Genesis 22 - 24
The Sacrifice of IsaacGenesis 22:1 After these things God tested Abraham and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” 2 He said, “Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.” 3 So Abraham rose early in the morning, saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and his son Isaac. And he cut the wood for the burnt offering and arose and went to the place of which God had told him. 4 On the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes and saw the place from afar. 5 Then Abraham said to his young men, “Stay here with the donkey; I and the boy will go over there and worship and come again to you.” 6 And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering and laid it on Isaac his son. And he took in his hand the fire and the knife. So they went both of them together. 7 And Isaac said to his father Abraham, “My father!” And he said, “Here I am, my son.” He said, “Behold, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?” 8 Abraham said, “God will provide for himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son.” So they went both of them together.
9 When they came to the place of which God had told him, Abraham built the altar there and laid the wood in order and bound Isaac his son and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. 10 Then Abraham reached out his hand and took the knife to slaughter his son. 11 But the angel of the LORD called to him from heaven and said, “Abraham, Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” 12 He said, “Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him, for now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me.” 13 And Abraham lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him was a ram, caught in a thicket by his horns. And Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up as a burnt offering instead of his son. 14 So Abraham called the name of that place, “The LORD will provide”; as it is said to this day, “On the mount of the LORD it shall be provided.”
15 And the angel of the LORD called to Abraham a second time from heaven 16 and said, “ By myself I have sworn, declares the LORD, because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, 17 I will surely bless you, and I will surely multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven and as the sand that is on the seashore. And your offspring shall possess the gate of his enemies, 18 and in your offspring shall all the nations of the earth be blessed, because you have obeyed my voice.” 19 So Abraham returned to his young men, and they arose and went together to Beersheba. And Abraham lived at Beersheba.
20 Now after these things it was told to Abraham, “Behold, Milcah also has borne children to your brother Nahor: 21 Uz his firstborn, Buz his brother, Kemuel the father of Aram, 22 Chesed, Hazo, Pildash, Jidlaph, and Bethuel.” 23 (Bethuel fathered Rebekah.) These eight Milcah bore to Nahor, Abraham’s brother. 24 Moreover, his concubine, whose name was Reumah, bore Tebah, Gaham, Tahash, and Maacah.
Sarah’s Death and BurialGenesis 23:1 Sarah lived 127 years; these were the years of the life of Sarah. 2 And Sarah died at Kiriath-arba (that is, Hebron) in the land of Canaan, and Abraham went in to mourn for Sarah and to weep for her. 3 And Abraham rose up from before his dead and said to the Hittites, 4 “I am a sojourner and foreigner among you; give me property among you for a burying place, that I may bury my dead out of my sight.” 5 The Hittites answered Abraham, 6 “Hear us, my lord; you are a prince of God among us. Bury your dead in the choicest of our tombs. None of us will withhold from you his tomb to hinder you from burying your dead.” 7 Abraham rose and bowed to the Hittites, the people of the land. 8 And he said to them, “If you are willing that I should bury my dead out of my sight, hear me and entreat for me Ephron the son of Zohar, 9 that he may give me the cave of Machpelah, which he owns; it is at the end of his field. For the full price let him give it to me in your presence as property for a burying place.”
10 Now Ephron was sitting among the Hittites, and Ephron the Hittite answered Abraham in the hearing of the Hittites, of all who went in at the gate of his city, 11 “No, my lord, hear me: I give you the field, and I give you the cave that is in it. In the sight of the sons of my people I give it to you. Bury your dead.” 12 Then Abraham bowed down before the people of the land. 13 And he said to Ephron in the hearing of the people of the land, “But if you will, hear me: I give the price of the field. Accept it from me, that I may bury my dead there.” 14 Ephron answered Abraham, 15 “My lord, listen to me: a piece of land worth four hundred shekels of silver, what is that between you and me? Bury your dead.” 16 Abraham listened to Ephron, and Abraham weighed out for Ephron the silver that he had named in the hearing of the Hittites, four hundred shekels of silver, according to the weights current among the merchants.
17 So the field of Ephron in Machpelah, which was to the east of Mamre, the field with the cave that was in it and all the trees that were in the field, throughout its whole area, was made over 18 to Abraham as a possession in the presence of the Hittites, before all who went in at the gate of his city. 19 After this, Abraham buried Sarah his wife in the cave of the field of Machpelah east of Mamre (that is, Hebron) in the land of Canaan. 20 The field and the cave that is in it were made over to Abraham as property for a burying place by the Hittites.
