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Exodus 7 - 9



Moses and Aaron Before Pharaoh

Exodus 7:1  And the LORD said to Moses, “See, I have made you like God to Pharaoh, and your brother Aaron shall be your prophet. 2 You shall speak all that I command you, and your brother Aaron shall tell Pharaoh to let the people of Israel go out of his land. 3 But I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and though I multiply my signs and wonders in the land of Egypt, 4 Pharaoh will not listen to you. Then I will lay my hand on Egypt and bring my hosts, my people the children of Israel, out of the land of Egypt by great acts of judgment. 5 The Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD, when I stretch out my hand against Egypt and bring out the people of Israel from among them.” 6 Moses and Aaron did so; they did just as the LORD commanded them. 7 Now Moses was eighty years old, and Aaron eighty-three years old, when they spoke to Pharaoh.

8 Then the LORD said to Moses and Aaron, 9 “When Pharaoh says to you, ‘Prove yourselves by working a miracle,’ then you shall say to Aaron, ‘Take your staff and cast it down before Pharaoh, that it may become a serpent.’ ” 10 So Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and did just as the LORD commanded. Aaron cast down his staff before Pharaoh and his servants, and it became a serpent. 11 Then Pharaoh summoned the wise men and the sorcerers, and they, the magicians of Egypt, also did the same by their secret arts. 12 For each man cast down his staff, and they became serpents. But Aaron’s staff swallowed up their staffs. 13 Still Pharaoh’s heart was hardened, and he would not listen to them, as the LORD had said.

The First Plague: Water Turned to Blood

14 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Pharaoh’s heart is hardened; he refuses to let the people go. 15 Go to Pharaoh in the morning, as he is going out to the water. Stand on the bank of the Nile to meet him, and take in your hand the staff that turned into a serpent. 16 And you shall say to him, ‘The LORD, the God of the Hebrews, sent me to you, saying, “Let my people go, that they may serve me in the wilderness.” But so far, you have not obeyed. 17 Thus says the LORD, “By this you shall know that I am the LORD: behold, with the staff that is in my hand I will strike the water that is in the Nile, and it shall turn into blood. 18 The fish in the Nile shall die, and the Nile will stink, and the Egyptians will grow weary of drinking water from the Nile.” ’ ” 19 And the LORD said to Moses, “Say to Aaron, ‘Take your staff and stretch out your hand over the waters of Egypt, over their rivers, their canals, and their ponds, and all their pools of water, so that they may become blood, and there shall be blood throughout all the land of Egypt, even in vessels of wood and in vessels of stone.’ ”

20 Moses and Aaron did as the LORD commanded. In the sight of Pharaoh and in the sight of his servants he lifted up the staff and struck the water in the Nile, and all the water in the Nile turned into blood. 21 And the fish in the Nile died, and the Nile stank, so that the Egyptians could not drink water from the Nile. There was blood throughout all the land of Egypt. 22 But the magicians of Egypt did the same by their secret arts. So Pharaoh’s heart remained hardened, and he would not listen to them, as the LORD had said. 23 Pharaoh turned and went into his house, and he did not take even this to heart. 24 And all the Egyptians dug along the Nile for water to drink, for they could not drink the water of the Nile.

25 Seven full days passed after the LORD had struck the Nile.

Exodus 8

The Second Plague: Frogs

Exodus 8:1 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Go in to Pharaoh and say to him, ‘Thus says the LORD, “Let my people go, that they may serve me. 2 But if you refuse to let them go, behold, I will plague all your country with frogs. 3 The Nile shall swarm with frogs that shall come up into your house and into your bedroom and on your bed and into the houses of your servants and your people, and into your ovens and your kneading bowls. 4 The frogs shall come up on you and on your people and on all your servants.” ’ ” 5  And the LORD said to Moses, “Say to Aaron, ‘Stretch out your hand with your staff over the rivers, over the canals and over the pools, and make frogs come up on the land of Egypt!’ ” 6 So Aaron stretched out his hand over the waters of Egypt, and the frogs came up and covered the land of Egypt. 7 But the magicians did the same by their secret arts and made frogs come up on the land of Egypt.

8 Then Pharaoh called Moses and Aaron and said, “Plead with the LORD to take away the frogs from me and from my people, and I will let the people go to sacrifice to the LORD.” 9 Moses said to Pharaoh, “Be pleased to command me when I am to plead for you and for your servants and for your people, that the frogs be cut off from you and your houses and be left only in the Nile.” 10 And he said, “Tomorrow.” Moses said, “Be it as you say, so that you may know that there is no one like the LORD our God. 11 The frogs shall go away from you and your houses and your servants and your people. They shall be left only in the Nile.” 12 So Moses and Aaron went out from Pharaoh, and Moses cried to the LORD about the frogs, as he had agreed with Pharaoh. 13 And the LORD did according to the word of Moses. The frogs died out in the houses, the courtyards, and the fields. 14 And they gathered them together in heaps, and the land stank. 15 But when Pharaoh saw that there was a respite, he hardened his heart and would not listen to them, as the LORD had said.

The Third Plague: Gnats

16 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Say to Aaron, ‘Stretch out your staff and strike the dust of the earth, so that it may become gnats in all the land of Egypt.’ ” 17 And they did so. Aaron stretched out his hand with his staff and struck the dust of the earth, and there were gnats on man and beast. All the dust of the earth became gnats in all the land of Egypt. 18 The magicians tried by their secret arts to produce gnats, but they could not. So there were gnats on man and beast. 19 Then the magicians said to Pharaoh, “This is the finger of God.” But Pharaoh’s heart was hardened, and he would not listen to them, as the LORD had said.

The Fourth Plague: Flies

20 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Rise up early in the morning and present yourself to Pharaoh, as he goes out to the water, and say to him, ‘Thus says the LORD, “Let my people go, that they may serve me. 21 Or else, if you will not let my people go, behold, I will send swarms of flies on you and your servants and your people, and into your houses. And the houses of the Egyptians shall be filled with swarms of flies, and also the ground on which they stand. 22 But on that day I will set apart the land of Goshen, where my people dwell, so that no swarms of flies shall be there, that you may know that I am the LORD in the midst of the earth. 23 Thus I will put a division between my people and your people. Tomorrow this sign shall happen.” ’ ” 24 And the LORD did so. There came great swarms of flies into the house of Pharaoh and into his servants’ houses. Throughout all the land of Egypt the land was ruined by the swarms of flies.

25 Then Pharaoh called Moses and Aaron and said, “Go, sacrifice to your God within the land.” 26 But Moses said, “It would not be right to do so, for the offerings we shall sacrifice to the LORD our God are an abomination to the Egyptians. If we sacrifice offerings abominable to the Egyptians before their eyes, will they not stone us? 27 We must go three days’ journey into the wilderness and sacrifice to the LORD our God as he tells us.” 28 So Pharaoh said, “I will let you go to sacrifice to the LORD your God in the wilderness; only you must not go very far away. Plead for me.” 29 Then Moses said, “Behold, I am going out from you and I will plead with the LORD that the swarms of flies may depart from Pharaoh, from his servants, and from his people, tomorrow. Only let not Pharaoh cheat again by not letting the people go to sacrifice to the LORD.” 30 So Moses went out from Pharaoh and prayed to the LORD. 31 And the LORD did as Moses asked, and removed the swarms of flies from Pharaoh, from his servants, and from his people; not one remained. 32 But Pharaoh hardened his heart this time also, and did not let the people go.

Exodus 9

The Fifth Plague: Egyptian Livestock Die

Exodus 9:1 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Go in to Pharaoh and say to him, ‘Thus says the LORD, the God of the Hebrews, “Let my people go, that they may serve me. 2 For if you refuse to let them go and still hold them, 3 behold, the hand of the LORD will fall with a very severe plague upon your livestock that are in the field, the horses, the donkeys, the camels, the herds, and the flocks.

