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Genesis 30 - 31

Genesis 30

Genesis 30:1     When Rachel saw that she bore Jacob no children, she envied her sister. She said to Jacob, “Give me children, or I shall die!” 2 Jacob’s anger was kindled against Rachel, and he said, “Am I in the place of God, who has withheld from you the fruit of the womb?” 3 Then she said, “Here is my servant Bilhah; go in to her, so that she may give birth on my behalf, that even I may have children through her.” 4 So she gave him her servant Bilhah as a wife, and Jacob went in to her. 5 And Bilhah conceived and bore Jacob a son. 6 Then Rachel said, “God has judged me, and has also heard my voice and given me a son.” Therefore she called his name Dan. 7 Rachel’s servant Bilhah conceived again and bore Jacob a second son. 8 Then Rachel said, “With mighty wrestlings I have wrestled with my sister and have prevailed.” So she called his name Naphtali.

9 When Leah saw that she had ceased bearing children, she took her servant Zilpah and gave her to Jacob as a wife. 10 Then Leah’s servant Zilpah bore Jacob a son. 11 And Leah said, “Good fortune has come!” so she called his name Gad. 12 Leah’s servant Zilpah bore Jacob a second son. 13 And Leah said, “Happy am I! For women have called me happy.” So she called his name Asher.

14 In the days of wheat harvest Reuben went and found mandrakes in the field and brought them to his mother Leah. Then Rachel said to Leah, “Please give me some of your son’s mandrakes.” 15 But she said to her, “Is it a small matter that you have taken away my husband? Would you take away my son’s mandrakes also?” Rachel said, “Then he may lie with you tonight in exchange for your son’s mandrakes.” 16 When Jacob came from the field in the evening, Leah went out to meet him and said, “You must come in to me, for I have hired you with my son’s mandrakes.” So he lay with her that night. 17 And God listened to Leah, and she conceived and bore Jacob a fifth son. 18 Leah said, “God has given me my wages because I gave my servant to my husband.” So she called his name Issachar.

19 And Leah conceived again, and she bore Jacob a sixth son. 20 Then Leah said, “God has endowed me with a good endowment; now my husband will honor me, because I have borne him six sons.” So she called his name Zebulun. 21 Afterward she bore a daughter and called her name Dinah.

22 Then God remembered Rachel, and God listened to her and opened her womb. 23 She conceived and bore a son and said, “God has taken away my reproach.” 24 And she called his name Joseph, saying, “May the LORD add to me another son!”

Jacob’s Prosperity

25 As soon as Rachel had borne Joseph, Jacob said to Laban, “Send me away, that I may go to my own home and country. 26 Give me my wives and my children for whom I have served you, that I may go, for you know the service that I have given you.” 27 But Laban said to him, “If I have found favor in your sight, I have learned by divination that the LORD has blessed me because of you. 28 Name your wages, and I will give it.” 29 Jacob said to him, “You yourself know how I have served you, and how your livestock has fared with me. 30 For you had little before I came, and it has increased abundantly, and the LORD has blessed you wherever I turned. But now when shall I provide for my own household also?” 31 He said, “What shall I give you?” Jacob said, “You shall not give me anything. If you will do this for me, I will again pasture your flock and keep it: 32 let me pass through all your flock today, removing from it every speckled and spotted sheep and every black lamb, and the spotted and speckled among the goats, and they shall be my wages. 33 So my honesty will answer for me later, when you come to look into my wages with you. Every one that is not speckled and spotted among the goats and black among the lambs, if found with me, shall be counted stolen.” 34 Laban said, “Good! Let it be as you have said.” 35 But that day Laban removed the male goats that were striped and spotted, and all the female goats that were speckled and spotted, every one that had white on it, and every lamb that was black, and put them in the charge of his sons. 36 And he set a distance of three days’ journey between himself and Jacob, and Jacob pastured the rest of Laban’s flock.

37 Then Jacob took fresh sticks of poplar and almond and plane trees, and peeled white streaks in them, exposing the white of the sticks. 38 He set the sticks that he had peeled in front of the flocks in the troughs, that is, the watering places, where the flocks came to drink. And since they bred when they came to drink, 39 the flocks bred in front of the sticks and so the flocks brought forth striped, speckled, and spotted. 40 And Jacob separated the lambs and set the faces of the flocks toward the striped and all the black in the flock of Laban. He put his own droves apart and did not put them with Laban’s flock. 41 Whenever the stronger of the flock were breeding, Jacob would lay the sticks in the troughs before the eyes of the flock, that they might breed among the sticks, 42 but for the feebler of the flock he would not lay them there. So the feebler would be Laban’s, and the stronger Jacob’s. 43 Thus the man increased greatly and had large flocks, female servants and male servants, and camels and donkeys.

Genesis 31

Jacob Flees from Laban

Genesis 31:1     Now Jacob heard that the sons of Laban were saying, “Jacob has taken all that was our father’s, and from what was our father’s he has gained all this wealth.” 2 And Jacob saw that Laban did not regard him with favor as before. 3 Then the LORD said to Jacob, “Return to the land of your fathers and to your kindred, and I will be with you.”

4 So Jacob sent and called Rachel and Leah into the field where his flock was 5 and said to them, “I see that your father does not regard me with favor as he did before. But the God of my father has been with me. 6 You know that I have served your father with all my strength, 7 yet your father has cheated me and changed my wages ten times. But God did not permit him to harm me. 8 If he said, ‘The spotted shall be your wages,’ then all the flock bore spotted; and if he said, ‘The striped shall be your wages,’ then all the flock bore striped. 9 Thus God has taken away the livestock of your father and given them to me. 10 In the breeding season of the flock I lifted up my eyes and saw in a dream that the goats that mated with the flock were striped, spotted, and mottled. 11 Then the angel of God said to me in the dream, ‘Jacob,’ and I said, ‘Here I am!’ 12 And he said, ‘Lift up your eyes and see, all the goats that mate with the flock are striped, spotted, and mottled, for I have seen all that Laban is doing to you. 13 I am the God of Bethel, where you anointed a pillar and made a vow to me. Now arise, go out from this land and return to the land of your kindred.’ ” 14 Then Rachel and Leah answered and said to him, “Is there any portion or inheritance left to us in our father’s house? 15 Are we not regarded by him as foreigners? For he has sold us, and he has indeed devoured our money. 16 All the wealth that God has taken away from our father belongs to us and to our children. Now then, whatever God has said to you, do.”

17 So Jacob arose and set his sons and his wives on camels. 18 He drove away all his livestock, all his property that he had gained, the livestock in his possession that he had acquired in Paddan-aram, to go to the land of Canaan to his father Isaac. 19 Laban had gone to shear his sheep, and Rachel stole her father’s household gods. 20 And Jacob tricked Laban the Aramean, by not telling him that he intended to flee. 21 He fled with all that he had and arose and crossed the Euphrates, and set his face toward the hill country of Gilead.

22 When it was told Laban on the third day that Jacob had fled, 23 he took his kinsmen with him and pursued him for seven days and followed close after him into the hill country of Gilead. 24 But God came to Laban the Aramean in a dream by night and said to him, “Be careful not to say anything to Jacob, either good or bad.”

25 And Laban overtook Jacob. Now Jacob had pitched his tent in the hill country, and Laban with his kinsmen pitched tents in the hill country of Gilead. 26 And Laban said to Jacob, “What have you done, that you have tricked me and driven away my daughters like captives of the sword? 27 Why did you flee secretly and trick me, and did not tell me, so that I might have sent you away with mirth and songs, with tambourine and lyre? 28 And why did you not permit me to kiss my sons and my daughters farewell? Now you have done foolishly. 29 It is in my power to do you harm. But the God of your father spoke to me last night, saying, ‘Be careful not to say anything to Jacob, either good or bad.’ 30 And now you have gone away because you longed greatly for your father’s house, but why did you steal my gods?” 31 Jacob answered and said to Laban, “Because I was afraid, for I thought that you would take your daughters from me by force. 32 Anyone with whom you find your gods shall not live. In the presence of our kinsmen point out what I have that is yours, and take it.” Now Jacob did not know that Rachel had stolen them.

33 So Laban went into Jacob’s tent and into Leah’s tent and into the tent of the two female servants, but he did not find them. And he went out of Leah’s tent and entered Rachel’s. 34 Now Rachel had taken the household gods and put them in the camel’s saddle and sat on them. Laban felt all about the tent, but did not find them. 35 And she said to her father, “Let not my lord be angry that I cannot rise before you, for the way of women is upon me.” So he searched but did not find the household gods.

36 Then Jacob became angry and berated Laban. Jacob said to Laban, “What is my offense? What is my sin, that you have hotly pursued me? 37 For you have felt through all my goods; what have you found of all your household goods? Set it here before my kinsmen and your kinsmen, that they may decide between us two. 38 These twenty years I have been with you. Your ewes and your female goats have not miscarried, and I have not eaten the rams of your flocks. 39 What was torn by wild beasts I did not bring to you. I bore the loss of it myself. From my hand you required it, whether stolen by day or stolen by night. 40 There I was: by day the heat consumed me, and the cold by night, and my sleep fled from my eyes. 41 These twenty years I have been in your house. I served you fourteen years for your two daughters, and six years for your flock, and you have changed my wages ten times. 42 If the God of my father, the God of Abraham and the Fear of Isaac, had not been on my side, surely now you would have sent me away empty-handed. God saw my affliction and the labor of my hands and rebuked you last night.”

