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1/22/2021     Yesterday     Tomorrow

Exodus   13 - 15

Consecration of the Firstborn

Exodus 13:1  The LORD said to Moses, 2 “Consecrate to me all the firstborn. Whatever is the first to open the womb among the people of Israel, both of man and of beast, is mine.”

The Feast of Unleavened Bread

3 Then Moses said to the people, “Remember this day in which you came out from Egypt, out of the house of slavery, for by a strong hand the LORD brought you out from this place. No leavened bread shall be eaten. 4 Today, in the month of Abib, you are going out. 5 And when the LORD brings you into the land of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites, which he swore to your fathers to give you, a land flowing with milk and honey, you shall keep this service in this month. 6 Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread, and on the seventh day there shall be a feast to the LORD. 7 Unleavened bread shall be eaten for seven days; no leavened bread shall be seen with you, and no leaven shall be seen with you in all your territory. 8 You shall tell your son on that day, ‘It is because of what the LORD did for me when I came out of Egypt.’ 9 And it shall be to you as a sign on your hand and as a memorial between your eyes, that the law of the LORD may be in your mouth. For with a strong hand the LORD has brought you out of Egypt. 10 You shall therefore keep this statute at its appointed time from year to year.

11 “When the LORD brings you into the land of the Canaanites, as he swore to you and your fathers, and shall give it to you, 12 you shall set apart to the LORD all that first opens the womb. All the firstborn of your animals that are males shall be the LORD’s. 13 Every firstborn of a donkey you shall redeem with a lamb, or if you will not redeem it you shall break its neck. Every firstborn of man among your sons you shall redeem. 14 And when in time to come your son asks you, ‘What does this mean?’ you shall say to him, ‘By a strong hand the LORD brought us out of Egypt, from the house of slavery. 15 For when Pharaoh stubbornly refused to let us go, the LORD killed all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both the firstborn of man and the firstborn of animals. Therefore I sacrifice to the LORD all the males that first open the womb, but all the firstborn of my sons I redeem.’ 16 It shall be as a mark on your hand or frontlets between your eyes, for by a strong hand the LORD brought us out of Egypt.”

Pillars of Cloud and Fire

17 When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them by way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near. For God said, “Lest the people change their minds when they see war and return to Egypt.” 18 But God led the people around by the way of the wilderness toward the Red Sea. And the people of Israel went up out of the land of Egypt equipped for battle. 19 Moses took the bones of Joseph with him, for Joseph had made the sons of Israel solemnly swear, saying, “God will surely visit you, and you shall carry up my bones with you from here.” 20 And they moved on from Succoth and encamped at Etham, on the edge of the wilderness. 21 And the LORD went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead them along the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, that they might travel by day and by night. 22 The pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night did not depart from before the people.

Exodus 14

Crossing the Red Sea

Exodus 14:1 Then the LORD said to Moses, 2 “Tell the people of Israel to turn back and encamp in front of Pi-hahiroth, between Migdol and the sea, in front of Baal-zephon; you shall encamp facing it, by the sea. 3 For Pharaoh will say of the people of Israel, ‘They are wandering in the land; the wilderness has shut them in.’ 4 And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and he will pursue them, and I will get glory over Pharaoh and all his host, and the Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD.” And they did so.

5 When the king of Egypt was told that the people had fled, the mind of Pharaoh and his servants was changed toward the people, and they said, “What is this we have done, that we have let Israel go from serving us?” 6 So he made ready his chariot and took his army with him, 7 and took six hundred chosen chariots and all the other chariots of Egypt with officers over all of them. 8 And the LORD hardened the heart of Pharaoh king of Egypt, and he pursued the people of Israel while the people of Israel were going out defiantly. 9 The Egyptians pursued them, all Pharaoh’s horses and chariots and his horsemen and his army, and overtook them encamped at the sea, by Pi-hahiroth, in front of Baal-zephon.

10 When Pharaoh drew near, the people of Israel lifted up their eyes, and behold, the Egyptians were marching after them, and they feared greatly. And the people of Israel cried out to the LORD. 11 They said to Moses, “Is it because there are no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness? What have you done to us in bringing us out of Egypt? 12 Is not this what we said to you in Egypt: ‘Leave us alone that we may serve the Egyptians’? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness.” 13 And Moses said to the people, “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the LORD, which he will work for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again. 14 The LORD will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.”

15 The LORD said to Moses, “Why do you cry to me? Tell the people of Israel to go forward. 16 Lift up your staff, and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it, that the people of Israel may go through the sea on dry ground. 17 And I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians so that they shall go in after them, and I will get glory over Pharaoh and all his host, his chariots, and his horsemen. 18 And the Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD, when I have gotten glory over Pharaoh, his chariots, and his horsemen.”

19 Then the angel of God who was going before the host of Israel moved and went behind them, and the pillar of cloud moved from before them and stood behind them, 20 coming between the host of Egypt and the host of Israel. And there was the cloud and the darkness. And it lit up the night without one coming near the other all night.

21 Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and the LORD drove the sea back by a strong east wind all night and made the sea dry land, and the waters were divided. 22 And the people of Israel went into the midst of the sea on dry ground, the waters being a wall to them on their right hand and on their left. 23 The Egyptians pursued and went in after them into the midst of the sea, all Pharaoh’s horses, his chariots, and his horsemen. 24 And in the morning watch the LORD in the pillar of fire and of cloud looked down on the Egyptian forces and threw the Egyptian forces into a panic, 25 clogging their chariot wheels so that they drove heavily. And the Egyptians said, “Let us flee from before Israel, for the LORD fights for them against the Egyptians.”

26 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand over the sea, that the water may come back upon the Egyptians, upon their chariots, and upon their horsemen.” 27 So Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and the sea returned to its normal course when the morning appeared. And as the Egyptians fled into it, the LORD threw the Egyptians into the midst of the sea. 28 The waters returned and covered the chariots and the horsemen; of all the host of Pharaoh that had followed them into the sea, not one of them remained. 29 But the people of Israel walked on dry ground through the sea, the waters being a wall to them on their right hand and on their left.

30 Thus the LORD saved Israel that day from the hand of the Egyptians, and Israel saw the Egyptians dead on the seashore. 31 Israel saw the great power that the LORD used against the Egyptians, so the people feared the LORD, and they believed in the LORD and in his servant Moses.

Exodus 15

The Song of Moses

Exodus 15:1 Then Moses and the people of Israel sang this song to the LORD, saying,

“I will sing to the LORD, for he has triumphed gloriously;
the horse and his rider he has thrown into the sea.
2  The LORD is my strength and my song,
and he has become my salvation;
this is my God, and I will praise him,
my father’s God, and I will exalt him.
3  The LORD is a man of war;
the LORD is his name.

4  “Pharaoh’s chariots and his host he cast into the sea,
and his chosen officers were sunk in the Red Sea.
5  The floods covered them;
they went down into the depths like a stone.
6  Your right hand, O LORD, glorious in power,
your right hand, O LORD, shatters the enemy.
7  In the greatness of your majesty you overthrow your adversaries;
you send out your fury; it consumes them like stubble.
8  At the blast of your nostrils the waters piled up;
the floods stood up in a heap;
the deeps congealed in the heart of the sea.
9  The enemy said, ‘I will pursue, I will overtake,
I will divide the spoil, my desire shall have its fill of them.
I will draw my sword; my hand shall destroy them.’
10  You blew with your wind; the sea covered them;
they sank like lead in the mighty waters.

11  “Who is like you, O LORD, among the gods?
Who is like you, majestic in holiness,
awesome in glorious deeds, doing wonders?
12  You stretched out your right hand;
the earth swallowed them.

13  “You have led in your steadfast love the people whom you have redeemed;
you have guided them by your strength to your holy abode.
14  The peoples have heard; they tremble;
pangs have seized the inhabitants of Philistia.
15  Now are the chiefs of Edom dismayed;
trembling seizes the leaders of Moab;
all the inhabitants of Canaan have melted away.
16  Terror and dread fall upon them;
because of the greatness of your arm, they are still as a stone,
till your people, O LORD, pass by,
till the people pass by whom you have purchased.
17  You will bring them in and plant them on your own mountain,
the place, O LORD, which you have made for your abode,
the sanctuary, O Lord, which your hands have established.
18  The LORD will reign forever and ever.”

19 For when the horses of Pharaoh with his chariots and his horsemen went into the sea, the LORD brought back the waters of the sea upon them, but the people of Israel walked on dry ground in the midst of the sea. 20 Then Miriam the prophetess, the sister of Aaron, took a tambourine in her hand, and all the women went out after her with tambourines and dancing. 21 And Miriam sang to them:

“Sing to the LORD, for he has triumphed gloriously;
the horse and his rider he has thrown into the sea.”

Bitter Water Made Sweet

22 Then Moses made Israel set out from the Red Sea, and they went into the wilderness of Shur. They went three days in the wilderness and found no water. 23 When they came to Marah, they could not drink the water of Marah because it was bitter; therefore it was named Marah. 24 And the people grumbled against Moses, saying, “What shall we drink?” 25 And he cried to the LORD, and the LORD showed him a log, and he threw it into the water, and the water became sweet.

