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2/26/2024     Yesterday     Tomorrow

Numbers 35 - 36

Numbers 35

Cities for the Levites

Numbers 35:1     The LORD spoke to Moses in the plains of Moab by the Jordan at Jericho, saying, 2 “Command the people of Israel to give to the Levites some of the inheritance of their possession as cities for them to dwell in. And you shall give to the Levites pasturelands around the cities. 3 The cities shall be theirs to dwell in, and their pasturelands shall be for their cattle and for their livestock and for all their beasts. 4 The pasturelands of the cities, which you shall give to the Levites, shall reach from the wall of the city outward a thousand cubits all around. 5 And you shall measure, outside the city, on the east side two thousand cubits, and on the south side two thousand cubits, and on the west side two thousand cubits, and on the north side two thousand cubits, the city being in the middle. This shall belong to them as pastureland for their cities.

6 “The cities that you give to the Levites shall be the six cities of refuge, where you shall permit the manslayer to flee, and in addition to them you shall give forty-two cities. 7 All the cities that you give to the Levites shall be forty-eight, with their pasturelands. 8 And as for the cities that you shall give from the possession of the people of Israel, from the larger tribes you shall take many, and from the smaller tribes you shall take few; each, in proportion to the inheritance that it inherits, shall give of its cities to the Levites.”

Cities of Refuge

9 And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 10 “Speak to the people of Israel and say to them, When you cross the Jordan into the land of Canaan, 11 then you shall select cities to be cities of refuge for you, that the manslayer who kills any person without intent may flee there. 12 The cities shall be for you a refuge from the avenger, that the manslayer may not die until he stands before the congregation for judgment. 13 And the cities that you give shall be your six cities of refuge. 14 You shall give three cities beyond the Jordan, and three cities in the land of Canaan, to be cities of refuge. 15 These six cities shall be for refuge for the people of Israel, and for the stranger and for the sojourner among them, that anyone who kills any person without intent may flee there.

16 “But if he struck him down with an iron object, so that he died, he is a murderer. The murderer shall be put to death. 17 And if he struck him down with a stone tool that could cause death, and he died, he is a murderer. The murderer shall be put to death. 18 Or if he struck him down with a wooden tool that could cause death, and he died, he is a murderer. The murderer shall be put to death. 19 The avenger of blood shall himself put the murderer to death; when he meets him, he shall put him to death. 20 And if he pushed him out of hatred or hurled something at him, lying in wait, so that he died, 21 or in enmity struck him down with his hand, so that he died, then he who struck the blow shall be put to death. He is a murderer. The avenger of blood shall put the murderer to death when he meets him.

22 “But if he pushed him suddenly without enmity, or hurled anything on him without lying in wait 23 or used a stone that could cause death, and without seeing him dropped it on him, so that he died, though he was not his enemy and did not seek his harm, 24 then the congregation shall judge between the manslayer and the avenger of blood, in accordance with these rules. 25 And the congregation shall rescue the manslayer from the hand of the avenger of blood, and the congregation shall restore him to his city of refuge to which he had fled, and he shall live in it until the death of the high priest who was anointed with the holy oil. 26 But if the manslayer shall at any time go beyond the boundaries of his city of refuge to which he fled, 27 and the avenger of blood finds him outside the boundaries of his city of refuge, and the avenger of blood kills the manslayer, he shall not be guilty of blood. 28 For he must remain in his city of refuge until the death of the high priest, but after the death of the high priest the manslayer may return to the land of his possession. 29 And these things shall be for a statute and rule for you throughout your generations in all your dwelling places.

30 “If anyone kills a person, the murderer shall be put to death on the evidence of witnesses. But no person shall be put to death on the testimony of one witness. 31 Moreover, you shall accept no ransom for the life of a murderer, who is guilty of death, but he shall be put to death. 32 And you shall accept no ransom for him who has fled to his city of refuge, that he may return to dwell in the land before the death of the high priest. 33 You shall not pollute the land in which you live, for blood pollutes the land, and no atonement can be made for the land for the blood that is shed in it, except by the blood of the one who shed it. 34 You shall not defile the land in which you live, in the midst of which I dwell, for I the LORD dwell in the midst of the people of Israel.”

Numbers 36

Marriage of Female Heirs

Numbers 36:1     The heads of the fathers’ houses of the clan of the people of Gilead the son of Machir, son of Manasseh, from the clans of the people of Joseph, came near and spoke before Moses and before the chiefs, the heads of the fathers’ houses of the people of Israel. 2 They said, “The LORD commanded my lord to give the land for inheritance by lot to the people of Israel, and my lord was commanded by the LORD to give the inheritance of Zelophehad our brother to his daughters. 3 But if they are married to any of the sons of the other tribes of the people of Israel, then their inheritance will be taken from the inheritance of our fathers and added to the inheritance of the tribe into which they marry. So it will be taken away from the lot of our inheritance. 4 And when the jubilee of the people of Israel comes, then their inheritance will be added to the inheritance of the tribe into which they marry, and their inheritance will be taken from the inheritance of the tribe of our fathers.”

5 And Moses commanded the people of Israel according to the word of the LORD, saying, “The tribe of the people of Joseph is right. 6 This is what the LORD commands concerning the daughters of Zelophehad: ‘Let them marry whom they think best, only they shall marry within the clan of the tribe of their father. 7 The inheritance of the people of Israel shall not be transferred from one tribe to another, for every one of the people of Israel shall hold on to the inheritance of the tribe of his fathers. 8 And every daughter who possesses an inheritance in any tribe of the people of Israel shall be wife to one of the clan of the tribe of her father, so that every one of the people of Israel may possess the inheritance of his fathers. 9 So no inheritance shall be transferred from one tribe to another, for each of the tribes of the people of Israel shall hold on to its own inheritance.’”

10 The daughters of Zelophehad did as the LORD commanded Moses, 11 for Mahlah, Tirzah, Hoglah, Milcah, and Noah, the daughters of Zelophehad, were married to sons of their father’s brothers. 12 They were married into the clans of the people of Manasseh the son of Joseph, and their inheritance remained in the tribe of their father’s clan.

13 These are the commandments and the rules that the LORD commanded through Moses to the people of Israel in the plains of Moab by the Jordan at Jericho.

ESV Study Bible

What I'm Reading

12 | Wellhausen’s Reconstruction of Hebrew History in the Priestly Period
Introduction: Wellhausen’s Reconstruction (Priestly Period)

By Gleason Archer Jr.

      ACCORDING TO THE WELLHAUSEN HYPOTHESIS, the decline and fall of the Jewish monarchy, with the subsequent deportation of the Israelites into captivity, compelled them to surrender political aspirations and look to their religious institutions as a basis for continuing existence as a nation. For this reason the professional priesthood of the tribe of Levi assumed increasing importance, and the ritual practices were elaborated into the form in which they were finally codified in Document P. Prior to the Exile, according to this theory, there had been no really standardized regulations binding upon all the faithful, but worship and sacrifice were conducted according to simple and flexible patterns. While this sounded all very well according to Evolutionary Theory, there were some nineteenth-century researchers in the field of comparative religions who had misgivings. Even so staunch a Wellhausen supporter as W. Robertson Smith felt that Wellhausen was mistaken in supposing that an anxious care to fulfill ritual requirements was postexilic only. On the contrary, it existed among all the Semites from the earliest stages of their cultural development. Rather than the antithetical epochs of the Wellhausian (Hegelian) doctrine, Smith felt that there was a continuous development through successive periods. For example, Smith believed that the atonement and communion type of sacrifice was early, because based upon the clan type of society; but that the meal offering and heave offering were later, because they were based upon a stage in society when property rights were recognized.

      According to the Documentary Theory, there was a clear line of development in the restriction of the priesthood to the family of Aaron. At first the priesthood was open to all Israelites (“And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests,”  Ex. 19:6, a J-E verse). Actually this statement in  Ex. 19:6 refers to the role of Israel as God’s covenant nation over against all the Gentile, heathen nations, who needed the mediatorship of the Hebrew people if they were ever going to learn of the one true God. Besides, there is a great difference between the statement: “Ye are a kingdom of priests” and the statement: “Any Israelite is eligible for the priesthood.” It is asserted that J-E does not even restrict the priesthood to the tribe of Levi. This, of course, is true, for by definition all references to the priesthood are automatically assigned to P even when they occur in the midst of a J or E passage. But certainly the Documentarians are unable to point to a single passage in the Pentateuch subsequent to Aaron’s ordination in  Lev. 8 that permits any non-Levite to become a priest. (Not even the Torah itself implies that the priesthood was restricted to Levi prior to Aaron’s consecration.)

      The next stage, according to Wellhausen, was represented by  Deuteronomy (assertedly forged in 621 B.C.), which restricts the priesthood to the tribe of Levi in general, although not to the family of Aaron in particular. Any Levite may become a priest, according to D, and it was not until the time of the Priestly Code (550–450 B.C.) that this honor was confined to the descendants of Aaron alone. Yet actually it can be demonstrated that D was quite aware of a distinction between the family of Aaron and the rest of the Levites. For example, in  Deut. 27:12–14 it was ordained that the tribe of Levi stand with five other tribes on the slope of Mount Gerizim, while the other six tribes stand over against Mount Ebal. But in the valley between the two groups a select group of Levites was to stand, that is, “the priests the Levites” (cf. v.  9 ), and they were the ones who were to recite a distinctive series of divine curses. It is difficult to avoid the inference that this select group in the valley were Aaronic priests. Likewise in  1 Kings 8:4, a passage attributed by Driver to a Deuteronomistic compiler (ILOT, p. 181), there is a distinction implied between the priests and the Levites: “And they brought up the ark of Jehovah … even these [holy vessels] did the priests and the Levites bring up.” (Kuenen felt constrained on dogmatic grounds to snip this verse out of its Deuteronomic context and assign it to P.)

      The first stage of restriction of the priesthood came with the latter part of  Ezekiel’s ministry, it is claimed. For  Ezekiel 44:7–16 ) was the first one to assign an inferior status to all Levites not of the family of Zadok (a contemporary of David descended from Aaron). But the context makes it clear that the special status of the family of Zadok was due to the fact that during the apostasy of the seventh and early sixth centuries, only this division of Aaron’s posterity steadfastly refused to cooperate with the idolatrous policies of the Jewish government. It is difficult to see, moreover, how this narrowing down of the priesthood to the descendants of Zadok alone furnished a basis for the extension of sacerdotal status to the whole posterity of Aaron. Nevertheless, according to the Development Hypothesis, this is precisely what happened. From the earlier stage of accessibility to the whole tribe, the priesthood was narrowed down to one small subclan of the descendants of Aaron, and finally thrown open to all Aaronids without distinction. The logical progression here is difficult to see.

      At any rate according to this theory, the final stage was the supremacy of the family of Aaron within the tribe of Levi, a development which took place during the Babylonian Exile. This theory is usually bolstered by the contention that Aaron himself was a fictitious character who had no place in the original traditions of Moses and the Exodus. But in order to sustain this contention it was necessary for these critics to deal with many J passages in which Aaron’s name appeared (e.g.,  Ex. 4:14–16, 27–30 ), at least thirteen occurrences. Each of these had to be lifted out of the J context and branded as P insertions. By this procedure it became possible to come out triumphantly with the dictum: “Aaron is never mentioned in J.” Also the deferral of the high-priestly office to the time of the Exile is somewhat embarrassed by the prominence of certain high priests mentioned in pre-exilic Jewish history, men like Jehoiada ( 2 Kings 12:9 ), Hilkiah ( 2 Kings 22:4, 8 ), and Seraiah ( 2 Kings 25:18 ).

