Genesis 8 - 11
The Flood SubsidesGenesis 8:1 But God remembered Noah and all the beasts and all the livestock that were with him in the ark. And God made a wind blow over the earth, and the waters subsided. 2 The fountains of the deep and the windows of the heavens were closed, the rain from the heavens was restrained, 3 and the waters receded from the earth continually. At the end of 150 days the waters had abated, 4 and in the seventh month, on the seventeenth day of the month, the ark came to rest on the mountains of Ararat. 5 And the waters continued to abate until the tenth month; in the tenth month, on the first day of the month, the tops of the mountains were seen.
6 At the end of forty days Noah opened the window of the ark that he had made 7 and sent forth a raven. It went to and fro until the waters were dried up from the earth. 8 Then he sent forth a dove from him, to see if the waters had subsided from the face of the ground. 9 But the dove found no place to set her foot, and she returned to him to the ark, for the waters were still on the face of the whole earth. So he put out his hand and took her and brought her into the ark with him. 10 He waited another seven days, and again he sent forth the dove out of the ark. 11 And the dove came back to him in the evening, and behold, in her mouth was a freshly plucked olive leaf. So Noah knew that the waters had subsided from the earth. 12 Then he waited another seven days and sent forth the dove, and she did not return to him anymore.
13 In the six hundred and first year, in the first month, the first day of the month, the waters were dried from off the earth. And Noah removed the covering of the ark and looked, and behold, the face of the ground was dry. 14 In the second month, on the twenty-seventh day of the month, the earth had dried out. 15 Then God said to Noah, 16 “Go out from the ark, you and your wife, and your sons and your sons’ wives with you. 17 Bring out with you every living thing that is with you of all flesh—birds and animals and every creeping thing that creeps on the earth—that they may swarm on the earth, and be fruitful and multiply on the earth.” 18 So Noah went out, and his sons and his wife and his sons’ wives with him. 19 Every beast, every creeping thing, and every bird, everything that moves on the earth, went out by families from the ark.
God’s Covenant with Noah20 Then Noah built an altar to the LORD and took some of every clean animal and some of every clean bird and offered burnt offerings on the altar. 21 And when the LORD smelled the pleasing aroma, the LORD said in his heart, “I will never again curse the ground because of man, for the intention of man’s heart is evil from his youth. Neither will I ever again strike down every living creature as I have done. 22 While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease.”
Genesis 9Genesis 9:1 And God blessed Noah and his sons and said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth. 2 The fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth and upon every bird of the heavens, upon everything that creeps on the ground and all the fish of the sea. Into your hand they are delivered. 3 Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. And as I gave you the green plants, I give you everything. 4 But you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood. 5 And for your lifeblood I will require a reckoning: from every beast I will require it and from man. From his fellow man I will require a reckoning for the life of man.
6 “Whoever sheds the blood of man,
by man shall his blood be shed,
for God made man in his own image.
8 Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him, 9 “Behold, I establish my covenant with you and your offspring after you, 10 and with every living creature that is with you, the birds, the livestock, and every beast of the earth with you, as many as came out of the ark; it is for every beast of the earth. 11 I establish my covenant with you, that never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of the flood, and never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.” 12 And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant that I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations: 13 I have set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth. 14 When I bring clouds over the earth and the bow is seen in the clouds, 15 I will remember my covenant that is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh. And the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. 16 When the bow is in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.” 17 God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant that I have established between me and all flesh that is on the earth.”
Noah’s Descendants18 The sons of Noah who went forth from the ark were Shem, Ham, and Japheth. (Ham was the father of Canaan.) 19 These three were the sons of Noah, and from these the people of the whole earth were dispersed.
20 Noah began to be a man of the soil, and he planted a vineyard. 21 He drank of the wine and became drunk and lay uncovered in his tent. 22 And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father and told his two brothers outside. 23 Then Shem and Japheth took a garment, laid it on both their shoulders, and walked backward and covered the nakedness of their father. Their faces were turned backward, and they did not see their father’s nakedness. 24 When Noah awoke from his wine and knew what his youngest son had done to him, 25 he said,
“Cursed be Canaan;
a servant of servants shall he be to his brothers.”
“Blessed be the LORD, the God of Shem;
and let Canaan be his servant.
27 May God enlarge Japheth,
and let him dwell in the tents of Shem,
and let Canaan be his servant.”
Nations Descended from NoahGenesis 10:1 These are the generations of the sons of Noah, Shem, Ham, and Japheth. Sons were born to them after the flood.
Professor William Albright said that Genesis 10 “stands absolutely alone in ancient literature, without a remote parallel, even among the Greeks, where we find the closest approach to a distribution of peoples in genealogical framework […] the Table of Nations remains an astonishingly accurate document.”2 The sons of Japheth: Gomer, Magog, Madai, Javan, Tubal, Meshech, and Tiras. 3 The sons of Gomer: Ashkenaz, Riphath, and Togarmah. 4 The sons of Javan: Elishah, Tarshish, Kittim, and Dodanim. 5 From these the coastland peoples spread in their lands, each with his own language, by their clans, in their nations.
6 The sons of Ham: Cush, Egypt, Put, and Canaan. 7 The sons of Cush: Seba, Havilah, Sabtah, Raamah, and Sabteca. The sons of Raamah: Sheba and Dedan. 8 Cush fathered Nimrod; he was the first on earth to be a mighty man. 9 He was a mighty hunter before the LORD. Therefore it is said, “Like Nimrod a mighty hunter before the LORD.” 10 The beginning of his kingdom was Babel, Erech, Accad, and Calneh, in the land of Shinar. 11 From that land he went into Assyria and built Nineveh, Rehoboth-Ir, Calah, and 12 Resen between Nineveh and Calah; that is the great city. 13 Egypt fathered Ludim, Anamim, Lehabim, Naphtuhim, 14 Pathrusim, Casluhim (from whom the Philistines came), and Caphtorim.
15 Canaan fathered Sidon his firstborn and Heth, 16 and the Jebusites, the Amorites, the Girgashites, 17 the Hivites, the Arkites, the Sinites, 18 the Arvadites, the Zemarites, and the Hamathites. Afterward the clans of the Canaanites dispersed. 19 And the territory of the Canaanites extended from Sidon in the direction of Gerar as far as Gaza, and in the direction of Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, and Zeboiim, as far as Lasha. 20 These are the sons of Ham, by their clans, their languages, their lands, and their nations.
21 To Shem also, the father of all the children of Eber, the elder brother of Japheth, children were born. 22 The sons of Shem: Elam, Asshur, Arpachshad, Lud, and Aram. 23 The sons of Aram: Uz, Hul, Gether, and Mash. 24 Arpachshad fathered Shelah; and Shelah fathered Eber. 25 To Eber were born two sons: the name of the one was Peleg, for in his days the earth was divided, and his brother’s name was Joktan. 26 Joktan fathered Almodad, Sheleph, Hazarmaveth, Jerah, 27 Hadoram, Uzal, Diklah, 28 Obal, Abimael, Sheba, 29 Ophir, Havilah, and Jobab; all these were the sons of Joktan. 30 The territory in which they lived extended from Mesha in the direction of Sephar to the hill country of the east. 31 These are the sons of Shem, by their clans, their languages, their lands, and their nations.
32 These are the clans of the sons of Noah, according to their genealogies, in their nations, and from these the nations spread abroad on the earth after the flood.
The Tower of BabelGenesis 11:1 Now the whole earth had one language and the same words. 2 And as people migrated from the east, they found a plain in the land of Shinar and settled there. 3 And they said to one another, “Come, let us make bricks, and burn them thoroughly.” And they had brick for stone, and bitumen for mortar. 4 Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth.” 5 And the LORD came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of man had built. 6 And the LORD said, “Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language, and this is only the beginning of what they will do. And nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them. 7 Come, let us go down and there confuse their language, so that they may not understand one another’s speech.” 8 So the LORD dispersed them from there over the face of all the earth, and they left off building the city. 9 Therefore its name was called Babel, because there the LORD confused the language of all the earth. And from there the LORD dispersed them over the face of all the earth.
Shem’s Descendants10 These are the generations of Shem. When Shem was 100 years old, he fathered Arpachshad two years after the flood. 11 And Shem lived after he fathered Arpachshad 500 years and had other sons and daughters.
12 When Arpachshad had lived 35 years, he fathered Shelah. 13 And Arpachshad lived after he fathered Shelah 403 years and had other sons and daughters.
14 When Shelah had lived 30 years, he fathered Eber. 15 And Shelah lived after he fathered Eber 403 years and had other sons and daughters.
16 When Eber had lived 34 years, he fathered Peleg. 17 And Eber lived after he fathered Peleg 430 years and had other sons and daughters.
18 When Peleg had lived 30 years, he fathered Reu. 19 And Peleg lived after he fathered Reu 209 years and had other sons and daughters.
20 When Reu had lived 32 years, he fathered Serug. 21 And Reu lived after he fathered Serug 207 years and had other sons and daughters.
22 When Serug had lived 30 years, he fathered Nahor. 23 And Serug lived after he fathered Nahor 200 years and had other sons and daughters.
24 When Nahor had lived 29 years, he fathered Terah. 25 And Nahor lived after he fathered Terah 119 years and had other sons and daughters.
26 When Terah had lived 70 years, he fathered Abram, Nahor, and Haran.
Terah’s Descendants27 Now these are the generations of Terah. Terah fathered Abram, Nahor, and Haran; and Haran fathered Lot. 28 Haran died in the presence of his father Terah in the land of his kindred, in Ur of the Chaldeans. 29 And Abram and Nahor took wives. The name of Abram’s wife was Sarai, and the name of Nahor’s wife, Milcah, the daughter of Haran the father of Milcah and Iscah. 30 Now Sarai was barren; she had no child.