There the LORD made for them a statute and a rule, and there he tested them, 26 saying, “If you will diligently listen to the voice of the LORD your God, and do that which is right in his eyes, and give ear to his commandments and keep all his statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you that I put on the Egyptians, for I am the LORD, your healer.”

27 Then they came to Elim, where there were twelve springs of water and seventy palm trees, and they encamped there by the water.

ESV Study Bible

What I'm Reading

What Did Early Christians Believe About Hell?

By J. Warner Wallace 1/19/2018

     As we seek to understand what the Bible teaches about Hell, it may be helpful to understand what the earliest believers believed and taught. The teachings of some of these believers has been preserved for us in the writings of ancient church leaders (known as the Early Church Fathers). While their writings are neither canonical nor authoritative, they do help us to understand what those closest to the apostles first believed about Hell. As we assemble the teachings of these first church leaders, several patterns emerge related to the nature of Hell. The Early Church Fathers, with very few exceptions, agree with traditional views descriptions of Hell as a place of eternal, conscious torment:

     1. Hell is a place of judgment for those who have rejected God and denied Jesus as their Savior
     2. Hell is a place of separation from God
     3. Hell is a place of torment in which the rebellious are in anguish and pain
     4. Hell is a place where the rebellious are tormented forever and are conscious of this torment for all eternity (In fact, the eternal duration of their torment is often compared to the eternal duration of the reward of the saved)

     At the same time, the earliest Church Fathers are ambiguous on those areas where the Bible is ALSO ambiguous.

     1. The exact nature of the torment of the rebellious is unknown
     2. The manner in which the rebellious are kept alive in spite of ‘deathly’ anguish is also un-described

     The Early Church Fathers simply reflected the clearest teachings of the Bible. Here is a very brief assessment of several quotes made by early Christians about the nature of Hell:

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James "Jim" Warner Wallace (born June 16, 1961) is an American homicide detective and Christian apologist. Wallace is a Senior Fellow at the Colson Center for Christian Worldview and an Adjunct Professor of Apologetics at Biola University in La Mirada, California. He has authored several books, including Cold-Case Christianity, God’s Crime Scene, and Forensic Faith, in which he applies principles of cold case homicide investigation to apologetic concerns such as the existence of God and the reliability of the Gospels.

The Antilegomena

By Gleason Archer Jr.

     At this point a word must be said about the so-called Antilegomena (“the books spoken against”). The Mishnah mentions the existence of controversy in some Jewish circles during the second century A.D. relative to the canonicity of Canticles, Ecclesiastes, and Esther. Doubts were expressed by some during the same period as to the book of Proverbs. Ezekiel had also, according to the Gemara, been under discussion as to its authority until the objections to it were settled in A.D. 66. We are told that the disciples of Shammai in the first century B.C. contested the canonicity of Ecclesiastes, whereas the school of Hillel just as vigorously upheld it. The scholarly discussions held at Jamnia in A.D. 904 sustained the claims of both Ecclesiastes and Canticles to divine authority. These minority objections should not be misconstrued as having delayed the canonicity of the five books concerned, any more than Martin Luther’s sixteenth-century objections to James and Esther delayed canonical recognition of these books.

     To deal with the charges against these disputed books, we must take them up one by one. The criticism of Ecclesiastes was based upon its alleged pessimism, its supposed Epicureanism, and denial of the life to come. But thoughtful students of the book came to the conclusion that none of these charges was justified when the work was interpreted in the light of the author’s special technique and purposes.

     The criticism of the Song of Solomon was based on the passages in it which speak of physical attractiveness in bold and enthusiastic imagery bordering on the erotic (if taken in a crassly literal way). But the allegorical interpretation of Hillel, who identified Solomon with Jehovah and the Shulamite with Israel, revealed spiritual dimensions in this truly beautiful production. Christian exegetes followed this lead in applying the figure of Solomon to Christ and the bride to the Church, and attained thereby richer insight into the love relationship between the Savior and His redeemed.

     As for Esther, the objection was that the name of God does not appear in it. But this drawback (difficult though it is to explain) was more than offset by the remarkable manifestations of divine providence working through every dramatic circumstance in order to deliver the Jewish race from the greatest threat to its existence ever faced in their history.

     In the case of Ezekiel, the problem it presented consisted in the disagreements of detail between the latter-day temple and ritual of the last ten chapters and those of the Mosaic tabernacle and Solomonic temple. But it was pointed out in rebuttal that these differences were found only in minor details and might pertain to a still future temple, rather than to the second temple erected by Zerubbabel. In any event, it was to be confidently expected that Elijah upon his return to earth would clear up all these difficulties for the faithful.

     The objections to  Proverbs  were not so serious, but centered rather in a few apparently contradictory precepts, such as  Proverbs 26:4–5:  “Answer not a fool according to his folly.… Answer a fool according to his folly.”

Ancient Witnesses to the Masoretic Canon

     How early was this twenty-two book canon of the Palestinian Jews? The earliest extant reference to the three main divisions of the Hebrew Scripture is to be found in the prologue to the apocryphal book Ecclesiasticus, composed ca. 190 B.C. in Hebrew by Jesus ben Sirach. The prologue itself was composed in Greek by the grandson of this author, who translated the entire work into Greek. In the prologue (dating from about 130 B.C.) we read, “Whereas many and great things have been delivered to us by the Law and the Prophets and by others that have followed their steps—my grandfather, Jesus, when he had much given himself to the reading of the Law and the Prophets and other books of our fathers, and had gotten therein good judgment, was drawn on also himself to write something pertaining to learning and wisdom.” What is classified in the MT canon as the Kethûbɩ̂m (“the Writings or Hagiographa”) is referred to here as (a) books by others who have followed in the steps of the prophets, (b) other books of our fathers. This shows that a tripartite division of some sort already existed in the second century B.C. Note also that 1 Maccabees, composed about the same time as the prologue, refers to two episodes in  Daniel  (1 Macc. 2:59–60, i.e., the deliverance of Daniel himself from the lions’ den) and quotes expressly from the  Psalms  (e.g., 1 Macc. 7:17 quotes from  Ps. 79:2–3 ); and both these books (apparently regarded as canonical) belong to the Kethûbɩ̂m. As for the New Testament,  Luke 24:44  refers to the Old Testament as “the law of Moses, and the Prophets, and the  Psalms .” Not only the  Psalms,  but also  Proverbs  and  Daniel  are often referred to as the authoritative Word of God, and even  Lamentations  is alluded to in  Matt. 5:35 . Since these four books belong to the later list of Kethûbɩ̂m, there is no reasonable doubt that the third division of the Hebrew canon was put on a level with the first two as divinely inspired.

     Next we come to Josephus of Jerusalem (A.D. 37–95), whose numeration of the Old Testament as consisting of twenty-two books has already been alluded to. In his Contra Apionem, he says, “We have not tens of thousands of books, discordant and conflicting, but only twenty-two containing the record of all time, which have been justly believed to be divine.” After referring to the five books of Moses, thirteen books of the prophets, and the remaining books (which “embrace hymns to God and counsels for men for the conduct of life”), he makes this significant statement: “From Artaxerxes (the successor of Xerxes) until our time everything has been recorded, but has not been deemed worthy of like credit with what preceded, because the exact succession of the prophets ceased. But what faith we have placed in our own writings is evident by our conduct; for though so long a time has now passed, no one has dared to add anything to them, or to take anything from them, or to alter anything in them”.

     Note three important features of this statement: (1) Josephus includes the same three divisions of the Hebrew Scriptures as does the MT (although restricting the third group to “hymns” and hokmȃ), and he limits the number of canonical books in these three divisions to twenty-two. (2) No more canonical writings have been composed since the reign of Artaxerxes, son of Xerxes (464–424 B.C.), that is, since the time of  Malachi.  (3) No additional material was ever included in the canonical twenty-two books during the centuries between (i.e., from 425 B.C. to A.D. 90). Rationalist higher critics emphatically deny the last two points, but they have to deal with the witness of such an early author as Josephus and explain how the knowledge of the allegedly post-Malachi  date of sizable portions, such as  Daniel,  Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon , and many of the  psalms , had been kept from this learned Jew in the first century A.D. It is true that Josephus also alludes to apocryphal material (as from 1 Esdras and 1 Maccabees); but in view of the statement quoted above, it is plain that he was using it merely as a historical source, not as divinely inspired books.

