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Genesis 12 - 15

Genesis 12

The Call of Abram

Genesis 12:1     Now the LORD said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. 2 And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. 3 I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”

4 So Abram went, as the LORD had told him, and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran. 5 And Abram took Sarai his wife, and Lot his brother’s son, and all their possessions that they had gathered, and the people that they had acquired in Haran, and they set out to go to the land of Canaan. When they came to the land of Canaan, 6 Abram passed through the land to the place at Shechem, to the oak of Moreh. At that time the Canaanites were in the land. 7 Then the LORD appeared to Abram and said, “To your offspring I will give this land.” So he built there an altar to the LORD, who had appeared to him. 8 From there he moved to the hill country on the east of Bethel and pitched his tent, with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east. And there he built an altar to the LORD and called upon the name of the LORD. 9 And Abram journeyed on, still going toward the Negeb.

Abram and Sarai in Egypt

10 Now there was a famine in the land. So Abram went down to Egypt to sojourn there, for the famine was severe in the land. 11 When he was about to enter Egypt, he said to Sarai his wife, “I know that you are a woman beautiful in appearance, 12 and when the Egyptians see you, they will say, ‘This is his wife.’ Then they will kill me, but they will let you live. 13 Say you are my sister, that it may go well with me because of you, and that my life may be spared for your sake.” 14 When Abram entered Egypt, the Egyptians saw that the woman was very beautiful. 15 And when the princes of Pharaoh saw her, they praised her to Pharaoh. And the woman was taken into Pharaoh’s house. 16 And for her sake he dealt well with Abram; and he had sheep, oxen, male donkeys, male servants, female servants, female donkeys, and camels.

17 But the LORD afflicted Pharaoh and his house with great plagues because of Sarai, Abram’s wife. 18 So Pharaoh called Abram and said, “What is this you have done to me? Why did you not tell me that she was your wife? 19 Why did you say, ‘She is my sister,’ so that I took her for my wife? Now then, here is your wife; take her, and go.” 20 And Pharaoh gave men orders concerning him, and they sent him away with his wife and all that he had.

Genesis 13

Abram and Lot Separate

Genesis 13:1  So Abram went up from Egypt, he and his wife and all that he had, and Lot with him, into the Negeb.

2 Now Abram was very rich in livestock, in silver, and in gold. 3 And he journeyed on from the Negeb as far as Bethel to the place where his tent had been at the beginning, between Bethel and Ai, 4 to the place where he had made an altar at the first. And there Abram called upon the name of the LORD. 5 And Lot, who went with Abram, also had flocks and herds and tents, 6 so that the land could not support both of them dwelling together; for their possessions were so great that they could not dwell together, 7 and there was strife between the herdsmen of Abram’s livestock and the herdsmen of Lot’s livestock. At that time the Canaanites and the Perizzites were dwelling in the land.

8 Then Abram said to Lot, “Let there be no strife between you and me, and between your herdsmen and my herdsmen, for we are kinsmen. 9 Is not the whole land before you? Separate yourself from me. If you take the left hand, then I will go to the right, or if you take the right hand, then I will go to the left.” 10 And Lot lifted up his eyes and saw that the Jordan Valley was well watered everywhere like the garden of the LORD, like the land of Egypt, in the direction of Zoar. (This was before the LORD destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah.) 11 So Lot chose for himself all the Jordan Valley, and Lot journeyed east. Thus they separated from each other. 12 Abram settled in the land of Canaan, while Lot settled among the cities of the valley and moved his tent as far as Sodom. 13 Now the men of Sodom were wicked, great sinners against the LORD.

14 The LORD said to Abram, after Lot had separated from him, “Lift up your eyes and look from the place where you are, northward and southward and eastward and westward, 15 for all the land that you see I will give to you and to your offspring forever. 16 I will make your offspring as the dust of the earth, so that if one can count the dust of the earth, your offspring also can be counted. 17 Arise, walk through the length and the breadth of the land, for I will give it to you.” 18 So Abram moved his tent and came and settled by the oaks of Mamre, which are at Hebron, and there he built an altar to the LORD.

Genesis 14

Abram Rescues Lot

Genesis 14:1  In the days of Amraphel king of Shinar, Arioch king of Ellasar, Chedorlaomer king of Elam, and Tidal king of Goiim, 2 these kings made war with Bera king of Sodom, Birsha king of Gomorrah, Shinab king of Admah, Shemeber king of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela (that is, Zoar). 3 And all these joined forces in the Valley of Siddim (that is, the Salt Sea). 4 Twelve years they had served Chedorlaomer, but in the thirteenth year they rebelled. 5 In the fourteenth year Chedorlaomer and the kings who were with him came and defeated the Rephaim in Ashteroth-karnaim, the Zuzim in Ham, the Emim in Shaveh-kiriathaim, 6 and the Horites in their hill country of Seir as far as El-paran on the border of the wilderness. 7 Then they turned back and came to En-mishpat (that is, Kadesh) and defeated all the country of the Amalekites, and also the Amorites who were dwelling in Hazazon-tamar.

8 Then the king of Sodom, the king of Gomorrah, the king of Admah, the king of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela (that is, Zoar) went out, and they joined battle in the Valley of Siddim 9 with Chedorlaomer king of Elam, Tidal king of Goiim, Amraphel king of Shinar, and Arioch king of Ellasar, four kings against five. 10 Now the Valley of Siddim was full of bitumen pits, and as the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah fled, some fell into them, and the rest fled to the hill country. 11 So the enemy took all the possessions of Sodom and Gomorrah, and all their provisions, and went their way. 12 They also took Lot, the son of Abram’s brother, who was dwelling in Sodom, and his possessions, and went their way.

13 Then one who had escaped came and told Abram the Hebrew, who was living by the oaks of Mamre the Amorite, brother of Eshcol and of Aner. These were allies of Abram. 14 When Abram heard that his kinsman had been taken captive, he led forth his trained men, born in his house, 318 of them, and went in pursuit as far as Dan. 15 And he divided his forces against them by night, he and his servants, and defeated them and pursued them to Hobah, north of Damascus. 16 Then he brought back all the possessions, and also brought back his kinsman Lot with his possessions, and the women and the people.

Abram Blessed by Melchizedek

17 After his return from the defeat of Chedorlaomer and the kings who were with him, the king of Sodom went out to meet him at the Valley of Shaveh (that is, the King’s Valley). 18 And Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. (He was priest of God Most High.) 19 And he blessed him and said,

The name “Jerusalem” occurs 806 times in the Bible — 660 times in the Old Testament and 146 times in the New Testament (not including synonyms used to reference the city). The first occurrence of Jerusalem is found in Joshua 10:1 (“As soon as Adoni-zedek, king of Jerusalem, heard how Joshua had captured Ai”). Some scholars also believe an allusion to Jerusalem appears in Genesis 14:18 with the reference to Melchizedek, king of Salem, because poetic parallel construction in Psalm 76:2 equates Salem with Zion. (Joe Carter)

“Blessed be Abram by God Most High,
Possessor of heaven and earth;
20  and blessed be God Most High,
who has delivered your enemies into your hand!”

And Abram gave him a tenth of everything. 21 And the king of Sodom said to Abram, “Give me the persons, but take the goods for yourself.” 22 But Abram said to the king of Sodom, “I have lifted my hand to the LORD, God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth, 23 that I would not take a thread or a sandal strap or anything that is yours, lest you should say, ‘I have made Abram rich.’ 24 I will take nothing but what the young men have eaten, and the share of the men who went with me. Let Aner, Eshcol, and Mamre take their share.”

Genesis 15

God’s Covenant with Abram

Genesis 15:1  After these things the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision: “Fear not, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great.” 2 But Abram said, “O Lord GOD, what will you give me, for I continue childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?” 3 And Abram said, “Behold, you have given me no offspring, and a member of my household will be my heir.” 4 And behold, the word of the LORD came to him: “This man shall not be your heir; your very own son shall be your heir.” 5 And he brought him outside and said, “Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” 6 And he believed the LORD, and he counted it to him as righteousness.

7 And he said to him, “I am the LORD who brought you out from Ur of the Chaldeans to give you this land to possess.” 8 But he said, “O Lord GOD, how am I to know that I shall possess it?” 9 He said to him, “Bring me a heifer three years old, a female goat three years old, a ram three years old, a turtledove, and a young pigeon.” 10 And he brought him all these, cut them in half, and laid each half over against the other. But he did not cut the birds in half. 11 And when birds of prey came down on the carcasses, Abram drove them away.

12 As the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell on Abram. And behold, dreadful and great darkness fell upon him. 13 Then the LORD said to Abram, “Know for certain that your offspring will be sojourners in a land that is not theirs and will be servants there, and they will be afflicted for four hundred years. 14 But I will bring judgment on the nation that they serve, and afterward they shall come out with great possessions. 15 As for you, you shall go to your fathers in peace; you shall be buried in a good old age. 16 And they shall come back here in the fourth generation, for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete.”

17 When the sun had gone down and it was dark, behold, a smoking fire pot and a flaming torch passed between these pieces. 18 On that day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying, “To your offspring I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the river Euphrates, 19 the land of the Kenites, the Kenizzites, the Kadmonites, 20 the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Rephaim, 21 the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Girgashites and the Jebusites.”

ESV Study Bible

What I'm Reading

The Inspired Order of the Bible 4

By Dr. Judd W. Patton

Fitly Joined Together: Insights Derived from the Inspired Order

     Let’s notice two examples. First, the Inspired Order is Psalms, Proverbs, and Job. It is not Job, Psalms, and Proverbs! Proverbs concludes with Chapter 31 about the virtuous woman. Then Job begins with righteous, upright Job (Job 1:1). What a perfect and logical lead into the book of Job and the theme of becoming righteous before God. This fit is lost in the Traditional Order.

     What is the last book of the Old Testament? It’s Chronicles, not Malachi. The book of Chronicles focuses on the lives and reigns of the righteous line of King David, that is, the Kings of Judah: David, Solomon, Asa, Jehoshaphat, Joash, Hezekiah, and Josiah. Yet it ends without getting to the King of kings, the King of the Jews, the only truly righteous King, Jesus Christ.

     That is where Matthew picks up the incomplete Davidic line by detailing the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David. In Matthew 2:2 he identifies Christ as “King of the Jews.” What a beautiful fit! It doesn’t exist with Malachi as the last book of the Old Testament.