31 Terah took Abram his son and Lot the son of Haran, his grandson, and Sarai his daughter-in-law, his son Abram’s wife, and they went forth together from Ur of the Chaldeans to go into the land of Canaan, but when they came to Haran, they settled there. 32 The days of Terah were 205 years, and Terah died in Haran.
ESV Study Bible
What I'm Reading
Why Doesn’t Mark Say Anything About Jesus’ Birth?
By J. Warner Wallace 12/11/2015
I’ve been examining the New Testament accounts of Jesus’ birth and responding to a number of skeptical objections related to the virgin conception. If the virgin conception was an historical event that was well known to the earliest Christians, why wasn’t it mentioned by Mark? Mark’s gospel is widely accepted as the first account of the life and ministry of Jesus. Why doesn’t it contain anything about the virgin conception? Does the absence of a birth narrative in Mark demonstrate that the entire story is a late fictional creation?
Silence Doesn’t Mean Denial
While it is true that Mark does not include a birth narrative, this does not mean that he was either unaware of the truth about Jesus or denied the virgin conception. Eyewitnesses often omit important details because they either (1) have other concerns they want to highlight with greater priority, or (2) presume that the issue under question is already well understood. The gospel of Mark exhibits great influence from the Apostle Peter. In fact, the outline of Mark’s Gospel is very similar to the outline of Peter’s first sermon at Pentecost. According to the Papias, Mark was Peter’s scribe; his gospel is brief and focused. Like Peter’s sermon in Chapter 2 of the Book of Act’s, Mark is focused only on the public life, ministry, death and resurrection of Jesus. But Mark is not alone in omitting the birth narrative. John’s gospel is considered by scholars to be the last Gospel written. The prior three “synoptic Gospels” were already in circulation and the issue of the virgin conception had already been described in two of them. Yet John also omitted the birth narrative. Why? John clearly wanted to cover material that the other Gospel writers did not address; over 90% of the material in the Gospel of John is unique to the text. If John did not agree with the virgin conception as described in the Gospels of Matthew or Luke, he certainly had the opportunity to correct the matter in his own work. But John never does this; his silence serves as a presumption that the “virgin conception” has been accurately described by prior authors.
Brevity Doesn’t Mean Ignorance
It really shouldn’t surprise us that the earliest version of the life of Christ would be the shortest and most focused account. Something very similar happens when police officers are dispatched to a crime scene. The first radio broadcast to responding units is always incredibly brief, offering just the bare details needed to get officers rolling in the right direction, aware of the most important issues they may be about to face. The first broadcast is brief, focused on essentials and designed for a purpose. As units are closing in on their arrival at the scene, a second or third broadcast is offered in order to provide more detail, especially if a responding unit has a question that needs clarification. The Gospel of Mark is the first broadcast about the life of Jesus. As such, the Gospel is prioritized around the same public events that concerned Peter; the events that were most important in articulating the salvation that is offered through the cross.
James "Jim" Warner Wallace (born June 16, 1961) is an American homicide detective and Christian apologist. Wallace is a Senior Fellow at the Colson Center for Christian Worldview and an Adjunct Professor of Apologetics at Biola University in La Mirada, California. He has authored several books, including Cold-Case Christianity, God’s Crime Scene, and Forensic Faith, in which he applies principles of cold case homicide investigation to apologetic concerns such as the existence of God and the reliability of the Gospels.
The Institutes of the Christian Religion
Translated by Henry Beveridge
1. The nature of man, in both parts of his soul--viz. intellect and will--cannot be better ascertained than by attending to the epithets applied to him in Scripture. If he is fully depicted (and it may easily be proved that he is) by the words of our Saviour, "that which is born of the flesh is flesh," (John 3:6), he must be a very miserable creature. For, as an apostle declares, "to be carnally minded is death," (Rom. 8:8), "It is enmity against God, and is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be." Is it true that the flesh is so perverse, that it is perpetually striving with all its might against God? that it cannot accord with the righteousness of the divine law? that, in short, it can beget nothing but the materials of death? Grant that there is nothing in human nature but flesh, and then extract something good out of it if you can. But it will be said, that the word flesh applies only to the sensual, and not to the higher part of the soul. This, however, is completely refuted by the words both of Christ and his apostle. The statement of our Lord is, that a man must be born again, because he is flesh. He requires not to be born again, with reference to the body. But a mind is not born again merely by having some portion of it reformed. It must be totally renewed. This is confirmed by the antithesis used in both passages. In the contrast between the Spirit and the flesh, there is nothing left of an intermediate nature. In this way, everything in man, which is not spiritual, falls under the denomination of carnal. But we have nothing of the Spirit except through regeneration. Everything, therefore, which we have from nature is flesh. Any possible doubt which might exist on the subject is removed by the words of Paul (Eph. 4:23), where, after a description of the old man, who, he says, "is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts," he bids us "be renewed in the spirit" of our mind. You see that he places unlawful and depraved desires not in the sensual part merely, but in the mind itself, and therefore requires that it should be renewed. Indeed, he had a little before drawn a picture of human nature, which shows that there is no part in which it is not perverted and corrupted. For when he says that the "Gentiles walk in the vanity of their mind, having the understanding darkened being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart," (Eph. 4:17, 18), there can be no doubt that his words apply to all whom the Lord has not yet formed anew both to wisdom and righteousness. This is rendered more clear by the comparison which immediately follows, and by which he reminds believers that they "have not so learned Christ" these words implying that the grace of Christ is the only remedy for that blindness and its evil consequences. Thus, too, had Isaiah prophesied of the kingdom of Christ, when the Lord promised to the Church, that though darkness should "cover the earth, and gross darkness the people," yet that he should "arise" upon it, and "his glory" should be seen upon it (Isaiah 40:2). When it is thus declared that divine light is to arise on the Church alone, all without the Church is left in blindness and darkness. I will not enumerate all that occurs throughout Scripture, and particularly in the Psalms and Prophetical writings, as to the vanity of man. There is much in what David says, "Surely men of low degree are vanity, and men of high degree are a lie: to be laid in the balance, they are altogether lighter than vanity," (Ps. 62:10). The human mind receives a humbling blow when all the thoughts which proceed from it are derided as foolish, frivolous, perverse, and insane.
2. In no degree more lenient is the condemnation of the heart, when it is described as "deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked," (Jer. 17:9). But as I study brevity, I will be satisfied with a single passage, one, however, in which as in a bright mirror, we may behold a complete image of our nature. The Apostle, when he would humble man's pride, uses these words: "There is none righteous no, not one: there is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that does good, no, not one. Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips: Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness: their feet are swift to shed blood: destruction and misery are in their ways: and the way of peace have they not known: there is no fear of God before their eyes," (Rom. 3:10-18). Thus he thunders not against certain individuals, but against the whole posterity of Adam--not against the depraved manners of any single age, but the perpetual corruption of nature. His object in the passage is not merely to upbraid men in order that they may repent, but to teach that all are overwhelmed with inevitable calamity, and can be delivered from it only by the mercy of God. As this could not be proved without previously proving the overthrow and destruction of nature, he produced those passages to show that its ruin is complete.
Let it be a fixed point, then, that men are such as is here described, not by vicious custom, but by depravity of nature. The reasoning of the Apostle, that there is no salvation for man, save in the mercy of God, because in himself he is desperate and undone, could not otherwise stand. I will not here labour to prove that the passages apply, with the view of removing the doubts of any who might think them quoted out of place. I will take them as if they had been used by Paul for the first time, and not taken from the Prophets. First, then, he strips man of righteousness, that is, integrity and purity; and, secondly, he strips him of sound intelligence. He argues, that defect of intelligence is proved by apostasy from God. To seek Him is the beginning of wisdom, and, therefore, such defect must exist in all who have revolted from Him. He subjoins, that all have gone astray, and become as it were mere corruption; that there is none that does good. He then enumerates the crimes by which those who have once given loose to their wickedness pollute every member of their bodies. Lastly, he declares that they have no fear of God, according to whose rule all our steps should be directed. If these are the hereditary properties of the human race, it is vain to look for anything good in our nature. I confess indeed, that all these iniquities do not break out in every individual. Still it cannot be denied that the hydra lurks in every breast. For as a body, while it contains and fosters the cause and matter of disease, cannot be called healthy, although pain is not actually felt; so a soul, while teeming with such seeds of vice, cannot be called sound. This similitude, however, does not apply throughout. In a body however morbid the functions of life are performed; but the soul, when plunged into that deadly abyss, not only labours under vice, but is altogether devoid of good.
3. Here, again we are met with a question very much the same as that which was previously solved. In every age there have been some who, under the guidance of nature, were all their lives devoted to virtue. It is of no consequence, that many blots may be detected in their conduct; by the mere study of virtue, they evinced that there was somewhat of purity in their nature. The value which virtues of this kind have in the sight of God will be considered more fully when we treat of the merit of works. Meanwhile however, it will be proper to consider it in this place also, in so far as necessary for the exposition of the subject in hand. Such examples, then, seem to warn us against supposing that the nature of man is utterly vicious, since, under its guidance, some have not only excelled in illustrious deeds, but conducted themselves most honourably through the whole course of their lives. But we ought to consider, that, notwithstanding of the corruption of our nature, there is some room for divine grace, such grace as, without purifying it, may lay it under internal restraint. For, did the Lord let every mind loose to wanton in its lusts, doubtless there is not a man who would not show that his nature is capable of all the crimes with which Paul charges it (Rom. 3 compared with Ps. 14:3, &c). What? Can you exempt yourself from the number of those whose feet are swift to shed blood; whose hands are foul with rapine and murder; whose throats are like open sepulchres; whose tongues are deceitful; whose lips are venomous; whose actions are useless, unjust, rotten, deadly; whose soul is without God; whose inward parts are full of wickedness; whose eyes are on the watch for deception; whose minds are prepared for insult; whose every part, in short, is framed for endless deeds of wickedness? If every soul is capable of such abominations (and the Apostle declares this boldly), it is surely easy to see what the result would be, if the Lord were to permit human passion to follow its bent. No ravenous beast would rush so furiously, no stream, however rapid and violent, so impetuously burst its banks. In the elect, God cures these diseases in the mode which will shortly be explained; in others, he only lays them under such restraint as may prevent them from breaking forth to a degree incompatible with the preservation of the established order of things. Hence, how much soever men may disguise their impurity, some are restrained only by shame, others by a fear of the laws, from breaking out into many kinds of wickedness. Some aspire to an honest life, as deeming it most conducive to their interest, while others are raised above the vulgar lot, that, by the dignity of their station, they may keep inferiors to their duty. Thus God, by his providence, curbs the perverseness of nature, preventing it from breaking forth into action, yet without rendering it inwardly pure.