( Apparently stabled livestock did not succumb to the pestilence. Although incredibly severe, some animals were still alive afterward for Egypt to continue without total loss to an economy that depended upon domesticated animals. A few months later, when the seventh plague struck, there were still some cattle, which, if left in the field, would have died (9:19). horses . . . camels. Horses, which were common in the period, had been brought into military service by the Hyksos. See Introduction: Author and Date. Camels were a domesticated animal by this time in the fifteenth century B.C. a very severe plague. In listing the different kinds of livestock, the severe nature of the plague was emphatically underscored as one that would for the first time target personal property. Egyptian literature and paintings substantiate how valuable livestock was to them. Whatever the exact nature of this pestilence—anthrax, murrain, or other livestock disease—it was clearly contagious and fatal. Religious implications were obvious: Egypt prized the bull as a sacred animal with special attention and worship being given to the Apis bull, the sacred animal of the god Ptah. Heliopolis venerated the bull, Mnevis. Further, the goddess Hathor, represented by a cow, or a cow-woman image, was worshiped in several cities. )  ESV MacArthur Study Bible, Personal Size
4 But the LORD will make a distinction between the livestock of Israel and the livestock of Egypt, so that nothing of all that belongs to the people of Israel shall die.” ’ ” 5 And the LORD set a time, saying, “Tomorrow the LORD will do this thing in the land.” 6 And the next day the LORD did this thing. All the livestock of the Egyptians died, but not one of the livestock of the people of Israel died. 7 And Pharaoh sent, and behold, not one of the livestock of Israel was dead. But the heart of Pharaoh was hardened, and he did not let the people go.

The Sixth Plague: Boils

8 And the LORD said to Moses and Aaron, “Take handfuls of soot from the kiln, and let Moses throw them in the air in the sight of Pharaoh. 9 It shall become fine dust over all the land of Egypt, and become boils breaking out in sores on man and beast throughout all the land of Egypt.” 10 So they took soot from the kiln and stood before Pharaoh. And Moses threw it in the air, and it became boils breaking out in sores on man and beast. 11 And the magicians could not stand before Moses because of the boils, for the boils came upon the magicians and upon all the Egyptians. 12 But the LORD hardened the heart of Pharaoh, and he did not listen to them, as the LORD had spoken to Moses.

The Seventh Plague: Hail

13 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Rise up early in the morning and present yourself before Pharaoh and say to him, ‘Thus says the LORD, the God of the Hebrews, “Let my people go, that they may serve me. 14 For this time I will send all my plagues on you yourself, and on your servants and your people, so that you may know that there is none like me in all the earth. 15 For by now I could have put out my hand and struck you and your people with pestilence, and you would have been cut off from the earth. 16 But for this purpose I have raised you up, to show you my power, so that my name may be proclaimed in all the earth. 17 You are still exalting yourself against my people and will not let them go. 18 Behold, about this time tomorrow I will cause very heavy hail to fall, such as never has been in Egypt from the day it was founded until now. 19 Now therefore send, get your livestock and all that you have in the field into safe shelter, for every man and beast that is in the field and is not brought home will die when the hail falls on them.” ’ ” 20 Then whoever feared the word of the LORD among the servants of Pharaoh hurried his slaves and his livestock into the houses, 21 but whoever did not pay attention to the word of the LORD left his slaves and his livestock in the field.

22 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand toward heaven, so that there may be hail in all the land of Egypt, on man and beast and every plant of the field, in the land of Egypt.” 23 Then Moses stretched out his staff toward heaven, and the LORD sent thunder and hail, and fire ran down to the earth. And the LORD rained hail upon the land of Egypt. 24 There was hail and fire flashing continually in the midst of the hail, very heavy hail, such as had never been in all the land of Egypt since it became a nation. 25 The hail struck down everything that was in the field in all the land of Egypt, both man and beast. And the hail struck down every plant of the field and broke every tree of the field. 26 Only in the land of Goshen, where the people of Israel were, was there no hail.

27 Then Pharaoh sent and called Moses and Aaron and said to them, “This time I have sinned; the LORD is in the right, and I and my people are in the wrong. 28 Plead with the LORD, for there has been enough of God’s thunder and hail. I will let you go, and you shall stay no longer.” 29 Moses said to him, “As soon as I have gone out of the city, I will stretch out my hands to the LORD. The thunder will cease, and there will be no more hail, so that you may know that the earth is the LORD’s. 30 But as for you and your servants, I know that you do not yet fear the LORD God.” 31 (The flax and the barley were struck down, for the barley was in the ear and the flax was in bud. 32 But the wheat and the emmer were not struck down, for they are late in coming up.) 33 So Moses went out of the city from Pharaoh and stretched out his hands to the LORD, and the thunder and the hail ceased, and the rain no longer poured upon the earth. 34 But when Pharaoh saw that the rain and the hail and the thunder had ceased, he sinned yet again and hardened his heart, he and his servants. 35 So the heart of Pharaoh was hardened, and he did not let the people of Israel go, just as the LORD had spoken through Moses.

ESV Study Bible


What I'm Reading

Summary Of Textual Methods

By Gleason Archer Jr.

     One other contribution of the Sopherim consisted in the so-called tiqqūnêsōpherɩ̂m, or “decrees of the scribes,” eighteen in number. Many of these were of an antianthropomorphic character (cf. Canon #7 above). For instance, in Gen. 18:22, “Jehovah stood yet” is altered to “Abraham stood yet.” Or else they protect the dignity of God in an altered reading. Thus in the traditional text of 1 Sam. 3:13, the sons of Eli curse “God” (˓LHYM), but this is changed to: “they curse” (or “bring a curse”) “upon themselves” (LHM—the aleph and yodh being omitted). Still others of these emendations seem to have little point or justification.

     According to Jewish tradition, the term Sopherim is to be applied more exactly to the earliest group of scribes from the fifth century to third century B.C. (from Ezra to Antigonus of Socho). After them came the Zugoth (the pairs of textual scholars) from the second to first centuries B.C. (from Jose ben Joezer to Hillel). The third group were the Tannaim (“repeaters, or teachers”), from the death of Hillel to the death of Judah Hannasi after A.D. 200. The teachings of all three groups are found in the Mishnah, the Tosefta, the Baraithoth, and the Midrash. More than two hundred Tannaim are mentioned in these works, most of them being entitled either Rabbi or Rabban (“teacher”).

     The Jews preserved, at first by oral tradition and then in writing, an enormous amount of traditional interpretation of the Torah and other parts of the Old Testament, together with folklore embellishments, anecdotes, and homilies of various sorts. Much of this had to do with practical legal questions, or with intricate details of ritual, or the like. This mass of tradition has been preserved in two major collections, the Midrash and the Talmud, plus a minor one known as the Tosefta. They are now described in chronological order.

     The Midrash (textual study, or text interpretation, from daras, to “search, investigate”) was brought together between 100 B.C. and A.D. 300. It was a doctrinal and homiletical exposition of the Old Testament. Composed in both Hebrew sections and Aramaic sections, it provided a commentary on the written law (i.e., the Pentateuch). It consisted of two parts: the Halakah (“procedure”), commenting on the Torah only; and the Haggada (“declaration,” or “explanation”), commenting on the entire Old Testament, and including various proverbs, parables, and tales. These contain the earliest extant synagogue homilies. They have some importance for textual criticism in their numerous quotations of the Old Testament text, occasionally in a slightly different form from the MT.

     The Tosēfta (“addition, or supplement”) arose between A.D. 100 and 300. It consists of a collection of teachings and traditions of the Tannaim which were closely related to the Mishnah. According to tradition, it contains that part of the original Mishnah which Rabbi Aqiba (ca. A.D. 100) omitted from his edition of the Mishnah, which was abbreviated in order to facilitate memorization.

     The Talmûd (“instruction,” from limmēd, “to teach”) grew up between A.D. 100 and 500. It consists of two main divisions. The Mishnah (“repetition,” or “teaching”) was completed around A.D. 200. Composed in Hebrew, it contained a digest of all the oral laws (supposedly communicated by word of mouth from Moses to his seventy elders), traditions, and explanations of Scripture. It is divided into six orders (sedārɩ̂m): agriculture, feasts, women, civil and criminal law, sacrifices or holy things, and unclean things. These in turn are subdivided into sixty-three tractates. The sages who contributed to the Mishnah were known as Tannaim (the latest order of Sopherim, as mentioned above). The second main division is the Gemara (“the matter that is learned,” from gemar, “to complete, accomplish, or learn”). An Aramaic word, it indicates that it was composed in Aramaic rather than Hebrew. It consists of a supplement to be attached to each of the tractates by way of expanded commentary upon the Mishnah. It arose in two distinct forms, the Palestinian Gemara (ca. A.D. 200), and the much larger Babylonian Gemara (ca. A.D. 500). The sages who contributed to the Gemara were known as Amoraim (“speakers, explainers,” from ʾāmar, “to speak”).