     Also, notice how 2 Chronicles 36:23, the last verse of the Old Testament, correlates with and is the perfect lead into New Testament theology. That is, Cyrus, a type of Christ, was given all power (Matthew 28:18) and was commanded to build a house or spiritual temple. That is precisely what Christ is now doing, building the New Testament Church and Temple of God. Is there any question that Chronicles is the last book of the Old Testament?

New Testament Order

     There is very little argument about the order of the twenty-seven books of the New Testament. To quote Dr. Bullinger once again, “Our English Bibles follow the order as given in the Latin Vulgate. All theories based on this order rest on human authority.” That’s right, on the authority of Jerome!

     Scholars generally recognize four Divisions in the New Testament, though some suggest five sections by letting Acts stand alone as a separate division. The four Divisions are: The Gospels and Acts, the General Epistles, the Pauline Epistles, and the Book of Revelation. Please notice these Divisions in Table 2 at the end of this paper.

     There are just two basic questions to answer about the New Testament order. Do the General Epistles come before or after Paul’s epistles? And secondly, where does the book of Hebrews fit, as the tenth book within Paul’s Epistles, or as the final book, i.e., the fourteenth? The answers are not difficult to obtain.

     In virtually all the early manuscripts the General Epistles precede the Pauline letters or books. The General epistles consist of seven books: James, 1 Peter, 2 Peter, 1 John, 2 John, 3 John, and Jude. And the fourteen books of Paul include Romans, 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 Thessalonians, 2 Thessalonians, Hebrews, 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, Titus, and Philemon.

     Here is what Jerome did for his Latin Vulgate version. It is so easy to understand his reasoning.

     He left Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, and Acts in place, along with Revelation as the last book of the Bible. He simply “pulled,” as a group, the seven General Epistles down below Paul’s letters. And then he “pulled” Hebrews down to be the final or 14th book of Paul’s letters. His rationale was simply to enhance or give preeminence to Paul as the Apostle to the Gentiles and to diminish or reduce the Jewish apostles and simultaneously downgrade Jerusalem relative to Rome. 8 After all, Jerome was an early Roman Catholic.

     It’s just that simple!

     Notice the conclusion of Biblical scholar Dr. Scrivener who analyzed over 4,000 New Testament manuscripts: “Whether copies contain the whole or a part of the sacred volume, the general order of the books is the following: Gospels, Acts, Catholic Epistles, Pauline Epistles, Apocalypse.” 9 Catholic, of course, refers to general or universal books, not the Catholic Church. These General Letters were not written to specific congregations but were written by the “Jewish” apostles James, Peter, John, and Jude. Jude was a half brother of Jesus.

     Quick summary: There are twenty-seven books of the New Testament and twenty-two Old Testament books. Do the math. The Bible contains a grand total of forty-nine books. Forty-nine is seven times seven, reflecting completeness. Moreover, there are a total of seven Divisions within the Bible: The Law, Prophets, Writings, Gospels and Acts, General Epistles, Pauline Epistles, and Revelation. That seems reasonable and complete too, with seven, the Biblical number of completeness as God finished His work on the seventh day of creation, the Sabbath (Genesis 2:1-3).

The Doctrine of Inspiration Affirmed by Scripture

By Gleason Archer Jr.

     Does the Bible assert infallibility for itself? It has sometimes been argued that the Scriptures do not even claim inerrancy for themselves. But careful investigation shows that whenever they discuss the subject, they do in fact assert absolute authority for themselves as the inerrant Word of God.

     Matt. 5:18: “For verily I [Christ] say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot [the smallest letter in the Hebrew alphabet] or one tittle [a distinguishing projection in Hebrew letters] shall in no wise pass from the Law [the Old Testament], till all be fulfilled.” This indicates that not only the thoughts conveyed by Scripture, but also the individual words themselves, as valid vehicles of those thoughts and as spelled out by individual letters, are possessed of infallible truth and will surely find their fulfillment and realization.

     John 10:35: “The Scripture cannot be broken” carries the same implications as the preceding.

     2 Tim. 3:16: “All Scripture is God-breathed   (1) [theopneustos], and is profitable for doctrine.” From New Testament usage it can easily be established that “Scripture” (graphē) refers to the whole canon of the thirty-nine books of the Old Testament as we have them today. 2 Peter 3:16 implies that Paul’s New Testament epistles also enjoy the same status as inspired Scriptures (graphai).

     Heb. 1:1–2: “God, who … spake … by the prophets, hath … spoken unto us by his Son.” This asserts the same infallibility for the writings of the Old Testament prophets as it attaches to the New Testament message of Christ Himself.

     1 Peter 1:10–11: “Of which salvation the [Old Testament] prophets have inquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you: searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow.” The implication is that the Holy Spirit was in these Old Testament authors, and that He guided them into composing words of infallible truth sure of fulfillment, even though the human authors themselves might not fully know all that these divinely guided words actually signified. Because of verses like these, in interpreting Scripture we must seek to establish not merely the intention of the human author who wrote the words, but also (and more important) the intention of the divine Author who guided in the composition of those words.

     2 Peter 1:21: “The prophecy [the Old Testament prophetic Scriptures] came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved  [carried along, as the wind bears along a sailing ship]  by the Holy Ghost.” In their speech (as committed to writing) these Old Testament authors who prophesied of Christ were supernaturally carried into inerrant truth, truth that is not to be subjected to mere “private interpretation”  (1 Peter 1:20).

     All these passages add up to this doctrine of inspiration: that accuracy inheres in every part of the Old Testament as well as the New Testament, so that as a whole and in all its parts, the Bible is infallible as to truth and final as to authority. This accuracy extends even to matters of history and science as well as to theology and morals. Some scholars, such as Henry P. Smith and Charles A. Briggs, have attempted to draw a distinction between these two types of truth, and allow for error to inhere in matters of mere history or science. To this position there are two fatal objections. First, the New Testament makes no such distinction: the historicity of the literal Adam and Eve is implied in 1 Tim. 2:13–14 (otherwise Paul’s comment would be quite irrelevant); as also in 1 Cor. 11:8–9, which clearly affirms that Eve was literally formed from a part of Adam’s body, as Gen. 2:22 states; the literal historical experience of Jonah’s three days in the stomach of the whale is absolutely essential if it is to serve as an analogy for Christ’s three days in the tomb (Matt. 12:40). It is impossible to reject the historicity of these two often contested episodes without by implication rejecting the authority of the Christ of the Gospels and of the apostle Paul in the Epistles. As to the historicity of the flood and Noah’s ark, compare Christ’s own dictum in Matt. 24:38–39: “For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking … until the day that Noe [Noah] entered into the ark. And they knew not until the flood came, and took them all away.” In Matt. 19:4–5 Jesus affirmed that the words of Gen. 2:24 were spoken by the Creator of Adam and Eve, who had just brought them together as husband and wife. In Mark 12:26 He clearly implies that God Himself had spoken to the historical Moses the very words of Ex. 3:6: “I am … the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” Note also that in Matt. 23:35 He put the historicity of Abel’s murder upon the same plane as the murder of Zechariah, the son of Berachiah.

1 Timothy 2:13–14 (ESV)
13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve; 14 and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor.

1 Corinthians 11:8–9
8 For man was not made from woman, but woman from man. 9 Neither was man created for woman, but woman for man.

Genesis 2:22
22 And the rib that the LORD God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man.

Matthew 12:40
40 For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.

Matthew 24:38–39
38 For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, 39 and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.

Matthew 19:4–5
4 He answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, 5 and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’?

Genesis 2:24
24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.

Mark 12:26
26 And as for the dead being raised, have you not read in the book of Moses, in the passage about the bush, how God spoke to him, saying, ‘I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’?

Exodus 3:6
6 And he said, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God.

Matthew 23:35
35 so that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah the son of Barachiah, whom you murdered between the sanctuary and the altar.

     Second, it is not always possible to make a clean-cut separation between theology-ethics and history-science. There are crucial cases where both types of truth are involved, as in the case of the literal, historical Adam (upon whose fatherhood of the whole human race the whole theological argument of Rom. 5:14–19 depends). One cannot allow for error in history-science without also ending up with error in doctrine. (So also the Apostles’ Creed: 1. Creation performed by a personal God, “Maker of heaven and earth,” rather than through impersonal forces and mechanistic evolution. 2. God has a unique Son—Jesus. 3. Jesus was fathered by God the Holy Spirit and born of a virgin at a specific moment in history. 4. Jesus suffered under Pilate—crucified, died, and was buried. 5. The bodily resurrection of Christ on the third day.)

Romans 5:14–19 (ESV)
14 Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come.
15 But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man’s trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many. 16 And the free gift is not like the result of that one man’s sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brought justification. 17 For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.

18 Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. 19 For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous.

     This brief survey of the views of Christ and His apostles serves to indicate that they regarded the Old Testament in its entirety as the inerrant record of God’s revelation to man. In other words, the basic ground for the complete trustworthiness of Scripture is the trustworthiness of God Himself. When the Scripture speaks, it is God who speaks; unlike any other book ever written, the Word of God is “living and operative” (Heb. 4:12 says that the logos of God is zōn and energēs) and penetrates to the innermost being of man, sitting in judgment upon all human philosophies and reasonings with absolute and sovereign authority. Such a judgmental prerogative on the part of the Bible must presuppose its complete inerrancy, for if error inhered in the original text of Scripture on any level, it would inevitably be the object of man’s judgment, rather than that authority which sits in judgment upon man.

     In the last analysis, then, every man must settle for one of two alternatives: the inerrancy of Holy Scripture, or the inerrancy of his own personal judgment. If the Bible contains errors in the autographs, then it requires an infallible human judgment to distinguish validly between the false and the true in Scripture; it is necessary for every affirmation in the sacred text to receive endorsement from the human critic himself before it may be accepted as true. Since men disagree in their critical judgments, it requires absolute inerrancy on the part of each individual to render a valid judgment in each instance. Even the agnostic must assert for himself such infallibility of judgment, for he cannot logically assume an agnostic position unless he can affirm that he has surveyed all the evidence for the authority of Scripture and has come to a valid judgment that the evidence is insufficient to prove the divine authority of the Bible as the Word of God. These, then, are the only alternatives available to us as we confront the Scriptures: either they are inerrant, or else we are.  (2)  

 (1) This word is really to be rendered “breathed out by God” rather than “breathed into by God.” The emphasis is upon the divine origin of the inscripturated revelation itself rather than upon a special quality infused into the words of Scripture.

 (2) For a fuller discussion of the field of biblical trustworthiness and inspiration the reader is encouraged to consult G. L. Archer, Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties, Zondervan, 1982, pp. 19–32.

