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Exodus   16 - 18

Exodus 16

Bread from Heaven

Exodus 16:1     They set out from Elim, and all the congregation of the people of Israel came to the wilderness of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after they had departed from the land of Egypt. 2 And the whole congregation of the people of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness, 3 and the people of Israel said to them, “Would that we had died by the hand of the LORD in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the meat pots and ate bread to the full, for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.”

4 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Behold, I am about to rain bread from heaven for you, and the people shall go out and gather a day’s portion every day, that I may test them, whether they will walk in my law or not. 5 On the sixth day, when they prepare what they bring in, it will be twice as much as they gather daily.” 6 So Moses and Aaron said to all the people of Israel, “At evening you shall know that it was the LORD who brought you out of the land of Egypt, 7 and in the morning you shall see the glory of the LORD, because he has heard your grumbling against the LORD. For what are we, that you grumble against us?” 8 And Moses said, “When the LORD gives you in the evening meat to eat and in the morning bread to the full, because the LORD has heard your grumbling that you grumble against him—what are we? Your grumbling is not against us but against the LORD.”

9 Then Moses said to Aaron, “Say to the whole congregation of the people of Israel, ‘Come near before the LORD, for he has heard your grumbling.’ ” 10 And as soon as Aaron spoke to the whole congregation of the people of Israel, they looked toward the wilderness, and behold, the glory of the LORD appeared in the cloud. 11 And the LORD said to Moses, 12 “I have heard the grumbling of the people of Israel. Say to them, ‘At twilight you shall eat meat, and in the morning you shall be filled with bread. Then you shall know that I am the LORD your God.’ ”

13 In the evening quail came up and covered the camp, and in the morning dew lay around the camp. 14 And when the dew had gone up, there was on the face of the wilderness a fine, flake-like thing, fine as frost on the ground. 15 When the people of Israel saw it, they said to one another, “What is it?” For they did not know what it was. And Moses said to them, “It is the bread that the LORD has given you to eat. 16 This is what the LORD has commanded: ‘Gather of it, each one of you, as much as he can eat. You shall each take an omer, according to the number of the persons that each of you has in his tent.’ ” 17 And the people of Israel did so. They gathered, some more, some less. 18 But when they measured it with an omer, whoever gathered much had nothing left over, and whoever gathered little had no lack. Each of them gathered as much as he could eat. 19 And Moses said to them, “Let no one leave any of it over till the morning.” 20 But they did not listen to Moses. Some left part of it till the morning, and it bred worms and stank. And Moses was angry with them. 21 Morning by morning they gathered it, each as much as he could eat; but when the sun grew hot, it melted.

22 On the sixth day they gathered twice as much bread, two omers each. And when all the leaders of the congregation came and told Moses, 23 he said to them, “This is what the LORD has commanded: ‘Tomorrow is a day of solemn rest, a holy Sabbath to the LORD; bake what you will bake and boil what you will boil, and all that is left over lay aside to be kept till the morning.’ ” 24 So they laid it aside till the morning, as Moses commanded them, and it did not stink, and there were no worms in it. 25 Moses said, “Eat it today, for today is a Sabbath to the LORD; today you will not find it in the field. 26 Six days you shall gather it, but on the seventh day, which is a Sabbath, there will be none.”

27 On the seventh day some of the people went out to gather, but they found none. 28 And the LORD said to Moses, “How long will you refuse to keep my commandments and my laws? 29 See! The LORD has given you the Sabbath; therefore on the sixth day he gives you bread for two days. Remain each of you in his place; let no one go out of his place on the seventh day.” 30 So the people rested on the seventh day.

31 Now the house of Israel called its name manna. It was like coriander seed, white, and the taste of it was like wafers made with honey. 32 Moses said, “This is what the LORD has commanded: ‘Let an omer of it be kept throughout your generations, so that they may see the bread with which I fed you in the wilderness, when I brought you out of the land of Egypt.’ ” 33 And Moses said to Aaron, “Take a jar, and put an omer of manna in it, and place it before the LORD to be kept throughout your generations.” 34 As the LORD commanded Moses, so Aaron placed it before the testimony to be kept. 35 The people of Israel ate the manna forty years, till they came to a habitable land. They ate the manna till they came to the border of the land of Canaan. 36 (An omer is the tenth part of an ephah.)

Exodus 17

Water from the Rock

Exodus 17:1     All the congregation of the people of Israel moved on from the wilderness of Sin by stages, according to the commandment of the LORD, and camped at Rephidim, but there was no water for the people to drink. 2 Therefore the people quarreled with Moses and said, “Give us water to drink.” And Moses said to them, “Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you test the LORD?” 3 But the people thirsted there for water, and the people grumbled against Moses and said, “Why did you bring us up out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and our livestock with thirst?” 4 So Moses cried to the LORD, “What shall I do with this people? They are almost ready to stone me.” 5 And the LORD said to Moses, “Pass on before the people, taking with you some of the elders of Israel, and take in your hand the staff with which you struck the Nile, and go. 6 Behold, I will stand before you there on the rock at Horeb, and you shall strike the rock, and water shall come out of it, and the people will drink.” And Moses did so, in the sight of the elders of Israel. 7 And he called the name of the place Massah and Meribah, because of the quarreling of the people of Israel, and because they tested the LORD by saying, “Is the LORD among us or not?”

Israel Defeats Amalek

8 Then Amalek came and fought with Israel at Rephidim. 9 So Moses said to Joshua, “Choose for us men, and go out and fight with Amalek. Tomorrow I will stand on the top of the hill with the staff of God in my hand.” 10 So Joshua did as Moses told him, and fought with Amalek, while Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill. 11 Whenever Moses held up his hand, Israel prevailed, and whenever he lowered his hand, Amalek prevailed. 12 But Moses’ hands grew weary, so they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it, while Aaron and Hur held up his hands, one on one side, and the other on the other side. So his hands were steady until the going down of the sun. 13 And Joshua overwhelmed Amalek and his people with the sword.

14 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Write this as a memorial in a book and recite it in the ears of Joshua, that I will utterly blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven.” 15 And Moses built an altar and called the name of it, The LORD Is My Banner, 16 saying, “A hand upon the throne of the LORD! The LORD will have war with Amalek from generation to generation.”

Exodus 18

Jethro’s Advice

Exodus 18:1     Jethro, the priest of Midian, Moses’ father-in-law, heard of all that God had done for Moses and for Israel his people, how the LORD had brought Israel out of Egypt. 2 Now Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, had taken Zipporah, Moses’ wife, after he had sent her home, 3 along with her two sons. The name of the one was Gershom (for he said, “I have been a sojourner in a foreign land”), 4 and the name of the other, Eliezer (for he said, “The God of my father was my help, and delivered me from the sword of Pharaoh”). 5 Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, came with his sons and his wife to Moses in the wilderness where he was encamped at the mountain of God. 6 And when he sent word to Moses, “I, your father-in-law Jethro, am coming to you with your wife and her two sons with her,” 7 Moses went out to meet his father-in-law and bowed down and kissed him. And they asked each other of their welfare and went into the tent. 8 Then Moses told his father-in-law all that the LORD had done to Pharaoh and to the Egyptians for Israel’s sake, all the hardship that had come upon them in the way, and how the LORD had delivered them. 9 And Jethro rejoiced for all the good that the LORD had done to Israel, in that he had delivered them out of the hand of the Egyptians.

10 Jethro said, “Blessed be the LORD, who has delivered you out of the hand of the Egyptians and out of the hand of Pharaoh and has delivered the people from under the hand of the Egyptians. 11 Now I know that the LORD is greater than all gods, because in this affair they dealt arrogantly with the people.” 12 And Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, brought a burnt offering and sacrifices to God; and Aaron came with all the elders of Israel to eat bread with Moses’ father-in-law before God.

13 The next day Moses sat to judge the people, and the people stood around Moses from morning till evening. 14 When Moses’ father-in-law saw all that he was doing for the people, he said, “What is this that you are doing for the people? Why do you sit alone, and all the people stand around you from morning till evening?” 15 And Moses said to his father-in-law, “Because the people come to me to inquire of God; 16 when they have a dispute, they come to me and I decide between one person and another, and I make them know the statutes of God and his laws.” 17 Moses’ father-in-law said to him, “What you are doing is not good. 18 You and the people with you will certainly wear yourselves out, for the thing is too heavy for you. You are not able to do it alone. 19 Now obey my voice; I will give you advice, and God be with you! You shall represent the people before God and bring their cases to God, 20 and you shall warn them about the statutes and the laws, and make them know the way in which they must walk and what they must do. 21 Moreover, look for able men from all the people, men who fear God, who are trustworthy and hate a bribe, and place such men over the people as chiefs of thousands, of hundreds, of fifties, and of tens. 22 And let them judge the people at all times. Every great matter they shall bring to you, but any small matter they shall decide themselves. So it will be easier for you, and they will bear the burden with you. 23 If you do this, God will direct you, you will be able to endure, and all this people also will go to their place in peace.”

24 So Moses listened to the voice of his father-in-law and did all that he had said. 25 Moses chose able men out of all Israel and made them heads over the people, chiefs of thousands, of hundreds, of fifties, and of tens. 26 And they judged the people at all times. Any hard case they brought to Moses, but any small matter they decided themselves. 27 Then Moses let his father-in-law depart, and he went away to his own country.

ESV Study Bible

What I'm Reading

Five common objections to church discipline

By David Schrock


     In our hyper-individualistic culture, we are accustomed to passing by the plights of others. In the church, however, we cannot simply ignore the needs of others. We are not a restaurant that gives out biblical teaching and communion wafers. We are a family, a household of God, brothers and sisters committed to Christ and one another. We are not like Cain who mocked, “Am I my brothers keeper?” We are our brother’s keeper.

     Therefore, when sin enters the church, we cannot say, “It’s none of my business.” We are called to bear one another’s burdens (Gal. 6:1–2) and to confront sin when we see it appearing in the words and actions our fellow church members. This is the point of Matthew 18:10–14 (the passage preceding Jesus’ directives about church discipline): It is God’s will that none of his little ones should perish. Each step of church discipline brings this desire into action. And thus loving Christians can never say: “It’s none of my business.”


     This objection to church discipline sounds so noble, so humble. It is anything but. A dentist who always gives a clean bill of health— “No cavities. Again.”— is not good; he’s dangerous. A housing inspector who turns a blind eye to termite damage in the rafters is inviting residential collapse. So too, the church or church member who refuses to address sin is not making peace; they are insuring that the Satan’s warfare will succeed.

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     David Schrock (Ph.D., SBTS) serves as preaching pastor at Occoquan Bible Church in Woodbridge, VA. David and wife, Wendy, have three sons, Titus, Silas, and Cohen. He blogs at Via Emmaus.

Four (and a bit) reasons why the world would be a darker place without Christ

By The Belfast Bigot

     Human beings are sinful, so it should come as no suprise that Christianity has a less-than-perfect past. There are lunatics on the fringe of every movement and bad actors in every play. Despite this, when it comes to transforming societies for the better, Christianity is peerless.

     In today’s increasingly-secular society, however, detractors and sceptics rejoice in heaping judgement and scorn on Christianity – but it rarely asks, “compared to what?”

     The “what” is usually some form of secular utopia. But secular utopias have an abysmal track record, with hundreds of millions killed for ‘the greater good’ by the apostles Darwin, Marx, and Nietzsche. Secularism, wherever it has been officially implemented, has produced some of the most efficient butchers the world has ever known.

     And then there’s Islam. Yeah.

     So – when a society combines secularism and a charitable view of Islam and calls it “progress,” it jettisons 2000 years of human history. But the history is clear: the life and teachings of Jesus have not only revolutionised our thinking about God, but have had a tremendous impact on civilization that continues to this day around the world. Here are four (and a bit) reasons why.

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     The Belfast Bigot

Read The Psalms In "1" Year

Psalm 11

The LORD Is in His Holy Temple
11 To The Choirmaster. Of David.

1 In the LORD I take refuge;
how can you say to my soul,
“Flee like a bird to your mountain,
2 for behold, the wicked bend the bow;
they have fitted their arrow to the string
to shoot in the dark at the upright in heart;
3 if the foundations are destroyed,
what can the righteous do?”

4 The LORD is in his holy temple;
the LORD’s throne is in heaven;
his eyes see, his eyelids test the children of man.
5 The LORD tests the righteous,
but his soul hates the wicked and the one who loves violence.
6 Let him rain coals on the wicked;
fire and sulfur and a scorching wind shall be the portion of their cup.
7 For the LORD is righteous;
he loves righteous deeds;
the upright shall behold his face.

ESV Study Bible

The Problem Of The Old Testament

By James Orr 1907


Attention may now be given to the internal character of the narratives, and to the bearings of this on their credibility.

It sounds paradoxical, yet it is the case, that internal evidence of truthfulness is sometimes such as to outweigh in value even external evidence, and to support confidence in a narrative where external evidence is lacking or disputed. Had we, for instance, no external evidence for the Gospels, —did they come to us for the first time from unknown hands, —it might still be possible to argue that the holy and gracious Personage portrayed in them was no invention, but a drawing from a divine Original. In like manner it may be contended that there are internal marks which support our confidence in the patriarchal and Mosaic histories, apart from all reasoning as to the age of documents, or mode of transmission of the traditions. Something has already been said of the teleological character of the narratives; the argument may, however, now be widened to include a number of other features, hardly less remarkable. We draw our illustrations chiefly from the patriarchal age.