     The oldest catalogue of the books of the Old Testament canon now in existence is the list of Bishop Melito of Sardis, written ca. A.D. 170. He states that he went to the Orient to investigate the number and order of the books of the Old Testament and came to the following result: “Five of Moses— Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers,  and  Deuteronomy; Joshua, Judges, Ruth,  four of Kingdoms,  two of Chronicles, Psalms of David, Proverbs of Solomon  (which is also Wisdom),  Ecclesiastes, Canticles, Job;  the Prophets— Isaiah, Jeremiah,  and the Twelve in one book,  Daniel, Ezekiel, Ezra.”  In this list note: (1)  Lamentations  is omitted, but was probably subsumed under  Jeremiah;  (2)  Nehemiah  likewise, but probably included with  Ezra;  (3)  Esther  is omitted altogether for some unknown reason; (4) with the possible exception of the term Wisdom (which conceivably could refer to the Wisdom of Solomon) no book of the Apocrypha is included.

     In the third century A.D., Origen (who died in 254) left a catalogue of twenty-two books of the Old Testament which was preserved in Eusebius’ Ecclesiastical History. This indicates the same list as that of the twenty-two book canon of Josephus (and of the MT). The only difference is that he apparently includes the Epistle of Jeremiah, being perhaps ignorant of the fact that it was never written in Hebrew.

     Approximately contemporaneous with Origen was Tertullian (A.D. 160–250), the earliest of the Latin Fathers whose books are still extant. He states the number of canonical books as twenty-four. Hilary of Poitiers (A.D. 305–366) numbers them as twenty-two. Jerome (A.D. 340–420) both in the Prologus Galeatus and elsewhere advocated recognition of only the twenty-two books contained in the Hebrew, and the relegation of the apocryphal books to a secondary position. Thus, in his Commentary on  Daniel  he cast doubt upon the canonicity of Susanna on the ground that a certain word play put into Daniel’s mouth was derivable only from Greek and not from Hebrew (implication: the story must have been originally composed in Greek). Similarly also in connection with Bel and the Dragon he remarks: “This objection is easily solved by asserting that this particular story is not contained in the Hebrew of the book of  Daniel.  If, however, anyone should be able to prove that it belongs in the canon, then we should be obliged to seek out some other answer to this objection.”

     A Survey of Old Testament Introduction

The Pro-Life Movement Needs More Wilberforces

By Gracy Olmstead 1/19/2018

     The pro-life movement has always been animated by compassion and a zeal for human rights. But if you asked people on the streets whether they associate those two things with the pro-life movement, I wonder how many would agree.

     It’s not that the average grassroots pro-lifer has changed—at the March for Life in D.C., in conversations with staunch advocates, or during visits with workers at pregnancy resource centers, I see the same love, passion, and earnest care for the unborn (and, importantly, for their mothers).

     But recently, our “pro-life” political representatives around the country have been less than inspiring. Donald Trump has bragged about sexually assaulting women (though he has denied actually assaulting women). Tim Murphy, a “pro-life” congressman, urged his mistress to get an abortion when she said she might be pregnant. Roy Moore, a Republican politician running for U.S. Senate from Alabama, was accused of sexual harassment and molestation of minors by several different women prior to his electoral race (which he lost a month ago).

     Many pro-choice advocates, observing this pattern, have claimed the moral high ground in the abortion debate. While our conversations about abortion should consider the humanity and rights of the unborn child, pro-choice advocates have instead turned the conversation entirely to the question of women’s choice and rights—even staging Handmaid’s Tale-inspired protests to reinforce their argument. They point to Trump, Murphy, and Moore, and then tell America, “See? These men have never really cared about the unborn. They care about taking away a woman’s voice and choice.”

     I’ve feared that, if these tendencies persist, many Americans—especially swing voters and young people—could turn away from the pro-life cause. But perhaps there is a way we can prevent that.

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     Gracy Olmstead is a writer and journalist located outside Washington, D.C. She’s written for The American Conservative, The Week, National Review, The Federalist, and the Washington Times, among others. You can follow her on Twitter.

Never Read a Bible Verse

By Greg Koukl 2/4/2013

     If there was one bit of wisdom, one rule of thumb, one single skill I could impart, one useful tip I could leave that would serve you well the rest of your life, what would it be? What is the single most important practical skill I've ever learned as a Christian?

     Here it is: Never read a Bible verse. That's right, never read a Bible verse. Instead, always read a paragraph at least.

     My Radio Trick | When I'm on the radio, I use this simple rule to help me answer the majority of Bible questions I'm asked, even when I'm totally unfamiliar with the verse. It's an amazingly effective technique you can use, too.

     I read the paragraph, not just the verse. I take stock of the relevant material above and below. Since the context frames the verse and gives it specific meaning, I let it tell me what's going on.

     This works because of a basic rule of all communication: Meaning always flows from the top down, from the larger units to the smaller units, not the other way around. The key to the meaning of any verse comes from the paragraph, not just from the individual words.

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     Greg Koukl: Founder and President, Stand to Reason

     Greg started out thinking he was too smart to become a Christian and ended up giving his life for the defense of the Christian faith. A central theme of Greg's speaking and writing is that Christianity—if it's properly understood and properly communicated—makes the most sense of the world as we find it.

     Greg has spoken on more than 70 college and university campuses both in the U.S. and abroad and has hosted his own call-in radio show for 27 years advocating “Christianity worth thinking about.” He’s debated atheist Michael Shermer on national radio and Deepak Chopra on national television on Lee Strobel's “Faith Under Fire.” He is an award-winning writer and best-selling author. Greg has been featured on Focus on the Family radio and has been interviewed for CBN and the BBC. He's been quoted in Christianity Today, the U.S. News & World Report, and the L.A. Times.

     Greg received his Masters in Philosophy of Religion and Ethics at Talbot School of Theology, graduating with high honors, and his Masters in Christian Apologetics with honors from Simon Greenleaf University. He is an adjunct professor in Christian apologetics at Biola University.
Greg Koukl Books:

Read The Psalms In "1" Year

Psalm 10

Why Do You Hide Yourself?

10:12 Arise, O LORD; O God, lift up your hand;
forget not the afflicted.
13 Why does the wicked renounce God
and say in his heart, “You will not call to account”?
14 But you do see, for you note mischief and vexation,
that you may take it into your hands;
to you the helpless commits himself;
you have been the helper of the fatherless.
15 Break the arm of the wicked and evildoer;
call his wickedness to account till you find none.

16 The LORD is king forever and ever;
the nations perish from his land.
17 O LORD, you hear the desire of the afflicted;
you will strengthen their heart; you will incline your ear
18 to do justice to the fatherless and the oppressed,
so that man who is of the earth may strike terror no more.

ESV Study Bible

Blessed are the Pure in Heart

By Karen Holford 4/30/2012

     In Matthew 5:8, Jesus said, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.” But what does it really mean to be “pure in heart”? I read the verse in different versions of the Bible and I especially liked the way The Message paraphrase put it: “You’re blessed when you get your inside world—your mind and heart—put right. Then you can see God in the outside world.”

     So I needed to sort out my inside world—remove from it the clutter of impurities like self-centredness, resentment, anger, criticism and fear.

     This meant having pure thoughts and pure motives, totally unblemished, totally unselfish, totally honest, totally loving and as transparent as glass. The happy reward of having a pure heart would mean that I would see God and others (and maybe even myself) in a more generous and loving light.

     An Experiment | I decided I would try living by this precept for 28 days (with possibly more to follow) in order to truly understand it. But at the human level, Jesus’ instructions are more easily preached than performed. This was about changing my being, my very heart. I needed to sift every­thing I thought, did and said through the filter of absolute purity.

     With a powerful challenge like that, I decided I needed a plan, so I wrote some goals for my month:

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Exodus 14

By Don Carson 3/3/2018

     Three observations on the crossing of the Red Sea (Ex. 14):

     First, the dynamic confrontation between Pharaoh and the sovereign Lord continues. On the one hand, Pharaoh follows his desires, concluding that the Israelites are hemmed in by sea and desert, and therefore easy prey (14:3). Moreover, Pharaoh and his officials now regret they let the people go. Slavery was one of the fundamental strengths of their economic system, certainly the most important resource in their building programs. Perhaps the plagues were horrible flukes, nothing more. The Israelite slaves must be returned.

     Yet God is not a passive player as these events unfold, nor simply someone who responds to the initiative of others. He leads the fleeing Israelites away from the route to the northeast, not only so that they may escape confrontation with the Philistines (13:17), but also so that the Egyptians will conclude that the Israelites are trapped (14:3). In fact, God is leading the Egyptians into a trap, and his hardening of the heart of Pharaoh is part of that strategy (14:4, 8, 17). This sweeping, providential sovereignty is what ought to ground the trust of the people of God (14:31). Above all, the Lord is determined that in this confrontation, both the Israelites and the Egyptians will learn who God is. “I will gain glory through Pharaoh and all his army…. The Egyptians will know that I am the LORD when I gain glory through Pharaoh, his chariots and his horsemen” (14:17-18). “And when the Israelites saw the great power the LORD displayed against the Egyptians, the people feared the LORD and put their trust in him and in Moses his servant” (14:31).

