “of the covenant,” a reminder of God’s commitment to fulfill all His promises.
On the ark rested a special cover, overlaid with gold, and called the “mercy seat.” Here, between two carved angels whose wings met over the center of the mercy seat, God invested the fullness of His own presence—and it was here alone that God fully touched men.
This is why the act of God in tearing the temple veil from top to bottom is so significant. In that act, which accompanied our Lord’s crucifixion, we are told that there is no longer a curtain between the believer and the full experience of God’s presence! No wonder Hebrews invites, “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” (Heb. 4:16). For the believer today, who has come through the one door to God, Jesus, and has entered, cleansed, into a relationship with God in which the Lord strengthens us, guides us, and invites us to worship, there is even more. There is full and complete welcome into the holiest place of all—the very presence of God where miracles are the norm, and where righteousness is worked in the personality of men and women who have passed from death to life.
The Teacher's Commentary
Letter to American Christians
I would like to share with you an imaginary letter from the pen of the Apostle Paul. The postmark reveals that it comes from the city of Ephesus. After opening the letter I discovered that it was written in Greek rather than English. At the top of the first page was this request: "Please read to your congregation as soon as possible, and then pass on to the other churches."
For several weeks I have worked assiduously with the translation. At times it has been difficult, but now I think I have deciphered its true meaning. May I hasten to say that if in presenting this letter the contents sound strangely Kingian instead of Paulinian, attribute it to my lack of complete objectivity rather than Paul's lack of clarity.
It is miraculous, indeed, that the Apostle Paul should be writing a letter to you and to me nearly 1900 years after his last letter appeared in the New Testament. How this is possible is something of an enigma wrapped in mystery. The important thing, however, is that I can imagine the Apostle Paul writing a letter to American Christians in 1956 A.D. And here is the letter as it stands before me.
I, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to you who are in America, Grace be unto you, and peace from God our Father, through our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
For many years I have longed to be able to come to see you. I have heard so much of you and of what you are doing. I have heard of the fascinating and astounding advances that you have made in the scientific realm. I have heard of your dashing subways and flashing airplanes. Through your scientific genius you have been able to dwarf distance and place time in chains. You have been able to carve highways through the stratosphere. So in your world you have made it possible to eat breakfast in New York City and dinner in Paris, France. I have also heard of your skyscraping buildings with their prodigious towers steeping heavenward. I have heard of your great medical advances, which have resulted in the curing of many dread plagues and diseases, and thereby prolonged your lives and made for greater security and physical well-being. All of that is marvelous. You can do so many things in your day that I could not do in the Greco-Roman world of my day. In your age you can travel distances in one day that took me three months to travel. That is wonderful. You have made tremendous strides in the area of scientific and technological development.
But America, as I look at you from afar, I wonder whether your moral and spiritual progress has been commensurate with your scientific progress. It seems to me that your moral progress lags behind your scientific progress. Your poet Thoreau used to talk about "improved means to an unimproved end." How often this is true. You have allowed the material means by which you live to outdistance the spiritual ends for which you live. You have allowed your mentality to outrun your morality. You have allowed your civilization to outdistance your culture. Through your scientific genius you have made of the world a neighborhood, but through your moral and spiritual genius you have failed to make of it a brotherhood. So America, I would urge you to keep your moral advances abreast with your scientific advances.
I am impelled to write you concerning the responsibilities laid upon you to live as Christians in the midst of an unChristian world. That is what I had to do. That is what every Christian has to do. But I understand that there are many Christians in America who give their ultimate allegiance to man-made systems and customs. They are afraid to be different. Their great concern is to be accepted socially. They live by some such principle as this: "everybody is doing it, so it must be alright." For so many of you Morality is merely group consensus. In your modern sociological lingo, the mores are accepted as the right ways. You have unconsciously come to believe that right is discovered by taking a sort of Gallup poll of the majority opinion. How many are giving their ultimate allegiance to this way.
But American Christians, I must say to you as I said to the Roman Christians years ago, "Be not conformed to this world, but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind." Or, as I said to the Phillipian Christians, "Ye are a colony of heaven." This means that although you live in the colony of time, your ultimate allegiance is to the empire of eternity. You have a dual citizenry. You live both in time and eternity; both in heaven and earth. Therefore, your ultimate allegiance is not to the government, not to the state, not to nation, not to any man-made institution. The Christian owes his ultimate allegiance to God, and if any earthly institution conflicts with God's will it is your Christian duty to take a stand against it. You must never allow the transitory evanescent demands of man-made institutions to take precedence over the eternal demands of the Almighty God.