1. A first question relates to the general credibility of the patriarchal narratives. Discussion of alleged historical and chronological “contradictions” can stand over; but what of the credibility of the narratives as a whole? Here we willingly avail ourselves of the well-weighed judgment of a moderate critic like Dr. Driver. “The patriarchal narratives,” Dr. Driver says, “are marked by great sobriety of statement and representation. There are no incredible marvels, no fantastic extravagances, no surprising miracles; the miraculous hardly extends beyond manifestations and communications of the Deity to the earlier patriarchs, and in the case of Joseph there are not even these: the events of his life move on by the orderly sequence of natural cause and effect. There is also a great moderation in the claims made on behalf of the patriarchs.” He goes on to ask: “Do the patriarchal narratives contain intrinsic historical improbabilities? Or, in other words, is there anything intrinsically improbable in the lives of the several patriarchs, and the vicissitudes through which they severally pass?” And he answers: “Though particular details in them may be improbable (e.g.,  Gen. 19:31  ff. [?]), and though the representations may in parts be coloured by the religious and other associations of the age in which they were written, it cannot be said that the biographies of the first three patriarchs, as told in JE, are, speaking generally, historically improbable: the movements and personal lives of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, are, taken on the whole, credible.”

 Genesis 19:31–32 (ESV)
31 And the firstborn said to the younger, “Our father is old, and there is not a man on earth to come in to us after the manner of all the earth. 32 Come, let us make our father drink wine, and we will lie with him, that we may preserve offspring from our father.”

The witness here borne is true. Nothing is more striking to an impartial mind than the sobriety of tone and sparingness of miracle in the Book of  Genesis,  where, on the legendary theory, one would expect a superabundance of marvels. To say, as is done, for instance, in the article, “Hexateuch,” in Hastings’ Dictionary, that, “in J the most wonderful phenomena appear quite natural, the writer feels himself in an ideal fairy land in which no wonders are surprising,” is to convey a quite misleading impression. Apart from the theophanies to the patriarchs, and a few instances of revelations in dreams, there is but one recorded miracle in the whole long period from Abraham to Moses — the destruction of the cities of the plain, and even this, like the Noachian deluge, is connected with physical causes. If the birth of Isaac is reckoned another, there are two. This, as one has said, is a frugal provision of signs and wonders for the first foundation of an economy by which all families of the earth were to be blessed. In this respect the patriarchal period presents a marked contrast to the period of the Exodus, which is distinguished by the number, frequency, and stupendous character of its miracles. All the remaining miracles of the Old Testament, in fact, are scarcely so numerous and striking as those which are crowded into this single generation. But this again is intelligible from the nature of the case. It is characteristic of the miracles of the Bible that they are never mere prodigies, or aimless displays of power, but stand in intimate connection with, and strict subordination to, the ends of revelation. It need stagger no one that the Exodus took place, and the foundations of the covenant with Israel as a nation were laid, amidst surpassing manifestations of divine power and grace, designed to produce an indelible impression on the minds of the beholders, and burn into their hearts a grateful sense of their indebtedness to Jehovah. And this end, as we saw from the history, was effectually attained.

2. As another point in the argument from internal character, which powerfully supports belief in the historicity of the patriarchal narratives, we may note the unity of the picture of the patriarchs in the various sources. There are, we are assured, three main strands of narrative, at least, in  Genesis,   —in the case of Abraham there are four, for  Gen. 14  is allowed to be a source by itself, —yet it is the same personages, the same environment, the same doings, the same idiosyncrasies, essentially, which we have in each. “There is,” as Wellhausen himself declares, “no primitive legend so well-knit as the Biblical one.” Nor is this simply a matter of artificial arrangement. “This connection,” he says, “is common in its main features to all the sources alike. The Priestly Code runs, as to its historical thread, quite parallel to the Jehovist history.” Again: “In the history of the patriarchs also, the outlines of the narrative are the same in Q [= P] and in JE. We find in both, Abraham’s immigration into Canaan with Sarah and Lot, his separation from Lot, the birth of Ishmael by Hagar, the appearance of God for the promise of Isaac, Isaac’s birth, the death of Sarah and Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac’s marriage with Rebekah, Jacob and Esau, Jacob’s journey to Mesopotamia, and the foundation of his family there, his return, Esau, Joseph in Egypt, Jacob in Egypt, Jacob’s blessing on Joseph and his sons, his death and burial.”

Closer observation discovers that the case for unity is even stronger than Wellhausen represents it. The sources specified not only presuppose the same persons and the same history, but are so interwoven as to constitute a compact single narrative of which the several parts imply, and depend on, each other. E.g., the change of the names of Abram and Sarai in  Gen. 17  into Abraham and Sarah governs the rest of the story, and there are continual similar interlacings. Wellhausen, in fact, overstates the matter when he says that all the above details are found in each of the three sources. It is not the case, e.g., that the birth of Ishmael, or the death of Abraham, is mentioned in JE. The separation of sources only makes the problem harder; for the unity which exists in the book as it is disappears when its parts are sundered. Abundant illustration is given in later chapters, and only an example or two need be cited here. Thus, Haran is assumed in JE as the place where Abraham received his call, but, with the elimination of   Gen. 11:31; 12:4b, , assigned to P, the reference to Haran in the story of Abraham’s migrations disappears. So no explanation is given in J of “the land” which Abraham,  Genesis 12:6,  is said to have passed through: it is P, in ver.  5,  who tells us it was “the land of Canaan.” It has been mentioned that the death of Abraham is not recorded in JE. But, strangely enough, it is in P alone, on the current analysis, that an account is found of the deaths of any of the patriarchs. In JE the account of Jacob’s funeral is actually given before any allusion to his decease. This had preceded in P. Apart, however, from such details, which might be indefinitely multiplied, the entire picture of the patriarchs, alike in their personal characters, their attitude to God, the promises made to them, and of the persons connected with them in the story, as Sarah, Lot, Hagar, Ishmael, Esau, is identical throughout, and leaves essentially the same impression on the mind in all the supposed sources. Thus, in the P narrative of Abraham’s dealings with the sons of Heth in  Gen. 23,  he appears as “a mighty prince” (ver.  ); with this agrees the picture of him in chap.  24 —a separate source—as the possessor of 318 trained servants, born in his own house.

 Genesis 11:31 (ESV)
31 Terah took Abram his son and Lot the son of Haran, his grandson, and Sarai his daughter-in-law, his son Abram’s wife, and they went forth together from Ur of the Chaldeans to go into the land of Canaan, but when they came to Haran, they settled there.
Genesis 12:4 (ESV)
4 So Abram went, as the LORD had told him, and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran.

3. This leads us to remark that the figure of Abraham might almost be adduced as of itself a guarantee of the historicity of the narrative in which it is embodied. It is difficult, indeed, in our familiarity with the story, rightly to estimate the nobility and grandeur of the personality that here presents itself. To speak of Abraham’s faith is to touch the central and most conspicuous point in his greatness; yet it must not be overlooked that this faith is only the highest expression of a largeness of soul which manifests itself in all the aspects of his character. As instances of this magnanimity, with which is joined a rare meekness, peaceableness, and unselfishness, together with a never-failing courtesy and politeness, we need only refer to his dealings with Lot about the choice of a settlement, his relations with the king of Sodom and with Melchizedek, and his negotiations with the sons of Heth about a burying-place for his dead. But this is only one side of his character. Wellhausen was never further astray than when he spoke of this patriarch as unmanly. With his gentleness and reasonableness of disposition were united, as the rescue of Lot showed, the most conspicuous courage and decision. Abraham was no mere wealthy sheikh; no mere stay-at-home watcher by the sheepfolds. His was a strong as well as a meek nature. Sarah, his wife, though in many respects a noble woman, worthy of such a husband, is a far inferior character. She moves throughout on a lower level. Steadfast and loyal in her affection to her lord, and moved by a true religious feeling, she has not Abraham’s strength of faith, tends to be haughty, imperious, and impatient, can brook no rival, is stung by Hagar’s conduct, though she was herself to blame for putting the girl in her false position, complained petulantly to Abraham, treated her maid with intolerable harshness, and finally would be content with nothing but the expulsion of Hagar and Ishmael from the household. In comparison with her, the strong, patient, much-enduring Abraham appears greater than ever.

Yet there is no attempt to picture Abraham as faultless. It is, indeed, difficult to understand how a man whose faith was uniformly so strong should so far yield to fear as twice, according to the history, to stoop to falsehood or evasion to conceal his true relation to his wife. It was not a casual lapse, but seems to have been part of a settled policy, that Abraham should pass off Sarah as his sister, when travelling in dangerous parts. One can only say of it, that, by whatever excuses Abraham may have sought to justify his behaviour to himself, it was a course of conduct unworthy of him, indefensible even with such moral knowledge as he possessed, inexcusable in the eyes of God, and certain to involve him, as it actually did, in much danger and unhappiness.

The highest point of view, however, in which to consider Abraham in these narratives is in his connection with the plan and purpose of revelation. Alike on the divine and the human sides, we are here in presence of transactions unsurpassed in the Old Testament in interest and importance. The call of Abraham — the covenant made with him — is the beginning of a new era in the religious history of mankind. The faith with which Abraham responded to that call, and, in prompt and unhesitating obedience to the divine word, left home and kindred to go to a land which yet he knew not; his patient waiting, in spite of apparent natural obstacles, for the fulfilment of the promise of a son; his disinterested and lofty intercession for Sodom; above all, the great act of surrender of Isaac on the altar at Moriah, in undoubting confidence, apparently, that God was able to give his son back to him, even if from the dead, —in general, his habitual enduring as seeing Him who is invisible, —all show the magnificent greatness of this man, as, to the end of time, the Father of the Faithful! It is this unique and profoundly significant character which the revolutionary criticism would dissipate into unsubstantial myth or legend. But the thing cannot be done. What legend can effect for the life of Abraham is sufficiently evidenced by the fables and stories in Jewish, Mohammedan, and Persian sources. The history of Abraham in the Bible stands, from internal evidence alone, on an entirely different footing from these. In its simple, coherent, elevated character, its organic unity with the rest of revelation, its freedom from the puerility and extravagance which mark the products of the myth-forming spirit, it approves itself as a serious record of important events, the knowledge of which had been carefully preserved—possibly at an early age had been written down —and the essential contents of which we may safely trust.

     The Problem of the Old Testament

Did Moses Marry a Black Woman?

By John Piper 2-25-2010

     Moses, a Jew, apparently married a black African and was approved by God.

     We learn in Numbers that “Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses because of the Cushite woman whom he had married, for he had married a Cushite woman” (Num. 12:1). A Cushite is from Cush, a region south of Ethiopia, where the people are known for their black skin. We know this because of Jeremiah 13:23: “Can the Ethiopian [the same Hebrew word translated “Cushite” in Numbers 12:1] change his skin or the leopard his spots? Then also you can do good who are accustomed to do evil.” Attention is drawn to the difference of the skin of the Cushite people.

     In his book From Every People and Nation: A Biblical Theology of Race (New Studies in Biblical Theology), Daniel Hays writes that Cush “is used regularly to refer to the area south of Egypt, and above the cataracts on the Nile, where a Black African civilization flourished for over two thousand years. Thus it is quite clear that Moses marries a Black African woman”.

     In response to Miriam’s criticism, God does not get angry at Moses; he gets angry at Miriam. The criticism has to do with Moses’ marriage and Moses’ authority. The most explicit statement relates to the marriage: “Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses because of the Cushite woman whom he had married, for he had married a Cushite woman.” Then God strikes Miriam with leprosy. Why? Consider this possibility. In God’s anger at Miriam, Moses’ sister, God says in effect, “You like being light-skinned Miriam? I’ll make you light-skinned.” So we read, “When the cloud removed from over the tent, behold, Miriam was leprous, like snow” (Num. 12:10)

     God says not a critical word against Moses for marrying a black Cushite woman. But when Miriam criticizes God’s chosen leader for this marriage God strikes her skin with white leprosy. If you ever thought black was a biblical symbol for uncleanness, be careful; a worse white uncleanness could come upon you.


     To the opposing views on interracial marriage, I would add my own experience. I was a southern teenage racist (by almost any definition). Since I am a sinner still, I do not doubt that elements of it remain in me — to my dismay. For these lingering attitudes and actions I repent.

     Racism is a very difficult reality to define. Our pastoral staff has been working on it for years. Presently, we are most closely committed to the definition given several summers ago at the Presbyterian Church in America annual meeting: “Racism is an explicit or implicit belief or practice that qualitatively distinguishes or values one race over other races.” That is what I mean when I say I was a racist growing up in Greenville, South Carolina. My attitudes and actions were demeaning and disrespectful toward non-whites. And right at the heart of those attitudes was opposition to interracial marriage.

     My mother, who washed my mouth out with soap once for saying, “Shut up!” to my sister, would have washed my mouth out with gasoline if she knew how foul my mouth was racially. She was, under God, the seed of my salvation in more ways than one. When our church voted in 1963 not to admit blacks, when I was seventeen, my mother ushered the black guests at my sister’s wedding right into the main sanctuary herself because the ushers wouldn’t do it. I was on my way to redemption.

     In 1967, Noël and I attended the Urbana Missions Conference. I was a senior at Wheaton. There we heard Warren Webster, a former missionary to Pakistan, answer a student’s question: what if your daughter falls in love with a Pakistani while you’re on the mission field and wants to marry him? With great forcefulness he said,  “The Bible would say, Better a Christian Pakistani than a godless white American!”  The impact on us was profound.

     Four years later, I wrote a paper for Lewis Smedes in an ethics class at seminary called “The Ethics of Interracial Marriage.” For me that was a biblical settling of the matter, and I have not gone back from what I saw there. The Bible does not oppose or forbid interracial marriages. And there are circumstances which, together with biblical principles, make interracial marriage in many cases a positive good.