Isaac and RebekahGenesis 24:1 Now Abraham was old, well advanced in years. And the LORD had blessed Abraham in all things. 2 And Abraham said to his servant, the oldest of his household, who had charge of all that he had, “Put your hand under my thigh, 3 that I may make you swear by the LORD, the God of heaven and God of the earth, that you will not take a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I dwell, 4 but will go to my country and to my kindred, and take a wife for my son Isaac.” 5 The servant said to him, “Perhaps the woman may not be willing to follow me to this land. Must I then take your son back to the land from which you came?” 6 Abraham said to him, “See to it that you do not take my son back there. 7 The LORD, the God of heaven, who took me from my father’s house and from the land of my kindred, and who spoke to me and swore to me, ‘To your offspring I will give this land,’ he will send his angel before you, and you shall take a wife for my son from there. 8 But if the woman is not willing to follow you, then you will be free from this oath of mine; only you must not take my son back there.” 9 So the servant put his hand under the thigh of Abraham his master and swore to him concerning this matter.
10 Then the servant took ten of his master’s camels and departed, taking all sorts of choice gifts from his master; and he arose and went to Mesopotamia to the city of Nahor. 11 And he made the camels kneel down outside the city by the well of water at the time of evening, the time when women go out to draw water. 12 And he said, “O LORD, God of my master Abraham, please grant me success today and show steadfast love to my master Abraham. 13 Behold, I am standing by the spring of water, and the daughters of the men of the city are coming out to draw water. 14 Let the young woman to whom I shall say, ‘Please let down your jar that I may drink,’ and who shall say, ‘Drink, and I will water your camels’ — let her be the one whom you have appointed for your servant Isaac. By this I shall know that you have shown steadfast love to my master.”
15 Before he had finished speaking, behold, Rebekah, who was born to Bethuel the son of Milcah, the wife of Nahor, Abraham’s brother, came out with her water jar on her shoulder. 16 The young woman was very attractive in appearance, a maiden whom no man had known. She went down to the spring and filled her jar and came up.
17 Then the servant ran to meet her and said, “Please give me a little water to drink from your jar.” 18 She said, “Drink, my lord.” And she quickly let down her jar upon her hand and gave him a drink. 19 When she had finished giving him a drink, she said, “I will draw water for your camels also, until they have finished drinking.” 20 So she quickly emptied her jar into the trough and ran again to the well to draw water, and she drew for all his camels. 21 The man gazed at her in silence to learn whether the LORD had prospered his journey or not.
22 When the camels had finished drinking, the man took a gold ring weighing a half shekel, and two bracelets for her arms weighing ten gold shekels, 23 and said, “Please tell me whose daughter you are. Is there room in your father’s house for us to spend the night?” 24 She said to him, “I am the daughter of Bethuel the son of Milcah, whom she bore to Nahor.” 25 She added, “We have plenty of both straw and fodder, and room to spend the night.” 26 The man bowed his head and worshiped the LORD 27 and said, “Blessed be the LORD, the God of my master Abraham, who has not forsaken his steadfast love and his faithfulness toward my master. As for me, the LORD has led me in the way to the house of my master’s kinsmen.” 28 Then the young woman ran and told her mother’s household about these things.
29 Rebekah had a brother whose name was Laban. Laban ran out toward the man, to the spring. 30 As soon as he saw the ring and the bracelets on his sister’s arms, and heard the words of Rebekah his sister, “Thus the man spoke to me,” he went to the man. And behold, he was standing by the camels at the spring. 31 He said, “Come in, O blessed of the LORD. Why do you stand outside? For I have prepared the house and a place for the camels.” 32 So the man came to the house and unharnessed the camels, and gave straw and fodder to the camels, and there was water to wash his feet and the feet of the men who were with him. 33 Then food was set before him to eat. But he said, “I will not eat until I have said what I have to say.” He said, “Speak on.”
34 So he said, “I am Abraham’s servant. 35 The LORD has greatly blessed my master, and he has become great. He has given him flocks and herds, silver and gold, male servants and female servants, camels and donkeys. 36 And Sarah my master’s wife bore a son to my master when she was old, and to him he has given all that he has. 37 My master made me swear, saying, ‘You shall not take a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites, in whose land I dwell, 38 but you shall go to my father’s house and to my clan and take a wife for my son.’ 39 I said to my master, ‘Perhaps the woman will not follow me.’ 40 But he said to me, ‘The LORD, before whom I have walked, will send his angel with you and prosper your way. You shall take a wife for my son from my clan and from my father’s house. 41 Then you will be free from my oath, when you come to my clan. And if they will not give her to you, you will be free from my oath.’