      The contention that the rise of the priestly school was accompanied by an exaltation of the family of Aaron led quite naturally to the corollary that it was precisely in this same period (550–450 B.C.) that ritual came to the forefront in Judah. Hence the numerous passages in  Exodus, Leviticus, and  Numbers which deal with matters of ritual and sacrifice are to be regarded as belonging to the latest portion of the Torah, and the technical terms of sacrifice come largely from the vocabulary of the Exilic Period. But as we have already pointed out at the beginning of this chapter, W. R. Smith dissented from the view that in the earlier stages of religion there was little concern for ritual requirements. He felt that the testimony of comparative religions pointed to the contrary, and that even quite primitive peoples lay great emphasis upon following prescribed procedure in offering sacrifice and other cultic observances. But this is no longer a mere matter of opinion, for with the unearthing of the extensive Ugaritic literature from Ras Shamra (dating back to 1400 B.C. or earlier), it has been discovered that many of the technical terms of sacrifice branded by Wellhausen as exilic turn up in this early period. Even in so remote a corner of the Canaanite-speaking world as Ugarit we find such P terms as ishsheh (“offering made by fire”), “whole burnt offering” (kālɩ̂l), “peace offerings” (shɩlāmɩ̂m), and probably āshām (“guilt offering”). It is hard to avoid the conclusion that these terms were already current in Palestine at the time of Moses and the conquest, and that the whole line of reasoning which made out the terminology of the Levitical cultus to be late is devoid of foundation.

     A Survey of Old Testament Introduction

Man in the Middle

By Sarah Eekhoff Zylstra 2/23/2017

     David Dockery, president of Trinity International University, knows the feeling of exhaustion. His wife, Lanese, gave birth to their three boys in three years. While he was president at Union University, one student shot another, and an EF4 tornado tore through while half of the students were on campus.

     But the most emotionally exhausting day in his life came on January 24, 1992.

     It was one of the happiest days and one of the saddest days of our lives jammed together,” he said.

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Sarah Eekhoff Zylstra is senior writer for The Gospel Coalition and contributing editor at Christianity Today. She earned her master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University.

Three Reasons I Am Not An Atheist

By Sean McDowell 6/22/2016

     My high school students often joke that I have an “inner atheist.” I do like to role-play an atheist with Christian audiences, and have even co-written an entire book responding to the New Atheists, Is God Just a Human Invention? And Seventeen Other Questions Raised by the New Atheists. And yet atheism is not just an issue for me. I have many atheist friends with whom I enjoy regular conversations about life, philosophy, sports, and God. I have read the influential atheists of the past, such as Bertrand Russell and Camus, and many of the leading atheists today, such as Richard Dawkins. And yet, when all things are taken into consideration, there are three main reasons why I am not an atheist.

     1. Atheism Cannot Answer the Big Questions of Life. For any worldview to be considered valid, it needs to answer the big questions about life, such as: Why is there something rather than nothing? Why is the universe fine-tuned? Where did life come from? Why did consciousness emerge? Why are humans valuable? Is there objective beauty? The truth is that atheism cannot answer any of these questions, as I observed in an earlier post. Sure, there are many attempts to explain them on a naturalistic worldview, and some are better than others, but none of these explanations are more reasonable than those offered by theism. Atheism simply lacks the resources to account for the kinds of phenomena listed above.

Click here for entire article
Books By Sean McDowell

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

Freedom of access and outspokenness of address to God

By John R.W. Stott

     Through Christ we are now able to ‘approach God with freedom (parrēsia) and confidence’. We have parrēsia because of Christ’s high priesthood to come to God’s ‘throne of grace’, and parrēsia by Christ’s blood ‘to enter the Most Holy Place’ of God’s very presence. (Eph. 3:12; Heb. 4:16; 10:19) This freedom of access and this outspokenness of address to God in prayer are not incompatible with humility, for they are due entirely to Christ’s merit, not ours. His blood has cleansed our consciences (in a way that was impossible in Old Testament days), and God has promised to remember our sins no more. So now we look to the future with assurance, not fear. We feel the power of Paul’s logic that since, when we were God’s enemies, we were both justified and reconciled through Christ’s death, ‘how much more’, having been justified and reconciled, shall we be saved on the last day from God’s wrath. Now that we are ‘in Christ’, we are confident that ‘in all things’ God is working for our good, and that nothing can separate us from his love. (Heb. 9:14; 8:12 and 10:17 (cf. Jer. 31:34); Rom. 5:9–10; 8:28, 38–39)

(Eph 3:12) 12 in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in him.   ESV

(Heb 4:16) 16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.   ESV

(Heb 10:19) 19 Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus,   ESV

(Heb 9:14) 14 how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.   ESV

(Heb 8:12) 12 For I will be merciful toward their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more.”   ESV

(Heb 10:17) 17 then he adds, “I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.”   ESV

(Je 31:34) 34 And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”   ESV

(Ro 5:9–11) 9 Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.   ESV

(Ro 8:28–29) 28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.   ESV

(Ro 8:38–39) 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.   ESV

The Cross of Christ      John R.W. Stott Books |  Go to Books Page

Read The Psalms In "1" Year

Psalm 25

Teach Me Your Paths
25 Of David.

1 To you, O LORD, I lift up my soul.
2 O my God, in you I trust;
let me not be put to shame;
let not my enemies exult over me.
3 Indeed, none who wait for you shall be put to shame;
they shall be ashamed who are wantonly treacherous.

4 Make me to know your ways, O LORD;
teach me your paths.
5 Lead me in your truth and teach me,
for you are the God of my salvation;
for you I wait all the day long.

ESV Study Bible

If Only

By Jon Bloom 10/27/2017

     If only I could find my soulmate to marry. If only my mate felt like my soulmate. If only I could find that friend who really understands and accepts me for who I am. If only I could pursue the career I really want. If only my church were more [fill in the blank]. If only I weren’t so [fill in the blank]. If only I lived [fill in the blank]. If only I had [fill in the blank]. If only my family [fill in the blank]. If only [fill in the blank] hadn’t happened to me.

     What are your if only’s? We all have them, because if only’s are a form of regret, and regrets are simply unavoidable in our experience — though not all of them are unavoidable. Some are nothing more than delusions.

     Either way, we must take care with our regrets, because, whether based on something real or fantastic, they can erode our faith in God by subtly shifting our faith from God to our regrets — and that is truly regrettable.

     Real Regrets | When I say that some of our regrets are unavoidable, here’s what I mean:

     1. We are sinners who, even as regenerate believers in Jesus, are committing or omitting sin in greater or lesser degrees all the time, and this scorns God and damages ourselves and others to greater or lesser degrees.

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     Jon Bloom serves as author, board chair, and co-founder of Desiring God. He and his wife live in the Twin Cities with their five children.

     John Bloom Books |  Go to Books Page

The Victory of Christ

By John R.W. Stott

     What the New Testament affirms, in its own uninhibited way, is that at the cross Jesus disarmed and triumphed over the devil, and all the ‘principalities and powers’ at his command. First-century hearers of the gospel will have had no difficulty in accepting this, for ‘it is perhaps hard for modern man to realize how hag-ridden was the world into which Christ came’. The Patristic Doctrine of Redemption: A Study of the Development of Doctrine during the First Five Centuries Still today in many countries people live in dread of malevolent spirits. And in the supposedly sophisticated West a new and alarming fascination with the occult has developed, which has been ably documented by Michael Green in his I Believe in Satan's Downfall (Hodder Christian Paperbacks). And yet at the same time many ridicule continuing belief in a personal devil, with evil spirits under him, as a superstitious anachronism. Rudolf Bultmann’s dogmatic statement is well known: ‘it is impossible to use electric light and the wireless, and to avail ourselves of modern medical and surgical discoveries, and at the same time believe in the New Testament world of demons and spirits.’ Kerygma and Myth: A Theological Debate Michael Green sums up this anomaly of the coexistence of curiosity and incredulity by suggesting that two opposite attitudes would be equally pleasing to the devil: ‘The first is that of excessive preoccupation with the Prince of evil. The second is that of excessive scepticism about his very existence’ (p.16). Michael Green goes on to give seven reasons why he believes in the existence of that immensely powerful, evil and cunning being who is called Satan or the devil. They relate to philosophy, theology, the environment, experience, the occult, Scripture and above all Jesus. It is a cogent case; I have nothing to add to it.

(Col 2:13–15) 13 And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, 14 by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. 15 He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.   ESV

The Cross of Christ      John R.W. Stott Books |  Go to Books Page


By James Orr 1907

Thus far we have proceeded on the critics’ own assumption of the silence in pre-exilian times regarding the laws and institutions of the Priestly Code. But was the silence really as unbroken as is alleged? We shall now endeavour to show that it was not. The opposite can only be maintained by the process of circular reasoning which explains away every testimony to the contrary by the assumption of late date or interpolation of the notice, or by the convenient distinction between Code and usage. We go on the contrary principle that praxis, as a rule, is a testimony in favour of Code; but we hope to do something to prove the presence of Code also.

In an earlier chapter we sought to establish the existence in pre-exilic times of many of the characteristic institutions of the Levitical Code, e.g., the ark, the tabernacle, the Aaronic priesthood, the high priest, etc. It adds to the weight of the argument that in many instances we are indebted to quite incidental allusions for a knowledge of facts and observances whose existence might not otherwise have been suspected. It is, e.g., only by accident that we came on the notice of “the shewbread” in the sanctuary at Nob in the reign of Saul. Again, from  1 Sam. 1, 2, we might hastily conclude that there were at Shiloh no priests but Eli and his two sons; as from chap.  21. we might infer that there was at Nob only the single priest Ahimelech. Yet Saul’s massacre after David’s flight discovers to us the presence at Nob of eighty-five priests that wore a linen ephod. If it be replied that the references to ark, tabernacle, priesthood, shewbread, and the like, do not prove the existence of the detailed representations of the Priestly Code, this may be granted, and is only to be expected. But they show at least that these things were there to be legislated for, and annul the presumption against laws which have this for their object. It is a curious state of mind that can see a propriety in the codification of laws, e.g., about parapets and fringes, but supposes that everything about sanctuary and sacrifice was left to drift on without authoritative regulation. It is now necessary, however, to come to closer quarters, and to ask whether there is any direct evidence of the existence of priestly laws in written form in pre-exilian times.

1. We turn first to the Book of  Ezekiel, and specially to chaps.  40–48, which Wellhausen says have been not incorrectly called “the key of the Old Testament,” and between which and the Priestly Code, at any rate, it is allowed on all sides that there exists a close relation. What is the nature of that relation? Is it, as the world has till recently believed, the Levitical Code, with which as a priest he was necessarily familiar, which furnished  Ezekiel with suggestion and guidance in the framing of his sketch of a new theocracy, in which older institutions are freely remodelled and changed? Or is it, as the newer critics allege, that no written priestly laws as yet existed, and that  Ezekiel’s sketch was the first rough draft — “programme” — on the basis of which exilian scribes afterwards worked to produce their so-called Mosaic Code. The latter view is necessary to the Wellhausen hypothesis, yet it is one against which a powerful note of dissent is raised by an influential company of scholars, many of them well-nigh as “advanced” as Wellhausen himself. It is pointed out, surely with justice, that the vision of  Ezekiel is only conceivable as the product of a mind saturated with the knowledge of temple law and ritual; that the parallels with the Priestly Code are not confined to chaps.  40–48, but go through the whole book; that much is simply alluded to, or left to be understood, which only the Priestly Code can explain; above all, that the scheme of the Levitical Code deviates so widely in conception and detail from that of  Ezekiel as to render it unthinkable that its authors took the temple-vision of  Ezekiel as a pattern. How, indeed, if they viewed the vision of  Ezekiel as a prophetic revelation, should they presume to ignore or contradict it so directly as they do? We are aware that the objection is retorted: how should  Ezekiel presume to alter a divinely-given earlier Code? But the cases are quite different.  Ezekiel is not putting forward a code in the name of Moses. He is a prophetic man, avowedly legislating in the Spirit for a transformed land and a transformed people in the future. Not only, however, does the prophesying of  Ezekiel presuppose an older law, but the references with which his pages are filled to “statutes and judgments,” or “ordinances” of God, which the people had transgressed (in their “abominations” at the sanctuary among other things), show explicitly that he had such laws habitually before him.