I understand that you have an economic system in America known as Capitalism. Through this economic system you have been able to do wonders. You have become the richest nation in the world, and you have built up the greatest system of production that history has ever known. All of this is marvelous. But Americans, there is the danger that you will misuse your Capitalism. I still contend that money can be the root of all evil. It can cause one to live a life of gross materialism. I am afraid that many among you are more concerned about making a living than making a life. You are prone to judge the success of your profession by the index of your salary and the size of the wheel base on your automobile, rather than the quality of your service to humanity.
The misuse of Capitalism can also lead to tragic exploitation. This has so often happened in your nation. They tell me that one tenth of one percent of the population controls more than forty percent of the wealth. Oh America, how often have you taken necessities from the masses to give luxuries to the classes. If you are to be a truly Christian nation you must solve this problem. You cannot solve the problem by turning to communism, for communism is based on an ethical relativism and a metaphysical materialism that no Christian can accept. You can work within the framework of democracy to bring about a better distribution of wealth. You can use your powerful economic resources to wipe poverty from the face of the earth. God never intended for one group of people to live in superfluous inordinate wealth, while others live in abject deadening poverty. God intends for all of his children to have the basic necessities of life, and he has left in this universe "enough and to spare" for that purpose. So I call upon you to bridge the gulf between abject poverty and superfluous wealth.
I would that I could be with you in person, so that I could say to you face to face what I am forced to say to you in writing. Oh, how I long to share your fellowship.
Let me rush on to say something about the church. Americans, I must remind you, as I have said to so many others, that the church is the Body of Christ. So when the church is true to its nature it knows neither division nor disunity. But I am disturbed about what you are doing to the Body of Christ. They tell me that in America you have within Protestantism more than two hundred and fifty six denominations. The tragedy is not so much that you have such a multiplicity of denominations, but that most of them are warring against each other with a claim to absolute truth. This narrow sectarianism is destroying the unity of the Body of Christ. You must come to see that God is neither a Baptist nor a Methodist; He is neither a Presbyterian nor a Episcopalian. God is bigger than all of our denominations. If you are to be true witnesses for Christ, you must come to see that America.
But I must not stop with a criticism of Protestantism. I am disturbed about Roman Catholicism. This church stands before the world with its pomp and power, insisting that it possesses the only truth. It incorporates an arrogance that becomes a dangerous spiritual arrogance. It stands with its noble Pope who somehow rises to the miraculous heights of infallibility when he speaks ex cathedra. But I am disturbed about a person or an institution that claims infallibility in this world. I am disturbed about any church that refuses to cooperate with other churches under the pretense that it is the only true church. I must emphasize the fact that God is not a Roman Catholic, and that the boundless sweep of his revelation cannot be limited to the Vatican. Roman Catholicism must do a great deal to mend its ways.
There is another thing that disturbs me to no end about the American church. You have a white church and you have a Negro church. You have allowed segregation to creep into the doors of the church. How can such a division exist in the true Body of Christ? You must face the tragic fact that when you stand at 11:00 on Sunday morning to sing "All Hail the Power of Jesus Name" and "Dear Lord and Father of all Mankind," you stand in the most segregated hour of Christian America. They tell me that there is more integration in the entertaining world and other secular agencies than there is in the Christian church. How appalling that is.
I understand that there are Christians among you who try to justify segregation on the basis of the Bible. They argue that the Negro is inferior by nature because of Noah's curse upon the children of Ham. Oh my friends, this is blasphemy. This is against everything that the Christian religion stands for. I must say to you as I have said to so many Christians before, that in Christ "there is neither Jew nor Gentile, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female, for we are all one in Christ Jesus." Moreover, I must reiterate the words that I uttered on Mars Hill: "God that made the world and all things therein . . . hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth."
So Americans I must urge you to get rid of every aspect of segregation. The broad universalism standing at the center of the gospel makes both the theory and practice of segregation morally unjustifiable. Segregation is a blatant denial of the unity which we all have in Christ. It substitutes an "I-it" relationship for the "I-thou" relationship. The segregator relegates the segregated to the status of a thing rather than elevate him to the status of a person. The underlying philosophy of Christianity is diametrically opposed to the underlying philosophy of segregation, and all the dialectics of the logicians cannot make them lie down together.
