Exodus 33 - 35
The Command to Leave SinaiExodus 33:1 The LORD said to Moses, “Depart; go up from here, you and the people whom you have brought up out of the land of Egypt, to the land of which I swore to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, saying, ‘To your offspring I will give it.’ 2 I will send an angel before you, and I will drive out the Canaanites, the Amorites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. 3 Go up to a land flowing with milk and honey; but I will not go up among you, lest I consume you on the way, for you are a stiff-necked people.”
4 When the people heard this disastrous word, they mourned, and no one put on his ornaments. 5 For the LORD had said to Moses, “Say to the people of Israel, ‘You are a stiff-necked people; if for a single moment I should go up among you, I would consume you. So now take off your ornaments, that I may know what to do with you.’ ” 6 Therefore the people of Israel stripped themselves of their ornaments, from Mount Horeb onward.
The Tent of Meeting7 Now Moses used to take the tent and pitch it outside the camp, far off from the camp, and he called it the tent of meeting. And everyone who sought the LORD would go out to the tent of meeting, which was outside the camp. 8 Whenever Moses went out to the tent, all the people would rise up, and each would stand at his tent door, and watch Moses until he had gone into the tent. 9 When Moses entered the tent, the pillar of cloud would descend and stand at the entrance of the tent, and the LORD would speak with Moses. 10 And when all the people saw the pillar of cloud standing at the entrance of the tent, all the people would rise up and worship, each at his tent door. 11 Thus the LORD used to speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend. When Moses turned again into the camp, his assistant Joshua the son of Nun, a young man, would not depart from the tent.
Moses’ Intercession12 Moses said to the LORD, “See, you say to me, ‘Bring up this people,’ but you have not let me know whom you will send with me. Yet you have said, ‘I know you by name, and you have also found favor in my sight.’ 13 Now therefore, if I have found favor in your sight, please show me now your ways, that I may know you in order to find favor in your sight. Consider too that this nation is your people.” 14 And he said, “My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” 15 And he said to him, “If your presence will not go with me, do not bring us up from here. 16 For how shall it be known that I have found favor in your sight, I and your people? Is it not in your going with us, so that we are distinct, I and your people, from every other people on the face of the earth?”
17 And the LORD said to Moses, “This very thing that you have spoken I will do, for you have found favor in my sight, and I know you by name.” 18 Moses said, “Please show me your glory.” 19 And he said, “I will make all my goodness pass before you and will proclaim before you my name ‘The LORD.’ And I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy. 20 But,” he said, “you cannot see my face, for man shall not see me and live.” 21 And the LORD said, “Behold, there is a place by me where you shall stand on the rock, 22 and while my glory passes by I will put you in a cleft of the rock, and I will cover you with my hand until I have passed by. 23 Then I will take away my hand, and you shall see my back, but my face shall not be seen.”
Moses Makes New TabletsExodus 34:1 The LORD said to Moses, “Cut for yourself two tablets of stone like the first, and I will write on the tablets the words that were on the first tablets, which you broke. 2 Be ready by the morning, and come up in the morning to Mount Sinai, and present yourself there to me on the top of the mountain. 3 No one shall come up with you, and let no one be seen throughout all the mountain. Let no flocks or herds graze opposite that mountain.” 4 So Moses cut two tablets of stone like the first. And he rose early in the morning and went up on Mount Sinai, as the LORD had commanded him, and took in his hand two tablets of stone. 5 The LORD descended in the cloud and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the LORD. 6 The LORD passed before him and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, 7 keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation.” 8 And Moses quickly bowed his head toward the earth and worshiped. 9 And he said, “If now I have found favor in your sight, O Lord, please let the Lord go in the midst of us, for it is a stiff-necked people, and pardon our iniquity and our sin, and take us for your inheritance.”
The Covenant Renewed10 And he said, “Behold, I am making a covenant. Before all your people I will do marvels, such as have not been created in all the earth or in any nation. And all the people among whom you are shall see the work of the LORD, for it is an awesome thing that I will do with you.
11 “Observe what I command you this day. Behold, I will drive out before you the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. 12 Take care, lest you make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land to which you go, lest it become a snare in your midst. 13 You shall tear down their altars and break their pillars and cut down their Asherim 14 (for you shall worship no other god, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God), 15 lest you make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land, and when they whore after their gods and sacrifice to their gods and you are invited, you eat of his sacrifice, 16 and you take of their daughters for your sons, and their daughters whore after their gods and make your sons whore after their gods.
17 “You shall not make for yourself any gods of cast metal.
18 “You shall keep the Feast of Unleavened Bread. Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread, as I commanded you, at the time appointed in the month Abib, for in the month Abib you came out from Egypt. 19 All that open the womb are mine, all your male livestock, the firstborn of cow and sheep. 20 The firstborn of a donkey you shall redeem with a lamb, or if you will not redeem it you shall break its neck. All the firstborn of your sons you shall redeem. And none shall appear before me empty-handed.
21 “Six days you shall work, but on the seventh day you shall rest. In plowing time and in harvest you shall rest. 22 You shall observe the Feast of Weeks, the firstfruits of wheat harvest, and the Feast of Ingathering at the year’s end. 23 Three times in the year shall all your males appear before the LORD God, the God of Israel. 24 For I will cast out nations before you and enlarge your borders; no one shall covet your land, when you go up to appear before the LORD your God three times in the year.
25 “You shall not offer the blood of my sacrifice with anything leavened, or let the sacrifice of the Feast of the Passover remain until the morning. 26 The best of the firstfruits of your ground you shall bring to the house of the LORD your God. You shall not boil a young goat in its mother’s milk.”
27 And the LORD said to Moses, “Write these words, for in accordance with these words I have made a covenant with you and with Israel.” 28 So he was there with the LORD forty days and forty nights. He neither ate bread nor drank water. And he wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant, the Ten Commandments.
The Shining Face of Moses29 When Moses came down from Mount Sinai, with the two tablets of the testimony in his hand as he came down from the mountain, Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone because he had been talking with God. 30 Aaron and all the people of Israel saw Moses, and behold, the skin of his face shone, and they were afraid to come near him. 31 But Moses called to them, and Aaron and all the leaders of the congregation returned to him, and Moses talked with them. 32 Afterward all the people of Israel came near, and he commanded them all that the LORD had spoken with him in Mount Sinai. 33 And when Moses had finished speaking with them, he put a veil over his face.
34 Whenever Moses went in before the LORD to speak with him, he would remove the veil, until he came out. And when he came out and told the people of Israel what he was commanded, 35 the people of Israel would see the face of Moses, that the skin of Moses’ face was shining. And Moses would put the veil over his face again, until he went in to speak with him.
Sabbath RegulationsExodus 35:1 Moses assembled all the congregation of the people of Israel and said to them, “These are the things that the LORD has commanded you to do. 2 Six days work shall be done, but on the seventh day you shall have a Sabbath of solemn rest, holy to the LORD. Whoever does any work on it shall be put to death. 3 You shall kindle no fire in all your dwelling places on the Sabbath day.”
Contributions for the Tabernacle4 Moses said to all the congregation of the people of Israel, “This is the thing that the LORD has commanded. 5 Take from among you a contribution to the LORD. Whoever is of a generous heart, let him bring the LORD’s contribution: gold, silver, and bronze; 6 blue and purple and scarlet yarns and fine twined linen; goats’ hair, 7 tanned rams’ skins, and goatskins; acacia wood, 8 oil for the light, spices for the anointing oil and for the fragrant incense, 9 and onyx stones and stones for setting, for the ephod and for the breastpiece.
10 “Let every skillful craftsman among you come and make all that the LORD has commanded: 11 the tabernacle, its tent and its covering, its hooks and its frames, its bars, its pillars, and its bases; 12 the ark with its poles, the mercy seat, and the veil of the screen; 13 the table with its poles and all its utensils, and the bread of the Presence; 14 the lampstand also for the light, with its utensils and its lamps, and the oil for the light; 15 and the altar of incense, with its poles, and the anointing oil and the fragrant incense, and the screen for the door, at the door of the tabernacle; 16 the altar of burnt offering, with its grating of bronze, its poles, and all its utensils, the basin and its stand; 17 the hangings of the court, its pillars and its bases, and the screen for the gate of the court; 18 the pegs of the tabernacle and the pegs of the court, and their cords; 19 the finely worked garments for ministering in the Holy Place, the holy garments for Aaron the priest, and the garments of his sons, for their service as priests.”
20 Then all the congregation of the people of Israel departed from the presence of Moses. 21 And they came, everyone whose heart stirred him, and everyone whose spirit moved him, and brought the LORD’s contribution to be used for the tent of meeting, and for all its service, and for the holy garments. 22 So they came, both men and women. All who were of a willing heart brought brooches and earrings and signet rings and armlets, all sorts of gold objects, every man dedicating an offering of gold to the LORD. 23 And every one who possessed blue or purple or scarlet yarns or fine linen or goats’ hair or tanned rams’ skins or goatskins brought them. 24 Everyone who could make a contribution of silver or bronze brought it as the LORD’s contribution. And every one who possessed acacia wood of any use in the work brought it. 25 And every skillful woman spun with her hands, and they all brought what they had spun in blue and purple and scarlet yarns and fine twined linen. 26 All the women whose hearts stirred them to use their skill spun the goats’ hair. 27 And the leaders brought onyx stones and stones to be set, for the ephod and for the breastpiece, 28 and spices and oil for the light, and for the anointing oil, and for the fragrant incense. 29 All the men and women, the people of Israel, whose heart moved them to bring anything for the work that the LORD had commanded by Moses to be done brought it as a freewill offering to the LORD.
Construction of the Tabernacle30 Then Moses said to the people of Israel, “See, the LORD has called by name Bezalel the son of Uri, son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah; 31 and he has filled him with the Spirit of God, with skill, with intelligence, with knowledge, and with all craftsmanship, 32 to devise artistic designs, to work in gold and silver and bronze, 33 in cutting stones for setting, and in carving wood, for work in every skilled craft. 34 And he has inspired him to teach, both him and Oholiab the son of Ahisamach of the tribe of Dan. 35 He has filled them with skill to do every sort of work done by an engraver or by a designer or by an embroiderer in blue and purple and scarlet yarns and fine twined linen, or by a weaver—by any sort of workman or skilled designer.