2. But the subject admits of being brought to a nearer determination. There is at least one important section of the Priestly Code which, it is allowed, stands in the closest possible connection with  Ezekiel. We refer to “that peculiar little collection of laws,” as Wellhausen calls it, embraced in  Lev. 17–26. (with, according to most, extensive fragments elsewhere), which modern writers, following Klostermann, usually name “The Law of Holiness.” The resemblances with  Ezekiel here, particularly in  Lev. 26, are so numerous and striking that no one doubts the reality of some kind of dependence, but opinions have widely differed in critical quarters as to the nature of that dependence. At first it was confidently maintained, as by Graf, Kayser, Colenso (in part), etc., that  Ezekiel himself must be the author of these sections. “Amidst all the peculiarities,” wrote Graf, “by which these passages, and especially chap.  26, are distinguished from the other portions of the Pentateuch, there is exhibited so strange an agreement in thought and expression with  Ezekiel, that this cannot be accidental, nor can be explained by reference to the sameness of the circle within which  Ezekiel and the writer worked, but leads necessarily to the assumption that  Ezekiel himself was the writer.” Subsequently, when this theory was effectually disproved, on the basis of a wider induction, by Klostermann, Nöldeke, and Kuenen, the view was adopted that the writer was some one acquainted with  Ezekiel, who, in Kuenen’s words, “imitated him, and worked on in his spirit.” This, however, is too evidently a makeshift, and does violence also to all probability; for how should an “imitator” be supposed to have picked out just these isolated expressions of  Ezekiel, and inserted them into a Code presenting throughout such marked peculiarities? “That the Law of Holiness is formed after the model of  Ezekiel’s speech,” says Delitzsch, “is, to unprejudiced literary criticism, a sheer impossibility.” The only view which simply and naturally meets the case is that favoured also by Dr. Driver—viz., that the prophet was acquainted with and used the law in question, which, therefore, is older than himself.

This yields at once certain important conclusions. It demonstrates, in the first place, the fallacy of the statement that no priestly written law existed before the exile — for here is at least one important Code of priestly law; and, second, it opens up large vistas of possibility as to the extent of this written law, and casts valuable light on the pre-exilian existence of many disputed institutions. Critical ingenuity, indeed, is amply equal to the fresh task of dissecting the Code it has discovered — of distinguishing in it a P1 and P2, even an H1, H2, H3, and of relegating to later hands everything which it thinks unsuitable. Thus Baentsch, a recent writer, distinguishes between chaps.  18 – 20 (H1) as post-Deuteronomic, but prior to  Ezekiel, and the group later than  Ezekiel, chaps.  21–22 (H2), and finally chaps.  17 and  26 (H3). On the whole, however, the tendency of critical opinion has been to enlarge the scope of this “Law of Holiness” rather than to contract it — the expansion, when the assumption of late date gives the critic a free hand, assuming sometimes quite remarkable proportions. Even if some degree of redaction is admitted, it remains certain that in these chapters of  Leviticus with which  Ezekiel shows himself so closely in rapport, laws are embedded relating to the most contested points in Israel’s religion. This Code is, in fact, in a very real sense, the quintessence of Levitical law. We find in it, to adduce only main instances, the Aaronic priesthood, the high priest, sin- and trespass-offerings, the day of atonement, the three historical feasts, the sabbatic year, the year of jubilee, the Levitical cities, etc. We shall think twice, and require strong evidence, before surrendering all this, at the bidding of critical theory, to post-exilian hands.

3. Accepting it as established that the Law of Holiness, and other Levitical laws, were known to  Ezekiel, we may now carry the argument a considerable way higher, with fresh confirmation of the result already reached. It is essential to the Wellhausen hypothesis to prove that the Levitical Code is posterior to  Ezekiel; it is still more indispensable for its purpose to show that it is later than  Deuteronomy. But is this really so? The assertion is, no doubt, continually made; but on this point, once more, the critical camp is keenly divided, and there appears the clearest evidence that, as the older scholars all but unanimously maintained, the author of  Deuteronomy is familiar with, and in his legislation actually embodies or alludes to, many provisions of the Levitical Code. Here again Dr. Driver will be our witness, though this time, perhaps, against his own intention. At first sight, indeed, this careful scholar seems altogether against us. “The pre-exilic period,” he tells us, “shows no indications of the legislation of P being in operation.… Nor is the legislation of P presupposed in Deuteronomy.” Ere long, however, we discover that here, also, after the critical fashion, we have to distinguish two Dr. Drivers (Dr.1 and Dr.2, shall we say?) — a first, who contends unqualifiedly that the pre-exilic period “shows no indications of the legislation of P,” and a second, who admits that it is only “the completed Priests’ Code” that is unknown before the exile, and that “the contradiction of the pre-exilic literature does not extend to the whole of the Priests’ Code indiscriminately.” Citation is made of  Deut. 14:4–20, but in the remarks that follow there is a slight variation between the first and the revised editions of the Introduction which deserves attention. We quote the first edition, as better representing the facts, and give the revised form below. “Here,” it is said, “is a long passage virtually identical in  Deuteronomy and  Leviticus; and that it is borrowed by D from P — or at least from a priestly collection of toroth — rather than conversely, appears from certain features of style which connect it with P and not with  Deuteronomy .… If so, however, one part of P was in existence when  Deuteronomy was written; and a presumption at once arises that other parts were in existence also. Now the tenor of  Deuteronomy as a whole conflicts with the supposition that all the institutions of the Priests’ Code were in force when D wrote; but the list of passages just quoted shows that some were, and that the terminology used in connection with them was known to D.” The “list” referred to gives in parallel columns a long catalogue of passages of  Deuteronomy corresponding “with P (including H),” with note of some peculiarities in the mode of quotation. On another page it is said: “In  Deuteronomy the following parallels may be noted,” with list again given. These are significant admissions, and completely dispose of the unqualified statements first quoted. Reduced to its real dimensions, Dr. Driver’s argument only is that some of the characteristic institutions of P—e.g., the distinction of priests and Levites — conflict with the tenor of D; and even this contention, resting largely on the argument from silence, cannot be allowed the weight he attaches to it. As he himself says: “That many of the distinctive institutions of P are not alluded to — the day of atonement, the jubilee year, the Levitical cities, the sin-offering, the system of sacrifices prescribed for particular days — is of less importance: the writers of these [historical] books may have found no occasion to mention them.” The argument from silence applies nearly as much to the parts of the law which he admits to have existed, as to those which he thinks did not exist; and as much to praxis as to Code.

     The Problem of the Old Testament

Learning in War-Time

By C.S. Lewis

A sermon preached in the Church of St. Mary the Virgin, Oxford,Autumn, 1939

     We are now in a position to answer the view that human culture is an inexcusable frivolity on the part of creatures loaded with such awful responsibilities as we. I reject at once an idea which lingers in the mind of some modern people that cultural activities are in their own right spiritual and meritorious -- as though scholars and poets were intrinsically more pleasing to God than scavengers and bootblacks. I think it was Matthew Arnold who first used the English word spiritual in the sense of the German geistlich, and so inaugurated this most dangerous and most anti-Christian error. Let us clear it forever from our minds.  The work of a Beethoven, and the work of a charwoman, become spiritual on precisely the same condition, that of being offered to God, of being done humbly "as to the Lord".  This does not, of course, mean that it is for anyone a mere toss-up whether he should sweep rooms or compose symphonies. A mole must dig to the glory of God and a cock must crow. We are members of one body, but differentiated members, each with his own vocation. A man's upbringing, his talents, his circumstances, are usually a tolerable index of his vocation. If our parents have sent us to Oxford, if our country allows us to remain there, this is prima facie evidence that the life which we, at any rate, can best lead to the glory of God at present is the learned life.

     By leading that life to the glory of God I do not, of course, mean any attempt to make our intellectual inquiries work out to edifying conclusions. That would be, as Bacon says, to offer to the author of truth the unclean sacrifice of a lie. I mean the pursuit of knowledge and beauty, in a sense, for their own sake, but in a sense which does not exclude their being for God's sake. An appetite for these things exists in the human mind, and God makes no appetite in vain. We can therefore pursue knowledge as such, and beauty, as such, in the sure confidence that by so doing we are either advancing to the vision of God ourselves or indirectly helping others to do so. Humility, no less than the appetite, encourages us to concentrate simply on the knowledge or the beauty, not too much concerning ourselves with their ultimate relevance to the vision of God. That relevance may not be intended for us but for our betters -- for men who come after and find the spiritual significance of what we dug out in blind and humble obedience to our vocation. This is the teleological argument that the existence of the impulse and the faculty prove that they must have a proper function in God's scheme -- the argument by which Thomas Aquinas probes that sexuality would have existed even without the Fall. The soundness of the argument, as regards culture, is proved by experience. The intellectual life is not the only road to God, nor the safest, but we find it to be a road, and it may be the appointed road for us. Of course, it will be so only so long as we keep the impulse pure and disinterested. That is the great difficulty. As the author of the Theologia Germanicai says, we may come to love knowledge -- our knowing -- more than the thing known: to delight not in the exercise of our talents but in the fact that they are ours, or even in the reputation they bring us. Every success in the scholar's life increases this danger. If it becomes irresistible, he must give up his scholarly work. The time for plucking our the right eye has arrived.

     That is the essential nature of the learned life as I see it. But it has indirect values which are especially important today. If all the world were Christian, it might not matter if all the world were uneducated. But, as it is, a cultural life will exist outside the Church whether it exists inside or not. To be ignorant and simple now -- not to be able to meet the enemies on their own ground -- would be to throw down our weapons, and to betray our uneducated brethren who have, under God, no defense but us against the intellectual attacks of the heathen. Good philosophy must exist, if for no other reason, because bad philosophy needs to be answered. The cool intellect must work not only against cool intellect on the other side, but against the muddy heathen mysticisms which deny intellect altogether.

     Most of all, perhaps we need intimate knowledge of the past. Not that the past has any magic about it, but because we cannot study the future, and yet need something to set against the present, to remind us that periods and that much which seems certain to the uneducated is merely temporary fashion. A man who has lived in many place is not likely to be deceived by the local errors of his native village: the scholar who has lived in many times and is therefore in some degree immune form the great cataract of nonsense that pours from the press and the microphone of his own age.

     The learned life then is, for some, a duty. At the moment it looks as if it were your duty. I am well aware that there may seem to be an almost comic discrepancy between the high issues we have been considering and the immediate task you may be set down to, such as Anglo-Saxon sound laws or chemical formulae. But there is a similar shock awaiting us in every vocation -- a young priest finds himself involved in choir treats and a young subaltern in accounting for pots of jam. It is well that it should be so. It weeds out the vain, windy people and keeps in those who are both humble and tough. On that kind of difficulty we need waste no sympathy.

     But the peculiar difficulty imposed on you by the war is another matter: and of it I would again repeat, what I have been saying in one form or another ever since I started -- do not let your nerves and emotions lead you into thinking your present predicament more abnormal than it really is. Perhaps it may be useful to mention the three mental exercises which may serve as defenses against the three enemies which war raises up against the scholar. The first enemy is excitement -- the tendency to think and feel about the war when we had intended to think about our work. The best defense is a recognition that in this, as in everything else, the war has not really raised up a new enemy but only aggravated an old one. There are always plenty of rivals to our work. We are always falling in love or quarreling, looking for jobs or fearing to lose them, getting ill and recovering, following public affairs.  If we let ourselves, we shall always be waiting for some distraction or other to end before we can really get down to our work. The only people who achieve much are those who want knowledge so badly that they seek it while the conditions are still unfavorable. Favorable conditions never come. There are, of course, moments when the pressure of the excitement is so great that any superhuman self-control could not resist it. They come both in war and peace. We must do the best we can.