42 “I came today to the spring and said, ‘O LORD, the God of my master Abraham, if now you are prospering the way that I go, 43 behold, I am standing by the spring of water. Let the virgin who comes out to draw water, to whom I shall say, “Please give me a little water from your jar to drink,” 44 and who will say to me, “Drink, and I will draw for your camels also,” let her be the woman whom the LORD has appointed for my master’s son.’
45 “Before I had finished speaking in my heart, behold, Rebekah came out with her water jar on her shoulder, and she went down to the spring and drew water. I said to her, ‘Please let me drink.’ 46 She quickly let down her jar from her shoulder and said, ‘Drink, and I will give your camels drink also.’ So I drank, and she gave the camels drink also. 47 Then I asked her, ‘Whose daughter are you?’ She said, ‘The daughter of Bethuel, Nahor’s son, whom Milcah bore to him.’ So I put the ring on her nose and the bracelets on her arms. 48 Then I bowed my head and worshiped the LORD and blessed the LORD, the God of my master Abraham, who had led me by the right way to take the daughter of my master’s kinsman for his son. 49 Now then, if you are going to show steadfast love and faithfulness to my master, tell me; and if not, tell me, that I may turn to the right hand or to the left.”
50 Then Laban and Bethuel answered and said, “The thing has come from the LORD; we cannot speak to you bad or good. 51 Behold, Rebekah is before you; take her and go, and let her be the wife of your master’s son, as the LORD has spoken.”
52 When Abraham’s servant heard their words, he bowed himself to the earth before the LORD. 53 And the servant brought out jewelry of silver and of gold, and garments, and gave them to Rebekah. He also gave to her brother and to her mother costly ornaments. 54 And he and the men who were with him ate and drank, and they spent the night there. When they arose in the morning, he said, “Send me away to my master.” 55 Her brother and her mother said, “Let the young woman remain with us a while, at least ten days; after that she may go.” 56 But he said to them, “Do not delay me, since the LORD has prospered my way. Send me away that I may go to my master.” 57 They said, “Let us call the young woman and ask her.” 58 And they called Rebekah and said to her, “Will you go with this man?” She said, “I will go.” 59 So they sent away Rebekah their sister and her nurse, and Abraham’s servant and his men. 60 And they blessed Rebekah and said to her,
“Our sister, may you become
thousands of ten thousands,
and may your offspring possess
the gate of those who hate him!”
62 Now Isaac had returned from Beer-lahai-roi and was dwelling in the Negeb. 63 And Isaac went out to meditate in the field toward evening. And he lifted up his eyes and saw, and behold, there were camels coming. 64 And Rebekah lifted up her eyes, and when she saw Isaac, she dismounted from the camel 65 and said to the servant, “Who is that man, walking in the field to meet us?” The servant said, “It is my master.” So she took her veil and covered herself. 66 And the servant told Isaac all the things that he had done. 67 Then Isaac brought her into the tent of Sarah his mother and took Rebekah, and she became his wife, and he loved her. So Isaac was comforted after his mother’s death.
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What I'm Reading
Why Shouldn’t We Trust the Non-Canonical “Second Treatise of the Great Seth”?
By J. Warner Wallace 1/5/2018
There are a number of ancient, non-canonical texts used by sect leaders or heretical groups in the early history of Christianity. One of these is a gnostic document called The Second Treatise of the Great Seth. Is this non-biblical text reliable? Was it written by an eyewitness who accurately captured the actions and statements of Jesus? There are four attributes of reliable eyewitness testimony, and the first requirement is simply that the account be old enough to actually be written by someone who was present to see what he or she reports. The Second Treatise of the Great Seth was written too late in history to have been written by anyone who could have actually seen the ministry of Jesus, and like other late non-canonical texts, this errant document was rejected by the Church. In spite of this, The Second Treatise of the Great Seth may have contained small nuggets of truth related to Jesus. Although it is a legendary fabrication altered by an author who wanted to craft a version of the Jesus story that suited the purposes of his religious community, it likely reflected many truths about Jesus:
The Second Treatise of the Great Seth (180-300AD) | The Second Treatise of the Great Seth was also discovered at the Nag Hammadi Library in Egypt in 1945. Its title comes from the final line of the text and it is unknown if there was a First Treatise, as none has ever been discovered. It is yet another example of Sethian Gnosticism; a text used by a group who originally worshipped the biblical Seth as a messianic figure and later treated Jesus as a re-incarnation of Seth. The text is written as though Jesus Himself is the author, but the Coptic language of the text (it was originally written in Greek) is so complex and confusing that scholars have great difficulty understanding its contents and are hesitant to acknowledge the text as a unified work.