     The Masoretes were the scholars who between A.D. 500 and 950 gave the final form to the text of the Old Testament. They were so called because they preserved in writing the oral tradition (masorah) concerning the correct vowels and accents, and the number of occurrences of rare words of unusual spellings. They received the unpainted, consonantal text of the Sopherim and inserted the vowel points which gave to each word its exact pronunciation and grammatical form. They even engaged in a moderate amount of textual criticism. Wherever they suspected the word indicated by the consonantal text was erroneous, they corrected it in a very ingenious way. They left the actual consonants undisturbed, as they had received them from the Sopherim. But they inserted the vowel points which belonged to the new word which they were substituting for the old, and then they inserted the consonants of the new word itself in very small letters in the margin. For example, in Isa. 28:15 occurs the word cluster KY-˓BR. As normally pointed, this would read KiY-˓āBaR (“when it has passed over”), and this is therefore the reading of the kethɩ̂b (which is an Aramaic term meaning “the thing written”, i.e., the word indicated by the consonants). But the Masoretes felt that an imperfect tense should follow KiY (“when”) in this connection, and therefore inserted under ˓BR the vowels appropriate to Ya˓aBōR (“it passes over”); and then in the margin they wrote in small letters Y˓BR, which indicates this qerê (an Aramaic term meaning “read!”) variant. (The customary abbreviation for kethɩ̂b is K, and that for qerê is Q.)

     Perhaps the most famous (and frequent) example of a qerê reading is the covenant name of God, Jehovah. This name is written with the four consonants YHWH, going back to an original pronunciation, Yahweh. The proper, original rendering of Jehovah, therefore, is Yahweh (or Jahweh, as the Germans write it). But the Jews as early as Nehemiah’s time began to feel qualms about pronouncing the holy name, lest they bring upon themselves possible penal consequences under the third commandment. It therefore became accepted practice to substitute the title “Lord” (aDōNāY) for the name Yahweh whenever reading it aloud. To indicate this substitution, the Masoretes inserted the vowels of aDōNāY under the consonants of JaHWeH, resulting in the appearance of JeHōWāH or “Jehovah.” Misunderstanding this qerê, European scholars of the Renaissance period (when Hebrew became avidly studied in Europe) supposed that the proper pronunciation of the name was “Jehovah”—and so it has come down to us today. It was actually Yahweh (this may be called the kethɩ̂b reading), but the mistake has become so sanctioned by usage that devout Christians generally are loath to accept any reversion to the pronunciation which was historically correct.

 So we should not be saying Jehovah, but we do something wrong long enough we think we make it right.

     In addition to the insertion of vowel points and the indication of qerē readings, the Masoretes also busied themselves with accent marks. At first the accent marks were simpler and more sparingly used, but later they became more complicated, especially as the accentual system became perfected by the Tiberian School of Masoretes (Tiberias being the city mentioned in the Gospels as situated by the Sea of Galilee). The most celebrated of all the Masoretes were Moses ben Asher (with his learned son Aaron) and ben Naphtali. The standard text of the Hebrew Bible is based on a ben Asher text (the Leningrad Codex of the Old Testament).

     At the side margins of the Masoretic MSS was placed the Marginal Masorah. This included not only the consonants of qerē readings (as described above), but also statistics as to how often various words and phrases appearing in that line of script occurred elsewhere in the Hebrew Scriptures. Or else they indicated how often they occurred elsewhere with that particular spelling or combination of words. The most frequent notation of this sort was a single L (lamed) with a dot over it, standing for Lō (“not”) and indicating that this word or this spelling does not occur elsewhere in the Hebrew Scriptures. (This of course served notice on future copyists that any other occurrence of this unique word or spelling would be rejected as an error.)

     At the bottom margin of the Masoretic MSS was the Larger Masorah, containing more information of this sort, often furnishing mnemonic devices whereby all the occurrences of infrequent words or phrases could be remembered. For example, at Gen. 1:1 the Masoretic note says with reference to the first word cluster (In-the-beginning—berēʾšɩ̂t): “The sign is: God establishes the righteous” (elōhɩ̂m yā ḵɩ̂m haṣṣedek). This indicates that in the first occurrence (Gen. 1:1) the next word after berēʾšɩ̂t is God; the second occurrence of berēʾšɩ̂t (Jer. 26:1) has the name of King Jehoiakim after it (for Jehoiakim, or Yehō-yākɩ̂m, means “Yahweh establishes”); the third occurrence of berēʾšɩ̂t (Jer. 28:1) is followed by the name of Zedekiah (for Zedekiah, or Ṣedeḳ-Yah, means “Righteous is Yahweh”). Needless to say, this type of information is of marginal interest to most modern scholarship, and thus the Masoretic notations are not widely studied in non-Jewish circles.

     The Final Masorah contains mostly statistics as to the number of verses, letters, and the like, occurring in the book, and indicates the middle word and the middle letter.

     Two other features of the Masoretic recension deserve mention, because of their bearing upon textual criticism. There are fifteen dotted words (“neqûdôt”) in the Old Testament text, and Jewish tradition has it that these were words which in the judgment of the scholars of the so-called Great Synagogue (apparently founded by Ezra) should be deleted, or at least marked as doubtful. For example, in Num. 3:39 the word “and Aaron” is dotted, inasmuch as Aaron himself was not one of those numbered in the census. The other device is that of suspended letters, that is, letters placed above the line. These occurred in four passages, where the Masoretes (following the decision of the Sopherim) suspected the genuineness of the letters so placed. Thus in Judg. 18:30 the original wording apparently was, “Jonathan the son of Gershom the son of Moses” (MōŠeH, Hebrew); but to safeguard Moses’ reputation, an extra N (nun) was inserted (although slightly above the line) so as to change the name from “Moses” to “Manasseh” (MeNaŠeH).

     In conclusion we should accord to the Masoretes the highest praise for their meticulous care in preserving so sedulously the consonantal text of the Sopherim which had been entrusted to them. They together with the Sopherim themselves gave the most diligent attention to accurate preservation of the Hebrew Scriptures that has ever been devoted to any ancient literature, secular or religious, in the history of human civilization. So conscientious were they in their stewardship of the holy text that they did not even venture to make the most obvious corrections, so far as the consonants were concerned, but left their Vorlage (i.e., the older text from which the copy was made) exactly as it was handed down to them. Because of their faithfulness, we have today a form of the Hebrew text which in all essentials duplicates the recension which was considered authoritative in the days of Christ and the apostles, if not a century earlier. And this in turn, judging from Qumran evidence, goes back to an authoritative revision of the Old Testament text which was drawn up on the basis of the most reliable manuscripts available for collation from previous centuries. These bring us very close in all essentials to the original autographs themselves, and furnish us with an authentic record of God’s revelation. As W. E Albright has said, “We may rest assured that the consonantal text of the Hebrew Bible, though not infallible, has been preserved with an accuracy perhaps unparalleled in any other Near Eastern literature.”

     A Survey of Old Testament Introduction

A Guide to Basic Differences Between Left and Right

By Dennis Prager 1/16/2017

                Left: government

                Right: the Creator

Human Nature

                Left: basically good (Therefore, society is primarily responsible for evil.)

                Right: not basically good (Therefore, the individual is primarily responsible for

                evil.)

Economic Goal

                Left: equality

                Right: prosperity

Primary Role of the State

                Left: increase and protect equality

                Right: increase and protect liberty

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     Stream contributor Dennis Prager, one of America’s most respected radio talk show hosts, has been broadcasting in Los Angeles since 1982. His popular show became nationally syndicated in 1999 and airs live, Monday through Friday, 9am to 12pm (Pacific Time), 12pm to 3pm (Eastern) from his home station, KRLA.

Dennis Prager Books:

Keeping the Faith in a Faithless Age

By Albert Mohler 8/01/2017

     “The greatest question of our time,” historian Will Durant offered, “is not communism versus individualism, not Europe versus America, not even East versus the West; it is whether men can live without God.” That question, it now appears, will be answered in our own day.

     For centuries, the Christian church has been the center of Western civilization. Western culture, government, law, and society were based on explicitly Christian principles.

     Concern for the individual, a commitment to human rights, and respect for the good, the beautiful, and the true—all of these grew out of Christian convictions and the influence of revealed religion.

     All of these, we now hasten to add, are under serious attack. The very notion of right and wrong is now discarded by large sectors of American society. Where it is not discarded, it is often debased. Taking a page out of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, modern secularists simply declare wrong, right, and right, wrong.


A NEW LANDSCAPE

     Quaker theologian D. Elton Trueblood once described America as a “cut flower civilization.” Our culture, he argued, is cut off’ from its Christian roots like a flower cut at the stem. Though the flower will hold its beauty for a time, it is destined to wither and die.

     When Trueblood spoke those words more than two decades ago, the flower still had some color and signs of life. But the blossom has long since lost its vitality, and it is time for the fallen petals to be acknowledged.