43 Then Laban answered and said to Jacob, “The daughters are my daughters, the children are my children, the flocks are my flocks, and all that you see is mine. But what can I do this day for these my daughters or for their children whom they have borne? 44 Come now, let us make a covenant, you and I. And let it be a witness between you and me.” 45 So Jacob took a stone and set it up as a pillar. 46 And Jacob said to his kinsmen, “Gather stones.” And they took stones and made a heap, and they ate there by the heap. 47 Laban called it Jegar-sahadutha, but Jacob called it Galeed. 48 Laban said, “This heap is a witness between you and me today.” Therefore he named it Galeed, 49 and Mizpah, for he said, “The LORD watch between you and me, when we are out of one another’s sight. 50 If you oppress my daughters, or if you take wives besides my daughters, although no one is with us, see, God is witness between you and me.”

51 Then Laban said to Jacob, “See this heap and the pillar, which I have set between you and me. 52 This heap is a witness, and the pillar is a witness, that I will not pass over this heap to you, and you will not pass over this heap and this pillar to me, to do harm. 53 The God of Abraham and the God of Nahor, the God of their father, judge between us.” So Jacob swore by the Fear of his father Isaac, 54 and Jacob offered a sacrifice in the hill country and called his kinsmen to eat bread. They ate bread and spent the night in the hill country.

55  Early in the morning Laban arose and kissed his grandchildren and his daughters and blessed them. Then Laban departed and returned home.

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No We Are Not All God’s Children

By Bill Muehlenberg 1/13/2016

     One of the clearest teachings of Scripture running from Genesis to Revelation is that there are two classes of humanity: those who belong to God and those who do not; those who will live with him forever and those who will not.

     This simple yet basic truth is taught everywhere in the Bible, yet far too many people seem totally oblivious to this – and I refer here to so-called believers, not just non-Christians. Not only have I had biblically illiterate believers chew me out for suggesting that there are two humanities, but almost every day we have someone claiming that we are all God’s children.

     There are of course countless examples of this, so no need to pick on any one individual here. But the most recent and most publicised example of this occurred a few days ago, and is worth using as yet another instance of how not to think on this topic. I refer to the remarks of Pope Francis on this in a video he just released. As one Catholic site reports:

     The Pope’s first video message on his monthly prayer intentions was released Tuesday, highlighting the importance of interreligious dialogue and the beliefs different faith traditions hold in common, such as the figure of God and love.

     “Many think differently, feel differently, seeking God or meeting God in different ways. In this crowd, in this range of religions, there is only one certainty that we have for all: We are all children of God,” Pope Francis said in his message, released Jan. 6, the feast of the Epiphany. At the beginning of the video, a minute-and-a-half long, the Pope cites the fact that the majority of the earth’s inhabitants profess some sort of religious belief. This, he said, “should lead to a dialogue among religions. We should not stop praying for it and collaborating with those who think differently.”

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Per Amazon | Bill Muehlenberg is author of 'In Defence of the Family' and hundreds of articles and book reviews. He is Secretary of the Family Council of Victoria, and part-time lecturer in philosophy, theology, and ethics at several theological colleges.He is a frequent media commentator, with articles and comment in many of Australia s leading newspapers and journals, and has appeared on most major television and radio current affairs shows and news programs. Previously, he was National Vice President of the Australian Family Association, and National Research Coordinator at Focus on the Family. He has a BA with honours in philosophy (Wheaton College, Chicago), an MA with highest honours in theology (Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, Boston). He is currently completing a PhD in theology. Originally from America, he now lives in Melbourne, Australia. Bill is married, with three sons.

Bill Muehlenberg Books:

The Institutes of the Christian Religion

Translated by Henry Beveridge

     CHAPTER 5.


Objections reduced to three principal heads:--I. Four absurdities advanced by the opponents of the orthodox doctrine concerning the slavery of the will, stated and refuted, sec. 1-5. II. The passages of Scripture which they pervert in favour of their error, reduced to five heads, and explained, sec. 6-15. III. Five other passages quoted in defence of free will expounded, sec. 16-19.


1. Absurd fictions of opponents first refuted, and then certain passages of Scripture explained. Answer by a negative. Confirmation of the answer.

2. Another absurdity of Aristotle and Pelagius. Answer by a distinction. Answer fortified by passages from Augustine, and supported by the authority of an Apostle.

3. Third absurdity borrowed from the words of Chrysostom. Answer by a negative.

4. Fourth absurdity urged of old by the Pelagians. Answer from the works of Augustine. Illustrated by the testimony of our Saviour. Another answer, which explains the use of exhortations.

5. A third answer, which contains a fuller explanation of the second. Objection to the previous answers. Objection refuted. Summary of the previous answers.

6. First class of arguments which the Neo-Pelagians draw from Scripture in defence of free will. 1. The Law demands perfect obedience and therefore God either mocks us, or requires things which are not in our power. Answer by distinguishing precepts into three sorts. The first of these considered in this and the following section.

7. This general argument from the Law of no avail to the patrons of free will. Promises conjoined with precepts, prove that our sal vation is to be found in the grace of God. Objection, that the Law was given to the persons living at the time. Answer, confirmed by passages from Augustine.

8. A special consideration of the three classes of precepts of no avail to the defenders of free will. 1. Precepts enjoining us to turn to God. 2. Precepts which simply speak of the observance of the Law. 3. Precepts which enjoin us to persevere in the grace of God.

9. Objection. Answer. Confirmation of the answer from Jeremiah. Another objection refuted.

10. A second class of arguments in defence of free will drawn from the promises of God--viz. that the promises which God makes to those who seek him are vain if it is not in our power to do, or not do, the thing required. Answer, which explains the use of promises, and removes the supposed inconsistency.

11. Third class of arguments drawn from the divine upbraidings,--that it is in vain to upbraid us for evils which it is not in our power to avoid. Answer. Sinners are condemned by their own consciences, and, therefore, the divine upbraidings are just. Moreover, there is a twofold use in these upbraidings. Various passages of Scripture explained by means of the foregoing answers.

12. Objection founded on the words of Moses. Refutation by the words of an Apostle. Confirmation by argument.

13. Fourth class of arguments by the defenders of free will. God waits to see whether or not sinners will repent; therefore they can repent. Answer by a dilemma. Passage in Hosea explained.

14. Fifth class of arguments in defence of free will. God and bad works described as our own, and therefore we are capable of both. Answer by an exposition, which shows that this argument is unavailing. Objection drawn from analogy. Answer. The nature and mode of divine agency in the elect.

15. Conclusion of the answer to the last class of arguments.

16. Third and last division of the chapter discussing certain passages of Scripture. 1. A passage from Genesis. Its true meaning explained.

17. 2. Passage from the Epistle to the Romans. Explanation. Refutation of an objection. Another refutation. A third refutation from Augustine. 3. A passage from First Corinthians. Answer to it.

18. 4. A passage from Ecclesiastes. Explanation. Another explanation.

19. 5. A passage from Luke. Explanation. Allegorical arguments weak. Another explanation. A third explanation. A fourth from Augustine. Conclusion and summary of the whole discussion concerning free will.

1. Enough would seem to have been said on the subject of man's will, were there not some who endeavour to urge him to his ruin by a false opinion of liberty, and at the same time, in order to support their own opinion, assail ours. First, they gather together some absurd inferences, by which they endeavour to bring odium upon our doctrine, as if it were abhorrent to common sense, and then they oppose it with certain passages of Scripture (infra, sec. 6). Both devices we shall dispose of in their order. If sin, say they, is necessary, it ceases to be sin; if it is voluntary, it may be avoided. Such, too, were the weapons with which Pelagius assailed Augustine. But we are unwilling to crush them by the weight of his name, until we have satisfactorily disposed of the objections themselves. I deny, therefore, that sin ought to be the less imputed because it is necessary; and, on the other hand, I deny the inference, that sin may be avoided because it is voluntary. If any one will dispute with God, and endeavour to evade his judgment, by pretending that he could not have done otherwise, the answer already given is sufficient, that it is owing not to creation, but the corruption of nature, that man has become the slave of sin, and can will nothing but evil. For whence that impotence of which the wicked so readily avail themselves as an excuse, but just because Adam voluntarily subjected himself to the tyranny of the devil? Hence the corruption by which we are held bound as with chains, originated in the first man's revolt from his Maker. If all men are justly held guilty of this revolt, let them not think themselves excused by a necessity in which they see the clearest cause of their condemnation. But this I have fully explained above; and in the case of the devil himself, have given an example of one who sins not less voluntarily that he sins necessarily. I have also shown, in the case of the elect angels, that though their will cannot decline from good, it does not therefore cease to be will. This Bernard shrewdly explains when he says (Serm. 81, in Cantica), that we are the more miserable in this, that the necessity is voluntary; and yet this necessity so binds us who are subject to it, that we are the slaves of sin, as we have already observed. The second step in the reasoning is vicious, because it leaps from voluntary to free; whereas we have proved above, that a thing may be done voluntarily, though not subject to free choice.