Why Naturalism is Simply Unbelievable
By Lenny Esposito 12/16/2014
Naturalism is simply unbelievable. I don't mean unbelievable in the fantastical sense, although I do think there's a lot of hand-waving that goes on to try and excise any supernatural explanation as to why we exist. I mean, the viewpoint is unbelievable in that its own assumptions destroy itself. It is illogical to hold to naturalism.
The naturalist wants us to believe that the natural world is all that exists; we came about through evolutionary processes and our minds are one of the products of that process. Given the survival of the fittest paradigm that rives evolution, the naturalist must also assert "What your beliefs are don't matter nearly as much as what the survival value of your actions are." In fact, they do this when discussing religion all the time. Religion isn't true, they would assert, but it served an evolutionary purpose.
To use an example, picture an overweight man who is running. Now, the man may believe he has a better chance at survival if he runs because he puts his body in better shape, reduces the chances of heart attacks, and is generally more fit for the tasks of survival. However, the man may equally believe that running is an act of worship to the life-god and it drives out the fat demons that plague much of his tribe. Either belief produces the same result: the man runs and the man has an increased chance of longevity. Either belief helps him survive equally well. It doesn't matter which is true on an evolutionary worldview because evolution is all about survivability.
Reason Offers No Evolutionary Advantage
Because all evolution cares about is the survival of the individual, reason alone offers no evolutionary advantage. In fact, evolutionary theory proves this. According to all New-Darwinian models, there was a time on the earth where there existed no rational thought whatsoever! Animals were primitive and they had no capacity to reason, yet they survived just fine. They mere responded to external stimuli and adjusted their behavior. They don't know why the water is here and not somewhere else; they simply desire water.
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.
By Gleason Archer Jr.
|Eusebius||Ca. A.D. 263–340||The Life of Constantine, Ecclesiastical History|
|Herodotus||Ca. B.C. 484–425||The Histories|
|Flavius Josephus||A.D. 37–97||Antiquities of the Jews, Bellum Judaicum|
|Philo of Alexandria||30 B.C.–A.D. 40||Allegories of the Sacred Law|
|Polybius||Ca. 203–120 B.C.||Histories|
|Strabo||Ca. 64 B.C.–A.D. 24||Geography|
|Suetonius||Ca. A.D. 69–140||The Twelve Caesars|
|Tacitus||Ca. A.D. 58–120||Germania, Historiae, Annals|
|Thucydides||Ca. 460–400 B.C.||The History of the Peloponnesian Wars|
|Xenophon||Ca. 430–355 B.C.||Anabasis, Cyropaedia, Hellenica, Memorabilia|
An objection is raised in modern scholarly circles in regard to the faithfulness of the transmission of the original text of scripture which seems to be quite specious and illogical. In view of the unquestioning acceptance of so many of the earliest surviving copies of Greek and Latin classical authors, very seldom is any objection raised on the ground of their unreliability because they are late or because there are so few of them. (6) But, in the case of the Bible there are hundreds of witnesses to the text of the Old Testament and over 20,000 witnesses to the text of the New Testament in their original languages and therefore it is safe to say that no documents of ancient times have ever had such a full and impressive witness to the text as is found for the 66 books of the Bible. It is highly significant that these non-biblical texts are so cheerfully accepted even though, for example works of Tacitus, Lucretius, Catullus, and Aristotle have fewer than five extant copies each, and largely bear much later datings than many biblical texts. It is difficult to avoid the conclusion that the objection as to the trustworthiness of the text is hardly sincere, but rather it appears as special pleading on the basis of a hostile bias that is scarcely worthy of responsible scholarship. It should be added that this kind of concern for flawless accuracy has a certain bearing on related matters such as the standard of weights and measures which should prevail throughout a society. One can hardly purchase an absolutely perfect pound or an absolutely perfect foot measure in any store in America. But, we all understand that in the Bureau of Weights and Measures in Washington D.C. there is a perfect standard. Those measures and weights that can be purchased can be judged by reference to those in the Bureau of Weights and Measures for objective verification.
(6) For a fuller comparison note the early authors, dates, and number of extant documents which rarely receive the same criticism as the far better attested biblical MSS.
|Author||Earliest Copy||# of copies|
|Plato (Tetralogies)||900 A.D.||20|
|Tacitus (Annals)||1100 A.D.||20|
|also minor works||1000 A.D.||1 copy|
|Pliny the Younger (History)||850 A.D.||7|
|Thucydides (History)||900 A.D.||8|
|Herodotus (History)||900 A.D.||8|
This brings up the question of the faithfulness of the transmission of the Bible text. There are numerous types of manuscript error which the textual critic may discover in the early manuscripts of the Old Testament. (These will be discussed in chap. 4). Are these of so serious a nature as to corrupt the message itself, or make it impossible to convey the true meaning? If they are, then God’s purpose has been frustrated; He could not convey His revelation so that those of later generations could understand it aright. If He did not exercise a restraining influence over the scribes who wrote out the standard and authoritative copies of the Scriptures, then they corrupted and falsified the message. If the message was falsified, the whole purpose of bestowing a written revelation has come to naught; for such a corrupted Scripture would be a mere mixture of truth and error, necessarily subject to human judgment (rather than sitting in judgment upon man).
Do we have any objective evidence that errors of transmission have not been permitted by God to corrupt and pervert His revelation? Yes, we have, for a careful study of the variants (different readings) of the various earliest manuscripts reveals that none of them affects a single doctrine of Scripture. The system of spiritual truth contained in the standard Hebrew text of the Old Testament is not in the slightest altered or compromised by any of the variant readings found in the Hebrew manuscripts of earlier date found in the Dead Sea caves or anywhere else. All that is needed to verify this is to check the register of well-attested variants in Rudolf Kittel’s edition of the Hebrew Bible or else the more recent Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia. It is very evident that the vast majority of them are so inconsequential as to leave the meaning of each clause doctrinally unaffected.
It should be clearly understood that in this respect, the Old Testament differs from all other pre-Christian works of literature of which we have any knowledge. To be sure, we do not possess ordinarily so many different manuscripts of pagan productions, coming from such widely separated eras, as we do in the case of the Old Testament. Strong confirmation of this type of copyist error is found in various pagan records that have been preserved to us for the purposes of comparison. For example, in the Behistun Rock inscription set up by Darius I, around 510 B.C., we find that line 38 gives the figure for the slain of the army of Frada as 55,243, with 6,572 prisoners—according to the Babylonian column. In a duplicate copy of this inscription found at Babylon itself, the number of prisoners was 6,973. But in the Aramaic translation of this inscription discovered at the Elephantine in Egypt, the number of prisoners was only 6,972—precisely the same discrepancy as we have noted in the comparison of Ezra 2 and Nehemiah 7 (cf. E. W. König, Relief und Inschrift des Königs Dareios I am Felsen von Bagistan [Leiden: Brill, 1938], p. 48). Similarly in line 31 of the same inscription, the Babylonian column gives 2,045 as the number of slain in the rebellious army of Frawartish, along with 1,558 prisoners, whereas the Aramaic copy has over 1,575 as the prisoner count (ibid., p. 45). (For greater detail on the discrepancies between the three-language inscription of Darius I on the above mentioned Behistun Rock inscription [i.e., the Persian, Babylonian, and Elamite], and the Aramaic papyrus copy found in the Elephantine, p 29 consult E. W. König: ibid, pp. 36–57.) But where we do, for example in the Egyptian Book of the Dead, the variations are of a far more extensive and serious nature. Quite startling differences appear, for example, between chapter 15 contained in the Papyrus of Ani (written in the Eighteenth Dynasty) and the Turin Papyrus (from the Twenty-sixth Dynasty or later). Whole clauses are inserted or left out, and the sense in corresponding columns of text is in some cases altogether different. Apart from divine superintendence of the transmission of the Hebrew text, there is no particular reason why the same phenomenon of discrepancy and change would not appear between Hebrew manuscripts produced centuries apart. Even though the two copies of Isaiah discovered in Qumran Cave 1 near the Dead Sea in 1947 were a thousand years earlier than the oldest dated manuscript previously known (A.D. 980), they proved to be word for word identical with our standard Hebrew Bible in more than 95 percent of the text, but in 1QIsb, (ca. 75 B.C.) the preserved text is almost letter for letter identical with the Leningrad Manuscript. The five percent of variation consisted chiefly of obvious slips of the pen and variations in spelling. Even those Dead Sea fragments of Deuteronomy and Samuel which point to a different manuscript family from that which underlies our received Hebrew text do not indicate any differences in doctrine or teaching. They do not affect the message of revelation in the slightest.
The Problem Of The Old Testament
By James Orr 1907
Chapter 1 | The Problem Stated
“I have been obliged to bestow the greatest amount of labour on a hitherto entirely unworked field, the investigation of the inner constitution of the separate books of the Old Testament by the aid of the Higher Criticism (a new name to no Humanist).”—EICHHORN.
“It is true that the present destructive proceedings in the department of Old Testament criticism, which demand the construction of a new edifice, are quite fitted to confuse consciences and to entangle a weak faith in all kinds of temptation. If, however, we keep fast hold in this labyrinth of the one truth, Christus vere resurrexit, we have in our hands Ariadne’s thread to lead us out of it.”—DELITZSCH.
