Leviticus 22:1 And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 2 “Speak to Aaron and his sons so that they abstain from the holy things of the people of Israel, which they dedicate to me, so that they do not profane my holy name: I am the LORD. 3 Say to them, ‘If any one of all your offspring throughout your generations approaches the holy things that the people of Israel dedicate to the LORD, while he has an uncleanness, that person shall be cut off from my presence: I am the LORD. 4 None of the offspring of Aaron who has a leprous disease or a discharge may eat of the holy things until he is clean. Whoever touches anything that is unclean through contact with the dead or a man who has had an emission of semen, 5 and whoever touches a swarming thing by which he may be made unclean or a person from whom he may take uncleanness, whatever his uncleanness may be— 6 the person who touches such a thing shall be unclean until the evening and shall not eat of the holy things unless he has bathed his body in water. 7 When the sun goes down he shall be clean, and afterward he may eat of the holy things, because they are his food. 8 He shall not eat what dies of itself or is torn by beasts, and so make himself unclean by it: I am the LORD.’ 9 They shall therefore keep my charge, lest they bear sin for it and die thereby when they profane it: I am the LORD who sanctifies them.
Leviticus 22 - 23
10 “A lay person shall not eat of a holy thing; no foreign guest of the priest or hired worker shall eat of a holy thing, 11 but if a priest buys a slave as his property for money, the slave may eat of it, and anyone born in his house may eat of his food. 12 If a priest’s daughter marries a layman, she shall not eat of the contribution of the holy things. 13 But if a priest’s daughter is widowed or divorced and has no child and returns to her father’s house, as in her youth, she may eat of her father’s food; yet no lay person shall eat of it. 14 And if anyone eats of a holy thing unintentionally, he shall add the fifth of its value to it and give the holy thing to the priest. 15 They shall not profane the holy things of the people of Israel, which they contribute to the LORD, 16 and so cause them to bear iniquity and guilt, by eating their holy things: for I am the LORD who sanctifies them.”
Acceptable Offerings17 And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 18 “Speak to Aaron and his sons and all the people of Israel and say to them, When any one of the house of Israel or of the sojourners in Israel presents a burnt offering as his offering, for any of their vows or freewill offerings that they offer to the LORD, 19 if it is to be accepted for you it shall be a male without blemish, of the bulls or the sheep or the goats. 20 You shall not offer anything that has a blemish, for it will not be acceptable for you. 21 And when anyone offers a sacrifice of peace offerings to the LORD to fulfill a vow or as a freewill offering from the herd or from the flock, to be accepted it must be perfect; there shall be no blemish in it. 22 Animals blind or disabled or mutilated or having a discharge or an itch or scabs you shall not offer to the LORD or give them to the LORD as a food offering on the altar. 23 You may present a bull or a lamb that has a part too long or too short for a freewill offering, but for a vow offering it cannot be accepted. 24 Any animal that has its testicles bruised or crushed or torn or cut you shall not offer to the LORD; you shall not do it within your land, 25 neither shall you offer as the bread of your God any such animals gotten from a foreigner. Since there is a blemish in them, because of their mutilation, they will not be accepted for you.”
26 And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 27 “When an ox or sheep or goat is born, it shall remain seven days with its mother, and from the eighth day on it shall be acceptable as a food offering to the LORD. 28 But you shall not kill an ox or a sheep and her young in one day. 29 And when you sacrifice a sacrifice of thanksgiving to the LORD, you shall sacrifice it so that you may be accepted. 30 It shall be eaten on the same day; you shall leave none of it until morning: I am the LORD.
31 “So you shall keep my commandments and do them: I am the LORD. 32 And you shall not profane my holy name, that I may be sanctified among the people of Israel. I am the LORD who sanctifies you, 33 who brought you out of the land of Egypt to be your God: I am the LORD.”
Feasts of the LORDLeviticus 23:1 The LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 2 “Speak to the people of Israel and say to them, These are the appointed feasts of the LORD that you shall proclaim as holy convocations; they are my appointed feasts.
The Sabbath3 “Six days shall work be done, but on the seventh day is a Sabbath of solemn rest, a holy convocation. You shall do no work. It is a Sabbath to the LORD in all your dwelling places.
The Passover4 “These are the appointed feasts of the LORD, the holy convocations, which you shall proclaim at the time appointed for them. 5 In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month at twilight, is the LORD’s Passover. 6 And on the fifteenth day of the same month is the Feast of Unleavened Bread to the LORD; for seven days you shall eat unleavened bread. 7 On the first day you shall have a holy convocation; you shall not do any ordinary work. 8 But you shall present a food offering to the LORD for seven days. On the seventh day is a holy convocation; you shall not do any ordinary work.”
The Feast of Firstfruits9 And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 10 “Speak to the people of Israel and say to them, When you come into the land that I give you and reap its harvest, you shall bring the sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest to the priest, 11 and he shall wave the sheaf before the LORD, so that you may be accepted. On the day after the Sabbath the priest shall wave it. 12 And on the day when you wave the sheaf, you shall offer a male lamb a year old without blemish as a burnt offering to the LORD. 13 And the grain offering with it shall be two tenths of an ephah of fine flour mixed with oil, a food offering to the LORD with a pleasing aroma, and the drink offering with it shall be of wine, a fourth of a hin. 14 And you shall eat neither bread nor grain parched or fresh until this same day, until you have brought the offering of your God: it is a statute forever throughout your generations in all your dwellings.
The Feast of Weeks15 “You shall count seven full weeks from the day after the Sabbath, from the day that you brought the sheaf of the wave offering. 16 You shall count fifty days to the day after the seventh Sabbath. Then you shall present a grain offering of new grain to the LORD. 17 You shall bring from your dwelling places two loaves of bread to be waved, made of two tenths of an ephah. They shall be of fine flour, and they shall be baked with leaven, as firstfruits to the LORD. 18 And you shall present with the bread seven lambs a year old without blemish, and one bull from the herd and two rams. They shall be a burnt offering to the LORD, with their grain offering and their drink offerings, a food offering with a pleasing aroma to the LORD. 19 And you shall offer one male goat for a sin offering, and two male lambs a year old as a sacrifice of peace offerings. 20 And the priest shall wave them with the bread of the firstfruits as a wave offering before the LORD, with the two lambs. They shall be holy to the LORD for the priest. 21 And you shall make a proclamation on the same day. You shall hold a holy convocation. You shall not do any ordinary work. It is a statute forever in all your dwelling places throughout your generations.
22 “And when you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap your field right up to its edge, nor shall you gather the gleanings after your harvest. You shall leave them for the poor and for the sojourner: I am the LORD your God.”
The Feast of Trumpets23 And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 24 “Speak to the people of Israel, saying, In the seventh month, on the first day of the month, you shall observe a day of solemn rest, a memorial proclaimed with blast of trumpets, a holy convocation. 25 You shall not do any ordinary work, and you shall present a food offering to the LORD.”
The Day of Atonement26 And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 27 “Now on the tenth day of this seventh month is the Day of Atonement. It shall be for you a time of holy convocation, and you shall afflict yourselves and present a food offering to the LORD. 28 And you shall not do any work on that very day, for it is a Day of Atonement, to make atonement for you before the LORD your God. 29 For whoever is not afflicted on that very day shall be cut off from his people. 30 And whoever does any work on that very day, that person I will destroy from among his people. 31 You shall not do any work. It is a statute forever throughout your generations in all your dwelling places. 32 It shall be to you a Sabbath of solemn rest, and you shall afflict yourselves. On the ninth day of the month beginning at evening, from evening to evening shall you keep your Sabbath.”
The Feast of Booths33 And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 34 “Speak to the people of Israel, saying, On the fifteenth day of this seventh month and for seven days is the Feast of Booths to the LORD. 35 On the first day shall be a holy convocation; you shall not do any ordinary work. 36 For seven days you shall present food offerings to the LORD. On the eighth day you shall hold a holy convocation and present a food offering to the LORD. It is a solemn assembly; you shall not do any ordinary work.
37 “These are the appointed feasts of the LORD, which you shall proclaim as times of holy convocation, for presenting to the LORD food offerings, burnt offerings and grain offerings, sacrifices and drink offerings, each on its proper day, 38 besides the LORD’s Sabbaths and besides your gifts and besides all your vow offerings and besides all your freewill offerings, which you give to the LORD.
39 “On the fifteenth day of the seventh month, when you have gathered in the produce of the land, you shall celebrate the feast of the LORD seven days. On the first day shall be a solemn rest, and on the eighth day shall be a solemn rest. 40 And you shall take on the first day the fruit of splendid trees, branches of palm trees and boughs of leafy trees and willows of the brook, and you shall rejoice before the LORD your God seven days. 41 You shall celebrate it as a feast to the LORD for seven days in the year. It is a statute forever throughout your generations; you shall celebrate it in the seventh month. 42 You shall dwell in booths for seven days. All native Israelites shall dwell in booths, 43 that your generations may know that I made the people of Israel dwell in booths when I brought them out of the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God.”
44 Thus Moses declared to the people of Israel the appointed feasts of the LORD.
The Reformation Study Bible
What I'm Reading
Why Christians Should Read the Short Stories of Langston Hughes
By John Mark Reynolds 2/1/2017
Langston Hughes (1902-1967) is the greatest American literary talent: poet, essayist, short-story author, and novelist.
Joseph Smith sells more books, but lacks his artistry.
Mark Twain is more frequently read, but he was no poet.
James Fennimore Cooper is one long series of adjectives.
Moby Dick is a great book, but Melville is not as consistently readable as Hughes.
A collection of short stories, The Ways of White Folks: Stories (Vintage Classics) is an excellent introduction to his work.
John Mark Reynolds, President of The Saint Constantine School and editor of Great Books Reader, The: Excerpts and Essays on the Most Influential Books in Western Civilization
How Can I Know Which Bible Promises Apply to Me?
By Amy Hall 9/10/2016
Because of two recent posts on wrongly applying biblical promises to ourselves (Jeremiah 29:11 and Exodus 14:14), we’ve been receiving questions about how to determine which promises do apply to us.
The most basic place to start is to look at what is said to New Covenant believers versus those who were under the specific terms of the Mosaic Covenant with its promised blessings and curses. If a promise was made as a term of the Mosaic Covenant (for example, that they would have good crops if they obeyed the Covenant’s commands), then that is not part of our Covenant. However, we can learn much about who God is from how He dealt with people in the Mosaic Covenant, and His character does not change. From His dealings with people in the Old Testament, we learn that He is just, that He is gracious, that He loves undeservedly, that He’s trustworthy and faithful to those He’s covenanted with, that He has their ultimate good in mind, that He’s working everything together for His plan to glorify Himself and redeem the world. God doesn’t change, so what we learn about Him in the Old Testament is still true of Him today. The only question is about how He promises to act today on those characteristics of love, grace, etc.