2. They add, that unless virtue and vice proceed from free choice, it is absurd either to punish man or reward him. Although this argument is taken from Aristotle, I admit that it is also used by Chrysostom and Jerome. Jerome, however, does not disguise that it was familiar to the Pelagians. He even quotes their words, "If grace acts in us, grace, and not we who do the work, will be crowned," (Hieron. in Ep. ad Ctesiphont. et Dialog. 1) With regard to punishment, I answer, that it is properly inflicted on those by whom the guilt is contracted. What matters it whether you sin with a free or an enslaved judgment, so long as you sin voluntarily, especially when man is proved to be a sinner because he is under the bondage of sin? In regard to the rewards of righteousness, is there any great absurdity in acknowledging that they depend on the kindness of God rather than our own merits? How often do we meet in Augustine with this expression,--"God crowns not our merits but his own gifts; and the name of reward is given not to what is due to our merits, but to the recompense of grace previously bestowed?" Some seem to think there is acuteness in the remark, that there is no place at all for the mind, if good works do not spring from free will as their proper source; but in thinking this so very unreasonable they are widely mistaken. Augustine does not hesitate uniformly to describe as necessary the very thing which they count it impious to acknowledge. Thus he asks, "What is human merit? He who came to bestow not due recompense but free grace, though himself free from sin, and the giver of freedom, found all men sinners," (Augustin. in Psal. 31). Again, "If you are to receive your due, you must be punished. What then is done? God has not rendered you due punishment, but bestows upon you unmerited grace. If you wish to be an alien from grace, boast your merits," (in Psal. 70). Again, "You are nothing in yourself, sin is yours, merit God's. Punishment is your due; and when the reward shall come, God shall crown his own gifts, not your merits," (Ep. 52). To the same effect he elsewhere says (De Verb. Apostol. Serm. 15), that grace is not of merit, but merit of grace. And shortly after he concludes, that God by his gifts anticipates all our merit, that he may thereby manifest his own merit, and give what is absolutely free, because he sees nothing in us that can be a ground of salvation. But why extend the list of quotations, when similar sentiments are ever and anon recurring in his works? The abettors of this error would see a still better refutation of it, if they would attend to the source from which the apostle derives the glory of the saints,--"Moreover, whom he did predestinate, them he also called; and whom he called, them he also justified; and whom he justified, them he also glorified," (Rom. 8:30). On what ground, then, the apostle being judge (2 Tim. 4:8), are believers crowned? Because by the mercy of God, not their own exertions, they are predestinated, called, and justified. Away, then, with the vain fear, that unless free will stand, there will no longer be any merit! It is most foolish to take alarm, and recoil from that which Scripture inculcates. "If thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory as if thou hadst not received it?" (1 Cor. 4:7). You see how every thing is denied to free will, for the very purpose of leaving no room for merit. And yet, as the beneficence and liberality of God are manifold and inexhaustible, the grace which he bestows upon us, inasmuch as he makes it our own, he recompenses as if the virtuous acts were our own.

3. But it is added, in terms which seem to be borrowed from Chrysostom (Homil. 22, in Genes.), that if our will possesses not the power of choosing good or evil, all who are partakers of the same nature must be alike good or alike bad. A sentiment akin to this occurs in the work De Vocatione Gentium (lib. 4 c. 4), usually attributed to Ambrose, in which it is argued, that no one would ever decline from faith, did not the grace of God leave us in a mutable state. It is strange that such men should have so blundered. How did it fail to occur to Chrysostom, that it is divine election which distinguishes among men? We have not the least hesitation to admit what Paul strenuously maintains, that all, without exception, are depraved and given over to wickedness; but at the same time we add, that through the mercy of God all do not continue in wickedness. Therefore, while we all labour naturally under the same disease, those only recover health to whom the Lord is pleased to put forth his healing hand. The others whom, in just judgment, he passes over, pine and rot away till they are consumed. And this is the only reason why some persevere to the end, and others, after beginning their course, fall away. Perseverance is the gift of God, which he does not lavish promiscuously on all, but imparts to whom he pleases. If it is asked how the difference arises--why some steadily persevere, and others prove deficient in steadfastness, we can give no other reason than that the Lord, by his mighty power, strengthens and sustains the former, so that they perish not, while he does not furnish the same assistance to the latter, but leaves them to be monuments of instability.

     Christian Classics Ethereal Library / Public Domain

     Institutes of the Christian Religion

Is Anyone More Holy Than Anyone Else? The Missing Category of the ‘Righteous Man’

By Michael J. Kruger 4/17/2012

     “No one is more holy than anyone else.” That was the statement I heard in a recent sermon. At first, I thought I must have misheard it. But, I had not. The point being made to the congregation was clear: abandon your ‘self-righteousness’ and recognize that you are no holier than the person in the pew next to you.

     Now, statements like that sound compelling at first. Humble, even. After all, we are trained to go after those Pharisees among us (usually defined as anyone who appears to be holier than we are!). Moreover, we have the reformed doctrine of total depravity entrenched in our minds, reminding us that our hearts are wicked beyond what we can imagine. And, above all this, surely Christ is most glorified when we acknowledge that no one is more holy than anyone else. Right?

     Well, not really. Although the Bible certainly condemns self-righteousness, and while we are certainly much more sinful than we ever could realize, there is something missing here. What is missing — ironically in many reformed circles — is the clear biblical category of the “righteous man.” Noah is described this way in Gen 6:9: “Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his generation. Noah walked with God.” Joseph of Arimathea was described this way in Luke 23:50: “Now there was a man named Joseph, from the Jewish town of Arimathea. He was a member of the council, a good and righteous man.” Zechariah and Elizabeth were described this way: “And they were both righteous before God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and statutes of the Lord” (Luke 1:6). And there are countless passages throughout Scripture that contrast the “righteous” with the “wicked” (e.g., Ps 1:5-6; 32:1-2; 37:16-17; 75:10).

(Ps 1:5–6) Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous;
6  for the LORD knows the way of the righteous,
but the way of the wicked will perish.

(Ps 32:1–2) Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven,
whose sin is covered.
2  Blessed is the man against whom the LORD counts no iniquity,
and in whose spirit there is no deceit.

(Ps 37:16–17) Better is the little that the righteous has
than the abundance of many wicked.
17  For the arms of the wicked shall be broken,
but the LORD upholds the righteous.

(Ps 75:10) All the horns of the wicked I will cut off,
but the horns of the righteous shall be lifted up.

     So, what exactly is a “righteous” person? Surely we cannot suggest that all these passages are simply referring to the imputed righteousness of Christ (as important as that is). No, it appears the Bible uses this category of the “righteous man” for believers who display a marked consistency and faithfulness in walking with God. Of course, this doesn’t mean these people are perfect, sinless, or able to merit their own salvation. It simply means that the Spirit is at work in such a way that they bear steady fruit in their lives.

     If so, then it is simply untrue to say “no one is more holy than anyone else.” Not everyone is equally sanctified. Some are farther along than others by God’s wonderful grace. Now, I am sure the pastor that I heard would agree with that. Giving him the benefit of the doubt, I am sure he was only trying to say that when it comes to our justification no one is able to stand on their own righteousness: all are desperately in need of grace. No doubt, in his zeal to make this very good biblical point, he stepped too far and declared that “no one is more holy than anyone else.”

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     Michael J. Kruger, President and Samuel C. Patterson Professor of New Testament and Early Christianity at Reformed Theological Seminary, Charlotte, NC.  For more on my background and research interests, see here. Michael J. Kruger Books

Canon Revisited: Establishing the Origins and Authority of the New Testament Books
The Question of Canon: Challenging the Status Quo in the New Testament Debate
A Biblical-Theological Introduction to the New Testament: The Gospel Realized
The Heresy of Orthodoxy: How Contemporary Culture's Fascination with Diversity Has Reshaped Our Understanding of Early Christianity
The Early Text of the New Testament

Self-Worth, Ministry, and Misery-1

By Clay Jones 1/9/2017

     Most people get their self-worth from their vocations and this is no less true for those in Christian ministry. Most Christians in ministry—whether apologetics or other Christian ministry—want to become renowned, or at least more well-known, more respected than they are. We see other renowned ministers and we wish we could have the renown they have and we strive to get it because we base our self-worth on our ministry success. Many of us Christians realize that we will never be Tim Keller, William Lane Craig, or [fill in the blank of your favorite minister or apologist] _____________, but we are trying to get as close to famous as we possibly can.

     Obviously this temptation is greater for full-time ministers but this temptation also occurs when people vie to be the most respected Sunday school teacher in their church, or the best worship leader, etc.

     Some of us in ministry may never have consciously realized that this is what we are doing. All we know is that we lust to be more renowned, more respected. The majority of Christians in public ministry struggle with this because it is so easy to base self-worth on ministry success. And this is disastrously destructive to disciples of Jesus.

     The reason this is destructive to discipleship is that basing our self-worth on ministry success fosters selfish ambition, jealousy, and every kind of lust. As we read in James 3:16: “For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice.” We should not be surprised, then, that so many famous and not so famous ministers supernova in a sex scandal. Lust is lust.

     In the last couple of years I’ve had some candid conversations with famous apologists about self-worth and ministry and they’ve confessed that they struggle not to base their self-worth on their ministry success.

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     Clay Jones is assistant professor in the Master of Arts in Christian Apologetics program at Biola University and specializes in issues related to why God allows evil.