Wellhausen “has identified himself with that ‘so-called criticism’ (Ewald’s phraseology) which has ‘given up Moses and so much that is excellent besides,’ and which leads on directly to the contemptuous rejection of the Old Testament, if not also of the New (again, Ewald’s phraseology).”—CHEYNE.
“Erroneous criticism cannot be corrected by dogmatic theology, but only by a better, more searching, and less prejudiced criticism.”—OTTLEY.
WHEN we speak of a problem of the Old Testament, what do we mean? What is the problem, and how does it arise? A consideration of these questions will form a suitable introduction to the subsequent discussions.
It can hardly be necessary for us, in opening our inquiry, to define what is meant by the Old Testament, though on this point also, as between Protestants and Roman Catholics, a few questions might arise. By the term is here understood, in brief, that collection of Scriptures which now forms the first part of our ordinary Bibles,
1—which the Jews technically divided into “the law, the prophets, and the (holy) writings,”
2—which our Lord and His apostles spoke of as “the Scriptures,”
3 “the Holy Scriptures,”
4 “the oracles of God,”
5 “the sacred writings,”
6 and uniformly treated as the “God-inspired”
7 and authoritative record of God’s revelations to, and dealings with, His ancient people.
8 This yields a first regulative position in our study. It may be laid down as axiomatic that, whatever they may be for others, these ancient Scriptures can never have less value for the Christian Church than they had for the Church’s Master—Christ Himself. Believing scholars of all standpoints may be trusted to agree in this. (1)
But what is meant by the problem of the Old Testament? Naturally there are many problems, but our title indicates that the problem we have now in view is that which arises peculiarly from the course of recent criticism. That problem will be found large and complex enough to occupy us in this volume, and, as going to the root of a believing attitude to the Scriptures of the Old Covenant, will probably be allowed to be, for the present moment, the fundamental and essential one. In this chapter we shall seek to convey as clear an idea as we can of where we conceive the crux of this Old Testament problem to lie, and shall indicate generally the lines to be followed in the handling of it.
I. THE PROBLEM TWOFOLD: RELIGIOUS AND LITERARY
The problem of the Old Testament, then, as it presses on the Church from various sides at the present hour, may be said to be twofold. First, and most fundamentally, the question raised by it is—How are we to conceive of the religion which the Old Testament embodies, and presents to us in its successive stages, as respects its nature and origin? Is it a natural product of the development of the human spirit, as scholars of the distinctively “modern” way of thinking—Kuenen, Wellhausen, Stade, and the like—allege; or is it something more—a result of special, supernatural revelation to Israel, such as other nations did not possess? Then second, How are we to conceive of the literature itself, or of the books which make up the Old Testament, as respects their age, origin, mode of composition, trustworthiness, and, generally, their connection with the religion of which they are the monuments?
At first sight it might seem as if the second of these questions had no necessary relation to the first. Nothing, it may be plausibly argued, depends, for the decision of the supernatural origin of the religion, on whether the Pentateuch, as we have it, is from the pen of Moses, or is made up of three or four documents, put together at a late date; or at what period the Levitical law was finally codified; or whether the Book of Isaiah is the work of one, or two, or of ten authors; or whether the Psalms are pre-exilic, or post-exilic, in origin. Yet, as will be seen more fully later, the dependence of the literary criticism on the religious theory is really very close. For, if it be true, as every fair mind must admit, that there are many scholars who succeed, to their own satisfaction, in combining the acceptance of the main results of the critical hypothesis of the Old Testament, even in its advanced form, with firm belief in the reality of supernatural revelation in Israel, and in the culmination of that revelation in Christ; it is equally true that, in the case of others, and these pre-eminently, in Dr. Cheyne’s phrase, “The Founders of Criticism,” the decisions arrived at on purely literary questions,—the date of a psalm, e.g., the genuineness of a passage, or the integrity of a book,—are largely controlled by the view taken of the origin and course of development of the religion; and, with a different theory on these subjects, the judgments passed on the age, relations, and historical value, of particular writings, would be different also. This dependence of many of the conclusions of criticism—by no means, of course, all—on the religious and historical standpoint is practically admitted by Wellhausen, when he declares that “it is only within the region of religious antiquities and dominant religious ideas—the region which Vatke in his Biblische Theologie had occupied in its full breadth, and where the real battle first kindled—that the controversy can be brought to a definite issue.” (2)
It is the perception of this fact and of its results which affords the explanation of the very genuine disquiet and perplexity which undeniably exist in large sections of the Church as to the tendency and outcome of recent developments in Old Testament criticism. From the popular point of view—the light in which the matter presents itself to the average Christian mind—the problem of the Old Testament is simply one of how we are to regard the Bible. It is not merely, as the instinct of the humblest is quick enough to perceive, the dates and authorship of books that are in dispute in these critical theories: it is the whole question of the value of the Bible as an inspired and authoritative record of God’s historical revelation to mankind. Has God spoken, and does this book convey to us His sure word for our salvation and guidance? Have the Scriptures of the Old Testament any longer the value for us which they had for Christ and His disciples? Or are we to concede to the writers of the school above mentioned, that, as the result of the critical discussions of the past century, the historical foundations of Old Testament revelation have in the main been subverted? Must man’s changing and erring thoughts about God henceforth take the place of God’s words to man? Are the erewhile “lively oracles” of God simply the fragmentary remains of a literature to which no special quality of divineness attaches, and is the supposed history of revelation largely a piecing together of the myths, legends, and free inventions of an age whose circle of ideas the modern spirit has outgrown? These and like questions, that extensive body of opinion which arrogates to itself the title “modern” would answer with an unhesitating “Yes”; it need not occasion surprise if the great mass of believing opinion in the Church, on the other hand, meets such a challenge with an emphatic “No.”
It is to be admitted that the position of those who, at the present time, occupy a believing standpoint, yet are strongly repelled by the rationalism which seems to them to inhere in much of the prevailing criticism, is one of peculiar difficulty. On the one hand, they feel keenly the seriousness of the issues by which they are confronted. They seem to themselves to be called to give up, not only those ideas of the Bible in which they have been nurtured, and with which their tenderest associations are entwined, but the view of the Bible that appears to them to arise from an impartial study of its contents and claims. They see the disintegrating processes which have wrought such havoc, as they regard it, with the Old Testament, extended to the New, and with like results. (3) On the other hand, they are met by the assertion that practically all competent scholarship—believing and unbelieving alike—is agreed in the acceptance of those critical conclusions about the Old Testament which so greatly disturb them. What, in the “storm and stress” of this conflict and confusion of opinion, are those who hold fast by the Bible as the Word of Life for their souls to do? General assurances, such as are sometimes given, that, when they have parted with the greater part of what they have been accustomed to regard as the historical substance of revelation, they will find the Bible a diviner book to them than ever, do not yield the desired comfort. Is it to be wondered at if, in their perplexity and resentment, many who feel thus should round on “Higher Criticism” itself, and uncompromisingly denounce it as the prolific parent of all the mischief—an invention of the Evil One for the destruction of the unwary?
Nevertheless, this attitude of unreasoning denunciation of what is called “Higher Criticism” is also manifestly an extreme; and the problem we have to deal with, if it is to be profitably discussed, requires a clearer discrimination of issues. In particular, it cannot too early be recognised that this is not, at bottom, a question simply, as is too commonly assumed, between “Higher Critics” and “Non-Higher Critics.” Questions of criticism, indeed, enter deeply—far more deeply, to our thinking, than many are disposed to allow—into the dispute; but it is only to confuse the issue, and is a gratuitous weakening of the believing case, not to recognise that the real cleft goes much deeper—viz., into a radical contrariety of view as to the natural or supernatural origin of the religion of Israel, and that on this fundamental issue those whom we call “critics” are themselves sharply divided, and found ranged in opposing camps. There are, one must own, few outstanding scholars at the present day on the Continent or in Britain—in America it is somewhat different—who do not in greater or less degree accept conclusions regarding the Old Testament of the kind ordinarily denominated critical; (4) yet among the foremost are many whom no one who understands their work would dream of classing as other than believing, and defenders of revealed religion. Such, among Continental scholars, recent or living, are Delitzsch, Riehm, Dillmann, König, Kittel, Köhler, Strack, Oettli, Westphal, Orelli; in Britain, Dr. Driver, the late Dr. A. B. Davidson, Professor G. A. Smith, and many others: all more or less “critics,” but all convinced upholders of supernatural revelation. This is not a reason for unquestioning acceptance of their opinions; as critics it will be found that they are far enough from agreeing among themselves. But the attitude to criticism of so large a body of believing scholars may at least suggest to those disposed to form hasty judgments that there is here a very real problem to be solved; that the case is more complex than perhaps they had imagined; that there are real phenomena in the literary structure of the Old Testament, for the explanation of which, in the judgment of many able minds, the traditional view is not adequate, and for which they seem to themselves to find a more satisfactory solution in some form or other of the critical hypothesis. (5)
The truth is, and the fact has to be faced, that no one who studies the Old Testament in the light of modern knowledge can help being, to some extent, a “Higher Critic,” nor is it desirable he should. The name has unfortunately come to be associated all but exclusively with a method yielding a certain class of results; but it has no necessary connection with these results. “Higher Criticism,” rightly understood, is simply the careful scrutiny, on the principles which it is customary to apply to all literature, of the actual phenomena of the Bible, with a view to deduce from these such conclusions as may be warranted regarding the age, authorship, mode of composition, sources, etc., of the different books; and everyone who engages in such inquiries, with whatever aim, is a “Higher Critic,” and cannot help himself. The peculiar distribution of the names of God in Genesis, e.g., is a fact to be recognised, whatever account may be given of it, and the collation and sifting of evidence, with a view to the obtaining of a satisfactory explanation, is, so far, a critical process. There is nothing in such scholarly examination of the Bible, even though the result be to present some things in a new light, which need alarm anyone. As the world of nature presents a different aspect to the man of science, still more to the metaphysician, from that which it does to the common view of sense, yet is the same world; so the Bible may present a somewhat different aspect to the eye of the trained critical scholar, yet is the same Bible, for edification, devotion, and instruction in the way of righteousness.