I praise your Supreme Court for rendering a great decision just two or three years ago. I am happy to know that so many persons of goodwill have accepted the decision as a great moral victory. But I understand that there are some brothers among you who have risen up in open defiance. I hear that their legislative halls ring loud with such words as "nullification" and "interposition." They have lost the true meaning of democracy and Christianity. So I would urge each of you to plead patiently with your brothers, and tell them that this isn't the way. With understanding goodwill, you are obligated to seek to change their attitudes. Let them know that in standing against integration, they are not only standing against the noble precepts of your democracy, but also against the eternal edicts of God himself. Yes America, there is still the need for an Amos to cry out to the nation: "Let judgement roll down as waters, and righteousness as a mighty stream."
May I say just a word to those of you who are struggling against this evil. Always be sure that you struggle with Christian methods and Christian weapons. Never succumb to the temptation of becoming bitter. As you press on for justice, be sure to move with dignity and discipline, using only the weapon of love. Let no man pull you so low as to hate him. Always avoid violence. If you succumb to the temptation of using violence in your struggle, unborn generations will be the recipients of a long and desolate night of bitterness, and your chief legacy to the future will be an endless reign of meaningless chaos.
In your struggle for justice, let your oppressor know that you are not attempting to defeat or humiliate him, or even to pay him back for injustices that he has heaped upon you. Let him know that you are merely seeking justice for him as well as yourself. Let him know that the festering sore of segregation debilitates the white man as well as the Negro. With this attitude you will be able to keep your struggle on high Christian standards.
Many persons will realize the urgency of seeking to eradicate the evil of segregation. There will be many Negroes who will devote their lives to the cause of freedom. There will be many white persons of goodwill and strong moral sensitivity who will dare to take a stand for justice. Honesty impels me to admit that such a stand will require willingness to suffer and sacrifice. So don't despair if you are condemned and persecuted for righteousness' sake. Whenever you take a stand for truth and justice, you are liable to scorn. Often you will be called an impractical idealist or a dangerous radical.
Sometimes it might mean going to jail. If such is the case you must honorably grace the jail with your presence. It might even mean physical death. But if physical death is the price that some must pay to free their children from a permanent life of psychological death, then nothing could be more Christian. Don't worry about persecution America; you are going to have that if you stand up for a great principle. I can say this with some authority, because my life was a continual round of persecutions. After my conversion I was rejected by the disciples at Jerusalem. Later I was tried for heresy at Jerusalem. I was jailed at Philippi, beaten at Thessalonica, mobbed at Ephesus, and depressed at Athens. And yet I am still going. I came away from each of these experiences more persuaded than ever before that "neither death nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come . . . shall separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." I still believe that standing up for the truth of God is the greatest thing in the world. This is the end of life. The end of life is not to be happy. The end of life is not to achieve pleasure and avoid pain. The end of life is to do the will of God, come what may.
I must bring my writing to a close now. Timothy is waiting to deliver this letter, and I must take leave for another church. But just before leaving, I must say to you, as I said to the church at Corinth, that I still believe that love is the most durable power in the world. Over the centuries men have sought to discover the highest good. This has been the chief quest of ethical philosophy. This was one of the big questions of Greek philosophy. The Epicurean and the Stoics sought to answer it; Plato and Aristotle sought to answer it. What is the summon bonum of life? I think I have an answer America. I think I have discovered the highest good. It is love. This principle stands at the center of the cosmos. As John says, "God is love." He who loves is a participant in the being of God. He who hates does not know God.
So American Christians, you may master the intricacies of the English language. You may possess all of the eloquence of articulate speech. But even if you "speak with the tongues of man and angels, and have not love, you are become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal."
Too bad, I guess the link below was pulled. However, I found this "Delivered at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, Montgomery, Alabama, on 4 November 1956. MLKP." Maybe this was the original. I don't know. click here
Diane Hussey - Change your water - change your LIFE!
Lessons for Everyday Living
When we first open the pages of the Talmud, we might expect to read deep, philosophical debates on the most critical issues of human existence. We look forward to learning sublime words of wisdom that answer life’s most difficult questions. We wait in anticipation for sparks of genius that will help to illuminate the dark world that we live in.