     “If God does not exist,” Fyodor Dostoevsky’s Ivan Karamazov argued, “everything is permitted.” The permissiveness of modern American society can scarcely be exaggerated, but it can be traced directly to the fact that modern men and women act as if God does not exist or is powerless to accomplish His will.

     The Christian church now finds itself facing a new reality. The church no longer represents the central core of Western culture. Though outposts of Christian influence remain, these are exceptions rather than the rule. For the most part, the church has been displaced by the reign of secularism.

     The daily newspaper brings a constant barrage that confirms the current state of American society. This age is not the first to see unspeakable horror and evil, but it is the first to deny any consistent basis for identifying evil as evil or good as good.

     The faithful church is, for the most part, tolerated as one voice in the public arena, but only so long as it does not attempt to exercise any credible influence on the state of affairs. Should the church speak forcefully to an issue of public debate, it is castigated as coercive and out of date.

A NEW ROLE

     How does the church think of itself as it faces this new reality? During the 1980s, it was possible to think in ambitious terms about the church as the vanguard of a moral majority. That confidence has been seriously shaken by the events of the past decade.

     Little progress toward the re-establishment of a moral center of gravity can be detected. Instead, the culture has moved swiftly toward a more complete abandonment of all moral conviction.

     The confessing church must now be willing to be a moral minority, if that is what the times demand. The church has no right to follow the secular siren call toward moral revisionism and politically correct positions on the issues of the day.

     Whatever the issue, the church must speak as the church—that is, as the community of fallen but redeemed, who stand under divine authority. The concern of the church is not to know its own mind, but to know and follow the mind of God. The church’s convictions must not emerge from the ashes of our own fallen wisdom but from the authoritative Word of God, which reveals the wisdom of God and His commands.

     The church is to be a community of character. The character produced by a people who stand under the authority of the sovereign God of the universe will inevitably be at odds with a culture of unbelief.

AN OLD CALL

     The American church faces a new situation. This new context is as current as the morning newspaper and as old as those first Christian churches in Corinth, Ephesus, Laodicea, and Rome. Eternity will record whether the American church is willing to submit only to the authority of God or whether the church will forfeit its calling in order to serve lesser gods.

     The church must awaken to its status as a moral minority and hold fast to the gospel we have been entrusted to preach. In so doing, the deep springs of permanent truth will reveal the church to be a life-giving oasis amid America’s moral desert.

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Dr. R. Albert Mohler Jr. serves as president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary – the flagship school of the Southern Baptist Convention and one of the largest seminaries in the world.

     Albert Mohler Books |  Go to Books Page

The Renewed Mind and How to Have It

By John Piper 8/15/2004

(Ro 12:1–2)I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. ESV

     As I have thought and prayed about these verses, it seems to me that there are two more very large issues we should deal with before moving on to verse 3. I would like to give a week to each of them.

     The Will of God | One, which I hope to deal with next week, is the meaning of the term “the will of God.” Verse 2 says that we are to discern what is “the will of God.” It’s a very common phrase and I think that sometimes, when we use it, we may not know what we are talking about. That is not spiritually healthy. If you get into the habit of using religious language without knowing what you mean by it, you will increasingly become an empty shell. And many alien affections move into empty religious minds which have language but little or wrong content.

     The term “the will of God” has at least two and possibly three biblical meanings. First, there is the sovereign will of God, that always comes to pass without fail. Second, there is the revealed will of God in the Bible — do not steal, do not lie, do not kill, do not covet — and this will of God often does not come to pass. And third, there is the path of wisdom and spontaneous godliness — wisdom where we consciously apply the word of God with our renewed minds to complex moral circumstances, and spontaneous godliness where we live most of our lives without conscious reflection on the hundreds of things we say and do all day. Next week we need to sort this out and ask what Paul is referring to in Romans 12:2.

     Transformation by the Renewal of Your Mind | But today I want to focus on the phrase in Romans 12:2, “by the renewal of your mind.” Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” We are perfectly useless as Christ-exalting Christians if all we do is conform to the world around us. And the key to not wasting our lives with this kind of success and prosperity, Paul says, is being transformed. “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed.”

     “We are perfectly useless as Christians if all we do is conform to the world around us.”

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      (@JohnPiper) is founder and teacher of desiringGod.org and chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary. For 33 years, he served as pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis, Minnesota.

     John Piper Books |  Go to Books Page

Read The Psalms In "1" Year

Psalm 10

Why Do You Hide Yourself?

10:1 Why, O LORD, do you stand far away?
Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?

2 In arrogance the wicked hotly pursue the poor;
let them be caught in the schemes that they have devised.
3 For the wicked boasts of the desires of his soul,
and the one greedy for gain curses and renounces the LORD.
4 In the pride of his face the wicked does not seek him;
all his thoughts are, “There is no God.”
5 His ways prosper at all times;
your judgments are on high, out of his sight;
as for all his foes, he puffs at them.

ESV Reformation Study

Do You Want the Friends You Need?

By Greg Morse 1/17/2018

     He is often the subject of whispering.

     “Oh, here he comes — better get your Bibles out.”

     “No wonder no one invites him out to lunch; he can never just have a normal conversation.”

     “I can’t enjoy the game without being asked a million questions about my walk with the Lord and struggles with sin.”

     He is serious about holiness, concerned with his friends’ souls, and devoted to helping them to pursue Jesus with all their heart. Although Solomon calls him the sweetest of friends (Proverbs 27:9), he is often left outside in the wilderness of Christian gatherings to eat locusts and wild honey.

     He speaks with urgency, he speaks with sobriety, he says things others don’t. He makes Christians bail and jokers ask under their breath, “Why so serious?” His name is Earnest.

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     Greg Morse is a content strategist for desiringGod.org and graduate of Bethlehem College & Seminary. He and his wife, Abigail, live in St. Paul.

Moralism is Not the Gospel (But Many Christians Think It Is)

By Albert Mohler 1/12/2018

     One of the most amazing statements by the Apostle Paul is his indictment of the Galatian Christians for abandoning the Gospel. “I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel,” Paul declared. As he stated so emphatically, the Galatians had failed in the crucial test of discerning the authentic Gospel from its counterfeits.

     His words could not be more clear: “But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed! As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you have received, he is to be accursed!” [Gal. 1:6-7]

     This warning from the Apostle Paul, expressed in the language of the Apostle’s shock and grief, is addressed not only to the church in Galatia, but to every congregation in every age. In our own day — and in our own churches — we desperately need to hear and to heed this warning. In our own time, we face false gospels no less subversive and seductive than those encountered and embraced by the Galatians.

     In our own context, one of the most seductive false gospels is moralism. This false gospel can take many forms and can emerge from any number of political and cultural impulses. Nevertheless, the basic structure of moralism comes down to this — the belief that the Gospel can be reduced to improvements in behavior.

     Sadly, this false gospel is particularly attractive to those who believe themselves to be evangelicals motivated by a biblical impulse. Far too many believers and their churches succumb to the logic of moralism and reduce the Gospel to a message of moral improvement. In other words, we communicate to lost persons the message that what God desires for them and demands of them is to get their lives straight.

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Dr. R. Albert Mohler Jr. serves as president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary – the flagship school of the Southern Baptist Convention and one of the largest seminaries in the world.

     Albert Mohler Books |  Go to Books Page

The Problem Of The Old Testament

By James Orr 1907

III. WITNESS OF ISRAEL’S NATIONAL CONSCIOUSNESS: THE PATRIARCHS
There is another branch of the critical method on which it is proper that something should now be said. This relates to the point just touched on—the testimony of the national consciousness of Israel to its own past.

It was seen above that exception is taken to the high religious ideas ascribed to the patriarchs, and to the stories of the divine communications made to them. The question of the early religion of Israel will be investigated in next chapter. Meanwhile it may be permitted to remark on Kuenen’s dictum that “at first the religion of Israel was polytheism,” that that can hardly be a sure result of criticism which many of the most distinguished critics of both past and present times energetically repudiate. Ewald was free enough in his treatment of the history, but he had no doubt of the existence of the patriarchs, or that they “thought and spoke monotheistically.” Dillmann, and Delitzsch, and Riehm were critics, but none of them would assent to the propositions of the Kuenen school about the religion of early Israel. As little would König, or Kittel, or Baethgen, or Klostermann, or Oettli, or the late Dr. A. B. Davidson, or many others that might be named. Dillmann may be quoted in this connection as an example. “If anyone,” he says, “desires to maintain that this representation rests only on an idealising conception of later writers, and is not to be accepted as historical, it must be contended in opposition that not merely Genesis, but the whole Old Testament, speaks of a covenant, of a peculiar relation in which God stood with the fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; that Moses attached himself with his work to the God of the fathers; that without this attachment his work would be incomprehensible; that, therefore, even if Genesis had said nothing on the subject, we should be compelled to postulate a certain acquaintance of these fathers with the living God, a higher faith in God.”