That we may discharge our debt to criticism, even of the rationalistic sort, once for all, let us acknowledge that, with all its attendant evils, its course has been productive, under the providence of God, of many benefits, which in large measure counterbalance, if they do not outweigh, these evils. Some of the positive advances in its course it will be our business to notice hereafter. It is assuredly not for nothing that, for more than a century, the light of the best European scholarship has been keenly directed on every page, verse, line, and even word, of the sacred record. Many of the leaders of criticism, however defective in their apprehension of the full truth of revelation, have been men of fine literary gifts, wide culture, acute critical faculty, and genuine appreciation of the nobler elements in the religious and ethical teaching of the prophets; and the result of their labours, as everyone must own, has been, in modern times, a wonderful freshening of interest in the historical, poetical, and prophetical parts of the Old Testament, and an immensely better understanding of its textual meaning and historical setting. What student of Old Testament history or prophecy, e.g., would willingly part with the aid afforded by the works of Ewald? (6) What most rabid opponent of criticism is not ready to own his indebtedness, on the linguistic side, to that dry old rationalist, Gesenius? There is a yet greater gain. It is not too much to say that one direct result of the application of the strictest historical and critical methods to the Old Testament has been to bring out, as never before, the absolutely unique and marvellous character of the religion of Israel. With the best will in the world to explain the religious development of Israel out of natural factors, the efforts of the critics have resulted, in the view of many of themselves, in a magnificent demonstration of the immense, and, on natural principles, inexplicable difference between the religion of this obscure people and every other. (7) Some may regard this as a small result; to us it presents itself as something for which to be devoutly grateful.
(2) Hist. of Israel, p. 12. On Vatke, see below, p. 13. Graf also, the pioneer of the new movement (see below, pp. 199 ff.), in his chief work, lays stress on the fact that Pentateuch criticism was bound to remain “unclear, uncertain, and wavering,” till it grasped the fact of the post-exilian origin of the Levitical legislation. To attempt to decide its problems on mere literary grounds was to move in a “vicious circle.”—Geschicht. Bücher, pp. 2, 3.
(3) As examples reference may be made to the articles of Schmiedel in the Encyc. Biblica, and to such works, among many others, as O. Holtzmann’s Life of Jesus, and Wernle’s Beginnings of Christianity, recently translated. Cf. below, p. 478.
(4) This is true even of so cautious a scholar as Professor James Robertson, of Glasgow, whose works, in a conservative spirit, have done such excellent service. It is Dillmann, himself a pronounced critic, but decided in his opposition to what he calls the “Hegel-Vatke” view of religious development, who speaks of Professor Robertson’s Early Religion of Israel as “hitting the nail on the head” (Alttest. Theol. p. 59). Yet, as will appear, the views of Professor Robertson, and those, say, of Dr. Driver, on such subjects as the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch, the gradual growth of legislation, the origin of Deuteronomy, etc., are not in principle so far apart as might appear, though Professor Robertson’s results are somewhat more positive, and the accent falls differently. Cf. Early Religion, pp. 332 ff., 382, 420–27.
(5) An interesting example of how the leading results of criticism may be accepted by a devout and intensely evangelical mind is furnished by the Rev. G. H. C. Macgregor, a favourite teacher of the “Keswick” school. See his tribute to Professor W. R. Smith in the Biography by his cousin (p. 100), and the frequent references to critical positions in his Messages of the Old Testament, with Preface by Rev. F. B. Meyer. It is significant also that the productions of critical writers of believing tendency, such as König and Kittel, are now being translated and reproduced in conservative quarters, in refutation of the theories of the more rationalistic school. Cf. below, pp. 79, etc., on Kittel’s pamphlet, Babylonian Excavations and Early Bible History, published, with Preface by Dr. Wace, by the London Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge.
(6) “From another side,” wrote Principal John Cairns, “a great scholar like Ewald redressed the unfairness of Schleiermacher to the Old Testament, and, with many and great drawbacks of his own, asserted in his own way the historical greatness and necessity of the Bible revelation.”—Unbelief in the Eighteenth Century, p. 230.
(7) This is the argument pursued, on critical lines, in Lecture IV., on “The Proof of a Divine Revelation in the Old Testament,” of Professor G. A. Smith’s Modern Criticism, etc. The Problem of the Old Testament
Read The Psalms In "1" Year
7 I will tell of the decree:
The LORD said to me, “You are my Son;
today I have begotten you.
8 Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage,
and the ends of the earth your possession.
9 You shall break them with a rod of iron
and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.”
10 Now therefore, O kings, be wise;
be warned, O rulers of the earth.
11 Serve the LORD with fear,
and rejoice with trembling.
12 Kiss the Son,
lest he be angry, and you perish in the way,
for his wrath is quickly kindled.
Blessed are all who take refuge in him.
What Did God Say?
By Sinclair Ferguson
The root of legalism is almost as old as Eden, which explains why it is a primary, if not the ultimate, pastoral problem. In seeking to bring freedom from legalism, we are engaged in undoing the ancient work of Satan.
In Eden the Serpent persuaded Eve and Adam that God was possessed of a narrow and restrictive spirit bordering on the malign. After all, the Serpent whispered, “Isn’t it true that he placed you in this garden full of delights and has now denied them all to you?”
The implication was twofold.
It was intended to dislodge Eve from the clarity of God’s word (“Did God actually say . . . ?”). Later the attack focused on the authority of God’s word (“You will not surely die”). But it was more. It was an attack on God’s character. For the Serpent’s question carried a deeply sinister innuendo: “What kind of God would deny you pleasure and joy if he really loved you? He allows you nothing, and yet he demands that you obey him.”
Despite an initial struggle, Eve’s ears were soon closed off to God’s word. The Serpent’s tactic was to lead her into seeing and interpreting the world through her eyes (what she saw when she looked at the tree) rather than through her ears (what God had said about it). So her gaze was diverted from the superabundant plenty God had commanded our first parents to enjoy. The use of the verb9 is surely significant in this context: the enjoyment of plenty is the first element in the command; the prohibition of one tree is the second. The Serpent’s tactic was to cause a fixation on the one negative command: “Do not eat the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, lest you die.”
Now all Eve saw was a negative command. One small object near the eye can make all larger objects invisible. Now it was the sight of the forbidden tree blocking her vision of a garden abounding in trees. Now she could not see the forest for the tree. Now her eyes were on God the negative lawgiver and judge. In both mind and affections God’s law was now divorced from God’s gracious person. Now she thought God wanted nothing for her. Everything was a myopic, distorted “now.”
The entail of that theology is that if you are to receive anything from this misanthrope deity, then it must now be paid for and earned. By contrast the Father had actually said:
I am giving you everything in this garden. Go and enjoy yourselves. But just before you head off, I have given you all of this because I love you. I want you to grow and develop in your understanding and in your love for me. So this is the plan:
There is a tree here, “The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.” Don’t eat its fruit.
I know—you want to know why, don’t you?
Well, I have made you as my image. I have given you instincts to enjoy what I enjoy. So in one sense you naturally do what pleases me and simultaneously gives you pleasure too.
But I want you to grow in trusting and loving me just for myself, because I am who I am.
You can only really do that if you are willing to obey me, not because you are wired to, but because you want to show me that you trust and love me.
If you do that you will find that you grow stronger and that your love for me deepens.
Trust me, I know.
That’s why I have put that tree there. I so want you to be blessed that I am commanding you to eat and enjoy the fruit of all these trees. That’s a command! But I have another command. What I want you to do is one simple thing: don’t eat the fruit of that one tree.
I am not asking you to do that because the tree is ugly—actually it is just as attractive as the other trees. I don’t create ugly, ever!11 You won’t be able to look at the fruit and think, That must taste horrible. It is a fine-looking tree. So it’s simple. Trust me, obey me, and love me because of who I am and because you are enjoying what I have given to you. Trust me, obey me, and you will grow.
How to Pray for Your Pastor
By Melton L. Duncan 7/01/2017
When Roman legions invaded Caledonia (modern-day Scotland) in the late first century AD, it was said by the historian Tacitus that the powerful Celtic chieftain Calgacus emerged and rallied his tribes against the might of Rome, famously declaring, “They make a desert, and they call it peace.”
Today’s Christian pastor is likewise making similar stands for biblical Christianity in the midst of a secular desert created by an anti-Christian culture. The Bible describes a faithful pastor as an elder who oversees the flock and the household of God. According to Paul, pastor/elders rule the church (Titus 1:5) and guard the treasures of Christ (v. 9). Additionally, they minister to the people by teaching, reproof, correction, and training in righteousness (2 Tim. 3:16).
If ever there was an era in Christian history that believers should be committed to praying for their pastors, it is now. James rebukes our prayerlessness when he says, “You do not have, because you do not ask” (James 4:2). And what prayers are we offering up to God on behalf of our pastors? Let me suggest several.
THAT HE WOULD DELIGHT IN PREACHINGIf your minister is not being blessed and instructed by the Word, it is highly unlikely that you will be. Your spiritual well-being is directly linked to your pastor’s seeking the Lord in his preparation for the sacred desk. If he is not diligently seeking the Lord, you won’t find Him in his preaching either.
A godly pastor is a joyful, dutiful herald of the most high King. His enthusiasm for proclaiming God’s Word will be infectious and unstoppable, and it will be readily apparent to all who hear him that this is a man who knows his God. Second Timothy 4:1–2 reads:
I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.