Read The Psalms In "1" Year

Psalm 6

O LORD, Deliver My Life
6 To The Choirmaster: With Stringed Iinstruments; Accoring To The Sheminith. A Psalm Of David.

6 I am weary with my moaning;
every night I flood my bed with tears;
I drench my couch with my weeping.
7 My eye wastes away because of grief;
it grows weak because of all my foes.

8 Depart from me, all you workers of evil,
for the LORD has heard the sound of my weeping.
9 The LORD has heard my plea;
the LORD accepts my prayer.
10 All my enemies shall be ashamed and greatly troubled;
they shall turn back and be put to shame in a moment.

ESV Reformation Study

Self-Worth, Ministry, and Misery—2

By Clay Jones 1/10/2017

     I ended yesterday’s post telling about my ministerial jealousy and how I became very tired.

     In fact, I got so tired that I would wake up, have breakfast, and take a nap. Then I’d wake up, have lunch, and take a nap. Then I’d wake up, have dinner, and take a nap. And so on. I decided to self-diagnose “extreme tiredness” and the first thing I stumbled upon was leukemia and now I had another thing to worry about.

     Finally I went to the doctor and he ran some tests and told me that I was hypoglycemic. He told me to eat only protein and to start exercising hard on a daily basis. This did help but only so much. Even so, I really did want to please the Lord and I was reading my Bible daily. I even apologized to a youth guy for being jealous of him!

     But I was still a bitter, tired, frustrated mess, and I did so poorly in school that semester that I got put on academic probation even though I dropped everything but one class!

     Then one evening I was in a pool playing Marco Polo with some high school students and, while underwater, I suddenly felt a sharp twang in my left shoulder. Two thoughts occurred almost simultaneously: “I’ve just dislocated my shoulder” and “Do not be a mule without understanding!” (Psalm 32:9). That later thought struck me harder than the former.

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     Clay Jones is assistant professor in the Master of Arts in Christian Apologetics program at Biola University and specializes in issues related to why God allows evil.

Self-Worth, Ministry, and Misery—3

By Clay Jones 1/11/2017

     In my prior post I talked about how the Lord humbled me and I quit my ministry position. Well, when I was just finishing up my M.Div. (this was 1980), I was hired as an associate pastor by a church which soon had an average attendance of about 5,000. But I didn’t say “Check!” this time. I had learned that I must not climb the ministerial fame latter, that I needed to please the Lord.

     I began to dread communion services at that church because it seemed like every time we had communion some guy would come up and confess the sin of hating me for my getting the position he wanted! I’m not kidding. A senior pastor later half-kidded that when he brought me on staff “half the guys in the church just about lost their salvation.”

     Thankfully, during my time there, the Lord began to reveal to me the glory that awaits us in heaven for ever. What we all need is to learn to lust after God and His Kingdom. After all, I know something about you (and by that I mean everyone in the world including those reading these words): we are all going to lust after something and we’re either going to lust after God and His Kingdom or we’re going to lust after people, possessions, positions, or pleasures. But no matter what, we are going to lust. I’ve posted on this.

     My position in the church of 5,000 only lasted about three-and-one-half years (we were going in different theological directions), and I was again out of ministry and a job.

     I decided I was going to start a church but that didn’t materialize and I spent years working in the insurance industry and teaching a Bible study to only about ten people (the Lord loves His servants enduring long periods of obscurity but that’s a topic for another time). Now I wish I could tell you that from then on I built my identity only on who I was in Christ. I was doing much, much better but it’s still a struggle. Thankfully, I’ve learned some major truths that have helped immensely (the Lord also beat the crud out of me through many trials like bone cancer but that’s also a topic for another time).

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     Clay Jones is assistant professor in the Master of Arts in Christian Apologetics program at Biola University and specializes in issues related to why God allows evil.

By John F. Walvoord

Prophecy In Numbers | Prophecy at Kadesh Barnea

      Numbers 14:20–34. The people of Israel failed to follow the Lord or to trust that He would lead them into the Promised Land. The Lord predicted that none of the adult population of men who left Egypt, except for Caleb and Joshua, would be allowed to enter the Promised Land. This was fulfilled in history ( 26:63–65 ). God also predicted that the children whom they said would be taken as plunder would be the ones who would conquer the Promised Land.

      Numbers 21:8–9. The serpent that was made of bronze and elevated on a pole is a type of Christ crucified ( John 3:14–15 ).

The Prophecies of Balaam

      Numbers 22:1–24:25. Balak, who was king of Moab, attempted to hire Balaam, a prophet, to curse Israel. Balaam was induced to attempt to prophesy curses on Israel. He was kept from doing so and, instead, prophesied blessing upon them as recorded in  23:7–10; 23:18–24; 24:3–9, 15–19, 20–24. This prophetic utterance describes the greatness of Israel, her power as a nation, the blessing of God upon her land, and the prediction that she would conquer the Moabites. This was fulfilled in history.

The Prophetic Command of God to Drive Out the Inhabitants of the Land

      Numbers 33:51–66. God directed Israel to drive out the inhabitants of the land and prophesied that those they allowed to remain “will become barbs in your eyes and thorns in your sides. They will give you trouble in the land where you will live. And then I will do to you what I plan to do to them” (vv.  55–56; cf.  25:1–3; Josh. 9:1–26; 13:2–7; Judg. 1:21, 28–36; 2:11–23 ).

Every Prophecy of the Bible: Clear Explanations for Uncertain Times

Self-Worth, Ministry, and Misery—4

By Clay Jones 1/16/2017

     In my last post I said there were three reasons we can’t know who will be greatest in God’s Kingdom. The first is because God judges the heart and we’re no good at that. 1 Corinthians 4:1-5:

(1 Co 4:1–5) This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. 2 Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found faithful. 3 But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by any human court. In fact, I do not even judge myself. 4 For I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me. 5 Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive his commendation from God. ESV

     Notice our motives for what we did will be exposed. Also, notice we are not to judge other people’s motives (many Christians commit this sin). Paul even says that he doesn’t even judge himself. You see, God judges the heart and in the Lord’s considered opinion your motive for doing what you do can be more important than what you do. Remember 1 Corinthians 13:1-3:

(1 Co 13:1–3) If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. ESV

     Doesn’t this passage tell us that we can deliver the best sermons, teach the best apologetics lectures, or write the most respected books but if we don’t do it from love, then from God’s perspective, we “gain nothing”? That is what it says, right?

     There are, after all, a lot of outward rewards for doing well in public ministry. There can be fame, respect, travel, and honorariums. That’s a lot of worldly stuff and we are naturally attracted to that stuff. This can motivate Christians to seek public ministry and then to work very hard to make their ministries ever bigger. It can also lead to a lot of worldly pride: “I have more respected degrees from better schools, teach bigger crowds, write more books, have more Twitter followers than he/she does.”

     When we build our self-worth on our ministry success slights are hard. When I was at Simon Greenleaf University a 30 something prof came into my office and ranted on about how Talbot should have hired him for a theology post. He said he was eminently more qualified than the person they hired. When he left my office I thought he just might be academically more qualified but the Lord tends to resist those who vaunt themselves.

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     Clay Jones is assistant professor in the Master of Arts in Christian Apologetics program at Biola University and specializes in issues related to why God allows evil.

Self-Worth, Ministry, and Misery—5

By Clay Jones 1/17/2017

     In yesterday’s post I gave the first reason we can’t know who will be greatest in God’s Kingdom. The second reason we can’t know who will be greatest in God’s Kingdom is because we all have different gifting. Here’s one of the biggest ministry follies: we think that the one that speaks to the most people or sells the most books must be the greatest. That’s not God’s system! That’s the fool’s gold standard of what’s spiritually valuable.

     Boasting about the number of books published or accolades received is inherently worldly (the joke at pastor’s conferences is that the first question asked is “how many people attend your church?”). Basing our self-worth on numbers is no more spiritual than thinking someone is great because they are the CEO of a Fortune 500. Of course, by that logic, the CEO of the biggest Fortune 500 is greater than the CEO of the second largest, and so on. Similarly, the guy who teaches 30 people in his Sunday school class is by that standard more valuable than the guy who teaches 25.

     The Lord doesn’t judge our performance as if we were all on a single ladder with Tim Keller, William Lane Craig, or ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­_____________ on the highest rungs, then other leaders on rungs lower than them but higher than us, based on their audience size (or whatever we value), then there’s us, then there are all the people that, in our minds, have accomplished less than us down the ladder. If we base our self-worth on that then we will never feel good about ourselves because there’s always someone who is doing better, or at least perceived to be doing better. If we think our self-worth is based on how we compare to ­­­­­­­­­____________ then we’ll get very lustful and go a little crazy. Thankfully, we don’t have to do that.

     Also, even if you do make it to the very top, that won’t last long and others will certainly try to knock you off. Although some ministry criticism is warranted, sadly, a lot of criticism of this or that ministry springs from jealously—“Yeah, he’s got a big following but I’m not compromising the Gospel like he is!”

     In fact, basing your self-worth on your audience size is no more spiritual than basing your self-worth on the size of your bank account or, for that matter, the size of your bicepts or breasts. Now, I’m not suggesting that Christians can’t publish their bios. There’s nothing wrong with knowing what others have spent their lives working on or specializing in. The folly is thinking that we can judge the Lord’s impression of His servants by those accomplishments. We can’t. As Paul said in Galatians 6:3-5
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     Clay Jones is assistant professor in the Master of Arts in Christian Apologetics program at Biola University and specializes in issues related to why God allows evil.