This deep consciousness which the Israelites possessed throughout their history of their origin from Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and of the peculiar favour of God to these fathers of their race in making His covenant with them, might be deemed an irrefragable argument for the truth of the Biblical representations. So in reality it is; but it is essential to the modern critical view that the argument should be deprived of its force, and the method by which this is sought to be accomplished is an excellent example of the arbitrariness we complain of in the critical procedure. The aim is to show that the references to the patriarchs and their doings—even to Moses—are so late as to deprive them of all value, and the means employed for this end is the summary excision from the text of all passages that speak to the contrary as later additions. It is a method beautiful in its simplicity, easily worked, and, when applied with sufficient courage, as it is in both history and prophets, never fails in silencing all opposing witness.

1. We begin by giving two examples of the application of this method to the prophets. “A striking fact is,” says Professor H. P. Smith, “that none of the prophets allude to Abraham till we come to Ezekiel. The weight of this in an inquiry into the historicity of the patriarchs can hardly be over-estimated.” Wellhausen, who, as we saw, is disposed to regard Abraham as “a free creation of unconscious art,” similarly writes: “The later development of the legend shows a manifest tendency to make Abraham the patriarch par excellence, and cast the others into the shade. In the earlier literature, on the other hand, Isaac is mentioned even by Amos. Abraham first appears in Isa. 40–66” The two statements, it may be observed, are not quite in harmony, for Ezekiel, in which the one critic allows a reference to Abraham, is at least earlier than the date assumed by Wellhausen for Isa. 40–66, where, on his showing, Abraham first appears. The passage in Ezekiel (chap. 33:24) reads: “Abraham was one, and he inherited the land.” Even on the meagre footing of these passages, it might be urged, we would not be without important witnesses to the singular place occupied by Abraham in the Israelitish tradition.

But are the facts as stated? If we take the Hebrew text as it stands, they certainly are not. We go back to Jeremiah, and there read, chap. 33:26: “I will take of his seed to be rulers over the seed of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.” We go back a stage further, to the earlier Isaiah, and there read, chap. 29:22: “Jehovah who redeemed Abraham.” We turn to Isaiah’s contemporary, Micah, and read, chap. 7:20: “Thou wilt perform the truth to Jacob, and the mercy to Abraham, which Thou hast sworn to our fathers from the days of old.” Here, then, are passages which directly contradict the categorical assertions of the critics: how are they dealt with? In the simplest possible fashion, by denying that they should be there. Thus, to his statement that no prophet prior to Ezekiel alludes to Abraham, Professor H. P. Smith calmly appends the footnote: “The present text shows two passages, Micah 7:20 and Jer. 33:26, but both are confessedly (?) late additions to the prophetic text.” Wellhausen is equally summary: “Micah 7:20,” he says, “belongs to the exile, and the words ‘who redeemed Abraham’ in Isa. 29:22 are not genuine: they have no possible position in the sentence.” To which it may be as summarily replied, that there is no convincing reason for changing any of the passages,—if reason at all, except in the critic’s own caprice. Even Kuenen, in his Religion of Israel, accepts as genuine the passages to which Wellhausen takes exception. Gunkel, one of the newest and most radical of critics, enters a much-needed protest against the whole system of procedure. “The author,” he says, “at this point cannot conceal his conviction that the reigning school of literary criticism is all too zealous to explain as not genuine the passages which do not exactly fit in with its construction of the history, or which are hard to be understood by the modern investigator, and that a powerful reaction must follow on the period of this criticism.”

2. It is now to be remarked, however, that even if the critics were right in their assertion that there are no express allusions to Abraham in the prophets prior to the exile, no such dire results would follow for the historicity of the patriarchs as the authorities we have quoted imagine. Direct allusions in the prophets are, after all, only a fraction of the evidence, and hardly affect the force of the argument from the national recollection of Israel. In the first place, it is to be observed that where allusions to Abraham do occur, it is always as to a person well known, and enshrined in the highest honour in the memory of the people. It is no stranger that is being introduced to them. Israel is “the seed of Abraham My friend.” They are exhorted to look to Abraham their father, and to Sarah that bare them, and are reminded for their encouragement, how, when he was but one, God called him, and blessed him, and increased him. He was one, and he inherited the land. It is declared that God will perform the truth to Jacob, and the mercy to Abraham, which He had sworn to their fathers from the days of old. But further, these patriarchs appear as figures in a connected history, and whatever in the prophets implies acquaintance with part of that history may fairly be regarded as implying knowledge of the rest, at least in its main features. The admitted allusions to Isaac and Jacob, for instance, and to incidents in the life of the latter, inferentially imply some knowledge of Abraham as well.

But this is by no means the whole. Nothing is surer in criticism, as was shown in the last chapter, than that, by the time of Amos and Hosea —i.e., long before the time of the exile—written histories of the patriarchal period existed, and were in circulation, embodying the current tradition of the nation, in which Abraham plays so prominent a part. “When stories were told of Isaac and Ishmael, and Lot and Esau,” says Wellhausen himself, speaking of a time when, as he thinks, the stories only circulated orally, “everyone knew at once who these personages were, and how they were related to Israel, and to one another.” Is it credible that the same should not be true of Abraham? What stories of Isaac, or Ishmael, or Lot, could be in currency in the days of the monarchy, which did not imply a knowledge of that patriarch? Or what stories could be told of Joseph which did not bring in Jacob, and Judah, and Reuben, and Benjamin, and the patriarchs generally? Then what of the Book of Deuteronomy?—a prophetic book, on the theory of the critics, yet based upon, and saturated with allusions to, this whole earlier history, including the Abrahamic covenant and promises. Is not this book before Ezekiel, or Isa. 40–66, as the critics date the latter? What, in view of such facts, becomes of Professor H. P. Smith’s “can hardly be over-estimated” in relation to the historicity of the patriarchs, —because, as he alleges, nothing is heard of Abraham before Ezekiel? Does not the use of such language recoil rather on himself as showing his singular lack of perspective in dealing with the subject?


     The Problem of the Old Testament

Grace | Matthew 20

By Dr. Sinclair Ferguson

     In context the parable is making a larger point about the flow of redemptive history, and perhaps about the ingathering of the Gentiles. But within that context it is fascinating to see Jesus unpick the human heart. Had the all-day laborers not seen the latecomers receive their wages, they would presumably have accepted their payment without comment. It is the Master’s exhibition of grace that evokes their “righteous” indignation. Now we hear their murmuring spirit as they calculate what they have really deserved because of their works, in the light of what others have received in grace.

     This is the grace exposé. Without the demonstration of grace, the true nature of their hearts would not have been revealed.

     Of course we may assume that later on they told each other that their murmuring was an aberration. They were not usually “like that.” But the truth is their reaction was a revelation. It had never appeared before simply because they had never encountered such grace before.

     This “legal temper” has many faces.

     Sometimes it manifests itself in our service of God. Others (with lesser gifts, shorter experience, poorer preparation) are given positions in the church, and we are passed over. We are irked, not legalistic! But, to the contrary, what is irking us is the grace of God, which irritates us because deep down we still think that grace should always operate on the principle of merit, as a reward for, or at least a recognition of, our prior faithful service. After all, shouldn’t the one who is faithful in little be given much?

     Every form of jealousy, all coveting for oneself of what God has given to others, all seeing God’s distribution of gifts as related to performance rather than his fatherly pleasure and enjoyment, is infected with this. At the end of the day, it means my sense of personal identity and worth has become entwined with performance and its recognition rather than being rooted and grounded in Christ and his de-merited grace. This too is a subtle form of legalism. It emerges from my soul as though God’s grace to others drew it out of me like a powerful magnet. Grace lances the boil of merit.

     Excerpt from The Whole Christ: Legalism, Antinomianism, and Gospel Assurance

     Dr. Sinclair B. Ferguson is a Ligonier teaching fellow and distinguished visiting professor of systematic theology at Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia.      Sinclair Ferguson Books |  Go to Books Page

The Continual Burnt Offering

By H.A. Ironside - 1941

January 20
Numbers 11:9 When the dew fell upon the camp in the night, the manna fell with it.   ESV

     The dew is a type of the refreshing influence of the Holy Spirit of God, “I will be like the dew to Israel” (Hosea 14:5). The manna speaks of Christ Himself, the Living Bread (John 6:48) who came down from Heaven to give His life a ransom for many. He came in the power of the Holy Spirit, taking the lowest place on earth. The manna lay upon the ground, so that every Israelite when he stepped out of his tent in the morning had to do one of two things: he must trample it beneath his feet or gather it up for his food. So Christ today is either spurned or received in faith as Savior.