Why Isn’t It Considered Reliable? | This text was written in the latter half of the 2nd century (at the earliest) and scholars believe it was written in Alexandria. The time and location of the writing exclude the text from being a true eyewitness account related to the life of Jesus. As part of a collection of Sethian documents, The Second Treatise of the Great Seth contains a crucifixion account similar to that offered by Basilides, a known Alexandrian Gnostic teacher from the 2nd century. The Church Fathers were well acquainted with Basilidian Gnosticism and condemned it as heretical from the moment Basilides appeared on the scene. Agrippa Castor (late 2nd century) wrote against Basilides directly, and his condemnation of Basilidian Gnosticism was affirmed by Eusebius, Clement of Alexandria, Hippolytus, Epiphamus of Salamis and Theodoret of Cyrus.
How Does It Corroborate the Life of Jesus? | While The Second Treatise of the Great Seth is often difficult to understand, it does acknowledge Jesus as the “Word”, the “Christ”, “Jesus Christ” and the “Son of Man”. Jesus is clearly venerated as the source of divine wisdom. The text also recognizes several elements from the Passion narrative, including the fact that Jesus was beaten with reeds, forced to wear a crown of thorns, nailed to a cross, and appeared to die. Simon (the Cyrene) is described as the man who “bore the cross on his shoulder” and the text describes the fact that the veil of the Temple was torn at the time of Jesus’ death. John the Baptist is also mentioned as part of the text.
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J. Warner Wallace is a Cold-Case Detective, a Christian Case Maker, and the author of:
How Do You Solve a Problem like Maria (and Mary, and Mary, and Elizabeth) ?
By Sean Morris 11/30/2016
For many, the name “John Knox” probably evokes some association with authoritarianism, misogyny, or at least an overbearing, severe personality.
Indeed, when I was in Edinburgh this past summer standing outside of St. Giles’ Cathedral near the site where Knox’s grave had been (quite unceremoniously) paved over to make way for a parking lot, I overheard a nearby leader of a walking-tour describe the Scottish minister as a “fanatic given to sentiments of treason and anarchy, known for his bigoted, antiquated, and chauvinistic views, his antagonism and disdain toward Mary Queen of Scots, and his strict religious control over the city of Edinburgh.”
Now to be fair, when one considers that the Father of Presbyterianism’s best-known work is titled The First Blast of the Trumpet Against the Monstrous Regiment of Women…well, his detractors might be forgiven for having an unsavory impression of the man.
Knox was certainly “a man of his times,” but that cliché hardly does justice to the content of his theology or the contours of his politics and or his concern for justice and religious liberty in a land where Protestants were being persecuted and slaughtered by the thousands–never mind the fact that this man was an outspoken advocate for education and care for the poor. As students of history well know, the truth of an historical matter is usually far more complicated, muddled, disorienting, confusing, and fascinating than a first glance would suggest.
So when Pastor Knox refers to Mary, Queen of Scots (or Maria Regina Scotorum, if you like) as “…that idolatress Jezebel, mischievous Mary, of the Spaniard’s blood, cruel persecutrix of the church,” we cannot be satisfied with a run-of-the-mill charge that he is a “religious bigot and hater of women” like that from my tour-guide friend. A provocative line like that from Knox must drive us to dig further.
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How Jesus Confronted And Corrected Others
By Nick Batzig 6/25/2015
A fellow minister in our Presbytery recently preached a sermon series called, “Things Jesus Should Not Have (I Wish He Hadn’t) Said!” The crux of the series was that Jesus said many hard sayings that–if we are honest–we would have to admit we find uncomfortable. The fact of the matter is that so much of what Jesus said makes people uncomfortable. In a day when the “cult of nicenesss” has permeated the church, and politeness and tolerance has taken a front seat to truth and the fear of God, we need to be reminded that the Savior of the world often corrected the errors of his enemies in a less than winsome manner. Many times He also corrected His disciples in shocking and uncomfortable ways. As we study the life of Jesus in the Gospels we see very clearly the way in which the Savior of the world corrected people when they said or did things that needed correction. Consider the following:
How Jesus Corrected And Confronted His Opponents And Hypocrites
1. Jesus Corrected and Confronted Publicly: Jesus corrected the false teaching of the Scribes and Pharisees by teaching His disciples to be on constant guard against it. He corrected their misinterpretations by appealing to His own authority. He repeatedly said, “You have heard it was said…but I say to you…” Jesus would often speak with His disciples, and the crowds around Him, about the dangers of false teachers’ doctrine. It is not, as many suppose, godly not to talk about the problems with false teachers and teaching.