Weight of Glory

      C.S. Lewis

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The Pilgrim's Progress From This World To That Which Is To Come;
Delivered Under The Similitude Of A Dream (Part 2)

By John Bunyan 1678


     When the song and music were ended, the Interpreter asked Christiana what it was that at first did move her thus to betake herself to a pilgrim’s life. Christiana answered, First, the loss of my husband came into my mind, at which I was heartily grieved; but all that was but natural affection. Then after that came the troubles and pilgrimage of my husband into my mind, and also how like a churl I had carried it to him as to that. So guilt took hold of my mind, and would have drawn me into the pond, but that opportunely I had a dream of the well-being of my husband, and a letter sent me by the King of that country where my husband dwells, to come to him. The dream and the letter together so wrought upon my mind that they forced me to this way.

     INTER. But met you with no opposition before you set out of doors?

     CHR. Yes, a neighbor of mine, one Mrs. Timorous: she was akin to him that would have persuaded my husband to go back, for fear of the lions. She also befooled me, for, as she called it, my intended desperate adventure; she also urged what she could to dishearten me from it, the hardships and troubles that my husband met with in the way; but all this I got over pretty well. But a dream that I had of two ill-looking ones, that I thought did plot how to make me miscarry in my journey, that hath troubled me much: yea, it still runs in my mind, and makes me afraid of every one that I meet, lest they should meet me to do me a mischief, and to turn me out of my way. Yea, I may tell my Lord, though I would not have every body know of it, that between this and the gate by which we got into the way, we were both so sorely assaulted that we were made to cry out murder; and the two that made this assault upon us, were like the two that I saw in my dream.

     Then said the Interpreter, Thy beginning is good; thy latter end shall greatly increase. So he addressed himself to Mercy, and said unto her, And what moved thee to come hither, sweet heart?

     MER. Then Mercy blushed and trembled, and for a while continued silent.

     INTER. Then said he, Be not afraid; only believe, and speak thy mind.

     MER. So she began, and said, Truly, sir, my want of experience is that which makes me covet to be in silence, and that also that fills me with fears of coming short at last. I cannot tell of visions and dreams, as my friend Christiana can; nor know I what it is to mourn for my refusing the counsel of those that were good relations.

     INTER. What was it, then, dear heart, that hath prevailed with thee to do as thou hast done?

     MER. Why, when our friend here was packing up to be gone from our town, I and another went accidentally to see her. So we knocked at the door and went in. When we were within, and seeing what she was doing, we asked her what was her meaning. She said she was sent for to go to her husband; and then she up and told us how she had seen him in a dream, dwelling in a curious place, among immortals, wearing a crown, playing upon a harp, eating and drinking at his Prince’s table, and singing praises to him for bringing him thither, etc. Now, methought, while she was telling these things unto us, my heart burned within me. And I said in my heart, If this be true, I will leave my father and my mother, and the land of my nativity, and will, if I may, go along with Christiana. So I asked her further of the truth of these things, and if she would let me go with her; for I saw now that there was no dwelling, but with the danger of ruin, any longer in our town. But yet I came away with a heavy heart; not for that I was unwilling to come away, but for that so many of my relations were left behind. And I am come with all the desire of my heart, and will go, if I may, with Christiana unto her husband and his King.

     INTER. Thy setting out is good, for thou hast given credit to the truth; thou art a Ruth, who did, for the love she bare to Naomi and to the Lord her God, leave father and mother, and the land of her nativity, to come out and go with a people she knew not heretofore. “The Lord recompense thy work, and a full reward be given thee of the Lord God of Israel, under whose wings thou art come to trust.”

Ruth 2:11-12 11 But Boaz answered her, “All that you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband has been fully told to me, and how you left your father and mother and your native land and came to a people that you did not know before. 12 The LORD repay you for what you have done, and a full reward be given you by the LORD, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge!”   ESV

     Now supper was ended, and preparation was made for bed; the women were laid singly alone, and the boys by themselves. Now when Mercy was in bed, she could not sleep for joy, for that now her doubts of missing at last were removed further from her than ever they were before. So she lay blessing and praising God, who had such favor for her.

     In the morning they arose with the sun, and prepared themselves for their departure; but the Interpreter would have them tarry a while; For, said he, you must orderly go from hence. Then said he to the damsel that first opened unto them, Take them and have them into the garden to the bath, and there wash them and make them clean from the soil which they had gathered by traveling. Then Innocent the damsel took them and led them into the garden, and brought them to the bath; so she told them that there they must wash and be clean, for so her Master would have the women to do that called at his house as they were going on pilgrimage. Then they went in and washed, yea, they and the boys, and all; and they came out of that bath, not only sweet and clean, but also much enlivened and strengthened in their joints. So when they came in, they looked fairer a deal than when they went out to the washing.

     When they were returned out of the garden from the bath, the Interpreter took them and looked upon them, and said unto them, “Fair as the moon.” Then he called for the seal wherewith they used to be sealed that were washed in his bath. So the seal was brought, and he set his mark upon them, that they might be known in the places whither they were yet to go. Now the seal was the contents and sum of the passover which the children of Israel did eat,

Exodus 13:8–10 8 You shall tell your son on that day, ‘It is because of what the LORD did for me when I came out of Egypt.’ 9 And it shall be to you as a sign on your hand and as a memorial between your eyes, that the law of the LORD may be in your mouth. For with a strong hand the LORD has brought you out of Egypt. 10 You shall therefore keep this statute at its appointed time from year to year.   ESV

when they came out of the land of Egypt; and the mark was set between their eyes. This seal greatly added to their beauty, for it was an ornament to their faces. It also added to their gravity, and made their countenance more like those of angels.

     Then said the Interpreter again to the damsel that waited upon these women, Go into the vestry, and fetch out garments for these people. So she went and fetched out white raiment, and laid it down before him; so he commanded them to put it on: it was fine linen, white and clean. When the women were thus adorned, they seemed to be a terror one to the other; for that they could not see that glory each one had in herself, which they could see in each other. Now therefore they began to esteem each other better than themselves. For, You are fairer than I am, said one; and, You are more comely than I am, said another. The children also stood amazed, to see into what fashion they were brought.

Philippians 2:3 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.   ESV


     The Interpreter then called for a man-servant of his, one Great-heart, and bid him take A sword, and helmet, and shield; and, Take these my daughters, said he, conduct them to the house called Beautiful, at which place they will rest next. So he took his weapons, and went before them; and the Interpreter said, God speed. Those also that belonged to the family, sent them away with many a good wish. So they went on their way, and sang,

This place hath been our second stage:
Here we have heard, and seen
Those good things, that from age to age
To others hid have been.
The dunghill-raker, spider, hen,
The chicken, too, to me
Have taught a lesson: let me then
Conformed to it be.
The butcher, garden, and the field,
The robin and his bait,
Also the rotten tree, doth yield
Me argument of weight,
To move me for to watch and pray,
To strive to be sincere;
To take my cross up day by day,
And serve the Lord with fear.

     Now I saw in my dream, that they went on, and Great-Heart before them. So they went, and came to the place where Christian’s burden fell off his back and tumbled into a sepulchre. Here then they made a pause; and here also they blessed God. Now, said Christiana, it comes to my mind what was said to us at the gate, to wit, that we should have pardon by word and deed: by word, that is, by the promise; by deed, to wit, in the way it was obtained. What the promise is, of that I know something; but what is it to have pardon by deed, or in the way that it was obtained, Mr. Great-Heart, I suppose you know; wherefore, if you please, let us hear your discourse thereof.

     GREAT. Pardon by the deed done, is pardon obtained by some one for another that hath need thereof; not by the person pardoned, but in the way, saith another, in which I have obtained it. So then, to speak to the question more at large, the pardon that you, and Mercy, and these boys have attained, was obtained by another; to wit, by him that let you in at the gate. And he hath obtained it in this double way; he hath performed righteousness to cover you, and spilt his blood to wash you in.

     CHR. But if he parts with his righteousness to us, what will he have for himself?

     GREAT. He has more righteousness than you have need of, or than he needeth himself.

     CHR. Pray make that appear.

     GREAT. With all my heart: but first I must premise, that he of whom we are now about to speak, is one that has not his fellow: He has two natures in one person, plain to be distinguished, impossible to be divided. Unto each of these natures a righteousness belongeth, and each righteousness is essential to that nature; so that one may as easily cause that nature to be extinct, as to separate its justice or righteousness from it. Of these righteousnesses therefore, we are not made partakers, so as that they, or any of them, should be put upon us, that we might be made just, and live thereby. Besides these, there is a righteousness which this person has, as these two natures are joined in one. And this is not the righteousness of the Godhead, as distinguished from the manhood; nor the righteousness of the manhood, as distinguished from the Godhead; but a righteousness which standeth in the union of both natures, and may properly be called the righteousness that is essential to his being prepared of God to the capacity of the mediatory office, which he was to be entrusted with. If he parts with his first righteousness, he parts with his Godhead; if he parts with his second righteousness, he parts with the purity of his manhood; if he parts with his third, he parts with that perfection that capacitates him to the office of mediation. He has therefore another righteousness, which standeth in performance, or obedience to a revealed will; and that is what he puts upon sinners, and that by which their sins are covered. Wherefore he saith, “As by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.”

Rom. 5:19 For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous.   ESV

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

The Continual Burnt Offering

By H.A. Ironside - 1941

February 26
2 Samuel 18:3 But the men said, “You shall not go out. For if we flee, they will not care about us. If half of us die, they will not care about us. But you are worth ten thousand of us. Therefore it is better that you send us help from the city.”  ESV

     This was the estimate his devoted followers put upon David their king. To them his life meant so much that they would not have him venture into battle lest they be deprived of his leadership and his shepherd-care. It was their love and regard for him that led to such concern for his safety. In this David portrayed Him who is to His redeemed “the altogether lovely,” the “fairest of ten thousand.” His worth is beyond all comparison. All of the sons of earth together are not deserving of Him. And yet, in grace, He gave Himself for us. In order that sinners might be saved He sacrificed Himself. He, the infinite One, stooped to death to save poor lost sinners such as we.

Hast thou heard Him, seen Him, known Him?
Is not thine a raptured heart?
Chief among ten thousand own Him,
Gladly choose the better part.

What has stript the seeming beauty
From the idols of the earth?
Not the sense of right or duty,
But the sight of peerless worth.

Not the crushing of those idols,
With its bitter void and smart:
But the beaming of His beauty,
The unveiling of His heart.

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

The Institutes of the Christian Religion

Translated by Henry Beveridge

     1. All these things will be easily understood after we have given a clearer definition of faith, so as to enable the readers to apprehend its nature and power. Here it is of importance to call to mind what was formerly taught, first, That since God by his Law prescribes what we ought to do, failure in any one respect subjects us to the dreadful judgment of eternal death, which it denounces. Secondly, Because it is not only difficult, but altogether beyond our strength and ability, to fulfill the demands of the Law, if we look only to ourselves and consider what is due to our merits, no ground of hope remains, but we lie forsaken of God under eternal death. Thirdly, That there is only one method of deliverance which can rescue us from this miserable calamity--viz. when Christ the Redeemer appears, by whose hand our heavenly Father, out of his infinite goodness and mercy, has been pleased to succor us, if we with true faith embrace this mercy, and with firm hope rest in it. It is now proper to consider the nature of this faith, by means of which, those who are adopted into the family of God obtain possession of the heavenly kingdom. For the accomplishment of so great an end, it is obvious that no mere opinion or persuasion is adequate. And the greater care and diligence is necessary in discussing the true nature of faith, from the pernicious delusions which many, in the present day, labour under with regard to it. Great numbers, on hearing the term, think that nothing more is meant than a certain common assent to the Gospel History; nay, when the subject of faith is discussed in the Schools, by simply representing God as its object, they by empty speculation, as we have elsewhere said (Book 2, chap. 6, sec. 4), hurry wretched souls away from the right mark instead of directing them to it. For seeing that God dwells in light that is inaccessible, Christ must intervene. Hence he calls himself "the light of the world;" and in another passage, "the way, the truth, and the life." None cometh to the Father (who is the fountain of life) except by him; for "no man knoweth who the Father is but the Son, and he to whom the Son will reveal him." For this reason, Paul declares, "I count all things as loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord." In the twentieth chapter of the Acts, he states that he preached "faith towards our Lord Jesus Christ;" and in another passage, he introduces Christ as thus addressing him: "I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness;" "delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee,"--"that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified through faith which is in me." Paul further declares, that in the person of Christ the glory of God is visibly manifested to us, or, which is the same thing, we have "the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ." [277] It is true, indeed, that faith has respect to God only; but to this we should add, that it acknowledges Jesus Christ whom he has sent. God would remain far off, concealed from us, were we not irradiated by the brightness of Christ. All that the Father had, he deposited with his only begotten Son, in order that he might manifest himself in him, and thus by the communication of blessings express the true image of his glory. Since, as has been said, we must be led by the Spirit, and thus stimulated to seek Christ, so must we also remember that the invisible Father is to be sought nowhere but in this image. For which reason Augustine treating of the object of faith (De Civitate Dei, lib. 11, ch. 2), elegantly says, "The thing to be known is, whither we are to go, and by what way;" and immediately after infers, that "the surest way to avoid all errors is to know him who is both God and man. It is to God we tend, and it is by man we go, and both of these are found only in Christ." [278] Paul, when he preaches faith towards God, surely does not intend to overthrow what he so often inculcates--viz. that faith has all its stability in Christ. Peter most appropriately connects both, saying, that by him "we believe in God," (1 Pet. 1:21).