THAT HE WOULD ENJOY THE LORD’S DAYI suspect that many people who sit week after week in the pews of their particular church have no idea how difficult a Sunday is for a minister and his family. Pray for your pastor’s Sundays. Robert Murray M’Cheyne says: “A well-spent sabbath we feel to be a day of heaven upon earth. … We love to rise early on that morning, and to sit up late, that we may have a long day with God.”
THAT HE WOULD LEAD HIS FAMILY WELLPray that God would help your pastor in the midst of busyness to taste and see that the Lord is good. Pray that his children would grow up loved and cherished in the household of faith. Joel Beeke says: “Family worship is the foundation of child rearing. As family worship goes, so will go the family. The Puritans thought family worship was the whole backbone of society.” We read in Deuteronomy 6:4–7:
Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.
THAT HE WOULD HAVE A HEART FOR THE LOSTMay your pastor have a Christlike love for the lost and a joy in telling others about the Shepherd-King. If a man loves the Lord, he will love telling others the old story of the gospel. He also will teach and model for others a renewed sense of evangelism and mission. He is worthy to receive the glory and honor due Him (Rev. 4:11). Christ, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, is worthy to receive the reward. We need our pastors to have a zeal for the lost.
THAT THE LORD WOULD PROTECT HIMA growing personal relationship with Christ will supply the motivation and zeal needed for a pastor’s duty to God. It will be tiring. It will require an all-in, total commitment. Pray that God would provide every physical and emotional need for the call to serve. Pastors are often subject spiritual temptation, so pray for God to protect these men from the evil one. Pray that they would guard themselves and be granted personal holiness. Pray that they would apply the means of grace to their own hearts, by God’s help.
THAT HE WOULD PREACH THE GOSPELThomas Smyth of the antebellum historic Second Presbyterian Church in Charleston, S.C., once charged a young pastor by saying:
Preaching is your pre-eminent employment, so the Gospel is the sum and substance of your preaching—the power of God and the wisdom of God unto salvation.
Necessity is laid upon you, yea, woe is unto you if you preach not the Gospel. … Preach Christ as set forth in the Gospel—the sum and substance of God’s testimony, and the author of eternal salvation to all who believe upon him.
Preach—this glorious Gospel of good news—first and last, every way, and everywhere, in public and in private; in the pulpit and by the press; to the living and to the dying; to the lost and the saved.
Pray for your pastor, pray as if your very life and those you love depended upon it. Melton L. Duncan is a ruling elder at Second Presbyterian Church in Greenville, S.C.
The Antidote to Anemic Worship
By Albert Mohler 7/01/2017
Evangelical Christians have been especially attentive to worship in recent years, sparking a renaissance of thought and conversation on what worship really is and how it should be done. Even if this renewed interest has unfortunately resulted in what some have called the “worship wars” in some churches, it seems that what A.W. Tozer once called the “missing jewel” of evangelical worship is being recovered.
Nevertheless, if most evangelicals would quickly agree that worship is central to the life of the church, there would be no consensus to an unavoidable question: What is central to Christian worship? Historically, the more liturgical churches have argued that the sacraments or ordinances form the heart of Christian worship. These churches argue that the elements of the Lord’s Supper and the water of baptism most powerfully present the gospel. Among evangelicals, some see evangelism as the heart of worship and therefore plan every facet of the service — songs, prayers, the sermon—with the evangelistic invitation in mind.
Though most evangelicals mention the preaching of the Word as a necessary or customary part of worship, the prevailing model of worship in evangelical churches is increasingly defined by music, along with innovations such as drama and video presentations. When preaching the Word retreats, a host of entertaining innovations will take its place.
Traditional norms of worship are now subordinated to a demand for relevance and creativity. A media-driven culture of images has replaced the word-centered culture that gave birth to the Reformation churches. In some sense, the image-driven culture of modern evangelicalism is an embrace of the very practices rejected by the Reformers in their quest for true biblical worship.
Music fills the space of most evangelical worship, and much of this music comes in the form of contemporary choruses marked by precious little theological content. Beyond the popularity of the chorus as a musical form, many evangelical churches seem intensely concerned to replicate studio-quality musical presentations.
In terms of musical style, the more traditional churches feature large choirs — often with orchestras — and may even sing the established hymns of the faith. Professional staff and an army of volunteers spend much of the week in rehearsals and practice sessions.
All this is not lost on the congregation. Some Christians shop for churches that offer the worship style and experience that fit their expectations. Those dissatisfied with what they find at one church can quickly move to another, sometimes using the language of self-expression to explain that the new church “meets our needs” or “allows us to worship.”
A concern for true biblical worship was at the very heart of the Reformation. But even Martin Luther, who wrote hymns and required his preachers to be trained in song, would not recognize this modern preoccupation with music above all else as legitimate or healthy. Why? Because the Reformers were convinced that the heart of true biblical worship is the preaching of the Word of God.
Thanks be to God, evangelism does take place in Christian worship. Confronted by the presentation of the gospel and the preaching of the Word, sinners are drawn to Christ in faith and the offer of salvation is presented to all. Likewise, the Lord’s Supper and baptism are honored as ordinances by the Lord”s own command, and each finds its place in true worship. But music is not the central act of Christian worship, and neither is evangelism or even the ordinances. The heart of Christian worship is the authentic preaching of the Word of God.
Expository preaching is central, irreducible, and nonnegotiable to the Bible’s mission of authentic worship that pleases God.
The centrality of preaching is the theme of both testaments of Scripture. In Nehemiah 8, we find the people demanding that Ezra the scribe bring the book of the law to the assembly. Interestingly, the text explains that Ezra and those assisting him read from the book, from the law of God, translating to give the sense so that they understood the reading” (Neh. 8:8). This remarkable text presents a portrait of expository preaching. Once the text was read, it was carefully explained to the congregation. Ezra did not stage an event or orchestrate a spectacle — he simply and carefully proclaimed the Word of God.
This text is a sobering indictment of much of contemporary Christianity. According to the text, a demand for biblical preaching erupted within the hearts of the people. They gathered as a congregation and summoned the preacher. This reflects an intense hunger and thirst for the preaching of the Word of God. Where is this desire evident among today’s evangelicals?
In far too many churches, the Bible is nearly silent. The public reading of Scripture has been dropped from many services and the sermon has been sidelined, reduced to a brief devotional appended to the music. Many preachers accept this as a necessary concession to the age of entertainment. Some hope to put in a brief message of encouragement or exhortation before the conclusion of the service.
The anemia of evangelical worship — all the music and energy aside — is directly attributable to the absence of genuine expository preaching. Such preaching would confront the congregation with nothing less than the living and active Word of God. That confrontation will shape the congregation as the Holy Spirit accompanies the Word, opens eyes, and applies that Word to human hearts.
Albert Mohler Books | Go to Books Page
The Continual Burnt Offering
By H.A. Ironside - 1941
January 3Genesis 5:22 Enoch walked with God after he fathered Methuselah 300 years and had other sons and daughters. ESV
The pre-flood patriarch, the seventh from Adam, who walked with God and prophesied of judgment to come and of the triumph of the Lord over all the forces of evil, as told so long afterwards by Jude (14-15), was no recluse or ascetic. He was a family man, assuming all the responsibilities that are thereby implied. Yet in a difficult day he walked in fellowship with the holy One as he sought to bring up his children in the fear of God and to keep them from the surrounding iniquity. In this he becomes an example for us. In order to walk with God it is not necessary to flee from the world to some monastic cell or to a convent’s gloomy shelter. Whatever we may be called to do, however heavy the burden that may rest upon our shoulders, it is possible to walk with God and to enjoy His blessed companionship. All that is needed is a yielded will, and subjection of heart to Him who has saved us by His grace.
Jude 14 It was also about these that Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied, saying, “Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of his holy ones, 15 to execute judgment on all and to convict all the ungodly of all their deeds of ungodliness that they have committed in such an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things that ungodly sinners have spoken against him.” ESV
Who walks with God must take His way,
Across far distances and gray,
To goals that others do not see,
Where others do not care to be.
Who walks with God must have no fear
When danger and defeat appear,
Nor stop when every hope seems gone,
For God, our God, moves ever on.
Who walks with God must press ahead
When sun or cloud is overhead,
When all the waiting thousands cheer,
Or when they only stop to sneer;
When all the challenge leaves the hours
And naught is left but jaded powers;
But he will some day reach the dawn,
For God, our God, moves ever on.
First Prophecy of Judgment
Genesis 2:16–17. When the divine work of creation was completed and Adam was created, God gave him the first command that is in the form of a conditional prophecy. According to verses 16–17, “The LORD God commanded the man, ‘You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.’”
Genesis 3:1–3. After Eve was created, Satan approached her in the form of a serpent (cf. Rev. 20:2 ). The serpent said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” (Gen. 3:1 ) The question implies the restriction necessarily deprived her of something that is rightfully hers. In reply, Eve said, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die’” (v. 2 ).
In her reply, Eve added the restriction that she was not to touch the fruit, and omitted the word surely. The Devil immediately attacked the statement of the certainty of death by denying that Eve would surely die. He found fault with the restriction by affirming that when the fruit was eaten they would be like God and would know good and evil. What he did not say was that they would know the good without being able to do it, and know the evil without being able to avoid it.
Genesis records, “When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it” (v. 6 ).
The temptation that Adam and Eve faced followed the pattern described in 1 John 2:16: “For everything in the world — the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does — comes not from the Father but from the world.” The temptation that Eve faced was her belief that the fruit was good and appealed to actual desires of man described in 1 John as “the cravings of sinful man.” That it was “pleasing to the eye” corresponds to “the lust of his eyes.” That it was “desirable for gaining wisdom” appealed to pride, which relates to “the boasting of what he has and does.”