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Investigating Bart Ehrman’s Top Ten Troublesome Bible Verses
By J. Warner Wallace 6/3/2016
On the final page of the paperback edition of Misquoting Jesus, Bart Ehrman famously listed the “Top Ten Verses That Were Not Originally in the New Testament.” In an effort to discredit the reliability of the New Testament text, Ehrman offered this list to demonstrate the existence of many late insertions in the text. He found this reality troubling as a young man, and eventually walked away from his Christian faith as a result:
“The Bible began to appear to me as a very human book. Just as human scribes had copied, and changed, the texts of scripture, so too had human authors originally written the texts of scripture. This was a human book from beginning to end.” (from Misquoting Jesus)
Let’s take a look at Ehrman’s list of troublesome verses and examine how they impact the reliability of the New Testament text:
(1 Jn 5:7) For there are three that testify: ESV
(Jn 8:7) And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” ESV
(Jn 8:11) She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.” ]] ESV
(Lk 22:44) And being in agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground. ESV
(Lk 22:20) And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood. ESV
(Mk 16:17) And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; ESV
(Mk 16:18) they will pick up serpents with their hands; and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.” ESV
(Jn 5:4) For an angel of the Lord went down at certain times into the pool and disturbed the waters; and whoever was the first to step in when the water was disturbed was healed of whatever disease he had. ESV
(Lk 24:12) But Peter rose and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths by themselves; and he went home marveling at what had happened. ESV
(Lk 24:51) While he blessed them, he parted from them and was carried up into heaven. ESV
While this list may seem large (and even surprising for those of us who haven’t examined the presence of textual variants in the New Testament), I think this list does little to impact the reliability of the text. In fact, I think Ehrman is profiting from the unfamiliarity that most Christians have with the presence of textual variants. The list does seem shocking and daunting if you’ve never taken the time to examine matters such as these. But if you stop and think about it and examine each verse listed here, the impact is actually very minimal. I recognize four truths about these verses:
The Verses are Designated Earlier | Seven of these passages (John 8:7, John 8:11, Luke 22:44, Luke 22:20, Mark 16:17, Mark 16:18 and John 5:4) are already clearly designated in my Bible (I’m using the ESV for this blog post). It’s not as though these specious verses are hidden; most modern translations do an excellent job of including everything, then identifying those verses that are variants. Check it out for yourself. You’ll see that these verses, like many others in the text, have been clearly marked.
James "Jim" Warner Wallace (born June 16, 1961) is an American homicide detective and Christian apologist. Wallace is a Senior Fellow at the Colson Center for Christian Worldview and an Adjunct Professor of Apologetics at Biola University in La Mirada, California. He has authored several books, including Cold-Case Christianity, God’s Crime Scene, and Forensic Faith, in which he applies principles of cold case homicide investigation to apologetic concerns such as the existence of God and the reliability of the Gospels.
Correcting the Idea We Must Avoid Every Form of Evil
By Lenny Esposito 11/10/2015
1 Thessalonians 5:22 is a fairly popularly quoted verse. The King James Version's "Abstain from all appearance of evil" is probably the most well-known, but more modern translations, like the ESV's "abstain from every form of evil" are also familiar. Usually, those who quote the verse apply it to mean that a Christian shouldn't be found anywhere near any place or situation that seems to be sinful. Some have taken it even further, believing that any action that could be misconstrued as sinful by others should be avoided.
Such views are really misunderstanding the meaning of Paul's exhortation because they are ripping the verse out of its context. Often when I engage with Jehovah's Witnesses or Mormons I will have to correct their faulty understanding of a verse that they have taken as a stand-alone admonition, when it is actually more specific and more nuanced. We recognize that taking verses out of context is the wrong way to try and bolster their views. However, if it's wrong for the Mormons and JWs, it's wrong for Christians, too. Therefore, it becomes important to correct the faulty understanding of passages such as the one above.
Bible scholar Walt Russell has written a great explanation of the context in which the Bible student should take 1 Thess 5:22. He says:
1 Thessalonians is the Apostle Paul's letter to a group of new Christians who have been persecuted by their fellow citizens in northern Greece for most of their six months in Christ. It is an adversarial context for the church, so Paul spends much of his time defending his church-planting team's integrity and actions in chapters 1-3. In chapters 4-5 ("the moral exhortation" section), he addresses five successive threats to the life of this body. 1 Thessalonians 5:12-22 is the fifth and final significant issue facing this fledgling church.
(1 Th 5:12–22) 12 We ask you, brothers, to respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, 13 and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves. 14 And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all. 15 See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone. 16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 19 Do not quench the Spirit. 20 Do not despise prophecies, 21 but test everything; hold fast what is good. 22 Abstain from every form of evil. ESV
This last issue in vv. 12-22 deals broadly with the concerns that arise when the church gathers for her weekly assembly. Paul gives instructions about how to foster healthy body life in this context by rightly esteeming leaders (vv. 12-13), dealing sensitively with the varying needs of the saints (vv. 14-15), establishing a joyful assembly (vv. 16-18), and not quenching the ministry of the Holy Spirit in prophetic utterances (vv. 19-22).
Given the broader context, we are now ready to look at the immediate context for v. 22. Notice the logical flow of the argument about prophetic utterances in vv. 19-22:
"Do not quench the Spirit" (v. 19 ) (the general exhortation);
"Do not despise prophetic utterances (v. 20 ) (the specific negative aspect of the exhortation).
"But examine everything carefully" (v. 21 ) (the contrasting positive aspect of the exhortation);
"hold fast to that which is good" (v. 22 ) (what to do with good prophecies after examining);
"abstain from every form of evil" or "every evil form of utterance" (v. 23 ) (what to do with the evil prophetic utterances).
As is generally the case with Scripture, God and the human authors are very specific in their discussions. They seldom sprinkle broad moral sayings in free-standing fashion. By contrast, they usually speak in a closely-argued style, especially in the New Testament letters. Such is the case with 1 Thessalonians 5:22. By removing v. 22 from its very specific context, we abstract the language from its tightly reasoned moorings and create a much more general, vague concept.
Russell goes on to note that if Christians were to abstain from all evil locations or people, it would severely hamper one's witnessing efforts. You could only seek to save those who came across your path in the "safe zones" instead of following Jesus's example of going where the sinners are. By having a proper understanding of verse 22, Christians can be free to go into those areas that most need Jesus in order to share Him with others. It has the added benefit of allowing the Christian to not live in a legalistic fashion, but make judgments on whether certain conditions could actually cause him or her to fall.
Lenny Esposito is president and founder of Come Reason Ministries, a Christian apologetics organization, and author of the popular www.comereason.org Web site. He has taught apologetics and Christian worldview for over 17 years and has authored hundreds articles dealing with intellectually strenuous topics such as the existence of God, theology, philosophy, social issues and Biblical difficulties.
Lenny is an in-demand speaker, teaching at conferences, churches, and schools across the nation. He is a contributor to the popular Apologetics Study Bible for Students and his articles have appeared in the Los Angeles Times and the Southern California Christian Times. He has debated many topics on faith and reason and the rationality of the Christian worldview; his most recent debate being against well-known atheists and author Dr. Richard Carrier on the question "Does God Exist?"
Lenny is a pioneer in online ministry efforts when he began using the Web to reach others near its beginnings in 1995. He produces one of the top 16 apologetics podcasts according to Apologetics 315 and his site has been viewed millions of times by visitors from nearly every country in the world.
Lenny is a member of the Evangelical Philosophical Society and the Evangelical Theological Society.
Against the Origin of J, E, and P as Separate Documents
By Gleason Archer Jr.
Hermann Gunkel was associated with Hugo Gressmann as a founder of the new school of Formgeschichte (Form Criticism). In New Testament criticism this approach assumed that during a period of oral tradition, A.D. 30–60, stories and sayings circulated as separate units in Christian circles. Gradually these became altered and embellished according to the theological views current in each circle, as the discerning critic can discover as he seeks to get back to the original nonmiraculous and unembellished kernel of each of these units. (Unfortunately for this method, however, the opinions and tastes of the critic himself inevitably influence his procedure in a very subjective way.) Gunkel’s most important contributions in the field of Pentateuchal criticism were Die Sagen der Genesis (The Sagas of Genesis ), 1901; a fifty-page contribution to Hinneberg’s Die Kultur der Gegenwart entitled “Die altisraelitische Literatur” (“The Ancient Israelite Literature”) published in 1906; and his 1911 work, Die Schriften des Alten Testaments.
Form Criticism, according to his formulation of it, maintains: (1) no accurate literary history is possible for the older period (attempts to reconstruct the sequence of the development of written documents have broken down under the impact of contrary data from the texts themselves, and we really know nothing for certain about these hypothetical documents of the Graf-Wellhausen hypothesis); (2) the only practical approach to the Pentateuchal literature is the synthetic creative (rather than the analytic critical of the Documentarians), whereby we must define the various types of categories or genres (Gattungen) to which the original material belonged in its oral stage, and then follow through the probable course of the development of each of these oral units until the final written form which they assumed in the exilic period or thereafter (note how completely this approach erases the fine distinctions which Wellhausen had drawn between J, E, and P); and (3) as a practitioner of the methods of the religionsgeschichtliche Schule (comparative religionist school), Gunkel paid strict attention to the parallel phenomena of the religion and literature of ancient Israel’s pagan neighbors, where the development of these Gattungen (literary genres) could be more clearly discerned and illustrated. In the light of the Egyptian and Mesopotamian materials it was possible, he felt, to ascertain with fair precision the Sitz im Leben (life situation) of each example of these different types and see through what process they evolved in their subsequent history. Thus, Genesis was really a compilation of sagas, for the most part, and all these were handed down in a fairly fluid oral form until final reduction to written form at a late period.
It will be observed that this Formgeschichte approach throws the JEP analysis into discard as an artificial and unhistorical attempt at analysis by men who simply did not understand how ancient literature like the Torah originated. Insofar as it demonstrates the artificiality of the Wellhausian source analysis, Gunkel’s treatment of the Pentateuch represents a certain gain, from the Conservative viewpoint. He should likewise be credited for recognizing the great antiquity of much of the oral tradition material which lay behind the text of the Torah.