     Now I am a pastor. One quick walk through my church’s pictorial directory gives me a rough count of over two hundred non-Anglos. I am sure I missed some. And I am sure the definition of Anglo is so vague that someone will be bothered that I even tried to count. But the point is this: dozens and dozens of them are children and teenagers and single young men and women. This means very simply that my church needs a clear place to stand on interracial marriage. Church is the most natural and proper place to find a spouse. And they will find each other across racial lines.


     Opposition to interracial marriage is one of the deepest roots of racial distance, disrespect, and hostility. Show me one place in the world where interracial or interethnic marriage is frowned upon and yet the two groups still have equal respect and honor and opportunity. I don’t think it exists. It won’t happen. Why? Because the supposed specter of interracial marriage demands that barrier after barrier must be put up to keep young people from knowing each other and falling in love. They can’t fellowship in church youth groups. They can’t go to the same schools. They can’t belong to the same clubs. They can’t live in the same neighborhoods. Everybody knows deep down what is at stake here. Intermarriage is at stake.

     And as long as we disapprove of it, we will be pushing our children, and therefore ourselves, away from each other. The effect of that is not harmony, not respect, and not equality of opportunity. Where racial intermarriage is disapproved, the culture with money and power will always dominate and always oppress. They will see to it that those who will not make desirable spouses stay in their place and do not have access to what they have access to. If your kids don’t make desirable spouses, you don’t make desirable neighbors.

     And here is a great and sad irony. The very situation of separation and suspicion and distrust and dislike that is brought about (among other things) by the fear of intermarriage, is used to justify the opposition to intermarriage. “It will make life hard for the couple and hard for the kids.” “They’ll be called half-breeds.” It’s a catch-22. It’s like the army being defeated because there aren’t enough troops, and the troops won’t sign up because the army’s being defeated. Oppose interracial marriage, and you will help create a situation of racial disrespect. And then, since there is a situation of disrespect, it will be prudent to oppose interracial marriage.

     Here is where Christ makes the difference.  Christ does not call us to a prudent life, but to a God-centered, Christ-exalting, justice-advancing, counter-cultural, risk-taking life of love and courage.  Will it be harder to be married to another race, and will it be harder for the kids? Maybe. Maybe not. But since when is that the way a Christian thinks? Life is hard. And the more you love the harder it gets.

     It’s hard to take a child to the mission field. The risks are huge. It’s hard to take a child and move into a mixed neighborhood where he may be teased or ridiculed. It’s hard to help a child be a Christian in a secular world where his beliefs are mocked. It’s hard to bring children up with standards: “you will not dress like that, and you will not be out that late.” It’s hard to raise children when dad or mom dies or divorces. And that’s a real risk in any marriage. Whoever said that marrying and having children was to be trouble free? It’s one of the hardest things in the world. It just happens to be right and rewarding.

     Christians are people who move toward need and truth and justice, not toward comfort and security. Life is hard. But God is good. And Christ is strong to help.

     There is so much more to say about the challenges and blessings of interracial marriage. Suffice it to say now by way of practical conclusion: At my church, we will not underestimate the challenges of interracial marriage or transracial adoption (they go closely together). We will celebrate the beauty, and we will embrace the burden. Both will be good for us and good for the world and good for the glory of God.

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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.

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If Babies Go to Heaven, Why Oppose Abortion?

By John Piper 9-14-2015

     My question is: Do aborted babies go to heaven, even not having the chance to be born? And to piggyback on this question, in recent online debates, critics of the pro-life movement say if aborted babies do go to heaven, then why is abortion really a big deal in the end for Christians?”

Heaven Bound

      I have argued numerous times that infants who die do go to heaven. I do believe they are in a sinful condition when they die. I don’t believe that they are saved because there is no original sin. That is not what I am arguing.

     My view is not based on how cute or innocent they are. It is based largely on God’s apparent commitment to a kind of public justice in which he makes the rejection of observable evidences of truth the basis for his final condemnation (Romans 1:20). But that is not what I am arguing for now in this answer. I am just going to assume that Rodrigo can go to the website and get more on that.

     I am going to tackle: Why would you oppose abortion if you thought you were sending babies wonderfully to heaven? Or, as he put it: In recent online debates, critics of the pro-life position say, “If aborted babies go to heaven, then why is abortion really a big deal in the end for Christians?”

     My answer is, it is a big deal for six reasons at least.

1. Murder is Murder

     It is a big deal to kill babies in the womb because murder is a big deal. We know it is a big deal because the reason capital punishment was inaugurated by God after the flood was because of how big a deal it is to murder someone who is in the image of God.

     Genesis 9:6 says, “Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for God made man in his own image.” That is what makes it such a big deal. You don’t kill beings uniquely created in the image of God.

2. No Boundry

     It is a big deal to kill the unborn to try to justify murder by the heavenly destination of the one being murdered because the same justification could be used for a one-year old or a two-year old who are still incapable of processing and construing God’s revelation.

     If Christians were to buy the argument, “Sure, that is fine. You can go ahead and take the lives of infants in the womb because they are going to go to heaven,” then we can just go around and kill all the one-year olds and guarantee they go to heaven — kill all the two-year olds and guarantee that they go to heaven — and we will draw the line maybe around, I don’t know, three or four. That is a horrific position to take, and it is a big deal.

3. Killing Christians

     It is a big deal to justify murder that way, by the heaven-bound destination of the one being murdered, because the same thing would be used to justify killing Christians. Let’s go out and convert people, then kill them quickly before they can commit apostasy or backsliding. It is horrible logic.

4. Grace Abounding

     It is a big deal to kill those who committed no crime just in order to dispatch them to heaven because the Bible addresses this very kind of twisted thinking when it says, Shall we sin that grace may abound? (Romans 6:1).

     In other words, somebody was trying to use the logic against Paul that grace would abound wherever sin abounds: “So, let’s do some more sinning.” Paul responded, “Shall we do evil that good may come?” (Romans 3:8). God forbid.

     His answer is no. It is a wrong logic to sin in order that some good might come from it. We are dealing with God here, not just pragmatics.

5. Joy to Live

     It is a big deal because life on earth is good and wonderful. It is a right thing to want to be alive on the earth.

     The apostle Paul, when he weighed dying and going to be with Jesus against staying alive and serving the church, he opted to stay alive. Here is what he wrote: “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better” (Philippians 1:21–23).

     So, some might respond, “Well, then just choose death, for goodness’ sake.” But he says in verses 24–25: “But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all, for your progress and joy in the faith.”

     It is far better, he says, to be with Christ in one sense, if it is just me and my sufferings that are being taken into account. Please, Lord, I would rather be home. But if I take into account my ministry, my relationships, the good I might do in glorifying God and serving people for the season that he gives me here on the earth, larger purposes are in mind.

     We ought not to take that possibility away from anyone. If there is an unborn person, we shouldn’t say, “Well, they get to go to heaven, so don’t give them any chance to serve God on the earth.” That doesn’t follow from biblical reasoning.

6. Not the Judge

     Lastly, it is a big deal because it is presumption to step into God’s place and try to make the assignments to heaven and to hell. God is the judge, not us. Our duty is to obey God, not play God.

     Yes, babies do go to heaven, I believe. And no, don’t kill them, because they are in the image of God and because earth is their home on the way to heaven — and rightly so — and because we are not God.

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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.

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Do babies and others incapable of professing faith in Christ automatically go to heaven?

By John MacArthur

2 Samuel 12:23 But now he is dead. Why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he will not return to me.”   ESV

Luke 10:16 “The one who hears you hears me, and the one who rejects you rejects me, and the one who rejects me rejects him who sent me.”   ESV

John 12:48 The one who rejects me and does not receive my words has a judge; the word that I have spoken will judge him on the last day.   ESV

     People often wonder about the eternal destiny of the unborn, babies, and those unable to intellectually understand the gospel. That question is a difficult one.  Unfortunately, the Bible offers us no explicit answer.  However, based on several passages, as well as an understanding of God's character and His dealings with men, we can develop a good idea of how He works in such situations.

     Second Samuel 12:23 is one of the passages often quoted to imply that babies go to heaven. Though the verse doesn't explicitly say that, David clearly does expect to one day be reunited with his departed child. Since we know David is a believer whose destiny was heaven, we can infer that his hope of reunion means he expected his child to be in heaven. Thus, 2 Samuel 12:23 suggests strong evidence for a heavenly destiny of the unborn and children who die young.

     If this were all we had to support our position, it would be admittedly less than stalwart. However, there are other evidences that point us to the same conclusion. First, the Bible clearly teaches that God cares deeply for children. Passages like Matthew 18:1-6 and 19:13-15 affirm the Lord's love for them. Those verses don't state that children go to heaven, but they do show God's heart toward children. He created and cares for children, and beyond that, He always accomplishes His perfect will in every circumstance.

Matthew 18:1-6 At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” 2 And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them 3 and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

“Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me,but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.

Matthew 19:13-15 13 Then children were brought to him that he might lay his hands on them and pray. The disciples rebuked the people, 14 but Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” 15 And he laid his hands on them and went away.   ESV

     The psalmist reminds us that God is "full of compassion and gracious, longsuffering and abundant in mercy and truth" (Ps. 86:15). He is the God who became flesh that He might carry our sins away by His death on the cross (2 Cor. 5:21). He is the God who will comfort Christians in heaven, for "He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death; nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain" (Rev. 21:4). We can be assured that God will do what is right and loving  because He is the standard of rightness and love.  Those considerations alone seem to be evidence enough of God's particular, electing love shown to the unborn and those who die young.

Ps. 86:15  But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious,
slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.

2 Cor. 5:21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.   ESV

Rev. 21:4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”   ESV

     However, another point may be helpful in answering this question. While infants and children have neither sensed their personal sin and need for salvation nor placed their faith in Christ,  Scripture teaches that condemnation is based on the clear rejection of God's revelation  -- whether general or specific -- not simple ignorance of it (Luke 10:16; John 12:48; 1 Thess. 4:8).

Luke 10:16 “The one who hears you hears me, and the one who rejects you rejects me, and the one who rejects me rejects him who sent me.”   ESV

John 12:48 The one who rejects me and does not receive my words has a judge; the word that I have spoken will judge him on the last day.   ESV

1 Thess. 4:8 Therefore whoever disregards this, disregards not man but God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you.   ESV

     Can we definitely say that the unborn and young children have comprehended the truth displayed by God's general revelation that renders them "without excuse" (Rom. 1:18-20)? They will be judged according to the light they received. Scripture is clear that children and the unborn have original sin -- including both the propensity to sin as well as the inherent guilt of original sin. But could it be that somehow Christ's atonement did pay for the guilt for these helpless ones throughout all time? Yes, and therefore it is a credible assumption that a child who dies at an age too young to have made a conscious, willful rejection of Jesus Christ will be taken to be with the Lord.

Rom. 1:18-20 18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.   ESV

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     John MacArthur is pastor-teacher of Grace Community Church in Sun Valley , California , author, conference speaker, president of The Master's College and Seminary, and featured teacher with Grace to You.

     From 1964 to 1966 Dr. MacArthur served as an associate pastor at Calvary Bible Church in Burbank , California and from 1966 to 1969 as a faculty representative for Talbot Theological Seminary, where he graduated with honors.

     In 1969, John came to Grace Community Church . The emphasis of his pulpit ministry is the careful study and verse-by-verse exposition of the Bible, with special attention devoted to the historical and grammatical background behind each passage.Under John's leadership, Grace Community Church's two morning worship services fill the 3,000-seat auditorium to capacity. Several thousand members also participate each week in dozens of fellowship groups and training programs, led by members of the pastoral staff and lay leaders. These groups are dedicated to equipping members for ministry on local, national, and international levels.

     In 1985, John became president of The Master's College (formerly Los Angeles Baptist College ), an accredited, four-year, liberal arts Christian college in Santa Clarita , California . In 1986, John founded The Master's Seminary, a graduate school dedicated to training men for full-time pastoral roles and missionary work. In addition to his administrative responsibilities, John regularly teaches Expository Preaching at the seminary and frequently speaks in chapel.

     John is also president and featured teacher with Grace to You. Founded in 1969, Grace to You is the nonprofit organization responsible for developing, producing, and distributing John's books, audiocassettes, free sermons (MP3s) and the Grace to You, Portraits of Grace, and Grace to You Weekend radio programs. Grace to You airs thousands of times daily throughout the English speaking world reaching all major population centers in the United States, as well as Australia, Canada, Europe, India, New Zealand, the Philippines, and South Africa. It also airs more than 450 times daily in Spanish reaching 23 countries, including Mexico, Spain, Argentina, Chile, Peru, Venezuela, and Colombia.

     Since completing his first best-selling book The Gospel According to Jesus, in 1988, John has written over 100 books and, through Grace to You and retail bookstores, distributed millions of copies worldwide.Many of John's books are available on CD-ROM and many titles have been translated into Chinese, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Marathi, Polish, Romanian, Russian, Spanish, and several other major languages.

     John and his wife, Patricia, live in Southern California and have four grown children: Matt, Marcy, Mark, and Melinda.They also enjoy the enthusiastic company of their eleven grandchildren--Johnny, Ty, Jessy, KD, Olivia, Susannah, Gracie, Kylee, Andrew, Brooke and Elizabeth.