The Continual Burnt Offering

By H.A. Ironside - 1941

January 10
Exodus 20:7 “You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.   ESV

     God has said “By those who come near Me I must be regarded as holy” (Leviticus 10:3). “Holy and awesome is His name” (Psalm 111:9). As we approach Him we should do so in reverence and godly fear (Hebrews 12:28). The name of God tells of what and who He is. It speaks of the divine character. Believers take His name upon them when they are identified with Him by profession of their faith in Him. The careless use of divine names and titles betrays a grossly irreverent state of mind, and is itself a grave sin against Him who is Creator of all men and Father of all who believe. We are called to “walk worthy of God” (1 Thessalonians 2:12) because He is our Father and we are His children. Irreverence on the part of those who profess this high and holy calling is most deplorable and is, in effect, to take the name of the Lord our God in vain.

     Profanity is an abhorrent vice of which all decent people are ashamed, hence very few men are low enough to curse and swear in the presence of ladies or of persons of superior position and culture. But it is possible to profane the name of the Lord even though foul language is never used.  To profess to love God and yet to dishonor Him by a godless and worldly life is to take that holy name in vain  just as much as to be guilty of the irreverent use of holy expressions. In all our ways we are called upon to sanctify the Lord and thus to honor His holy name.

Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty!
Early in the morning our songs shall rise to Thee!
Holy, holy, holy, merciful and mighty—
God in three Persons, blessed Trinity.
--- R. Heber

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

The Post Christian Manuscripts

By Gleason Archer Jr.

     1. British Museum Oriental 4445—a copy of the Pentateuch, the consonantal text of which dates from about A.D. 850, vowel points being added a century later. (Most of Genesis and Deuteronomy are missing.)

     2. Codex Cairensis (C)—containing the Former Prophets and the Latter Prophets, as copied out by Aaron ben Asher in A.D. 895. This manuscript was apparently seized by the Crusaders from Karaite Jews in Jerusalem in A.D. 1099, but finally ended up in the possession of the Karaites in Cairo. (Cf. Kittel, Biblia Hebraica, which specifies that Aaron was the copyist rather than Moses ben Asher, his father. Apparently it was finally transferred to Aleppo. (Cf. Ernst Wurthwein, 4th ed., TOT, p. 34.)

     3. The Aleppo Codex—containing the entire Old Testament and coming from the first half of the 10th century. Aaron ben Mosheh ben Asher added punctuation and Masora. Originally in Jerusalem, it later went to Cairo, thence to Aleppo. It has lost about one-fourth of its contents including almost all of the Torah, much of Canticles, Qoheleth, through Esther, Daniel and Ezra. It is now in Jerusalem (Wurthwein TAT4 34).

     4. Leningrad MS of the latter prophets, dating from A.D. 916, according to most authorities. (Cf. Wurthwein, 14:26, where it is called P.) This codex with Babylonian punctuation was discovered by Firkowitsch at Tschufutkale in Crimea.

     5. Leningrad MS B-19A—the entire Old Testament, containing the Ben Asher Masoretic Text. Dated at A.D. 1010 as a faithful copy of an A.D. 980 MS (which has since been lost), this MS furnished the basis for Kittel’s Biblia Hebraica, third edition (and all subsequent editions), which is the standard text for Hebrew scholarship today. Previous to 1929 the standard text had been the Ben Hayyim edition of 1525. (The model codex C of Ben Asher has until recently been jealously guarded by the Sephardic synagogue in Aleppo, and its custodians refused permission even to photograph it, much less permit its use in Kittel’s Biblia Hebraica. After having been partially burned in an Arab riot, the Aleppo was finally acquired by the state of Israel in its damaged condition and it will very take its place beside the Leningrad MS as the basis for critical editions of the Hebrew Bible in the years to come.

     6. The Samaritan Pentateuch. The earliest MSS of this version are still in Nablus, withheld by the Samaritan sectarians from publication. Pietro della Valle first discovered a form of this Samaritan text in Damascus, in 1616, and it was then published in the Paris Polyglot in 1645. (One interesting MS more recently discovered is the Torah Finchasiye, copied in A.D. 1204, and containing in parallel columns the Hebrew, an Aramaic Targum, and an Arabic translation, all written in Samaritan characters.) This Samaritan version contains about 6,000 variants from the MT, mostly mere differences in spelling. But in 1,900 instances, it agrees with the LXX as against the MT (e.g., particularly in the ages of the patriarchs). It also contains biased sectarian insertions, designed to show that Jehovah chose Mt. Gerizim rather than Zion, and Shechem rather than Jerusalem as His holy city. It shows a popularizing type of text, modernizing antique forms and simplifying difficult sentence constructions. In 1815, Wilhelm Gesenius condemned it as nearly worthless for textual criticism. In more recent times both Geiger and Kahle have argued that this judgment was unfair. Kenyon (BAM, pp. 49–50) gives a favorable judgment of its worth. The standard edition was edited by August von Gall (Giessen, Germany: A. Topelmann, 1918). (It should be added that the Samaritans wrote in an alphabet quite different from square Hebrew but descended from the old paleo-Hebrew character.) No MS of the Samaritan Pentateuch is known to be earlier than the tenth century A.D. (E. M. Cross’s Ancient Library of Qumran, pp. 172–73, 192–93, contains a good description and evaluation of the Samaritan text.)

     A Survey of Old Testament Introduction

The Problem Of The Old Testament

By James Orr 1907


This, accordingly, is the next thing which impresses us in our study of the Old Testament,—the consciousness which everywhere pervades it that this religion, the historical stages of which it unfolds to us, is not the creation of man’s own spirit, but is a product of special divine revelation. The tendency of the modern mind, it was before seen, is to substitute psychology for revelation. Instead of God’s word to Isaiah, or John, or Paul, it gives us the thoughts of Isaiah, or John, or Paul about God. Even where the word “revelation” is used, it is with this purely psychological connotation. This, however, is not the Bible’s own point of view. The Bible is not primarily a record of man’s thoughts about God, but a record of what God has done and revealed of Himself to man. Its basis is not, “Thus and thus thinks man,” but, “Thus and thus saith Jehovah,” or, “Thus and thus Jehovah has done.” It records, indeed, man’s thoughts about God—his prayers, struggles, hopes, meditations, aspirations—but these spring always out of what God has made known of Himself in word and deed. The Bible is not a mere revelation of abstract, or what Lessing would call “eternal,” truths about God, but above all a discovery of the way in which God has revealed His loving will to man in word and deed in history. “He made known His ways unto Moses, His doings unto the children of Israel.” It is this, we would here observe, which makes the historical element in Scripture so indispensable and precious, and warns us against the tendency to speak slightingly of it, as if myth and legend would serve the purposes of revelation equally with fact. Everyone feels that this is not the case with the history of Christ in the Gospels; but in the Old Testament also it is in great measure true that it was not from inward intuition, or reflections of their own, that prophets and psalmists, or the ordinary pious Israelite, derived their knowledge of God, and assured confidence in Him, but from what God had revealed of Himself in the past history of the people. The acts were the source, the medium, the authorisation of the knowledge; and, if these were taken away, the knowledge would disappear with them. Accordingly, we find that, in the highest point which the saint of the Old Testament can reach in the apprehension of this revelation, he still feels that it transcends him, is infinitely above him, in a way which anything proceeding from his own thoughts could not be. Thus: “Many, O Jehovah my God, are Thy wonderful works which Thou hast done, and Thy thoughts which are to us-ward: they cannot be set in order unto Thee: if I would declare and speak of them, they are more than can be numbered.” Or again: “My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, saith Jehovah. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.”

Here, then, we strike on another great peculiarity of Israel’s consciousness—the sense, viz., that it was the possessor and guardian of a quite peculiar revelation from God, and in this respect occupied a perfectly unique position among the nations of the earth. The answer to this, we know, is thought to be simple. It is often said by those who believe all religions to be equally a natural growth: “Every nation in the beginning of its history has its wonderful stories to tell of miracles, revelations, apparitions of the gods: all religions in this respect are much the same: the Jewish and Christian religions are just like the rest.” But we would take the liberty to reply: That is not quite the case. There is no other nation on earth which has such a story to tell of the beginnings of its religion—even as a story, we mean—as the Israelite had to tell of his, and the Israelite was perfectly conscious of this absolutely unique character of his history. Mythologies, fables, legends of appearances of the gods there are in abundance; but no such orderly, coherent history, charged with great ideas, as that which meets us in the Bible. This consciousness of the absolutely exceptional character of the history is brought out very strikingly in one passage in the Book of Deuteronomy. Moses there speaks: “For ask now of the days that are past, which were before thee, since the day that God created man upon the earth, and from the one end of the heaven unto the other, whether there hath been any such thing as this great thing is, or hath been heard like it? Did ever people hear the voice of God speaking out of the midst of the fire, as thou hast heard, and live? Or hath God assayed to go and take Him a nation from the midst of another nation, by temptations, by signs, and by wonders, and by war, and by a mighty hand, and by a stretched-out arm, and by great terrors, according to all that Jehovah your God did for you in Egypt before your eyes? Unto thee it was shewed, that thou mightest know that Jehovah He is God: there is none else beside Him.” If this be true of the origin of the religion of Israel, it is still more true of the origin of Christianity; for, assuredly, no other religion is founded on such a history as that of Jesus Christ,—on the character, claims, work, life, death, and resurrection, of such a Person as Jesus Christ is,—no, not in all the world!