But Gunkel’s assumption that the books of Moses found a final written form only as late as the Exile seems to ignore the cumulative evidence that the Hebrews were a highly literate people from the time of Moses onward. To be sure, the earliest scrap of written Hebrew thus far discovered by archaeology is the schoolboy’s exercise known as the Gezer Calendar (ca. 925 B.C.), but nearly all of Israel’s neighbors were recording all types of literature in written form for many centuries before that period, and even the underprivileged Semitic laborers at the turquoise mines in the Sinai Peninsula were scrawling their alphabetic inscriptions as early as 1500 B.C., if not earlier. Even up at the northernmost tip of the Canaanite area, at Ugarit, the contemporaries of Moses were recording their pagan scriptures in alphabetic characters. It requires an excessive credulity to believe that the Hebrews alone were so backward that they did not know how to reduce to writing their most important legal and religious institutions until after 600 B.C. The Pentateuchal record itself abounds in references to writing, and portrays Moses as a man of letters. Even a common term for “officer,” repeatedly used in Ex. 5 (a J passage) and elsewhere in the Pentateuch, is the Hebrew shōṭēr, which is derived from the same root as the common Babylonian verb “to write” (shaṭāru). Therefore this feature in Gunkel’s theory seems to be beset with insuperable difficulty in view of this textual evidence. Furthermore, the fact that Deuteronomy follows a form that was discontinued after 1200 B.C. —the Hittite type of the suzerainty treaty —is proof positive that it could not have been composed after 1200, when suzerainty treaty forms followed a different pattern (no historical prologue, divine witness between the stipulations and the curses, the series of blessings for covenant keeping). Failure to defer to this clear evidence means that the late-date theory goes counter to the evidence of comparative literature and therefore must surrender the claim to be “scientific.”
It should be pointed out, moreover, that the comparative literature of the ancient Near East serves to render highly questionable some of the basic presuppositions of Form Criticism. Thus, the doctrinaire premise of the Gattungsforschung methodology is to look for small fragments and scattered utterances as being the original form which the oral tradition took at the very beginning. But in so early an Egyptian work as the Admonitions of Ipuwer (now dated at 2200 B.C.), we find long and extended tirades, rather than the short, disconnected apothegms which Form Criticism would lead us to expect. In the Babylonian oracles also (as Sidney Smith points out in Isaiah XL–LV, [Toronto: Oxford, 1944], pp. 6–16) occur long connected passages. Kitchen says in The New Bible Dictionary, the practitioners of Formgeschichte “have failed entirely to distinguish between the complementary functions of written transmission (i.e., down through time) and oral dissemination (i.e., making it known over a wide area to contemporaries), and have confused the two as ‘oral tradition,’ wrongly overstressing the oral element in Near Eastern transmission.”
In 1924, Max Lohr published the first of his series on “Investigations of the Problem of the Hexateuch” entitled Der Priestercodex in der Genesis (The Priestly Code in Genesis ). By means of minute exegetical study of the so-called P passages in Genesis, he showed that no independent existence of such a source could be established. Its material was so inextricably involved in the J and E sections, that it could never have stood alone. Lohr even went on to reject the Graf-Wellhausen analysis altogether, and came to the conclusion that the Pentateuch in general was composed by Ezra and his assistants in Babylon, drawing upon a heterogeneous store of written materials from the pre-exilic period. These materials included sacrificial laws and other ritual directions, religious and secular narratives of various sorts, and sundry prophecies and genealogical lists. But these prior written materials were incapable of identification with any large, specific documents such as Wellhausen’s J and E.
In 1931 Johannes Pedersen of Copenhagen came out with a radical critique of the Documentary Theory entitled Die Auffassung vom Alten Testament (The Concept of the Old Testament). In this work he rejected Wellhausian Source Criticism as inadequate to describe the culture of the ancient Hebrews. He made four specific points.
1. In such J and E stories as the communications between Jahweh and Abraham, the cycle connected with Sodom, the Jacob and Esau narrative, the Tamar and Judah episode — all accounts of this sort are of very ancient origin, even though they did not receive their present written form until after the Exile. (This meant that J and E components of this category were both much more ancient than the 850 B.C. and 750 B.C. dates of the Documentarians, and also much later, i.e., contemporaneous with the Priestly contributions.)
2. It must be said that in general, J and E cannot be maintained as separate narratives without artificially imposing an Occidental viewpoint upon the ancient Semitic narrative techniques and doing violence to Israelite psychology.
3. In document D it is impossible to make out a clear distinction (as the Documentarians had attempted to do) between older and newer elements. On the contrary, the anti-Canaanite bias which pervades Deuteronomy shows it to be the product of post-exilic conditions (for only after the return could such a self-contained Israelite community have arisen such as D depicts). This means that we must abandon the older date of Josiah’s reign for the composition of Deuteronomy.
4. As to document P, it shows post-exilic composition clearly enough from its schematic arrangement and its style of diction; but on the other hand it contains many legal regulations which point to pre-exilic conditions. Particularly is this true of the social laws. In other words, all the “sources” in the Torah are both pre-exilic and post-exilic. We cannot make out the 850 B.C. J document and the 750 B.C. E document which Wellhausen tried to isolate in the Mosaic material. We can only conjecture that the earliest nucleus of the Torah was the Moses saga and the Passover legend contained in Ex. 1–15.
The Case For Boredom
By Kevin DeYoung 1/25/2017
I don’t get bored as much as I should. Chances are neither do you. And the chances are exceedingly good that your children aren’t as bored as they should be.
What’s so good about being bored? Nothing intrinsically, but boredom provides the space for creativity, for mental wandering, for musings, ponderings, and a lifestyle of prayer.
Remember how boring life used to be. You’d wait in a line and just think, or sit on a plane and stare out the window, or relax on the couch and do nothing at all. I think of how much more my mind used to wander on walks and how I was better able to concentrate on books. I think of how bored I was on long car rides and at meals with adults and, yes, even in church. Of course, some boredom is just boring. But boredom also teaches us the discipline of sitting still and the invaluable lesson of being alone with our thoughts.
I’m no Luddite who rejects technological innovation and longs for the simple life when we walked to school in the snow uphill both ways. But there is no doubt that our phones—let’s be honest, my phone—has made us less attuned to the quiet moments of life.
For many people, they grab their phone first thing in the morning. They look at it last thing before bed. They check it at traffic lights and scroll through social media while waiting in line at the bank. They thumb through Facebook when they have 10 minutes to kill. They are tethered to their phone on the plane. They can’t go much more than 15 minutes in a meeting without swiping the screen. They eat with their phones, sleep with their phones, even go to the bathroom with their phones.
Kevin DeYoung (MDiv, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary) is senior pastor of Christ Covenant Church in Matthews, North Carolina, board chairman The Gospel Coalition, assistant professor of systematic theology at Reformed Theological Seminary (Charlotte), and a PhD candidate at the University of Leicester.
Kevin DeYoung Books:
- 1 The Biggest Story: How the Snake Crusher Brings Us Back to the Garden
- 2 Just Do Something: A Liberating Approach to Finding God's Will
- 3 Crazy Busy: A (Mercifully) Short Book about a (Really) Big Problem
- 4 The Hole in Our Holiness (Paperback Edition): Filling the Gap between Gospel Passion and the Pursuit of Godliness
- 5 What Does the Bible Really Teach about Homosexuality?
- 6 Taking God At His Word (Paperback Edition): Why the Bible Is Knowable, Necessary, and Enough, and What That Means for You and Me
- 7 The Good News We Almost Forgot: Rediscovering the Gospel in a 16th Century Catechism
- 8 What Is the Mission of the Church?: Making Sense of Social Justice, Shalom, and the Great Commission
- 9 Acting the Miracle: God's Work and Ours in the Mystery of Sanctification
- 10 Why We Love the Church: In Praise of Institutions and Organized Religion
- 11 Just Do Something: A Liberating Approach to Finding God's Will
- 12 Don't Call It a Comeback: The Old Faith for a New Day (Gospel Coalition Series)
- 13 The Holy Spirit (The Gospel Coalition Booklets)
- 14 Why We're Not Emergent: By Two Guys Who Should Be (Faith and Freedom)
- 15 Crazy Busy by Kevin DeYoung (2013-09-23)
- 16 Freedom and Boundaries: A Pastoral Primer on the Role of Women in the Church
- 17 Taking God at His Word: Why the Bible Is Knowable, Necessary, and Enough, and What That Means for You and Me by Kevin DeYoung (30-Apr-2014) Hardcover
- 18 Why Our Church Switched to the ESV
Read The Psalms In "1" Year
Psalm 16You Will Not Abandon My Soul
16 A Miktam Of David.
1 Preserve me, O God, for in you I take refuge.
2 I say to the LORD, “You are my Lord;
I have no good apart from you.”
3 As for the saints in the land, they are the excellent ones,
in whom is all my delight.
4 The sorrows of those who run after another god shall multiply;
their drink offerings of blood I will not pour out
or take their names on my lips.
5 The LORD is my chosen portion and my cup;
you hold my lot.
6 The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.
By Don Carson 3/22/2018
One cannot understand Exodus 33 without grasping two things: (1) The tabernacle had not yet been built. The “tent of meeting” pitched outside the camp (33:7) where Moses went to seek the face of God must therefore have been a temporary arrangement. (2) The theme of judgment trails on from the wretched episode of the golden calf. God says he will not go with his people; he will merely send an angel to help them (33:1-3).
So Moses continues with his intercession (33:12-13). While dwelling on the fact that this nation is the Lord’s people, Moses now wants to know who will go with him. (Aaron is so terribly compromised.) Moses himself still wants to know and follow God’s ways. God replies, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest” (33:14). But how does this square with the Lord’s threat to do no more than send an angel, to keep away from the people so that he does not destroy them in his anger? So Moses presses on: “If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here [angel or no!]” (33:15). What else, finally, distinguishes this fledgling nation from all other nations but the presence of the living God (33:16)?
And the Lord promises, “I will do the very thing you have asked, because I am pleased with you and I know you by name” (33:17).
Although Moses continues to pray along these lines in the next chapter (34:9), the glorious fact is that God no longer speaks of abandoning his people. When the tabernacle is built, it is installed in the midst of the twelve tribes.
Three brief reflections: (1) These chapters exemplify the truth that God is a jealous God (Ex. 20:5; 34:14). For one human being to be jealous of another is sinful: we are finite, and we are called to be stewards of what we have received, not jealous of others. But for God not to be jealous of his own sovereign glory and right would be a formidable failure: he would be disowning his own unique significance as God, implicitly conceding that his image-bearers have the right to independence. (2) God is said to “relent” about forty times in the Old Testament. Such passages demonstrate his personal interactions with other people. When all forty are read together, several patterns emerge — including the integration of God’s “relenting” with his sovereign will. (3) Wonderfully, when Moses asks to see God’s glory, God promises to display his goodness (33:18 -19). It is no accident that the supreme manifestation of the glory of God in John’s gospel is in the cross.