     "MacArthur calls himself a "leaky dispensationalist"--meaning he rejects any and all "dispensational" soteriological innovations, holding to classic Reformed (i.e., Protestant, not "covenantal") soteriology. MacArthur's "dispensationalism" is eschatological and ecclesiological only. And given the fact that soteriology is central to our whole understanding of Christianity, whereas eschatology and ecclesiology deal primarily with secondary doctrines, it would be my assessment that MacArthur has far less in common with Ryrie than he would have with anyone who believes 1) that God's grace is efficacious for regeneration and sanctification as well as for justification, and 2) that God graciously guarantees the perseverance of all true believers." - Phil Johnson

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Loving Jesus

By Hans R. Waldvogel (1893 - 1969)

     Selected Verses:

I Corinthians 16:22 If anyone has no love for the Lord, let him be accursed. Our Lord, come!   ESV

Revelation 2:4 But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first.   ESV

     “If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ…” Now let’s go through the rank and file of this meeting tonight, and, say, let me feel your pulse. You know, a lie detector will quickly detect if there’s a lie in your system. But here’s a love detector that detects quickly whether you’re in love or not. Or, you can detect people that are in love naturally.

     But “if any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ...” Oh. That love, the Bible says, “passeth knowledge.” If human love can quicken the pulse of a person and can make them to be so careful… I’ve seen the worst bums turn into “dudes” overnight — I have — fellows that would never think of cleaning their fingernails, or pressing their pants, or shining their shoes. Overnight, they became gentlemen par excellence. They couldn’t talk “Brooklyn brogue” anymore; they had to speak the “Oxford tongue.” Just human attachment, some human affection will turn a bum into a prince. Of course, he doesn’t stay that way. It’s just skin-deep, that kind of stuff.

     But the love of Jesus Christ, oh that wonderful love without which no man can get saved. “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy mind, with all thy soul, with all thy strength” sounds like law. It isn’t law, it’s a love affair. It’s a proposal of Almighty God to a poor beggar on the dunghill — to you and to me.

Matthew 22:37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.   ESV

Selected Quotes:

     “If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be cursed.” That’s a strong word. But he is cursed. Jesus Christ says, “I’ll throw that candlestick out of its place except you repent… You’ve left your first love.”

     What are these gifts for that people boast of — that we like to boast of? We like to make a fuss over, we like to make propaganda over the blessings that God gives us. And, beloved, all the while we’re being cursed; we’re being cut off from the fountain of living water. “…You’ve left your first love.” …

     What is that first love? Why, that first love is my love for Himself — when nothing else bothers me, and nothing else interests me, and nothing gives me any joy but Himself. Oh, He, hanging on the cross: there’s my Bridegroom! There’s the lover of my soul. There’s where He gives me His love: when I eat His flesh and drink His blood. When I become united to Jesus Christ because that blood was shed for me. That blood was shed as the price of my redemption that I might become His own purchased possession.

     They said [to Rebecca], “Will you go with this man? Will you become his wife.” That’s what Jesus Christ is asking of you and of me tonight. “Will you go with this Man?” “If any man will come after Me…” — that’s the first love, when He’s your choice.

     I fell head-over-heels in love with Jesus. I look back upon those days now and I wonder “how in the world did that happen to a kid like me?” Day and night I couldn’t forget Him. Day and night my heart was just in love with Jesus — not His gifts, not His blessings at all — nothing but Himself. How did it happen? Why, it happens by the Holy Ghost. It happens by the Spirit of the Living God who comes directly from the heart of Jesus to your heart…

     He invites us all to come and lean upon His bosom. He invites every one of us to come to Him, and to get so close to Him. That’s what constitutes the first love. He is the fountain of living water, and there is no life outside of Him.

     When he cried on the cross, “I thirst,” they brought Him vinegar and He wouldn’t take it. That wasn’t the thing that constituted thirst. It was the thirst for your soul. It was that great burning heart of Jehovah, burning with love for sinners. And He wasn’t able to gain their hearts in any other way but by bleeding Himself to death. That’s the only way He could gain my heart. But He did, thank God.

     It isn’t something you can produce. It’s something that must come by union with the Son of God. His love is the first love. That fire, that consuming fire: “Our God is a consuming fire.” Thank God! And that love of Jesus Christ will consume all earthy loves — all the things that defile my soul, and my body, and my spirit. That love of Jesus Christ, do you want it? Oh, you can have it. Jesus Christ loved me when I was an enemy, how much more now, when my heart opens to Him.

     And here is the Book, written for me: An Old Testament, and here’s (…) a New Testament: “I will and I bequeath to you the unsearchable riches of Christ. Who wants them?”

     And the unsearchable riches of Christ are Himself. Himself, oh, in all His beauty, in all His righteousness, in all His godliness, in all His purity! And as I draw nigh to Him, He draws nigh to me. Hallelujah! He washes me with His own precious blood. Oh, that blood. Isn’t it hot? Doesn’t it burn like fire? Doesn’t it wash away all uncleanness? And He keeps me and holds me as the apple of His eye.

     “Oh, come away My sister, My love, My dove, My undefiled.”


Majestic Sweetness Sits Enthroned, a hymn by Samuel Stennett:

Since from His bounty I receive
Such proofs of love divine,
Had I a thousand hearts to give,
Lord, they should all be Thine.

In the Shade of the Old Apple Tree, a popular song by Harry Williams, 1905:

In the shade of the old apple tree,
Where the love in your eyes I could see,
Where the voice that I heard,
Like the song of a bird,
Seemed to whisper sweet music to me,

I could hear the dull buzz of the bee
In the blossoms as you said to me,
“With a heart that is true,
“I’ll be waiting for you,
“In the shade of the old apple tree.”

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

By John Bunyan 1678


     As I walked through the wilderness of this world, I lighted on a certain place where was a den, and laid me down in that place to sleep; and as I slept, I dreamed a dream. I dreamed, and behold, I saw a man clothed with rags, standing in a certain place, with his face from his own house, a book in his hand, and a great burden upon his back.

Is 64:6  We have all become like one who is unclean,
and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment.
We all fade like a leaf,
and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.

Lk 14:33 So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.   ESV

Ps 38:4  For my iniquities have gone over my head;
like a heavy burden, they are too heavy for me.

     I looked and saw him open the book, and read therein; and as he read, he wept and trembled; and not being able longer to contain, he brake out with a lamentable cry, saying, “What shall I do?”

Ac 2:37 Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?”   ESV

Ac 16:38 The police reported these words to the magistrates, and they were afraid when they heard that they were Roman citizens.   ESV

Heb 2:2-3 For since the message declared by angels proved to be reliable, and every transgression or disobedience received a just retribution, 3 how shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation? It was declared at first by the Lord, and it was attested to us by those who heard,   ESV

     In this plight, therefore, he went home, and restrained himself as long as he could, that his wife and children should not perceive his distress; but he could not be silent long, because that his trouble increased. Wherefore at length he brake his mind to his wife and children; and thus he began to talk to them: “O, my dear wife,” said he, “and you the children of my bowels, I, your dear friend, am in myself undone by reason of a burden that lieth hard upon me; moreover, I am certainly informed that this our city will be burnt with fire from heaven; in which fearful overthrow, both myself, with thee my wife, and you my sweet babes, shall miserably come to ruin, except (the which yet I see not) some way of escape can be found whereby we may be delivered.” At this his relations were sore amazed; not for that they believed that what he had said to them was true, but because they thought that some frenzy distemper had got into his head; therefore, it drawing towards night, and they hoping that sleep might settle his brains, with all haste they got him to bed. But the night was as troublesome to him as the day; wherefore, instead of sleeping, he spent it in sighs and tears. So when the morning was come, they would know how he did. He told them, “Worse and worse:” he also set to talking to them again; but they began to be hardened. They also thought to drive away his distemper by harsh and surly carriage to him; sometimes they would deride, sometimes they would chide, and sometimes they would quite neglect him. Wherefore he began to retire himself to his chamber to pray for and pity them, and also to condole his own misery; he would also walk solitarily in the fields, sometimes reading, and sometimes praying: and thus for some days he spent his time.

     Now I saw, upon a time, when he was walking in the fields, that he was (as he was wont) reading in his book, and greatly distressed in his mind; and as he read, he burst out, as he had done before, crying, “What shall I do to be saved?”

Acts 16:30, 31 30 Then he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” 31 And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.”   ESV

     I saw also that he looked this way, and that way, as if he would run; yet he stood still because (as I perceived) he could not tell which way to go. I looked then, and saw a man named Evangelist coming to him, and he asked, “Wherefore dost thou cry?”

     He answered, “Sir, I perceive, by the book in my hand, that I am condemned to die, and after that to come to judgment,

Heb. 9:27 And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment,   ESV

     and I find that I am not willing to do the first,

Job 16:21  that he would argue the case of a man with God,
as a son of man does with his neighbor.
22  For when a few years have come
I shall go the way from which I shall not return.

     nor able to do the second.”

Ezek. 22:14 14 Can your courage endure, or can your hands be strong, in the days that I shall deal with you? I the LORD have spoken, and I will do it.   ESV

     Then said Evangelist, “Why not willing to die, since this life is attended with so many evils?” The man answered, “Because, I fear that this burden that is upon my back will sink me lower than the grave, and I shall fall into Tophet.

Isa. 30:33 For a burning place has long been prepared; indeed, for the king it is made ready, its pyre made deep and wide, with fire and wood in abundance; the breath of the LORD, like a stream of sulfur, kindles it.   ESV

     And Sir, if I be not fit to go to prison, I am not fit to go to judgment, and from thence to execution; and the thoughts of these things make me cry.”

     Then said Evangelist, “If this be thy condition, why standest thou still?” He answered, “Because I know not whither to go.” Then he gave him a parchment roll, and there was written within, “Fly from the wrath to come.”

Matt. 3:7 7 But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?   ESV

     The man therefore read it, and looking upon Evangelist very carefully, said, “Whither must I fly?” Then said Evangelist, (pointing with his finger over a very wide field,) “Do you see yonder wicket-gate?”

Matt. 7:13, 14 13 “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. 14 For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.   ESV

     The man said, “No.” Then said the other, “Do you see yonder shining light?”

Psalm 119:105  Your word is a lamp to my feet
and a light to my path.

2 Pet. 1: And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts,   ESV

     He said, “I think I do.” Then said Evangelist, “Keep that light in your eye, and go up directly thereto, so shalt thou see the gate; at which, when thou knockest, it shall be told thee what thou shalt do.” So I saw in my dream that the man began to run. Now he had not run far from his own door when his wife and children, perceiving it, began to cry after him to return; but the man put his fingers in his ears, and ran on crying, Life! life! eternal life!

Luke 14:26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.   ESV

      So he looked not behind him,

Gen. 19:17 And as they brought them out, one said, “Escape for your life. Do not look back or stop anywhere in the valley. Escape to the hills, lest you be swept away.”   ESV

     but fled towards the middle of the plain.

     The neighbors also came out to see him run,

Jer. 20:10  For I hear many whispering.
Terror is on every side!
“Denounce him! Let us denounce him!”
say all my close friends,
watching for my fall.
“Perhaps he will be deceived;
then we can overcome him
and take our revenge on him.”

     and as he ran, some mocked, others threatened, and some cried after him to return; and among those that did so, there were two that were resolved to fetch him back by force. The name of the one was Obstinate and the name of the other Pliable. Now by this time the man was got a good distance from them; but, however, they were resolved to pursue him, which they did, and in a little time they overtook him. Then said the man, “Neighbors, wherefore are you come?” They said, “To persuade you to go back with us.” But he said, “That can by no means be: you dwell,” said he, “in the city of Destruction, the place also where I was born: I see it to be so; and dying there, sooner or later, you will sink lower than the grave, into a place that burns with fire and brimstone: be content, good neighbors, and go along with me.”

     OBST. What, said Obstinate, and leave our friends and our comforts behind us!

     CHR. Yes, said Christian, (for that was his name,) because that all which you forsake is not worthy to be compared with a little of that I am seeking to enjoy,

2 Cor. 4:18 as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.   ESV

     and if you will go along with me, and hold it, you shall fare as I myself; for there, where I go, is enough and to spare.

Luke 15:17 “But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger!   ESV

     Come away, and prove my words.

     OBST. What are the things you seek, since you leave all the world to find them?

     CHR. I seek an inheritance incorruptible, undefiled, and that fadeth not away,

1 Peter 1:4 4 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you,   ESV

     and it is laid up in heaven, and safe there,

Heb. 11:16 But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.   ESV

     to be bestowed, at the time appointed, on them that diligently seek it. Read it so, if you will, in my book.

     OBST. Tush, said Obstinate, away with your book; will you go back with us or no?

     CHR. No, not I, said the other, because I have laid my hand to the plough.

Luke 9:62 Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”   ESV

     OBST. Come then, neighbor Pliable, let us turn again, and go home without him: there is a company of these crazy-headed coxcombs, that when they take a fancy by the end, are wiser in their own eyes than seven men that can render a reason.

     PLI. Then said Pliable, Don’t revile; if what the good Christian says is true, the things he looks after are better than ours: my heart inclines to go with my neighbor.

     OBST. What, more fools still! Be ruled by me, and go back; who knows whither such a brain-sick fellow will lead you? Go back, go back, and be wise.

     CHR. Nay, but do thou come with thy neighbor Pliable; there are such things to be had which I spoke of, and many more glories besides. If you believe not me, read here in this book, and for the truth of what is expressed therein, behold, all is confirmed by the blood of Him that made it.

Heb. 9:17–21 17 For a will takes effect only at death, since it is not in force as long as the one who made it is alive. 18 Therefore not even the first covenant was inaugurated without blood. 19 For when every commandment of the law had been declared by Moses to all the people, he took the blood of calves and goats, with water and scarlet wool and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book itself and all the people, 20 saying, “This is the blood of the covenant that God commanded for you.” 21 And in the same way he sprinkled with the blood both the tent and all the vessels used in worship.   ESV

     PLI. Well, neighbor Obstinate, said Pliable, I begin to come to a point; I intend to go along with this good man, and to cast in my lot with him: but, my good companion, do you know the way to this desired place?