     A Survey of Old Testament Introduction

Archaeologista Excited To Unearth Two New Fragments In The Cave Of Skulls

By Core Spirit

     The Dead Sea Scrolls are a set of nearly 1,000 manuscripts in Hebrew, Aramaic, and ancient Greek, which contain some of the oldest known versions of the Hebrew Bible and are said to be one of the greatest archaeological finds in history.

     Now, two more pieces of Dead Sea Scrolls and some textile wrapped around a bundle of beads have been found in the Cave of the Skulls in the Judean Desert near the Dead Sea.

     The scroll fragments have yet to be deciphered because the writing on them is so faint, but it is possible that they will add new, previously unknown information about the life of Jesus.

     Researchers from Hebrew University and the Israel Antiquities Authority say they still are unsure whether the writing is in Hebrew, Aramaic or a completely different dialect altogether.

     The pieces of papyrus are about 2 by 2 cm (0.78 by 0.78 of an inch) and others are fragmentary. Some have writing, some do not have discernible writing, says Haartez in an article about the find.

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     Core Spirit

The Problem Of The Old Testament

By James Orr 1907


Still the deep cleft remains between what we have called the believing and the unbelieving views of the Old Testament,—between the view which admits, and the view which denies, the properly supernatural element in the history and religion of Israel,—and it is not in our power, neither is it our wish, to minimise it. We must now approach the subject more closely, and endeavour to fix with greater precision where the dividing-line between the two views lies.

In certain external respects, as in temple, priesthood, sacrifices, the religion of Israel necessarily presents a resemblance to other religions. To the eye of the outward observer, it is simply one of the great historical religions. If at the same time it presents differences, this does not of itself establish more than a relative distinction between it and others. Every religion has not only a certain resemblance to every other, arising from the fact that it is a religion, but has, moreover, a definite character or physiognomy of its own, resulting from the different genius of the people, from the individuality of its founder, or from the circumstances of its history. If now, however, we go further, and affirm that, in the midst of all resemblances, this religion of Israel presents features which not only differentiate it from every other, but differentiate it in such a way as to compel us to ascribe to it an origin in special, supernatural revelation, we obviously take a new step, which we must be prepared to justify by the most cogent reasons. It will not be enough to show that the religion of Israel is a better religion than others—or even taking into account its fulfilment in Christianity, that it is the most perfect of existing religions: for conceivably it might be that, yet have essentially no higher origin than they; just as one people may be endowed with the artistic, or philosophic, or scientific genius beyond others,—the Greeks, for instance, among ancient peoples, in art and philosophy,—without its being necessary to postulate for this a supernatural cause. Most critics, even of the rationalistic order, will admit that Israel had a genius for religion, and was the classical people of religion in antiquity; will not hesitate to speak also of its providential mission to humanity, even as Greece and Rome had their vocations to mankind. It is a proposition different in kind when the origin of the religion of Israel is sought in a special, continuous, authoritative revelation, such as other peoples did not possess. Here we touch a real contrast, and, with reservation of a certain ambiguity in the word “revelation,” obtain a clear issue.

For now the fact becomes apparent,—there is, indeed, not the least attempt to disguise it,—that, to a large and influential school of critical inquirers—those, moreover, who have had most to do with the shaping of the current critical theories—this question of a supernatural origin for the religion of Israel is already foreclosed; is ruled out at the start as a priori inadmissible. The issue could not be better stated than it is by the Dutch scholar Kuenen in the opening chapter of his work, The Religion of Israel. The chapter is entitled “Our Standpoint,” and in it the principle is expressly laid down that no distinction can be admitted in respect of origin between the religion of Israel and other religions. “For us,” he says, “the Israelitish religion is one of those religions; nothing less, but also nothing more.”1 This is, in the style of assumption too usual in the school, declared to be “the view taken by modern theological science.” “No one,” he says, “can expect or require us to support in this place by a complete demonstration the right of the modern as opposed to the ecclesiastical view.” It is an “ecclesiastical” view, it appears, to assume that any supernatural factor is involved in the history or religion of Israel: the “modern” view rejects this. If any ambiguity could attach to these statements, it would be removed by his further explanations, which, in so many words, exclude the idea that the Jewish and Christian religions are derived from “special divine revelation,” or are “supernatural” in their origin.  (1)   He puts the matter with equal frankness in his work on Prophets and Prophecy. “Prophecy is,” he tells us, “according to this new view, a phenomenon, yet one of the most important and remarkable phenomena, in the history of religion, but just on that account a human phenomenon, proceeding from Israel, directed to Israel.” And later: “So soon as we derive a separate part of Israel’s religious life directly from God, and allow the supernatural or immediate revelation to intervene in even one single point, so long also our view of the whole continues to be incorrect.… It is the supposition of a natural development alone which accounts for all the phenomena.”   (2)   Quite similar to the standpoint here avowed by Kuenen is that of a wide circle of leading scholars—of Duhm, Wellhausen, Stade, Smend, Gunkel, and a multitude more in the front ranks of the modern critical movement. We noted above Wellhausen’s declaration of his identity in standpoint with Vatke—Vatke being a thorough-going Hegelian rationalist in the first half of last century. Shortly after in his book we have the express acknowledgment: “My inquiry comes nearer to that of Vatke, from whom indeed I gratefully acknowledge myself to have learned best and most.”   (3)  

This, then, quite unambiguously stated, is the issue to which the religion of Israel—and with it Christianity, for in this connection the two very much stand or fall together—is brought at the present day. Yet the contrast drawn by Kuenen in the above passage between the “modern” and the “ecclesiastical” view, which he announces as the ruling principle of his treatment, is, it need hardly be said, a flagrant petitio principii.   (4)   To assume beforehand, in an inquiry which turns on this very point, that the religion of Israel presents no features but such as are explicable out of natural causes,—that no higher factors are needed to account for it,—is to prejudge the whole question; while to assume this to be the only view held by “modern” scholars—in other words, to exclude from this category men of the distinction of those formerly enumerated, who, with their critical views, take strong ground on the subject of revelation—is to contradict fact, and degrade the term “modern” to the designation of a clique. If, on impartial consideration, it can be shown that the religion of Israel admits of explanation on purely natural principles, then the historian will be justified in his verdict that it stands, in this respect, on the same footing as other religions. If, on the other hand, fair investigation brings out a different result,—if it demonstrates that this religion has features which place it in a different category from all others, and compel us to postulate for it a different and higher origin, then that fact must be frankly recognised as part of the scientific result, and the nature and extent of this higher element must be made the subject of inquiry. It will not do to override the facts—if facts they are—by a priori dogmatic assumptions on the one side any more than on the other. Thus far we agree with Kuenen, that we must begin by treating the religion of Israel exactly as we would treat any other religion. Whatever our personal convictions—and of these, of course, we cannot divest ourselves—we must, in conducting our argument, place ourselves in as absolutely neutral an attitude of mind as we can. We must try to see the facts exactly as they are. If differences emerge, let them be noted. If the facts are such as to compel us to assume a special origin for this religion, let that come to light in the course of the inquiry. Let us frankly admit also that it is no slight, recondite, contestable, or inferential differences, but only broad, obvious, cumulative, indubitable grounds, which will suffice as basis of a claim to such special origin. If such do not exist, we concede that candour will compel us to fall back on the naturalistic hypothesis.

It is perfectly true that it is impossible in any inquiry to dispense with guiding principles of investigation, and with presuppositions of some kind, and there is no criticism on earth that does so—certainly not that of Kuenen and Wellhausen. Only these should not be allowed to warp or distort the facts, or be applied to support a preconceived conclusion. The scientist also finds it incumbent on him to “anticipate nature” with his interrogations and tentative hypotheses, which, however, have to be brought to the test of experimental verification. We find no fault with these writers, if they are persuaded that their view of Israel’s religion is the true one, for endeavouring, with all the skill at their command, to show that it is so. It is even well that such experiments should be made. The case, in short, is one of competing interpretations of the Old Testament, and, assuming Israel’s religion to be divine, the effect of the most searching application of critical tests can only be to bring out this divineness into stronger relief. No Christian, therefore, who has confidence that God, who spoke to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, (Heb 1:1) need shrink from any trial to which criticism exposes the Bible. It is the Nemesis of a wrong starting-point in every department of inquiry that those who adopt it find themselves plunged, as they proceed, into ever-deepening error and confusion; while a right guiding-idea as infallibly conducts to a view marked by simplicity and truth. If Kuenen and those who think with him are right in their first principles, they will find their theory work out easily and naturally in its application to the phenomena of Scripture:  (5)   if they are wrong, their hypothesis will inevitably break down under its own weight, as did that of Baur in the sphere of the New Testament half a century ago. The ultimate test in either case is fitness to meet the facts. It has already been pointed out that the result of a searching inquiry has been to produce in many minds the conviction that Israel’s religion can not be explained on mere natural principles.


Thus much on the more fundamental part of our problem; it remains to be asked how far the conclusions reached on this point affect the questions raised, in the field of literary discussion, on the age, authorship, structure, and historical value of the Old Testament books—especially of the Pentateuch, or “five books” traditionally attributed to Moses. What is the interest of Christian faith in these discussions, or has it any? Abstractly considered, of course, as already said, questions of age, authorship, and historical genesis are, in comparison with those we have now been considering, of secondary importance. The later age, or composite structure, of a book is no necessary disproof of its truth. Freeman’s History of the Norman Conquest, e.g., though written in the nineteenth century, does not give us a less just or vivid idea of the series of events to which it relates, than the contemporary monkish chronicles, etc., on which it is based. The age, authorship, and simple or composite character of a book are matters for investigation, to be determined solely by evidence, and it is justly claimed that criticism, in its investigation of such subjects, must be untrammelled: that faith cannot be bound up with results of purely literary judgments. It will be urged, further, that, as we have admitted, the denial of the supernatural in the Old Testament history or religion in no way necessarily follows from any theory of the dates or relations of documents. All this is true; still the matter is not quite so simple as this rather superficial way of presenting the case would picture it. There is, as was before hinted, a very close connection between critical premises and critical results, and it is necessary in the present discussion that this connection should be kept carefully in view.