     Second, the “angel of God” reappears (14:19) — not as an angel, but as a pillar of fire by night and a pillar of cloud by day, alternately leading the people and separating them from the pursuing Egyptians. But looked at another way, one may say that “the LORD went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light” (13:21). The ambiguities we saw earlier (Ex. 3; see meditation for February 20) continue.

     Third, whatever means (such as the wind) were ancillary to the parting of the Red Sea, the event, like the plagues, is presented as miraculous — not the normal providential ordering of everything (which regularity makes science possible), but the intervention of God over against the way he normally does things (which makes miracles unique, and therefore not susceptible to scientific analysis). For people to walk on dry land between walls of water (14:21-22) is something the sovereign God of creation may arrange, but no other.

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Don Carson is research professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois, and co-founder (with Tim Keller) of The Gospel Coalition. He has authored numerous books, and recently edited The Enduring Authority of the Christian Scriptures (Eerdmans, 2016).

     Don Carson Books |  Go to Books Page

The Problem Of The Old Testament

By James Orr 1907

IV. Moses And The Exodus
To the testimony which the prophets and related writings bear to the period of the patriarchs falls to be added that of the later historical books, and of the Psalms. Here, however, we prefer to cast a glance at the Mosaic period, to which objections of the same kind are made, and to which the same general considerations, based on the immovable certainty of the consciousness of the nation as to its own past, apply. Attention is naturally concentrated in this connection on two things—the personality of Moses, and the great deliverance of the Exodus.

1. If there is one personage in Hebrew history about whose character and doings it might be supposed without doubt that every Israelite had some knowledge, that person is Moses. Yet in regard to Moses also we have occasionally the suggestion that the earlier prophets knew little or nothing about him; and particularly it is argued that only in the latest period is he definitely connected with a code of laws. Thus in an authoritative work we read: “The indications of subsequent literature suggest that Moses was only gradually connected by tradition with the production of a continuous body of legislation.… Even to the author of Isa. 63:11. Moses is the heroic leader under divine guidance to whom Israel owed its liberty rather than its laws. Malachi is the first of the prophets to refer to a Mosaic code (4:4).”

This appears to us, in the light of admitted facts, to be remarkable reasoning. We go back again to the Book of Deuteronomy, alleged by critics to be a work of “prophets,” which, in any case, came to light in the days of Josiah. This book, in point of form, is a repromulgation by Moses in the steppes of Moab of the commandments, statutes, and judgments received by him thirty-eight years before from God in Horeb, and by him then communicated to the people. In it, it will hardly be denied, Moses appears pre-eminently as the lawgiver. But the book itself, it is now well recognised, presupposes the older code of laws in the “Book of the Covenant” of Ex. 20–23. Moreover, not only are the laws Mosaic, but both the “Book of the Covenant,” and the “law” of Deuteronomy, are declared to have been written by Moses. What then does the writer of the above-quoted passage mean by saying that “for the pre-exilian seers there was no fixed and definite ‘law’ recorded in precise and definite form”? Was Deuteronomy not a law-book? The Mosaic authorship of Deuteronomy and of the “Book of the Covenant” may be disputed; but can it be denied that “tradition” at any rate had by that time come to regard Moses as a lawgiver, and in the fullest and most “definite” way ascribed the laws of the nation to him, or to God through him? There is the further argument from the JE histories. Already in these histories, which antecede the time of written prophecy, and extend, in the view of the critics, to the conquest, there is embodied the whole history of the Exodus, of the lawgiving at Sinai, of the covenant, of the events of the wilderness, of the entrance into Canaan. How then could any Israelite or prophet of that or any subsequent time possibly be ignorant of the rôle of Moses as a lawgiver? How could the writer of Isa. 63:11 be ignorant of it? It is amazing that the critics do not see more clearly the force of their own admissions in these matters. If Deuteronomy was promulgated in the reign of Josiah; if the JE histories existed a century and a half earlier; it is a strange inconsequence to talk of the paucity of references in the prophets before Malachi as showing that Moses was not connected in the Israelitish mind with the work of legislation.

The basis of the argument is greatly strengthened, if, from the references to legislation, we extend our view to the related history. Here, again, it is to be remembered, the history goes in a piece. The people who knew of the Exodus, of the Red Sea deliverance, and of the wilderness journeyings, knew also of Sinai, of the covenant of their nation with God, and of the commandments and laws on which the covenant was based. It seems futile to contend, with Professor W. R Smith, that “the early history and the prophets do not use the Sinaitic legislation as the basis of their conception of the relation of Jehovah to Israel, but habitually go back to the deliverance from Egypt, and from it pass directly to the wilderness wanderings and the conquest of Canaan.” The Levitical legislation, if that is meant, the history and prophets do not use, —no part of Scripture uses the Levitical law as the basis of God’s relation to Israel, —but it is hard to see how anyone can imagine that either prophets or people could be familiar with the Exodus and the wilderness wanderings, and leave out of view, or be indifferent to, that which forms the kernel of the whole history, —the covenant which God made with the nation through Moses; when, as Jeremiah says, He “brought them out of the land of Egypt, from the iron furnace, saying, Obey My voice, and do them [the words of the covenant], according to all which I command you”; or when, as Hosea expresses it, He espoused the nation to Himself in the wilderness, in the days of its youth. Are we to suppose that the prophets (even Jeremiah) were ignorant of the recapitulation of the law of Horeb in Deuteronomy?

2. It is true, nevertheless, that the great fact in which the consciousness of Israel ever rooted itself, as that which first gave the nation its freedom, and made it a nation, was the Exodus, with which is constantly associated the deliverance at the Red Sea. It was remarked at the beginning that we have only to reflect on the nature of such an event as the Exodus to see that, if it really happened, it could never again be forgotten by the people whose redemption it was. Some things in a nation’s history may be forgotten; of others the memory is indelible. Could the English people ever forget the Normans and the Conquest; the Scottish, Bannockburn or Flodden, or the events of their Reformation; Americans, Bunker’s Hill or the Declaration of Independence? Yet these are small matters compared with what the Exodus, and the events which followed it, were to the Israelites. When we turn, accordingly, to the poetical and prophetical books of the Old Testament, we find that, amidst all the vicissitudes in their fortunes, the memory of the Exodus, with its attendant circumstances, never was obliterated, but remained fresh and green in the minds of the people as long as their national life lasted. In song, and psalm, and prophecy, the echoes of this wonderful deliverance in Egypt and at the Red Sea ring down their history till its close. The same difficulty meets us here, indeed, as before, that the historical and prophetical books are not allowed to be used as witnesses till they have been critically adjusted, and, in the multitude of editors and redactors among whom their contents are parcelled out, it is never hard to find a way of getting rid of an inconvenient testimony. Apart, however, from the direct narratives, which, in their freshness, force, and dramatic power, speak so unmistakably to the liveliness of the impression under which they were composed, the literature en bloc is a witness to the vivid recollection of the essential facts. An old monument is the Song of Miriam at the Red Sea, in Ex. 15, the genuineness of which there are no good grounds for disputing. Joshua and Samuel go back on these facts in rehearsing the great deeds of God for their nation. Solomon dwells on them in his speech and prayer at the dedication of the temple. They appear as the motive to obedience in the Decalogue, in the discourses and legislation in the Book of Deuteronomy, and in the Levitical Code known to critics as the “Law of Holiness,” assigned by very many to an early date. Amos, Hosea, Jeremiah, and the other prophets appeal to them; and they inspire many of the psalms. These recollections of the nation we can fully trust. “No nation,” as Professor Kautzsch says, “ever gratuitously invented the report that it had been ignominiously enslaved by another; none ever forgot the days of its deliverance. And so through all the centuries there survived in Israel the inextinguishable recollection that it was once delivered out of Egypt, the house of bondage, by Jahweh, the God of its fathers, with a strong hand and outstretched arm; that specially at the passage of the Red Sea it experienced the mighty protection of its God.” This knowledge dwells, not as a vague reminiscence, but as a strong, definite, historical assurance, in the heart of the nation, and it is as inconceivable that Israel should be mistaken about it, as that a grown man should forget the scenes of his boyhood, or episodes of his early life that burned themselves into his very soul.