2. This evil, therefore, must, like innumerable others, be attributed to the Schoolmen, [279] who have in a manner drawn a veil over Christ, to whom, if our eye is not directly turned, we must always wander through many labyrinths. But besides impairing, and almost annihilating, faith by their obscure definition, they have invented the fiction of implicit faith, with which name decking the grossest ignorance, they delude the wretched populace to their great destruction. [280] Nay, to state the fact more truly and plainly, this fiction not only buries true faith, but entirely destroys it. Is it faith to understand nothing, and merely submit your convictions implicitly to the Church? Faith consists not in ignorance, but in knowledge--knowledge not of God merely, but of the divine will. We do not obtain salvation either because we are prepared to embrace every dictate of the Church as true, or leave to the Church the province of inquiring and determining; but when we recognize God as a propitious Father through the reconciliation made by Christ, and Christ as given to us for righteousness, sanctification, and life. By this knowledge, I say, not by the submission of our understanding, we obtain an entrance into the kingdom of heaven. For when the Apostle says, "With the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation," (Rom. 10:10); he intimates, that it is not enough to believe implicitly without understanding, or even inquiring. The thing requisite is an explicit recognition of the divine goodness, in which our righteousness consists.

3. I indeed deny not (so enveloped are we in ignorance), that to us very many things now are and will continue to be completely involved until we lay aside this weight of flesh, and approach nearer to the presence of God. In such cases the fittest course is to suspend our judgment, and resolve to maintain unity with the Church. But under this pretext, to honor ignorance tempered with humility with the name of faith, is most absurd. Faith consists in the knowledge of God and Christ (John 17:3), not in reverence for the Church. And we see what a labyrinth they have formed out of this implicit faith--every thing, sometimes even the most monstrous errors, being received by the ignorant as oracles without any discrimination, provided they are prescribed to them under the name of the Church. This inconsiderate facility, though the surest precipice to destruction, is, however, excused on the ground that it believes nothing definitely, but only with the appended condition, if such is the faith of the Church. Thus they pretend to find truth in error, light in darkness, true knowledge in ignorance. Not to dwell longer in refuting these views, we simply advise the reader to compare them with ours. The clearness of truth will itself furnish a sufficient refutation. For the question they raise is not, whether there may be an implicit faith with many remains of ignorance, but they maintain, that persons living and even indulging in a stupid ignorance duly believe, provided, in regard to things unknown, they assent to the authority and judgment of the Church: as if Scripture did not uniformly teach, that with faith understanding is conjoined.

4. We grant, indeed, that so long as we are pilgrims in the world faith is implicit, not only because as yet many things are hidden from us, but because, involved in the mists of error, we attain not to all. The highest wisdom, even of him who has attained the greatest perfection, is to go forward, and endeavor in a calm and teachable spirit to make further progress. Hence Paul exhorts believers to wait for further illumination in any matter in which they differ from each other, Phil. 3:15). [281] And certainly experience teaches, that so long as we are in the flesh, our attainments are less than is to be desired. In our daily reading we fall in with many obscure passages which convict us of ignorance. With this curb God keeps us modest, assigning to each a measure of faith, that every teacher, however excellent, may still be disposed to learn. Striking examples of this implicit faith may be observed in the disciples of Christ before they were fully illuminated. We see with what difficulty they take in the first rudiments, how they hesitate in the minutest matters, how, though hanging on the lips of their Master, they make no great progress; nay, even after running to the sepulchre on the report of the women, the resurrection of their Master appears to them a dream. As Christ previously bore testimony to their faith, we cannot say that they were altogether devoid of it; nay, had they not been persuaded that Christ would rise again, all their zeal would have been extinguished. Nor was it superstition that led the women to prepare spices to embalm a dead body of whose revival they had no expectation; but, although they gave credit to the words of one whom they knew to be true, yet the ignorance which still possessed their minds involved their faith in darkness, and left them in amazement. Hence they are said to have believed only when, by the reality, they perceive the truth of what Christ had spoken; not that they then began to believe, but the seed of a hidden faith, which lay as it were dead in their hearts, then burst forth in vigor. They had, therefore, a true but implicit faith, having reverently embraced Christ as the only teacher. Then, being taught by him, they felt assured that he was the author of salvation: in fine, believed that he had come from heaven to gather disciples, and take them thither through the grace of the Father. There cannot be a more familiar proof of this, than that in all men faith is always mingled with incredulity.

5. We may also call their faith implicit, as being properly nothing else than a preparation for faith. The Evangelists describe many as having believed, although they were only roused to admiration by the miracles, and went no farther than to believe that Christ was the promised Messiah, without being at all imbued with Evangelical doctrine. The reverence which subdued them, and made them willingly submit to Christ, is honored with the name of faith, though it was nothing but the commencement of it. Thus the nobleman who believed in the promised cure of his son, on returning home, is said by the Evangelist (John 4:53) to have again believed; that is, he had first received the words which fell from the lips of Christ as an oracular response, and thereafter submitted to his authority and received his doctrine. Although it is to be observed that he was docile and disposed to learn, yet the word "believed" in the former passage denotes a particular faith, and in the latter gives him a place among those disciples who had devoted themselves to Christ. Not unlike this is the example which John gives of the Samaritans who believed the women, and eagerly hastened to Christ; but, after they had heard him, thus express themselves, "Now we believe, not because of thy saying, for we have heard him ourselves, and know that this is indeed the Christ, the Savior of the world," (John 4:42). From these passages it is obvious, that even those who are not yet imbued with the first principles, provided they are disposed to obey, are called believers, not properly indeed, but inasmuch as God is pleased in kindness so highly to honor their pious feeling. But this docility, with a desire of further progress, is widely different from the gross ignorance in which those sluggishly indulge who are contented with the implicit faith of the Papists. If Paul severely condemns those who are "ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth," how much more sharply ought those to be rebuked who avowedly affect to know nothing?

     Christian Classics Ethereal Library / Public Domain

     Institutes of the Christian Religion

  • Salvation Guarantee 1 Rom 5:1–2
  • 2 Rom 5:2–8
  • 3 Rom 5:9–11

     Devotionals, notes, poetry and more

UCB The Word For Today
     Instead of worrying, pray
     2/26/2018    Bob Gass

     ‘Don’t worry about anything, but pray about everything.’

(Php 4:6) do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. ESV

     One Bible teacher writes: ‘The pressures of our times have many of us caught in a web of the most acceptable, yet energy-draining sin in the Christian family: worry. Chances are good you woke up this morning, stepped out of bed, and before doing anything, strapped on your well - worn backpack of anxiety. You started the day not with a prayer on your mind, but loaded down by worry. What a dreadful habit! Jesus challenged His followers with the question, “Who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life?” (Matthew 6:27 NASB). Worry solves nothing. It creates unrest and uneasiness, and if left unchecked it can churn our waves of anxiety into a perfect storm of emotions. Add a little imagination and creativity, and our worst fears come to life in Technicolor brilliance. The stress from worry drains our energy and preoccupies our minds, stripping us of our peace…We fret over big things and little things. Some of us have a laundry list of concerns that feed our addiction to worry. It’s a very unattractive addiction, yet we somehow manage to make a joke out of it. I’ve heard people say with a smile, “If I don’t have something to worry about, I get worried about not having something to worry about.” Anxiety has become a favourite pastime we love to hate. And worse, we’re passing it on to our children. As they see the worry on our faces and hear it from our lips, we’re mentoring them in the art of anxiety.’ So, what’s the answer? ‘Don’t worry about anything, but pray about everything.’

Leviticus 23-24
Mark 1:1-22

UCB The Word For Today

American Minute
     by Bill Federer

     Hailed as the greatest of the Romanticists poets, he is best know for writing The Hunchback of Notre Dame and Les Miserables. His father had been a general in Napoleon Bonaparte’s army. His name was Victor Marie Hugo, born this day, February 26, 1802. Hugo supported Napoleon’s heir, but when he turned out to be a tyrant, Hugo opposed him and was forced into exile for nineteen years. Victor Hugo wrote: “England has two books, the Bible and Shakespeare. England made Shakespeare, but the Bible made England.”

American Minute

A Testament Of Devotion
     Thomas R. Kelly


     There is a tendency today, in this generation, to suppose that the religious life must prove its worth because it changes the social order. The test of the importance of any supposed dealing with Eternity is the benefits it may possibly bring to affairs in time. Time, and the enrichment of events in time, are supposed to pass a judgment upon the worth of fellowship with the Eternal. We breathe the air of a generation which, as the old phrase goes, takes time seriously." Men nowadays take time far more seriously than eternity.

     German theology of a century ago emphasized a useful distinction between This-sidedness and Other­ sidedness, or Here and Yonder. The church used to be chiefly concerned with Yonder, it was oriented toward the world beyond, and was little concerned with this world and its sorrows and hungers. Because the sincere workingman, who suffered under economic privations, called out for bread, for whole wheat flour bread, the church of that day replied, "You're worldly-minded, you're crass, you're materialistic, you're oriented toward the Here. You ought to seek the heavenly, the eternal, the Yonder." But the workingman wasn't materialistic, he was hungry; and Marxian socialism promised him just the temporal bread he needed, whereas the church had rebuked him for not hungering for the eternal Bread.

     All this is now changed. We are in an era of This sidedness, with a passionate anxiety about economics and political organization. And the church itself has largely gone "this-sided," and large areas of the Society of Friends seem to be predominantly concerned with this world, with time, and with the temporal order. And the test of the worthwhileness of any experience of Eternity has become: "Does it change things in time? If so, let us keep it, if not, let us discard it."

     I submit that this is a lamentable reversal of the true order of dependence. Time is no judge of Eternity. It is the Eternal who is the judge and tester of time.

     But in saying this I am not proposing that we leave the one-sidedness of the Here and of time-preoccupation for the equal one-sidedness of the Yonder, nor advocate a lofty scorn of this maimed and bleeding world while we bask serenely upon the sunny shores of the Eternal. But I am persuaded that in the Quaker experience of Divine Presence there is a serious retention of both time and the timeless, with the final value and significance located in the Eternal, who is the creative root of time itself. For "I saw also that there was an ocean of darkness and death, but an infinite ocean of light and love which flowed over the ocean of darkness."

     The possibility of this experience of Divine Presence, as a repeatedly realized and present fact, and its transforming and transfiguring effect upon all life­ this is the central message of Friends. Once discover this glorious secret, this new dimension of life, and we no longer live merely in time but we live also in the Eternal. The world of time is no longer the sole reality of which we are aware. A second Reality hovers, quickens, quivers, stirs, energizes us, breaks in upon us and in love embraces us, together with all things, within Himself. We live our lives at two levels simultaneously, the level of time and the level of the Timeless. They form one sequence, with a fluctuating border between them. Sometimes the glorious Eternal is in the ascendancy, but still we are aware of our daily temporal routine. Sometimes the clouds settle low and we are chiefly in the world of time, yet we are haunted by a smaller sense of Presence, in the margin of consciousness.