2. Jesus Corrected and Confronted Directly: Jesus directly confronted false teachers in the church with the repetitious, “Woe to you…hypocrites.” When they came to trick Him, Jesus frequently silenced the Chief Priests, Scribes, Pharisees, and Sadducees by putting them in their place with Scripture. On one occasion. He came right out and said, “You’re wrong, not knowing the Scriptures or the power of God.” Jesus was not afraid to tell people–in the most confrontational way–“You’re wrong.”
3. Jesus Resorted to Metaphorical “Animal” Name Calling: Jesus often exposed the true nature of the wickedness of false teachers by using animal names to metaphorically describe them. He called the Pharisees the “offspring of serpents,” Herod “a fox,” false teachers “wolves,” and unregenerate Gentiles “dogs.”
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Resources For Spending Time With Jesus
By Mike Mobley
Whether it’s the beginning of a new year or a new season in your life, one thing is for sure…spending time with Jesus must be crucial for you. Really, spending time with Jesus is crucial for all of us because He is everything.
I’m convinced that’s where the real battle is for all of us and for good reason. If it’s such a battle to spend time with Jesus on a daily basis, don’t you think there’s a reason for this? There’s a reason that we get so easily distracted every single day and oftentimes forget to spend time with God. I know that happens to me over and over again.
For followers of Jesus, everything is centered around our time with Him. It’s time with Him that will remind us we are forgiven, forever. It’s time with Him that will remind us what our purpose is. It’s time with Him that will comfort us, give us strength, show us truth, and more.
Regardless of wherever you are and whatever you’re going through, you can just start today. Make a commitment today before God to spend time with him on a daily basis. Here are some great resources and what I’m using for spending time with Jesus:
I’ve written about this app before when it first came out and they just keep making it better and better. The video introductions to all books of the Bible are the best I’ve ever seen and I’ve learned a lot just from those videos alone.
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Read The Psalms In "1" Year
Psalm 5Lead Me in Your Righteousness
5 To The Choirmaster: For The Flutes. A Psalm Of David.
1 Give ear to my words, O LORD;
consider my groaning.
2 Give attention to the sound of my cry,
my King and my God,
for to you do I pray.
3 O LORD, in the morning you hear my voice;
in the morning I prepare a sacrifice for you and watch.
4 For you are not a God who delights in wickedness;
evil may not dwell with you.
5 The boastful shall not stand before your eyes;
you hate all evildoers.
6 You destroy those who speak lies;
the LORD abhors the bloodthirsty and deceitful man.
7 But I, through the abundance of your steadfast love,
will enter your house.
I will bow down toward your holy temple
in the fear of you.
8 Lead me, O LORD, in your righteousness
because of my enemies;
make your way straight before me.
Three Blunders Atheists make arguing against God
By Noah Myers 1/5/2017
I’ve recently been watching a debate between Atheist Christopher Hitchens and Frank Turek. It is a reasonably good debate, but I was surprised to see that even Hitchens, who was one of the most prolific atheists of our time, makes some surprisingly amateurish blunders through the debate. Here are a few that stood out to me. In reality these are all the same blunder, but I think looking at it from different angles helps solidify the point.
You cannot prove God because you, yourself, reject other Gods | One blunder I heard Hitchens make was bringing up that everyone is an Atheist about some Gods. Christians are Atheists about Zeus and Thor and other gods. Muslims are Atheists about other gods as well, so are Jews, so are Buddhists and so are Hindus. Everyone rejects some Gods so in the end, so why not just reject all Gods? Or perhaps better said ‘you reject some Gods, so therefor all Gods must be rejected.’
But how would this argument work elsewhere? What if we applied it to math? We all reject 2+2=6. We also reject that 2+2=12, or 14, or 17, or 3. If we apply Hitchens logic here we should also reject that 2+2=4, since we have rejected all the other options. That of course is absurd. Granted I understand that Hitchens rejects the Christian God, for other reasons than this, but the mere fact he brings up this argument I think should make us question his bias.
Not Staying with the task at hand | The problem overall in Hitchens argument is that he tries to argue against one point of Christian apologetic by rejecting another. If we look at arguing for Christianity as a four step process we could outline it as such:
My name is Noah Myers, I am from Fort Collins Colorado, probably the best city in the good ole US of A. Despite my love and pride for of Fort Collins I can’t seem to avoid a desire to travel the world. I went to a one year bible college in England called Capernwray straight out of high school. It was an amazing year and I learned so much. Afterword I returned home to attend Colorado State University and graduated with a Religious Philosophy Degree and an English minor.