The confidence which the dramatic vividness and tone of reality in the Mosaic history beget in us is not dissipated by the often far-fetched criticism to which its details are subjected by writers like Colenso, in search of arithmetical and other “contradictions” and “impossibilities.” This criticism will come before us for consideration after; meanwhile it would be well if those who urge these objections to the truth of the history would reflect a little on the difficulties which, on the other side, attach to their own too hasty rejection of it. After all, these things which the Mosaic books record were not, any more than the events in Christ’s life, to which Paul appealed before Agrippa, “done in a corner.” They were public events, in the fullest sense of the term. Does it involve no strain on belief to say that an event so extraordinary as, in any case, the Exodus of Israel from Egypt must be admitted to have been, happened in the full light of one of the most brilliant civilisations of the time, and yet that the people who came out, with a leader like Moses at their head, did not know, or could not remember, or could ever possibly forget, how it happened? The Israelites themselves, as we have seen, did not believe they did not know. They had but one story to give of it all down their history—the same story which, in circumstantial detail, is embodied in these old books. If this is not how the Israelites got out of Egypt, will the critic, in turn, furnish us with some plausible explanation of how they did get out? It is here as in the discussion of the origins of Christianity. It is not enough to discredit the Gospels and the Acts; the critic must be prepared to show how, if these are rejected, Christianity did originate. So, in the case of the Exodus, it is not enough to discredit the one history we have of that event; the critic has to show how, if the whole history was different from that which we possess, it came about that no echo of it was preserved in Israel, and that this lifelike, vivid, detailed narration came to take its place. It is admitted, with few extreme exceptions, that the people of Israel were once in Egypt; that they were in bitter bondage; that Egypt at the time was ruled over by one or other of its powerful monarchs; that they came out, not by war, but peaceably; that they were at least tolerably numerous, with women, children, and cattle; that they found their way, under pursuit, —so Wellhausen allows, —across the Red Sea. Is it unfair to ask—How did they make their way out? Theories of course there are: ingenuity, when freed from the necessity of respecting facts, is equal to anything. But have they warrant, or even verisimilitude? It is easy to pen sentences about an “escape” of nomadic tribes on the border, in whom the despotic policy of the Pharaoh had awakened “the innate love of freedom”; or to hazard the conjecture that there was a slipping away of the tribes one by one; but such speculations, alongside of which the Egyptian story of an expulsion of lepers is respectable, conflict with tradition, and break on the hard facts of the situation. For the Israelites were no loose conglomeration of tribes on the border. According to every testimony, they occupied a wide territory, dwelt in houses, were the victims of a systematic oppression, were engaged in forced labour, were broken-spirited, under strict surveillance of tyrannical overseers, etc. How, in these circumstances, was furtive escape possible? Where is there analogy for such a horde of “runaway slaves” finding their way out of bondage, and defying the power of a mighty king to bring them back? It is a simple method to reject history as we have it, and evolve hypotheses, but the process is not always as satisfactory as it is simple. There is need in this case for the “strong hand” and “stretched-out arm.”

     The Problem of the Old Testament

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

By John Bunyan 1678

The Author's Apology For His Book

When at the first I took my pen in hand
Thus for to write, I did not understand
That I at all should make a little book
In such a mode: nay, I had undertook
To make another; which, when almost done,
Before I was aware I this begun.
And thus it was: I, writing of the way
And race of saints in this our gospel-day,
Fell suddenly into an allegory
About their journey, and the way to glory,
In more than twenty things which I set down
This done, I twenty more had in my crown,
And they again began to multiply,
Like sparks that from the coals of fire do fly.
Nay, then, thought I, if that you breed so fast,
I’ll put you by yourselves, lest you at last
Should prove ad infinitum, and eat out
The book that I already am about.
Well, so I did; but yet I did not think
To show to all the world my pen and ink
In such a mode; I only thought to make
I knew not what: nor did I undertake
Thereby to please my neighbor; no, not I;
I did it my own self to gratify.
Neither did I but vacant seasons spend
In this my scribble; nor did I intend
But to divert myself, in doing this,
From worser thoughts, which make me do amiss.
Thus I set pen to paper with delight,
And quickly had my thoughts in black and white;
For having now my method by the end,
Still as I pull’d, it came; and so I penned
It down; until it came at last to be,
For length and breadth, the bigness which you see.
Well, when I had thus put mine ends together
I show’d them others, that I might see whether
They would condemn them, or them justify:
And some said, let them live; some, let them die:
Some said, John, print it; others said, Not so:
Some said, It might do good; others said, No.
Now was I in a strait, and did not see
Which was the best thing to be done by me:
At last I thought, Since ye are thus divided,
I print it will; and so the case decided.
For, thought I, some I see would have it done,
Though others in that channel do not run:
To prove, then, who advised for the best,
Thus I thought fit to put it to the test.
I further thought, if now I did deny
Those that would have it, thus to gratify;
I did not know, but hinder them I might
Of that which would to them be great delight.
For those which were not for its coming forth,
I said to them, Offend you, I am loath;
Yet since your brethren pleased with it be,
Forbear to judge, till you do further see.
If that thou wilt not read, let it alone;
Some love the meat, some love to pick the bone.
Yea, that I might them better palliate,
I did too with them thus expostulate:
May I not write in such a style as this?
In such a method too, and yet not miss
My end-thy good? Why may it not be done?
Dark clouds bring waters, when the bright bring none.
Yea, dark or bright, if they their silver drops
Cause to descend, the earth, by yielding crops,
Gives praise to both, and carpeth not at either,
But treasures up the fruit they yield together;
Yea, so commixes both, that in their fruit
None can distinguish this from that; they suit
Her well when hungry; but if she be full,
She spews out both, and makes their blessing null.
You see the ways the fisherman doth take
To catch the fish; what engines doth he make!
Behold how he engageth all his wits;
Also his snares, lines, angles, hooks, and nets:
Yet fish there be, that neither hook nor line,
Nor snare, nor net, nor engine can make thine:
They must be groped for, and be tickled too,
Or they will not be catch’d, whate’er you do.
How does the fowler seek to catch his game
By divers means! all which one cannot name.
His guns, his nets, his lime-twigs, light and bell:
He creeps, he goes, he stands; yea, who can tell
Of all his postures? yet there’s none of these
Will make him master of what fowls he please.
Yea, he must pipe and whistle, to catch this;
Yet if he does so, that bird he will miss.
If that a pearl may in toad’s head dwell,
And may be found too in an oyster-shell;
If things that promise nothing, do contain
What better is than gold; who will disdain,
That have an inkling of it, there to look,
That they may find it. Now my little book,
(Though void of all these paintings that may make
It with this or the other man to take,)
Is not without those things that do excel
What do in brave but empty notions dwell.
“Well, yet I am not fully satisfied
That this your book will stand, when soundly tried.”
Why, what’s the matter? “It is dark.” What though?
“But it is feigned.” What of that? I trow
Some men by feigned words, as dark as mine,
Make truth to spangle, and its rays to shine.
“But they want solidness.” Speak, man, thy mind.
“They drown the weak; metaphors make us blind.”
Solidity, indeed, becomes the pen
Of him that writeth things divine to men:
But must I needs want solidness, because
By metaphors I speak? Were not God’s laws,
His gospel laws, in olden time held forth
By types, shadows, and metaphors? Yet loth
Will any sober man be to find fault
With them, lest he be found for to assault
The highest wisdom! No, he rather stoops,
And seeks to find out what, by pins and loops,
By calves and sheep, by heifers, and by rams,
By birds and herbs, and by the blood of lambs,
God speaketh to him; and happy is he
That finds the light and grace that in them be.
But not too forward, therefore, to conclude
That I want solidness-that I am rude;
All things solid in show, not solid be;
All things in parable despise not we,
Lest things most hurtful lightly we receive,
And things that good are, of our souls bereave.
My dark and cloudy words they do but hold
The truth, as cabinets inclose the gold.
The prophets used much by metaphors
To set forth truth: yea, who so considers
Christ, his apostles too, shall plainly see,
That truths to this day in such mantles be.
Am I afraid to say, that holy writ,
Which for its style and phrase puts down all wit,
Is everywhere so full of all these things,
Dark figures, allegories? Yet there springs
From that same book, that lustre, and those rays
Of light, that turn our darkest nights to days.
Come, let my carper to his life now look,
And find there darker lines than in my book
He findeth any; yea, and let him know,
That in his best things there are worse lines too.
May we but stand before impartial men,
To his poor one I durst adventure ten,
That they will take my meaning in these lines
Far better than his lies in silver shrines.
Come, truth, although in swaddling-clothes, I find
Informs the judgment, rectifies the mind;
Pleases the understanding, makes the will
Submit, the memory too it doth fill
With what doth our imagination please;
Likewise it tends our troubles to appease.
Sound words, I know, Timothy is to use,
And old wives’ fables he is to refuse;
But yet grave Paul him nowhere doth forbid
The use of parables, in which lay hid
That gold, those pearls, and precious stones that were
Worth digging for, and that with greatest care.
Let me add one word more. O man of God,
Art thou offended? Dost thou wish I had
Put forth my matter in another dress?
Or that I had in things been more express?
Three things let me propound; then I submit
To those that are my betters, as is fit.
1. I find not that I am denied the use
Of this my method, so I no abuse
Put on the words, things, readers, or be rude
In handling figure or similitude,
In application; but all that I may
Seek the advance of truth this or that way.
Denied, did I say? Nay, I have leave,
(Example too, and that from them that have
God better pleased, by their words or ways,
Than any man that breatheth now-a-days,)
Thus to express my mind, thus to declare
Things unto thee that excellentest are.
2. I find that men as high as trees will write
Dialogue-wise; yet no man doth them slight
For writing so. Indeed, if they abuse
Truth, cursed be they, and the craft they use
To that intent; but yet let truth be free
To make her sallies upon thee and me,
Which way it pleases God: for who knows how,
Better than he that taught us first to plough,
To guide our minds and pens for his designs?
And he makes base things usher in divine.
3. I find that holy writ, in many places,
Hath semblance with this method, where the cases
Do call for one thing to set forth another:
Use it I may then, and yet nothing smother
Truth’s golden beams: nay, by this method may
Make it cast forth its rays as light as day.
And now, before I do put up my pen,
I’ll show the profit of my book; and then
Commit both thee and it unto that hand
That pulls the strong down, and makes weak ones stand.
This book it chalketh out before thine eyes
The man that seeks the everlasting prize:
It shows you whence he comes, whither he goes,
What he leaves undone; also what he does:
It also shows you how he runs, and runs,
Till he unto the gate of glory comes.
It shows, too, who set out for life amain,
As if the lasting crown they would obtain;
Here also you may see the reason why
They lose their labor, and like fools do die.
This book will make a traveler of thee,
If by its counsel thou wilt ruled be;
It will direct thee to the Holy Land,
If thou wilt its directions understand
Yea, it will make the slothful active be;
The blind also delightful things to see.
Art thou for something rare and profitable?
Or would’st thou see a truth within a fable?
Art thou forgetful? Wouldest thou remember
From New-Year’s day to the last of December?
Then read my fancies; they will stick like burs,
And may be, to the helpless, comforters.
This book is writ in such a dialect
As may the minds of listless men affect:
It seems a novelty, and yet contains
Nothing but sound and honest gospel strains.
Would’st thou divert thyself from melancholy?
Would’st thou be pleasant, yet be far from folly?
Would’st thou read riddles, and their explanation?
Or else be drowned in thy contemplation?
Dost thou love picking meat? Or would’st thou see
A man i’ the clouds, and hear him speak to thee?
Would’st thou be in a dream, and yet not sleep?
Or would’st thou in a moment laugh and weep?
Would’st thou lose thyself and catch no harm,
And find thyself again without a charm?
Would’st read thyself, and read thou know’st not what,
And yet know whether thou art blest or not,
By reading the same lines? O then come hither,
And lay my book, thy head, and heart together.