When we get to the New Covenant, we see these same characteristics of God play out in terms of the New Covenant. For example, “because of His great love with which He loved us,” and by His grace, we’re reconciled to God through Christ’s death on the cross and are made alive with Him; we are given the Holy Spirit as a secure pledge of God’s faithful covenant with us (Ephesians 1–2). (All who are united to Christ are also heirs of the promises made by grace to Abraham—Galatians 3:15–29.) The particular promises and commands of this Covenant may be different, but His character is the same. We know specifically that His love, grace, wisdom, and purpose are directed towards making His people like Christ (Romans 8:29), and that everything in our lives is working towards that end good (Romans 8:28). It’s the trustworthy character of God that we cling to throughout this difficult life, regardless of whether He heals us or increases our “crops.”
So when reading the Old Testament, we look to see what we can learn about God in any given passage. Who is He? What is He like? How does He treat His people? In terms of promises, the biggest promise of the Bible is the promise of who God is. This is the promise we depend on. We find we have cancer? We trust the promise that God is good, that He’s sovereign over history, that He loves us, and that He seeks the good of His people. We can’t trust that He’ll heal us (that isn’t always the greatest good for us and for God’s kingdom), but we can trust that God is good and sovereign, and that our suffering has a purpose.
Always look for what you can learn about God through His dealings with human beings throughout the Bible. When God makes promises about who He is, that always applies. When God promises to give something specific, look more closely at the context to see if He’s promising it in a unique situation (or under the terms of the Mosaic Covenant).
Amy is a staff apologist at Stand to Reason, an organization dedicated to training Christians to think more clearly about what they believe and make a gracious defense of classical Christianity and classical Christian values in the public square.
Does Your Heart Break Like a Samaritan?
By Nijay Gupta 2/13/2017
Over the last several days I have been haunted by the hateful thoughts and acts around me related to the different “other.” The question keeps ringing in my ears – what can I do, how can I help? I have contacted leaders in my area. I have tried to teach my children about Christian generosity and goodness. What else can I do?
Someone recently told me – Nijay, you are a teacher – teach! Well, this term I am teaching Biblical Greek, so I took the opportunity to teach my students about the Greek text of Luke 10:25-37 – the “Parable of the Good Samaritan.” I thought I would share these reflections.
A certain expert in Jewish religious law (νομικός – you might say a “Torah-geek”!) asked Jesus what the expectations are on Jews to inherit eternal life. Jesus turns the question back – What has been written in Torah? Jesus follows up with another question – literally, “How do you read it?” This means, “How do you interpret it?” (CEB). Such a fascinating question. Torah is not self-interpreting, it requires a certain theological insight to know what holds Torah together.
Nijay K. Gupta (Ph.D, University of Durham) serves as Assistant Professor of New Testament at George Fox Evangelical Seminary. He is the author of several articles and books including a commentary on Colossians (Smyth & Helwys, 2013). You can learn more about Dr. Gupta at his personal blog www.cruxsolablog.com.
Nijay K. Gupta Books:
- 1 Prepare, Succeed, Advance: A Guidebook for Getting a PhD in Biblical Studies and Beyond
- 2 Colossians (Smyth & Helwys Bible Commentary)
- 3 Worship that Makes Sense to Paul: A New Approach to the Theology and Ethics of Paul's Cultic Metaphors (Beihefte zur Zeitschrift fur die ... und die Kunde der Alteren Kirche)
The Candles at Turl Street Kitchen
By Kelly Keller 2/6/2017
Evening comes on quickly in Oxford in November. The dark creeps in around 4 in the afternoon.
When David and I closed out our afternoons there, we sought out a little respite in a place pointed out to us by our friend Sarah: Turl Street Kitchen. Turl Street is one of the cross streets that runs between Broad Street and the High Street. It is rather narrow and always full of bicycle riders.
The restaurant was tucked in on the right side of the road as we left Broad Street and Blackwells’ bookstore. It was the kind of place you’d imagine in Oxford: small-paned windows, rough wooden pub tables, and a staircase that marched up the middle of the building. In the back was the coffee bar: a lighter space with a few high-top tables scattered about.
As dusk came on, we sought out those most modern of necessities: electrical outlets and free wi-fi. My eagerness to guide us around the town with an online walking tour, along with my incessant picture-taking, had mercilessly killed my phone. While “going dark” in Oxford was a tempting proposition, responsibilities back home (by the names of our five children) demanded that we keep the communication lines open. So we ordered two lattes and a slice of cake, and slumped down with our bags at a corner table by an outlet.
We took out a map, as tourists are inclined to do, and discussed our next day’s plans. As we chatted, a server walked about with a lighter and lit the white thick pillar candles on each table. There were no candle holders; not even a plate underneath them. The candles sat down unapologetically on each wooden table, where the burn marks remembered them. There was no fuss about anything.
Kelly enjoys live music, baseball, writing, reading great books, and traveling with her best friend and husband, David. She lives in Charlotte, North Carolina, and spends most days homeschooling her five kids and wondering where all the socks went.
Read The Psalms In "1" Year
Psalm 18The LORD Is My Rock and My Fortress
18 To The Choirmaster. A Psalm Of David, The Servant Of The LORD, Who Addressed The Words Of This Song To The LORD On The Day When The LORD Delivered Him From The Hand Of All Is Enemies, And From The Hand Of Saul. He Said:
31 For who is God, but the LORD?
And who is a rock, except our God?—
32 the God who equipped me with strength
and made my way blameless.
33 He made my feet like the feet of a deer
and set me secure on the heights.
34 He trains my hands for war,
so that my arms can bend a bow of bronze.
35 You have given me the shield of your salvation,
and your right hand supported me,
and your gentleness made me great.
36 You gave a wide place for my steps under me,
and my feet did not slip.
Six Poor Reasons for Rejecting the Miraculous
By Saints and Sceptics 12/21/2013
Christian theology affirms a number of miracles, most importantly the atonement, the resurrection, the incarnation and the virgin birth. The secular mind dismisses these as tall-tales and myths produced by superstitious, pre-modern minds. However, it seems to us that the modern prejudice against miracles is not very rational.
1) Experience shows that miracles do not occur
This argues in a circle. The Christian asserts that he has good testimony that a miracle has occurred. The sceptic responds, “that can’t be true because human experience shows that miracles do not occur.” But the Christian has just cited evidence that this is not the case: the Christian is claiming that he has evidence that some humans have experienced a miracle!
It is true that human experience establishes that miracles are, at the very least, rare. But relying on our experience of what usually happens can lead to terrible mistakes. “This medicine has never harmed patients in the past; therefore it will not hurt anyone tomorrow; these buildings have withstood all earthquakes until now; therefore they will withstand the next earthquake.” We should always be open to evidence of the unexpected. Sometimes that evidence can tell us that an unrepeatable, unprecedented event has occurred!
2) Science shows that miracles are impossible!
Saints and Sceptics | About web page
Variations and Doublets as Criteria for Source Division
By Gleason Archer Jr.
The Variation between Yahweh and Elohim
AS WE HAVE ALREADY SEEN in our review of the history of the Documentary Hypothesis (chap. 6), the basic criterion for source division followed by the pioneers of this critical school was the occurrence of “Jehovah” (Yahweh) and “God” (Elohim) as favorite or preferred names for God in Genesis. The argument was that the prevalence of Elohim in Gen. 1 marked it as originating from an author (E or P) who referred to God only by that term, and never employed any other title than this. Correspondingly the preponderance of Yahweh in Gen. 2 marked it as coming from a different author (J), who knew God only as Yahweh. It is necessary for us to examine the credibility of this diverse Source Theory as an adequate explanation for the distribution of these divine titles in Genesis and the rest of the Torah.
From the standpoint of comparative religions, it is doubtful whether the religious literature of any of Israel’s pagan neighbors ever referred to a paramount god by a single name. In Babylonia, the Sumerian counterparts were alternated with the Akkadian names: Bel was also Enlil and Nunamnir (Prologue of Lipit-Ishtar Code); Anum was Ilum, Sin was Nanna, Ea was Enki, Utu was Shamash, and Ishtar was Inanna or Telitum (cf. Prologue to Hammurabi’s Code). At Ugarit, Baal was also called Aliyan,1 El was Latpan, and Kothar-wa-Khasis (“the artificer god”) was Hayyin (cf. Aqhat, ANET, p. 151). In Egypt, Osiris (the judge of the dead and lord of the netherworld) was also Wennefer, Neb-Abdu, and Khentamentiu (cf. the Ikhernofret Stela in the Berlin Museum); his son Horus was also Re-Harakhti, and so on throughout the Egyptian pantheon. In Greece, the king-god Zeus was known also as Kronion and Olympios, Athena was Pallas, Apollo was Phoebus and Pythius—titles which appear in parallelism in Homer’s epics without requiring any theory of diverse sources. At the time of Astruc and Eichhorn, of course, the Semitic and Egyptian data were virtually unknown; otherwise it is impossible that any theory of source division based on divine names could ever have arisen. But now that these facts are well known in the twentieth century, it is hard to see how anyone can take seriously the terms Yahwist or Elohist any longer. In connection with the Ebla tablets (BA 5/76, p. 48), Pettinato points out that previous to the reign of King Ebrium (ca. 2330 B.C.), we meet names like Mi-ka-il and En-na-il. From his time on, they appear as Mi-ka-ya and En-na-ya. He remarks, “This amply demonstrates that at Ebla at least ‘Ya’ had the same value as ‘Il’ and points to a specific deity.” (C. Wilson, Secrets of a Forgotten City, p. 111.)
A most impressive parallel to the irregular distribution of the two divine names in the Torah is furnished by the sacred scriptures of the Muslims, the Koran. No one can question the unity of authorship of the Koran, and yet we meet with a similar phenomenon in this Arabic text. The name Allahu corresponds to Elōhɩ̂m, and Rabbu (“lord”) is equivalent to the Adonay (Lord) which the later Jews used in referring to Yahweh. In some suras (chapters) of the Koran, we find the two terms intermingled, but in others only the one or the other appears. For example, in the following suras the name Rabbu never occurs: 4, 9, 24, 33, 48, 49, 57, 58, 59, 61, 62, 63, 64, 86, 88, 95, 101, 102, 103, 104, 107, 109, 111, 112. On the other hand, the following suras never use the name Allahu: 15, 32, 54, 55, 56, 68, 75, 78, 83, 87, 89, 92, 93, 94, 99, 100, 105, 106, 108, 113, 114. Here we have indisputable evidence that ancient Semitic literature was capable of selective use of divine names even though composed by the same author.