     CHR. I am directed by a man whose name is Evangelist, to speed me to a little gate that is before us, where we shall receive instructions about the way.

     PLI. Come then, good neighbor, let us be going. Then they went both together.

     OBST. And I will go back to my place, said Obstinate: I will be no companion of such misled, fantastical fellows.

     Now I saw in my dream, that when Obstinate was gone back, Christian and Pliable went talking over the plain; and thus they began their discourse.

     CHR. Come, neighbor Pliable, how do you do? I am glad you are persuaded to go along with me. Had even Obstinate himself but felt what I have felt of the powers and terrors of what is yet unseen, he would not thus lightly have given us the back.

     PLI. Come, neighbor Christian, since there are none but us two here, tell me now farther, what the things are, and how to be enjoyed, whither we are going.

     CHR. I can better conceive of them with my mind, than speak of them with my tongue: but yet, since you are desirous to know, I will read of them in my book.

     PLI. And do you think that the words of your book are certainly true?

     CHR. Yes, verily; for it was made by Him that cannot lie.

Tit. 1:2 in hope of eternal life, which God, who never lies, promised before the ages began   ESV

     PLI. Well said; what things are they?

     CHR. There is an endless kingdom to be inhabited, and everlasting life to be given us, that we may inhabit that kingdom for ever.

Isa. 65:17  “For behold, I create new heavens
and a new earth,
and the former things shall not be remembered
or come into mind.

John 10:27-29 27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.   ESV

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

Exodus 16

By Don Carson

     THE CLOSING VERSES OF Exodus 15 are a harbinger of things to come. Despite the miraculous interventions by God that characterized their escape from Egypt, the people do not really trust him; the first bit of hardship turns to whining and complaining. Exodus 16 carries the story further, and shows that this muttering is linked, at several levels, to overt defiance of the living God.

     We need not imagine that the Israelites were not hungry; of course they were. The question is what they did about it. They might have turned to God in prayer and asked him to supply all their needs. As he had effected their rescue so dramatically, would he not also provide for them? But instead they sarcastically romanticize their experience of slavery (!) in Egypt (16:3), and grumble against Moses and Aaron (16:2).

     Moses might have felt miffed at the sheer ingratitude of the people. Wisely, he recognizes its real focus and evil. Although they grumble against Moses and Aaron, their real complaint is against God himself (16:7-8): “You are not grumbling against us, but against the LORD.”

     In all this, the Lord is still forbearing. As he turned the bitter waters of Marah into sweetness (15:22-26), so he now provides them with meat in the form of quail, and with manna. This frankly miraculous provision not only meets their need, but is granted so that they “will see the glory of the LORD” (16:7). “Then you will know that I am the LORD your God” (16:12). Further, the Lord says, “I will test them and see whether they will follow my instructions” (16:4).

     Unfortunately, not a few in the community fail the test miserably. They try to hoard manna when they are told not to; they try to gather manna when, on the Sabbath, none is provided. Moses is frankly angry with them (16:20); the Lord himself challenges this chronic disobedience (16:28).

     Why should people who have witnessed so spectacular a display of the grace and power of God slip so easily into muttering and complaining and slide so gracelessly into listless disobedience? The answer lies in the fact that many of them see God as existing to serve them. He served them in the Exodus; he served them when he provided clean water. Now he must serve not only their needs but their appetites. Otherwise they are entirely prepared to abandon him. While Moses has been insisting to Pharaoh that the people needed to retreat into the desert in order to serve and worship God, the people themselves think God exists to serve them.

     The fundamental question is, “Who is the real God?” New covenant believers face the same choice (1 Cor. 10:10).

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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

Exodus 18

By Don Carson 3/7/2018

     One can only imagine the conversations that Moses had enjoyed with Jethro, his father-in-law, during the decades they spent together in Midian. But clearly, some of the talk was about the Lord God. Called to his extraordinary ministry, Moses temporarily entrusted his wife and sons to his father-in-law’ s care (Ex. 18:2). Perhaps that decision had been precipitated by the extraordinary event described in Exodus 4:24-26, where in the light of this new mission Moses’ own sons undergo emergency circumcision to bring Moses’ household into compliance with the covenant with Abraham, thereby avoiding the wrath of God.

     But now Moses learns that Jethro is coming to see him, restoring to him his wife Zipporah and their sons Gershom and Eliezer. Soon Moses continues the old conversation. This time he gives his father-in-law a blow-by-blow account of all that the Lord had done in rescuing his people from slavery in Egypt. Doubtless some of Jethro’s delight (18:9) is bound up with his ties with his son-in-law. But if his final evaluative comment is taken at face value, Jethro has also come to a decisive conclusion: “Now I know that the LORD is greater than all other gods, for he did this to those who had treated Israel arrogantly” (18:11). And he offers sacrifices to the living God (18:12).

     All this material is provided as background for what takes place in the rest of the chapter. The next day, Jethro sees Moses attempting to arbitrate every dispute in the fledgling nation. With wisdom and insight he urges on Moses a major administrative overhaul — a rigorous judicial system with most of the decisions being taken at the lowest possible level, only the toughest cases being reserved for Moses himself, the “supreme court.” Moses listens carefully to his father-in-law, and puts the entire plan into operation (18:24). The advantages for the people, who are less frustrated by the system, and for Moses, who is no longer run ragged, are beyond calculation. And at the end of the chapter, Jethro returns home.

     In some ways, the account is surprising. Major administrative structures are being put into place among the covenant community without any word from God. Why is Jethro, at best on the fringes of the covenant people, allowed to play such an extraordinary role as counselor and confidant of Moses?

     The questions answer themselves. God may use the means of “common grace” to instruct and enrich his people. The sovereign goodness and provision of God are displayed as much in bringing Jethro on the scene at this propitious moment as in the parting of the waters of the Red Sea. Are there not contemporary analogies?

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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 Continual Burnt Offering

By H.A. Ironside - 1941

January 23
Numbers 15:38 “Speak to the people of Israel, and tell them to make tassels on the corners of their garments throughout their generations, and to put a cord of blue on the tassel of each corner. 39 And it shall be a tassel for you to look at and remember all the commandments of the LORD, to do them, not to follow after your own heart and your own eyes, which you are inclined to whore after.   ESV

     Blue is the heavenly color. The thread of blue on the border of the Israelite’s garments was to remind the wearer that he belonged to the God of Heaven and was responsible to act accordingly. So believers today are to walk as heavenly men and women in the midst of all the sin and corruption of this world. Our citizenship is in Heaven. We represent another country. Here we are but strangers and pilgrims. The heavenly character should ever be manifested in all our words and ways.

Numbers 15:38 fringes in the borders. The word tzitzith properly denotes an ornament resembling a flower. From Numbers 15:39, we learn that these were emblematical of the commands of God. That there is any analogy between a fringe and a precept, it would be bold to assert; but when a thing is appointed to represent another, no matter how different, that first object becomes the legitimate representative or sign of the other.  The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge, Consisting of Five-Hundred Thousand Scripture References and Parallel Passages etc

Deuteronomy 22:12 “You shall make yourself tassels on the four corners of the garment with which you cover yourself.

Matthew 9:20 And behold, a woman who had suffered from a discharge of blood for twelve years came up behind him and touched the fringe of his garment,

Matthew 23:5 They do all their deeds to be seen by others. For they make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long,

Luke 8:44 She came up behind him and touched the fringe of his garment, and immediately her discharge of blood ceased.

Lord, since we sing as pilgrims,
Oh, give us pilgrims’ ways,
Low thoughts of self, befitting
Proclaimers of Thy praise.
Oh, make us each more holy,
In spirit, pure and meek,
More like to heavenly citizens,
As more of heaven we speak.
--- M. Bowley

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

The Question of the Canonicity of the Apocrypha

By Gleason Archer Jr.

     Not only the Roman Catholic and Greek Orthodox communions contend for the canonicity of the fourteen apocryphal books (in whole or in part), but also Protestant scholars of liberal persuasion speak of an “Alexandrian Canon” as having equal claims to validity with those of the so-called Palestinian Canon (of twenty-two or thirty-nine books). The evidences appealed to for this contention deserve careful scrutiny.

     The first argument adduced in favor of the Apocrypha is that the early versions contained them. This, however, is only partially true. Certainly the Aramaic Targums did not recognize them. Not even the Syriac Peshitta in its earliest form contained a single apocryphal book; it was only later that some of them were added. We have just seen that Jerome, the great translator of the Scriptures into Latin, did not recognize the Apocrypha as being of equal authority with the books of the Hebrew canon. A more careful investigation of this claim narrows down the authority of the Apocrypha as resting upon only one ancient version, the Septuagint, and those later translations (such as the Itala, the Coptic and Ethiopic, and later Syriac) which were derived from it. Even in the case of the Septuagint, the apocryphal books maintain a rather uncertain existence.

     The Codex Vaticanus (B) lacks 1 and 2 Maccabees (canonical, according to Rome), but includes 1 Esdras (noncanonical, according to Rome). The Sinaiticus (Aleph) omits Baruch (canonical, according to Rome), but includes 4 Maccabees (noncanonical according to Rome). The Alexandrinus (A) contains three “noncanonical” Apocrypha: 1 Esdras and 3 and 4 Maccabees. Thus it turns out that even the three earliest MSS or the LXX show considerable uncertainty as to which books constitute the list of Apocrypha, and that the fourteen accepted by the Roman church are by no means substantiated by the testimony of the great uncials of the fourth and fifth centuries.

     It is urged by protagonists of the Apocrypha that the presence of apocryphal books in the LXX indicates the existence of a so-called Alexandrian Canon, which included these fourteen extra books. But it is by no means certain that all the books in the LXX were considered canonical even by the Alexandrian Jews themselves. Quite decisive against this is the evidence of the writings of Philo of Alexandria (who lived in the first century A.D.). Although he quotes frequently from the canonical books of the “Palestinian Canon,” he never once quotes from any of the apocryphal books. This is impossible to reconcile with the theory of a larger Alexandrian Canon, unless perchance some Alexandrian Jews did not accept this Alexandrian Canon, while others did.

     Secondly, it is reliably reported that Aquila’s Greek Version was accepted by the Alexandrian Jews in the second century A.D., even though it did not contain the Apocrypha. A reasonable deduction from these evidences would be that (as Jerome himself put it) the Alexandrian Jews chose to include in their edition of the Old Testament both the books they recognized as canonical and also the books which were “ecclesiastical” (i.e., considered valuable and edifying though not inerrant).

     Additional support for this supposition (that subcanonical works may be preserved and utilized along with canonical) has recently been found in the discoveries of Qumran Cave 4. There in the heartland of Palestine, where surely the Palestinian Canon should have been authoritative, at least two apocryphal books are represented—Ecclesiasticus and Tobit. One fragment of Tobit appears on a scrap of papyrus, another on leather; there is also a leather fragment in Hebrew. Several fragments of Ecclesiasticus were also discovered there, and so far as they go, at least, agree quite exactly with the eleventh-century MS of Ecclesiasticus found in the Cairo Geniza back in the 1890s (cf. Burrows, MLDSS, pp. 177–78). For that matter, the Fourth Qumran Cave has also yielded pseudepigraphical works like the Testament of Levi in Aramaic, the Testament of Levi in Hebrew, and the book of Enoch (fragments from ten different MSS!). Surely no one could seriously contend that the straightlaced Qumran sectarians considered all these apocryphal and pseudepigraphical works canonical simply because they possessed copies of them.

     Appeal is often made to the fact that the New Testament usually employs the LXX translation in its quotations from the Old Testament. Therefore, since the LXX did contain the Apocrypha, the New Testament apostles must have recognized the authority of the entire LXX as it was then constituted. Moreover it is a fact, it is urged, that appeal is occasionally made to works outside the Palestinian Canon. Wildeboer and Torrey have collected all possible instances of such quotations or allusions to apocryphal works, including several which are only suspected.

     But all this line of argument is really irrelevant to the issue at hand, since none of these sources is even alleged to be from the fourteen books of the Roman Apocrypha. In most cases these works which are supposed to have been quoted from have long since disappeared—works such as Apocalypse of Elias and (apart from a Latin fragment) Assumption of Moses. Only in one instance, the quotation from Enoch 1:9 in  Jude 14–16,  has the source quoted from survived. There are quotations from pagan Greek authors too in the New Testament. In  Acts 17:28  Paul quotes from Aratus’ Phaenomena, line 5; in  1 Cor. 15:33  he quotes from Menander’s comedy, Thais. Surely no one would suppose that such quotations as these establish the canonicity of either Aratus or Menander. On the contrary, the testimony of the New Testament is most decisive against the canonicity of the fourteen books of the Apocrypha. Virtually all the thirty-nine books of the Old Testament are quoted from as divinely authoritative, or are at least alluded to. While it has just been pointed out that mere quotation does not necessarily establish canonicity, nevertheless it is inconceivable that the New Testament authors could have considered the fourteen books of the Roman Catholic Apocrypha canonical and never once quoted from or alluded to any of them.