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

The Continual Burnt Offering

By H.A. Ironside - 1941

January 22
Numbers 13:30 But Caleb quieted the people before Moses and said, “Let us go up at once and occupy it, for we are well able to overcome it.”   ESV

     The name “Caleb” means wholehearted, and it was well suited to the character of the man who bore it. When the ten spies brought back their evil report of the land and made the heart of the people to melt, it was Caleb who quieted the troubled host by saying, “Let us go up at once and take possession, for we are well able to overcome it.” And when all the people murmered against Moses and Aaron and were on the verge of setting up a rebel captain to lead them back to Egypt, Caleb joined with Joshua in endeavoring to dissuade them from their evil purpose and to encourage them to go up in dependence upon God, and take possession of the inheritance He had promised them.

     So when the rest were doomed to wander in the wilderness until all the men of that generation had passed away, these two faithful warriors were preserved alive as witnesses to the unchanging purpose and omnipotent power of the Lord of hosts (Numbers 14:1-30).

     Forty-five years afterward we see this doughty old chieftain, at the age of eighty-five, claiming his portion, as promised by God, and entering into possession of Hebron and its surroundings. It is a marvelous picture of the energy of faith in one who was not of double heart, but wholly devoted to the Lord.

Numbers 14:1 Then all the congregation raised a loud cry, and the people wept that night. 2 And all the people of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron. The whole congregation said to them, “Would that we had died in the land of Egypt! Or would that we had died in this wilderness! 3 Why is the LORD bringing us into this land, to fall by the sword? Our wives and our little ones will become a prey. Would it not be better for us to go back to Egypt?” 4 And they said to one another, “Let us choose a leader and go back to Egypt.”

5 Then Moses and Aaron fell on their faces before all the assembly of the congregation of the people of Israel. 6 And Joshua the son of Nun and Caleb the son of Jephunneh, who were among those who had spied out the land, tore their clothes 7 and said to all the congregation of the people of Israel, “The land, which we passed through to spy it out, is an exceedingly good land. 8 If the LORD delights in us, he will bring us into this land and give it to us, a land that flows with milk and honey. 9 Only do not rebel against the LORD. And do not fear the people of the land, for they are bread for us. Their protection is removed from them, and the LORD is with us; do not fear them.” 10 Then all the congregation said to stone them with stones. But the glory of the LORD appeared at the tent of meeting to all the people of Israel.

11 And the LORD said to Moses, “How long will this people despise me? And how long will they not believe in me, in spite of all the signs that I have done among them? 12 I will strike them with the pestilence and disinherit them, and I will make of you a nation greater and mightier than they.”

13 But Moses said to the LORD, “Then the Egyptians will hear of it, for you brought up this people in your might from among them, 14 and they will tell the inhabitants of this land. They have heard that you, O LORD, are in the midst of this people. For you, O LORD, are seen face to face, and your cloud stands over them and you go before them, in a pillar of cloud by day and in a pillar of fire by night. 15 Now if you kill this people as one man, then the nations who have heard your fame will say, 16 ‘It is because the LORD was not able to bring this people into the land that he swore to give to them that he has killed them in the wilderness.’ 17 And now, please let the power of the Lord be great as you have promised, saying, 18 ‘The LORD is slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, forgiving iniquity and transgression, but he will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, to the third and the fourth generation.’ 19 Please pardon the iniquity of this people, according to the greatness of your steadfast love, just as you have forgiven this people, from Egypt until now.”

20 Then the LORD said, “I have pardoned, according to your word. 21 But truly, as I live, and as all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the LORD, 22 none of the men who have seen my glory and my signs that I did in Egypt and in the wilderness, and yet have put me to the test these ten times and have not obeyed my voice, 23 shall see the land that I swore to give to their fathers. And none of those who despised me shall see it. 24 But my servant Caleb, because he has a different spirit and has followed me fully, I will bring into the land into which he went, and his descendants shall possess it. 25 Now, since the Amalekites and the Canaanites dwell in the valleys, turn tomorrow and set out for the wilderness by the way to the Red Sea.”

26 And the LORD spoke to Moses and to Aaron, saying, 27 “How long shall this wicked congregation grumble against me? I have heard the grumblings of the people of Israel, which they grumble against me. 28 Say to them, ‘As I live, declares the LORD, what you have said in my hearing I will do to you: 29 your dead bodies shall fall in this wilderness, and of all your number, listed in the census from twenty years old and upward, who have grumbled against me, 30 not one shall come into the land where I swore that I would make you dwell, except Caleb the son of Jephunneh and Joshua the son of Nun.

True-hearted, whole-hearted, faithful, and loyal,
Lord of our lives, by Thy grace we will be,
Under the standard exalted and royal,
Strong in Thy strength we would battle for Thee.
--- F. R. Havergal

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

  • Romasn 6
  • The Biblical Woman
  • The Biblical Wife

     Devotionals, notes, poetry and more

UCB The Word For Today
     Your new Christlike body
     1/22/2018    Bob Gass

     ‘He will take our weak mortal bodies and change them into glorious bodies like his own.’

(Php 3:20–21) who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself. ESV

     The Bible says our heavenly bodies will be exactly like the one Jesus had following His resurrection. He resembled Himself, because the disciples could recognise Him. He ate and drank with them. He could be touched. He could miraculously pass through walls. Talk about ‘time travel’ – He could appear in various places to different people without travelling by any recognised means. His transformed body no longer aged, nor was it subject to sickness and death. And your new body will be like His. ‘Christ was raised as the first of the harvest; then all who belong to Christ will be raised when he comes back. After that the end will come’ (1 Corinthians 15:23-24 NLT). Scottish Presbyterian Robert Baillie learned in 1684 that he would be hanged for his alleged involvement in a plot to assassinate King Charles II, then drawn and quartered, and his head and hands nailed to a local bridge. How did he respond? By first quoting this Scripture: ‘Our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Saviour…who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body’ (Philippians 3:20-21 NKJV). Then he declared: ‘They may hack and hew my body as they please, but I know assuredly that nothing will be lost, that all these my members shall be wonderfully gathered and made like Christ’s glorious body.’ The truth is that whether you get buried in a casket or cremated and your ashes scattered, it makes no difference. God has prepared for you a glorious body just like Christ’s.

Genesis 46-48
Matthew 13:1-30

UCB The Word For Today

     January 22, 2016

     We are surrounded by hurting people; folks on the news, people we meet, friends, family, and sometimes ourselves. We all cope with pain differently; denial, humor, aggressiveness and sometimes we take our pain to God. Some of the things we suffer are common to all of us. None the less, it is important not to trivialize someone else’s pain. We all suffer differently. I am reminded of these verses from Matthew 12.