It has already been explained that it is no part of the design of these pages to cast discredit on the function of criticism as such. It is not even contended that the critical theories at present in vogue are constructed wholly in the interest of rationalism: far from that. If they were, we may be sure that so many believing men would not be found accepting or advocating them. To account for such acceptance we must assume that they are felt by candid minds to answer in some degree to real facts, to rest on a basis of real evidence, to afford an explanation of real phenomena, to possess a plausibility and reasonableness which constrain a genuine assent. On the other hand, it can as little be doubted that the critical hypothesis, in the form into which it has gradually crystallised, shows, in many of its features, a marked dependence on rationalistic presuppositions. There is no gainsaying the fact that, historically it was in rationalistic workshops, mainly, that the critical theory was elaborated, and that, from this circumstance, a certain rationalistic impress was stamped upon it from the first.  (6)   From Eichhorn and those who followed him—Von Bohlen, Vatke, De Wette, and the rest—the critical treatment of the Pentateuch received a “set” in the direction of naturalism which it has to some extent retained ever since. Most of all is it true of the type of theory which is at present the dominant one—the theory which, to indicate the line of its origin, we might describe as the Vatke-Graf-Kuenen-Wellhausen-Stade one—that it is rationalistic in its basis, and in every fibre of its construction. Yet it is this theory which, chiefly through the brilliant advocacy of Wellhausen, has for the time won an all but universal recognition in critical circles on the Continent and in English-speaking countries. Its arguments are adopted, its conclusions endorsed, its watchwords repeated, with almost monotonous fidelity of iteration, by a majority of scholars of all classes—in Churches and out of Churches, High Church, Broad Church, and Low Church, sceptical and believing. This says much for the plausibility of the theory, but it suggests also a grave problem. The critical hypothesis must, of course, be considered on its merits; but is there not, on the face of it, a supreme improbability that a theory evolved under the conditions we have described should be, in that form, a theory adequate to Christian faith, or with which Christian faith can ultimately be content? Is it such a theory as Christian faith would ever have evolved from its own presuppositions? Can it ever be purged of its rationalistic leaven, and adapted to the use of the Christian Churches, without a complete re-casting on principles which are the direct antitheses of those which obtain in the schools in which it originated? We take leave to doubt it. Christian scholars are no doubt entirely serious in their acceptance of its conclusions, but there must grow up, we are persuaded—if there is not already growing up—a perception of the incompatibility of their belief, as Christians, in a historical revelation, culminating in the Incarnation, with a set of results wrought out on the basis of a purely naturalistic view of Israel’s history and religion—which, in fact, as will be discovered, reduces the bulk of that history to ruins!   (7)

Criticism, it is granted, must be untrammelled; also, the results complained of do not necessarily follow from the reigning critical hypothesis. This last remark we must admit to be true, for part of our own argument in a future chapter is built upon it. Still it cannot well be denied that, if all the results do not necessarily follow from the theory, a good many of them do very easily and naturally follow; that the way is logically open for them, as it would not be on another theory; and that the reason why the stronger conclusion is not drawn often is simply that the believing critics are less logical than their fellows. A theory may not always be followed to its conclusions, where these, nevertheless, very logically follow. It could not be otherwise, when regard is had to the presuppositions under the influence of which the theory was formed. Everything, as Rothe said, can be laid hold of by two handles; and where the case is one, as before remarked, of competing interpretations of the same facts, while it is true as ever that both will not be found equally suitable to the facts, and that no ingenuity can make them so, the room left for the play of subjective considerations is still very large. In this connection, questions of age and authorship are far from being always of secondary moment. The true inwardness of many of these will appear after in the course of our discussion. It will be forced upon us when we observe how frequently the dating does not arise from purely literary considerations, but is determined by critical assumptions, or by congruity with an a priori scheme of development, and when we see the use to which the dating is put, viz., to lower the dates of other writings, or subvert the credibility of the history.   (8)   The late date of the documents composing the Pentateuch, e.g., may be employed to support the contention that the narrative of the Pentateuchal books is wholly, or in great part, legendary; the post-exilian date of the Levitical laws may be used to destroy the connection of the laws with Moses; the low date assigned to the psalms may be really a corollary from a particular theory of Israel’s religious development, and may be used, in turn, to buttress that theory. In other ways the literary criticism, not intentionally perhaps, but really and effectively, may be put at the service of the theory. Books may be divided up, or texts manipulated and struck out, till the writing is made to speak the language which the critic desires. The hyper-analysis of documents may result in the dissipation of everything of grandeur, not to say of consistency and truthfulness, in a narrative. Whether this is an over-colouring of the character of the critical procedure, in the hands of many of its representatives, will be better judged of in the sequel.

 (1) In a Life of Kuenen in the Jewish Quarterly Review, vol. iv., by Mr. Wicksteed, the Dutch “modern” movement, of which Kuenen was a principal leader, is thus described. “It was an attempt of singular boldness and vigour to shake the traditions of Christian piety free from every trace of supernaturalism and implied exclusiveness.… It involved the absolute surrender of the orthodox dogmatics; of the authority of the Scriptures; of the divine character of the Church as an external institution; and of course it based the claims of Jesus of Nazareth to our affection and gratitude solely upon what history could show that He, as a man, had been, and had done for men” (p. 596). 

 (2) Dr. John Muir, at whose instance the work was undertaken, contributed an Introduction to the English translation. In the course of this he thus states Dr. Kuenen’s position: “Israelitish prophecy was not a supernatural phenomenon, derived from divine inspiration; but was a result of the high moral and religious character attained by the prophets whose writings have been transmitted to us” (p. xxxvii). From a published letter of Kuenen’s we learn the interesting fact, otherwise attested to us, that Dr. Muir subsequently changed his opinions, and recalled from circulation the volume he had been instrumental in producing. 

 (3) Hist. of Israel, p. 13. 

 (4) Cf. the remarks of Ladd, Doct. of Sac. Scripture, i. p. 371. 

 (5) This is their own claim. Professor W. R. Smith, e.g., in his Preface to Wellhausen, says: “In the course of the argument it appears that the plain, natural sense of the old history has constantly been distorted by the false presuppositions with which we have been accustomed to approach it,”—Pref. to Hist. of Israel, p. viii. The implication is that Wellhausen’s view gives the “plain, natural sense.” 

 (6) The statement of the late Dr. Green may need qualification as respects later scholars, but is in the main true of the originators of the critical movement: “The development of critical hypotheses inimical to the genuineness and the truth of the books of the Bible has from the beginning been in the hands of those who were antagonistic to supernatural religion; whose interest in the Bible was purely literary, and who refused to recognise its claims as an immediate and authoritative revelation from God.”—Higher Criticism, p. 177. Cf. Dr. Cheyne on the indebtedness of the German critical movement to English Deism (Founders of Criticism, pp. 1, 2). See also below, p. 58. 

 (7) Cf. Chap. III. pp. 56 ff. 

 (8) See Appendix to Chap. X. pp. 378–9.  

     The Problem of the Old Testament

Read The Psalms In "1" Year

Psalm 3

Save Me, O My God
3 A Psalm Of David, When He Fled From Absalom His Son.

1 O LORD, how many are my foes!
Many are rising against me;
2 many are saying of my soul,
“There is no salvation for him in God.” Selah

3 But you, O LORD, are a shield about me,
my glory, and the lifter of my head.
4 I cried aloud to the LORD,
and he answered me from his holy hill. Selah

5 I lay down and slept;
I woke again, for the LORD sustained me.
6 I will not be afraid of many thousands of people
who have set themselves against me all around.

7 Arise, O LORD!
Save me, O my God!
For you strike all my enemies on the cheek;
you break the teeth of the wicked.

8 Salvation belongs to the LORD;
your blessing be on your people! Selah

The Holy Bible: ESV Reformation Study Bible, Condensed Edition (2017) - Black, Genuine Leather. (2016). (ESV). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

In Europe and the US, Elites Who Live by Lies Despise the Little People Who Don’t

By John Zmirak 1/2/2017

     Kevin Crehan is dead at 35. He perished as an enemy of the British state, the victim of de facto judicial murder. Crehan was in prison for a tasteless prank: offended perhaps by the aggressive demands of immigrant Muslims in Britain for the imposition of sharia law, Crehan left a bacon sandwich on the front steps of a mosque. For that he was sentenced to one year in a prison full of violent Muslim criminals who knew about his prank, with no protective custody. (The cause of his death is still unclear.)

     In a bitter twist, Julian Lambert, the judge who sentenced Crehan for his crime, in 2015 gave a sentence of only two years to a member of a pedophile rape gang that preyed on toddlers and a baby. So in 2017, that baby rapist will be a free man, while Kevin Crehan, Englishman, sleeps in the English earth.

     Alexander Solzhenitsyn didn’t live to see this travesty, but a close reading of his works would have allowed you to predict it. The Gulag Archipelago, a masterful work of memory, exposed a vast empire of falsehood, injustice, and cruelty — all carefully masked by puffed-up rationalizations and defended by Western intellectuals who lived comfortably far from its labor camps and psychiatric prisons.

     Solzhenitsyn’s book with a deft stroke exposed the messianic cult of Marxism, and doomed the Soviet system. Shortly before Solzhenitsyn was expelled from his native country, he begged his fellow citizens to engage in a simple, prophetic act of resistance: to “live not by lies.”

     By contrast, the de facto leader of the European Union, Germany’s Angela Merkel, took to the airwaves for New Year’s to deliver the opposite message, to repeat the governing lie which guides EU elites, and demand that Germans live by it. The woman who single-handedly delivered the continent of Europe to the tender mercies of rape mobs, who flooded its cities with unemployable foreigners who flock to extremist mosques and are infiltrated by ISIS, addressed her bewildered citizens. As Breitbart reports:

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     Per Amazon, John Zmirak received his B.A. from Yale University in 1986, then his M.F.A. in screenwriting and fiction and his Ph.D. in English in 1996 from Louisiana State University. His focus was the English Renaissance, and the novels of Walker Percy. He taught composition at LSU and screenwriting at Tulane University, and written screenplays for and with director Ronald Maxwell (Gods and Generals and Gettysburg). He was elected alternate delegate to the 1996 Republican Convention, representing Pat Buchanan. He has been Press Secretary to pro-life Louisiana Governor Mike Foster, and a reporter and editor at "Success" magazine and "Investor's Business Daily," among other publications. His essays, poems, and other works have appeared in "First Things," "The Weekly Standard," "The Atlanta Journal-Constitution," "USA Today," "FrontPage Magazine," "The American Conservative," "The South Carolina Review," "The Atlantic," "Modern Age," "The Intercollegiate Review," "The New Republic," "Commonweal," and "The National Catholic Register," among other venues. He has contributed to "American Conservatism: An Encyclopedia" and "The Encyclopedia of Catholic Social Thought." From 2000-2004 he served as Senior Editor of "Faith and Family Magazine" and a reporter at "The National Catholic Register." He works now as an editor for several publishing companies.