But we are in for a shock. Our first impressions of the subject matter of the Talmud might leave us confused, perplexed, even disappointed. Much of the Gemara is concerned with details of the most mundane and pedestrian topics: What objects can be carried in and out of a house on the Sabbath; who is responsible for damage done by an ox that gores another animal; how long must a woman wait after her monthly period before resuming marital relations? These and a thousand other such questions occupy the pages of the Talmud. Many people peruse these discussions and ask: “Is that all there is?”
We who have been brought up on western literature expect deep philosophical issues to be dealt with through serious essays and monographs. The Rabbis of the Talmud use a very different method to deal with the very same issues: Instead of addressing the macrocosm, they concentrate on the microcosm, focusing on the minute details of everyday life. We do them—and ourselves—a terrible disservice if we think that they were interested only in minute and trivial matters. The Rabbis found God in the details of the mundane and the everyday. We must learn to read their discussions conceptually. We must search beneath the surface, reading between the lines in order to truly understand what the Talmud is teaching us. For example, the question about carrying on the Sabbath is in reality about the significance of time and how one makes ordinary occasions into special ones. The discussion of the goring ox is actually about the extent of an individual’s responsibility towards others in a community. And the debates about the menstrual cycle are in essence about the nature of sexuality and the role it plays in a marriage. It’s easy to see what the Rabbis are saying. The challenge, however, is to understand their deeper meanings and ultimate concerns.
Swimming in the Sea of Talmud: Lessons for Everyday Living
Thomas A Kempis
Book One / Thoughts Helpful In The Life Of The Soul
The Twenty-Fourth / Judgment And The Punishment Of Sin
IN ALL things consider the end; how you shall stand before the strict Judge from Whom nothing is hidden and Who will pronounce judgment in all justice, accepting neither bribes nor excuses. And you, miserable and wretched sinner, who fear even the countenance of an angry man, what answer will you make to the God Who knows all your sins? Why do you not provide for yourself against the day of judgment when no man can be excused or defended by another because each will have enough to do to answer for himself? In this life your work is profitable, your tears acceptable, your sighs audible, your sorrow satisfying and purifying.
The patient man goes through a great and salutary purgatory when he grieves more over the malice of one who harms him than for his own injury; when he prays readily for his enemies and forgives offenses from his heart; when he does not hesitate to ask pardon of others; when he is more easily moved to pity than to anger; when he does frequent violence to himself and tries to bring the body into complete subjection to the spirit.
It is better to atone for sin now and to cut away vices than to keep them for purgation in the hereafter. In truth, we deceive ourselves by our ill-advised love of the flesh. What will that fire feed upon but our sins? The more we spare ourselves now and the more we satisfy the flesh, the harder will the reckoning be and the more we keep for the burning.
For a man will be more grievously punished in the things in which he has sinned. There the lazy will be driven with burning prongs, and gluttons tormented with unspeakable hunger and thirst; the wanton and lust-loving will be bathed in burning pitch and foul brimstone; the envious will howl in their grief like mad dogs.
Every vice will have its own proper punishment. The proud will be faced with every confusion and the avaricious pinched with the most abject want. One hour of suffering there will be more bitter than a hundred years of the most severe penance here. In this life men sometimes rest from work and enjoy the comfort of friends, but the damned have no rest or consolation.
You must, therefore, take care and repent of your sins now so that on the day of judgment you may rest secure with the blessed. For on that day the just will stand firm against those who tortured and oppressed them, and he who now submits humbly to the judgment of men will arise to pass judgment upon them. The poor and humble will have great confidence, while the proud will be struck with fear. He who learned to be a fool in this world and to be scorned for Christ will then appear to have been wise.
In that day every trial borne in patience will be pleasing and the voice of iniquity will be stilled; the devout will be glad; the irreligious will mourn; and the mortified body will rejoice far more than if it had been pampered with every pleasure. Then the cheap garment will shine with splendor and the rich one become faded and worn; the poor cottage will be more praised than the gilded palace. In that day persevering patience will count more than all the power in this world; simple obedience will be exalted above all worldly cleverness; a good and clean conscience will gladden the heart of man far more than the philosophy of the learned; and contempt for riches will be of more weight than every treasure on earth.