     15 When Jesus became aware of this, he departed. Many crowds followed him, and he cured all of them, 16 and he ordered them not to make him known. 17 This was to fulfill what had been spoken through the prophet Isaiah:

18 “Here is my servant, whom I have chosen,
my beloved, with whom my soul is well pleased.
I will put my Spirit upon him,
and he will proclaim justice to the Gentiles.
19 He will not wrangle or cry aloud,
nor will anyone hear his voice in the streets.
20 He will not break a bruised reed
or quench a smoldering wick
until he brings justice to victory.
21 And in his name the Gentiles will hope.”

     This is very revealing. Some people have told me they think there are two Gods in the Bible, the God of the Old Testament and the God of the New Testament. I think these verses from Matthew are very revealing because they quote from Isaiah, an Old Testament prophet. It is clear to me that God in the Old Testament is tender hearted. Jesus said He only does what He sees the Father doing.

     So what does that mean for me? It means that I need to watch my mouth, especially around people who are hurting and hurting people are everywhere, most hiding their pain from others. I understand it is a metaphor, but the message is clear, if Jesus is so careful with people’s pain how can I claim to follow Jesus and act like a bull in a china cabinet?

American Minute
     by Bill Federer

     On January 22, 1973, the Supreme Court’s decision in the case of Roe v. Wade, allowed abortions in the first six months of pregnancy. Twenty-three years later, Norma McCorvey, who was the “Jane Roe” in the Roe v. Wade suit, was interviewed by USA Today. She stated that once, while employed at a clinic when no one was in: “I went into the procedure room and laid down on the table… trying to imagine what it would be like having an abortion… I broke down and cried.” On ABC’s World News Tonight, Norma McCorvey said: “I think abortion’s wrong. I think what I did with Roe v. Wade was wrong.”

American Minute
A Testament Of Devotion
     Thomas R. Kelly

     As the experience of this inward life matured, Thomas Kelly found himself using language that would have repelled him during his years of rebellion against evangelical religion. "Have I discovered God as a sweet Presence and a stirring life-renovating Power within me? Do I walk by His Guidance feeding every day, like the knights of the Grail on the body and the blood of Christ?" An Earlham colleague wrote of his visit there in the autumn of 1940, "He almost startled me, and he shocked some of us who were still walking in the ways of logic and science and the flesh, by the high areas of being he had penetrated. He had returned to old symbols like the blood of Christ, that were shocking to a few of his old colleagues who had not grown and lived as he had. But he brought new meaning to all symbols, and he was to me, and to some others a prophet whose tongue had been touched by coals of fire."

     As his experience ripened, there also came a growing reemphasis upon the centrality of devotion, a devotion that far exceeds the mere possession of inward states of exaltation: "Let us be quite dear that mystical exaltations are not essential to religious dedication … Many a man professes to be without a shred of mystical elevation, yet is fundamentally a heaven-dedicated soul. It would be a tragic mistake to suppose that religion is only for a small group, who have certain vivid but transient inner experiences, and to preach those experiences so that those who are relatively insensitive to them should feel excluded, denied access to the Eternal love, deprived of a basic necessity for religious living. The crux of religious living lies in the will, not in transient and variable states. Utter dedication of will to God is open to all … Where the will to will God's will is present, there is a child of God. When there are graciously given to us such glimpses of glory as aid us in softening own-will, then we may be humbly grateful. But glad willing away of self that the will of God, so far as it can be discerned, may become what we will – that is the basic condition.

A Testament of Devotion
Lean Into God
     Compilation by RickAdams7

I would rather walk with God in the dark
than go alone in the light.
--- Mary Gardiner Brainard

God cannot be greater than he is,
but he can be greater in you than he is at present.
He cannot increase;
there cannot be more of God than there is,
but there may be more of God in you.
--- C. H. Spurgeon

There is no improving the future without disturbing the present.
--- Catherine Booth  co-founder of the Salvation Army

It is not wealth, riches, or the honor of this world that I crave. It is not change of place or outward circumstances that will make me happy, but it is a mind resigned to do the Lord’s will, to follow Him whithersoever He is pleased to lead. This is what I desire more than any earthly gain.
--- Ann Branson, 1808-1892

... from here, there and everywhere

Proverbs 4:23-27
     by D.H. Stern

23     Above everything else, guard your heart;
for it is the source of life’s consequences.
24     Keep crooked speech out of your mouth,
banish deceit from your lips.
25     Let your eyes look straight ahead,
fix your gaze on what lies in front of you.
26     Level the path for your feet,
let all your ways be properly prepared;
27     then deviate neither right nor left;
and keep your foot far from evil.

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

                What am I looking at?

     Look unto Me, and be ye saved. ---
Isaiah 45:22.

     Do we expect God to come to us with His blessings and save us? He says—‘Look unto Me, and be saved.’ The great difficulty spiritually is to concentrate on God, and it is His blessings that make it difficult. Troubles nearly always make us look to God; His blessings are apt to make us look elsewhere. The teaching of the Sermon on the Mount is, in effect—Narrow all your interests until the attitude of mind and heart and body is concentration on Jesus Christ.

     Many of us have a mental conception of what a Christian should be, and the lives of the saints become a hindrance to our concentration on God. There is no salvation in this way, it is not simple enough. “Look unto Me” and—not ‘you will be saved,’ but ‘you are saved.’ The very thing we look for, we shall find if we will concentrate on Him. We get preoccupied and sulky with God, while all the time He is saying—‘Look up and be saved.’ The difficulties and trials, the casting about in our minds as to what we shall do this summer, or to-morrow, all vanish when we look to God.

     Rouse yourself up and look to God. Build your hope on Him. No matter if there are a hundred and one things that press, resolutely exclude them all and look to Him. “Look unto Me,” and salvation is, the moment you look.

My Utmost for His Highest
     the Poetry of R.S. Thomas


With the deterioration of sight
they see more clearly what is missing
from their expressions. With the
dulling of the ear, the silences
before the endearments are
louder than ever.
     Their hands have their accidents
still, but no hospital will
receive them. With their licences
expired, though they keep to their own
side, there are corners
in waiting. Theirs is a strange
house. Over the door in
invisible letters there is the name:
Home, but it is no place
to return to. On the floor
are the upset smiles, on the
table the cups unwashed they drank
their happiness from. There are themselves
at the windows, faces staring
at an unreached finishing
post. There is the sound
in the silence of the breathing
of their reluctant bodies as
they enter each of them the last lap.

The Poems of R.S. Thomas
Teacher's Commentary
     Martin Hengel

     Abraham stands as the greatest figure to be found in the ancient world. Three world religions—Islam, Judaism, and Christianity—revere him as the father of their faiths. Archeologists have explored the city of his origin, traced his journeys, probed the ruins of towns mentioned in Genesis, and have reconstructed a striking portrait of life 2,000 years before Christ that in detail after detail confirms the accuracy of the Old Testament account.

     But what makes Abraham important to the Bible student is not the reverence in which he is held. It is not even the belief The National Geographic once expressed, that “Abraham the patriarch conceived a great and simple idea: the idea of a single Almighty God” (Dec. 1966, p. 740). Abraham’s importance is not even found in the fact that he is today a prime model of saving faith. No, the importance of Abraham in Genesis is that through Abraham God reveals His purpose and His goal for the universe. In promises to Abram God revealed that He had a plan!

     To Abraham were given wonderful covenant promises that show us history’s direction, and reassure us that our personal universe is a purposive universe as well.

     Covenant. In Old Testament times the berit was at the foundation of social relationships. It might represent a treaty between nations, or a business contract, or a national constitution. In each case it represented a binding agreement, and expressed a firm commitment which was to be faithfully honored by all.

The Teacher's Commentary
Take Heart
     January 22

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

     It is Christ’s Father’s house because he is the way and the door to it. (Classic Sermons on Heaven and Hell (Kregel Classic Sermons Series)) “No one,” he himself has said, “comes to the Father except through me.” I know not of any heaven for human beings but that which the Lord Jesus has opened up and fitted and filled, and I know of no Father for them but the God and Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. None will ever reach it but that his foot led the way and his hand upheld their goings. It is because it is Christ’s Father’s house that new songs have been made for it and a new and peculiar joy created, joy among the angels for sinners that repent, joy among the saved that they have had wonderful deliverance, and joy in the heart of the Father himself—“For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.” It is this that gives its deepest and highest meaning to the heaven of the Gospel; it is the heaven of the Redeemer.

     Yet this truth, that the heavenly house has for its center the throne and cross of Christ, that it is the home of the pardoned and purified, makes it needful that a closing word should be spoken to be pondered by us all. Are you on the way to it, are you preparing for it? It is surely the most reasonable of all things to believe that someone cannot dwell in peace in God’s house unless he or she is at peace with God himself and cannot enjoy the heaven of Christ without the mind of Christ. God cannot make you blessed by surrounding you with blessings. He cannot give someone heaven who will not have God himself. If, then you are refusing God, you are refusing God’s heaven; if you will not have him in your heart, you can never look with loving confidence on his face. All deceptive dreams, all vain illusion about what God may do are scattered by this, that God has set heaven’s door open to you, and you will not enter it; you are framing a heart and life within you that make misery sure by the most fixed of all laws, the law of the divine nature. He who has made heaven ready and who is the door to it is now at the door of your heart, ready to enter with pardon for all the past and divine help for all the future. Will you not receive him?
--- John Ker

Take Heart: Daily Devotions with the Church's Great Preachers
On This Day   January 22
     The Pope’s Hope

     The little man before whom Henry IV had stood half-frozen, Gregory VII, didn’t become pope in the usual manner. He had not been elected behind closed doors by cardinals but proclaimed pope by the people.