John Zmirak Books:

Who Wrote The Gospels

By Timothy Paul Jones 1/2/2017

     Open your Bible to the table of contents and take a look at the list of books in the New Testament. There, you’ll find the Gospels according to Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John leading the list.

     Your first reply might be, Because their names are on the books!—and you would be correct. These four names have appeared on the manuscripts of these four Gospels for well over a thousand years.

     But these names may not have been present on the original manuscripts of the Gospels.

     In fact, when it comes to who wrote the Gospels, some scholars are quite convinced that Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John couldn’t possibly have been the authors of these four books. According to one such scholar,

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     My name is Timothy Paul Jones, and I love living with my wife and four daughters in the city of Louisville. Over the past two decades, I’ve had the privilege of leading several congregations as a pastor and in associate ministry roles. Now, I serve as a professor and associate vice president at one of the largest seminaries in the world, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Here, I invest my time in mentoring a rising generation of God-called ministers of the gospel. I also serve as a pastor at the Midtown congregation of Sojourn Community Church and write books in the fields of apologetics and family ministry. A few of these books include the award-winning How We Got the Bible and Christian History Made Easy. My past scholarly research has focused on the psychology of faith and on factors that influence faith formation in Christian households. Currently, my focus has turned toward the reliability of the New Testament Gospels. In addition to earning a doctor of philosophy degree from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, I’ve earned a bachelor’s degree in biblical literature and a master of divinity with an emphasis in church history and New Testament studies.

The Institutes of the Christian Religion

Translated by Henry Beveridge

     4. The objection, however, is not yet solved. For we must either put Cataline on the same footing with Camillus, or hold Camillus to be an example that nature, when carefully cultivated, is not wholly void of goodness. I admit that the specious qualities which Camillus possessed were divine gifts, and appear entitled to commendation when viewed in themselves. But in what way will they be proofs of a virtuous nature? Must we not go back to the mind, and from it begin to reason thus? If a natural man possesses such integrity of manners, nature is not without the faculty of studying virtue. But what if his mind was depraved and perverted, and followed anything rather than rectitude? Such it undoubtedly was, if you grant that he was only a natural man. How then will you laud the power of human nature for good, if, even where there is the highest semblance of integrity, a corrupt bias is always detected? Therefore, as you would not commend a man for virtue whose vices impose upon you by a show of virtue, so you will not attribute a power of choosing rectitude to the human will while rooted in depravity (see August. lib. 4, Cont. Julian). Still, the surest and easiest answer to the objection is, that those are not common endowments of nature, but special gifts of God, which he distributes in divers forms, and, in a definite measure, to men otherwise profane. For which reason, we hesitate not, in common language, to say, that one is of a good, another of a vicious nature; though we cease not to hold that both are placed under the universal condition of human depravity. All we mean is that God has conferred on the one a special grace which he has not seen it meet to confer on the other. When he was pleased to set Saul over the kingdom, he made him as it were a new man. This is the thing meant by Plato, when, alluding to a passage in the Iliad, he says, that the children of kings are distinguished at their birth by some special qualities--God, in kindness to the human race, often giving a spirit of heroism to those whom he destines for empire. In this way, the great leaders celebrated in history were formed. The same judgment must be given in the case of private individuals. But as those endued with the greatest talents were always impelled by the greatest ambitions (a stain which defiles all virtues and makes them lose all favour in the sight of God), so we cannot set any value on anything that seems praiseworthy in ungodly men. We may add, that the principal part of rectitude is wanting, when there is no zeal for the glory of God, and there is no such zeal in those whom he has not regenerated by his Spirit. Nor is it without good cause said in Isaiah, that on Christ should rest "the spirit of knowledge, and of the fear of the Lord," (Isa. 11:2); for by this we are taught that all who are strangers to Christ are destitute of that fear of God which is the beginning of wisdom (Ps. 111:10). The virtues which deceive us by an empty show may have their praise in civil society and the common intercourse of life, but before the judgment-seat of God they will be of no value to establish a claim of righteousness.

5. When the will is enchained as the slave of sin, it cannot make a movement towards goodness, far less steadily pursue it. Every such movement is the first step in that conversion to God, which in Scripture is entirely ascribed to divine grace. Thus Jeremiah prays, "Turn thou me, and I shall be turned," (Jer. 31:18). Hence, too, in the same chapter, describing the spiritual redemption of believers, the Prophet says, "The Lord has redeemed Jacob, and ransomed him from the hand of him that was stronger than he," (Jer. 31:11); intimating how close the fetters are with which the sinner is bound, so long as he is abandoned by the Lord, and acts under the yoke of the devil. Nevertheless, there remains a will which both inclines and hastens on with the strongest affection towards sin; man, when placed under this bondage, being deprived not of will, but of soundness of will. Bernard says not improperly, that all of us have a will; but to will well is proficiency, to will ill is defect. Thus simply to will is the part of man, to will ill the part of corrupt nature, to will well the part of grace. Moreover, when I say that the will, deprived of liberty, is led or dragged by necessity to evil, it is strange that any should deem the expression harsh, seeing there is no absurdity in it, and it is not at variance with pious use. It does, however, offend those who know not how to distinguish between necessity and compulsion. Were any one to ask them, Is not God necessarily good, is not the devil necessarily wicked, what answer would they give? The goodness of God is so connected with his Godhead, that it is not more necessary to be God than to be good; whereas the devil, by his fall, was so estranged from goodness, that he can do nothing but evil. Should any one give utterance to the profane jeer (see Calvin Adv. Pighium), that little praise is due to God for a goodness to which he is forced, is it not obvious to every man to reply, It is owing not to violent impulse, but to his boundless goodness, that he cannot do evil? Therefore, if the free will of God in doing good is not impeded, because he necessarily must do good; if the devil, who can do nothing but evil, nevertheless sins voluntarily; can it be said that man sins less voluntarily because he is under a necessity of sinning? This necessity is uniformly proclaimed by Augustine, who, even when pressed by the invidious cavil of Celestius, hesitated not to assert it in the following terms: "Man through liberty became a sinner, but corruption, ensuing as the penalty, has converted liberty into necessity," (August. lib. de Perf. Justin). Whenever mention is made of the subject, he hesitates not to speak in this way of the necessary bondage of sin (August. de Nature et Gratia, et alibi). Let this, then, be regarded as the sum of the distinction. Man, since he was corrupted by the fall, sins not forced or unwilling, but voluntarily, by a most forward bias of the mind; not by violent compulsion, or external force, but by the movement of his own passion; and yet such is the depravity of his nature, that he cannot move and act except in the direction of evil. If this is true, the thing not obscurely expressed is, that he is under a necessity of sinning. Bernard, assenting to Augustine, thus writes: "Among animals, man alone is free, and yet sin intervening, he suffers a kind of violence, but a violence proceeding from his will, not from nature, so that it does not even deprive him of innate liberty," (Bernard, Sermo. super Cantica, 81). For that which is voluntary is also free. A little after he adds, "Thus, by some means strange and wicked, the will itself, being deteriorated by sin, makes a necessity; but so that the necessity, in as much as it is voluntary, cannot excuse the will, and the will, in as much as it is enticed, cannot exclude the necessity." For this necessity is in a manner voluntary. He afterwards says that "we are under a yoke, but no other yoke than that of voluntary servitude; therefore, in respect of servitude, we are miserable, and in respect of will, inexcusable; because the will, when it was free, made itself the slave of sin." At length he concludes, "Thus the soul, in some strange and evil way, is held under this kind of voluntary, yet sadly free necessity, both bond and free; bond in respect of necessity, free in respect of will: and what is still more strange, and still more miserable, it is guilty because free, and enslaved because guilty, and therefore enslaved because free." My readers hence perceive that the doctrine which I deliver is not new, but the doctrine which of old Augustine delivered with the consent of all the godly, and which was afterwards shut up in the cloisters of monks for almost a thousand years. Lombard, by not knowing how to distinguish between necessity and compulsion, gave occasion to a pernicious error. [167]

6. On the other hand, it may be proper to consider what the remedy is which divine grace provides for the correction and cure of natural corruption. Since the Lord, in bringing assistance, supplies us with what is lacking, the nature of that assistance will immediately make manifest its converse--viz. our penury. When the Apostle says to the Philippians, "Being confident of this very thing, that he which has begun a good work in you, will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ," (Phil. 1:6), there cannot be a doubt, that by the good work thus begun, he means the very commencement of conversion in the will. God, therefore, begins the good work in us by exciting in our hearts a desire, a love, and a study of righteousness, or (to speak more correctly) by turning, training, and guiding our hearts unto righteousness; and he completes this good work by confirming us unto perseverance. But lest any one should cavil that the good work thus begun by the Lord consists in aiding the will, which is in itself weak, the Spirit elsewhere declares what the will, when left to itself, is able to do. His words are, "A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them," (Ezek. 36:26, 27). How can it be said that the weakness of the human will is aided so as to enable it to aspire effectually to the choice of good, when the fact is, that it must be wholly transformed and renovated? If there is any softness in a stone; if you can make it tender, and flexible into any shape, then it may be said, that the human heart may be shaped for rectitude, provided that which is imperfect in it is supplemented by divine grace. But if the Spirit, by the above similitude, meant to show that no good can ever be extracted from our heart until it is made altogether new, let us not attempt to share with Him what He claims for himself alone. If it is like turning a stone into flesh when God turns us to the study of rectitude, everything proper to our own will is abolished, and that which succeeds in its place is wholly of God. I say the will is abolished, but not in so far as it is will, for in conversion everything essential to our original nature remains: I also say, that it is created anew, not because the will then begins to exist, but because it is turned from evil to good. This, I maintains is wholly the work of God, because, as the Apostle testifies, we are not "sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves," (2 Cor. 3:5). Accordingly, he elsewhere says, not merely that God assists the weak or corrects the depraved will, but that he worketh in us to will (Phil. 2:13). From this it is easily inferred, as I have said, that everything good in the will is entirely the result of grace. In the same sense, the Apostle elsewhere says, "It is the same God which worketh all in all," (I Cor. 12:6). For he is not there treating of universal government, but declaring that all the good qualities which believers possess are due to God. In using the term "all," he certainly makes God the author of spiritual life from its beginning to its end. This he had previously taught in different terms, when he said that there is "one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him," (1 Cor. 8:6); thus plainly extolling the new creation, by which everything of our common nature is destroyed. There is here a tacit antithesis between Adam and Christ, which he elsewhere explains more clearly when he says, "We are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God has before ordained that we should walk in them," (Eph. 2:10). His meaning is to show in this way that our salvation is gratuitous because the beginning of goodness is from the second creation which is obtained in Christ. If any, even the minutest, ability were in ourselves, there would also be some merit. But to show our utter destitution, he argues that we merit nothing, because we are created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God has prepared; again intimating by these words, that all the fruits of good works are originally and immediately from God. Hence the Psalmist, after saying that the Lord "has made us," to deprive us of all share in the work, immediately adds, "not we ourselves." That he is speaking of regeneration, which is the commencement of the spiritual life, is obvious from the context, in which the next words are, "we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture," (Psalm 100:3). Not contented with simply giving God the praise of our salvation, he distinctly excludes us from all share in it, just as if he had said that not one particle remains to man as a ground of boasting. The whole is of God.