One remarkable feature of the Wellhausian source division is the occasional appearance of the wrong name in the “Jehovistic” and “Elohistic” portions of the Pentateuch. Early in the development of this multiple-document theory, an effort was made to bolster the case for diversity of authorship by drawing up lists of near synonyms which were supposed to occur only in the one “source” or the other. (For example, of the two words for “female slave,” šiphḥâ was assigned exclusively to J and ʾāmah to E, in Gen. 33, Driver assigned the passage to J because of its use of šipḥâ, even though Elōhɩ̂m appears throughout. Likewise the name Sinai was assigned to J and P, the name Horeb was reserved for E and D.)
Despite the effort to keep these “characteristic words” and their appropriate divine names in their separate watertight compartments, occasional leaks have occurred, so to speak. Thus we discover that Elohim occurs in such passages as Gen. 3:1–5 (where the serpent thus refers to God); Gen. 16:13 (where Hagar calls the name of Jehovah: “Thou art an El that sees”); Gen. 32:28–29 Jacob at Peniel is said to have striven with Elohim — a very anthropomorphic motif — and received the name Yisra-El, or Israel). On the other hand, Yahweh occurs in such E passages as Gen. 22:11 (where the angel of Jehovah restrains Abraham from plunging the knife into Isaac) and verse 14 (where Abraham calls the place “Jehovah-jireh”); Gen. 28:17–22 (where Jacob makes a vow, saying, “Jehovah will be my God”). Yahweh also occurs in such passages as Gen. 7:16; 14:22; and 17:1. Despite all the vigilance of the Source Critics with their scissors and paste, a few slips like these have occurred, even though the general practice was to slice a verse in two where the compound name Yahweh-Elohim occurs (e.g., Gen. 2:4; where 4a is assigned to P and 4b to J), rather than allow the “wrong” name to appear and thus embarrass the theory. (Yahweh-Elohim occurs eleven times in Gen. 2: Yahweh never stands alone!)
It has already been pointed out that serious objection was raised against using the names as a criterion for source division on the ground of the numerous discrepancies which occur between the name appearing in the MT and that employed in the corresponding LXX translation. This threw doubt upon the soundness of any process of separation which depended so completely upon the infallibility of the MT in the transmission of Yahweh and Elohim, when inaccuracy was charged against it by those same critics in practically all the rest of the Torah. The actual data of the Hebrew documents themselves do not well sustain the old Astruc theory that a different name necessarily indicates a different author.
What explanation does account for the distribution of Yahweh and Elohim throughout the Torah? A careful study of the etymology and usage of the two names indicates that the name chosen depended upon the context of the situation. Elohim (which is apparently derived from a root meaning “powerful, strong, or foremost”) is used to refer to God as the Almighty Creator of the universe and Lord over nature and mankind in general. Hence only Elohim is appropriate in Gen. 1, since the subject dealt with there is creation. Yahweh, on the other hand, is the covenant name of God, which is reserved for situations in which some covenant engagement of God is involved. Thus in Gen. 2 this name is very frequently used, because the subject matter is God’s gracious dealing with Adam and Eve under the covenant of works. In Gen. 3 it is the serpent, as the agent or embodiment of Satan, who stands in no covenant relationship with God, and hence refers to Him as Elohim—an example which Eve also follows as long as she is talking with the serpent. But it is Jehovah God who calls out to Adam ( 3:9) and reproves Eve ( 3:13), and who also, as covenant-keeping God of the repentant couple, lays a curse upon the serpent ( 3:14).
This distinction between the two names of God was clearly perceived and defined by Rabbi Jehuda Hallevi as long ago as the twelfth century A.D., when he defined Elohim as the divine name in general, whereas Adonay (or Yahweh) specified the God of revelation and covenant. Even Kuenen felt constrained to concede: “The original distinction between Jahweh and Elohim very often accounts for the use of one of these appellations in preference to the other.” A little later he comments: “The history of critical investigation has shown that far too much weight has often been laid on agreement in the use of the divine names.… It is well, therefore, to utter a warning against laying an exaggerated stress on this one phenomenon. An admission like this would seem to indicate qualms as to the validity of the most fundamental of all the criteria for source division, even on the part of a principal architect of the Documentary Hypothesis.
The Problem Of The Old Testament
By James Orr 1907
III. SPECIAL PROBLEMS OF JE: PLACE OF ORIGIN AND EXTENT
It is now necessary, in order that the value of the current critical theories may be thoroughly tested, to investigate the analysis and other questions connected with the different documents more in detail; and first we consider the problems involved in the relations of J and E. These problems, in our view, all converge ultimately into one — Are the critics right in distinguishing two documents at all? To set this question in its proper light, and reveal more clearly the serious differences that emerge on fundamental points, it will be advisable to look, first, at the views entertained as to the place of origin of the assumed documents, and as to their extent. Some hint of the range of these differences has already been given.
1. Much light is cast on critical procedure by observing the methods employed to determine the place of origin of the documents, with the implications as to their age. We saw before that it has become customary to take for granted, though without real proof, that J and E first originated, the one (which one is in dispute) in the ninth century, the other about the middle of the eighth century B.C. It is also very generally held, and is confidently stated, that E was a native of the Northern Kingdom, while J, probably, was a native of the Southern, or Judæan Kingdom. The chief reasons given for localising E in Ephraim are his peculiar interest in the sacred places of Northern Israel (Bethel, Shechem, etc.), his exaltation of the house of Joseph, and his preference in the story of Joseph for Ephraim over Judah. How shadowy and assumptive all this is, and how inadequate as a ground of separation of the documents, will be evident from the following considerations:—
(1) In the first place, there are eminent critics (e.g., Schrader, Reuss, Kuenen, Kautzsch), who place J also in Northern Israel, and for precisely the same reason of his supposed interest in Ephraimitic shrines. The two writings, therefore, it may be concluded, cannot really stand far apart in this respect. Kautzsch, e.g., thinks it inconceivable “that a Judahite, at a time when the temple of Solomon was already in existence [note the assumption on date], brought the sanctity of Shechem, Bethel, and Peniel into the prominence they have at Gen. 12:6; 28:13 ff., and 32:30 ff.”2 Yet the Judæan origin of J is one of the things which Dillmann, among others, regards as “demonstrable with certainty.”
(2) In the next place, the whole reasoning proceeds on the assumption that the writings are as late as the ninth or eighth century, and that the motive for recording the movements and residences of the patriarchs is to glorify existing sacred places, or exalt one branch of the divided kingdom above the other. The naïveté of the narratives might save them from this charge of “tendency,” which has really nothing tangible to support it. There is no trace of the divided kingdom, or of partiality for one side or the other, in the patriarchal narratives. The history of Joseph is recorded with fulness and freshness by both writers. Gunkel takes strong ground on this point. “There can,” he says, “be no talk of a party-tendency in the two collections for the North or for the South Kingdom: they are too faithful.” Even Kuenen writes: “It would be incorrect to say that the narratives in Genesis exalt Joseph at the expense of his brothers, and are unfriendly to Judah. This would contradict their ever present idea that all the tribes have sprung from a single father, and on the strength of this common descent are a single people.… Neither J nor E takes sides with any one of the tribes, or specifically for or against Joseph or Judah; for both alike occupy the Israelitish position, in the widest sense of the word.” The real reason why the sojournings of the patriarchs are followed with such interest in J and E is simply that, in the old Israelitish tradition, Hebron, Beersheba, Bethel, Shechem, were believed to be the real spots where these patriarchs dwelt, and built their altars.
(3) When, further, we look into the narratives, we do not find, in fact, that they bear out this idea of a special favouritism in E for localities in the North, and in J for places in the South. Addis remarks on J’s “large-hearted interest in the myths (?) and sacred places both of Northern Israel and of Judah.” Abraham’s home in J is at Hebron, but his first altar is built near Bethel. Latterly, in both J and E, he lives at Beersheba (in South). Isaac also, in both sources, lives at Beersheba. J narrates the vision of Jacob at Bethel (with E), his wrestling with the angel at Peniel, his residence at Shechem (with E and P),8 etc. E also has his stories about Bethel, Shechem, and Beersheba, but he records Jacob’s residence in “the vale of Hebron” (South), as, earlier, he had shared in the story of the offering of Isaac on Mount Moriah. As little are we disposed to trust the critic’s “feeling” for an “Ephraimitic tinge” in E, when we find, e.g., one authority on this “tinge” (Kautzsch) declaring that “it [E] no longer conveys the impression of a triumphant outlook on a glorious future, but rather that of a retrospect on a bygone history, in which were many gloomy experiences;” and another (Kittel) assuring us that “the whole tone of E bears witness to a certain satisfaction of the national consciousness, and joy over what has been won.”
(4) Finally, if anything were lacking to destroy our confidence in this theory of tendencies of J and E, it would be supplied by the interpretations that are given of particular incidents in the narrative. It strains our faith to breaking-point to be asked to believe that the interest of a prophetic writer like E, of the days of Amos and Hosea, in Bethel and Beersheba, arose from the fact that these places were the then famous centres of (idolatrous) worship (cf. Amos 5:5; 8:14; Hos. 4:15); or that Gen. 28:22 is intended to explain and sanction the custom of paying tithes at the calf-shrine at Bethel; or that Hebron was preferred as Abraham’s residence because it was “the ancient Judæan capital” (Kittel), or had become “the great Judaic sanctuary” (Driver). In the view of one set of critics, Gen. 38. is a bitter mockery of Judah (J therefore is Northern); according to another, it is a tribal history written expressly to favour Judah (J therefore is Southern). Kautzsch is of opinion that “at Ex. 32:1 ff. there is in all probability a Judahite condemnation of the Ephraimite bull-worship”; others see in the narrative an Ephraimitic condemnation of the same practice; Kuenen thinks it glances at a claim of the Northern priests to a descent from Aaron. So ad libitum. When one remembers that it is chiefly on the ground of these supposed “mirrorings” of later events that the narratives are placed where they are in date, one begins to see the precariousness of this part of the critical structure. Thus far nothing has been established as to place or time of origin, or distinct authorship of the documents.
2. A second problem of much importance in its bearings on the possibility of a critical distinction of J and E is that of the extent of the supposed documents. The consideration of Genesis may be reserved. There is agreement that the J narrative in Genesis begins with chap. 2:3, and, in union with other sources, continues throughout the book, and into Exodus. E, on the other hand, though some find traces of its presence earlier, is understood to enter clearly first in chap. 20 With Exodus 3, the criterion of the divine names fails, after which it is allowed, on all hands, that the discrimination is exceedingly difficult, and often impossible. In the words of Addis, “In other books of the Hexateuch [after Genesis] the Jahvist and the Elohist are rather fused than pieced together, and discrimination between the two documents is often impossible.” In their union, however, it is commonly agreed that the presence of the two documents can be traced, not only through Exodus and Numbers (in small measure in Deuteronomy) but through Joshua — that Joshua, in fact, is an integral part of the total work now called the “Hexateuch.” The validity of this conclusion will occupy us immediately.