     The second chief argument in favor of the Apocrypha is that the church Fathers quote from these books as authoritative. It would be more correct to say that some of the early Christian writers appear to do so, while others take a clear-cut stand against their canonicity. Among those in favor are the writers of 1 Clement and Epistle of Barnabas, and most notably Jerome’s younger contemporary, Augustine of Hippo. Yet we must qualify this advocacy as only apparent, or at least presumptive, for we have already seen that  Jude  could quote Enoch as containing a true account of one ancient episode without necessarily endorsing the whole book of Enoch as canonical. As for Augustine, his attitude was rather uncritical and inconsistent. On the one hand, he threw his influence at the Council of Carthage (A.D. 397) in favor of including the entire fourteen as canonical; on the other hand, when an appeal was made by an antagonist to a passage in 2 Maccabees to settle an argument, Augustine replied that his cause must be weak if he had to resort to a book not in the same category as those received and accepted by the Jews.

     The ambiguous advocacy of the Apocrypha on the part of Augustine is more than offset by the contrary position of the revered Athanasius (who died in A.D. 365), so highly regarded by both East and West as the champion of Trinitarian orthodoxy. In his Thirty-ninth Letter he discussed the “particular books and their number, which are accepted by the church.” In paragraph 4 he says, “There are, then, of the Old Testament twenty-two books in number,” and he proceeds to enumerate the same books as are found in the MT in approximately the same order as in the Protestant Bible. In paragraphs 6 and 7 he states that the extrabiblical books (i.e., the fourteen of the Apocrypha) are “not included in the canon,” but merely “appointed to be read.” Nevertheless the Eastern Church later showed a tendency to concur with the Western in the acceptance of the Apocrypha (second Trullan Council at Constantinople in A.D. 692). Even so, there were many who had misgivings about some of the fourteen, and at last in Jerusalem in 1672 the Greek Church narrowed down the number of canonical Apocrypha to four: Wisdom, Ecclesiasticus, Tobit, and Judith.

     A Survey of Old Testament Introduction

The Institutes of the Christian Religion

Translated by Henry Beveridge

     15. Next follows a commemoration of his kindness, which ought to produce upon us an impression strong in proportion to the detestation in which ingratitude is held even among men. It is true, indeed, he was reminding Israel of a deliverance then recent, but one which, on account of its wondrous magnitude, was to be for ever memorable to the remotest posterity. Moreover, it is most appropriate to the matter in hand. [197] For the Lord intimates that they were delivered from miserable bondage, that they might learn to yield prompt submission and obedience to him as the author of their freedom. In like manners to keep us to his true worship, he often describes himself by certain epithets which distinguish his sacred Deity from all idols and fictitious gods. For, as I formerly observed, such is our proneness to vanity and presumption, that as soon as God is named, our minds, unable to guard against error, immediately fly off to some empty delusion. In applying a remedy to this disease, God distinguishes his divinity by certain titles, and thus confines us, as it were, within distinct boundaries, that we may not wander hither and thither, and feign some new deity for ourselves, abandoning the living God, and setting up an idol. For this reason, whenever the Prophets would bring him properly before us, they invest, and, as it were, surround him with those characters under which he had manifested himself to the people of Israel. When he is called the God of Abraham, or the God of Israel, when he is stationed in the temple of Jerusalem, between the Cherubim, these, and similar modes of expression, [198] do not confine him to one place or one people, but are used merely for the purpose of fixing our thoughts on that God who so manifested himself in the covenant which he made with Israel, as to make it unlawful on any account to deviate from the strict view there given of his character. Let it be understood, then, that mention is made of deliverance, in order to make the Jews submit with greater readiness to that God who justly claims them as his own. We again, instead of supposing that the matter has no reference to us, should reflect that the bondage of Israel in Egypt was a type of that spiritual bondage, in the fetters of which we are all bound, until the heavenly avenger delivers us by the power of his own arm, and transports us into his free kingdom. Therefore, as in old times, when he would gather together the scattered Israelites to the worship of his name, he rescued them from the intolerable tyranny of Pharaoh, so all who profess him now are delivered from the fatal tyranny of the devil, of which that of Egypt was only a type. There is no man, therefore, whose mind ought not to be aroused to give heed to the Law, which, as he is told, proceeded from the supreme King, from him who, as he gave all their being, justly destines and directs them to himself as their proper end. There is no man, I say, who should not hasten to embrace the Lawgiver, whose commands, he knows, he has been specially appointed to obey, from whose kindness he anticipates an abundance of all good, and even a blessed immortality, and to whose wondrous power and mercy he is indebted for deliverance from the jaws of death. [199]

16. The authority of the Law being founded and established, God delivers his First Commandment--


The purport of this commandment is, that the Lord will have himself alone to be exalted in his people, and claims the entire possession of them as his own. That it may be so, he orders us to abstain from ungodliness and superstition of every kind, by which the glory of his divinity is diminished or obscured; and, for the same reason, he requires us to worship and adore him with truly pious zeal. The simple terms used obviously amount to this. For seeing we cannot have God without embracing everything which belongs to him, the prohibition against having strange gods means, that nothing which belongs to him is to be transferred to any other. The duties which we owe to God are innumerable, but they seem to admit of being not improperly reduced to four heads: Adoration, with its accessory spiritual submission of conscience, Trust, Invocation, Thanksgiving. [200] By Adoration, I mean the veneration and worship which we render to him when we do homage to his majesty; and hence I make part of it to consist in bringing our consciences into subjection to his Law. [201] Trust, is secure resting in him under a recognition of his perfections, when, ascribing to him all power, wisdom, justice, goodness, and truth, we consider ourselves happy in having been brought into intercourse with him. Invocation, may be defined the retaking of ourselves to his promised aid as the only resource in every case of need. Thanksgiving, is the gratitude which ascribes to him the praise of all our blessings. As the Lord does not allow these to be derived from any other quarter, so he demands that they shall be referred entirely to himself. It is not enough to refrain from other gods. We must, at the same time, devote ourselves wholly to him, not acting like certain impious despisers, who regard it as the shortest method, to hold all religious observance in derision. But here precedence must be given to true religion, which will direct our minds to the living God. When duly imbued with the knowledge of him, the whole aim of our lives will be to revere, fear, and worship his majesty, to enjoy a share in his blessings, to have recourse to him in every difficulty, to acknowledge, laud, and celebrate the magnificence of his works, to make him, as it were, the sole aim of all our actions. Next, we must beware of superstition, by which our minds are turned aside from the true God, and carried to and fro after a multiplicity of gods. Therefore, if we are contented with one God, let us call to mind what was formerly observed, that all fictitious gods are to be driven far away, and that the worship which he claims for himself is not to be mutilated. Not a particle of his glory is to be withheld: everything belonging to him must be reserved to him entire. The words, "before me," go to increase the indignity, God being provoked to jealousy whenever we substitute our fictions in his stead; just as an unfaithful wife stings her husband's heart more deeply when her adultery is committed openly before his eyes. Therefore, God having by his present power and grace declared that he had respect to the people whom he had chosen, now, in order to deter them from the wickedness of revolt, warns them that they cannot adopt strange gods without his being witness and spectator of the sacrilege. To the audacity of so doing is added the very great impiety of supposing that they can mock the eye of God with their evasions. Far from this the Lord proclaims that everything which we design, plan, or execute, lies open to his sight. Our conscience must, therefore, keep aloof from the most distant thought of revolt, if we would have our worship approved by the Lord. The glory of his Godhead must be maintained entire and incorrupt, not merely by external profession, but as under his eye, which penetrates the inmost recesses of his heart.

Second Commandment


17. As in the first commandment the Lord declares that he is one, and that besides him no gods must be either worshipped or imagined, so he here more plainly declares what his nature is, and what the kind of worship with which he is to be honoured, in order that we may not presume to form any carnal idea of him. The purport of the commandment, therefore, is, that he will not have his legitimate worship profaned by superstitious rites. Wherefore, in general, he calls us entirely away from the carnal frivolous observances which our stupid minds are wont to devise after forming some gross idea of the divine nature, while, at the same time, he instructs us in the worship which is legitimate, namely, spiritual worship of his own appointment. The grossest vice here prohibited is external idolatry. This commandment consists of two parts. The former curbs the licentious daring which would subject the incomprehensible God to our senses, or represent him under any visible shape. The latter forbids the worship of images on any religious ground. There is, moreover, a brief enumeration of all the forms by which the Deity was usually represented by heathen and superstitious nations. By "any thing which is in heaven above" is meant the sun, the moon, and the stars, perhaps also birds, as in Deuteronomy, where the meaning is explained, there is mention of birds as well as stars (Deut. 4:15). I would not have made this observation, had I not seen that some absurdly apply it to the angels. The other particulars I pass, as requiring no explanation. We have already shown clearly enough (Book 1. chap. 11, 12) that every visible shape of Deity which man devises is diametrically opposed to the divine nature; and, therefore, that the moment idols appear, true religion is corrupted and adulterated.

18. The threatening subjoined ought to have no little effect in shaking off our lethargy. It is in the following terms:--


The meaning here is the same as if he had said, that our duty is to cleave to him alone. To induce us to this, he proclaims his authority which he will not permit to be impaired or despised with impunity. It is true, the word used is El, which means God; but as it is derived from a word meaning strength, I have had no hesitations in order to express the sense more fully, so to render it as inserted on the margin. Secondly, he calls himself jealous, because he cannot bear a partner. Thirdly, he declares that he will vindicate his majesty and glory, if any transfer it either to the creatures or to graven images; and that not by a simple punishment of brief duration, but one extending to the third and fourth generation of such as imitate the impiety of their progenitors. In like manner, he declares his constant mercy and kindness to the remote posterity of those who love him, and keep his Law. The Lord very frequently addresses us in the character of a husband; [203] the union by which he connects us with himself, when he receives us into the bosom of the Church, having some resemblance to that of holy wedlock, because founded on mutual faith. As he performs all the offices of a true and faithful husband, so he stipulates for love and conjugal chastity from us; that is, that we do not prostitute our souls to Satan, to be defiled with foul carnal lusts. Hence, when he rebukes the Jews for their apostasy, he complains that they have cast off chastity, and polluted themselves with adultery. Therefore, as the purer and chaster the husband is, the more grievously is he offended when he sees his wife inclining to a rival; so the Lord, who has betrothed us to himself in truth, declares that he burns with the hottest jealousy whenever, neglecting the purity of his holy marriage, we defile ourselves with abominable lusts, and especially when the worship of his Deity, which ought to have been most carefully kept unimpaired, is transferred to another, or adulterated with some superstition; since, in this way, we not only violate our plighted troth, but defile the nuptial couch, by giving access to adulterers.

19. In the threatening we must attend to what is meant when God declares that he will visit the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation. It seems inconsistent with the equity of the divine procedure to punish the innocent for another's fault; and the Lord himself declares, that "the son shall not bear the iniquity of the father," (Ezek. 18:20). But still we meet more than once with a declaration as to the postponing of the punishment of the sins of fathers to future generations. Thus Moses repeatedly addresses the Lord as "visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation," (Num. 14:18). In like manner, Jeremiah, "Thou showest loving-kindness unto thousands, and recompenses the iniquity of the fathers into the bosom of their children after them," (Jer. 32:18). Some feeling sadly perplexed how to solve this difficulty, think it is to be understood of temporal punishments only, which it is said sons may properly bear for the sins of their parents, because they are often inflicted for their own safety. This is indeed true; for Isaiah declared to Hezekiah, that his children should be stript of the kingdom, and carried away into captivity, for a sin which he had committed (Isa. 39:7); and the households of Pharaoh and Abimelech were made to suffer for an injury done to Abraham (Gen. 12:17; 20:3-18). But the attempt to solve the question in this way is an evasion rather than a true interpretation. For the punishment denounced here and in similar passages is too great to be confined within the limits of the present life. We must therefore understand it to mean, that a curse from the Lord righteously falls not only on the head of the guilty individual, but also on all his lineage. When it has fallen, what can be anticipated but that the father, being deprived of the Spirit of God, will live most flagitiously; that the son, being in like manner forsaken of the Lord, because of his father's iniquity, will follow the same road to destruction; and be followed in his turn by succeeding generations, forming a seed of evil-doers?

20. First, let us examine whether such punishment is inconsistent with the divine justice. If human nature is universally condemned, those on whom the Lord does not bestow the communication of his grace must be doomed to destruction; nevertheless, they perish by their own iniquity, not by unjust hatred on the part of God. There is no room to expostulate, and ask why the grace of God does not forward their salvation as it does that of others. Therefore, when God punishes the wicked and flagitious for their crimes, by depriving their families of his grace for many generations, who will dare to bring a charge against him for this most righteous vengeance? But it will be said, the Lord, on the contrary, declares, that the son shall not suffer for the father's sin (Ezek. 18:20). Observe the scope of that passage. The Israelites, after being subjected to a long period of uninterrupted calamities, had begun to say, as a proverb, that their fathers had eaten the sour grape, and thus set the children's teeth on edge; meaning that they, though in themselves righteous and innocent, were paying the penalty of sins committed by their parents, and this more from the implacable anger than the duly tempered severity of God. The prophet declares it was not so: that they were punished for their own wickedness; that it was not in accordance with the justice of God that a righteous son should suffer for the iniquity of a wicked father; and that nothing of the kind was exemplified in what they suffered. For, if the visitation of which we now speak is accomplished when God withdraws from the children of the wicked the light of his truth and the other helps to salvation, the only way in which they are accursed for their fathers' wickedness is in being blinded and abandoned by God, and so left to walk in their parents' steps. The misery which they suffer in time, and the destruction to which they are finally doomed, are thus punishments inflicted by divine justice, not for the sins of others, but for their own iniquity.