7. But perhaps there will be some who, while they admit that the will is in its own nature averse to righteousness, and is converted solely by the power of God, will yet hold that, when once it is prepared, it performs a part in acting. This they found upon the words of Augustine, that grace precedes every good work; the will accompanying, not leading; a handmaid, and not a guide (August. ad Bonifac. Ep. 106). The words thus not improperly used by this holy writer, Lombard preposterously wrests to the above effect (Lombard, lib. 2, Dist. 25). But I maintain, that as well in the words of the Psalmist which I have quoted, as in other passages of Scripture, two things are clearly taught--viz. that the Lord both corrects, or rather destroys, our depraved will, and also substitutes a good will from himself. In as much as it is prevented by grace, I have no objection to your calling it a handmaid; but in as much as when formed again, it is the work of the Lord, it is erroneous to say, that it accompanies preventing grace as a voluntary attendant. Therefore, Chrysostom is inaccurate in saying, that grace cannot do any thing without will, nor will any thing without grace (Serm. de Invent. Sanct. Crucis); as if grace did not, in terms of the passage lately quoted from Paul, produce the very will itself. The intention of Augustine, in calling the human will the handmaid of grace, was not to assign it a kind of second place to grace in the performance of good works. His object merely was to refute the pestilential dogma of Pelagius, who made human merit the first cause of salvation. As was sufficient for his purpose at the time, he contends that grace is prior to all merit, while, in the meantime, he says nothing of the other question as to the perpetual effect of grace, which, however, he handles admirably in other places. For in saying, as he often does, that the Lord prevents the unwilling in order to make him willing, and follows after the willing that he may not will in vain, he makes Him the sole author of good works. Indeed, his sentiments on this subject are too clear to need any lengthened illustration. "Men," says he, "labour to find in our will something that is our own, and not God's; how they can find it, I wot not," (August. de Remiss. Peccat., lib. 2 c. 18). In his First Book against Pelagius and Celestius, expounding the saying of Christ, "Every man therefore that has heard, and has learned of the Father, cometh unto me," (John 6:45), he says, "The will is aided not only so as to know what is to be done, but also to do what it knows." And thus, when God teaches not by the letter of the Law, but by the grace of the Spirit, he so teaches, that every one who has learned, not only knowing, sees, but also willing, desires, and acting, performs.

8. Since we are now occupied with the chief point on which the controversy turns, let us give the reader the sum of the matter in a few, and those most unambiguous, passages of Scripture; thereafter, lest any one should charge us with distorting Scripture, let us show that the truth, which we maintain to be derived from Scripture, is not unsupported by the testimony of this holy man (I mean Augustine). I deem it unnecessary to bring forward every separate passage of Scripture in confirmation of my doctrine. A selection of the most choice passages will pave the way for the understanding of all those which lie scattered up and down in the sacred volume. On the other hand, I thought it not out of place to show my accordance with a man whose authority is justly of so much weight in the Christian world. It is certainly easy to prove that the commencement of good is only with God, and that none but the elect have a will inclined to good. But the cause of election must be sought out of man; and hence it follows that a right will is derived not from man himself, but from the same good pleasure by which we were chosen before the creation of the world. Another argument much akin to this may be added. The beginning of right will and action being of faith, we must see whence faith itself is. But since Scripture proclaims throughout that it is the free gift of God, it follows, that when men, who are with their whole soul naturally prone to evil, begin to have a good will, it is owing to mere grace. Therefore, when the Lord, in the conversion of his people, sets down these two things as requisite to be done--viz. to take away the heart of stone, and give a heart of flesh, he openly declares, that, in order to our conversion to righteousness, what is ours must be taken away, and that what is substituted in its place is of himself. Nor does he declare this in one passage only. For he says in Jeremiah "I will give them one heart, and one way, that they may fear me for ever;" and a little after he says, "I will put my fear in their hearts, that they shall not depart from me," (Jer. 32:39, 40). Again, in Ezekiel, "I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within you; and I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them an heart of flesh," (Ezek. 11:19). He could not more clearly claim to himself, and deny to us, everything good and right in our will, than by declaring, that in our conversion there is the creation of a new spirit and a new heart. It always follows, both that nothing good can proceed from our will until it be formed again, and that after it is formed again in so far as it is good, it is of God, and not of us.

     Christian Classics Ethereal Library / Public Domain

     Institutes of the Christian Religion

The Continual Burnt Offering

By H.A. Ironside - 1941

January 4
Genesis 7:1 Then the LORD said to Noah, “Go into the ark, you and all your household, for I have seen that you are righteous before me in this generation.   ESV

     It is the desire of God to save the households of His people. Noah’s family found a place in the ark because of their father’s acceptance with God. Yet on their part there had to be obedience to the divine call. Invited by God, they entered the place of safety and so were “saved through water” from the judgment that overwhelmed the world of the ungodly.

     It is still God’s desire that the families of believers should share in the blessing promised to any individual member of the household. To the Philippian jailer the word came, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household” (Acts 16:31). There was an evident response on the part of all the children, for we find him rejoicing with all his house in the knowledge of pardoning grace. So today the Christian parent is called to take hold of God in faith for all those linked with him by family ties, assured that It is the will of God to bring them into the ark, which is for us, Christ Himself.

Acts 16:31 And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.”   ESV

O happy home, where Thou art loved the dearest,
Thou loving Friend and Saviour of our race,
And where among the guests there never cometh,
One who can hold such high and honored place.

O happy home, where Thou art not forgotten
When joy is overflowing, full and free;
O happy home, where every wounded spirit
Is brought, Physician, Comforter, to Thee.
--- Carl J. P. Spitta

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

Judgment and Promise of Salvation

By John F. Walvoord

      Genesis 3:14–24. This first prophecy was fulfilled by the spiritual death of Adam and Eve and their ultimate physical death (vv.  7–24; 5:5 ). In fulfilling the prophecy of death, God added other prophecies, including the curse on the serpent ( 3:14–15 ). God prophesied that Eve would give birth to children in pain and that her husband would rule over her. To Adam, God predicted that the ground would be cursed and he would have difficulty raising the food necessary for his continued existence.

     In the midst of these promises, which enlarged the judgment that had come on mankind because of the entrance of sin, a plan for redemption was also revealed.

     In pronouncing the curse on the Devil and the serpent, it was prophesied that there would always be enmity between the serpent and the descendants of the woman (v.  15 ). Referring to one of the woman’s descendants (Christ), God said, “He will crush your head.” In regard to the judgment on Satan, made sure by the cross of Christ, the prophecy was further enlarged, “You will strike his heel” (v.  15 ). This referred to the fact that Christ would die, but unlike the effect on Satan, His death would be conquered by resurrection. This was fulfilled in Christ’s death and resurrection ( Rom. 3:24–25 ).

Importance of the First Two Major Prophecies of Scripture

In subsequent prophecies, both the judgment of sin and the promise of salvation can be traced throughout Scripture. The importance of these prophecies can be seen in the context of the early chapters of  Genesis.

     The divine plan for man is stated in detail in  Genesis 1:26–27: “Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.’ So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.

     “God blessed them and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground’” (v.  28 ). The fulfillment of this was hindered by the fact that sin had entered the human race. The ultimate fulfillment, of course, will be by Christ as “the last Adam” ( 1 Cor. 15:45 ), who will rule the earth in the millennial kingdom ( Ps. 72:8–11 ).      The fulfillment of these first prophecies of Scripture provides the first insight into the normal rule of interpreting prophecy, that is, to  interpret prophecy literally. When Adam and Eve sinned, they literally died spiritually and later physically. The prophecies of cursing on the serpent and Satan, the prophecies of Eve’s suffering pain in childbirth and being subject to her husband, and the prophecies to Adam of raising food with great toil have all been subject to literal fulfillment (vv.  14–19 ).

Every Prophecy of the Bible: Clear Explanations for Uncertain Times

  • Surviving the Dragon
  • Good Right
  • Clinical Ethics

#1 Arjia Rinpoche    Villanova University


#2 Joseph DesJardins    Villanova University


#3 Philip Boyle    Villanova University


     Devotionals, notes, poetry and more

UCB The Word For Today
     Keys to Bible study (1)
     1/4/2018    Bob Gass

     ‘Your commands are boundless.’

(Ps 119:96) 96 I have seen a limit to all perfection, but your commandment is exceedingly broad. ESV

     The psalmist wrote, ‘To all perfection I see a limit, but your commands are boundless.’ What does that mean? It means each time you read a Scripture you’ll see something different in it. It’s like shining light on a diamond. Each time you turn it slightly, you see another facet of its beauty. That’s why the Bible is different from any other book you’ll ever read. You’ll learn things about God from personal experience and from listening to the thoughts and experiences of others, but you’ll get to know Him better through the reading of His Word than any other way. You can study the same Scripture over and over again, dig into it, leave it for three or four months|, and when you come back to it there is much more to find. The key is this: stick with it! There’s no limit to the number of questions you can ask, no limit to the observations you can make, and no limit to the applications you can make. So don’t give up! The best attitude to have in Bible study is the one Jacob had when he wrestled with the angel of the Lord: ‘I will not let You go unless You bless me!’ (Genesis 32:26 NKJV). As a result God gave him a new name, a new nature, a new walk, and a new future. Bible study has no shortcuts; it takes effort. But if you’re diligent and patient you’ll reap great rewards. Once you’ve felt the joy and satisfaction that comes from finding a great spiritual truth on your own, and applying it to your life, you’ll never approach Bible study the same way again.

Gen 10-12
Matt 4

UCB The Word For Today

American Minute
     by Bill Federer

     Called the “Father of American Medicine,” he signed the Declaration of Independence, was Surgeon General of the Continental Army, and was a staff member of the Pennsylvania Hospital, where he opened the first free medical clinic. His name was Benjamin Rush, and he was born this day, January 4, 1745. Rush also founded a Bible Society, a Sunday School Union and a Society for the Abolition of Slavery. Dr. Benjamin Rush stated: “The only foundation for… education in a republic is… religion. Without this there can be no virtue, and without virtue there can be no liberty, and liberty is the object… of all republican governments.”