The truth is, it is vain to attempt to find a parallel for this wholly unique phenomenon of the religion of Israel. Take again the two points already mentioned: the monotheism of this religion, and the indissoluble connection it establishes between religion and morality. It is not uncommon to hear this monotheistic faith spoken of as if it were a stage which, given only favourable conditions, every nation was bound to reach in the course of its development. Man begins, it is supposed, by worshipping spirits, or ghosts of ancestors, or something of the kind; then mounts to the conception of a tribal deity; then extends the power of this deity, or blends the deity with others, till he is viewed as the sole ruler of the world. But, unfortunately, the facts do not bear out this ingenious theory. It has frequently been pointed out that there are, even yet, only three monotheistic religions in the world—the Jewish, the Christian, and the Mohammedan, which, in this respect, is derived from the other two. That is to say, all the monotheistic religion there is in the world is derived from the religion of the Bible. It is not meant that, beneath and behind the polytheism of older religions, there are not many indications of a purer monotheistic consciousness, or that there have not often been, in individuals and schools, very remarkable approximations to the truth about the unity, power, wisdom, goodness, and providence of God. In that sense God has never left Himself without witness. But it is a well-understood truth that philosophical speculations have never founded, or can found, a religion; and it is simple fact of history that no monotheistic religions—religions, that is, based on the unity and spirituality of God as fundamental articles—have ever arisen, except those above mentioned.

Or take the other point—the indissoluble blending of morality and religion. Where, again, do we find anything corresponding to this outside the Biblical revelation? One of the early fathers of the Church gives us a description of an Egyptian temple—lofty, spacious, gorgeous, inspiring the worshipper by its grandeur with solemn awe. You enter the precincts of the temple, but when the priest, with grave air, draws aside the veil that hides the inner shrine, you behold—what? A cat, a crocodile, a serpent, or other animal, rolling on a purple couch. Visit now the temple of Jehovah at Jerusalem. Here, too, you have a gorgeous building; here, too, a priesthood, altars, a shrine hidden by a veil. Within the veil stands the ark of the covenant, covered by the mercy-seat, sprinkled with blood of atonement, and shadowed by the golden cherubim. Let that covering be lifted, and within that ark, in the very core and centre of Israel’s religion, in its most sacred place, you find—what? The two tables of the moral law. There, in a word, is the contrast of the two religions. There is the declaration of the truth that, before and above all things else, Israel’s is an ethical religion. For these are “the tables of the testimony”—the basis and bond of the nation’s covenant with God—and all the ritual of ceremonial institutions is but a scaffolding to protect this ethical core from injury, or a means of restoring the worshipper to favour when sin has disturbed his fellowship. It will be remembered that, when Jesus came, He did not cut Himself off from that older revelation, but declared that on its two commandments of love to God and love to man hung all the law and the prophets.

     The Problem of the Old Testament

By John F. Walvoord

Prophecy In Deuteronomy

     In Moses’ summary of the history of Israel and his final word to the children of Israel, recorded in  Deuteronomy, additional promises of prophetic nature were given.

Prophecy of the Inheritance of the Land

      Deuteronomy 3:21–22. The promise of the land being inherited by Israel was repeated once again. This prophecy will be fulfilled ( Ezek. 45–48; Amos 9:14–15 ).

      Deuteronomy 4:25–31. Israel was warned not to make idols or sin morally because God would judge them and drive them out of the land. They were promised restoration if they return to the Lord. This was fulfilled in history.

The Coming of a Great Prophet

      Deuteronomy 18:15–18. The coming of a great prophet, who would be like Moses, was revealed. They should listen to Him, or God would hold them to account. This was fulfilled by Christ ( John 1:21–45; 6:14; Acts 3:22–23; 7:37).

      Deuteronomy 21:23. The fact that one hanging on a tree is under divine curse is symbolic of Christ’s dying on a tree bearing the sins of the world ( Gal. 3:13 ).

Promises of Blessing and Cursing

      Deuteronomy 28:1–68. In this sweeping prophetic revelation of Israel’s future, God promised to bless them if they obeyed the Law but to curse them if they did not. To some extent this chapter charts the course of Israel’s history from here on. The closing verses of  Deuteronomy describe the worldwide dispersion of the children of Israel: “Just as it pleased the LORD to make you prosper and increase in number, so it will please him to ruin and destroy you. You will be uprooted from the land you are entering to possess. Then the LORD will scatter you among all nations, from one end of the earth to the other. There you will worship other gods — gods of wood and stone, which neither you nor your fathers have known. Among those nations you will find no repose, no resting place for the sole of your foot. There the LORD will give you an anxious mind, eyes weary with longing, and a despairing heart. You will live in constant suspense, filled with dread both night and day, never sure of your life. In the morning you will say, ‘If only it were evening!’ and in the evening, ‘If only it were morning!’ — because of the terror that will fill your hearts and the sights that your eyes will see. The LORD will send you back in ships to Egypt on a journey I said you should never make again. There you will offer yourselves for sale to your enemies as male and female slaves, but no one will buy you” ( Deut. 28:63–68 ).

     As brought out in many other passages, Israel’s ultimate restoration is assured ( Jer. 23:5–8; 30:8–11; Ezek. 39:25–29 ). The worldwide dispersion of Israel predicted in  Deuteronomy 28 has been literally fulfilled. So also their ultimate regathering already begun in the twentieth century will be brought to fulfillment at the second coming.

Promise of Restoration of Israel

      Deuteronomy 30:1–10. God promised to restore His people when they turn to Him in repentance and submission. This was fulfilled in history.

Blessing Pronounced on Israel

      Deuteronomy 31:23. Joshua was promised God’s blessing as they entered the Promised Land. This was fulfilled ( Josh. 21:43–45 ).

      Deuteronomy 33:1–29. Moses recorded his final blessing on the people of Israel before his death. Throughout history, the blessings and curses pronounced by Moses continued to be fulfilled.

Every Prophecy of the Bible: Clear Explanations for Uncertain Times

  • Dare to be a Daniel
  • Deep Seated Corruption
  • One Thing

     Devotionals, notes, poetry and more

     January 10, 2016

     Sunday, a good day to return Earl and Peggy’s two forty pound bags of salt that we put in our trunk last week to come down Parrett Mountain. Nice, very hospitable people. People always make such a big difference for good or harm. Thirty plus years ago I heard Charles Stanley say we should strive to be an extension of God’s life, an expression of God’s love and an extension of God’s power. Too bad I didn’t begin to understand what that meant till Seminary.

     Lighten our darkness, we beseech thee, O Lord; and by thy great mercy defend us from all perils and dangers of this night; for the love of thy only Son, our Savior Jesus Christ. Amen. --- Unknown author (Anglican Prayer)

Simply Christian: Why Christianity Makes Sense

American Minute
     by Bill Federer

     His daughter was Harriet Beecher Stowe, who wrote the abolitionist novel “Uncle Tom’s Cabin.” His son, Henry Ward Beecher, supported a woman’s right to vote and was famous for denouncing government corruption and slavery. His name Lyman Beecher and he died this day, January 10, 1863. A renowned New England clergyman, Lyman Beecher wrote: “If this nation is, in the providence of God, destined to lead the way in the moral and political emancipation of the world, it is time she understood her… calling… For mighty causes… are rushing with accumulating power to their consummation of good or evil.”

American Minute

A Testament Of Devotion
     Thomas R. Kelly

     During these post-war years, the Quakers had been doing an extensive work in feeding German children and had established centers in a number of German cities. By 1924 the feeding work was being closed up and turned over to the local German social agencies, but it seemed wise to maintain the Quaker centers in Berlin and Vienna and to transform them into international centers where the Quaker spirit and way of life could be shared and from which Friends could perform any service that might open for them in the years ahead. The transition was a delicate one and required Quaker personnel of considerable spiritual maturity and wisdom. Thomas and Lael Kelly were chosen for this service in 1924 and spent fifteen months in Berlin giving themselves without reservation to the German Quakers and to the cultivation of this new type of center. Wilbur K. Thomas, the executive secretary of the American Friends Service Committee in those years, writes of this period of service in Germany, "The Center was in need of a strong, spiritual leader. Thomas R. Kelly was the man. His deep interest in spiritual problems, his sympathy with all who were troubled in spirit, his ability to interpret the religious message as emphasized by Friends, coupled with his executive ability, represented a contribution that cannot be emphasized too strongly."

     In September 1925, Thomas and Lael Kelly returned from Germany to Richmond, Indiana, where Thomas Kelly had been called to teach philosophy at Earlham College. At the age of thirty-two he entered upon his teaching with a sense of his mission to place philosophy and the encouragement of rigorous reflective thinking in the high respect which it deserves in the education offered by a liberal arts college. His earlier passion for science had reappeared in his devotion to the philosophical method. There was to be no cutting of corners for any accepted views. Truth was to be discovered and acknowledged as such.