God gave me the opportunity after CSU to take part in an amazing trip called World Race. The trip had an amazing impact on my life and I will be posting a lot of blogs from that time on this site eventually. For now I will just say it was an 11 month journey to 11 countries that truly changed my life.
I have been back now for three years that have flown by. I am now attending Southern Evangelical Seminary online to earn a Master of Arts in Apologetics. I have recently been hired by Ratio Christi, a college apologetics ministry, to start a chapter at Colorado State. I hope to serve the Lord by writing this blog and sharing both what I am learning at school and what God is teaching me in lifes little lessons. I hope you enjoy it and please let me know what you think.
If you would like email updates about everything happining with Ratio Christi at CSU Click Here.
The Problem Of The Old Testament
By James Orr 1907
Chapter 2 - The Old Testament from its own point of view
“Israel has the idea of teleology as a kind of soul.”—DORNER.
“Behind it all is the mystery of race and of selection. It is an ultimate fact in the history and government of the world, this eminent genius of one tiny people for religion. We know no more: and, in M. Renan’s own terms, the people was ‘selected,’ just as, in words more familiar, Israel is ‘the chosen people.’ ”—ANDREW LANG.
“When we say that God dealt with Israel in the way of special revelation, and crowned His dealings by personally manifesting all His grace and truth in Jesus Christ the incarnate Word, we mean that the Bible contains within itself a perfect picture of God’s gracious relations with man, and that we have no need to go outside the Bible history to learn anything of God and His saving will towards us,—that the whole growth of the true religion up to its perfect fulness is set before us in the record of God’s dealings with Israel culminating in the manifestation of Jesus Christ.”—W. R. SMITH.
“If the first three chapters of Genesis are taken out of the Bible, it is deprived of the terminus a quo: if the last three chapters of the Apocalypse are taken away, it is deprived of the terminus ad quem.”—MENKEN.
OUR subject of study, then, is this book of history, of laws, of prophecy, of psalms, of wisdom literature, which we call the Old Testament. Before, however, entangling ourselves in the thorny brakes into which the critical study of this older collection of Scriptures conducts us, it is desirable that we should look for a little at the book by itself, in the form in which we have it, and allow its own voice to be heard on its character and place in the economy of revelation.
There are obvious advantages in this course. No slight is intended to be cast on criticism: but it may be gravely questioned whether this constant discussion going on about the Bible,—this minute dissection and analysis of it, and perpetual weighing of its parts in the nice scales of a critical balance,—has not at least one harmful effect, that, viz., of coming between men and the devout, prayerful study of the Bible itself, out of which alone can grow that sense of its harmony and proportion, and experience of its saving and sanctifying power, which yield the best proof of its divine origin. The dissecting chamber is necessary; but it is not exactly the best place for acquiring a sense of the symmetry and beauty of the living human body, or for cultivating reverence for it. It is hardly less difficult to grow into a spiritual appreciation of Scripture, when we are not permitted to make acquaintance with a Biblical book till it has first been put upon the critic’s table, and there sliced, severed, and anatomised, till all the palpitating life has gone out of it, and we are left, as chief result, with dry lists of the sections, verses, or parts of verses, supposed to belong to the different narrators or editors! The Bible has a character and power of impression which belong to it as a living book; it is right that these should have justice done to them before the process of disintegration begins.
We would here indicate, therefore, at the outset, what precisely it is we propose to do, and what we do not propose to do, in the present chapter. We propose, then, treating the Old Testament for the time as part of the general organism of Scripture, to take the Bible just as it is,—just as it lies before us,—and to ask what kind of a book it is, what sort of an account it gives of itself, and what kind of impression of its origin and source grows out of this firsthand acquaintance with it. We shall have little or nothing to say at this stage of theories of criticism—these will come after; nothing of questions of age, authorship, or genuineness; little of theories of revelation or inspiration. There may be gain, for once, in leaving these things for a short while aside, and permitting the Bible to speak for itself—to utter its own unconstrained testimony—to produce on the mind its own immediate effect, without reference to outside controversies. The Bible may prove in this way, as it has often proved before, to be its own best witness, and it is this aspect and evidence of its divineness which, it seems to us, it is necessary at the present time, in the difficulty and uncertainty in which many are involved, most of all to emphasise.