American Minute

Lean Into God
     Compiled by Richard S. Adams

Though we cannot think alike, may we not love alike?
May we not be of one heart,
though we are not of one opinion?
Without all doubt, we may.
Herein all the children of God may unite,
notwithstanding these smaller differences.
--- from a sermon in the Works of John Wesley

Where can the purest principles of morality be learned so clearly or so perfectly as from the New Testament?
--- Joseph Story (James Madison appointed him the youngest Justice on the Supreme Court)

The Bible characters never fell on their weak points but on their strong ones; unguarded strength is double weakness (The Place of Help).
--- Gordon MacDonald

For in the cross of Christ, as in a splendid theatre, the incomparable goodness of God is set before the whole world. The glory of God shines, indeed, in all creatures on high and below, but never more brightly than in the cross ....
If it be objected that nothing could be less glorious than Christ’s death..., I reply that in that death we see a boundless glory which is concealed from the ungodly. --- John Calvin
Calvin’s St John

... from here, there and everywhere

Proverbs 1:20-33
     by D.H. Stern

20     Wisdom calls aloud in the open air
and raises her voice in the public places;
21     she calls out at streetcorners
and speaks out at entrances to city gates:
22     “How long, you whose lives have no purpose,
will you love thoughtless living?
How long will scorners find pleasure in mocking?
How long will fools hate knowledge?
23     Repent when I reprove—
I will pour out my spirit to you,
I will make my words known to you.
24     Because you refused when I called,
and no one paid attention when I put out my hand,
25     but instead you neglected my counsel
and would not accept my reproof;
26     I, in turn, will laugh at your distress,
and mock when terror comes over you—
27     yes, when terror overtakes you like a storm
and your disaster approaches like a whirlwind,
when distress and trouble assail you.
28     Then they will call me, but I won’t answer;
they will seek me earnestly, but they won’t find me.
29     Because they hated knowledge
and did not choose the fear of ADONAI,
30     they refused my counsel
and despised my reproof.
31     So they will bear the consequences of their own way
and be overfilled with their own schemes.
32     For the aimless wandering of the thoughtless will kill them,
and the smug overconfidence of fools will destroy them;
33     but those who pay attention to me will live securely,
untroubled by fear of misfortune.”

Complete Jewish Bible : An English Version of the Tanakh (Old Testament) and B'Rit Hadashah (New Testament)
My Utmost For The Highest
     A Daily Devotional by Oswald Chambers

                Why cannot I follow thee now?

     Peter said unto Him, Lord, why cannot I follow Thee now? --- John 13:37.

     There are times when you cannot understand why you cannot do what you want to do. When God brings the blank space, see that you do not fill it in, but wait. The blank space may come in order to teach you what sanctification means; or it may come after sanctification to teach you what service means. Never run before God’s guidance. If there is the slightest doubt, then He is not guiding. Whenever there is doubt—don’t.

     In the beginning you may see clearly what God’s will is—the severance of a friendship, the breaking off of a business relationship, something you feel distinctly before God is His will for you to do, never do it on the impulse of that feeling. If you do, you will end in making difficulties that will take years of time to put right. Wait for God’s time to bring it round and He will do it without any heartbreak or disappointment. When it is a question of the providential will of God, wait for God to move.

     Peter did not wait on God, he forecast in his mind where the test would come, and the test came where he did not expect it. “I will lay down my life for Thy sake.” Peter’s declaration was honest but ignorant. “Jesus answered him … The cock shall not crow, till thou hast denied Me thrice.” This was said with a deeper knowledge of Peter than Peter had of himself. He could not follow Jesus because he did not know himself, or of what he was capable. Natural devotion may be all very well to attract us to Jesus, to make us feel His fascination, but it will never make us disciples. Natural devotion will always deny Jesus somewhere or other.

My Utmost for His Highest

     the Poetry of R.S. Thomas


  Recalling adventures:
One person, he thinks,
in every century or so
came within hail.
I answered by standing
aside, watching him
as he passed. I
am the eternal quarry,
moving at thought's
speed, following
the hunger, arriving
before him. They
put down their prayers'
bait, and swallow it
themselves. Somewhere
between word and deed
are the equations
I step over. Why
do they stare out
with appalled minds
at the appetite
of their lenses?
It is where I feed,
too, waiting for them
to catch up, bounded
only by an inability
to be overtaken.

The Poems of R.S. Thomas

Hebrew Calendar
     Jewish Calendar

     The Hebrew calendar (ha'luach ha'ivri), or Jewish calendar, is a lunisolar calendar used today predominantly for Jewish religious observances. It determines the dates for Jewish holidays and the appropriate public reading of Torah portions, yahrzeits (dates to commemorate the death of a relative), and daily Psalm reading, among many ceremonial uses. In Israel, it is an official calendar for civil purposes and provides a time frame for agriculture.

     Originally the Hebrew calendar was used by Jews for all daily purposes, but following the conquest of Jerusalem by Pompey in 63 BCE (see also Iudaea province), Jews began additionally following the imperial civil calendar, which was decreed in 45 BCE, for civic matters such as the payment of taxes and dealings with government officials.

     The Hebrew calendar has evolved over time. For example, until the Tannaitic period, the months were set by observation of a new crescent moon, with an additional month added every two or three years to keep Passover in the spring, again based on observation of natural events, namely the ripening of barley to reach the stage of "aviv" (nearly ripened crop). Through the Amoraic period and into the Geonic period, this system was displaced by mathematical rules. The principles and rules appear to have been settled by the time Maimonides compiled the Mishneh Torah.

     Because of the roughly eleven-day difference between twelve lunar months and one solar year, the length of the Hebrew calendar year varies in a repeating 19-year Metonic cycle of 235 lunar months, with an intercalary lunar month added according to defined rules every two or three years, for a total of 7 times per 19 years. Seasonal references in the Hebrew calendar reflect its development in the region east of the Mediterranean and the times and climate of the Northern Hemisphere. The Hebrew calendar year is longer by about 6 minutes and 25+25/57 seconds than the present-day mean solar year, so that every 224 years, the Hebrew calendar will fall a full day behind the modern solar year, and about every 231 years it will fall a full day behind the Gregorian calendar year.

     The present counting method for years use the Anno Mundi epoch (Latin for "in the year of the world", abbreviated AM or A.M. and also referred to as the Hebrew era. Hebrew year 5770 began on 19 September 2009 and ended on 8 September 2010. Hebrew year 5771 (a leap year) began on 9 September 2010 and ends on 28 September 2011.


Take Heart
     January 4

     The God of all grace… make you perfect.
--- 1 Peter 5:10. KJV

     The word that Peter uses for “make you perfect” is the same word [that] is used for mending the nets. ( The Weaving of Glory (Morrison Classic Sermon Series, The) ) It is as if Peter had said, “The God of grace, whatever else he may do, will mend your nets for you.”

     Nets are often broken through encountering some jagged obstacle—caught by some obstruction in the deep and, clearing themselves free of it, are torn. It may be a piece of wreckage in the sea. It may be the sharp edge of some familiar reef that has been swept clear of its seaweed by the storm. But whatever it is, the net drags over it, is caught and torn, and, tearing itself free, it gapes disfigured like some wounded thing.

     Are there no human lives like that? Maybe a hidden and surprising sin does it, maybe a sudden and overwhelming sorrow; it may be the ruin of a cherished friendship or the wreckage of a love that meant the world or some swift insight into another’s baseness where we dreamed there was sincerity. In such an hour as that the net is torn. There is a tearing of the very heartstrings. Faith is shattered, and God is but a name, and life seems the shallowest of delusions. For always, when we lose our faith in people, there falls a shadow on our faith in God, so that the very stars seem to have no master, and goodness seems only the mockery of a dream.

     The torn net entails missing the riches that are at hand on every side. And that was the pity of the useless net—all that was precious was so near at hand and yet might have been a thousand miles away.

     We have sinned, and we have sinned greatly. We have done our very best to spoil our lives. We have wasted time and squandered opportunity and been unloving and utterly unworthy. Thanks be to God, in spite of all that—and of things that may be darker than that—the broken net is going to be mended. He forgives us completely, he is pledged to save us completely. Deeper than our deepest need are the infinite depths of his compassion. It is in such a faith that we give him our lives, which are so torn and ragged, assured that his grace will be sufficient for us and his power made perfect in our weakness. God’s hands are powerful and can grasp tremendously when the wind is high and the waves are raging. But [his hands], too, with a delicacy infinite and with tenderness, can mend the broken net on life’s shore.
--- George H. Morrison

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

On This Day   January 4
     The Tongue Screw

     Travel brochures of the Netherlands tell of windmills, dikes, and boys named Hans with their silver skates. But the years 1531 to 1578 were not so peaceful. Hundreds of Protestants were slaughtered, including a young man named Hans.

     Hans Bret supported his widowed mother by working in a bakery in Antwerp. The two belonged to a Protestant group there, and in his spare time Hans studied the Bible and taught new converts in the church, preparing them for baptism. One Evening a knock sounded on the bakery door. Hans opened it to find a delegation of officers. The house was surrounded and Hans was arrested. For the next several months, authorities alternately questioned and tortured him. From his dark isolation hole, Hans managed to smuggle letters to his mother.

     From him alone we expect our strength to withstand these cruel wolves, so that they have no power over our souls. They are really more cruel than wolves—they are not satisfied with our bodies, tearing at them; but they seek to devour and kill our souls.

     Hans’s treatment worsened, and when intense torture failed to break his spirit, he was sentenced to the stake. Early on Saturday, January 4, 1577, the executioner came to Hans’s cell and ordered him to stick out his tongue. Over it he clamped an iron tongue screw, twisting it tightly with a vise grip. Then he seared the end of Hans’s tongue with a red-hot iron so that the tongue would swell and couldn’t slip out of the clamp. The officials didn’t want Hans preaching at his execution. The young man was taken by wagon to the marketplace, secured to a post with winding chains, and burned alive.

     In the crowd, another Hans watched in horror—Hans de Ries, Bret’s pastor and friend. After the ashes cooled, he sifted through them and retrieved a keepsake—the tongue screw that had fallen from Bret’s consumed body. Shortly after, Hans de Ries married Hans Bret’s mother, and the tongue screw became a symbol of faithfulness that has passed from generation to generation.

  Each generation will announce to the next   your wonderful and powerful deeds.   I will keep thinking about your marvelous glory   and your mighty miracles.   Everyone will talk about your fearsome deeds,   and I will tell all nations how great you are.   ---
Psalm 145:4-6.