Hosea 14:55  I will be like the dew to Israel;
he shall blossom like the lily;
he shall take root like the trees of Lebanon;
  ESV

John 6:48 I am the bread of life.   ESV

Nothing but Christ as on we tread,
The Gift unpriced, God’s living Bread!
With staff in hand, and feet well shod,
Nothing but Christ—the Christ of God.
--- S. O’M. Cluff

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

The Problem Of The Old Testament

By James Orr 1907

III. WITNESS OF ISRAEL’S NATIONAL CONSCIOUSNESS: THE PATRIARCHS
There is another branch of the critical method on which it is proper that something should now be said. This relates to the point just touched on—the testimony of the national consciousness of Israel to its own past.

It was seen above that exception is taken to the high religious ideas ascribed to the patriarchs, and to the stories of the divine communications made to them. The question of the early religion of Israel will be investigated in next chapter. Meanwhile it may be permitted to remark on Kuenen’s dictum that “at first the religion of Israel was polytheism,” that that can hardly be a sure result of criticism which many of the most distinguished critics of both past and present times energetically repudiate. Ewald was free enough in his treatment of the history, but he had no doubt of the existence of the patriarchs, or that they “thought and spoke monotheistically.” Dillmann, and Delitzsch, and Riehm were critics, but none of them would assent to the propositions of the Kuenen school about the religion of early Israel. As little would König, or Kittel, or Baethgen, or Klostermann, or Oettli, or the late Dr. A. B. Davidson, or many others that might be named. Dillmann may be quoted in this connection as an example. “If anyone,” he says, “desires to maintain that this representation rests only on an idealising conception of later writers, and is not to be accepted as historical, it must be contended in opposition that not merely Genesis, but the whole Old Testament, speaks of a covenant, of a peculiar relation in which God stood with the fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; that Moses attached himself with his work to the God of the fathers; that without this attachment his work would be incomprehensible; that, therefore, even if Genesis had said nothing on the subject, we should be compelled to postulate a certain acquaintance of these fathers with the living God, a higher faith in God.”

This deep consciousness which the Israelites possessed throughout their history of their origin from Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and of the peculiar favour of God to these fathers of their race in making His covenant with them, might be deemed an irrefragable argument for the truth of the Biblical representations. So in reality it is; but it is essential to the modern critical view that the argument should be deprived of its force, and the method by which this is sought to be accomplished is an excellent example of the arbitrariness we complain of in the critical procedure. The aim is to show that the references to the patriarchs and their doings—even to Moses—are so late as to deprive them of all value, and the means employed for this end is the summary excision from the text of all passages that speak to the contrary as later additions. It is a method beautiful in its simplicity, easily worked, and, when applied with sufficient courage, as it is in both history and prophets, never fails in silencing all opposing witness.

1. We begin by giving two examples of the application of this method to the prophets. “A striking fact is,” says Professor H. P. Smith, “that none of the prophets allude to Abraham till we come to Ezekiel. The weight of this in an inquiry into the historicity of the patriarchs can hardly be over-estimated.” Wellhausen, who, as we saw, is disposed to regard Abraham as “a free creation of unconscious art,” similarly writes: “The later development of the legend shows a manifest tendency to make Abraham the patriarch par excellence, and cast the others into the shade. In the earlier literature, on the other hand, Isaac is mentioned even by Amos. Abraham first appears in Isa. 40–66” The two statements, it may be observed, are not quite in harmony, for Ezekiel, in which the one critic allows a reference to Abraham, is at least earlier than the date assumed by Wellhausen for Isa. 40–66, where, on his showing, Abraham first appears. The passage in Ezekiel (chap. 33:24) reads: “Abraham was one, and he inherited the land.” Even on the meagre footing of these passages, it might be urged, we would not be without important witnesses to the singular place occupied by Abraham in the Israelitish tradition.

But are the facts as stated? If we take the Hebrew text as it stands, they certainly are not. We go back to Jeremiah, and there read, chap. 33:26: “I will take of his seed to be rulers over the seed of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.” We go back a stage further, to the earlier Isaiah, and there read, chap. 29:22: “Jehovah who redeemed Abraham.” We turn to Isaiah’s contemporary, Micah, and read, chap. 7:20: “Thou wilt perform the truth to Jacob, and the mercy to Abraham, which Thou hast sworn to our fathers from the days of old.” Here, then, are passages which directly contradict the categorical assertions of the critics: how are they dealt with? In the simplest possible fashion, by denying that they should be there. Thus, to his statement that no prophet prior to Ezekiel alludes to Abraham, Professor H. P. Smith calmly appends the footnote: “The present text shows two passages, Micah 7:20 and Jer. 33:26, but both are confessedly (?) late additions to the prophetic text.” Wellhausen is equally summary: “Micah 7:20,” he says, “belongs to the exile, and the words ‘who redeemed Abraham’ in Isa. 29:22 are not genuine: they have no possible position in the sentence.” To which it may be as summarily replied, that there is no convincing reason for changing any of the passages,—if reason at all, except in the critic’s own caprice. Even Kuenen, in his Religion of Israel, accepts as genuine the passages to which Wellhausen takes exception. Gunkel, one of the newest and most radical of critics, enters a much-needed protest against the whole system of procedure. “The author,” he says, “at this point cannot conceal his conviction that the reigning school of literary criticism is all too zealous to explain as not genuine the passages which do not exactly fit in with its construction of the history, or which are hard to be understood by the modern investigator, and that a powerful reaction must follow on the period of this criticism.”

2. It is now to be remarked, however, that even if the critics were right in their assertion that there are no express allusions to Abraham in the prophets prior to the exile, no such dire results would follow for the historicity of the patriarchs as the authorities we have quoted imagine. Direct allusions in the prophets are, after all, only a fraction of the evidence, and hardly affect the force of the argument from the national recollection of Israel. In the first place, it is to be observed that where allusions to Abraham do occur, it is always as to a person well known, and enshrined in the highest honour in the memory of the people. It is no stranger that is being introduced to them. Israel is “the seed of Abraham My friend.” They are exhorted to look to Abraham their father, and to Sarah that bare them, and are reminded for their encouragement, how, when he was but one, God called him, and blessed him, and increased him. He was one, and he inherited the land. It is declared that God will perform the truth to Jacob, and the mercy to Abraham, which He had sworn to their fathers from the days of old. But further, these patriarchs appear as figures in a connected history, and whatever in the prophets implies acquaintance with part of that history may fairly be regarded as implying knowledge of the rest, at least in its main features. The admitted allusions to Isaac and Jacob, for instance, and to incidents in the life of the latter, inferentially imply some knowledge of Abraham as well.

But this is by no means the whole. Nothing is surer in criticism, as was shown in the last chapter, than that, by the time of Amos and Hosea —i.e., long before the time of the exile—written histories of the patriarchal period existed, and were in circulation, embodying the current tradition of the nation, in which Abraham plays so prominent a part. “When stories were told of Isaac and Ishmael, and Lot and Esau,” says Wellhausen himself, speaking of a time when, as he thinks, the stories only circulated orally, “everyone knew at once who these personages were, and how they were related to Israel, and to one another.” Is it credible that the same should not be true of Abraham? What stories of Isaac, or Ishmael, or Lot, could be in currency in the days of the monarchy, which did not imply a knowledge of that patriarch? Or what stories could be told of Joseph which did not bring in Jacob, and Judah, and Reuben, and Benjamin, and the patriarchs generally? Then what of the Book of Deuteronomy?—a prophetic book, on the theory of the critics, yet based upon, and saturated with allusions to, this whole earlier history, including the Abrahamic covenant and promises. Is not this book before Ezekiel, or Isa. 40–66, as the critics date the latter? What, in view of such facts, becomes of Professor H. P. Smith’s “can hardly be over-estimated” in relation to the historicity of the patriarchs, —because, as he alleges, nothing is heard of Abraham before Ezekiel? Does not the use of such language recoil rather on himself as showing his singular lack of perspective in dealing with the subject?


     The Problem of the Old Testament


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UCB The Word For Today
     The difference between Samson and Samuel (4)
     1/20/2018    Bob Gass

     ‘Thus far the LORD has helped us.’