     His most intimate friend at Earlham College, the poet, E. Merrill Root, writes of this period, "When I first knew him at Earlham, he was in rebellion against what seemed to him the churchliness or institutionalism of the self-consciously religious; he was a bit brash and brusque, I felt, and a bit too confident of the logical and scientific approach to truth … He always desired, and more ambitiously in his earlier years, to be a great scholar and to be associated with some college or university that lived by the austere and inexorable standards of excellence in truth which he set for himself. He wished, also and always, to be a living witness of truth; and whenever individuals, or meetings, or colleges, failed to incarnate his passionate desire for truth become flesh, he suffered. He was deeply sensitive and human and wrestled with his disappointments and despairs. He was not wholly happy in his last years at Earlham, because he desired a larger college or university where he could find students of more intense preparation and abilities."

A Testament of Devotion

Lean Into God
     Compilation by RickAdams7

The Humble, Meek, Merciful, Just, Pious and Devout Souls, are everywhere of one Religion; and when Death has taken off the Mask, they will know one another, tho’ the divers Liveries they wear here make them Strangers.
--- William Penn, 1644-1718

He who crowned the heavens with stars
was himself crowned with thorns.
--- Thomas Watson
Discourses On Important And Interesting Subjects: Being The Select Works Of Thomas Watson, Volume 1

The Gospel to me is simply irresistible. Being the man I am, being full of lust and pride and envy and malice and hatred and false good, and all accumulated exaggerated misery—to me the Gospel of the grace of God, and the Redemption of Christ, and the regeneration and sanctification of the Holy Ghost, that Gospel is to me simply irresistible, and I cannot understand why it is not equally irresistible to every mortal man born of woman.
--- Pascal
Pensées and Other Writings (Oxford World's Classics)

There is no theodicy for the world’, he wrote, ‘except in a theology of the Cross. The only final theodicy is that self-justification of God which was fundamental to his justification of men. No reason of man can justify God in a world like this. He must justify himself, and he did so in the cross of his Son.
--- P. T. Forsyth
The justification of God; lectures for war-time on a Christian theodicy

... from here, there and everywhere

Proverbs 3:5-6
     by D.H. Stern

5     Trust in ADONAI with all your heart;
do not rely on your own understanding.
6     In all your ways acknowledge him;
then he will level your paths.

Complete Jewish Bible : An English Version of the Tanakh (Old Testament) and B'Rit Hadashah (New Testament)
My Utmost For The Highest
     A Daily Devotional by Oswald Chambers

                The opened sight

     To open their eyes, … that they may receive …
--- Acts 26:18.

     This verse is the grandest condensation of the propaganda of a disciple of Jesus Christ in the whole of the New Testament.

     The first sovereign work of grace is summed up in the words—“that they may receive remission of sins.” When a man fails in personal Christian experience, it is nearly always because he has never received anything. The only sign that a man is saved is that he has received something from Jesus Christ. Our part as workers for God is to open men’s eyes that they may turn themselves from darkness to light; but that is not salvation, that is conversion—the effort of a roused human being. I do not think it is too sweeping to say that the majority of nominal Christians are of this order; their eyes are opened, but they have received nothing. Conversion is not regeneration. This is one of the neglected factors in our preaching today. When a man is born again, he knows that it is because he has received something as a gift from Almighty God and not because of his own decision. People register their vows, and sign their pledges, and determine to go through, but none of this is salvation. Salvation means that we are brought to the place where we are able to receive something from God on the authority of Jesus Christ, viz., remission of sins.

     Then there follows the second mighty work of grace—“and inheritance among them which are sanctified.” In sanctification the regenerated soul deliberately gives up his right to himself to Jesus Christ, and identifies himself entirely with God’s interest in other men.

My Utmost for His Highest

     the Poetry of R.S. Thomas


Conversations between glass.
     Time weep for us.
I weep for time never
soon enough to anticipate
a reflection.
     The poet stands
beneath leafless trees
     listening to the wind
bowing on their wires. What
it affirms is: The way on
     is over your shoulder;
you must lean forward
to look back. No rhymes
     needed for such verse.
They have moved a little nearer
the light to accentuate
     their shadows, white-collared
     men at their dark trades.
Their laboratories shine
     with a cold radiance,
leprosy to me who have watched them run
     through the corridors of our culture
shaking the carillon
     of their instruments at us
          and crying: Unclean!

The Poems of R.S. Thomas

Redemption / Oswald Chambers
     Redemption is outside us

     Redemption is the great outside fact of the Christian faith; it has to do not only with a man’s experience of salvation, but with the basis of his thinking. The revelation of Redemption means that Jesus Christ came here in order that by means of His Death on the Cross He might put the whole human race on a redemptive basis, so making it possible for every man to get back into perfect communion with God. “I have finished the work which Thou gavest Me to do.” (John 17:4) What was finished? The redemption of the world. Men are not going to be redeemed; they are redeemed. “It is finished.” (John 19:30) It was not the salvation of individual men and women like you and me that was finished: the whole human race was put on the basis of Redemption. Do I believe it? Let me think of the worst man I know, the man for whom I have no affinity, the man who is a continual thorn in my flesh, who is as mean as can be; can I imagine that man being presented “perfect in Christ Jesus”? If I can, I have got the beginning of Christian thinking. It ought to be an easy thing for the Christian who thinks to conceive of any and every kind of man being presented “perfect in Christ Jesus,” (Colossians 1:28) but how seldom we do think! If I am an earnest evangelical preacher I may say to a man, “Oh yes, I believe God can save you,” while in my heart of hearts I don’t believe there is much hope for him. Our unbelief stands as the supreme barrier to Jesus Christ’s work in men’s souls. “And He did not many mighty works there because of their unbelief” (Matthew 13:58). But once let me get over my own slowness of heart (Luke 24:25) to believe in Jesus Christ’s power to save, and I become a real generator of His power to men. “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12) —the solitary, incommunicable place of Jesus in our salvation! Are we banking in unshaken faith on the Redemption, or do we allow men’s sins and wrongs to so obliterate Jesus Christ’s power to save that we hinder His reaching them? “He that believeth on Me,” i.e., active belief based on the Redemption—out of him “shall flow rivers of living water.” (John 7:38) We have to be so faithful to God that through us may come the awakening of those who have not yet realised that they are redeemed.

Conformed to His Image / Servant as His Lord: Lessons on Living Like Jesus (OSWALD CHAMBERS LIBRARY)
Take Heart
     January 10

     Give thanks in all circumstances. --- 1 Thessalonians 5:18.

     It is common Christian philosophy that our sufferings may, through the grace of God, be the means of improving our characters. ( Sermons and Addresses ) Such is by no means a matter of course. Sufferings may be borne with gloom and brooding so as greatly to damage character. But devout souls may regard affliction as but a loving Father’s discipline, meant for their highest good. There has never been a devout life that did not share this experience. To be exempt would, as the Bible declares, give proof that we are not children of God. Many of us could testify that the sorrows of life have, by God’s blessing, done us good.

     If we believe this to be true, and it is a belief clearly founded on Scripture, then can’t we contrive, even amid the severest sufferings, to be thankful for the benefits of affliction?

     Remember, too, our seasons of affliction make real to us divine compassion and sympathy. When you look with parental anguish on your own suffering child, then you know the meaning of those words, “As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him” (Ps. 103:13). When you find the trials of life hard to bear, then it becomes sweet to remember that our High Priest can sympathize with our weaknesses, who was “tempted in every way, just as we are — yet was without sin” (Heb. 4:15). Thus affliction brings to mind views of the divine character, which otherwise we would never fully gain.

     Besides all this, remember that the sufferings of this present life will but enhance the life to come. A thousand times have I remembered the text of my first funeral sermon, “There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” These are the present things now — all around us and within us, but the time is coming when they will be the old order, quite passed away.

     Skillful composers make use of discords in music. The jarring discord is solved and makes more sweet the harmony into which it passes. And oh! the time is coming when all the pains and pangs of this present life will seem to have been only a brief, discordant prelude to an everlasting harmony.
--- John A. Broadus.

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

On This Day   January 10
     Closed Doors

     When God closes a door, someone said, he always opens a window. In Whitefield’s case, many doors closed but God opened up the world.

     George Whitefield became a Christian while attending Oxford in 1735. He soon began preaching, finding huge crowds whenever he mounted a pulpit. On Wednesday, January 10, 1739, having preached the previous night, he rose to leave for Oxford to be ordained to the Anglican ministry. His diary reads: Slept about three hours, rose at five, set out at ten, and reached Oxford by five in the Evening. As I entered the city, I called to mind the mercies I had received since I left it. They are more than I am able to express. Oh that my heart may be melted by the sense of them.

     He expected church doors to open following his ordination, but the reverse occurred. Many ministers envied his success. Some didn’t trust his association with Methodists, Moravians, and other nonconformists. And Whitefield alienated others by sometimes speaking too critically.

     A Welsh evangelist, Howell Harris, was creating a storm by preaching in the fields, and Whitefield wondered if he, too, should take to the open air. Outside Bristol among coal miners Whitefield preached out-of-doors for the first time on February 17. About 200 heard him. Soon 10,000 were showing up, and that launched a lifetime of preaching from tombstones, tree stumps, and makeshift platforms.