     But, fluctuating in predominance though the two levels be, such a discovery of an Eternal Life and Love breaking in, nay, always there, but we were too preoccupied to notice it, makes life glorious and new. And one sings inexpressibly sweet songs within one self, and one tries to keep one's inner hilarity and exuberance within bounds lest, like the men of Pentecost, we be mistaken for men filled with new wine. Traditional Quaker decorum and this burning experience of a Living Presence are only with the greatest difficulty held together! I'd rather be jolly Saint Francis hymning his canticle to the sun than a dour old sobersides Quaker whose diet would appear to have been spiritual persimmons.

A Testament of Devotion

Lean Into God
     Compiled by Rick Adams

Much of our difficulty as seeking Christians stems from our unwillingness to take God as He is and adjust our lives accordingly. We insist upon trying to modify Him and bring Him nearer to our own image.
--- A. W. Tozer

I am prepared to die,
but there is no cause for which
I am prepared to kill.
--- Mohandas Gandhi

There is dust enough on some of your Bibles to write “damnation” with your fingers.
--- Charles Spurgeon

If you can't sleep, then get up and do something instead of lying there worrying. It's the worry that gets you, not the lack of sleep.
--- Dale Carnegie

... from here, there and everywhere
Journal of John Woolman 2/26
     University of Virginia Library 1994

     ISLE OF WIGHT COUNTY, inVirginia, 20th of the 5th month, 1757.

     From the Yearly Meeting in Virginia I went to Carolina, and on the first of sixth month was at Wells Monthly Meeting, where the spring of the gospel ministry was opened, and the love of Jesus Christ experienced among us; to his name be the praise.

     Here my brother joined with some Friends from New Garden who were going homeward; and I went next to Simons Creek Monthly Meeting, where I was silent during the meeting for worship. When business came on, my mind was exercised concerning the poor slaves, but I did not feel my way clear to speak. In this condition I was bowed in spirit before the Lord, and with tears and inward supplication besought him so to open my understanding that I might know his will concerning me; and, at length, my mind was settled in silence. Near the end of their business a member of their meeting expressed a concern that had some time lain upon him, on account of Friends so much neglecting their duty in the education of their slaves, and proposed having meetings sometimes appointed for them on a weekday, to be attended only by some Friends to be named in their Monthly Meetings. Many present appeared to unite with the proposal. One said he had often wondered that they, being our fellow-creatures, and capable of religious understanding, had been so exceedingly neglected; another expressed the like concern, and appeared zealous that in future it might be more closely considered. At length a minute was made, and the further consideration of it referred to their next Monthly Meeting. The Friend who made this proposal hath negroes; he told me that he was at New Garden, about two hundred and fifty miles from home, and came back alone; that in this solitary journey this exercise, in regard to the education of their negroes, was from time to time renewed in his mind. A Friend of some note in Virginia, who hath slaves, told me that he being far from home on a lonesome journey had many serious thoughts about them; and his mind was so impressed therewith that he believed he saw a time coming when Divine Providence would alter the circumstance of these people, respecting their condition as slaves.

     From hence I went to a meeting at Newbegun Creek, and sat a considerable time in much weakness; then I felt truth open the way to speak a little in much plainness and simplicity, till at length, through the increase of Divine love amongst us, we had a seasoning opportunity. This was also the case at the head of Little River, where we had a crowded meeting on a first-day. I went thence to the Old Neck, where I was led into a careful searching out of the secret workings of the mystery of iniquity, which, under a cover of religion exalts itself against that pure spirit which leads in the way of meekness and self-denial. Pineywoods was the last meeting I was at in Carolina; it was large, and my heart being deeply engaged, I was drawn forth into a fervent labor amongst them.

     When I was at Newbegun Creek a Friend was there who labored for his living, having no negroes, and who had been a minister many years. He came to me the next day, and as we rode together, he signified that he wanted to talk with me concerning a difficulty he had been under, which he related nearly as follows: That as moneys had of late years been raised by a tax to carry on the wars, he had a scruple in his mind in regard to paying it, and chose rather to suffer restraint of his goods; but as he was the only person who refused it in those parts, and knew not that anyone else was in the like circumstances, he signified that it had been a heavy trial to him, especially as some of his brethren had been uneasy with his conduct in that case. He added, that from a sympathy he felt with me yesterday in meeting, he found freedom thus to open the matter in the way of querying concerning Friends in our parts; I told him the state of Friends amongst us as well as I was able, and also that I had for some time been under the like scruple. I believed him to be one who was concerned to walk uprightly before the Lord, and esteemed it my duty to preserve this note concerning him, Samuel Newby.

John Woolman's Journal

Proverbs 11:12-13
     by D.H. Stern

12     He who belittles another lacks good sense,
whereas a person of discernment stays silent.

13     A gossip goes around revealing secrets,
but a trustworthy person keeps a confidence.

Complete Jewish Bible : An English Version of the Tanakh (Old Testament) and B'Rit Hadashah (New Testament)
Have you heard people claim
     Healing by His stripes?

     The Christian conviction that Christ ‘has destroyed death’ (2 Tim. 1:10) has led some believers to deduce that he has also destroyed disease, and that from the cross we should claim healing as well as forgiveness. A popular exposition of this topic is Bodily Healing and the Atonement, which has been re-edited and re-published by Kenneth E. Hagin of the pentecostal Rhema Church. McCrossan states his case in these terms: ‘All Christians should expect God to heal their bodies today, because Christ died to atone for our sicknesses as well as for our sins’. He bases his argument on Isaiah 53:4, which he translates ‘surely he hath borne our sicknesses and carried our pains’. He particularly emphasizes that the first Hebrew verb (nasa’) means to bear in the sense of ‘suffering the punishment for something’. Since it is also used in Isaiah 53:12 (‘he bore the sin of many’), ‘the clear teaching...is that Christ bore our sicknesses in the very same way that he bore our sins’.
     There are three difficulties in the way of accepting this interpretation, however. First, nasa’ is used in a variety of Old Testament contexts, including the carrying of the ark and other tabernacle furniture, the carrying of armour, weapons and children. It occurs in Isaiah 52:11 with reference to those who ‘carry the vessels of the LORD’. So the verb in itself does not mean to ‘bear the punishment of’. We are obliged to translate it thus only when sin is its object. That Christ ‘bore’ our sicknesses may (in fact, does) mean something quite different.
     Secondly, the concept McCrossan puts forward does not make sense. ‘Bearing the penalty of sin’ is readily intelligible, since sin’s penalty is death and Christ died our death in our place. But what is the penalty of sickness? It has none. Sickness may itself be a penalty for sin, but it is not itself a misdemeanour which attracts a penalty. So to speak of Christ ‘atoning for’ our sicknesses is to mix categories; it is not an intelligible notion.
     Thirdly, Matthew (who is the evangelist most preoccupied with the fulfilment of Old Testament Scripture) applies Isaiah 53:4 not to the atoning death but to the healing ministry of Jesus. It was in order to fulfil what was spoken through Isaiah, he writes, that Jesus ‘healed all the sick’. So we have no liberty to reapply the text to the cross. It is true that Peter quotes the following verse ‘by his wounds we are healed’, but the contexts in both Isaiah and Peter make it clear that the ‘healing’ they have in mind is salvation from sin. 47
     We should not, therefore, affirm that Christ died for our sicknesses as well as for our sins, that ‘there is healing in the atonement’, or that health is just as readily available to everybody as forgiveness. That does not mean, however, that our bodies are unaffected by the death and resurrection of Jesus. We should certainly take seriously these statements of Paul about the body:
     We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may be revealed in our mortal body (2 Cor. 4:10–11).
     The apostle is referring to the infirmity and mortality of our human bodies, specially (in his case) in relation to physical persecution. It is, he says, like experiencing in our bodies the dying (or putting to death) of Jesus, and the purpose of this is that the life of Jesus may be revealed in our bodies. He does not seem to be referring to the resurrection of his body, for he comes to that later. Nor are his words exhausted in his survival of physical assaults, in which he was ‘struck down, but not destroyed’ (v. 9). No, he seems to be saying that now in our mortal bodies (which are doomed to die) there is being ‘revealed’ (twice repeated) the very ‘life’ of Jesus (also twice repeated). Even when we are feeling tired, sick and battered, we experience a vigour and vitality which are the life of the risen Jesus within us. Paul expresses the same thought in verse 16: ‘Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.’
     That the life of Jesus should be constantly revealed in our bodies; that God has put into the human body marvellous therapeutic processes which fight disease and restore health; that all healing is divine healing; that God can and sometimes does heal miraculously (without means, instantaneously and permanently) – these things we should joyfully and confidently affirm. But to expect the sick to be healed and the dead to be raised as regularly as we expect sinners to be forgiven, is to stress the ‘already’ at the expense of the ‘not yet’, for it is to anticipate the resurrection. Not till then will our bodies be entirely rid of disease and death.

The Cross of Christ

My Utmost For The Highest
     A Daily Devotional by Oswald Chambers

                Sir, Thou hast nothing to draw with. --- John 4:11.

     ‘I am impressed with the wonder of what God says, but He cannot expect me really to live it out in the details of my life!’ When it comes to facing Jesus Christ on His own merits, our attitude is one of pious superiority—‘Your ideals are high and they impress us, but in touch with actual things, it cannot be done.’ Each of us thinks about Jesus in this way in some particular. These misgivings about Jesus start from the amused questions put to us when we talk of our transactions with God—‘Where are you going to get your money from? How are you going to be looked after?’ Or they start from ourselves when we tell Jesus that our case is a bit too hard for Him. ‘It is all very well to say “Trust in the Lord,” but a man must live, and Jesus has nothing to draw with—nothing whereby to give us these things.’ Beware of the pious fraud in you which says—‘I have no misgivings about Jesus, only about myself.’ None of us ever had misgivings about ourselves; we know exactly what we cannot do, but we do have misgivings about Jesus. We are rather hurt at the idea that He can do what we cannot.

      My misgivings arise from the fact that I ransack my own person to find out how He will be able to do it. My questions spring from the depths of my own inferiority. If I detect these misgivings in myself, let me bring them to the light and confess them—‘Lord, I have had misgivings about Thee, I have not believed in Thy wits apart from my own; I have not believed in Thine Almighty power apart from my finite understanding of it.’

My Utmost for His Highest

The View from the Window
     the Poetry of R.S. Thomas

                The View from the Window

Like a painting it is set before one,
  But less brittle, ageless; these colours
  Are renewed daily with variations
  Of light and distance that no painter
  Achieves or suggests. Then there is movement,
  Change, as slowly the cloud bruises
  Are healed by sunlight, or snow caps
  A black mood; but gold at evening
  To cheer the heart. All through history
  The great brush has not rested,
  Nor the paint dried; yet what eye,
  Looking coolly, or, as we now,
  Through the tears' lenses, ever saw
  This work and it was not finished?

Selected poems, 1946-1968

Teacher's Commentary
     Authentication: Matthew 8:1–9:34

     The next events seem to merge in a fast-paced narrative. The acts of the King are traced as, over and over, they demonstrate the validity of Jesus’ claim to authority.

     Willing and able (Matt. 8:1–13). Immediately after Jesus’ descent from the mount on which He spoke His sermon, a leper met Him. He said, “Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean” (v. 2). This man sensed Jesus’ power, but was uncertain whether Christ would use that power for his sake. Jesus reached out and touched the leper, healing him. The King is willing to exercise His authority to help humankind.

     Entering the city of Capernaum, a Roman officer met Jesus to ask for the healing of a servant. Christ offered to go with the Roman, who objected. “I do not deserve to have You come under my roof” (v. 8). Instead the Roman asked Jesus merely to speak the word. Jesus spoke; the servant was healed. Jesus is able.