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
By Don Carson 3/23/2018
When at the end of the previous chapter, Moses asks to see the Lord’s glory, he is promised (as we have seen) a display of his goodness (33:19). But no one, not even Moses, can gaze at God’s face and live (33:20). So the Lord arranges for Moses to glimpse, as it were, the trailing edge of the afterglow of the glory of God — and this remarkable experience is reported in Exodus 34.
As the Lord passes by the cleft in the rock where Moses is safely hidden, the Lord intones, “YAHWEH, YAHWEH, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness” (34:6). The Hebrew words rendered “love” and “faithfulness” are a common pair in the Old Testament. The former is regularly connected with God’s covenantal mercy, his covenantal grace; the latter is grounded in his reliability, his covenantal commitment to keep his word, to do what he promises, to be faithful, to be true.
When John introduces Jesus as the Word of God (John 1:1-18), he tells his readers that when the Word of God became flesh (1:14), he “tabernacled” among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory of the One who came from the Father, full of “grace” and “truth.” There are good reasons to think that John has chosen these two words to render the paired expression of the Old Testament. He was clearly thinking of these chapters: Exodus 32 — 34. Echoing Exodus 33, he reminds us that “no one has ever seen God” (1:18). But now that Jesus Christ has come, this Word-made-flesh has made the Father known, displaying “grace and truth” par excellence. The Law was given by Moses — that was wonderful enough, certainly a grace-gift from God. But “grace and truth” in all their unshielded splendor came with Jesus Christ (1:17).
Even the lesser revelation graciously displayed for Moses’ benefit brings wonderful results. It precipitates covenant renewal. The Lord responds to Moses’ prayer: “I am making a covenant with you. Before all your people I will do wonders never before done in any nation in all the world. The people you live among will see how awesome is the work that I, the LORD, will do for you” (34:10). From God’s side, this ensures their entry into the Promised Land, for the Lord himself will drive out the opposition (34:11); from the side of the covenant community, what is required is obedience, including careful separation from the surrounding pagans and paganism. “Do not worship any other god, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God” (34:14).
How could it be otherwise? This God is gracious, but he is also true.
Don Carson is research professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois, and co-founder (with Tim Keller) of The Gospel Coalition. He has authored numerous books, and recently edited The Enduring Authority of the Christian Scriptures (Eerdmans, 2016).Don Carson Books | Go to Books Page
The Problem Of The Old Testament
By James Orr 1907
The Old Testament as affected by Criticism—II. Religion and Institutions: Ark, Tabernacle, Priesthood, etc.
"I believe that, alongside of the modern representations, which resolve the founders of the Old Testament religion into flitting shadows that elude the grasp, and throw overboard the solid mass of the Pentateuchal history, like unnecessary ballast from a ship, my attempt will still meet with sympathy, to find an intelligible meaning in the narrative of the Pentateuch, and to apprehend the religion of Abraham as the preliminary stage, and the proclamation of Moses as the foundation, of the Old Testament faith, thought, and life. The Bible remains: scientific attempts to represent the Biblical history come and go.”—KLOSTERMANN.
“It [German criticism] has generally been wanting in flexibility and moderation. It has insisted upon knowing everything, explaining everything, precisely determining everything.… Hence complicated and obscure theories, provided with odd corners in which all the details may be sheltered, and which leave the mind little opening or leisure to observe the tendency of facts and the general currents of history.”—DARMESTETER (in Ottley).
“In Wellhausen’s review of the history, he has much to say of the gradual rise of feasts from the presentation of first-fruits, and of their annual observance at neighbourhood sanctuaries, and the growth of larger sanctuaries towards the close of the period of the Judges .… But the whole thing is spun out of his own brain. It is as purely fictitious as an astronomical map would be of the other side of the moon.”—W. H. GREEN.
THE subject of laws and institutions in Israel is bound up with so many intricate critical questions as to dates and succession of codes, that it may seem scarcely possible to deal with it satisfactorily till the critical questions have been, at least in some provisional way, disposed of. On the other hand, it is to be observed that the discussion of laws and institutions does not wholly depend on the conclusions reached on such matters, say, as the age of Deuteronomy, or date of compilation of the Priestly Code; for, conceivably, these books, in their present form, might be late, yet the laws embodied in them might be very old. It will be found, in fact, that the determination of the critical questions themselves depends in no small measure on the view we are led to take of the history and nature of the institutions. There is room and need, therefore, for some preliminary consideration of the latter, so far as this can be done without begging any question not yet critically dealt with.
I. GENERAL POSITION OF MOSES AS LAWGIVER
We may first advert a little further than has yet been done to the general position assigned to Moses in tradition as the lawgiver of Israel. This is a point on which the critics can hardly avoid involving themselves in some inconsistency. On the one hand, it is necessary to exalt the personality and work of Moses, in order to explain how it comes about that all the legislation in the Old Testament is connected with his name; on the other hand, it is necessary to minimise his influence almost to vanishing point, in order to make it credible that he really gave to Israel no laws at all — none at least of which we have any knowledge. It will be recalled how we are told that “ Malachi is the first of the prophets to refer to a Mosaic code.” This line of reasoning, as shown before, is fatuous. The JE history, put by the critics as early as the ninth or eighth century, gives the foremost place to Moses as a lawgiver. The Book of the Covenant, older than this history, and incorporated into it, is expressly ascribed to Moses as its author. The Book of Deuteronomy, again, whenever written, is evidence that Israel had but one tradition about Moses — that he gave and wrote laws for the nation. The force of this testimony is not in the least satisfied by supposing, with Wellhausen, W. R. Smith, and others, that the repute of Moses rested on such oral decisions as those referred to in Ex. 18:13–16, 26.3 Budde will have nothing to do with this basing of the legislation of Moses on these oral toroth of Ex. 18,4 and there is certainly something arbitrary in founding on this chapter as more historically trustworthy than its neighbours. If it is accepted, one must notice the evidence it yields of a high organisation of the people at the time of the Exodus. What then are the reasons for refusing to Moses such legislation as the Old Testament ascribes to him?
1. If anything can be attributed with certainty to Moses, it surely is the Decalogue, which lies at the foundation of the whole covenant relation of Jehovah to Israel. Yet even this, which Delitzsch calls “the most genuine of genuine productions,” it has of late become almost universally the fashion to deny to the lawgiver. But on what subjective and arbitrary grounds! A main reason, as we have seen, is the prohibition of images in the Second Commandment — a subject already discussed. Apart from this, and the too elevated idea of God in the Decalogue as a whole, two special objections may be noticed: (1) the variation in the form of the Fourth Commandment in the Deuteronomic version, and (2) the alleged occurrence of a second Decalogue in Ex. 34:12–26 —a notion borrowed from Goethe. The first of these objections comes badly from those who see in Deuteronomy a free prophetic composition of the age of Josiah, and, apart from the supposition of an original shorter form, seems sufficiently met by Delitzsch’s remark that “the Decalogue is there freely rendered in the flow of hortatory oratory, and not literally reproduced.” The variation may indeed be regarded as an incidental mark of genuineness in Deuteronomy, for hardly any other than the lawgiver would be likely to allow himself this liberty of change. The second objection derives some colour from a slight ambiguity or confusion in the language of Ex. 34:27, 28; but cannot overbear the clear connection of ver. 28, “And He [Jehovah] wrote upon the tables the words of the covenant, the ten commandments [words],” with ver. 1, “I will write upon the tables the words which were upon the first tables, which thou brakest,” or the plain intention of the narrative as a whole. The so-called second Decalogue of J in Ex. 34:12–26, is, in fact, pretty much, as scholars are coming to see, a figment of the critical imagination. It is only by straining that the section can be made into a Decalogue at all, and, with its mixed precepts, it has no suitability for taking the place of the historical “words” of the tables.
2. If the Decalogue is allowed to be Mosaic, there is little reason for denying that the remaining laws (“judgments”) of the Book of the Covenant, with which the “ten words” stand in so close a connection, also proceeded from Moses in substantially their present form. The principal objection urged to this is that they imply a settled life and agriculture. But, on the one hand, the laws in question are of a very primitive and simple character, probably resting on old usage; and, on the other, the people were not the undisciplined horde the critics for their own purposes would make them out to be. They had long had the experience of orderly and settled life, and were, moreover, on the point of entering Canaan. They were organised, and had “statutes of God” and “laws” given them in the wilderness. What more likely in itself than that Moses, by divine command, should draw up for them a simple code, suited for present and prospective needs? How, indeed, could a people like Israel have been kept together, or have preserved its distinction from the Canaanites, without some such body of laws, —moral, civil, and religious, —and this not simply in the form of floating oral toroth, but in the shape of definite, authoritative “statutes and judgments,” such as the history, the prophets, and the psalms, uniformly assume the nation to have possessed? And if this was needed, can we suppose that a man of Moses’ capabilities and prescient mind would have left the people without it? We have several codes of laws —“programmes”— which the critics assume to have arisen at various junctures in the history of the nation. But, as Dr. Robertson observes, “it is strange indeed that critical historians should postulate the putting forth of ‘legislative programmes’ at various later points in Israel’s history, and should be so unwilling to admit the same for the time of Moses.” We seem fully entitled, therefore, in accordance with the whole tradition of Israel, to look on Moses as the fountain of both civil and religious institutions to his nation, and to consider without prejudice any statements attributing such institutions to his time. The question of ritual laws demands separate treatment.
The Pilgrim's Progress From This World To That Which Is To Come;
Delivered Under The Similitude Of A Dream
By John Bunyan 1678
THE THIRD STAGENow when he was got up to the top of the hill, there came two men running amain; the name of the one was Timorous, and of the other Mistrust: to whom Christian said, Sirs, what’s the matter? you run the wrong way. Timorous answered, that they were going to the city of Zion, and had got up that difficult place: but, said he, the farther we go, the more danger we meet with; wherefore we turned, and are going back again.
Yes, said Mistrust, for just before us lie a couple of lions in the way, whether sleeping or waking we know not; and we could not think, if we came within reach, but they would presently pull us in pieces.