(1 Sa 7:12) Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen and called its name Ebenezer; for he said, “Till now the LORD has helped us.” ESV


     Difference four: Accountability. Samson had an independent attitude and refused to be accountable to anyone else. He was a ‘lone ranger’ who refused to work with others. And his erratic attempts at deliverance caused the Philistines to tax God’s people more and make their burdens heavier. Samuel, on the other hand, worked in consensus with others. When he prayed and God gave Israel a spectacular victory over their enemies, he refused to take any of the credit. ‘Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpeh and Shen, and called its name Ebenezer, saying, “Thus far has the LORD helped us.”’ Samson was ‘me’ focused, but Samuel was ‘us’ focused. The psalmist said, ‘Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity…for there the LORD commanded the blessing’ (Psalm 133:1, 3 NKJV). The secret of walking in God’s blessing is not to operate alone, but cooperate with others. That’s how the New Testament church did it. ‘When they had further threatened them, they let them go…And being let go, they went to their own companions’ (Acts 4:21 23 NKJV). When the apostles came under attack, ‘they went to their own companions’. They had relationships in place with those who knew how to advise and guide them, strengthen and encourage them, pray and share God’s Word with them. You need such relationships too! And you can’t afford to wait until trouble comes before you establish them. Do it now, in the good times, and they’ll be there for you in the bad times.

Genesis 43-45
Matthew 12:22-50

UCB The Word For Today

IMHO
     January 20, 2016

     It must be just as frustrating for those on the far right as it is for those on the far left to put up with the great disinterested middle-grounders. It seems the majority of people do not know what they believe and certainly have no idea why they believe this or that. The Bible calls these people luke warm and God has little use for them either. America is complacent about its complacency. I am reminded that Jesus said, “But who do you say that I am?”

     It is so easy for people today to do their own research on any topic, but, I guess it is just too much trouble. Most people who don’t believe the truths in the Bible have never read it for themselves and most people who claim to be Christians have never read the Bible either. I find that remarkable.

     Those who believe they believe in God but without passion in the heart, without anguish of mind, without uncertainty, without doubt, and even at times without despair, believe only in the idea of God, and not in God himself. --- Madeleine L’Engle

     Writer Michael Novak says that doubt is not so much a dividing line that separates people into different camps as it is a razor's edge that runs through every soul. Michael Novak, Belief and Unbelief


Belief and Unbelief: A Philosophy of Self-Knowledge

American Minute
     by Bill Federer

     On this day, January 20, 1961, President John F. Kennedy delivered his Inaugural Address, following prayers by a rabbi, a Protestant minister, a Catholic cardinal, a Greek Orthodox bishop, and a poem by Robert Frost. President Kennedy stated: “The same revolutionary beliefs for which our forebears fought are still at issue around the globe - The belief that the rights of man come not from the generosity of the state but from the hand of God.” President Kennedy concluded: “Let us go forth… asking His blessing and His help… knowing that here on earth God’s work must truly be our own.”

American Minute

A Testament Of Devotion
     Thomas R. Kelly

     In 1935 Clarence Pickett and Rufus Jones on behalf of the American Friends Service Committee had tried to get Thomas Kelly to go back to Germany after ten years' absence and spend a summer visiting German Friends. His illness and his call to Hawaii made that impossible but now, in the summer of 1938, the call came again and he accepted. During this summer in Germany the ripening process went on apace as he lived in intimate fellowship with German Quakers and with others of all social classes. It was a religious journey, and like the earlier Friends, he went about from place to place and lived in Friends' homes talking out their problems with them, sitting in silence with them, and sharing his witness with them. He wrote a friend of the fellowship that summer where he knew and was known in that which is eternal, "I think, for example, of a day laborer in Stuttgart whom I visited recently. He knows the Presence so well. And we talked for a half an hour and stood together in silence and fully understood each other. He can't even speak correct German, but oh what a precious soul . . . I have had several long talks with the wife of a German, who has horny hands from desperately hard work. She loves the oppressed and the poor and the simple folk in a way that reminds me of St. Francis of Assisi. She knows the depths of the Divine Presence, the peace and creative power that you know, and through no grace of my own, I know also. Such consecration of life is amazing." He was later to write on this inward fellowship which was the social pole of his message in the last years of his life, "When we are drowned in the overwhelming seas of the love of God, we find ourselves in a new and particular relation to a few of our fellows."

     He gave the Richard Cary Lecture at the German Yearly Meeting in 1938 presenting essentially the material which was included in his essay on The Eternal Now and Social Concern. It spoke to the condition of German Friends and they responded to him as they have scarcely done to any other American visitor. He left behind in Germany a memory that is still green.

     To him, the German experience seemed to clarify still further what had come a few months before. He wrote to his mother at the close of that summer, "I am not at all as I was when I came to Germany, as you will find when you see me." In long visits that we had immediately upon his return in September 1938, he kept repeating, "It is wonderful. I have been literally melted down by the love of God." He told several of his student friends later of a specific experience that he had had on his knees in the great cathedral at Cologne where he seemed to feel God laying the whole congealed suffering of humanity upon his heart-a burden too terrible to be borne­ but yet with His help bearable.

A Testament of Devotion
Lean Into God
     Compilation by RickAdams7


When we lose God,
it is not God who is lost.
--- Author Unknown


When Our Lord faced men with all the forces of evil in them,
and men who were clean living and moral and upright,
he did not pay any attention to the moral degradation of the one
or to the moral attainment of the other;
He looked at something we do not see,
viz., the disposition.
--- Oswald Chambers

I would rather teach one man to pray
than ten men to preach.
--- Charles Spurgeon

Give over thine own willing; give over thine own running; give over thine own desiring to know or to be anything, and sink down to the seed which God sows in the heart, and let that grow in thee, and be in thee, and breathe in thee, and act in thee, and thou shalt find by sweet experience that the Lord knows that, and loves and owns that, and will lead it to the inheritance of life, which is his portion.
--- Isaac Penington, 1616-1679 (Some Directions To The Panting Soul

... from here, there and everywhere

Proverbs 4:16-19
     by D.H. Stern


16     For they can’t sleep if they haven’t done evil,
they are robbed of sleep unless they make someone fall.
17     For they eat the bread of wickedness
and drink the wine of violence.
18     But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn,
shining ever brighter until full daylight.
19     The way of the wicked is like darkness;
they don’t even know what makes them stumble.


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


                Are you fresh for everything?

     
Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. --- John 3:3.

     Sometimes we are fresh for a prayer meeting but not fresh for cleaning boots!

     Being born again of the Spirit is an unmistakable work of God, as mysterious as the wind, as surprising as God Himself. We do not know where it begins, it is hidden away in the depths of our personal life. Being born again from above is a perennial, perpetual and eternal beginning, a freshness all the time in thinking and in talking and in living, the continual surprise of the life of God. Staleness is an indication of something out of joint with God—‘I must do this thing or it will never be done.’ That is the first sign of staleness. Are we freshly born this minute, or are we stale, raking in our minds for something to do? Freshness does not come from obedience but from the Holy Spirit; obedience keeps us in the light as God is in the light.

     Guard jealously your relationship to God. Jesus prayed “that they may be one, even as We are one”—nothing between. Keep all the life perennially open to Jesus Christ, don’t pretend with Him. Are you drawing your life from any other source than God Himself? If you are depending upon anything but Him, you will never know when He is gone.

     Being born of the Spirit means much more than we generally take it to mean. It gives us a new vision and keeps us absolutely fresh for everything by the perennial supply of the life of God.


My Utmost for His Highest

The Vow
     the Poetry of R.S. Thomas

                The Vow

The supreme vow is no
  vow but a concession
  to anger at the exigencies
  of language. The hero

  is he who advances
  with all his vocabulary
  intact to his final
  overthrow by an untruth.

The Poems of R.S. Thomas
Take Heart
     January 20



     In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you.
--- John 14:2.

     If we were to think of every room in [the Father’s house] having its four enclosing walls, each would have its inscription written by God’s own hand.

     There are those who have often doubted their acceptance and forgiveness, who have walked in darkness and with difficulty stayed themselves on God, questioning whether they might not in the end be castaways; it stands inscribed, “Your many sins have been forgiven.”

     There are those who have felt all through life as if God were turned to be their enemy and were fighting against them. Their desires have been thwarted, their hearts pierced through and through with losses and crosses and cruel wounds, and failure upon failure has followed their plans. But it is written, “The LORD disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in,” and “In all things God works for the good of those who love him.”