Beyond this rises another question, now keenly exercising the minds of scholars, viz., whether there must not be recognised a still further continuation of these documents—J and E—into the Books of Judges, Samuel, and even Kings. Such a possibility was early hinted at, but the newer tendency to resolve J and E into “schools” has led to a revival of the idea, and to its adoption by many critical scholars. Cornill and Budde have no doubt about it; Moore adopts it in his Commentary on Judges; Westphal goes so far as to make it a chief ground in his determination of the dates of the documents. E.g., Cornill discerns J in 1 Kings “with perfect certainty”; the traces of E, he thinks, are slight after the story of the death of Saul. These conclusions, with good reason, do not commend themselves to other scholars, so that the camp remains here also divided. The hypothesis has a value as showing the precarious grounds on which writers often build their critical “certainties.”
Returning to Joshua, we may briefly test the assertion that the J and E documents are continued into this book, and that Joshua forms with the Pentateuch a single larger work. The question of “Pentateuch” or “Hexateuch” need not be discussed at length; we touch on it only as far as relates to our subject. Addis, however, speaks far too strongly when he declares that the unity of Joshua with the other five books “is acknowledged by all who admit the composite character of the Pentateuch.” This is by no means the case. Even Cornill says: “Many now speak of a Hexateuch. Joshua, nevertheless, presents an essentially different literary physiognomy from that of the Pentateuch, so that it appears to me more correct to treat the latter by itself, and the Book of Joshua as an appendix to it.” There are, in fact, tolerably strong indications of a tendency among recent critics to separate Joshua again from the Pentateuch, and regard it as a more or less independent work. For such a view also there are many cogent grounds. Cornill gives as one reason that the sources are quite differently worked up in the Book of Joshua from what they are elsewhere. In the narrative portions they are fused together so as to be ordinarily inseparable. The language, too, presents peculiarities. Even in the P parts, as will be seen immediately, it is doubtful if the sections are from the same hand or hands as in the other books. The book has, also, according to the critics, been subjected to a Deuteronomic revision, which, curiously, was not extended (or only slightly) to the earlier books.
A Time for Confidence
By Stephen Nichols 8/01/2017
Paul was likely one of the most intelligent people to have ever lived. He certainly is one of the best writers. He was extremely ambitious. He knew adversity, yet he persevered. If anyone “thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh,” Paul tells us, “I have more” (Phil. 3:4).
Yet, Paul realizes that “whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ” (v. 7). He counts all his accomplishments, all his strivings after righteousness, as “rubbish,” a polite word for “dung.” All of Paul’s abilities and accomplishments simply serve to underscore his utter inability to achieve righteousness.
Instead of putting his confidence in the flesh, Paul learned to put his confidence in Christ and in the gospel. Paul wanted to be found in Christ. He writes, “That I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith” (v. 9). The theologian Francis Turretin expresses it this way:
God grant that, dismissing a vain confidence in our own merit, we may rest in the most perfect merit of Christ alone and so keep faithful in him and fight the good fight even unto the end that we might receive the crown of righteousness; due not to our merit, but most graciously promised to us from the heavenly rewarder.
Johnny Cash wrote a novel on the life of the Apostle Paul. Yes, one of country music’s icons and one of American music’s legends wrote a biography of Paul. Cash called it Man in White, and it is a piece of genius. The “man in white” is actually not Paul. It’s Christ. Therein lies Cash’s genius. (Similarly, Augustine is not the main character in his autobiographical Confessions. God is.) Paul is not the main character in Cash’s biography. He’s the prominent and predominant character as the pages unfold. But all along, we get the sense that there is far more to the story than what we are seeing on the page. Behind the scenes of Paul’s life, there is One at work, orchestrating all the details to one desired end and one certain outcome.
Paul knew he had to put his confidence in the gospel, because nothing else can turn the human heart and nothing else solves the human dilemma. People think the human dilemma is many things. Some say it’s poverty or the unjust distribution of resources and wealth. Some say it’s war and our penchant for war. Some simply think the human dilemma is internal and psychological. As R.C. Sproul has often said, “The human dilemma is this: God is holy, and we are not. God is righteous, and we are not.” Our problem is not lack or abundance of wealth or resources. Our problem is not that we are a few degrees short of finding utopia. Our problem is the wrath of a holy God. No amount of righteousness that we might produce can solve that dilemma. Paul testifies to only one solution: the righteousness that comes through faith in Christ.
When we think of Luther’s main doctrine, we think of justification by faith alone. That doctrine hinges upon one word. In fact, the entire Reformation and the protest the Reformers launched against the Roman Catholic Church could very well be summed up in this one word: imputation. The doctrine of imputation teaches that our sin, which cuts us off and alienates us from a holy God, gets imputed to Christ. Christ paid the penalty for our sin, and so our sins are forgiven. The doctrine of imputation also teaches that Christ’s righteousness gets imputed to us. If Christ’s work only accomplished the forgiveness of sins, we would be right back to where we were in the garden before Adam and Eve ate of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.
Christ’s work overcame the curse and restored “Paradise lost.” Christ’s work also leads to “Paradise regained.” We now stand in the very presence of God clothed in Christ’s righteousness. The “Man in white” took our filthy rags and gave us His white, pure, and righteous robe. Paul says it plainly in 2 Corinthians 5:21: “He who knew no sin became sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God.”
Theologians refer to Christ’s work in terms of His active obedience and His passive obedience. In His passive obedience, He paid the penalty for sin; He atoned for sin. In His active righteousness, He earned righteousness on our behalf. No other message and no other means can save us or deliver us. Paul spent decades and piled effort upon effort in attempts to white-knuckle his way to God. All to no avail. Then, on the road to Damascus, Saul came to an end as Christ, “the Man in white,” brought Paul to Himself.
Paul knew firsthand the power of the gospel. Not a day went by that he did not rejoice in what God had done for him in Christ.
The brothers John and Charles Wesley tried white-knuckling their way into heaven. They even went to a faraway land as missionaries in a futile attempt to achieve salvation. Then, independently but within a few days of each other, John and Charles were brought to Christ. John was convicted as he stood outside the Aldersgate Meetinghouse in London and heard Martin Luther’s preface to his commentary on Romans being read. Charles was convicted as he was reading Martin Luther’s preface to his commentary on Galatians. They decided they would no longer celebrate or mark their earthly birthdays. Instead, they would celebrate the occasion of their conversions.
To mark his first new birth birthday, Charles wrote a hymn, “And Can It Be,” a hymn to the mystery and wonder of salvation. In one of the stanzas, he declares:
Long my imprisoned spirit lay,
fast bound in sin and nature’s night;
thine eye diffused a quickening ray—
I woke, the dungeon flamed with light;
my chains fell off, my heart was free,
I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.
And she heard it in an American accent.
Under the cover of night, a detachment from U.S. Navy SEAL Team Six parachuted in and attacked the camp. All of the pirates were killed. Jessica was unharmed. The sailors picked her up and carried her out of the camp and to the designated pickup zone. The SEALs then made a circle around her and waited until the helicopter arrived. They loaded her onto the helicopter and she was carried off to safety. As the helicopter lifted off, one of the SEALs handed her an American flag.
Jessica Buchanan contributed nothing to her release from her captors. The SEALs did it all. And when they rescued her, literally from the pit of death, they gave her back her identity. They gave her back her freedom.
Her story is a picture of this stanza from Charles Wesley’s hymn. It is a hymn commemorating a prison break. The prisoner could no nothing. This prison break was possible only through the work of Christ. So Charles Wesley’s hymn declares:
Jesus, and all in Him, is mine;
alive in Him, my living Head,
and clothed in righteousness divine.
In the middle of July 64, Rome burned. Nero likely caused the fire. He had ambitious plans to rebuild Rome, but there were current buildings in his way. The belief of historians is that Nero’s underlings set the fire to help speed along his revitalization plans. The fire, however, spread out of control. It burned for a week and may have consumed as much as 70 percent of the city.
Fingers started pointing at Nero. The Roman historian Tacitus tells us that to shift the blame off of himself, Nero fixed the blame on Christians. An intense season of persecution ensued. Tacitus further informs us that Nero used Christians as living torches to illumine his gardens at night so he could be entertained by chariot races. Nero’s cruelty knew no bounds.
The persecution he unleashed lasted until the end of his reign in AD 68. Sometime between 64 and 68, Nero handed down the order for Paul to be rearrested and for Peter to be arrested. Both were executed before Nero’s death. This is the cultural backdrop for the growth of the church and for the New Testament writings.
Rome had two designations for the religions it encountered across its spreading empire. One of those designations was religio licita, which means “legal religion.” The other was superstitio illicita, which means “illegal superstition.” The word superstition reveals how contemptuous Rome found these practices to be. For the most part, those people groups that Rome overtook were polytheists. This presented no problems to Rome. This simply meant more gods to add to the Roman pantheon. Most of the religions that came into the empire were dubbed religio licita. They had the stamp of approval of Rome and could be practiced freely. Judaism was granted religio licita status primarily because Jews didn’t tend to proselytize a great deal. But from its beginnings, Christianity was designated a superstitio illicita.
As a consequence, Christians were literally enemies of the state — marginalized, ostracized, and persecuted. They could be killed with impunity. To be a Christian was to identify with a group of people who were worthy of nothing but shame and scorn. To the best Romans, Christians were seen as worthy of sympathy for their primitive ways. To the worst Romans, the death of Christians could provide entertainment. Ridding Christians from the empire would be the best possible outcome.
Tacitus refers to Christianity with the designation superstitio illicita and testifies to the hatred the Roman populace had for Christians. This despite the fact that Christians in these early centuries lived exemplary lives. Early apologists such as Athenagoras and Justin Martyr testify to the lives Christians lived. They promoted virtue. They honored the emperor. They had a work ethic that set them apart. Paul admonished servants to work “as for the Lord” (Col. 3:23). Christians had loving families that showed genuine concern for each other. Yet, they were seen to be a criminal element and enemies of the state. They were hated — not because of their behavior, for their behavior was laudatory. If only all Romans lived like the Christians. They were hated for their beliefs. They were hated for their belief in Christ and in the gospel. Ultimately, Christians were hated because their beliefs were different, and their beliefs challenged the status quo.
Christus, their leader, was hated also, and He was killed on a cross under Pontius Pilate. His followers were all guilty — simply for being Christians. In the midst of all of this, we have Paul’s testimony in Philippians to the power of the gospel.