     There are three very special riches for us in this extended passage.

(1)     Under authority. The Roman soldier speaking to Jesus said, “I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes” (Matt. 8:9). He said this to explain the confidence he had in Jesus which enabled him to ask Jesus to heal from a distance, by the mere speaking of a word. His point was this: As a soldier, his authority over others was derived. It was his relationship in the chain of command which gave this military man his power. When he spoke, all the power of Rome’s mighty empire, under whose authority he stood, spoke through him.

     And what about Jesus? How was Jesus able to speak and have nature, demons, and even death jump to obey? Because here on earth Jesus also operated under authority; the authority of God. When Jesus spoke all the limitless power of God Himself spoke through Him.

      It’s like this today. We can trust Jesus. The full power of Almighty God is His.

(2)     New wineskins. A fascinating dialogue here is inserted in Matthew 9:14–17. John the Baptist’s disciples had noted that Jesus was unlike their master. They came to ask why. Jesus explained, and added, “Neither do men pour new wine into old wineskins. If they do, the skins will burst, the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins” (Matt. 9:17).

     You and I cannot stuff Jesus or our experience with Him into our old ways of thinking and living. Life with Jesus is a new and exciting thing. He Himself wants to fill us, to expand our personalities, and to reshape us to fit who He is. When Jesus, the Man with all power, comes into our lives, we are privileged to open ourselves up to newness.

(3)     Dead and blind. Through these two chapters the acts of Jesus follow a progression. Each portrait shows Christ as having power over a greater enemy than the last: sickness, nature, demons, sin, and then death itself.

     Why then does an instance of healing the blind follow the raising of the ruler’s daughter? For our sakes! You and I can find the faith to believe that Jesus will make us fully alive when He returns. But how often we look at the dead dimensions of our present lives with despair. The blind men were living—but with dead eyes. When they begged for healing, Jesus asked, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” (Matt. 9:28) They did believe. Jesus touched their eyes. And where the moment before there had been death, now there was sight.

     Jesus comes into our lives with hope for today. If your personality has died to the capacity to live, or has shriveled in bitterness, or if you have lost the capacity for compassion, Jesus asks, “Do you believe that I am able?” We can answer, “Yes!” Jesus does have the power to revive the deadened areas of our lives.

     To really understand the significance of the extended passage we’ve been considering, we need to note one of its peculiarities. Throughout this sequence of events Jesus referred to Himself as “the Son of man.” He did not use the term in the Sermon on the Mount. The first occurrences are here.

     The term “Son of man” is found in both the Old Testament and the New. In the New it is used 94 times, and, with 5 exceptions, always by Christ of Himself. Clearly Jesus affirms something important about Himself in His selection and use of this term.

     On the one hand, of course, the phrase “Son of man” emphasizes Jesus’ full humanity. But even greater significance is found in the fact that, as in Matthew 9:6, “Son of man” signifies Jesus’ redemptive work and mission. In the term “Son of man” Jesus presents Himself as the Victor, for He accomplished all that man was intended to do, and becomes all that man was intended to be.

     The demons recognized and spoke to Jesus as the “Son of God” (8:29). They were right; they knew Him for who He is. The whole Bible makes it very clear that the One who became Man at Bethlehem truly is the Creator God. John insisted that Jesus is God, coexisting with the Father from the beginning (John 1). Jesus does not hesitate to claim equality with God (John 17). Paul’s writings affirm Jesus as God, along with the Father and the Holy Spirit. The Old Testament prophecy identifies Jesus as the “Father of eternity” (a phrase meaning the source or originator of eternity itself!) and speaks of the Child to be born as “a Son … given” (Isa. 9:6, KJV). The name Immanuel, as we have seen, means, “With us is God.” Jesus had every right to speak of Himself as the Son of God, for that is who He is.

     Yet Jesus chose another title for Himself: “Son of man.” A Man, with God’s prerogative of forgiving sin. A Man, with power to heal and to give life. A Man, yet Victor over death.

     In Jesus the very power of God entered the mainstream of humanity, and in Jesus’ authority as the Son of man you and I find an anchor for our hope. Many years ago Johann Burger (1598–1662) caught a vision of the authority of the Son of man, and expressed it in the hymn, “Jesus Lives, and So Shall I.”

     Jesus lives and reigns supreme;
     And His kingdom still remaining.
     I shall also be with Him,
     Ever living, ever reigning.
     God has promised: be it must;
     Jesus is my hope and trust.

     The Man with all power lives today. His kingdom does remain. With Him, we also shall reign. Then—and now.

The Teacher's Commentary
The Labyrinth (2008)
     Richard S. Adams

     When you walk a labyrinth you walk around and around, not forwards, not backwards, never losing ground, never gaining ground. No one carries a plumb line to measure the progress of another. One minute you seem to pass them on their journey, but the next minute they pass you.

     I’ve walked the labyrinth at the Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in downtown Portland, as well a labyrinth in the woods on the other side of the Columbia River. Most memorable, however, was a labyrinth drawn in the sand by Anne Buck, at the Friends Retreat Center near Twin Rocks.

     Dr. Laura Simmons, one of my former profs at George Fox Evangelical Seminary, invited some chaplains and spiritual directors to spend a few days together at the coast for a Contemplative Retreat. I love the coast anyway, but the people made it a very rich time for me.

     Anne took a long stick and created a labyrinth for all of us to walk on. The incoming tide added an awareness of time and present that I did not feel when I walked the labyrinth at the candle lit Episcopal Church or the woodsy crowd of trees on the other side of the Columbia river in Washington.

     We walked the labyrinth together, starting at different times. Occasionally our paths were close and if we tried we could reach out and touch one another, but at other times we were far away. So many metaphors accompanied the knowledge that our sandy journey around the labyrinth would soon be washed away.

     Regardless of how we are taught to think, do we really move forward or back? Do we move from the general to the specific or from the simple to the complex? Do we start at the beginning, move past the middle and finally finish at the end? We’ve been taught to think this way, but do you ever feel like you’ve made the same mistake before, yet here you are again? Maybe I’ll get it right this time. Back in Texas when we caught ourselves making the same mistake again we would say it is time for another trip around the mountain, refering to Moses and his band of complainers.

     Like many others Seminary challenged my faith and lack of faith. I thought I knew what I believed, but I discovered I believed what I believed because of the environment in which I grew up. Seminary was a watershed in my life. It taught me to be more aware of what is being said around me and more aware of what is happening around me, but I have discovered that that awareness is not as important as the lenses through which I hear and see these ideas and actions. The lens is most important.

     Seminary was full of so many questions delivered by so many people so much smarter than me, but I determined to tie one end of a rope around my heart and the other around the Bible. I determined to read my Bible every day, no matter how much homework I had. I created a read through the Bible website and I asked my friends to hold me accountable to be reading the Bible every day. At the end of the day I had to decide whether I would believe what my professors taught me or what the Bible said.

     More and more I am being drawn into scripture. I am learning that it matters little what I feel or what I think. Time will wash all of this away, just as Anne's labyrinth dissolved in the tide. What is most important is what God says. No tide or human endeavor will ever make God's Word pass away. What is truly real is only seen through the lens of scripture.

     The tide came in and washed away Ann’s labyrinth in the sand. Who kept score, who won, who lost? Does it really matter? I still remember the people, the blue skies, the sounds and smells. It was a good time for me, but it is gone now. So too, all the angry debates over this and over that will pass away, but God's Word will remain and not return void. 2,000 years ago it was written:

1 John 2:17 And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever. ESV

     Richard S. Adams | Lover of Christ, husband of Lily, father of four, grandfather of fourteen, Masters in Divinity and Certificate in Spiritual Direction. On staff at George Fox Evangelical Seminary 1/2009 to 7/2018.

Swimming In The Sea of Talmud
     Halakhah and Aggadah

     After studying the Talmud for even a brief time, one quickly discovers that there are two very different kinds of discourse. The first (and that which constitutes the greater portion) is called halakhah. It comes from the root meaning “to go” or “to walk.” Halakhah, often translated as “law,” deals with the questions “What are we obligated to do and how are we to do it?” Halakhah is serious, detailed, and often dry and legalistic.

     The second type of material is known as aggadah, often translated, imprecisely, as “legend.” The word is based on the same root as haggadah, and actually means “the telling.” It is often exciting and engaging material, and includes stories as well as Midrashic expositions of the Bible. If halakhah is the answer to the questions “What?” and “How?,” aggadah may be characterized as the response to the question “Why?”

     Many people make the mistake of seeing halakhah and aggadah as two separate and distinct realms. Depending on their interests and dispositions, they tend to favor one to the exclusion of the other. The “serious” student, interested in law and its practical applications, views aggadah as frivolous and too easy, something appropriate for children or the beginner. Others find the halakhah too legalistic and trivial and spend their time exploring the soul of the Jewish tradition in the aggadah.

     In actuality, halakhah and aggadah are two sides of the same coin. They cannot and should not be separated. One can get a true sense of the Talmud only when these two realms are allowed to interact and stand next to each other. They need to function the same way that the heart and the mind do in a human being. The person who acts solely on the intellect is a robot; one who responds only from his emotions is a fool. The two must be in harmony and must work together in balance. The same is true of the Jewish tradition. A Judaism that is concerned only with ritual without understanding why those observances are to be followed is a perversion of our religion. In a similar vein, those who reject or ignore ritual and law, claiming that they are Jews “in their hearts,” are creating a very hollow hybrid of our rich heritage. Ultimately, the same is true of the Talmud.

Swimming in the Sea of Talmud: Lessons for Everyday Living
The Imitation Of Christ
     Thomas A Kempis

     Book Two / The Interior Life

     The First Chapter / Meditation

     THE kingdom of God is within you,” says the Lord. (
Luke 17:21)

     Turn, then, to God with all your heart. Forsake this wretched world and your soul shall find rest. Learn to despise external things, to devote yourself to those that are within, and you will see the kingdom of God come unto you, that kingdom which is peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, gifts not given to the impious.

     Christ will come to you offering His consolation, if you prepare a fit dwelling for Him in your heart, whose beauty and glory, wherein He takes delight, are all from within. His visits with the inward man are frequent, His communion sweet and full of consolation, His peace great, and His intimacy wonderful indeed.

     Therefore, faithful soul, prepare your heart for this Bridegroom that He may come and dwell within you; He Himself says: “If any one love Me, he will keep My word, and My Father will love him, and We will come to him, and will make Our abode with him.” (John 14:23)

     Give place, then, to Christ, but deny entrance to all others, for when you have Christ you are rich and He is sufficient for you. He will provide for you. He will supply your every want, so that you need not trust in frail, changeable men. Christ remains forever, standing firmly with us to the end.

     Do not place much confidence in weak and mortal man, helpful and friendly though he be; and do not grieve too much if he sometimes opposes and contradicts you. Those who are with us today may be against us tomorrow, and vice versa, for men change with the wind. Place all your trust in God; let Him be your fear and your love. He will answer for you; He will do what is best for you.

     You have here no lasting home. You are a stranger and a pilgrim wherever you may be, and you shall have no rest until you are wholly united with Christ.

     Why do you look about here when this is not the place of your repose? Dwell rather upon heaven and give but a passing glance to all earthly things. They all pass away, and you together with them. Take care, then, that you do not cling to them lest you be entrapped and perish. Fix your mind on the Most High, and pray unceasingly to Christ.

     If you do not know how to meditate on heavenly things, direct your thoughts to Christ’s passion and willingly behold His sacred wounds. If you turn devoutly to the wounds and precious stigmata of Christ, you will find great comfort in suffering, you will mind but little the scorn of men, and you will easily bear their slanderous talk.

     When Christ was in the world, He was despised by men; in the hour of need He was forsaken by acquaintances and left by friends to the depths of scorn. He was willing to suffer and to be despised; do you dare to complain of anything? He had enemies and defamers; do you want everyone to be your friend, your benefactor? How can your patience be rewarded if no adversity test it? How can you be a friend of Christ if you are not willing to suffer any hardship? Suffer with Christ and for Christ if you wish to reign with Him.