CHR. Then said Christian, You make me afraid; but whither shall I fly to be safe? If I go back to mine own country, that is prepared for fire and brimstone, and I shall certainly perish there; if I can get to the celestial city, I am sure to be in safety there: I must venture. To go back is nothing but death: to go forward is fear of death, and life everlasting beyond it: I will yet go forward. So Mistrust and Timorous ran down the hill, and Christian went on his way. But thinking again of what he had heard from the men, he felt in his bosom for his roll, that he might read therein and be comforted; but he felt, and found it not. Then was Christian in great distress, and knew not what to do; for he wanted that which used to relieve him, and that which should have been his pass into the celestial city. Here, therefore, he began to be much perplexed, and knew not what to do. At last he bethought himself that he had slept in the arbor that is on the side of the hill; and falling down upon his knees, he asked God forgiveness for that foolish act, and then went back to look for his roll. But all the way he went back, who can sufficiently set forth the sorrow of Christian’s heart? Sometimes he sighed, sometimes he wept, and oftentimes he chid himself for being so foolish to fall asleep in that place, which was erected only for a little refreshment from his weariness. Thus, therefore, he went back, carefully looking on this side and on that, all the way as he went, if happily he might find his roll, that had been his comfort so many times in his journey. He went thus till he came again in sight of the arbor where he sat and slept; but that sight renewed his sorrow the more, by bringing again, even afresh, his evil of sleeping unto his mind.
Rev. 2: But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. ESV
1 Thess. 5:6–8 6 So then let us not sleep, as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober. 7 For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, are drunk at night. 8 But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation. ESV
Thus, therefore, he now went on, bewailing his sinful sleep, saying, O wretched man that I am, that I should sleep in the daytime! that I should sleep in the midst of difficulty! that I should so indulge the flesh as to use that rest for ease to my flesh which the Lord of the hill hath erected only for the relief of the spirits of pilgrims! How many steps have I taken in vain! Thus it happened to Israel; for their sin they were sent back again by the way of the Red Sea; and I am made to tread those steps with sorrow, which I might have trod with delight, had it not been for this sinful sleep. How far might I have been on my way by this time! I am made to tread those steps thrice over, which I needed not to have trod but once: yea, now also I am like to be benighted, for the day is almost spent. O that I had not slept!
Now by this time he was come to the arbor again, where for a while he sat down and wept; but at last, (as Providence would have it,) looking sorrowfully down under the settle, there he espied his roll, the which he with trembling and haste catched up, and put it into his bosom. But who can tell how joyful this man was when he had gotten his roll again? For this roll was the assurance of his life, and acceptance at the desired haven. Therefore he laid it up in his bosom, gave thanks to God for directing his eye to the place where it lay, and with joy and tears betook himself again to his journey. But O how nimbly did he go up the rest of the hill! Yet before he got up, the sun went down upon Christian; and this made him again recall the vanity of his sleeping to his remembrance; and thus he again began to condole with himself: Oh thou sinful sleep! how for thy sake am I like to be benighted in my journey! I must walk without the sun, darkness must cover the path of my feet, and I must hear the noise of the doleful creatures, because of my sinful sleep! Now also he remembered the story that Mistrust and Timorous told him of, how they were frighted with the sight of the lions. Then said Christian to himself again, These beasts range in the night for their prey; and if they should meet with me in the dark, how should I shift them? how should I escape being by them torn in pieces? Thus he went on his way. But while he was bewailing his unhappy miscarriage, he lift up his eyes, and behold there was a very stately palace before him, the name of which was Beautiful, and it stood by the highway-side.
So I saw in my dream that he made haste, and went forward, that if possible he might get lodging there. Now before he had gone far, he entered into a very narrow passage, which was about a furlong off the Porter’s lodge, and looking very narrowly before him as he went, he espied two lions in the way. Now, thought he, I see the dangers that Mistrust and Timorous were driven back by. (The lions were chained, but he saw not the chains.) Then he was afraid, and thought also himself to go back after them; for he thought nothing but death was before him. But the Porter at the lodge, whose name is Watchful, perceiving that Christian made a halt, as if he would go back, cried unto him, saying, Is thy strength so small?
Mark 4:40 He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” ESV
Fear not the lions, for they are chained, and are placed there for trial of faith where it is, and for discovery of those that have none: keep in the midst of the path, and no hurt shall come unto thee.
Then I saw that he went on, trembling for fear of the lions, but taking good heed to the directions of the Porter; he heard them roar, but they did him no harm. Then he clapped his hands, and went on till he came and stood before the gate where the Porter was. Then said Christian to the Porter, Sir, what house is this? and may I lodge here to-night? The Porter answered, This house was built by the Lord of the hill, and he built it for the relief and security of pilgrims. The Porter also asked whence he was, and whither he was going.
CHR. I am come from the city of Destruction, and am going to Mount Zion: but because the sun is now set, I desire, if I may, to lodge here to-night.
PORT. What is your name?
CHR. My name is now Christian, but my name at the first was Graceless: I came of the race of Japheth, whom God will persuade to dwell in the tents of Shem.
Gen. 9:27 May God enlarge Japheth,
and let him dwell in the tents of Shem,
and let Canaan be his servant.” ESV
CHR. I had been here sooner, but that, wretched man that I am, I slept in the arbor that stands on the hill-side! Nay, I had, notwithstanding that, been here much sooner, but that in my sleep I lost my evidence, and came without it to the brow of the hill; and then feeling for it, and not finding it, I was forced with sorrow of heart to go back to the place where I slept my sleep, where I found it; and now I am come.
PORT. Well, I will call out one of the virgins of this place, who will, if she likes your talk, bring you in to the rest of the family, according to the rules of the house. So Watchful the Porter rang a bell, at the sound of which came out of the door of the house a grave and beautiful damsel, named Discretion, and asked why she was called.
The Porter answered, This man is on a journey from the city of Destruction to Mount Zion; but being weary and benighted, he asked me if he might lodge here to-night: so I told him I would call for thee, who, after discourse had with him, mayest do as seemeth thee good, even according to the law of the house.
Then she asked him whence he was, and whither he was going; and he told her. She asked him also how he got into the way; and he told her. Then she asked him what he had seen and met with in the way, and he told her. And at last she asked his name. So he said, It is Christian; and I have so much the more a desire to lodge here to-night, because, by what I perceive, this place was built by the Lord of the hill for the relief and security of pilgrims. So she smiled, but the water stood in her eyes; and after a little pause she said, I will call forth two or three more of the family. So she ran to the door, and called out Prudence, Piety, and Charity, who, after a little more discourse with him, had him into the family; and many of them meeting him at the threshold of the house, said, Come in, thou blessed of the Lord; this house was built by the Lord of the hill on purpose to entertain such pilgrims in. Then he bowed his head, and followed them into the house. So when he was come in and sat down, they gave him something to drink, and consented together that, until supper was ready, some of them should have some particular discourse with Christian, for the best improvement of time; and they appointed Piety, Prudence, and Charity to discourse with him: and thus they began.
PIETY. Come, good Christian, since we have been so loving to you as to receive you into our house this night, let us, if perhaps we may better ourselves thereby, talk with you of all things that have happened to you in your pilgrimage.
CHR. With a very good will; and I am glad that you are so well disposed.
PIETY. What moved you at first to betake yourself to a pilgrim’s life?
CHR. I was driven out of my native country by a dreadful sound that was in mine ears; to wit, that unavoidable destruction did attend me, if I abode in that place where I was.
PIETY. But how did it happen that you came out of your country this way?
CHR. It was as God would have it; for when I was under the fears of destruction, I did not know whither to go; but by chance there came a man, even to me, as I was trembling and weeping, whose name is Evangelist, and he directed me to the Wicket-gate, which else I should never have found, and so set me into the way that hath led me directly to this house.
PIETY. But did you not come by the house of the Interpreter?
CHR. Yes, and did see such things there, the remembrance of which will stick by me as long as I live, especially three things: to wit, how Christ, in despite of Satan, maintains his work of grace in the heart; how the man had sinned himself quite out of hopes of God’s mercy; and also the dream of him that thought in his sleep the day of judgment was come.
PIETY. Why, did you hear him tell his dream?
CHR. Yes, and a dreadful one it was, I thought; it made my heart ache as he was telling of it, but yet I am glad I heard it.
PIETY. Was this all you saw at the house of the Interpreter?
CHR. No; he took me, and had me where he showed me a stately palace, and how the people were clad in gold that were in it; and how there came a venturous man, and cut his way through the armed men that stood in the door to keep him out; and how he was bid to come in, and win eternal glory. Methought those things did ravish my heart. I would have stayed at that good man’s house a twelvemonth, but that I knew I had farther to go.
PIETY. And what saw you else in the way?
CHR. Saw? Why, I went but a little farther, and I saw One, as I thought in my mind, hang bleeding upon a tree; and the very sight of him made my burden fall off my back; for I groaned under a very heavy burden, but then it fell down from off me. It was a strange thing to me, for I never saw such a thing before: yea, and while I stood looking up, (for then I could not forbear looking,) three Shining Ones came to me. One of them testified that my sins were forgiven me; another stripped me of my rags, and gave me this broidered coat which you see; and the third set the mark which you see in my forehead, and gave me this sealed roll, (and with that he plucked it out of his bosom.)
Pilgrim's Progress (Illustrated): Updated, Modern English. More than 100 Illustrations.
The Continual Burnt Offering
By H.A. Ironside - 1941
Deuteronomy 33:3 Yes, he loved his people,
all his holy ones were in his hand;
so they followed in your steps,
receiving direction from you, ESV
John 10:27 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. 30 I and the Father are one.”
Deuteronomy 7:7 It was not because you were more in number than any other people that the LORD set his love on you and chose you, for you were the fewest of all peoples, 8 but it is because the LORD loves you and is keeping the oath that he swore to your fathers, that the LORD has brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.
Exodus 19:5 Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession among all peoples, for all the earth is mine;
Psalm 47:4 He chose our heritage for us,
the pride of Jacob whom he loves. Selah
Psalm 147:19 He declares his word to Jacob,
his statutes and rules to Israel.
20 He has not dealt thus with any other nation;
they do not know his rules.
Praise the LORD!
Jeremiah 31:3 the LORD appeared to him from far away.
I have loved you with an everlasting love;
therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you.
Hosea 11:1 When Israel was a child, I loved him,
and out of Egypt I called my son.
Romans 9:11 though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad — in order that God’s purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of him who calls— 12 she was told, “The older will serve the younger.” 13 As it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”
Ephesians 2:4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ — by grace you have been saved—
1 John 4:19 We love because he first loved us. ESV
Low at Thy feet, Lord Jesus,
This is the place for me;
There I have learned sweet lessons,
Truth that has set me free.
Free from myself, Lord Jesus,
Free from the ways of men,
Chains of thought that once bound me
Never shall bind again.
None but Thyself, Lord Jesus,
Conquered my wayward will;
But for Thy grace, my Saviour
I had been wayward still.