There is power in the gospel. And there is every reason for us to put our confidence in the gospel. In fact, we’re obligated to. We’re obligated to proclaim this Word. Dr. Stephen J. Nichols is president of Reformation Bible College in Sanford, Fla., chief academic officer for Ligonier Ministries, and a Ligonier teaching fellow. He previously served as research professor of Christianity and culture at Lancaster Bible College in Lancaster, Pa. He earned a Ph.D. from Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, and he is a member of the Evangelical Theological Society.
Dr. Stephen J. Nichols Books | Go to Books Page
The Pilgrim's Progress From This World To That Which Is To Come;
Delivered Under The Similitude Of A Dream
By John Bunyan 1678
THE SEVENTH STAGENow I saw in my dream, that Christian went not forth alone; for there was one whose name was Hopeful, (being so made by the beholding of Christian and Faithful in their words and behavior, in their sufferings at the fair,) who joined himself unto him, and entering into a brotherly covenant, told him that he would be his companion. Thus one died to bear testimony to the truth, and another rises out of his ashes to be a companion with Christian in his pilgrimage. This Hopeful also told Christian, that there were many more of the men in the fair that would take their time, and follow after.
So I saw, that quickly after they were got out of the fair, they overtook one that was going before them, whose name was By-ends; so they said to him, What countryman, sir? and how far go you this way? He told them, that he came from the town of Fair-speech, and he was going to the Celestial City; but told them not his name.
From Fair-speech? said Christian; is there any good that lives there?
Prov. 26:25 when he speaks graciously, believe him not,
for there are seven abominations in his heart; ESV
CHR. Pray, sir, what may I call you? said Christian.
BY. I am a stranger to you, and you to me: if you be going this way, I shall be glad of your company; if not, I must be content.
CHR. This town of Fair-speech, said Christian, I have heard of; and, as I remember, they say it’s a wealthy place.
BY. Yes, I will assure you that it is; and I have very many rich kindred there.
CHR. Pray, who are your kindred there, if a man may be so bold?
BY. Almost the whole town; and in particular my Lord Turn-about, my Lord Time-server, my Lord Fair-speech, from whose ancestors that town first took its name; also, Mr. Smooth-man, Mr. Facing-both-ways, Mr. Any-thing; and the parson of our parish, Mr. Two-tongues, was my mother’s own brother, by father’s side; and, to tell you the truth, I am become a gentleman of good quality; yet my great-grandfather was but a waterman, looking one way and rowing another, and I got most of my estate by the same occupation.
CHR. Are you a married man?
BY. Yes, and my wife is a very virtuous woman, the daughter of a virtuous woman; she was my Lady Feigning’s daughter; therefore she came of a very honorable family, and is arrived to such a pitch of breeding, that she knows how to carry it to all, even to prince and peasant. ’Tis true, we somewhat differ in religion from those of the stricter sort, yet but in two small points: First, we never strive against wind and tide. Secondly, we are always most zealous when religion goes in his silver slippers; we love much to walk with him in the street, if the sun shines and the people applaud him.
Then Christian stepped a little aside to his fellow Hopeful, saying, it runs in my mind that this is one By-ends, of Fair-speech; and if it be he, we have as very a knave in our company as dwelleth in all these parts. Then said Hopeful, Ask him; methinks he should not be ashamed of his name. So Christian came up with him again, and said, Sir, you talk as if you knew something more than all the world doth; and, if I take not my mark amiss, I deem I have half a guess of you. Is not your name Mr. By-ends of Fair-speech?
BY. This is not my name, but indeed it is a nickname that is given me by some that cannot abide me, and I must be content to bear it as a reproach, as other good men have borne theirs before me.
CHR. But did you never give an occasion to men to call you by this name?
BY. Never, never! The worst that ever I did to give them an occasion to give me this name was, that I had always the luck to jump in my judgment with the present way of the times, whatever it was, and my chance was to get thereby: but if things are thus cast upon me, let me count them a blessing; but let not the malicious load me therefore with reproach.
CHR. I thought, indeed, that you were the man that I heard of; and to tell you what I think, I fear this name belongs to you more properly than you are willing we should think it doth.
BY. Well if you will thus imagine, I cannot help it; you shall find me a fair company-keeper, if you will still admit me your associate.
CHR. If you will go with us, you must go against wind and tide; the which, I perceive, is against your opinion: you must also own Religion in his rags, as well as when in his silver slippers; and stand by him, too, when bound in irons, as well as when he walketh the streets with applause.
BY. You must not impose, nor lord it over my faith; leave me to my liberty, and let me go with you.
CHR. Not a step farther, unless you will do, in what I propound, as we.
Then said By-ends, I shall never desert my old principles, since they are harmless and profitable. If I may not go with you, I must do as I did before you overtook me, even go by myself, until some overtake me that will be glad of my company.
Now I saw in my dream, that Christian and Hopeful forsook him, and kept their distance before him; but one of them, looking back, saw three men following Mr. By-ends; and, behold, as they came up with him, he made them a very low congee; and they also gave him a compliment. The men’s names were, Mr. Hold-the-world, Mr. Money-love, and Mr. Save-all, men that Mr. By-ends had formerly been acquainted with; for in their minority they were schoolfellows, and taught by one Mr. Gripeman, a schoolmaster in Lovegain, which is a market-town in the county of Coveting, in the North. This Schoolmaster taught them the art of getting, either by violence, cozenage, flattering, lying, or by putting on a guise of religion; and these four gentlemen had attained much of the art of their master, so that they could each of them have kept such a school themselves. Well, when they had, as I said, thus saluted each other, Mr. Money-love said to Mr. By-ends, Who are they upon the road before us? For Christian and Hopeful were yet within view.
BY. They are a couple of far country-men, that, after their mode, are going on pilgrimage.
MONEY. Alas! why did they not stay, that we might have had their good company? for they, and we, and you, sir, I hope, are all going on pilgrimage.
BY. We are so, indeed; but the men before us are so rigid, and love so much their own notions, and do also so lightly esteem the opinions of others, that let a man be ever so godly, yet if he jumps not with them in all things, they thrust him quite out of their company.
SAVE. That is bad; but we read of some that are righteous overmuch, and such men’s rigidness prevails with them to judge and condemn all but themselves. But I pray, what, and how many, were the things wherein you differed?
BY. Why, they, after their headstrong manner, conclude that it is their duty to rush on their journey all weathers, and I am for waiting for wind and tide. They are for hazarding all for God at a clap; and I am for taking all advantages to secure my life and estate. They are for holding their notions, though all other men be against them; but I am for religion in what, and so far as the times and my safety will bear it. They are for religion when in rags and contempt; but I am for him when he walks in his silver slippers, in the sunshine, and with applause.
HOLD-THE-WORLD. Aye, and hold you there still, good Mr. By-ends; for, for my part, I can count him but a fool, that having the liberty to keep what he has, shall be so unwise as to lose it. Let us be wise as serpents. It is best to make hay while the sun shines. You see how the bee lieth still in winter, and bestirs her only when she can have profit with pleasure. God sends sometimes rain, and sometimes sunshine: if they be such fools to go through the first, yet let us be content to take fair weather along with us. For my part, I like that religion best that will stand with the security of God’s good blessings unto us; for who can imagine, that is ruled by his reason, since God has bestowed upon us the good things of this life, but that he would have us keep them for his sake? Abraham and Solomon grew rich in religion; and Job says, that a good man shall lay up gold as dust; but he must not be such as the men before us, if they be as you have described them.
SAVE. I think that we are all agreed in this matter; and therefore there needs no more words about it.
MONEY. No, there needs no more words about this matter, indeed; for he that believes neither Scripture nor reason, (and you see we have both on our side,) neither knows his own liberty nor seeks his own safety.
BY. My brethren, we are, as you see, going all on pilgrimage; and for our better diversion from things that are bad, give me leave to propound unto you this question.
Suppose a man, a minister, or a tradesman, etc., should have an advantage lie before him to get the good blessings of this life, yet so as that he can by no means come by them, except, in appearance at least, he becomes extraordinary zealous in some points of religion that he meddled not with before; may he not use this means to attain his end, and yet be a right honest man?
MONEY. I see the bottom of your question; and with these gentlemen’s good leave, I will endeavor to shape you an answer. And first, to speak to your question as it concerneth a minister himself: suppose a minister, a worthy man, possessed but of a very small benefice, and has in his eye a greater, more fat and plump by far; he has also now an opportunity of getting it, yet so as by being more studious, by preaching more frequently and zealously, and, because the temper of the people requires it, by altering of some of his principles; for my part, I see no reason why a man may not do this, provided he has a call, aye, and more a great deal besides, and yet be an honest man.
1. His desire of a greater benefice is lawful, (this cannot be contradicted,) since it is set before him by Providence; so then he may get it if he can, making no question for conscience’ sake.
2. Besides, his desire after that benefice makes him more studious, a more zealous preacher, etc., and so makes him a better man, yea, makes him better improve his parts, which is according to the mind of God.
3. Now, as for his complying with the temper of his people, by deserting, to serve them, some of his principles, this argueth, 1. That he is of a self-denying temper. 2. Of a sweet and winning deportment. And, 3. So more fit for the ministerial function.
4. I conclude, then, that a minister that changes a small for a great, should not, for so doing, be judged as covetous; but rather, since he is improved in his parts and industry thereby, be counted as one that pursues his call, and the opportunity put into his hand to do good.
And now to the second part of the question, which concerns the tradesman you mentioned. Suppose such an one to have but a poor employ in the world, but by becoming religious he may mend his market, perhaps get a rich wife, or more and far better customers to his shop; for my part, I see no reason but this may be lawfully done. For why?
1. To become religious is a virtue, by what means soever a man becomes so.
2. Nor is it unlawful to get a rich wife, or more custom to my shop.
3. Besides, the man that gets these by becoming religious, gets that which is good of them that are good, by becoming good himself; so then here is a good wife, and good customers, and good gain, and all these by becoming religious, which is good: therefore, to become religious to get all these is a good and profitable design.
This answer, thus made by Mr. Money-love to Mr. By-ends’ question, was highly applauded by them all; wherefore they concluded, upon the whole, that it was most wholesome and advantageous. And because, as they thought, no man was able to contradict it; and because Christian and Hopeful were yet within call, they jointly agreed to assault them with the question as soon as they overtook them; and the rather, because they had opposed Mr. By-ends before. So they called after them, and they stopped and stood still till they came up to them; but they concluded, as they went, that not Mr. By-ends, but old Mr. Hold-the-world should propound the question to them, because, as they supposed, their answer to him would be without the remainder of that heat that was kindled betwixt Mr. By-ends and them at their parting a little before.
So they came up to each other, and after a short salutation, Mr. Hold-the-world propounded the question to Christian and his fellow, and then bid them to answer if they could.