I. THE ORGANIC UNITY OF THE BOOK
We take up the Bible, then, in the way suggested, and the first thing, we think, that must strike us in connection with it, is, that this book is, in a remarkable sense, a unity. From another point of view, of course, the Bible is not one book, but a collection of books: as Jerome named it, “a divine library.” It comes to us “by divers portions and in divers manners.” The writings that compose it are spread over at least a thousand years. Yet the singular fact is that, when these writings are put together, they constitute, structurally, one book; make up a “Bible,” as we call it, with beginning, and middle, and end, which produces on the mind a sense of harmony and completeness.
This peculiarity in the Bible, which is not essentially affected by any results of criticism—since, indeed, the more the critic divides and distributes his material, the outcome in the book as we have it is only the more wonderful—is best illustrated by contrast. For Christianity is not the only religion in the world, nor is the Bible the only collection of sacred books in existence. There are many Bibles of different religions. The Mohammedan has his Koran; the Buddhist has his Canon of Sacred Scriptures; the Zoroastrian has his Zendavesta; the Brahman has his Vedas. On the basis of this very fact, comparative religion groups a number of religions together as “book-religions.” These sacred books are made accessible to us by reliable translations, and we can compare them with our own Scriptures. But, not to speak of the enormous superiority of the Bible to these other sacred books, even in a literary respect,—for few, we presume, capable of judging, would think of comparing even the noblest of the Babylonian or Vedic hymns, or of the Zoroastrian Gathas, in power or grandeur, with the Hebrew psalms; or would liken the few really lofty passages on God in the Koran with the sustained sublimity of the Hebrew prophets; or would draw a parallel between the wild extravagances of the Buddhist Lalita Vistara and the simplicity, beauty, and self-restraint of the Christian Gospels,—we would fix attention only on this one point—the contrast in respect of unity. We seek in vain in these ethnic Scriptures for anything answering to this name. The Koran, for instance, is a miscellany of disjointed pieces, out of which it is impossible to extract any order, progress, or arrangement. The 114 Suras or chapters of which it is composed are arranged chiefly according to length—the longer in general preceding the shorter. It is not otherwise with the Zoroastrian and Buddhist Scriptures. These are equally destitute of beginning, middle, or end. They are, for the most part, collections of heterogeneous materials, loosely placed together. How different everyone must acknowledge it to be with the Bible! From Genesis to Revelation we feel that this book is in a real sense a unity. It is not a collection of fragments, but has, as we say, an organic character. It has one connected story to tell from beginning to end; we see something growing before our eyes; there is plan, purpose, progress; the end folds back on the beginning, and, when the whole is finished, we feel that here again, as in the primal creation, God has finished all His works, and, behold, they are very good. This is a very external way, it may be granted, of looking at the Bible, yet it is a very important one. It puts the Bible before us at the outset as a unique book. There is nothing exactly resembling it, or even approaching it, in all literature. To find its explanation, it compels us to go behind the fragmentariness of the parts, to the underlying unity of thought and purpose in the whole. The unity of the Bible is not something factitious—made. It grows out of the unity of the religion and the history, and points to that as its source.
Charles Haddon Spurgeon October 12, 1884
Scripture: Genesis 22:14
Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit
“And Abraham called the name of that place Jehovah-jireh: as it is said to this day, In the mount of the Lord it shall be seen.” — Genesis xxii. 14.
“ABRAHAM called the name of that place Jehovah-jireh,” or “Jehovah will see it,” or “Jehovah will provide,” or “Jehovah will be seen.” We are offered a variety of interpretations, but the exact idea is that of seeing and being seen. For God to see is to provide. Our own word “provide,” is only Latin for “to see.” You know how we say that we will see to a matter. Possibly this expression hits the nail on the head. Our heavenly Father sees our need, and with divine foresight of love prepares the supply. He sees to a need to supply it; and in the seeing he is seen, in the providing he manifests himself.