The Continual Burnt Offering: Daily Meditations on the Word of God
Devotionals, notes, poetry and more
Praise God every day
1/29/2018 Bob Gass
‘You are worthy, O Lord, to receive glory.’
11 “Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.” ESV
A Christian farmer taught his horse to start and stop, using words from the Bible. When he wanted the horse to go, he would shout, ‘Praise the Lord.’ When he wanted the horse to stop, he would shout, ‘Hallelujah.’ All went well until one day a thunderbolt caused the horse to take off galloping at full speed. Realising he had lost control, the farmer panicked and forgot the words he had trained the horse to respond to. Up ahead was a cliff, and they were headed towards it at full speed. Desperately he tried to recall every religious word he’d ever heard of. He shouted, ‘Amen! Jesus saves! Worthy! Holy!’ Nothing worked. Just as the horse approached the precipice, he shouted, ‘Hallelujah!’ The horse stopped right there on the edge. Relieved, he wiped the sweat off his brow and said, ‘Whew, praise the Lord!’ Seriously, praising the Lord is not a religious activity that belongs only in church on Sunday morning. ‘From the rising of the sun to its going down the LORD’s name is to be praised’ (Psalm 113:3 NKJV). That means let your first words in the morning and your last words at night, be praise to God. ‘Why should I praise God every day?’ you ask. Because He is worthy of your praise. ‘You are worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power.’ And one more thought. Spoken words of love and appreciation draw people together and create intimacy. Do you want to get closer to God? Start praising Him more.
UCB The Word For Today
by Bill Federer
He read a poem at President John F. Kennedy’s Inauguration. He won the Pulitzer Prize for poetry and received the Congressional Gold Medal. Beginning as a farmer in New Hampshire, he became a teacher at Amherst College, the University of Michigan and a professor of poetry at Harvard. His name was Robert Frost, and he died this day, January 29, 1963. In an interview on radio station WQED, Pittsburgh, Robert Frost stated: “Ultimately, this is what you go before God for: You’ve had bad luck and good luck and all you really want in the end is mercy.”
Thomas R. Kelly
There is a way of ordering our mental life on more than one level at once. On one level we may be thinking, discussing, seeing, calculating; meeting all the demands of external affairs. But deep within, behind the scenes, at a pro founder level, we may also be in prayer and adoration, song and worship and a gentle receptiveness to divine breathings.
The secular world of today values and cultivates only the first level, assured that there is where the real business of mankind is done, and scorns, or smiles in tolerant amusement, at the cultivation of the second level; a luxury enterprise, a vestige of superstition, an occupation for special temperaments. But in a deeply religious culture men know that the deep level of prayer and of divine attendance is the most important thing in the world. It is at this deep level that the real business of life is determined. The secular mind is an abbreviated, fragmentary mind, building only upon a part of man's nature and neglecting a part, the most glorious part, of man's nature, powers and resources. The religious mind involves the whole of man, embraces his relations with time within their true ground and setting in the Eternal Lover. It ever keeps close to the fountains of divine creativity. In lowliness it knows joys and stabilities, peace and assurances, that are utterly incomprehensible to the secular mind. It lives in resources and powers that make individuals radiant and triumphant, groups tolerant and bonded together in mutual concern, and is bestirred to an outward life of unremitting labor.
Between the two levels is fruitful interplay, but ever the accent must be upon the deeper level, where the soul ever dwells in the presence of the Holy One. For the religious man is forever bringing all affairs of the first level down into the Light, holding them there in the Presence, re-seeing them and the whole of the world of men and things in a new and over turning way, and responding to them in spontaneous, incisive and simple ways of love and faith. Facts remain facts, when brought into the Presence in the deeper level, but their value, their significance, is wholly realigned. Much apparent wheat becomes utter chaff, and some chaff becomes wheat. Imposing powers? They are out of the Life, and must crumble. Lost causes? If God be for them, who can be against them? Rationally plausible futures? They are weakened or certified in the dynamic Life and Light. Tragic suffering? Already He is there, and we actively move, in His tenderness, toward the sufferers. Hopeless debauchees? These are children of God, His concern and ours. Inexorable laws of nature? The dependable framework for divine reconstruction. The fall of a sparrow? The Father's love. For faith and hope and love for all things are engendered in the soul, as we practice their submission and our own to the Light Within, as we humbly see all things, even darkly and as through a glass, yet through the eye of God.
But the upper level of our mind plays upon the deeper level of divine immediacy of internal communion and of prayer. It furnishes us with the objects of divine concern, "the sensualized material of our duty," as Fichte called it. It furnishes us with those culture-patterns of our group which are at one and the same time the medium and the material for their regeneration, our language, our symbols, our traditions, and our history. It provides for the mystic the suggestions for his metaphors, even the metaphor of the Light, the Seed, the Sanctuary, whereby he would suggest and communicate the wonder of God's immediacy and power. It supplies the present-day tools of reflection whereby the experience of Eternity is knit into the fabric of time and thought. But theologies and symbols and creeds, though inevitable, are transient and become obsolescent, while the Life of God sweeps on through the souls of men in continued revelation and creative newness. To that divine Life we must cling. In that Current we must bathe. In that abiding yet energizing Center we are all made one, behind and despite the surface differences of our forms and cultures. For the heart of the religious life is in commitment and worship, not in reflection and theory.
A Testament of Devotion
Compiled by Richard S. Adams
Pour out the best you have,
and always be poor.
Never be diplomatic and careful
about the treasure God gives.
This is poverty triumphant.
--- Oswald Chambers
Faith is not something to grasp,
it is a state to grow into.
Faith... must be enforced by reason...
when faith becomes blind it dies.
--- Mohandas Gandhi
We must believe in free will. We have no choice.
--- Isaac B. Singer (1902-1991)
It is therefore indisputable, that the Christians who lived nearest to the time of our Saviour believed, with undoubting confidence, that he had unequivocally forbidden war; and they openly avowed this belief; and that, in support of it, they were willing to sacrifice, and did sacrifice, their fortunes and their lives.
--- Jonathan Dymond 1796-1828
... from here, there and everywhere
by D.H. Stern
seven which he detests:
17 a haughty look, a lying tongue,
hands that shed innocent blood,
18 a heart that plots wicked schemes,
feet swift in running to do evil,
19 a false witness who lies with every breath,
and him who sows strife among brothers.
Complete Jewish Bible : An English Version of the Tanakh (Old Testament) and B'Rit Hadashah (New Testament)
A Daily Devotional by Oswald Chambers
But it is hardly credible that one could be so positively ignorant!
Who art Thou, Lord? --- Acts 26:15.
“The Lord spake thus to me with a strong hand.” There is no escape when Our Lord speaks. He always comes with an arrestment of the understanding. Has the voice of God come to you directly? If it has, you cannot mistake the intimate insistence with which it has spoken to you in the language you know best, not through your ears, but through your circumstances. God has to destroy our determined confidence in our own convictions. ‘I know this is what I should do’—and suddenly the voice of God speaks in a way that overwhelms us by revealing the depths of our ignorance. We have shown our ignorance of Him in the very way we determined to serve Him. We serve Jesus in a spirit that is not His, we hurt Him by our advocacy for Him, we push His claims in the spirit of the devil. Our words sound all right, but our spirit is that of an enemy. “He rebuked them, and said, Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of.” The spirit of Our Lord in an advocate of His is described in 1 Corinthians 13.
Have I been persecuting Jesus by a zealous determination to serve Him in my own way? If I feel I have done my duty and yet have hurt Him in doing it, I may be sure it was not my duty, because it has not fostered the meek and quiet spirit, but the spirit of self-satisfaction. We imagine that whatever is unpleasant is our duty! Is that anything like the spirit of our Lord—“I delight to do Thy will, O My God.”
My Utmost for His Highest
the Poetry of R.S. Thomas
On the doorstep
full of decency
because it wants something.
And I offered
a chance to give,
do I concentrate
on the chin's pimple,
on the money he will make,
on the wife's ugliness
behind him, cumbrous
as a calf in tow?
I see him as somebody's infant
of love's showers pouring
I see the halo over
to the nuclear cloud.
Friend, I say,
nursing him with my eyes
from the bone's
cancer, since we are at death's
door, come in,
let us peer at eternity
through the cracks in each other's hearts.
The Poems of R.S. Thomas
The Gospel of Mark opens with a series of vignettes depicting the beginning of the ministry of Jesus Messiah, the Son of God. The focus on Jesus’ coming begins with the OT promise (1:2–3) of a precursor that is fulfilled by John the Baptist (1:4–6) whose own role as a prophet, indicated by his food and clothing (1:6), culminates in his heralding of Jesus’ coming (1:7–8). The Baptist’s preaching and baptism set the stage for the divine declaration that attests Jesus to be the Son of God (1:9–11) who resists Satan in the wilderness temptations (1:12–13) and who himself emerges in Galilee to herald the fulfillment of time, the good news of God’s reign (1:14–15). Thus the opening section sets forth the “beginning of the gospel of Jesus Messiah, Son of God” (1:1).
Yet this opening section has given rise to a variety of opinions regarding its proper designation, its limits and its sources. Cranfield (33) reflects the diversity in the passage’s designation by entitling the section “The Beginning” and then noting that it serves as a “prologue” to the Gospel that “introduces” Jesus of Nazareth. It has become rather common to refer to these opening verses as a “prologue” (e.g., Bacon, JBL 26  84; Grundmann, 34; Lane, 39; Pesch, 71–72; Seitz, JBL 82  201), while others prefer the more neutral “introduction” (e.g., Dautzenberg, BZ 21  3; Keck, NTS 12 [1965–66] 352–70; Lightfoot, Message, 15; Taylor, 151) or “preface” (e.g., Anderson, 63). The evangelist (1:1) apparently referred to this section as the “beginning” (so Cranfield, 33; Gnilka, 1:39 [“initium”]; Lohmeyer, 9; Schweizer, 28).
Behind the choice of terminology lies the basic question of the section’s relationship to the rest of the Gospel. Whereas “prologue” and “preface” connote a more self-contained section, “introduction” and clearly “beginning” signal a more integral relationship between this material and the rest of the Gospel. The answer ultimately lies in the significance of the opening verse.
.... Based on an examination of this material, Mark appears to have formed the opening of his Gospel from a mixed quotation (1:2b–3) taken either from a setting similar to 1:4 or found as an isolated testimonium, a traditional unit on the appearance and ministry of John the Baptist (1:4–8), a tradition of Jesus’ baptism by John (1:9–11) previously combined with an account of Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness (1:12–13) and a summary statement consisting of several traditional formulas to summarize Jesus’ message (1:14–15). The evangelist has aligned these units under his heading of 1:1–3 to show how the “beginning of the gospel of Jesus Messiah, Son of God” corresponds to Isaiah’s promise. In this way, he introduces and identifies John the Baptist and the main character of his story, Jesus Messiah, Son of God.