Then you will find more consolation in having prayed devoutly than in having fared daintily; you will be happy that you preferred silence to prolonged gossip.
Then holy works will be of greater value than many fair words; strictness of life and hard penances will be more pleasing than all earthly delights.
Learn, then, to suffer little things now that you may not have to suffer greater ones in eternity. Prove here what you can bear hereafter. If you can suffer only a little now, how will you be able to endure eternal torment? If a little suffering makes you impatient now, what will hell fire do? In truth, you cannot have two joys: you cannot taste the pleasures of this world and afterward reign with Christ.
If your life to this moment had been full of honors and pleasures, what good would it do if at this instant you should die? All is vanity, therefore, except to love God and to serve Him alone.
He who loves God with all his heart does not fear death or punishment or judgment or hell, because perfect love assures access to God.
It is no wonder that he who still delights in sin fears death and judgment.
It is good, however, that even if love does not as yet restrain you from evil, at least the fear of hell does. The man who casts aside the fear of God cannot continue long in goodness but will quickly fall into the snares of the devil.
The Poems of R.S. Thomas
Start of Diocletian’s Great Persecution
DIOCLETIAN became Roman emperor in 284. Under him, the empire experienced its cruelest and most systematic persecution of Christians. To share the load of governance, he made Maximian his co-emperor and Galerius and Constantius junior emperors. To bind Galerius to himself, Diocletian gave him his daughter Valeria as a wife, allegedly a Christian.
In 298 Diocletian required that all soldiers and imperial officials sacrifice to the heathen gods. Five years later, junior emperor Galerius, who was a cruel man and hated Christianity, met with his father-in-law in Nicomedia and urged him to persecute Christians more harshly.
At first Diocletian resisted the idea. To persuade him, Galerius brought learned pagans to the conference. Finally, when the oracle of the sun god at Miletus agreed with Galerius, Diocletian gave in. On this day 24 February 303 he decreed that all who would not serve the gods of Rome should lose their offices, have their property seized, and be demoted if they were persons of rank. He forbade Christians to meet for worship, ordered their churches destroyed, and their holy books burned. As soon as this proclamation was posted, a Christian tore it down, and loudly reproached the emperors. For this, he was roasted alive over a slow fire, but died without uttering a groan. Down came the great church at Nicomedia, and the persecutors burned its books.
Before the end of the year, Diocletian issued two more proclamations against Christians and Maximian issued a fourth the following year. One ordered the imprisonment of Christian teachers, filling the prisons with bishops and clergy. The next ordered that these prisoners either sacrifice to the pagan gods or be tortured. The third directed that all Christians should be required to sacrifice on pain of torture.
Christians suffered terribly, especially in the eastern empire. Some were thrown to wild beasts, others burned alive or roasted on griddles. Some were skinned or had their flesh scraped from their bones. Others were crucified. A few were tied between trees that were bent so as to meet and, when the branches were released, the force ripped these victims limb from limb. Eventually the Romans wearied of this and set the remaining Christians to work in mines or gave them menial jobs. In many instances, they gouged out an eye or maimed a hand or foot before sending the workers off. From this period come many notable martyrs, including the young girl, Agnes of Rome.
Click here to go to source
When you come, bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas. --- 2 Timothy 4:13.
We are taught in this passage how similar one child of God is to another. ( Spurgeon's Sermons on New Testament Men, Book 2 (C.H. Spurgeon Sermon Series , No 2) ) We look on Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as being great and blessed—we think that they lived in a higher region than we do. We cannot think that if they had lived in these times they would have been Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. We suppose that these are very bad days and that any great height of grace is not easily attainable. But if Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob had lived now, instead of being less, they would have been greater saints—for they only lived in the dawn, and we live in the noon. The apostles are called Saint Peter and Saint Paul. Thus they are set up on an elevated niche. If we had seen Peter and Paul, we would have thought them very ordinary people—wonderfully like ourselves. If we had gone into their daily lives and trials, we would have said, “You are superior to what I am in grace. But somehow you are people like me. I have a quick temper; so have you, Peter. I have a thorn in the flesh; so have you, Paul. I complain of rheumatism, and the apostle Paul, when aged, feels the cold and wants his cloak.”