In approaching Christ in His temptation, Satan tempted Christ along these same lines: appeal to the desires of the natural man, appeal to hunger, and appeal to pride in tempting Christ to cast Himself down from the temple as the Son of God. In the revelation of the glory of the kingdoms of the world, Satan appealed to the desire of the eyes for beauty (Matt. 4:1–11; Mark 1:12–13; Luke 4:1–13 ). The same avenues of temptation are illustrated in Saul, who was tempted by pride (1 Sam. 13:1–14 ); David, who was tempted by the desires of the human nature (2 Sam. 11:2–27 ); and Solomon, who was tempted by the desire for beautiful things (1 Kings 10:14–29; 2 Chron. 9:13–28 ).
Devotionals, notes, poetry and more
This year invest what God has given you
1/3/2018 Bob Gass
‘Remember, each of us will stand personally before the Judgment Seat of God.’
(Ro 14:10) Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God; ESV
Judgment day will be characterised by two things: rewards and regrets! Jesus highlights this in the story of three servants who were given talents to invest on behalf of their master. The first two invested well and were rewarded, while the third one buried his talent and was judged accordingly. The first two considered their options, crunched the numbers, took the plunge, and were willing to risk failure. As a result their boss said, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant’ (Matthew 25:21 NKJV). Now, God doesn’t reward foolishness. So before you make a move, talk it over with Him (see Proverbs 3:5-6). The third servant, however, said, ‘I was afraid, and went and hid your talent in the ground’ (Matthew 25:25 NKJV). He made the most common and tragic mistake when it comes to giftedness: he failed to benefit his Master with his talent. Some invest their talents and give God credit, while others misuse theirs and give Him grief. Some honour Him with ‘fruit’, while others insult Him with excuses. And how does God feel about the latter? ‘Get rid of this “play-it-safe” who won’t go out on a limb’ (Matthew 25:29 MSG). Fear is the opposite of faith, and ‘without faith it is impossible to please [God]’ (Hebrews 11:6 KJV). So this year step out in faith; God won’t let you down. Take a risk; He won’t fail you. Even if you stumble on your way to success, He encourages you to envision the day when you’ll feel His hand on your shoulder and hear the words: ‘Well done, good and faithful servant!’
(Mt 25:21) His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master. ESV
(Pr 3:5–6) Trust in the LORD with all your heart,
and do not lean on your own understanding.
6 In all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make straight your paths. ESV
(Mt 25:25) so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here, you have what is yours.’ ESV
(Mt 25:29) For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. ESV
(Heb 11:6) And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. ESV
UCB The Word For Today
January 3, 2016
Second day of house sitting. Beautiful house, grand piano, walls covered with paintings, chandeliers … but I miss our little Lily decorated apartment. I like being surrounded by the things she creates, arranges, and decorates. It’s snowing. Blue jays have a monopoly on the birdfeeders. Waiting for a good football game.
From the very beginning, two thousand years ago, the followers of Jesus have always maintained that he took the tears of the world and made them his own, carrying them all the way to his cruel and unjust death to carry out God’s rescue operation; and that he took the joy of the world and brought it to new birth as he rose from the dead and thereby launched God’s new creation. … But it makes the point that the Christian faith endorses the passion for justice which every human being knows, the longing to see things put to rights. And it claims that in Jesus, God himself has shared this passion and put it into effect, so that in the end all tears may be dried and the world may be filled with justice and joy.
Simply Christian: Why Christianity Makes Sense
by Bill Federer
Frederick the Great of Prussia called these ten days “the most brilliant in the world’s history.” After winning the Battle of Trenton, Christmas night, George Washington’s small force dodged General Cornwallis’ 8,000 man British army. Then one night, Washington left his campfires burning and snuck his army around the back of the British camp at Princeton, New Jersey. At daybreak, this day, January 3, 1777, Washington attacked, capturing three regiments of British troops. Enthusiasm swept America. Ezra Stiles, president of Yale College, stated: “Who but a Washington, inspired by Heaven, could have conceived the surprise move upon the enemy at Princeton?”American Minute
Compiled by Richard S. Adams
When grace possesses the life,
it brings a threefold power.
It brings "redemption," the powers of liberation;
it brings "wisdom," the power of illumination;
it brings "understanding,"
the power of applying the illumination
to the difficulties of life.
--- John Henry Jowett
The marvel of the Redemptive Reality of God is that the worst and the vilest can never get to the bottom of His (God’s) love. Paul did not say that God separated him to show what a wonderful man He could make of him, but “to reveal his son in me.”
--- Oswald Chambers
Prayer will make a man cease from sin,
or sin will entice a man to cease from prayer.
--- John Bunyon
God doth justify the believing man,
yet not for the worthiness of his belief,
but for his worthiness who is believed.
--- Richard Hooker
A Learned Discourse of Justification
... from here, there and everywhere
by D.H. Stern
don’t go along with them.
11 Suppose they say, “Come with us:
we’ll ambush somebody and kill him,
we’ll waylay some harmless soul, just for fun;
12 we’ll swallow him alive, like Sh’ol,
whole, like those who descend to the pit;
13 we’ll find everything he has of value,
we’ll fill our homes with loot!
14 Throw in your lot with us;
we’ll share a common purse”—
15 my son, don’t go along with them,
don’t set foot on their path;
16 their feet run to evil,
they rush to shed blood.
17 For in vain is the net baited
if any bird can see it;
18 rather, they are ambushing themselves
to shed their own blood, waylaying themselves.
19 So are the ways of all greedy for gain—
it takes the lives of those who get it.
Complete Jewish Bible : An English Version of the Tanakh (Old Testament) and B'Rit Hadashah (New Testament)
A Daily Devotional by Oswald Chambers
My Utmost for His Highest
Clouds and darkness
Clouds and darkness are round about Him. --- Psalm 97:2
A man who has not been born of the Spirit of God will tell you that the teachings of Jesus are simple. But when you are baptized with the Holy Ghost, you find “clouds and darkness are round about Him.” When we come into close contact with the teachings of Jesus Christ we have our first insight into this aspect of things. The only possibility of understanding the teaching of Jesus is by the light of the Spirit of God on the inside. If we have never had the experience of taking our commonplace religious shoes off our common-place religious feet, and getting rid of all the undue familiarity with which we approach God, it is questionable whether we have ever stood in His presence. The people who are flippant and familiar are those who have never yet been introduced to Jesus Christ. After the amazing delight and liberty of realizing what Jesus Christ does, comes the impenetrable darkness of realizing Who He is.
Jesus said: “The words that I speak unto you,” not—‘the words I have spoken’—“they are spirit, and they are life.” The Bible has been so many words to us—clouds and darkness, then all of a sudden the words become spirit and life because Jesus re-speaks them to us in a particular condition. That is the way God speaks to us, not by visions and dreams, but by words. When a man gets to God it is by the most simple way of words.
the Poetry of R.S. Thomas
Nietzsche had a word
for it. History discredits
his language. Ours
more quietly rusts
in autumnal libraries
of the spirit. Scolded
for small faults,
we see how violence in others
is secretly respected.
Do we amble pacifically
towards our extinction? The answers
from over the water
are blood-red. I wonder,
seeing the rock
split by green grass
as the atom, is this
the centre from which
nature will watch out
human folly, until
it is time to call back
to the small field civilization
began in the small
people the giants deposed?
Then in 4:3–4a came the sacrifices, or better, the offerings. The timing was: And in the process of time it came to pass. The Hebrew literally reads “at the end of days,” meaning “at a specific appointed time.” So already, this early in human history, there was a fixed time in which the offerings were to be offered. It was clearly a regularly prescribed time. This being so, this means that this was not the first time sacrifices were offered or even the first time that Cain offered a sacrifice. Previously, since Abel was the shepherd and Cain was the farmer, in order to have a blood-sacrifice, Cain would have had to purchase a sheep or a goat from his brother, Abel. However, this time, he chose not to do it that way, but Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering. The Hebrew word is minchah, which means “an offering” in general terms. Nevertheless, in Cain’s case, it was bloodless; and because it was bloodless, it was unacceptable. This is an example of an act of religion, but apart from faith. He was only going through the motions to try to discharge his duty. Although God later did accept grain offerings, even the grain offerings of the Mosaic Law always came in contact with blood. Therefore, what Cain offered was from the fruit of the ground; and there is no indication as to its being of the best quality, no indication even that it was of the first fruits. Bringing it unto Jehovah meant he brought it to a specific place, to a prescribed place; but there is no mention of an altar. So again, the place may well have been at the entrance to the Garden of Eden, where the presence of the Shechinah Glory was manifested. Then came the offering of Abel: And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock. Abel’s offering was different from Cain’s in two ways: It was a firstling, a firstborn; and it was a blood sacrifice. The text adds that Abel brought of the fat thereof, which was viewed as the best part (Lev. 3:16). For Abel, this sacrifice was an act of faith, to perform his spiritual duty. The mention of the fat shows that the issue was the sacrifice of blood. Popular relational theology tries to claim that the whole thing was an issue of attitude, that Cain had the wrong attitude but Abel had the right attitude. However, there is simply no indication of this in the text, and the thrust of Scripture is that the problem was a lack of blood, as shown in Hebrews: By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain (Heb. 11:4); Messiah’s blood that speaks better than that of Abel (Heb. 12:24). The clear emphasis here is on blood, not merely attitude. Both Cain and Abel were sinners; both were born after the Fall and outside the Garden of Eden; both had the same parents, the same upbringing, the same environment, and the same knowledge. However, Cain’s offering was not of faith, while Abel’s offering was an act of faith in response to revelation and knowledge.
God responds. In verse 4b, God responds to Abel’s offering: And Jehovah had respect unto Abel and to his offering. He respected Abel’s faith, and He had respect for Abel’s offering, because it was of the prescribed type. It was a firstling, and it had blood. Just how God showed His acceptance, it does not say. According to Rashi, it was accepted by fire descending out of Heaven and consuming it. Although there is no indication of this in the text, it is clear that it was made obvious in some way. In verse 5a, God responds to Cain’s offering: He had not respect. God rejected Cain because Cain had no faith, and his lack of faith showed in the type of offering he offered. God had no respect for Cain’s offering because it was not the first-fruits and there was no blood involved.