Mark’s Gospel is the shortest of the four. In powerful prose, Mark tells story after story about Jesus. It is also Mark, not Matthew, that is the oldest of the four gospels.
Many of the stories bear the mark of eyewitness testimony. The early church believed that Mark, a close companion of Peter, reported what Peter had witnessed, and represents Peter’s testimony to the life of his Lord.
Distinctives of Mark are explored in the introduction to this Gospel.
The Gospel can be simply outlined. After a brief introduction (1:2–13), Mark links together stories around simple, clear themes.
Mark records a stream of healings in the opening chapters of his Gospel. Christians have often wondered, is there healing for us today? The Bible clearly indicates that God can heal. But in New Testament times God did not always heal even His most faithful servants (see 2 Cor. 12:7–10). When one of Paul’s dearest friends was ill, the apostle did not “heal” him, but rather prayed and waited for God’s answer (cf. Phil. 2:26–28). What Jesus’ healings assure us of is that, whatever our need, God cares!
Frank W. Boreham
I like to think that Jesus spent forty nights of His wondrous life out in the Wild with the wolves. 'He was with the wild beasts,' Mark tells us, and the statement is not recorded for nothing. Night is the great leveller. Desert and prairie are indistinguishable in the night. Night folds everything in sable robes, and the loveliest landscape is one with the dreariest prospect. North and South, East and West, are all alike in the night. Here is the Wild of the West. 'A vast silence reigned,' Jack London tells us. 'The land itself was a desolation, lifeless, without movement, so lone and cold that the spirit of it was not even that of sadness. There was a hint in it of laughter—the masterful and incommunicable wisdom of eternity laughing at the futility of life and the effort of life. It was the Wild—the savage, frozen-hearted Northern Wild!' Here, I say, is the Wild. And here is the life of the Wild: 'Bill opened his mouth to speak, but changed his mind. Instead, he pointed towards the wall of darkness that pressed about them from every side. There was no suggestion of form in the utter blackness; only could be seen a pair of eyes gleaming like live coals. Henry indicated with his hand a second pair and a third. A circle of the gleaming eyes had drawn about their camp. Now and again a pair of eyes moved, or disappeared to appear again a moment later.'
What did it mean—those restless flashing eyes, like fireflies breaking across the surface of the darkness? It simply meant that they were in the Wild at night, and they were with the wild beasts. And what does it mean, this vivid fragment from my Bible? It means that He was in the Wild at night, night after night for forty nights, and He was with the wild beasts. He heard the roar of the lion as it awoke the echoes of the slumbering forest. He saw the hyena pass stealthily near Him in the track of a timid deer, and watched the cheetah prowl through the brushwood in pursuit of a young gazelle. He heard the squeal of the hare as the crouching fox sprang out; and the flutter of the partridge as the jackal seized its prey. He heard the slither of the viper as it glided through the grass beside His head; and was startled by the shrieking of the nightbirds, and the flapping of their wings, as they whirled and swooped about Him. And He too saw the gleaming eyes of the hungry wolves as they drew their fierce cordon around Him. For He was out in the Wild for forty nights, and He was with the wild beasts.
And yet He was unhurt! Now why was He unharmed those forty nights with the scrub around Him alive with claws and talons and fangs? He was with the wild beasts, Mark tells us, and yet no lion sprang upon Him; no lone wolf slashed at Him with her frightful fangs; no serpent bit Him.
'Henry,' said one of Jack London's heroes to the other, as they watched the wolfish eyes flashing hither and thither in the darkness, 'it's an awful misfortune to be out of ammunition!'
But He was unarmed and unprotected! No blade was in His hand; no ring of fire blazed round about Him to affright the prowling brutes. And yet He was unharmed! Not a tooth nor a claw left scratch or gash upon Him! Why was it? It will never do to fall back upon the miraculous, for the very point of the story of the Temptation is His sublime refusal to sustain Himself by superhuman aid. By the employment of miracle He could easily have commanded the stones to become bread, and He might thus have grandly answered the taunt of the Tempter and have appeased the gnawings of His body's hunger at one and the same time. But it would have spoiled everything. He went into the Wild to be tempted 'like as we are tempted'; and since miracle is not at our disposal He would not let it be at His. It is impossible, therefore, to suppose that He scorned the aid of miracle to protect Him from hunger, but called in the aid of miracle to protect Him from the beasts.
Now in order to solve this problem I turned to my Bible, beginning at the very beginning. And there, in the very first chapter, I found the explanation. 'Have dominion,' God said, 'over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.' There was nothing really miraculous in Christ's authority over the fish. I never see a man dangling with a line without a sigh for our lost dominion. There was nothing really miraculous in Christ's immunity from harm. The wolves did not tear Him; He told them not to do so. He was a man, just such a man as God meant all men to be. And therefore He 'had dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that creepeth upon the earth.' He was unscathed in the midst of the wolves, not because He was superhuman, but because He was truly human. We are something less than human, the wrecks and shadows of men. Having forfeited the authority of our humanity, the fish no longer obey us, and we have perforce to dangle for them with hooks and strings. The wolves and the tigers no longer stand off at our command, and we have to fall back upon camp-fires and pistols. It is very humiliating! The crown is fallen from our heads, and all things finned and furred and feathered mock us in our shame. But Thine, O Man of men, is the power and the dominion, and all the creatures of the Wild obey Thee! 'He was with the wild beasts.'
What did those wild, dumb, eloquent eyes say to Jesus as they looked wonderingly at Him out there in the Wild? As they bounded out of the thicket, crouched, stared at Him, and slunk away, what did they say to Him, those great lean wolves? And what did He say to them? Animals are such eloquent things, especially at such times. 'The foxes have holes,' Jesus said, long afterwards, remembering as He said it how He watched the creatures of the Wild seek out their lairs. 'And the birds of the air have nests,' He said, remembering the twittering and fluttering in the boughs above His head as the feathered things settled down for the night. 'But the Son of Man hath not where to lay His head,' He concluded, as He thought of those long, long nights in the homeless Wild. Did He mean that the wolves were better off than He was? We are all tempted to think so when the conflict is pressing too hardly upon us. There seems to be less choice, and therefore less responsibility, among the beasts of the field; less play of right and wrong. 'I think,' said Walt Whitman—
I think I could turn and live with animals, they are so
placid and self-contained;
I stand and look at them sometimes an hour at a stretch.
They do not sweat and whine about their condition,
They do not lie awake in the dark and weep for their sins,
They do not make me sick discussing their duty to God,
Not one is dissatisfied, not one is demented with the mania
of owning things,
Not one kneels to another, nor to his kind that lived
thousands of years ago,
Not one is respectable or industrious over the whole earth.
Was some flitting, hovering thought like this part of the Temptation in the Wild? Is that what Mark means when he says so significantly that 'He was with the wild beasts'? Surely; for He was tempted in all points like as we are, and we have all been tempted in this. 'Good old Carlo!' we have said, as we patted the dog's head, looking down out of our eyes of anguish into his calm, impassive gaze. 'Good old Carlo, you don't know anything of such struggles, old boy!' And we have fancied for a moment that Carlo had the best of it. It was a black and blasphemous thought, and He struck it away, as we should strike at a hawk that fluttered in front of our faces and threatened to pick at our eyes. But for one moment it hovered before Him, and He caught its ugly glance. It is a very ugly glance. Our capacity for great inward strife and for great inward suffering is the one proof we have that we were made in the image of God.
Was He thinking, I wonder, when He went out to the wolves in the Wild of those who, before so very long, would be torn to pieces by hungry beasts for His dear sake?
'To-day,' said Amplonius, a teacher of the persecuted Roman Christians, 'to-day, by the cruel order of Trajan, Ignatius was thrown to the wild beasts in the arena. He it was, my children, whom Jesus took, when as yet he was but a little child, and set him in the midst of the disciples and said, "Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye cannot enter the kingdom of heaven." And now, from the same Lord who that day laid His sacred hands upon his head, he has received the martyr crown. But Ignatius did not fear the beasts, my children. I have seen a letter which he wrote but yesterday to the aged Polycarp, the angel of the Church of Smyrna. In it he says that the hungry creatures have no terrors for him. "Would to God," he said, "that I were come to the beasts prepared for me. I wish that, with their gaping mouths, they were now ready to rush upon me. Let the angry beasts tear asunder my members so that I may win Christ Jesus." Thus Ignatius wrote but yesterday to the beloved Polycarp; and to-day, with a face like the face of an angel, he gave himself to the wolves. We know not which of us shall suffer next, my children. The people are still crying wildly, "The Christians to the lions!" It may be that I, your teacher, shall be the next to witness for the faith. But let us remember that for forty days and forty nights Jesus was Himself with the wild beasts, and not one of them durst harm Him. And He is still with the wild beasts wherever we His people, are among them; and their cruel fangs can only tear us so far as it is for our triumph and His glory.' So spake Amplonius, and the Church was comforted.
And at this hour there is, in the catacomb at St. Callixtus, at Rome, a rude old picture of Jesus among the untamed creatures of the Wild. The thought that lions and leopards crouched at His feet in the days of His flesh, and were subject unto Him, was very precious to the hunted and suffering people.
Sometimes, too, I fancy that He saw, in these savage brutes that harmed Him not, a symbol and a prophecy of His own great conquest. For they, with their hateful fangs and blooded talons, were part of His vast constituency. 'The whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together,' Paul declares. Richard Jefferies pointed to a quaint little English cottage beside a glorious bank of violets. But he could never bring himself to pluck the fragrant blossoms, for, in the cottage, the dreaded small-pox had once raged. 'It seemed,' says Jefferies, 'to quite spoil the violet bank. There is something in disease so destructive; as it were, to flowers.' And as the violets shared the scourge, so the creatures shared the curse. And as they stared dumbly into the eyes of the Son of God they seemed to half understand that their redemption was drawing nigh. 'In Nature herself,' as Longfellow says, 'there is a waiting and hoping, a looking and yearning, after an unknown something. Yes, when above there, on the mountain, the lonely eagle looks forth into the grey dawn to see if the day comes not; when by the mountain torrent the brooding raven listens to hear if the chamois is returning from his nightly pasture in the valley; and when the rising sun calls out the spicy odours of the Alpine flowers, then there awake in Nature an expectation and a longing for a future revelation of God's majesty.' Did He see this brooding sense of expectancy in the fierce eyes about Him? And did He rejoice that the hope of the Wild would in Him be gloriously fulfilled? Who knows?