The Bible is not intended for transcendental, superelevated souls—it is an everyday book. These people were everyday people, only they had more grace, but we can get more grace as well. The fountain at which they drew is as full and free to us as to them. We only have to believe in their fashion and trust to Jesus in their way, and although our trials are the same as theirs, we will overcome.
I like to see religion brought out in everyday life. Tell me about the godliness of your shop, your counter, and your kitchen. Let me see how grace enables you to be patient in the cold or joyful in hunger or industrious in labor. Grace is no common thing, yet it shines best in common things. To preach a sermon or sing a hymn is a paltry thing compared with the power to suffer cold and hunger and nakedness for Christ’s sake.
Courage then, fellow pilgrim, the road was not smoothed for Paul any more than it is for us. There was no royal road to heaven in those days other than there is now. They had to go through sloughs and bogs and mire as we do still. But they have gained the victory at last, and even so shall we.
--- C. H. Spurgeon
Take Heart: Daily Devotions with the Church's Great Preachers
On February 24, 1208 Francis of Assisi attended Mass in the little church of Saint Mary of the Angels. The priest read from Matthew’s Gospel, chapter 10: Jesus sent out the twelve apostles with these instructions: You received without paying, now give without being paid. Don’t take along any gold, silver, or copper coins. And don’t carry a traveling bag or an extra shirt or sandals.
Those verses so moved Francis that he resolved to become an itinerant evangelist in the mold of the original apostles. He shared his burden with a few followers, and they devised a simple strategy: to wander through the country as poor men, preaching the gospel and attending those with needs. Francis put his thoughts into writing and traveled to Rome, seeking endorsement from Pope Innocent III. The pope hesitated. “My son,” he said, “your plan of life seems too hard and rough.” But he eventually acquiesced, and Francis later wrote: When the Lord entrusted brothers to me, nobody told me how to treat them, but the Most High revealed to me personally that I ought to live according to the norms of the Holy Gospel. I had it all written down in a few simple words, and the lord Pope approved it. And those who wished to embrace the life gave the poor everything they had and contented themselves with a tunic patched inside and out, and a belt and some underclothes. And we did not wish for anything more.
Within eight years Francis’s order numbered 5,000 men, and by the time he died from tuberculoid leprosy in his mid-forties, he was so beloved that his followers feared the masses would steal his body. So they entombed him beneath the altar of the Basilica of Saint Francis under a slab of granite, gravel, ten welded bands of iron, a 190-pound grill, and a 200-pound rock. They buried him so well, in fact, that his coffin wasn’t discovered until the 19th century. His followers, however, continued his mission, and today the Franciscan Order in all its branches is the largest religious order in the Roman Catholic Church.
As you go, announce that the kingdom of heaven will soon be here. … You received without paying, now give without being paid. Don’t take along any gold, silver, or copper coins. And don’t carry a traveling bag or an extra shirt or sandals or a walking stick.
--- Matthew 10:7-10.
On This Day 365 Amazing And Inspiring Stories About Saints, Martyrs And Heroes
Daily Readings / CHARLES H. SPURGEON
Morning - February 24
“I will cause the shower to come down in his season; there shall be showers of blessing.” --- Ezekiel 34:26.
Here is sovereign mercy—“I will give them the shower in its season.” Is it not sovereign, divine mercy?—for who can say, “I will give them showers,” except God? There is only one voice which can speak to the clouds, and bid them beget the rain. Who sendeth down the rain upon the earth? Who scattereth the showers upon the green herb? Do not I, the Lord? So grace is the gift of God, and is not to be created by man. It is also needed grace. What would the ground do without showers? You may break the clods, you may sow your seeds, but what can you do without the rain? As absolutely needful is the divine blessing. In vain you labour, until God the plenteous shower bestows, and sends salvation down. Then, it is plenteous grace. “I will send them showers.” It does not say, “I will send them drops,” but “showers.” So it is with grace. If God gives a blessing, he usually gives it in such a measure that there is not room enough to receive it. Plenteous grace! Ah! we want plenteous grace to keep us humble, to make us prayerful, to make us holy; plenteous grace to make us zealous, to preserve us through this life, and at last to land us in heaven. We cannot do without saturating showers of grace. Again, it is seasonable grace. “I will cause the shower to come down in his season.” What is thy season this morning? Is it the season of drought? Then that is the season for showers. Is it a season of great heaviness and black clouds? Then that is the season for showers. “As thy days so shall thy strength be.” And here is a varied blessing. “I will give thee showers of blessing.” The word is in the plural. All kinds of blessings God will send. All God’s blessings go together, like links in a golden chain. If he gives converting grace, he will also give comforting grace. He will send “showers of blessing.” Look up to-day, O parched plant, and open thy leaves and flowers for a heavenly watering.