21. On the other hand, there is a promise of mercy to thousands--a promise which is frequently mentioned in Scripture, and forms an article in the solemn covenant made with the Church--I will be "a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee," (Gen. 17:7). With reference to this, Solomon says, "The just man walketh in his integrity: his children are blessed after him," (Prov. 20:7); not only in consequence of a religious education (though this certainly is by no means unimportant), but in consequence of the blessing promised in the covenant--viz. that the divine favour will dwell for ever in the families of the righteous. Herein is excellent consolation to believers, and great ground of terror to the wicked; for if, after death, the mere remembrance of righteousness and iniquity have such an influence on the divine procedure, that his blessing rests on the posterity of the righteous, and his curse on the posterity of the wicked, much more must it rest on the heads of the individuals themselves. Notwithstanding of this, however, the offspring of the wicked sometimes amends, while that of believers degenerates; because the Almighty has not here laid down an inflexible rule which might derogate from his free election. For the consolation of the righteous, and the dismay of the sinner, it is enough that the threatening itself is not vain or nugatory, although it does not always take effect. For, as the temporal punishments inflicted on a few of the wicked are proofs of the divine wrath against sin, and of the future judgment that will ultimately overtake all sinners, though many escape with impunity even to the end of their lives, so, when the Lord gives one example of blessing a son for his father's sake, by visiting him in mercy and kindness, it is a proof of constant and unfailing favour to his worshipers. On the other hand, when, in any single instance, he visits the iniquity of the father on the son, he gives intimation of the judgment which awaits all the reprobate for their own iniquities. The certainty of this is the principal thing here taught. Moreover, the Lord, as it were by the way, commends the riches of his mercy by extending it to thousands, while he limits his vengeance to four generations.

Third Commandment.


22. The purport of this Commandment is, that the majesty of the name of God is to be held sacred. In sum, therefore, it means, that we must not profane it by using it irreverently or contemptuously. This prohibition implies a corresponding precept--viz. that it be our study and care to treat his name with religious veneration. Wherefore it becomes us to regulate our minds and our tongues, so as never to think or speak of God and his mysteries without reverence and great soberness, and never, in estimating his works, to have any feeling towards him but one of deep veneration. We must, I say, steadily observe the three following things:--First, Whatever our mind conceives of him, whatever our tongue utters, must bespeak his excellence, and correspond to the sublimity of his sacred name; in short, must be fitted to extol its greatness. Secondly, We must not rashly and preposterously pervert his sacred word and adorable mysteries to purposes of ambition, or avarice, or amusement, but, according as they bear the impress of his dignity, must always maintain them in due honour and esteem. Lastly, We must not detract from or throw obloquy upon his works, as miserable men are wont insultingly to do, but must laud every action which we attribute to him as wise, and just, and good. This is to sanctify the name of God. When we act otherwise, his name is profaned with vain and wicked abuse, because it is applied to a purpose foreign to that to which it is consecrated. Were there nothing worse, in being deprived of its dignity it is gradually brought into contempt. But if there is so much evil in the rash and unseasonable employment of the divine name, there is still more evil in its being employed for nefarious purposes, as is done by those who use it in necromancy, cursing, illicit exorcisms, and other impious incantations. But the Commandment refers especially to the case of oaths, in which a perverse employment of the divine name is particularly detestable; and this it does the more effectually to deter us from every species of profanation. That the thing here commanded relates to the worship of God, and the reverence due to his name, and not to the equity which men are to cultivate towards each other, is apparent from this, that afterwards, in the Second Table, there is a condemnation of the perjury and false testimony by which human society is injured, and that the repetition would be superfluous, if, in this Commandment, the duty of charity were handled. Moreover, this is necessary even for distinction, because, as was observed, God has, for good reason, divided his Law into two tables. The inference then is, that God here vindicates his own right, and defends his sacred name, but does not teach the duties which men owe to men.

     Christian Classics Ethereal Library / Public Domain

     Institutes of the Christian Religion

  • God's View of Purity
  • Duty to Delight
  • Prophet Priest King

     Devotionals, notes, poetry and more

Potholes (2021)
     By Richard S. Adams

     I like reading the Bible, articles, ebooks, on my laptop. I can adjust the screen so it is much easier to read. My eyesight is only one of many reminders that time is running out for me. Getting old does have trade-offs. The list of things that used to pre-occupy me has dwindled considerably. Why waste time watching tutorials to learn how to do something if no one wants or needs it? There are many good and enjoyable ways to spend your time, but there is always a better way. We can't do it all, but I think getting older helps us come closer to choosing the better.

     In 2005 we had to sell our home. We no longer have 90% of the stuff that filled it. It was very painful. It is amazing how attached we get to stuff. Sure, sometimes there is sentiment attached to it; remembering who gave it to you or when and where you received it, but as my Bride says, "It's only stuff". Still, I know there are many things she misses.

However, time makes stuff less important as other things become more important. Most of my books, once my treasure, I've given away or taken to Goodwill. Likewise, Lily has given away many items she once enjoyed and would enjoy again if we still had them. Lily and I would still like to have our own home again and be able to make it comfortable for us and visiting family, but truthfully, God has been very good to us in the things that are most importannt.

     I heard someone say he loved playing marbles when he was a young boy, but when he noticed girls he gradually lost interest in marbles. I still like books and computers, but knowing God has become much more important. That's good because I expect the under taker or upper taker to come in the next few years.

     I am happy that the tech toys that once enticed me have lost   ( most of )  their influence. If it can't make a task easier to complete, more efficient or enable me to do something I otherwise couldn’t, why the need? I am losing interest in many things the world has to offer, but a home of our own ... I continue to ask God for our own home where the rent does not increase every year and grandkids can safely play, a place where I can die and know my beloved Lily will be OK after I'm gone. This has been my prayer since 2005 when we had to sell our home.

     How I relate to people is also changing. I do not feel the need to make my point, win an argument, correct something I believe is wrong, etc. That's good because I see and hear and read much I know is wrong, but I've learned most people do not want to listen or consider anything that does not agree with what they have determined is right. Boy is this true in 2021! The world has become a much uglier place. If a person's mind is made up, and I find most people's minds are indeed made up, then it is better just to be quiet. I remember Katie Skurgia's seminary class about getting one up on others. I really don't care about the one up business and wonder why that would be a seminary class? She wrote a book on it!

     I suppose I am more accepting of my deteriorating body because age has a way of deflating personal expectations. More and more I don’t need to be seen or heard. It is enough that I matter to God, my wife, and hopefully some of my family and friends. Jesus told his disciples to knock the dust off their feet after leaving a community where their message was not accepted. Wounds heal faster when you don’t pick at them. As Lily says so very - very often, "Let it go."

     When I was on staff at then George Fox Evangelical Seminary I remember meeting with a particularly challenging directee for spiritual direction. He already had a Masters degree and was a semester away from getting his PhD in Psychology. He did not understand why he was required to meet with me, after all, I only had a MDiv. I told him I do not feel that I am brighter than any of my directees, but for some reason God had allowed me to be in that position.

     I told him I appreciated his honesty. Then I asked him if he would allow me to be blunt. After he said yes, I asked him to look out the window and notice the street. I asked him to imagine that street represents life. I told him I’ve crossed back and forth across that street many times. I told him to look closely ( imagine ) the street is full of pot holes. Imagine each pothole represents a particularly painful experience; suffering, stupid mistake, sadness, loss, hurts of all kinds that I have inflicted on others as well as received. I told him I have stepped into most of those potholes. Then I entered his steady gaze into my eyes and I asked him, "Do I have to be especially intelligent to point out the potholes to you? If I can help you avoid stepping in just one pothole would our time together have value?"

     I watched a smile come slowly over his face as his body began to relax and his confrontational attitude began to evaporate.

     I have discovered that getting old can have its advantages. Unfortunately, the advantage seems to be for those who are willing to listen, but most people want to find the pot holes for themselves ... and they do. The Bible tells us to be sure that our sins will find us out, and they do. There is a reason why C.S. Lewis advised people to read old books, pre-modern culture books.

     God has brought me through much personal self-indulgence, selfishness and there is no other word for it except rebellion against God and pure stupidity. That is probably why it is so easy for me to see it in others, because I see it in me. I am still crossing that street and still stepping in potholes, but not as many as I once did and hopefully, hopefully, not the ones I stepped in before.

     The Bible tells us that one day Jews will ask Jesus where He got those scars. He will reply,  "In the house of my friends." Scars always have a story to tell, but few realy listen.


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

UCB The Word For Today
     Don’t just read it, do it (1)
     1/23/2018    Bob Gass

     ‘Be doers of the word…not merely hearers.’

(Jas 1:22) But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. ESV

     A businessman known for his ruthlessness, arrogance, and religiosity told Mark Twain that before he died he intended to visit the Holy Land, climb Mount Sinai, and read the Ten Commandments aloud. ‘I have a better idea,’ Twain replied. ‘Just stay here in Boston and keep them!’ We’d rather cogitate on what we don’t know, than act on what we know we need to do. For example, a company knows it needs to improve its quality control so the executives discuss the problem, listen to presentations, read all kinds of books, look at state-of-the-art systems – but never actually get around to doing anything. Their problem isn’t ignorance; it’s knowing too much but doing too little. Another everyday example: people would rather debate the merits of protein vs. carbs, French cooking vs. vegetarian, lifting weights vs. cardio, than change how they eat. The bottom line is simple: expend more calories than you take in. Likewise, some Christians would rather debate doctrine than do what Jesus says. As the old ad for Nike trainers said – just do it! Practise loving a difficult person; try forgiving someone; give some money away; stop and say thanks; worship God; encourage a friend; bless an enemy; when you’re in the wrong say, ‘I’m sorry.’ Face it: you already know more than you need to. And nothing turns people off faster than somebody with a head full of knowledge, who lacks grace and character. It’s the same today as it was when James wrote, ‘Be doers of the word, and not merely hearers.’

Genesis 49-50
Matthew 13:31-58

UCB The Word For Today

American Minute
     by Bill Federer

     On this day, January 23, 1789, John Carroll founded Georgetown University. But who was John Carroll? He was the first Catholic bishop in the United States, and the cousin of the wealthiest citizen in America, Charles Carroll, the last surviving signer of the Declaration. In 1776, the Continental Congress asked John Carroll to be part of a commission, which included Benjamin Franklin, to enlist the aid of Canada in the cause of the American Revolution. Bishop John Carroll wrote: “Freedom and independence, acquired by… and cemented with the mingled blood of Protestant and Catholic fellow-citizens, should be equally enjoyed by all.”

American Minute
A Testament Of Devotion
     Thomas R. Kelly

     There was no withdrawal from life during these years. Thomas Kelly found in the American Friends Service Committee a corporate means of expression with which he felt deep unity. His concern was central in the establishment of the Quaker Center at Shanghai and he guided a little committee that met often to scrutinize the Eastern scene. He also became chairman of the Fellowship Council and as such served for two years on the Board of Directors of the Service Committee.

     The literary harvest of this period was not long in coming. Most of it was printed in The Friend, a Quaker religious and literary journal published bi­weekly in Philadelphia. The Eternal Now and Social Concern appeared in March 1938; the Richard Cary Lecture, Das Ewige in seiner Gegenwart und Zeitliche Fiihrung, containing similar material, was published in German in August I938, the counsel on Simplicity appeared in a symposium on that subject in March I939; the Blessed Community in September 1939. Three striking essays on Quakerism, not included in this volume, appeared in the same journal between I938 and I940: Quakers and Symbolism, The Quaker Discovery, and The Gathered Meeting. In late March 1939, Thomas Kelly delivered the annual William Penn Lecture, entitled Holy Obedience, to the Yearly Meeting of Quakers. This lecture was read in religious circles throughout the United States and brought requests for more devotional material of this authentic character.

A Testament of Devotion
Lean Into God
     Compiled by Richard S. Adams

God never allows His children to sin successfully.
--- Charles Spurgeon

Menaced by collectivist trends, we must seek revival of our strength in the spiritual foundations which are the bedrock of our republic. Democracy is the outgrowth of the religious conviction of the sacredness of every human life. On the religious side, its highest embodiment is The Bible; on the political side, the Constitution.
--- President Herbert Hoover

When you seek God's face you do not stop until you get into God's Presence - even if it takes all night. There is a lot of praying that is not seeking God's face - it stops short of contact with God.
--- Derek Prince

The moral man is he who is opposed to injustice per se, opposed to injustice wherever he finds it; the moral man looks for injustice first of all in himself.
--- Bayard Rustin, 1912-1987  William Penn Lecture 1948 / "In Apprehension How Like a God!"

... from here, there and everywhere

Proverbs 5:1-2
     by D.H. Stern

1     My son, pay attention to my wisdom;
incline your ear to my understanding;
2     so that you will preserve discretion
and your lips keep watch over knowledge.

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

                Transformed by insight

     We all, with open face, beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image.
2 Cor. 3:18.

     The outstanding characteristic of a Christian is this unveiled frankness before God so that the life becomes a mirror for other lives. By being filled with the Spirit we are transformed, and by beholding we become mirrors. You always know when a man has been beholding the glory of the Lord, you feel in your inner spirit that he is the mirror of the Lord’s own character. Beware of anything which would sully that mirror in you; it is nearly always a good thing, the good that is not the best.

     The golden rule for your life and mine is this concentrated keeping of the life open towards God. Let everything else—work, clothes, food, everything on earth—go by the board, saving that one thing. The rush of other things always tends to obscure this concentration on God. We have to maintain ourselves in the place of beholding, keeping the life absolutely spiritual all through. Let other things come and go as they may, let other people criticize as they will, but never allow anything to obscure the life that is hid with Christ in God. Never be hurried out of the relationship of abiding in Him. It is the one thing that is apt to fluctuate but it ought not to. The severest discipline of a Christian’s life is to learn how to keep “beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord.”