Genesis 4:5b records the reaction of Cain: Cain was very angry, and his countenance fell. Jude 11 mentions the way of Cain; and the way of Cain is rejecting God’s way and then becoming angry when God does not accept one’s own way to God.
I have seen something else under the sun: The race is not to the swift or the battle to the strong. --- Ecclesiastes 9:11. KJV
Men might be swift, but they did not always win. ( Wings of the Morning, The (The Morrison Classic Sermon Series) ) Armies might be strong, but they did not always triumph. There were incalculable powers abroad, balancing, adjusting, compensating, so that turn where one would in human affairs, there were unexpected and dramatic outcomes. You may call that chance, or you may take it from the other side and call it God. But whatever you call it, the fact remains that the rearranging and revising power is there.
This is true of Jesus Christ, the Man of Sorrows and acquainted with grief. I sometimes contrast the Man of Nazareth with the emperor who was reigning then, Tiberius. Tiberius was the most powerful person living, the ruler of all that was fairest in the world. There was no control to his power, no limit to his wealth, no barrier to his pleasures. On one of the most enchanting spots of earth he chose his home—a lovely island with a delicious climate. Wouldn’t you be happy if all that were yours? Yet Pliny calls him the most gloomy of souls. Now think of Christ with nowhere to lay his head, despised and rejected, jeered at, crucified. Pay attention to his words about “my joy,” “my peace” that the world cannot give and cannot take away. Who wins in that race for happiness and peace? Is it the mighty Caesar or the rejected Christ?
Let me suggest some of the moral values of this truth. First, it keeps us from discouragement and cheers us when the lights are dim. We can say in our weakness, I may still win my crown, for the battle is not always to the strong. Then, it weans us from pride and keeps us watchful, humble, and dependent. It is a strange world, rich in dramatic touches, and the battle is not always to the strong.
Lastly, it clears the ground for God and leaves a space to recognize him. If the strongest were sure of triumph in every battle there would be little room on the field for the divine. Whose is the arm that so upholds the weak that after the strife theirs is the cry of victory? So we return, we who were once so blind, with eyes that have been opened to see God, and now we know that just because he reigns, the battle is not always to the strong.
--- George H. Morrison
Send Me to the Rough
David Brainard was a frail young man, tubercular, sickly, and easily depressed. He longed to reach the Indians of Colonial America, but his first venture to a tribe in Massachusetts was fraught with danger. Unknown to him, his every move was monitored by warriors intent on killing him. But as they raised their bows, they saw a rattlesnake slithering alongside him, lifting its head, flicking its tongue, preparing to strike. Suddenly the snake uncoiled and glided away. The warriors attributed Brainard’s safety to the “Great Spirit.”
But the incident didn’t lead to sustained evangelistic fruitfulness, and Brainard’s missionary work in 1743 saw little success. His despondency increased during Christmas. He wrote, I was very fatigued with my journey, wherein I underwent great hardships; much exposed and very wet by falling into the river. The next year was no better; he grew even more depressed.
On January 3, 1745, Brainard set aside the entire day for fasting and prayer, pleading for an outpouring of spiritual power. He claimed the promise in John 7: Have faith in me, and you will have life-giving waters flowing from deep inside you. …
Then he preached repeatedly from John 7, and the unfolding year proved the most fruitful of his ministry. His interpreter, an alcoholic named Tattamy, was converted. An immediate change seemed to transform Tattamy’s life and his translating of Brainard’s sermons. Scores of Indians were saved and baptized.
Brainard grew weaker, and in 1747 he died at age 29 in the home of Jonathan Edwards. But his story moved his generation—Henry Martyn, William Carey, Adoniram Judson—toward missions. His diary became one of the most powerful Christian books in early American history, containing such entries as this one: Here am I, send me; send me to the ends of the earth; send me to the rough, the savage pagans of the wilderness; send me from all that is called comfort on earth; send me even to death itself, if it be but in Thy service and to promote Thy kingdom.
On the last and most important day of the festival, Jesus stood up and shouted, “If you are thirsty, come to me and drink! Have faith in me, and you will have life-giving water flowing from deep inside you, just as the Scriptures say.” Jesus was talking about the Holy Spirit …
--- John 7:37-39a.
Daily Readings / CHARLES H. SPURGEON
Morning - January 3
“I will give thee for a covenant of the people.”
--- Isaiah 49:8.
Jesus Christ is himself the sum and substance of the covenant, and as one of its gifts. He is the property of every believer. Believer, canst thou estimate what thou hast gotten in Christ? “In him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.” Consider that word “God” and its infinity, and then meditate upon “perfect man” and all his beauty; for all that Christ, as God and man, ever had, or can have, is thine—out of pure free favour, passed over to thee to be thine entailed property forever. Our blessed Jesus, as God, is omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent. Will it not console you to know that all these great and glorious attributes are altogether yours? Has he power? That power is yours to support and strengthen you, to overcome your enemies, and to preserve you even to the end. Has he love? Well, there is not a drop of love in his heart which is not yours; you may dive into the immense ocean of his love, and you may say of it all, “It is mine.” Hath he justice? It may seem a stern attribute, but even that is yours, for he will by his justice see to it that all which is promised to you in the covenant of grace shall be most certainly secured to you. And all that he has as perfect man is yours. As a perfect man the Father’s delight was upon him. He stood accepted by the Most High. O believer, God’s acceptance of Christ is thine acceptance; for knowest thou not that the love which the Father set on a perfect Christ, he sets on thee now? For all that Christ did is thine. That perfect righteousness which Jesus wrought out, when through his stainless life he kept the law and made it honourable, is thine, and is imputed to thee. Christ is in the covenant.
“My God, I am thine—what a comfort divine!
What a blessing to know that the Saviour is mine!
In the heavenly Lamb thrice happy I am,
And my heart it doth dance at the sound of his name.”
Evening - January 3
“The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.” --- Luke 3:4.
The voice crying in the wilderness demanded a way for the Lord, a way prepared, and a way prepared in the wilderness. I would be attentive to the Master’s proclamation, and give him a road into my heart, cast up by gracious operations, through the desert of my nature. The four directions in the text must have my serious attention.
Every valley must be exalted. Low and grovelling thoughts of God must be given up; doubting and despairing must be removed; and self-seeking and carnal delights must be forsaken. Across these deep valleys a glorious causeway of grace must be raised.
Every mountain and hill shall be laid low. Proud creature-sufficiency, and boastful self-righteousness, must be levelled, to make a highway for the King of kings. Divine fellowship is never vouchsafed to haughty, highminded sinners. The Lord hath respect unto the lowly, and visits the contrite in heart, but the lofty are an abomination unto him. My soul, beseech the Holy Spirit to set thee right in this respect.
The crooked shall be made straight. The wavering heart must have a straight path of decision for God and holiness marked out for it. Double-minded men are strangers to the God of truth. My soul, take heed that thou be in all things honest and true, as in the sight of the heart-searching God.
The rough places shall be made smooth. Stumbling-blocks of sin must be removed, and thorns and briers of rebellion must be uprooted. So great a visitor must not find miry ways and stony places when he comes to honour his favoured ones with his company. Oh that this Evening the Lord may find in my heart a highway made ready by his grace, that he may make a triumphal progress through the utmost bounds of my soul, from the beginning of this year even to the end of it.
O GOD, OUR HELP IN AGES PAST
Isaac Watts, 1674–1748
Lord, You have been our dwelling place throughout all generations. Before the mountains were born or You brought forth the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting You are God. (Psalm 90:1, 2)
It has been wisely said that no thinking person ever regarded the beginning of a new year with indifference. Each of us faces many concerns and questions as we stand on the threshold of the unknown future.
The mystery of time is the subject of this hymn text, a paraphrase of Psalm 90. The hymn is considered by many to be one of the finest ever written and perhaps the best known of the 600 hymns by Isaac Watts, often called the “father of English hymnody.”
At an early age Isaac displayed unusual talent in writing poetic verse. As a young man he became increasingly concerned with the congregational singing in the English speaking churches. Only ponderous metrical Psalms were used until this time. To use any words other than the actual words of Scripture would have been considered an insult to God.
Challenged by his father to “write something better for us to sing,” young Watts began to create new versions of the Psalms with inspiring and expressive style. Eventually, at the early age of 25, he published an important hymnal titled The Psalms of David in the Language of the New Testament. In addition to “O God, Our Help in Ages Past,” several of Watts’ other paraphrases based on psalm settings are hymn texts still widely sung today. They include such favorites as “Joy to the World,” Psalm 98; and “Jesus Shall Reign,” Psalm 72.
After more than 250 years, Isaac Watts’ hymn is still a timely reminder of God’s faithfulness throughout the past and His sure promises for our future.
O God, our help in ages past, our hope for years to come, our shelter from the stormy blast, and our eternal home.
Under the shadow of Thy throne still may we dwell secure; sufficient is Thine arm alone, and our defense is sure.
Before the hills in order stood or earth received her frame, from everlasting Thou art God, to endless years the same.
Time, like an ever rolling stream, bears all its sons away; they fly, forgotten, as a dream dies at the opening day.
O God, our help in ages past, our hope for years to come, be Thou our guide while life shall last, and our eternal home.
For Today: Psalm 33:20; 48:14; 90; Isaiah 26:4
Live confidently in the assurance that the One who has directed your steps to this moment of time is worthy of your complete trust for the days ahead.
Brett Meador | Athey Creek
Stuck In A Box Genesis 8
s2-008 | 12-08-2013
m2-007 | 12-11-2013
Don't Be A Nimrod Genesis 10:8-10
Genesis 10, 11:1-27
m2-008 | 12-18-2013
m2-009 | 01-08-2014