Evening - February 24
“O Lord of hosts, how long wilt thou not have mercy upon Jerusalem? … And the Lord answered the angel … with good words and comfortable words.” --- Zechariah 1:12,13.
What a sweet answer to an anxious enquiry! This night let us rejoice in it. O Zion, there are good things in store for thee; thy time of travail shall soon be over; thy children shall be brought forth; thy captivity shall end. Bear patiently the rod for a season, and under the darkness still trust in God, for his love burneth towards thee. God loves the church with a love too deep for human imagination: he loves her with all his infinite heart. Therefore let her sons be of good courage; she cannot be far from prosperity to whom God speaketh “good words and comfortable words.” What these comfortable words are the prophet goes on to tell us: “I am jealous for Jerusalem and for Zion with a great jealousy.” The Lord loves his church so much that he cannot bear that she should go astray to others; and when she has done so, he cannot endure that she should suffer too much or too heavily. He will not have his enemies afflict her: he is displeased with them because they increase her misery. When God seems most to leave his church, his heart is warm towards her. History shows that whenever God uses a rod to chasten his servants, he always breaks it afterwards, as if he loathed the rod which gave his children pain. “Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear him.” God hath not forgotten us because he smites—his blows are no evidences of want of love. If this is true of his church collectively, it is of necessity true also of each individual member. You may fear that the Lord has passed you by, but it is not so: he who counts the stars, and calls them by their names, is in no danger of forgetting his own children. He knows your case as thoroughly as if you were the only creature he ever made, or the only saint he ever loved. Approach him and be at peace.
Morning and Evening
SAVIOR, TEACH ME, DAY BY DAY
Jane E. Leeson, 1807–1882
If anyone loves Me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.
It is wonderful to have experienced God’s gift of love in days past, but the real challenge of victorious Christian living is knowing God in a new and fresh way each day. This is what gives our lives zest and enables us to face any new challenge. But this daily learning about our Savior is more than merely pursuing theological knowledge. Biblical knowledge must always be joined with a loving relationship with Christ, since knowledge in itself can easily develop into a false spiritual pride. For many of us, our greatest need is simply to be reminded of what we already know and to translate our knowledge into loving action. Our love for God is not really genuine until we have learned to share it with others.
There are numerous laws on the statute books of our land that attempt to teach us to be better people. The Christian, however, is also governed by two other basic commands: “Thou shalt love the Lord, thy God, with all thy soul, and with all thy mind … thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself” (Matthew 22:37, 39). And even beyond this, we are to treat one another with the same tender spirit that we have experienced from our Lord (Philippians 2:5).
“Savior, Teach Me, Day by Day,” which was originally written for children, spurs us on to the kind of service our Lord was talking about. Its basic theme—learning to love Christ who first loved us—involves a response of action: obedience (stanza 1); “prompt to serve” (stanza 2); “strong to follow” (stanza 3); and living joyously (stanza 4). The hymn was first published in 1842.
The author, Jane Eliza Leeson, was a rather unknown English writer of religious verse. She was a member of a strange and spurious sect known as the Holy Catholic Apostolic Church. In later life Miss Leeson became a member of the Roman Catholic Church. Yet her one enduring hymn still speaks to each of us of every age:
Savior, teach me, day by day, love’s sweet lesson to obey; sweeter lesson cannot be, loving Him who first loved me.
With a child’s glad heart of love, at Thy bidding may I move, prompt to serve and follow Thee, loving Him who first loved me.
Teach me thus Thy steps to trace, strong to follow in Thy grace, learning how to love from Thee, loving Him who first loved me.
Love in loving finds employ, in obedience all her joy; ever new that joy will be, loving Him who first loved me.
For Today: Psalm 18:1; 2 Corinthians 10:17; Philippians 1:9; 1 John 3:18.
Ask the question, “What have I learned about God during the past few days?” Also, “What new insights do I wish to learn this day?”
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