     Whitefield’s sermons were electric. His vivid imagination, prodigious memory, powerful voice, and ardent sincerity mesmerized listeners. He could be heard a mile away, and his voice was so rich that British actor David Garrick said, “I would give 100 guineas if I could say ‘O’ like Mr. Whitefield.”

     Later that year, Whitefield, 25, toured the American colonies, sparking the Great Awakening and bringing multitudes to Christ. His final sermon in Boston drew the largest crowd that had ever gathered in America — 23,000 people, more than Boston’s entire population. He has been called the greatest evangelist in history, save for Paul.

     The Lord said: “… I chose you to speak for me to the nations.” I replied, “I’m not a good speaker, Lord, and I’m too young.” “Don’t say you’re too young,” the Lord answered. “If I tell you to go and speak to someone, then go!”
--- Jeremiah 1:4-7a.

On This Day 365 Amazing And Inspiring Stories About Saints, Martyrs And Heroes
Morning and Evening
     Daily Readings / CHARLES H. SPURGEON

          Morning - January 10

     “There is laid up for me a crown of righteousness.”
--- 2 Timothy 4:8.

     Doubting one! thou hast often said, “I fear I shall never enter heaven.” Fear not! all the people of God shall enter there. I love the quaint saying of a dying man, who exclaimed, “I have no fear of going home; I have sent all before me; God’s finger is on the latch of my door, and I am ready for him to enter.” “But,” said one, “are you not afraid lest you should miss your inheritance?” “Nay,” said he, “nay; there is one crown in heaven which the angel Gabriel could not wear, it will fit no head but mine. There is one throne in heaven which Paul the apostle could not fill; it was made for me, and I shall have it.” O Christian, what a joyous thought! thy portion is secure; “there remaineth a rest.” “But cannot I forfeit it?” No, it is entailed. If I be a child of God I shall not lose it. It is mine as securely as if I were there. Come with me, believer, and let us sit upon the top of Nebo, and view the goodly land, even Canaan. Seest thou that little river of death glistening in the sunlight, and across it dost thou see the pinnacles of the eternal city? Dost thou mark the pleasant country, and all its joyous inhabitants? Know, then, that if thou couldst fly across thou wouldst see written upon one of its many mansions, “This remaineth for such a one; preserved for him only. He shall be caught up to dwell for ever with God.” Poor doubting one, see the fair inheritance; it is thine. If thou believest in the Lord Jesus, if thou hast repented of sin, if thou hast been renewed in heart, thou art one of the Lord’s people, and there is a place reserved for thee, a crown laid up for thee, a harp specially provided for thee. No one else shall have thy portion, it is reserved in heaven for thee, and thou shalt have it ere long, for there shall be no vacant thrones in glory when all the chosen are gathered in.

          Evening - January 10

     “In my flesh shall I see God.” --- Job 19:26.

     Mark the subject of Job’s devout anticipation “I shall see God.” He does not say, “I shall see the saints”—though doubtless that will be untold felicity—but, “I shall see God.” It is not—“I shall see the pearly gates, I shall behold the walls of jasper, I shall gaze upon the crowns of gold,” but “I shall see God.” This is the sum and substance of heaven, this is the joyful hope of all believers. It is their delight to see him now in the ordinances by faith. They love to behold him in communion and in prayer; but there in heaven they shall have an open and unclouded vision, and thus seeing “him as he is,” shall be made completely like him. Likeness to God—what can we wish for more? And a sight of God—what can we desire better? Some read the passage, “Yet, I shall see God in my flesh,” and find here an allusion to Christ, as the “Word made flesh,” and that glorious beholding of him which shall be the splendour of the latter days. Whether so or not it is certain that Christ shall be the object of our eternal vision; nor shall we ever want any joy beyond that of seeing him. Think not that this will be a narrow sphere for the mind to dwell in. It is but one source of delight, but that source is infinite. All his attributes shall be subjects for contemplation, and as he is infinite under each aspect, there is no fear of exhaustion. His works, his gifts, his love to us, and his glory in all his purposes, and in all his actions, these shall make a theme which will be ever new. The patriarch looked forward to this sight of God as a personal enjoyment. “Whom mine eye shall behold, and not another.” Take realizing views of heaven’s bliss; think what it will be to you. “Thine eyes shall see the King in his beauty.” All earthly brightness fades and darkens as we gaze upon it, but here is a brightness which can never dim, a glory which can never fade—“I shall see God.”

Morning and Evening

Amazing Grace
     January 10


     Joseph Scriven, 1819–1886

     A man that hath friends must show himself friendly: And there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother. (
Proverbs 18:24 KJV)

     A true friend loves and accepts us just as we are, stays close to us in good or in bad, and is always ready to help in time of need. Because the author of this hymn text found just such a friend in his Lord, he decided to spend his entire life showing real friendship to others.

     Joseph Scriven had wealth, education, a devoted family, and a pleasant life in his native Ireland. Then unexpected tragedy entered. On the night before Scriven’s scheduled wedding, his fiancée drowned. In his deep sorrow, Joseph realized that he could find the solace and support he needed only in his dearest friend, Jesus.

     Soon after this tragedy, Scriven dramatically changed his lifestyle. He left Ireland for Port Hope, Canada, determined to devote all of his extra time in being a friend and helper to others. He often gave away his clothing and possessions to those in need, and he worked—without pay—for anyone who needed him. Scriven became known as “the Good Samaritan of Port Hope.”

     When Scriven’s mother became ill in Ireland, he wrote a comforting letter to her, enclosing the words of his newly written poem with the prayer that these brief lines would remind her of a never-failing heavenly Friend. Sometime later, when Joseph Scriven himself was ill, a friend who came to call on him happened to see a copy of these words scribbled on scratch paper near his bed. The friend read the lines with interest and asked, “Who wrote those beautiful words?” “The Lord and I did it between us,” was Scriven’s reply.

     What a Friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear! What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer! O what peace we often forfeit, O what needless pain we bear, all because we do not carry everything to God in prayer.
     Have we trials and temptations? Is there trouble anywhere? We should never be discouraged—Take it to the Lord in prayer. Can we find a friend so faithful who will all our sorrows share? Jesus knows our every weakness—Take it to the Lord in prayer.
     Are we weak and heavy laden, cumbered with a load of care? Precious Savior, still our refuge—Take it to the Lord in prayer. Do thy friends despise, forsake thee? Take it to the Lord in prayer; in His arms He’ll take and shield thee—Thou wilt find a solace there.

     For Today: Psalm 6:9; Mark 11:24; John 15:13–16; 1 John 5:14, 15.

     Like Joseph Scriven, we too can find relief from our burdens when we turn to our Lord as a friend. Allow this musical truth to help you realize ---

Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions

Understanding Free Will
     Clay Jones | Biola University

Pt 1

Pt 2

Does Brain Science Disprove Freedom?
     Tim O'Connor | Biola University

Pt 1

Pt 2

Life After Death
     Tim O'Connor | Biola University

Pt 1

Pt 2

Genesis 30-31
     Andy Woods

Genesis 30:1-13
Jacob's Dozen 2
Andy Woods

April 30, 2023

Genesis 30:14-24
Jacob's Dozen 3
Andy Woods

May 7, 2023

Genesis 30:25-36
God's Opportunity
Andy Woods

May 14, 2023

Genesis 30:25-36
True Riches
Andy Woods

May 21, 2023

Genesis 31:1-12
God’s Faithfulness
Andy Woods

May 28, 2023

Genesis 31:13-21
Two To Three Witnesses
Andy Woods

June 4, 2023

Genesis 31:22-30
One of a Kind
Andy Woods

click here
June 11, 2023

Genesis 31:31-36a
In Kind
Andy Woods

June 18, 2023

Genesis 31:36b-42
Our Multifaceted God
Andy Woods

July 9, 2023

Genesis 31:43-43a
The Misery of Materialism
Andy Woods

July 16, 2023

Dr. Andrew Woods of Sugar Land Bible Church
Genesis 30-31
     Jon Courson

Genesis 30:1-2
Give Me Children, Or Else I Die
Jon Courson

click here

Genesis 29-30
Jon Courson

click here

Genesis 31
Jon Courson

click here

Genesis 27-31
Jon Courson

click here

Jon Courson

Genesis 30-31
     Skip Heitzig

Genesis 30
Skip Heitzig | Calvary Chapel NM

Genesis 31
Skip Heitzig | Calvary Chapel NM

Skip Heitzig | Calvary Chapel NM

Genesis 30-31
     Brett Meador | Athey Creek

Good Advice Genesis 31:14-16
s2-021 | 3-16-2014

Genesis 30:25-43, 31:1-55
m2-019 | 3-19-2014

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

1 Kings 13
Man Of God And Separation
Tom Stegall Duluth Bible

The Dwelling
Lisa Igram | Biola University

Meeting God in Silence
Lisa Igram | Biola University

Spoken Word Poetry
Jung | Biola University

The Terrain of Conflict
Arianna Molloy | Biola University

Friendship in Community
Cassie Koepf, Jill Konopasky | Biola University

What Humans Are
Tim O'Connor | Biola University

God's Love and Schools
David Schmus | Biola University

Genesis 29-31
Jacob and Laban
Dr. Kenneth Mathews | Dr. Ted Hildebrandt

Genesis 29 pt 1
Dr. Baruch Korman | Love Israel

Genesis 29 pt 2
Dr. Baruch Korman | Love Israel