In his The Cloister and the Hearth, Charles Reade tells of the temptation and triumph of Clement the hermit. 'And one keen frosty night, as he sang the praises of God to his tuneful psaltery, and his hollow cave rang with his holy melody, he heard a clear whine, not unmelodious. It became louder. He peeped through the chinks of his rude door, and there sat a great red wolf moaning melodiously with his nose high in the air! Clement was delighted. "My sins are going," he cried, "and the creatures of God are owning me!" And in a burst of enthusiasm he sang:
Praise Him, all ye creatures of His!
Let everything that hath breath praise the Lord!
And all the time he sang the wolf bayed at intervals.' Did Jesus, I wonder, see the going of the world's sin and the departure of its primal curse in the faces of the wild things that howled and roared around Him? As the fierce things prowled around Him and left Him unharmed, did He see a symbol of His final subjugation of all earth's savage and restless elements? Who shall say?
'He was with the wild beasts,' says Mark, 'and the angels ministered unto Him.' Life always hovers between the beasts and the angels; and however wolfish may be the eyes that affright us in the day of our temptation, we may be sure that our solitary struggle is watched by invisible spectators, and that, after the baying of the beasts, we shall hear the angels sing.
Mushrooms on the Moor (Dodo Press)
Now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. --- 1 Corinthians 13:13.
What is the supreme good? (The World's Great Sermons, Volume 10) You have life before you. Once only can you live it. What is the noblest object of desire to covet?
We have been told that the greatest thing in the religious world is faith. Well, we were wrong. I have taken you, in [1 Corinthians 13] to Christianity at its source, and there we have seen, “the greatest of these is love.” [Paul] says, “If I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.”
Paul, in three short verses, gives us an amazing analysis of what this supreme thing is. By a multitude of small things and ordinary virtues, the supreme thing, the summum bonum, is made up.
The spectrum of love has nine ingredients:
• patience—“Love is patient.”
• kindness—“Love is kind.”
• generosity—“[Love] does not envy.”
• humility—“[Love] does not boast, it is not proud.”
• courtesy—“[Love] is not rude.”
• unselfishness—“[Love] is not self-seeking.”
• good temper—“[Love] is not easily angered.”
• guilelessness—“[Love] keeps no record of wrongs.”
• sincerity—“[Love] does not delight in evil but rejoices
with the truth.”
Observe that all are in relation to people, in relation to life, in relation to the known today and near tomorrow and not to the unknown eternity. Religion is not a strange or added thing but the inspiration of the secular life, the breathing of an eternal spirit through this temporal world.
Where love is, God is. Whoever lives in love lives in God. God is love. Therefore love—without distinction, without calculation, without procrastination. Lavish it on the poor, where it is very easy; especially on the rich, who often need it most; most of all on our equals, for whom perhaps we each do least of all. There is a difference between trying to please and giving pleasure. Give pleasure. Lose no chance of giving pleasure. For that is the ceaseless and anonymous triumph of a truly loving spirit.
--- Henry Drummond
Take Heart: Daily Devotions with the Church's Great Preachers
Saying Too Much
We can sink our own arguments by saying too much, as the French reformers sadly discovered in the 1500s. The Protestant movement initially found fertile ground in France. Several preachers, sympathetic to reform, mounted pulpits in Paris, and the king himself showed interest.
But on October 10, 1533, Nicolas Cop was elected Rector of the University of Paris and his inaugural address, prepared by a 24-year-old firebrand named John Calvin, was a declaration of war on the Catholic Church. The speech demanded reformation on the basis of the New Testament and attacked the theologians of the church who “teach nothing of faith, nothing of the love of God, nothing of remission of sins, nothing of grace, nothing of justification.”
The speech so inflamed Paris that Cop fled to Basel, and Calvin reportedly escaped his room from a window by means of sheets, fleeing disguised as a vine-dresser with a hoe on his shoulder. The ensuing months saw so many posters and tracts on Parisian streets that 1534 became known as “the year of the placards.” The tension exploded into violence over a scathing placard by an overzealous Protestant named Feret. He attacked “the horrible, great, intolerable abuses of the popish mass.”
On the night of October 18, 1534, Feret’s placard was found nailed to the king’s bedroom door, and that did it. Protestants soon filled Parisian jails. And on January 29, 1535, to purge the city from the defilement caused by Feret’s placards, an immense torch-lit procession traveled in silence from the Louvre to Notre Dame. The image of St. Genevieve, patroness of Paris, was accompanied by the royal family, princes, cardinals and church officials, ambassadors, and officers from state and university. Solemn mass was performed in the cathedral. The king declared he would behead even his own children if they embraced the “new heresies.”
The day ended with six Protestants being suspended by ropes to a great machine that lowered and raised them into burning flames, slowly roasting them to death. In the coming months, many more Protestants were fined, imprisoned, tortured, and burned.
The French Reformation miscarried.
Make your words good—you will be glad you did. Words can bring death or life! Talk too much, and you will eat everything you say. If you are too eager, you will miss the road. --- Proverbs 18:20,21; 19:2b.
Daily Readings / CHARLES H. SPURGEON
Morning - January 29
“The things which are not seen.” --- 2 Corinthians 4:18.
In our Christian pilgrimage it is well, for the most part, to be looking forward. Forward lies the crown, and onward is the goal. Whether it be for hope, for joy, for consolation, or for the inspiring of our love, the future must, after all, be the grand object of the eye of faith. Looking into the future we see sin cast out, the body of sin and death destroyed, the soul made perfect, and fit to be a partaker of the inheritance of the saints in light. Looking further yet, the believer’s enlightened eye can see death’s river passed, the gloomy stream forded, and the hills of light attained on which standeth the celestial city; he seeth himself enter within the pearly gates, hailed as more than conqueror, crowned by the hand of Christ, embraced in the arms of Jesus, glorified with him, and made to sit together with him on his throne, even as he has overcome and has sat down with the Father on his throne. The thought of this future may well relieve the darkness of the past and the gloom of the present. The joys of heaven will surely compensate for the sorrows of earth. Hush, hush, my doubts! death is but a narrow stream, and thou shalt soon have forded it. Time, how short—eternity, how long! Death, how brief—immortality, how endless! Methinks I even now eat of Eshcol’s clusters, and sip of the well which is within the gate. The road is so, so short! I shall soon be there.
“When the world my heart is rending
With its heaviest storm of care,
My glad thoughts to heaven ascending,
Find a refuge from despair.
Faith’s bright vision shall sustain me
Till life’s pilgrimage is past;
Fears may vex and troubles pain me,
I shall reach my home at last.”
Evening - January 29
“The dove came in to him in the evening.” --- Genesis 8:11.
Blessed be the Lord for another day of mercy, even though I am now weary with its toils. Unto the preserver of men lift I my song of gratitude. The dove found no rest out of the ark, and therefore returned to it; and my soul has learned yet more fully than ever, this day, that there is no satisfaction to be found in earthly things—God alone can give rest to my spirit. As to my business, my possessions, my family, my attainments, these are all well enough in their way, but they cannot fulfil the desires of my immortal nature. “Return unto thy rest, O my soul, for the Lord hath dealt bountifully with thee.” It was at the still hour, when the gates of the day were closing, that with weary wing the dove came back to the master: O Lord, enable me this evening thus to return to Jesus. She could not endure to spend a night hovering over the restless waste, not can I bear to be even for another hour away from Jesus, the rest of my heart, the home of my spirit. She did not merely alight upon the roof of the ark, she “came in to him;” even so would my longing spirit look into the secret of the Lord, pierce to the interior of truth, enter into that which is within the veil, and reach to my Beloved in very deed. To Jesus must I come: short of the nearest and dearest intercourse with him my panting spirit cannot stay. Blessed Lord Jesus, be with me, reveal thyself, and abide with me all night, so that when I awake I may be still with thee. I note that the dove brought in her mouth an olive branch plucked off, the memorial of the past day, and a prophecy of the future. Have I no pleasing record to bring home? No pledge and earnest of lovingkindness yet to come? Yes, my Lord, I present thee my grateful acknowledgments for tender mercies which have been new every morning and fresh every evening; and now, I pray thee, put forth thy hand and take thy dove into thy bosom.
SO SEND I YOU
E. Margaret Clarkson, 1915–
Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me!” (Isaiah 6:8)
Isolated from Christian fellowship and feeling very lonely, Margaret Clarkson was a 23-year-old school teacher in a gold-mining camp town in northern Ontario, Canada. Her friends and family were many miles away. As she meditated on John 20:21 one evening, God spoke to her through the phrase “So send I you.” She realized that this lonely area was the place to which God had sent her. This was her mission field. As she quickly set down her thoughts in verse, one of the finest and most popular missionary hymns of the 20th century was born.
Miss Clarkson has authored many articles and poems for Christian and educational periodicals. For more than 30 years she was involved in the Toronto, Canada, public school system in various educational capacities.
Because of a physical disability, Miss Clarkson has been unable to fulfill her early desire of going to a foreign mission field. Yet her distinguished career in education, her many inspiring writings, and this challenging missionary hymn have accomplished much for the kingdom of God, even though she has remained in Canada.
These words have been greatly used by God to challenge many to respond to God’s call for service with the words of the prophet Isaiah, “Here am I … send me!”
So send I you to labor unrewarded, to serve unpaid, unloved, unsought, unknown, to bear rebuke, to suffer scorn and scoffing—So send I you to toil for me alone.
So send I you to bind the bruised and broken, o’er wand’ring souls to work, to weep, to wake, to bear the burdens of a world a-weary—So send I you to suffer for My sake.
So send I you to loneliness and longing, with heart a-hung-’ring for the loved and known, forsaking home and kindred, friend and dear one—So send I you to know my love alone.
So send I you to leave your life’s ambition, to die to dear desire, self-will resign, to labor long and love where men revile you—So send I you to lose your life in Mine.
So send I you to hearts made hard by hatred, to eyes made blind because they will not see, to spend—tho it be blood—to spend and spare not—So send I you to taste of Calvary. “As the Father hath sent Me, so send I you.”
For Today: Matthew 9:37, 38; John 4:35; 20:21; Acts 1:8.
Enter your “mission field” today with the confidence you have been placed there by your heavenly Father. Carry this musical message with you ---
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