     And there are those who have yearnings of heart to feel God’s presence close and constant, to hear him and speak with him and be sure his is not, as some would say to them, a voice or a vision or a dream of their fond imagination. They have felt it at times so certain that they could say, “The LORD is the stronghold of my life—of whom shall I be afraid?” (Ps. 27:1). But clouds roll in on the assurance, and the voice seems far off or silent, as if it were among the trees of the garden, and it is toward evening, and there is doubt and fear. But it shall be “like the light of morning at sunrise on a cloudless morning, like the brightness after rain that brings the grass from the earth,” and his name shall be written as the “Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” And the one who reads it shall say, “You are my Father, my God, the Rock my Savior.” Here is hope and aim for stricken spirits and solitary hearts. There is a Father, there is a home. The sky is not empty, the world is not orphaned. Doubtless, you are our Father, our Redeemer.
--- John Ker

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

On This Day   January 20
     Still Going

     The church of Jesus Christ is indestructible. Even the weakest Christians are precious in God’s sight, and death itself has no power over his people.

     Decius didn’t understand that. When Decius Trajan became ruler of Rome in 249, the empire was weakening. Barbarians were threatening northern borders, and morale was low. Decius, a soldier rigid and determined, blamed Christians for the weakness and unwieldiness of his empire.

     The emperor had a strategy. He thought if he removed the leaders of the church the entire fabric would dissolve. If you cut off the head, he said, the body will soon die. So in December 249, arrest warrants went out across the empire for prominent Christians, igniting the first empire-wide attack on the church. On January 20, 250, Fabian, nineteenth pope or bishop of Rome, was arrested, tried, and became the first to die.

     Decius reportedly said, “I would far rather receive news of a rival to the throne than of another bishop of Rome.”

     Few records remain of Fabian’s life and ministry. We know he improved the organization of the Roman church both above and below ground. He divided the city into seven congregations with a deacon in charge of each section, and he directed work on the catacombs. In those catacombs his broken body was later buried.

     But the church wasn’t buried. Brave Christians in Rome wrote from prison to Bishop Cyprian of Carthage: “What more glorious and blessed lot can fall to man by the grace of God, than to confess God the Lord amidst tortures and in the face of death itself; to confess Christ the Son of God with lacerated body and with a spirit departing, yet free; and to become fellow-sufferers with Christ. Though we have not yet shed our blood, we are ready to do so.”

     Decius died the next year, but the church he persecuted is still going strong.

     Jesus told him: Simon, son of Jonah, you are blessed! You didn’t discover this on your own. It was shown to you by my Father in heaven. So I will call you Peter, which means “a rock.” On this rock I will build my church, and death itself will not have power over it.
--- Matthew 16:17,18.


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

Morning and Evening
     Daily Readings / CHARLES H. SPURGEON

          Morning - January 20

     “Abel was a keeper of sheep." --- Genesis 4:2.

     As a shepherd Abel sanctified his work to the glory of God, and offered a sacrifice of blood upon his altar, and the Lord had respect unto Abel and his offering. This early type of our Lord is exceedingly clear and distinct. Like the first streak of light which tinges the east at sunrise, it does not reveal everything, but it clearly manifests the great fact that the sun is coming. As we see Abel, a shepherd and yet a priest, offering a sacrifice of sweet smell unto God, we discern our Lord, who brings before his Father a sacrifice to which Jehovah ever hath respect. Abel was hated by his brother—hated without a cause; and even so was the Saviour: the natural and carnal man hated the accepted man in whom the Spirit of grace was found, and rested not until his blood had been shed. Abel fell, and sprinkled his altar and sacrifice with his own blood, and therein sets forth the Lord Jesus slain by the enmity of man while serving as a priest before the Lord. “The good Shepherd layeth down his life for the sheep.” Let us weep over him as we view him slain by the hatred of mankind, staining the horns of his altar with his own blood. Abel’s blood speaketh. “The Lord said unto Cain, ‘The voice of thy brother’s blood crieth unto me from the ground.’ ” The blood of Jesus hath a mighty tongue, and the import of its prevailing cry is not vengeance but mercy. It is precious beyond all preciousness to stand at the altar of our good Shepherd! to see him bleeding there as the slaughtered priest, and then to hear his blood speaking peace to all his flock, peace in our conscience, peace between Jew and Gentile, peace between man and his offended Maker, peace all down the ages of eternity for blood-washed men. Abel is the first shepherd in order of time, but our hearts shall ever place Jesus first in order of excellence. Thou great Keeper of the sheep, we the people of thy pasture bless thee with our whole hearts when we see thee slain for us.


          Evening - January 20

     “Turn away mine eyes from beholding vanity; and quicken thou me in thy way.”
--- Psalm 119:37.

     There are divers kinds of vanity. The cap and bells of the fool, the mirth of the world, the dance, the lyre, and the cup of the dissolute, all these men know to be vanities; they wear upon their forefront their proper name and title. Far more treacherous are those equally vain things, the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches. A man may follow vanity as truly in the counting-house as in the theatre. If he be spending his life in amassing wealth, he passes his days in a vain show. Unless we follow Christ, and make our God the great object of life, we only differ in appearance from the most frivolous. It is clear that there is much need of the first prayer of our text. “Quicken thou me in thy way.” The Psalmist confesses that he is dull, heavy, lumpy, all but dead. Perhaps, dear reader, you feel the same. We are so sluggish that the best motives cannot quicken us, apart from the Lord himself. What! will not hell quicken me? Shall I think of sinners perishing, and yet not be awakened? Will not heaven quicken me? Can I think of the reward that awaiteth the righteous, and yet be cold? Will not death quicken me? Can I think of dying, and standing before my God, and yet be slothful in my Master’s service? Will not Christ’s love constrain me? Can I think of his dear wounds, can I sit at the foot of his cross, and not be stirred with fervency and zeal? It seems so! No mere consideration can quicken us to zeal, but God himself must do it, hence the cry, “Quicken thou me.” The Psalmist breathes out his whole soul in vehement pleadings: his body and his soul unite in prayer. “Turn away mine eyes,” says the body: “Quicken thou me,” cries the soul. This is a fit prayer for every day. O Lord, hear it in my case this night.

Morning and Evening
Amazing Grace
     January 20

          DEAR LORD AND FATHER OF MANKIND

     John Greenleaf Whittier, 1807–1892

     In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength. (Isaiah 30:15)

     So often in our modern lives we attack our problems with frantic and hurried activity, creating unnecessary stress for ourselves. We easily forget that our heavenly Father can assist us in meeting our daily challenges with serenity and calm assurance. We need the quiet confidence in God and a peaceful resting in His eternal love that is reflected in this beautiful text by John Greenleaf Whittier, “America’s beloved Quaker poet.” Whittier’s poetic lines remind us of this so clearly, admonishing us to listen carefully for God’s “still small voice of calm” in the midst of all of life’s turbulence.

     Whittier was a good example of quiet godly life in his speech, dress, and writings. It has been said that he “left upon our literature the stamp of genius and upon our religion the touch of sanity.”

     “A good hymn is the best use to which poetry can be devoted, though I do not claim to have succeeded in writing one,” wrote Whittier. Hymnal editors, however, have collected and edited enough of his poems to make seventy-five hymns.

     John Greenleaf Whittier’s life expressed the steadfast rest in his heavenly Father’s love that these words suggest. As you read, why not decide now to let Him guide you and give you peace in this hectic world.

     Dear Lord and Father of mankind, forgive our fev’rish ways! Reclothe us in our rightful mind; in purer lives Thy service find, in deeper rev’rence, praise.
     In simple trust like theirs who heard, beside the Syrian sea, the gracious calling of the Lord, let us, like them, without a word rise up and follow Thee.
     Drop Thy still dews of quietness till all our strivings cease; take from our souls the strain and stress, and let our ordered lives confess the beauty of Thy peace.
     Breathe thru the heats of our desire Thy coolness and Thy balm; let sense be dumb, let flesh retire; speak thru the earthquake, wind and fire, O still small voice of calm.


     For Today: Mark 1:16–20; 4:6; 2 Timothy 1:9; 1 Peter 2:9; 1 John 1:9.

     Breathe this prayer as you begin your activities today—“Lord, grant to me a quiet mind, that trusting Thee … for Thou art kind … I may go on without a fear, for Thou, my Lord, art always near.” Use this musical message to remember ---

Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions
Our God Reigns
     Alistair Begg


Pt 1





Pt 2




Exodus 7 - 9
     Brett Meador | Athey Creek


Pharaoh's Four Exodus 8-10
s2-038 | 8-03-2014





Exodus 7-8
m2-036 | 8-6-2014






Jacob's Trouble: 9:13-18
s2-039 | 8-10-2014





Exodus 9
m2-037 | 8-13-2014




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


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