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

                Publicity Inc.

Homo sapiens to the Creator:
  Greetings, on the mind's kiloherz.
  For yours of no date,
  thanks. This is to advise
  that as of now our address
  broadens to include the planets
  and the intervals between. No
  longer the old gravitational
  pull. We are as much
  out there as down here. As likely
  to meet you on the way back
  as at our departure.
  You refer to the fading away
  of our prayers. May we suggest
  you try listening on the inter-galactic
  channel? Realising the sound
  returned to us from a flower's
  speaking-trumpet was an echo
  of our own voices, we have switched
  our praise, directing it rather
  at those mysterious sources
  of the imagination you yourself
  drink from, metabolising
  them instantly in space-tine
  to become the ichor of your radiation.

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

     In the New Testament, God looks back on Abraham, and reminisces. There the Lord focuses on Abraham’s positive traits, and especially on Abraham’s faith. For it is faith that Abraham exemplifies. But Abraham was not without faults. He failed all too often, and showed many of the weaknesses that plague believers today. So we are to learn from Abraham’s one great strength, but also to learn from his many weaknesses. In fact, we are to discover that faith is the one principle that lifts any person beyond his inadequacies; the one quality that wins approval from God.

     Faith. In the Old Testament faith is a personal, trusting response to God, who speaks words of promise. This same basic meaning is carried over into the New Testament as well. In different ages the word of promise has been different: to Abraham, it was God’s promise of a son to be born from his and Sarah’s dead flesh. To us, the word of promise is Jesus Himself. When we respond, as Abraham did, with a simple trust in God, we receive the same gift he was given — righteousness, and a personal relationship with God.

     Loving-kindness. This term in new versions, and “grace” in older ones, translates hesed. The Hebrew word means “covenant love” or “covenant faithfulness.” God loves us because He is committed to us by His oath.

     What does the New Testament emphasize as the central message of Abraham’s life?

     Hebrews 11:8–19 focuses on three events in Abraham’s life that God fondly remembers:

     By faith, Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. By faith he made his home in the Promised Land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.

     By faith Abraham, even though he was past age — and Sarah herself was barren — was enabled to become a father because he considered Him faithful who had made the promise. And so from this one man, and he as good as dead, came descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sand of the seashore.

     By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had received the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son, even though God had said to him, “It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.” Abraham reasoned that God could raise the dead, and figuratively speaking, he did receive Isaac back from death.

     These three times when reason might well have challenged the spoken word of God Abraham responded with faith.

     It is here, in Abraham’s faith - response to God, that we find this basic Bible theme brought into clear focus.

     Earlier God had affirmed His existence and His care for men. God had spoken to individuals before, like Noah and Cain. But it is in Abraham that we discover a clear illustration of what has always separated mankind’s Noahs from its Cains. It isn’t that Cain was intrinsically “worse.” Both were men of mixed character. Both did good things, yet found reflected in their actions the taint of sin.

     No, what sets men apart as far as relationship with God is concerned has always been a simple dining: faith. Noah trusted God and built an ark in which he and his family were saved. Cain refused to trust God. This led directly to his final bondage to sin, a servitude whose full expression is found in the murder of his brother.

     Faith. divides man from man. The way you and I respond to God as He speaks His message to us IS the critical Issue of our lives. This is the message we hear in the story of Abraham. From Abraham we learn much of the nature of that faith which pleases God and frees Him to act in our lives today.

The Teacher's Commentary
Take Heart
     January 23

     Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Does he not leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it?
--- Luke 15:4.

     The love of Jesus, the Great Shepherd, is very practical and active. (Spurgeon's Sermons on Soulwinning (C.H. Spurgeon Sermon Outline Series)) There is a sheep lost, and the Lord regrets it, but his love does not spend itself in regrets; he arises and goes forth to seek and to save what was lost. The love of Jesus Christ is love not with words only, but in actions and in truth. He does not wait until the sheep is willing to return or until it makes some attempt to come back; no sooner is its lost estate known to the Shepherd than he starts off to find what was lost. The love of Jesus to the lost sheep is preeminent. He leaves the ninety-nine so that all his heart, his eye, his strength may be given to the one that has gone astray. O sweet love of Christ! Let us learn the love of Christ, that we may be wise in shepherdry. Let us not talk about our friends and say we love them, but let us show it by earnest, personal, speedy endeavors to do them good. Let us not wait until we see some goodness in them—until they seek after instruction. Long before they have a thought of coming home, let us be eager to grasp them, if by any means we may save some.

     [The shepherd’s] whole soul is in his eyes and ears until he finds it. This is a faint yet true picture of the Great Shepherd who came here to seek his flock. So the Evangelists have drawn him—always watchful, spending night and day in prayers and tears and entreaties, never to have a joy more until he finds the lost one.

     Like the shepherd, there is no hesitating with Jesus. The sheep is lost, and the news is brought to the shepherd. He knows which way that stray sheep will go, and he is on its track at once, though he knows that he must mark that track with his blood. See the blessed shepherd pressing on: there is no pausing nor resting until he finds it.
--- C. H. Spurgeon

Take Heart: Daily Devotions with the Church's Great Preachers
On This Day   January 23
     God’s Image in Ebony

     “Work hard at whatever you do,” --- Ecclesiastes 9:10.

     Perhaps no one worked harder than Amanda Smith, a trait learned from her father. Amanda was born into slavery in Maryland on January 23, 1837. Her father, Samuel Berry, worked tirelessly to free his children. He made brooms by day, walked miles to work in the fields until one or two o’clock in the morning. He slept for an hour or two; then he was up again. Thus he eventually purchased freedom for every member of his family.

     Amanda grew up committed to Christ. Her mother and grandmother were full of faith, and the Methodist revivals sweeping the area profoundly affected her. She labored in the kitchen, earning a reputation for Maryland biscuits and fried chicken. She also became known as the area’s best scrubwoman. When her sister Frances accidentally destroyed her freedom papers, Amanda worked hard to repurchase them. She often stood at her washtub for 12 hours, then worked for hours at her ironing board. Overcome by fatigue, she would lean her head on the window ledge and sleep a few moments till the need passed.

     She somehow found time for witnessing, and her power as an evangelist gained notice. She began accepting invitations and was soon in demand as a Methodist holiness evangelist. She evangelized as far south as Knoxville and as far west as Austin. She traveled alone by train and with simplicity, her belongings rolled in a carpetbag. Her fame leaped the Atlantic, and she was called to England for meetings, then to India, then to Africa. She organized women’s bands, young people’s groups, temperance societies, children’s meetings. She adopted homeless youngsters and started an orphanage near Chicago.

     She was called God’s image carved in ebony.

     Though never ordained, she brought many to Christ through her preaching. She said, “The thought of ordination never entered my mind, for I had received my ordination from him who said, ‘Ye have not chosen Me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that you might go and bring forth fruit.’ ”

     Do your work willingly, as though you were serving the Lord himself, not just your earthly master. In fact, the Lord Christ is the one you are really serving, and you know that he will reward you.
--- Colossians 3:23,24.

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

          Morning - January 23

     “I have exalted one chosen out of the people.”
--- Psalm 89:19.

     Why was Christ chosen out of the people? Speak, my heart, for heart-thoughts are best. Was it not that he might be able to be our brother, in the blest tie of kindred blood? Oh, what relationship there is between Christ and the believer! The believer can say, “I have a Brother in heaven; I may be poor, but I have a Brother who is rich, and is a King, and will he suffer me to want while he is on his throne? Oh, no! He loves me; he is my Brother.” Believer, wear this blessed thought, like a necklace of diamonds, around the neck of thy memory; put it, as a golden ring, on the finger of recollection, and use it as the King’s own seal, stamping the petitions of thy faith with confidence of success. He is a brother born for adversity, treat him as such.

     Christ was also chosen out of the people that he might know our wants and sympathize with us. “He was tempted in all points like as we are, yet without sin.” In all our sorrows we have his sympathy. Temptation, pain, disappointment, weakness, weariness, poverty—he knows them all, for he has felt all. Remember this, Christian, and let it comfort thee. However difficult and painful thy road, it is marked by the footsteps of thy Saviour; and even when thou reachest the dark valley of the shadow of death, and the deep waters of the swelling Jordan, thou wilt find his footprints there. In all places whithersoever we go, he has been our forerunner; each burden we have to carry, has once been laid on the shoulders of Immanuel.

     “His way was much rougher and darker than mine
     Did Christ, my Lord, suffer, and shall I repine?”

     Take courage! Royal feet have left a blood-red track upon the road, and consecrated the thorny path for ever.

          Evening - January 23

     “We will remember thy love more than wine.” --- Song of Solomon 1:4.

     Jesus will not let his people forget his love. If all the love they have enjoyed should be forgotten, he will visit them with fresh love. “Do you forget my cross?” says he, “I will cause you to remember it; for at my table I will manifest myself anew to you. Do you forget what I did for you in the council-chamber of eternity? I will remind you of it, for you shall need a counsellor, and shall find me ready at your call.” Mothers do not let their children forget them. If the boy has gone to Australia, and does not write home, his mother writes—“Has John forgotten his mother?” Then there comes back a sweet epistle, which proves that the gentle reminder was not in vain. So is it with Jesus, he says to us, “Remember me,” and our response is, “We will remember thy love.” We will remember thy love and its matchless history. It is ancient as the glory which thou hadst with the Father before the world was. We remember, O Jesus, thine eternal love when thou didst become our Surety, and espouse us as thy betrothed. We remember the love which suggested the sacrifice of thyself, the love which, until the fulness of time, mused over that sacrifice, and long for the hour whereof in the volume of the book it was written of thee, “Lo, I come.” We remember thy love, O Jesus as it was manifest to us in thy holy life, from the manger of Bethlehem to the garden of Gethsemane. We track thee from the cradle to the grave—for every word and deed of thine was love—and we rejoice in thy love, which death did not exhaust; thy love which shone resplendent in thy resurrection. We remember that burning fire of love which will never let thee hold thy peace until thy chosen ones be all safely housed, until Zion be glorified, and Jerusalem settled on her everlasting foundations of light and love in heaven.

Morning and Evening
Amazing Grace
     January 23


     Words and Music by James McGranahan, 1840–1907

     Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation. (Mark 16:15)

     Give us a watchword for the hour, a thrilling word, a word of power;
     A battlecry, a flaming breath that calls to conquer even death.
     A word to rouse the Church from rest, to heed the Master’s last request;
     The call is given: Christians arise, our watchword is EVANGELIZE!
—Author unknown

     As members of the church of Jesus Christ, how we need to be reminded continually of our Lord’s final request! We settle down so easily in our individual comforts and in the security of our church routines. Worldwide evangelization will become a realistic possibility only when the Spirit of God renews His people personally with a vision and passion for the spiritual needs of a lost world … when in His power we are willing to go … to evangelize!

     James McGranahan, author and composer of this hymn, is a well-known name in the field of early gospel music. After the sudden death of Philip Bliss in 1876, McGranahan became the songleader in the evangelistic campaigns conducted by Major D. W. Whittle in England and throughout America. Known for his fine tenor voice and a commanding personality, he pioneered in using male choirs in his services. McGranahan collaborated with Ira Sankey and other gospel musicians in many publications. “Go Ye Into All the World” was widely used as a missionary challenge in their great crusade meetings. These words still speak pointedly to us today.

     Far, far away, in heathen darkness dwelling, millions of souls forever may be lost; who, who will go, salvation’s story telling, looking to Jesus, minding not the cost.
     See o’er the world wide open doors inviting—Soldiers of Christ, arise and enter in! Christians, awake! your forces all uniting, send forth the gospel; break the chains of sin.
     God speed the day, when those of ev’ry nation “Glory to God!” triumphantly shall sing; Ransomed, redeemed, rejoicing in salvation, shout “Hallelujah, for the Lord is King!”
     Chorus: “All pow’r is given unto Me; all pow’r is given unto Me; go ye into all the world and preach the gospel, and lo, I am with you alway.”

     For Today: Matthew 9:37, 38; 28:18–20; 1 Corinthians 15:3, 4.

     Seek to read some pertinent article on the status of world missions. Ask God to show you a more significant role in this great endeavor. Meditate on the truth of Christ’s command in this hymn’s chorus ---

Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions
Exodus 16-18
     Jon Courson

Exodus 15-16
Jon Courson

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Exodus 16-17
Jon Courson

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Exodus 17:8-16
The Key To Victory
Jon Courson

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Exodus 18
Jon Courson

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Exodus 17:8-16
Under His Flag
Jon Courson

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Jon Courson

Exodus 16-18
     Skip Heitzig

Exodus 16
Calvary Chapel NM

Exodus 17-18
Calvary Chapel NM

Skip Heitzig | Calvary Chapel NM

Exodus 16-18
     Paul LeBoutillier

Exodus 16
Bread from Heaven
02-06-2013 | Paul LeBoutillier

Exodus 17-18
Water from the Rock
02-13-2013 | Paul LeBoutillier

Paul LeBoutillier | Calvary Chapel Ontario, Oregon

Exodus 16-18
     Brett Meador | Athey Creek

Exodus 16
s2-043 | 9-07-2014

Exodus 17
m2-041 | 9-10-2014

Exodus 18
m2-042 | 9-17-2014

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

Exodus 16
I AM Your Provider
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Exodus 17
I AM Your Banner
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Exodus 18
I AM Your Leader
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The Biblical Mother | Rosaria Butterfield
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God's View of Sexuality | George Scipione
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God's View of Perversity | George Scipione
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From Fear to Freedom | Yasuko Kanamori
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How Long 'Til the End
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Why did Jesus Come?
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The Dwelling
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