     His name was actually Hildebrand. His insight and integrity had made him advisor to five popes, and he preferred working behind the scenes to foster reform. That reputation earned him the respect of the people.

     During the funeral of Pope Alexander II in 1073, the crowds began shouting “Hildebrand shall be pope!” When Hildebrand tried to ascend the pulpit to quiet the people, Cardinal Candidus stopped him. “Men and brethren,” shouted the cardinal. “We cannot find for the papacy a better man, or even one his equal. Let us elect him.” The cardinals and clergy, using the ancient formula, all exclaimed, “St. Peter elects Gregory (Hildebrand) pope.”

     Gregory VII tried to bring integrity and revival to the church, but many church leaders opposed him. One who didn’t was his friend Hugo, a monk in Cluny. On January 22, 1075, the pope wrote to his friend about his burdens:

     The Eastern Church fallen from the faith, and attacked by infidels from without. In the West, South, or North, scarcely any bishops who have obtained their office regularly, or whose life and conduct correspond to their calling, and who are actuated by the love of Christ instead of worldly ambition. Nowhere princes who prefer God’s honor to their own, and justice to gain. The Romans among whom I live are worse than heathens. And when I look to myself, I feel oppressed by such a burden of sin that no other hope of salvation is left me but in the mercy of Christ alone.

     Hildebrand did his best to free the church from corruption and from political control by secular princes. But frostbitten Henry IV eventually regained strength enough for revenge. He marched to Rome, reduced it nearly to ruins, and drove Gregory into exile. The pope died in Salerno, heartbroken, in 1085.

     No hope suckled him but the mercy of Christ alone.

  Only God can save me, and I calmly wait for him.
  I feel like a shaky fence or a sagging wall.
  You want to bring me down from my place of honor.
  Only God gives inward peace, and I depend on him.
  God is our place of safety.
  --- Psalm 62:1,3–5,8.

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

          Morning - January 22

     “Son of man, What is the vine tree more than any tree, or than a branch which is among the trees of the forest?”
--- Ezekiel 15:2.

     These words are for the humbling of God’s people; they are called God’s vine, but what are they by nature more than others? They, by God’s goodness, have become fruitful, having been planted in a good soil; the Lord hath trained them upon the walls of the sanctuary, and they bring forth fruit to his glory; but what are they without their God? What are they without the continual influence of the Spirit, begetting fruitfulness in them? O believer, learn to reject pride, seeing that thou hast no ground for it. Whatever thou art, thou hast nothing to make thee proud. The more thou hast, the more thou art in debt to God; and thou shouldst not be proud of that which renders thee a debtor. Consider thine origin; look back to what thou wast. Consider what thou wouldst have been but for divine grace. Look upon thyself as thou art now. Doth not thy conscience reproach thee? Do not thy thousand wanderings stand before thee, and tell thee that thou art unworthy to be called his son? And if he hath made thee anything, art thou not taught thereby that it is grace which hath made thee to differ? Great believer, thou wouldst have been a great sinner if God had not made thee to differ. O thou who art valiant for truth, thou wouldst have been as valiant for error if grace had not laid hold upon thee. Therefore, be not proud, though thou hast a large estate—a wide domain of grace, thou hadst not once a single thing to call thine own except thy sin and misery. Oh! strange infatuation, that thou, who hast borrowed everything, shouldst think of exalting thyself; a poor dependent pensioner upon the bounty of thy Saviour, one who hath a life which dies without fresh streams of life from Jesus, and yet proud! Fie on thee, O silly heart!

          Evening - January 22

     “Doth Job fear God for nought?” --- Job 1:9.

     This was the wicked question of Satan concerning that upright man of old, but there are many in the present day concerning whom it might be asked with justice, for they love God after a fashion because he prospers them; but if things went ill with them, they would give up all their boasted faith in God. If they can clearly see that since the time of their supposed conversion the world has gone prosperously with them, then they will love God in their poor carnal way; but if they endure adversity, they rebel against the Lord. Their love is the love of the table, not of the host; a love to the cupboard, not to the master of the house. As for the true Christian, he expects to have his reward in the next life, and to endure hardness in this. The promise of the old covenant is adversity. Remember Christ’s words—“Every branch in me that beareth not fruit”—What? “He purgeth it, that it may bring forth fruit.” If you bring forth fruit, you will have to endure affliction. “Alas!” you say, “that is a terrible prospect.” But this affliction works out such precious results, that the Christian who is the subject of it must learn to rejoice in tribulations, because as his tribulations abound, so his consolations abound by Christ Jesus. Rest assured, if you are a child of God, you will be no stranger to the rod. Sooner or later every bar of gold must pass through the fire. Fear not, but rather rejoice that such fruitful times are in store for you, for in them you will be weaned from earth and made meet for heaven; you will be delivered from clinging to the present, and made to long for those eternal things which are so soon to be revealed to you. When you feel that as regards the present you do serve God for nought, you will then rejoice in the infinite reward of the future.

Morning and Evening
Amazing Grace
     January 22

          JESUS SAVES!

     Priscilla J. Owens, 1829–1907

     Sing to the Lord, praise His name; proclaim His salvation day after day. Declare His glory among the nations, His marvelous deeds among all peoples. (Psalm 96:2, 3)

     The heart of the Christian gospel is a person, not a church or a system of doctrinal interpretation. To evangelize is to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ—that He came to this world, died for our sins, and was raised from the grave according to the Scriptures. And, as the reigning Lord, He now meets every human need with His forgiveness of sins and the indwelling gift of His Holy Spirit to all who repent and believe.

     Today, however, many false teachers claim that God speaks equally through all religions and ideologies. Those who believe this do not consider a personal faith in the person and work of Christ to be essential. We must reject as derogatory to our Lord and His gospel every teaching that makes this boast. The Bible is dogmatic: “For there is one God and one mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus” (
1 Timothy 2:5).

     Priscilla J. Owens, a Baltimore public school teacher for 49 years, wrote these stirring soul-winning words for a missionary service in the Sunday school of the Union Square Methodist Church. Fourteen years later, William Kirkpatrick wedded his vibrant music to her words. Through the years they have challenged God’s people with the urgency of soul winning.

     We have heard the joyful sound: Jesus saves! Jesus saves! Spread the tidings all around: Jesus saves! Jesus saves! Bear the news to every land; climb the steeps and cross the waves; onward!—’tis our Lord’s command; Jesus saves! Jesus saves!

     Waft it on the rolling tide; Jesus saves! Jesus saves! Tell to sinners far and wide: Jesus saves! Jesus saves! Sing, ye islands of the sea; echo back, ye ocean caves; earth shall keep her jubilee: Jesus saves! Jesus saves!

     Sing above the battle strife, Jesus saves! Jesus saves! By His death and endless life, Jesus saves! Jesus saves! Sing it softly through the gloom, when the heart for mercy craves; sing in triumph o’er the tomb;—Jesus saves! Jesus saves!

     Give the winds a mighty voice, Jesus saves! Jesus saves! Let the nations now rejoice,—Jesus saves! Jesus saves! Shout salvation full and free; highest hills and deepest caves; this our song of victory,—Jesus saves! Jesus saves!

     For Today: Psalm 67:2; Isaiah 52:7; Mark 16:15; Acts 1:8; Romans 1:16.

     Try to speak to someone about trusting Jesus and Him alone for salvation from sin and the satisfaction of every need. Carry this musical message that ---

Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions
The Spiritual Forces of Evil
     Alistair Begg

1 Daniel 10:1 | Evil 1

Evil 2

Exodus 13 - 15
     Brett Meador | Athey Creek

Trapped! Exodus 14
s2-042 | 8-31-2014

Exodus 15
m2-040 | 9-03-2014

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America On The Brink 2 PPOV 144
11-13-2020 | Dr. Andrew Woods

Davids Mighty Men | C.J. Williams
Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary

Psalms Just Sentiments | Dennis J. Prutow
Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary

Songs From The Soul | Dennis J. Prutow
Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary

Discipline To Joy Devotion | Dennis J. Prutow
Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary

Joy Through Prayer | Harry Metzger
Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary

Dietrich Bonhoeffer | Jeff Stivason
Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary

Suffering | Dave & Katie Long
Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary

Does Love Win | Rutledge Etheridege
Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary

I Will Give Thanks
Alistair Begg

Kingdoms Rise and Wane
Alistair Begg

Let the Lion Out
Alistair Begg

The Time of the End
Alistair Begg