Then said Christian, Even a babe in religion may answer ten thousand such questions. For if it be unlawful to follow Christ for loaves, as it is,
John 6:26 Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. ESV
how much more abominable is it to make of him and religion a stalking-horse to get and enjoy the world! Nor do we find any other than heathens, hypocrites, devils, and wizards, that are of this opinion.
1. Heathens: for when Hamor and Shechem had a mind to the daughter and cattle of Jacob, and saw that there was no way for them to come at them but by being circumcised, they said to their companions, If every male of us be circumcised, as they are circumcised, shall not their cattle, and their substance, and every beast of theirs be ours? Their daughters and their cattle were that which they sought to obtain, and their religion the stalking-horse they made use of to come at them. Read the whole story,
Gen. 34:20–24 20 So Hamor and his son Shechem came to the gate of their city and spoke to the men of their city, saying, 21 “These men are at peace with us; let them dwell in the land and trade in it, for behold, the land is large enough for them. Let us take their daughters as wives, and let us give them our daughters. 22 Only on this condition will the men agree to dwell with us to become one people—when every male among us is circumcised as they are circumcised. 23 Will not their livestock, their property and all their beasts be ours? Only let us agree with them, and they will dwell with us.” 24 And all who went out of the gate of his city listened to Hamor and his son Shechem, and every male was circumcised, all who went out of the gate of his city. ESV
2. The hypocritical Pharisees were also of this religion: long prayers were their pretence, but to get widows’ houses was their intent; and greater damnation was from God their judgment.
Luke 20:46-47 46 “Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes, and love greetings in the marketplaces and the best seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at feasts, 47 who devour widows’ houses and for a pretense make long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation.” ESV
3. Judas the devil was also of this religion: he was religious for the bag, that he might be possessed of what was put therein; but he was lost, cast away, and the very son of perdition.
4. Simon the wizard was of this religion too; for he would have had the Holy Ghost, that he might have got money therewith: and his sentence from Peter’s mouth was according.
Acts 8:19–22 19 saying, “Give me this power also, so that anyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.” 20 But Peter said to him, “May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money! 21 You have neither part nor lot in this matter, for your heart is not right before God. 22 Repent, therefore, of this wickedness of yours, and pray to the Lord that, if possible, the intent of your heart may be forgiven you. ESV
5. Neither will it go out of my mind, but that that man who takes up religion for the world, will throw away religion for the world; for so surely as Judas designed the world in becoming religious, so surely did he also sell religion and his Master for the same. To answer the question, therefore, affirmatively, as I perceive you have done, and to accept of, as authentic, such answer, is heathenish, hypocritical, and devilish; and your reward will be according to your works.
Then they stood staring one upon another, but had not wherewith to answer Christian. Hopeful also approved of the soundness of Christian’s answer; so there was a great silence among them. Mr. By-ends and his company also staggered and kept behind, that Christian and Hopeful might outgo them. Then said Christian to his fellow, If these men cannot stand before the sentence of men, what will they do with the sentence of God? And if they are mute when dealt with by vessels of clay, what will they do when they shall be rebuked by the flames of a devouring fire?
Then Christian and Hopeful outwent them again, and went till they came at a delicate plain, called Ease, where they went with much content; but that plain was but narrow, so they were quickly got over it. Now at the farther side of that plain was a little hill, called Lucre, and in that hill a silver-mine, which some of them that had formerly gone that way, because of the rarity of it, had turned aside to see; but going too near the brim of the pit, the ground, being deceitful under them, broke, and they were slain: some also had been maimed there, and could not, to their dying day, be their own men again.
Then I saw in my dream, that a little off the road, over against the silver-mine, stood Demas (gentleman-like) to call passengers to come and see; who said to Christian and his fellow, Ho! turn aside hither, and I will show you a thing.
CHR. What thing so deserving as to turn us out of the way to see it?
DEMAS. Here is a silver-mine, and some digging in it for treasure; if you will come, with a little pains you may richly provide for yourselves.
HOPE. Then said Hopeful, let us go see.
CHR. Not I, said Christian: I have heard of this place before now, and how many there have been slain; and besides, that treasure is a snare to those that seek it, for it hindereth them in their pilgrimage.
Then Christian called to Demas, saying, Is not the place dangerous? Hath it not hindered many in their pilgrimage?
Hosea 9:6 For behold, they are going away from destruction;
but Egypt shall gather them;
Memphis shall bury them.
Nettles shall possess their precious things of silver;
thorns shall be in their tents. ESV
CHR. Then said Christian to Hopeful, Let us not stir a step, but still keep on our way.
HOPE. I will warrant you, when By-ends comes up, if he hath the same invitation as we, he will turn in thither to see.
CHR. No doubt thereof, for his principles lead him that way, and a hundred to one but he dies there.
DEMAS. Then Demas called again, saying, But will you not come over and see?
CHR. Then Christian roundly answered, saying, Demas, thou art an enemy to the right ways of the Lord of this way, and hast been already condemned for thine own turning aside, by one of his Majesty’s judges, 2 Tim. 4:10 For Demas, in love with this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica. Crescens has gone to Galatia, Titus to Dalmatia. ESV
and why seekest thou to bring us into the like condemnation? Besides, if we at all turn aside, our Lord the King will certainly hear thereof, and will there put us to shame, where we would stand with boldness before him.
Demas cried again, that he also was one of their fraternity; and that if they would tarry a little, he also himself would walk with them.
CHR. Then said Christian, What is thy name? Is it not the same by which I have called thee?
DEMAS. Yes, my name is Demas; I am the son of Abraham.
CHR. I know you; Gehazi was your great-grandfather, and Judas your father, and you have trod in their steps; it is but a devilish prank that thou usest: thy father was hanged for a traitor, and thou deservest no better reward.
2 Kings 5:20–27 20 Gehazi, the servant of Elisha the man of God, said, “See, my master has spared this Naaman the Syrian, in not accepting from his hand what he brought. As the LORD lives, I will run after him and get something from him.” 21 So Gehazi followed Naaman. And when Naaman saw someone running after him, he got down from the chariot to meet him and said, “Is all well?” 22 And he said, “All is well. My master has sent me to say, ‘There have just now come to me from the hill country of Ephraim two young men of the sons of the prophets. Please give them a talent of silver and two changes of clothing.’ ” 23 And Naaman said, “Be pleased to accept two talents.” And he urged him and tied up two talents of silver in two bags, with two changes of clothing, and laid them on two of his servants. And they carried them before Gehazi. 24 And when he came to the hill, he took them from their hand and put them in the house, and he sent the men away, and they departed. 25 He went in and stood before his master, and Elisha said to him, “Where have you been, Gehazi?” And he said, “Your servant went nowhere.” 26 But he said to him, “Did not my heart go when the man turned from his chariot to meet you? Was it a time to accept money and garments, olive orchards and vineyards, sheep and oxen, male servants and female servants? 27 Therefore the leprosy of Naaman shall cling to you and to your descendants forever.” So he went out from his presence a leper, like snow. ESV
Matt 26:14-15 14 Then one of the twelve, whose name was Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests 15 and said, “What will you give me if I deliver him over to you?” And they paid him thirty pieces of silver. ESV
Matt 27:3–5 3 Then when Judas, his betrayer, saw that Jesus was condemned, he changed his mind and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders, 4 saying, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.” They said, “What is that to us? See to it yourself.” 5 And throwing down the pieces of silver into the temple, he departed, and he went and hanged himself. ESV
Assure thyself, that when we come to the King, we will tell him of this thy behavior. Thus they went their way.
By this time By-ends and his companions were come again within sight, and they at the first beck went over to Demas. Now, whether they fell into the pit by looking over the brink thereof, or whether they went down to dig, or whether they were smothered in the bottom by the damps that commonly arise, of these things I am not certain; but this I observed, that they were never seen again in the way. Then sang Christian,
“By-ends and silver Demas both agree;
One calls, the other runs, that he may be
A sharer in his lucre: so these two
Take up in this world, and no farther go.”
The Continual Burnt Offering
By H.A. Ironside - 1941
February 8Judges 6:34 But the Spirit of the LORD clothed Gideon, and he sounded the trumpet, and the Abiezrites were called out to follow him. ESV
It is literally, “the Spirit of the Lord clothed Himself with Gideon.” His history exemplifies the importance of obedience to the Word of God. The man of faith dares to move at God’s command even though, for the moment, the difficulties seem to be insurmountable, and the possibility of victory very remote. Gideon learned to know God in secret; therefore he ventured everything upon His Word in public.
The call of this young man came not when he was daydreaming, but when he was busy at his accustomed tasks on the farm of his father. He was threshing wheat to hide it from the Midianites when the angel of the Lord appeared to him and gave him his commission to be the leader and deliverer of Israel. In “the irresistible might of weakness” Gideon accepted the trust, and began his work by destroying the image of Baal in his own community, for true service for God must begin at home.
Judges 3:10 The Spirit of the LORD was upon him, and he judged Israel. He went out to war, and the LORD gave Cushan-rishathaim king of Mesopotamia into his hand. And his hand prevailed over Cushan-rishathaim.
Judges 13:25 And the Spirit of the LORD began to stir him in Mahaneh-dan, between Zorah and Eshtaol.
Judges 14:19 And the Spirit of the LORD rushed upon him, and he went down to Ashkelon and struck down thirty men of the town and took their spoil and gave the garments to those who had told the riddle. In hot anger he went back to his father’s house.
Judges 15:14 When he came to Lehi, the Philistines came shouting to meet him. Then the Spirit of the LORD rushed upon him, and the ropes that were on his arms became as flax that has caught fire, and his bonds melted off his hands.
1 Samuel 10:6 Then the Spirit of the LORD will rush upon you, and you will prophesy with them and be turned into another man.
1 Samuel 11:6 And the Spirit of God rushed upon Saul when he heard these words, and his anger was greatly kindled.
1 Samuel 16:14 Now the Spirit of the LORD departed from Saul, and a harmful spirit from the LORD tormented him.
1 Chronicles 12:18 Then the Spirit clothed Amasai, chief of the thirty, and he said,
“We are yours, O David,
and with you, O son of Jesse!
Peace, peace to you,
and peace to your helpers!
For your God helps you.”
2 Chronicles 24:20 Then the Spirit of God clothed Zechariah the son of Jehoiada the priest, and he stood above the people, and said to them, “Thus says God, ‘Why do you break the commandments of the LORD, so that you cannot prosper? Because you have forsaken the LORD, he has forsaken you.’ ”
Psalm 51:11 Cast me not away from your presence,
and take not your Holy Spirit from me.
Tis easy when the morning
Appears at last to view
To praise thy strong Redeemer
Who burst the bondage through,
But ‘tis the praise at midnight
That gives the foe alarm,
That glorifies thy Saviour,
And bares His strong right arm,
A conqueror thou wouldst be,
Yea, more than conqueror thou,
If thou wilt shout in triumph
And claim the victory now;
The prison-doors will open,
The dungeon gleam with light,
And sin-chained souls around thee
Shall see Jehovah’s might.