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

Morning and Evening
     Daily Readings / CHARLES H. SPURGEON

          Morning - January 4

     “Grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.” --- 2 Peter 3:18.

     “Grow in grace”—not in one grace only, but in all grace. Grow in that root-grace, faith. Believe the promises more firmly than you have done. Let faith increase in fulness, constancy, simplicity. Grow also in love. Ask that your love may become extended, more intense, more practical, influencing every thought, word, and deed. Grow likewise in humility. Seek to lie very low, and know more of your own nothingness. As you grow downward in humility, seek also to grow upward —having nearer approaches to God in prayer and more intimate fellowship with Jesus. May God the Holy Spirit enable you to “grow in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour.” He who grows not in the knowledge of Jesus, refuses to be blessed. To know him is “life eternal,” and to advance in the knowledge of him is to increase in happiness. He who does not long to know more of Christ, knows nothing of him yet. Whoever hath sipped this wine will thirst for more, for although Christ doth satisfy, yet it is such a satisfaction, that the appetite is not cloyed, but whetted. If you know the love of Jesus—as the hart panteth for the water-brooks, so will you pant after deeper draughts of his love. If you do not desire to know him better, then you love him not, for love always cries, “Nearer, nearer.” Absence from Christ is hell; but the presence of Jesus is heaven. Rest not then content without an increasing acquaintance with Jesus. Seek to know more of him in his divine nature, in his human relationship, in his finished work, in his death, in his resurrection, in his present glorious intercession, and in his future royal advent. Abide hard by the Cross, and search the mystery of his wounds. An increase of love to Jesus, and a more perfect apprehension of his love to us is one of the best tests of growth in grace.

          Evening - January 4

     “And Joseph knew his brethren, but they knew not him.” --- Genesis 42:8.

     This Morning our desires went forth for growth in our acquaintance with the Lord Jesus; it may be well to-night to consider a kindred topic, namely, our heavenly Joseph’s knowledge of us. This was most blessedly perfect long before we had the slightest knowledge of him. “His eyes beheld our substance, yet being imperfect, and in his book all our members were written, when as yet there was none of them.” Before we had a being in the world we had a being in his heart. When we were enemies to him, he knew us, our misery, our madness, and our wickedness. When we wept bitterly in despairing repentance, and viewed him only as a judge and a ruler, he viewed us as his brethren well beloved, and his bowels yearned towards us. He never mistook his chosen, but always beheld them as objects of his infinite affection. “The Lord knoweth them that are his,” is as true of the prodigals who are feeding swine as of the children who sit at the table.

     But, alas! we knew not our royal Brother, and out of this ignorance grew a host of sins. We withheld our hearts from him, and allowed him no entrance to our love. We mistrusted him, and gave no credit to his words. We rebelled against him, and paid him no loving homage. The Sun of Righteousness shone forth, and we could not see him. Heaven came down to earth, and earth perceived it not. Let God be praised, those days are over with us; yet even now it is but little that we know of Jesus compared with what he knows of us. We have but begun to study him, but he knoweth us altogether. It is a blessed circumstance that the ignorance is not on his side, for then it would be a hopeless case for us. He will not say to us, “I never knew you,” but he will confess our names in the day of his appearing, and meanwhile will manifest himself to us as he doth not unto the world.

Morning and Evening

Amazing Grace
     January 4


     William Williams, 1717–1791

     Since You are my rock and my fortress, for the sake of Your name lead and guide me. (Psalm 31:3)

     The need for daily guidance is one of the believer’s greatest concerns. How easily our lives can go astray without the assurance of divine leadership. Today’s featured text is one of the great hymns of the church on this subject. It is a product of the revival movement that swept through Wales during the 18th century. This revival was led by a 24-year-old Welsh preacher, Howell Harris, who stirred the land with his fervent evangelistic preaching and his use of congregational singing.

     One of the lives touched by Harris’ ministry was 20-year-old William Williams. Young Williams, the son of a wealthy Welsh farmer, was preparing to become a medical doctor. But, upon hearing the stirring challenge by evangelist Howell Harris, Williams dedicated his life to God and the Christian ministry. William Williams, like Harris, decided to take all of Wales as his parish and for the next 43 years traveled 100,000 miles on horseback, preaching and singing the Gospel in his native tongue. He became known as the “sweet singer of Wales.”

     The symbolic imagery of this hymn is drawn wholly from the Bible. The general setting is the march of the Israelites from Egypt to Canaan. Although the Israelites’ sin and unbelief kept them from their destination for 40 years, God provided for their physical needs with a new supply of manna each day.

     Twice during the Hebrews’ years of wandering, they became faint because of lack of water. At the command of God, Moses struck a large rock with his wooden staff. Out of it flowed-a pure, crystalline stream that preserved their lives. God also continued to guide them with a pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night.

   Guide me, O Thou great Jehovah, pilgrim thru this barren land;
   I am weak, but Thou art mighty—Hold me with Thy pow’rful hand:
   Bread of Heaven, Bread of Heaven, feed me till I want no more.
   Open now the crystal fountain, whence the healing stream doth flow;
   Let the fire and cloudy pillar lead me all my journey through;
   Strong Deliverer, strong Deliverer, be Thou still my strength and shield.
   When I tread the verge of Jordan, bid my anxious fears subside;
   Bear me thru the swelling current; land me safe on Canaan’s side:
   Songs of praises, songs of praises, I will ever give to Thee.

     For Today: Psalm 16:11; Psalm 32:8; Isaiah 58:11; Romans 8:14

     Claim God’s promises for your life in even the small decisions you will be called upon to make this day. Then, begin to praise Him.

Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions

A Prayer of Repentance
     Joe Wright 1/23/1996

     The original prayer was delivered January 23, 1996 by the Rev. Joe Wright to the Kansas House of Reprentatives in Topeka.January 4

Heavenly Father,

     We come before you today to ask your forgiveness and seek your direction and guidance.

     We know your Word says, "Woe to those who call evil good," but that's exactly what we've done.

     We have lost our spiritual equilibrium and inverted our values.

     We confess that we have ridiculed the absolute truth of your Word and called it moral pluralism.

     We have worshipped other gods and called it multi-culturalism.

     We have endorsed perversion and called it an alternative lifestyle.

     We have exploited the poor and called it the lottery.

     We have neglected the needy and called it self-preservation.

     We have rewarded laziness and called it welfare.

     We have killed our unborn and called it choice.

     We have shot abortionists and called it justifiable.

     We have neglected to discipline our children and called it building esteem.

     We have abused power and called it political savvy.

     We have coveted our neighbors' possessions and called it ambition.

     We have polluted the air with profanity and pornography and called it freedom of expression.

     We have ridiculed the time-honored values of our forefathers and called it enlightenment.

     Search us O God and know our hearts today; try us and see if there be some wicked way in us; cleanse us from every sin and set us free.

     Guide and bless these men and women who have been sent here by the people of Kansas, and who have been ordained by you, to govern this great state.

     Grant them your wisdom to rule and may their decisions direct us to the center of your will.

     I ask it in the name of your son, the living Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.

  I heard my pastor  (  Brett Meador  )  read this prayer so I used Google when I got home. You can find the prayer and the story in many places on the internet.

Genesis 12 - 15
     Dr. Andy Woods

Genesis 54 - A Promise Is A Promise
Gen 12:1-3 | 10-10-2021

Genesis 55 - A Worshipful Lifestyle
Genesis 12:4-9 | 10-24-2021

Genesis 56 - Living By Divine Promise
Genesis 12:10-20 | 10-31-2021

Genesis 057 - The Gift Of Goodbye
Genesis 13:1-2 | 11-07-2021

Genesis 058 - A Great Paradox
Genesis 13:13-18 | 11-14-2021

Genesis 059 - God's Strength
Genesis 14:1-16 | 11-21-2021

Genesis 060 - Giving God's Way
Genesis 14:17-24 | 11-28-2021

Genesis 061 - Life's Most Important Issue - A GREAT message!
Genesis 15:1-6 | 12-05-2021

Genesis 062 - The Condescension Of God
Genesis 15:7-16 | 12-12-2021

Genesis 063 - The Ultimate Real Estate Deal
Genesis 15:15-21 | 12-19-2021

Dr. Andrew Woods of Sugar Land Bible Church
Genesis 12-15
     Jon Courson

Genesis 12
Jon Courson

click here
January 7, 1998

Genesis 14:20
Blest Be The Tithe That Unbinds
Jon Courson

click here
January 11, 1998

Genesis 13-14
Jon Courson

click here
January 14, 1998

Genesis 15
Be A Promise Taker
Jon Courson

click here
January 18, 1998

Genesis 15-16
Jon Courson

click here
January 21, 1998

Genesis 8-15
Be A Promise Taker
Jon Courson

click here
September 14, 2011

Jon Courson | Jon Courson

Genesis 12-15
     Skip Heitzig

Genesis 12
Calvary Chapel NM

Genesis 13-14
Calvary Chapel NM

Genesis 15
Calvary Chapel NM

Skip Heitzig | Calvary Chapel NM

Genesis 12-15
     Paul LeBoutillier

Genesis 13
Abram and Lot Separate
Paul LeBoutillier


Genesis 14
Abram Rescues Lot
Paul LeBoutillier


Genesis 15 - 16
God's Covenant with Abram/ Sarai and Haggar
Paul LeBoutillier


Paul LeBoutillier | Calvary Chapel Ontario, Oregon

Genesis 12-15
     Brett Meador | Athey Creek

Genesis 12:1-3
The History Of Israel


Genesis 12:10-20
Beware Of Detours!


Genesis 15:6
Just Believe?


Genesis 14-15


Brett Meador | Athey Creek

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

Genesis 12:1-3
The Role of Israel in Prophecy
Calvary Chapel NM

March 27, 2023

Pastors' Point of View 133
The Great Global Reset - Pt. 3
Andy Woods


Intro Minor Prophets
David Talley | Biola University

The Prophet Nehemiah
David Talley | Biola University

Lining Up Your Wants
and Needs with Christ
Rick Bee | Biola University

Planning for the Hard Times
Rick Bee | Biola University

Abrahamic Covenant
Dr. Jeffrey Niehaus | Dr. Ted Hildebrandt

Pastors' Point of View 134
The Great Global Reset - Pt. 4
Andy Woods


Genesis 15:18-21
Abrahamic Covenant
Andy Woods


Pastors Point Of View (PPOV) 236
Apostasy, Gog-Magog, Antisemitism,
Persecution, Cashless
Andy Woods