     Had you but once entered into perfect communion with Jesus or tasted a little of His ardent love, you would care nothing at all for your own comfort or discomfort but would rejoice in the reproach you suffer; for love of Him makes a man despise himself.

     A man who is a lover of Jesus and of truth, a truly interior man who is free from uncontrolled affections, can turn to God at will and rise above himself to enjoy spiritual peace.

     He who tastes life as it really is, not as men say or think it is, is indeed wise with the wisdom of God rather than of men.

     He who learns to live the interior life and to take little account of outward things, does not seek special places or times to perform devout exercises. A spiritual man quickly recollects himself because he has never wasted his attention upon externals. No outside work, no business that cannot wait stands in his way. He adjusts himself to things as they happen. He whose disposition is well ordered cares nothing about the strange, perverse behavior of others, for a man is upset and distracted only in proportion as he engrosses himself in externals.

     If all were well with you, therefore, and if you were purified from all sin, everything would tend to your good and be to your profit. But because you are as yet neither entirely dead to self nor free from all earthly affection, there is much that often displeases and disturbs you. Nothing so mars and defiles the heart of man as impure attachment to created things. But if you refuse external consolation, you will be able to contemplate heavenly things and often to experience interior joy.

The Imitation Of Christ

Take Heart
     February 26

     Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart.
--- Psalm 37:4.

     Without cheerful seeking we cannot have a gracious answer. (Stephen Charnock, “A Discourse of Delight in Prayer,” ed. William Symington, Fire and Ice: Puritan and Reformed Writings at www.puritansermons.com, accessed Aug. 20, 2001.)

     God will not give an answer to prayers that dishonor him. A flat and lumpish attitude is not for his honor. We do not read of lead employed about the temple but the purer and most glittering metals. God wants the most excellent service, because he is the most excellent Being. He wants the most delightful service, because he bestows the most delightful gifts. It is a dishonor to so great a majesty to put him off with low and dead-hearted services. It is not for the credit of our great Master to have his servants dejected in his work, as though God were a wilderness and the world a paradise.

     Dull and lumpish prayer does not reach him and therefore cannot expect an answer. Such desires are as arrows that sink down at our feet; there is no force to carry them to heaven.

     Lumpishness speaks an unwillingness that God should hear us. Any who coldly and dully put up a petition to a sovereign give the ruler good reason to think that they do not care for an answer. That farmer has no great mind to harvest who is lazy in tilling the ground and sowing the seed. How can we think God should delight to read over our petitions when we take so little delight in presenting them? God does not give mercy to an unwilling person. God makes his people willing. Dull spirits seek God as if they did not care if they find him; such attitudes either account God not real or their petitions unnecessary.

     Without delight we are not fit to receive a mercy. Delight in a mercy wanted makes room for desire, and large desires make room for mercy. If no delight in begging, there will be no delight in enjoying. If there is no cheerfulness to enliven our prayers when we need a blessing, there will be little joy to enliven our praise when we receive a blessing. A weak, sickly stomach is not fit to be seated at a plentiful table. God will not send his mercies except to a soul who will welcome them. A cheerful soul is fit to receive the least and fit to receive the greatest mercy. Such individuals will more prize a little mercy than dull petitioners will prize a greater, because they have a sense of their needs. If Zacchaeus had not a great joy at the news of Christ’s coming by his door, he would not have so readily entertained and welcomed him.
--- Stephen Charnock

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

On This Day   February 26
     Hair and Helper

     God often uses single men and women to do more alone than they could do if encumbered with family obligations. Other times, however, a spouse is needed.

     Francois Coillard, born in France in 1834, studied theology in Paris and Strasbourg and sailed to South Africa in 1857 under the Paris Evangelical Missionary Society. He was single, clean-shaven, and young. The Africans were perplexed, wondering how this beardless, wifeless youth could teach them anything. “Beards and wives are necessary for respect,” they said. “We can’t listen to one with neither hair nor helper.”

     Hearing these whispers, Coillard immediately grew a fine beard. But what could be done about a wife? Yes, he had someone in mind, a young lady in Paris. In fact, he had secretly fallen in love with her while still there but had said nothing about it — not even to the young lady herself. Francois was insecure and afraid and quiet. He had sailed away without a word to Miss Christina Mackintosh.

     Now he regretted it, and at length he wrote to a mutual friend, Madame Andre-Walther, asking her to propose marriage to Miss Mackintosh for him. Six months passed, then came the dreaded word: “I don’t know you well enough.” It wasn’t an outright rejection, for Christina remembered the young missionary and had been attracted to him. Nevertheless, Coillard was broken by the news. His diary and letters betray intense emotional suffering, and he longed for someone to talk to. But he was in the bush with no one near him but the Lord.

     Two years passed. He tried to forget Christina, but without success. Finally he wrote her again, this time in person, bathing his letter in prayer. On July 5, 1860 the answer came. Coillard wrote in his diary, “I cannot believe my own happiness.”

     Christina had accepted.

     They were married February 26, 1861. “Today,” the Africans told him, “you are a man.” They listened to him now, and for the next 30 years the Coillards worked hand-in-hand in Barotseland, establishing churches and planting the gospel.

     Our God, you are the one who rides on the clouds,
     And we praise you.
     Your name is the LORD,
     And we celebrate as we worship you.
     Our God, from your sacred home
     You take care of orphans and protect widows.
     You find families for those who are lonely.
      --- Psalm 68:4-6

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

Morning and Evening
     Daily Readings / CHARLES H. SPURGEON

          Morning - February 26

     “Salvation is of the Lord.” --- Jonah 2:9.

     Salvation is the work of God. It is he alone who quickens the soul “dead in trespasses and sins,” and it is he also who maintains the soul in its spiritual life. He is both “Alpha and Omega.” “Salvation is of the Lord.” If I am prayerful, God makes me prayerful; if I have graces, they are God’s gifts to me; if I hold on in a consistent life, it is because he upholds me with his hand. I do nothing whatever towards my own preservation, except what God himself first does in me. Whatever I have, all my goodness is of the Lord alone. Wherein I sin, that is my own; but wherein I act rightly, that is of God, wholly and completely. If I have repulsed a spiritual enemy, the Lord’s strength nerved my arm. Do I live before men a consecrated life? It is not I, but Christ who liveth in me. Am I sanctified? I did not cleanse myself: God’s Holy Spirit sanctifies me. Am I weaned from the world? I am weaned by God’s chastisements sanctified to my good. Do I grow in knowledge? The great Instructor teaches me. All my jewels were fashioned by heavenly art. I find in God all that I want; but I find in myself nothing but sin and misery. “He only is my rock and my salvation.” Do I feed on the Word? That Word would be no food for me unless the Lord made it food for my soul, and helped me to feed upon it. Do I live on the manna which comes down from heaven? What is that manna but Jesus Christ himself incarnate, whose body and whose blood I eat and drink? Am I continually receiving fresh increase of strength? Where do I gather my might? My help cometh from heaven’s hills: without Jesus I can do nothing. As a branch cannot bring forth fruit except it abide in the vine, no more can I, except I abide in him. What Jonah learned in the great deep, let me learn this morning in my closet: “Salvation is of the Lord.”

          Evening - February 26

     “Behold, if the leprosy have covered all his flesh, he shall pronounce him clean that hath the plague.” --- Leviticus 13:13.

     Strange enough this regulation appears, yet there was wisdom in it, for the throwing out of the disease proved that the constitution was sound. This evening it may be well for us to see the typical teaching of so singular a rule. We, too, are lepers, and may read the law of the leper as applicable to ourselves. When a man sees himself to be altogether lost and ruined, covered all over with the defilement of sin, and in no part free from pollution; when he disclaims all righteousness of his own, and pleads guilty before the Lord, then he is clean through the blood of Jesus, and the grace of God. Hidden, unfelt, unconfessed iniquity is the true leprosy; but when sin is seen and felt, it has received its deathblow, and the Lord looks with eyes of mercy upon the soul afflicted with it. Nothing is more deadly than self-righteousness, or more hopeful than contrition. We must confess that we are “nothing else but sin,” for no confession short of this will be the whole truth; and if the Holy Spirit be at work with us, convincing us of sin, there will be no difficulty about making such an acknowledgment —it will spring spontaneously from our lips. What comfort does the text afford to truly awakened sinners: the very circumstance which so grievously discouraged them is here turned into a sign and symptom of a hopeful state! Stripping comes before clothing; digging out the foundation is the first thing in building—and a thorough sense of sin is one of the earliest works of grace in the heart. O thou poor leprous sinner, utterly destitute of a sound spot, take heart from the text, and come as thou art to Jesus ---

     “For let our debts be what they may, however great or small,
     As soon as we have nought to pay, our Lord forgives us all.
     ’Tis perfect poverty alone that sets the soul at large:
     While we can call one mite our own, we have no full discharge.”

Morning and Evening

Amazing Grace
     February 26

          GOD BE WITH YOU

     Jeremiah E. Rankin, 1828–1904

     The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you.
(Romans 16:20)

     It is my joy in life to find at every turning of the road,
     The strong arms of a comrade
          kind to help me onward with my load.
     And since I have no gold to give,
          and love alone can make amends—
     My daily prayer is, while I live,
          “God, make me worthy of my friends.”
--- Unknown

     Often we hear someone tell us glibly to “have a good day!” Would not a far better farewell for Christians be the loving wish of today’s hymn text—“God be with you”? The added thought of “till we meet again” suggests a sincere desire for continued friendship.

     The writer of this hymn text, Dr. Jeremiah Rankin, pastored several prominent Congregational churches throughout the East until 1889, when he became president of Howard University, the noted school for the education of black students. A powerful preacher and an excellent leader and promoter of congregational singing, Rankin wrote much poetry, including the still popular hymn “Tell It to Jesus.” He also edited a number of well-known gospel songbooks.

     No other hymn except perhaps “Blest Be the Tie That Binds” has been as widely used as this one as a closing benediction in church services. “God Be With You” was a favorite in the Moody and Sankey meetings throughout North America and England. It became the official closing song for the Christian Endeavor Conventions around the world. And still today, no finer farewell can be expressed by Christians to one another as they leave a place of worship than the sincere wish, “God be with you till we meet again.”

     God be with you till we meet again, by His counsels guide, uphold you, with His sheep securely fold you—God be with you till we meet again.
     God be with you till we meet again, ’neath His wings protecting hide you, daily manna still provide you—God be with you till we meet again.
God be with you till we meet again, when life’s perils thick confound you, put His arms unfailing round you—God be with you till we meet again.
     God be with you till we meet again, keep love’s banner floating o’er you, smite death’s threat’ning wave before you—God be with you till we meet again.
     Chorus: Till we meet, till we meet, till we meet at Jesus’ feet, till we meet, till we meet—God be with you till we meet again.

     For Today: Exodus 33:14; Acts 20:32; 1 Peter 5:7–10.

     Avoid trite and casual greetings and farewells. Instead, practice a genuine concern for others. Try saying good-bye to friends or family with some of the lovely wishes expressed in this text: God be with you … guide, uphold you, hide you, put His arms around you.

Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions

Abraham: The Old Testament
     Pattern of Saving Faith
     Romans 4:1–8 | John MacArthur

Part One

Part Two

Part Three

Part Four

Numbers 35-36
     Jon Courson

Numbers 35
Jon Courson

click here

Numbers 36
Jon Courson

click here

Numbers 31-36
Jon Courson

click here

Jon Courson

Numbers 35-36
     Skip Heitzig

Numbers 35-36
Calvary Chapel NM

Skip Heitzig | Calvary Chapel NM

Numbers 35-36
     Paul LeBoutillier

Numbers 33-36
Final Instruction
04-26-2017 | Paul LeBoutillier

Paul LeBoutillier | Calvary Chapel Ontario, Oregon

Numbers 35-36
     Brett Meador | Athey Creek

Numbers 33-36
m2-085 | 9-02-2015

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