The Continual Burnt Offering: Daily Meditations on the Word of God
Devotionals, notes, poetry and more
God uses ordinary people (1)
2/8/2018 Bob Gass
‘You will be my witnesses.’
(Ac 1:7–8) But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” ESV
A witness is someone who sees and experiences an event, then testifies to it in court in a way that convinces others. And that’s what you have been called to do! You say, ‘But I don’t feel qualified.’ God doesn’t call the qualified, He qualifies the called. And don’t let Satan convince you otherwise, because he will try. He will tell you God has an IQ requirement, or an entry fee; that He employs only specialists, experts, and high-powered personalities. No, Jesus said to His disciples, ‘You will be my witnesses…to the ends of the earth.’ You uneducated and simple folk. You temperamental net casters and tax collectors. ‘You will be my witnesses.’ The one thing the disciples had going for them was their willingness to take a step when Jesus said, ‘Follow me.’ So, if you’re more plumber than executive, or more blue jeans than blue blood, you’re qualified! ‘Few of you were wise in the world’s eyes or powerful or wealthy when God called you. Instead, God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And He chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful’ (1 Corinthians 1:26-27 NLT). So, pray: ‘Lord, You’ve called me into Your Kingdom to serve You in this specific place, at this specific time, and for this specific purpose. Despite my ordinariness I belong to You – and You are anything but ordinary! Today help me to pour out Your grace and compassion upon others, that they too may experience the richness of Your love.’
UCB The Word For Today
by Bill Federer
The Boys Scouts of America was incorporated this day, February 8, 1910. It was founded two years prior in England by Sir Baden-Powell, a hero of the South African Boer Wars. His troops were besieged two hundred days by an overwhelming army, but due to his resourcefulness, his men survived. The Boy Scouts are now the largest voluntary youth movement in the world, with membership over 25 million. The Scout Oath states: “On my honor, I will do my best: To do my duty to God and my country… To help other people at all times. To keep myself physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight.”
Thomas R. Kelly
There is a degree of holy and complete obedience and of joyful self-renunciation and of sensitive listening that is breath-taking. Difference of degree passes over into utter difference of kind, when one tries to follow Him the second half. Jesus put this pointedly when He said, "Ye must be born again" (John 3: 3), and Paul knew it: "If any man is in Christ, he is a new creature" (2 Cor. 5: 17).
George Fox as a youth was religious enough to meet all earthly standards and was even proposed as a student 'for the ministry. But the insatiable God-hunger in him drove him from such mediocrity into a passionate quest for the real whole wheat Bread of Life. Sensible relatives told him to settle down and get married. Thinking him crazy, they took him to a doctor to have his blood let; the equivalent of being taken to a psychiatrist in these days, as are modern conscientious objectors to war in Belgium and France. Parents, if some of your children are seized with this imperative God-hunger, don't tell them to snap out of it and get a job, but carry them patiently in your love, or at least keep hands off and let the holy work of God proceed in their souls. Young people, you who have in you the stirrings of perfection, the sweet, sweet rapture of God Himself within you, be faithful to Him until the last lingering bit of self is surrendered and you are wholly God-possessed.
The life that intends to be wholly obedient, wholly submissive, wholly listening, is astonishing in its completeness. Its joys are ravishing, its peace profound, its humility the deepest, its power world-shaking, its love enveloping, its simplicity that of a trusting child. It is the life and power in which the prophets and apostles lived. It is the life and power of Jesus of Nazareth, who knew that "when thine eye is single thy whole body is full of light" (Luke II: 34). It is the life and power of the apostle Paul, who resolved not to know anything among men save Jesus Christ and Him crucified. It is the life and power of Saint Francis, that little poor man of God who came nearer to reliving the life of Jesus than has any other man on earth. It is the life and power of George Fox and of Isaac and Mary Penington. It is the life and power and utter obedience of John Woolman who decided, he says, "to place my whole trust in God," to "act on an inner Principle of Virtue, and pursue worldly business no farther than as Truth opened my way therein." It is the life and power of myriads of unknown saints through the ages. It is the life and power of some people now in this room who smile knowingly as I speak. And it is a life and power that can break forth in this tottering Western culture and return the Church to its rightful life as a fellowship of creative, heaven-led souls
A Testament of Devotion.
Compiled by Richard S. Adams
Whether we like it or not,
asking is the rule of the kingdom.
--- Charles Spurgeon
If you look for truth, you may find comfort in the end;
if you look for comfort you will not get either comfort or truth
only soft soap and wishful thinking to begin,
and in the end, despair.
--- C.S. Lewis
The great thing in prayer is to feel that we are putting our supplications into the bosom of omnipotent love.
--- Andrew Murray
Perfection is not a moral embellishment that we acquire outside of Christ, in order to qualify for union with him. Perfection is the work of Christ himself living in us by faith.
--- Thomas Merton
... from here, there and everywhere
by D.H. Stern
the first of his ancient works.
23 I was appointed before the world,
before the start, before the earth’s beginnings.
24 When I was brought forth, there were no ocean depths,
no springs brimming with water.
25 I was brought forth before the hills,
before the mountains had settled in place;
26 he had not yet made the earth, the fields,
or even the earth’s first grains of dust.
27 When he established the heavens, I was there.
When he drew the horizon’s circle on the deep,
28 when he set the skies above in place,
when the fountains of the deep poured forth,
29 when he prescribed boundaries for the sea,
so that its water would not transgress his command,
when he marked out the foundations of the earth,
30 I was with him as someone he could trust.
For me, every day was pure delight,
as I played in his presence all the time,
31 playing everywhere on his earth,
and delighting to be with humankind.
Complete Jewish Bible : An English Version of the Tanakh (Old Testament) and B'Rit Hadashah (New Testament)
A Daily Devotional by Oswald Chambers
Instantaneous and insistent sanctification
And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly. --- 1 Thess. 5:23–24.
When we pray to be sanctified, are we prepared to face the standard of these verses? We take the term sanctification much too lightly. Are we prepared for what sanctification will cost? It will cost an intense narrowing of all our interests on earth, and an immense broadening of all our interests in God. Sanctification means intense concentration on God’s point of view. It means every power of body, soul and spirit chained and kept for God’s purpose only. Are we prepared for God to do in us all that He separated us for? And then after His work is done in us, are we prepared to separate ourselves to God even as Jesus did? “For their sakes I sanctify Myself.” The reason some of us have not entered into the experience of sanctification is that we have not realized the meaning of sanctification from God’s standpoint. Sanctification means being made one with Jesus so that the disposition that ruled Him will rule us. Are we prepared for what that will cost? It will cost everything that is not of God in us.
Are we prepared to be caught up into the swing of this prayer of the apostle Paul’s? Are we prepared to say—‘Lord make me as holy as You can make a sinner saved by grace’? Jesus has prayed that we might be one with Him as He is one with the Father. The one and only characteristic of the Holy Ghost in a man is a strong family likeness to Jesus Christ, and freedom from everything that is unlike Him. Are we prepared to set ourselves apart for the Holy Spirit’s ministrations in us?
Tell God you are ready to be offered, and God will prove Himself to be all you ever dreamed He would be.
My Utmost for His Highest
the Poetry of R.S. Thomas
Between the closing of an eye
and its opening centuries
of bone cold, a millenium of them.
Beneath all that monumental
ice what art epochs, what religion?
Are those eye-lashes rigid
with tears of possible compassion,
icicles fringing the resigned lids?
The anthropomorphisms of time!
The lineaments he might have confessed
to are elsewhere. What has ubiquity
to do with form? Ah, planetary truth,
inexorable in teaching everything
that can be taught
but our mirrors their manners.
The Poems of R.S. Thomas
Thomas A Kempis
Book One / Thoughts Helpful In The Life Of The Soul
The Eighth Chapter / Shunning Over-Familiarity
DO NOT open your heart to every man, but discuss your affairs with one who is wise and who fears God. Do not keep company with young people and strangers. Do not fawn upon the rich, and do not be fond of mingling with the great. Associate with the humble and the simple, with the devout and virtuous, and with them speak of edifying things. Be not intimate with any woman, but generally commend all good women to God. Seek only the intimacy of God and of His angels, and avoid the notice of men.
We ought to have charity for all men but familiarity with all is not expedient. Sometimes it happens that a person enjoys a good reputation among those who do not know him, but at the same time is held in slight regard by those who do. Frequently we think we are pleasing others by our presence and we begin rather to displease them by the faults they find in us.
The Imitation Of Christ
So Why Egypt?
The story of Joseph does more than give us a portrait of a man of great faith and admirable character. It also marks a major turning point in the history of God’s chosen people. Israel moved from the Promised Land to the land of Egypt, where, after a time, Joseph was forgotten and the people enslaved.
Why was Egypt part of God’s plan for His people? In a Survey of Israel's History Leon Wood summarizes:
"Egypt was a country in which Jacob’s descendants would have to remain a separate people, for Jacob and his sons were shepherds, and shepherds were an abomination to the Egyptians (Gen. 43:32; 46:34). The fact would remain a natural barrier to intermarriage. In Canaan there had already been some intermarriage with the inhabitants and continued living there would have brought more. This could only have led to serious amalgamation with these Canaanites, rather than distinctiveness as a nation. Further, Egypt afforded excellent living conditions for the necessary rapid growth in numbers. The land of Goshen was fertile and regularly watered by the flooding Nile for adequate food supply."
We might also point out that Canaan, during the centuries that the Jews were in Egypt, was a highway for the armies of nations to the north and south. The Hebrews could hardly have grown in such numbers as they did in the protected environment of Egypt. In a very real sense, Egypt was a womb in which the seed of Israel grew and multiplied until in God’s own time a nation was born.
A glimpse of God’s purpose in bringing Israel into Egypt helps us to focus on the primary message of these Genesis chapters. Joseph himself summed it up as he reassured his brothers: “God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance. So then it was not you who sent me here, but God” (45:7–8). What is the message? God is a Person who is in control of circumstances, who works providentially to accomplish His good purposes.
It’s important that we grasp this truth about God as firmly as Joseph did. In Genesis we’ve seen God act in direct interventions. He created Adam and Eve. He set aside the orderly processes of nature to bring on earth a cataclysmic flood. He spoke to Abraham directly. He acted in a clearly supernatural way to overthrow Sodom and Gomorrah. But there is no record that God spoke directly to Joseph. Joseph had heard stories of the covenant from his father. Joseph had dreamed dreams. But God did not meet with Joseph or confront him.
There is no record of God acting to set aside natural processes on Joseph’s account. God blessed Joseph’s efforts in Potiphar’s house, in prison, and in his position as a ruler of Egypt. But it was through Joseph’s own honesty and efforts that the Lord worked. In the unfolding of circumstances, Joseph saw the hand of God. But certainly others would have seen only luck—both good and bad.
But Joseph’s view is the true one.
As we trace through the rest of the Old Testament, we’ll see that God does sometimes intervene directly. But in most cases God works through the ordering of circumstances: through the natural progress of events whose sequence nonetheless is patterned to shape history according to God’s plan and will.
It is important for us to see that this same will is active in our own circumstances. Each child of God is as important to Him as Joseph. Not because we have a task as great as Joseph’s, but because we are just as precious to the Lord. Thus we have that great New Testament affirmation of God’s control of circumstance for our benefit: “We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose” (Rom. 8:28). Even tragedies such as Joseph experienced are meant for good. True, they may not lead us to a place of blessing in some earthly Egypt. But one day we will find our place as kings and priests to reign with the triumphant Christ.
In that day the pattern of our individual lives will be seen, woven into the great tapestry of the overall plan of our God: a plan that has in sharp focus the preservation of human beings for a life that extends far beyond the short span allotted you and me on earth. A plan that involves, with eternity, the full restoration in our personalities of the purified image of our God.
[Moses] persevered because he saw him who is invisible. --- Hebrews 11:27.
To endure is to accept the uncontrollable. ( Highways of the Heart (Morrison Classic Sermon Series, The) ) It is to pass through difficult hours free from any embittering of spirit, for to grow bitter is always to be beaten. We say what can’t be cured must be endured, but that is hardly the endurance of the Scriptures. Paul and Silas in the prison at Philippi did not accept things in a joyless way. They were happy; they sang loudly. That is the endurance of the Scripture: acceptance with a note of triumph. Of that gracious and beautiful endurance the New Testament indicates three sources.
The first is faith. The apostle tells us to “take up the shield of faith” (Eph. 6:16). If we are to be guarded amid the blows and buffetings of life, there must be faith in the heart. If our darker hours have no meaning, if they are devoid of plan or purpose, if life is nothing but accident or chance, the highest a person can achieve is resignation. But if God is love, and if everything that comes to us arrives in the perfect ordering of the Father, then another frame of mind becomes possible. The person who believes that God is in the hard part is empowered to endure the hard part. Faith finds goodness in things evil.
Then, too, there is love, for love “always perseveres” (1 Cor. 13:7). Wherever there is love in the heart, there is the power to endure. God is patient, says Saint Augustine, because he is eternal. But there is a deeper source of his patience than eternity. He is patient because he loves. And our Lord empowers his children to endure by the new love he kindles in their hearts. He shows them that God is eminently lovable. He reveals the lovable element in people. He sends into their hearts his Spirit, and the fruit of the Spirit is love.
Lastly there is vision. Moses “persevered because he saw him who is invisible.” To see the invisible when skies are dark is to have power to win. Never was there endurance like the Master’s. It was radiant with peace and joy. It did not falter even in Gethsemane. It was equal to the agony of Calvary. And inspiring, animating, and sustaining it was the vision of his Father’s face. We too can practice that same presence. We can do it when life is very difficult. We can do it when the way is dark. We can do it when we cannot understand. And, doing it, we come to be so sure that underneath are the everlasting arms that endurance passes into joy.
--- George H. Morrison
Squalls and Stalls
Just when the apostle Paul intended a Spain-ward thrust of the gospel to evangelize Western Europe, he was detained in Jerusalem, then imprisoned two years in Caesarea. Finally appealing to the imperial court, he was hustled aboard ship for Rome. But a typhoon besieged the vessel; it sunk and Paul swam ashore — only to be bitten by a viper. Thus he found himself stranded on the island of Malta for three months.
But careful readers of Acts 27 and 28 are always impressed with Paul’s self-possession. He kept his head above water even when his ship was going down. He knew how to remain even-tempered, though all the elements of frustration were at hand. Paul’s missionary dreams were thwarted. He was imprisoned when he craved freedom and forced into inactivity when he desired action. He was eager to reach Rome, but the winds blew against him. He was a man of progress, making no headway. Wanting to redeem the time, he was beached on an obscure island.
He was stalled.
In due time the sea lanes reopened for the spring, and on February 8, 60, Paul boarded ship for the remainder of the trip to Rome. (The Book of Acts (New International Commentary on the New Testament) ) As for being frustrated, there’s no sign of it. Paul’s life and ministry were so entrusted to the Lord that he took everything that befell him, both squalls and stalls, as from God. Experience had taught him to trust in the Lord’s providence and to lean on the Lord’s promises. During the height of the earlier tempest, he had summarized his philosophy for the terrified sailors: I belong to God, and I worship him. … Cheer up! I am sure that God will do exactly what he promised (Acts 27:23-25).
It was not in due time — but in divine time — that Paul reached Rome. His nerves held steady in the storm. His spirit remained patient in delay.
He knew how to wait on his God.
Three months later we sailed in a ship that had been docked at Malta for the winter. … We arrived in Syracuse and stayed for three days. From there we sailed to Rhegium. The next day a south wind began to blow, and two days later we arrived in Puteoli. There we found some of the Lord’s followers, who begged us to stay with them. A week later we left for the city of Rome.
--- Acts 28:11-14.
On This Day 365 Amazing And Inspiring Stories About Saints, Martyrs And Heroes
Daily Readings / CHARLES H. SPURGEON
Morning - February 8
“Thou shalt call his name Jesus.” --- Matthew 1:21.
When a person is dear, everything connected with him becomes dear for his sake. Thus, so precious is the person of the Lord Jesus in the estimation of all true believers, that everything about him they consider to be inestimable beyond all price. “All thy garments smell of myrrh, and aloes, and cassia,” said David, as if the very vestments of the Saviour were so sweetened by his person that he could not but love them. Certain it is, that there is not a spot where that hallowed foot hath trodden—there is not a word which those blessed lips have uttered—nor a thought which his loving Word has revealed—which is not to us precious beyond all price. And this is true of the names of Christ—they are all sweet in the believer’s ear. Whether he be called the Husband of the Church, her Bridegroom, her Friend; whether he be styled the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world—the King, the Prophet, or the Priest—every title of our Master—Shiloh, Emmanuel, Wonderful, the Mighty Counsellor—every name is like the honeycomb dropping with honey, and luscious are the drops that distil from it. But if there be one name sweeter than another in the believer’s ear, it is the name of Jesus. Jesus! it is the name which moves the harps of heaven to melody. Jesus! the life of all our joys. If there be one name more charming, more precious than another, it is this name. It is woven into the very warp and woof of our psalmody. Many of our hymns begin with it, and scarcely any, that are good for anything, end without it. It is the sum total of all delights. It is the music with which the bells of heaven ring; a song in a word; an ocean for comprehension, although a drop for brevity; a matchless oratorio in two syllables; a gathering up of the hallelujahs of eternity in five letters.
“Jesus, I love thy charming name,
’Tis music to mine ear.”
Evening - February 8
“He shall save his people from their sins.” --- Matthew 1:21.
Many persons, if they are asked what they understand by salvation, will reply, “Being saved from hell and taken to heaven.” This is one result of salvation, but it is not one tithe of what is contained in that boon. It is true our Lord Jesus Christ does redeem all his people from the wrath to come; he saves them from the fearful condemnation which their sins had brought upon them; but his triumph is far more complete than this. He saves his people “from their sins.” Oh! sweet deliverance from our worst foes. Where Christ works a saving work, he casts Satan from his throne, and will not let him be master any longer. No man is a true Christian if sin reigns in his mortal body. Sin will be in us—it will never be utterly expelled till the spirit enters glory; but it will never have dominion. There will be a striving for dominion—a lusting against the new law and the new spirit which God has implanted—but sin will never get the upper hand so as to be absolute monarch of our nature. Christ will be Master of the heart, and sin must be mortified. The Lion of the tribe of Judah shall prevail, and the dragon shall be cast out. Professor! is sin subdued in you? If your life is unholy your heart is unchanged, and if your heart is unchanged you are an unsaved person. If the Saviour has not sanctified you, renewed you, given you a hatred of sin and a love of holiness, he has done nothing in you of a saving character. The grace which does not make a man better than others is a worthless counterfeit. Christ saves his people, not in their sins, but from them. “Without holiness no man shall see the Lord.” “Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.” If not saved from sin, how shall we hope to be counted among his people. Lord, save me now from all evil, and enable me to honour my Saviour.
Morning and Evening
O LOVE THAT WILT NOT LET ME GO
George Matheson, 1842–1902
I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving kindness. (Jeremiah 31:3)
The writing of this thoughtful and artistically constructed text is most remarkable! It was authored by an esteemed Scottish minister who was totally blind and who described the writing as the “fruit of much mental suffering.” Many conjectures have been made regarding the cause of the “mental suffering.” Fortunately, Dr. George Matheson did leave this account:
My hymn was composed in the manse of Innelan on the evening of the 6th of June, 1882, when I was 40 years of age. I was alone in the manse at that time. It was the night of my sister’s marriage, and the rest of the family were staying overnight in Glasgow. Something happened to me, which was known only to myself, and which caused me the most severe mental suffering. The hymn was the fruit of that suffering. It was the quickest bit of work I ever did in my life. I had the impression of having it dictated to me by some inward voice rather than of working it out myself. I am quite sure that the whole work was completed in five minutes, and equally sure that it never received at my hands any retouching or correction. I have no natural gift of rhythm. All the other verses I have ever written are manufactured articles; this came like a dayspring from on high.
A very popular account for the writing of this hymn, though never fully substantiated, claims that it was the result of the reminder at his sister’s wedding of the great disappointment that Matheson had experienced just before he was to have been married to his college fiancée. When told of his impending total blindness, she is said to have informed him, “I do not wish to be the wife of a blind preacher.”
It is very possible that the lingering memory of this rejection from an earthly lover prompted George Matheson to write this beautiful expression of an eternal love that will never be broken:
O Love that wilt not let me go, I rest my weary soul on Thee; I give Thee back the life I owe, that in Thine ocean depths its flow may richer, fuller be.
O Light that follow’st all my way, I yield my flick’ring torch to Thee; my heart restores its borrowed ray, that in Thy sunshine’s blaze its day may brighter, fairer be.
O Joy that seekest me thru pain, I cannot close my heart to Thee; I trace the rainbow thru the rain, and feel the promise is not vain that morn shall tearless be.
O Cross that liftest up my head, I dare not ask to fly from Thee; I lay in dust life’s glory dead, and from the ground there blossoms red life that shall endless be.
For Today: Romans 8:35–39; 1 John 3:1; Revelation 1:5, 6.
Rest securely in God’s eternal love, regardless of the human difficulty or suffering you may be experiencing. Allow this musical message to help you ---
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