I believe that the truth contained in the expression “Jehovah-jireh” was ruling Abraham’s thought long before he uttered it and appointed it to be the memorial name of the place where the Lord had provided a substitute for Isaac. It was this thought, I think, which enabled him to act as promptly as he did under the trying circumstances. His reason whispered within him, “If you slay your son, how can God keep his promise to you that your seed shall be as many as the stars of heaven?” He answered that suggestion by saying to himself, “Jehovah will see to it!” As he went upon that painful journey, with his dearly beloved son at his side, the suggestion may have come to him, “How will you meet Sarah when you return home, having imbrued your hands in the blood of her son? How will you meet your neighbours when they hear that Abraham, who professed to be such a holy man, has killed his son?” That answer still sustained his heart— “Jehovah will see to it! Jehovah will see to it! He will not fail in his word. Perhaps he will raise my son from the dead; but in some way or other he will justify my obedience to him, and vindicate his own command. Jehovah will see to it.” This was a quietus to every mistrustful thought. I pray that we may drink into this truth, and be refreshed by it. If we follow the Lord’s bidding, he will see to it that we shall not be ashamed or confounded. If we come into great need by following his command, he will see to it that the loss shall be recompensed. If our difficulties multiply and increase so that our way seems completely blocked up, Jehovah will see to it that the road shall be cleared. The Lord will see us through in the way of holiness if we are only willing to be thorough in it, and dare to follow wheresoever he leads the way. We need not wonder that Abraham should utter this truth, and attach it to the spot which was to be for ever famous: for his whole heart was saturated with it, and had been sustained by it. Wisely he makes an altar and a mountain to be memorials of the truth which had so greatly helped him. His trials had taught him more of God,— had, in fact, given him a new name for his God; and this he would not have forgotten, but he would keep it before the minds of the generations following by naming the place Jehovah-jireh.
Observe as you read this chapter that this was not the first time that Abraham had thus spoken. When he called the name of the place Jehovah-jireh he had seen it to be true,— the ram caught in the thicket had been provided as a substitute for Isaac: Jehovah had provided. But he had before declared that truth when as yet he knew nothing of the Divine action, when he could not even guess how his extraordinary trial would end. His son Isaac had said to him, “Behold the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?” and the afflicted father had bravely answered, “My son, God will provide.” In due time God did provide, and then Abraham honoured him by saying the same words, only instead of the ordinary name for God he used the special covenant title— Jehovah. That is the only alteration; otherwise in the same terms he repeats the assurance that “the Lord will provide.”
That first utterance was most remarkable: it was simple enough, but how prophetic! It teaches us this truth, that the confident speech of a believer is akin to the language of a prophet. The man who accepts the promise of God unstaggeringly, and is sure that it is true, will speak like the seers of old: he will see that God sees, and will declare the fact, and the holy inference which comes of it. The believer’s childlike assurance will anticipate the future, and his plain statement— “God will provide”— will turn out to be literal truth. If you want to come near to prophesying, hold you hard to the promise of God and you shall “prophesy according to the measure of faith.” He that can say, “I know and am sure that God will not fail me in this mine hour of tribulation,” will, before long, drop pearls of divine confidence and diamonds of prediction from his lips. Choice sayings which become proverbs in the church of God are not the offspring of mistrust, but of firm confidence in the living God. To this day many a saying of a man of God is quoted among us, even as Abraham’s word was quoted. Moses puts it, “As it is said to this day, In the mount of the Lord it shall be seen;” and we might mention many a sentence which is said unto this day which first fell from the mouth of a faithful spirit in the hour of the manifestation of the Lord. The speech of the father of the faithful became the speech of his spiritual seed for many a year afterwards, and it abides in the family of faith unto this day. If we have full faith in God, we shall teach succeeding generations to expect Jehovah’s hand to be stretched out still.
True faith not only speaks the language of prophecy, but, when she sees her prophecy fulfilled, faith is always delighted to raise memorials to the God of truth. The stones which were set up of old were not to the memory of dead men, but they were memorials of the deeds of the living God: they abundantly uttered the memory of God’s great goodness. Abraham on this occasion did not choose a name which recorded what he had done, but a name which spake of what Jehovah had done. It is true Abraham’s faith was worthy to be remembered throughout all generations, for there he believed God and it was counted unto him for righteousness, and the Lord said to him, “And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice.” There the patriarch had endured the extreme test: no gold was ever passed through a hotter furnace. But true faith is always modest; from her gate boasting is excluded by law. Abraham says nothing about himself at all, but the praise is unto God, who sees and is seen; the record is, “Jehovah will provide.” I like that self-ignoring; I pray that we, also, may have so much strength of faith that self may go to the wall. Little faith is very apt to grow proud when, to its own astonishment, it has wrought righteousness; but strong faith so completely empties itself, and so entirely depends upon the all-sufficiency of God, that when anything is achieved it remembers nothing but the divine hand, and lays the crown where it ought to be laid. Growing in experimental acquaintance with the God of the covenant, faith has a new sung and a new name for her God, and takes care that his wonderful works shall be remembered.
Note yet further, that when faith has uttered a prophecy, and has set up her memorial, the record of mercy received becomes itself a new prophecy. Abraham says, “Jehovah-jireh,— God will see to it”; what was he doing then but prophesying a second time for future ages? He bids us know that, as God had provided for him in the time of his extremity, so he will provide for all them that put their trust in him. The God of Abraham liveth, and let his name be praised, and let us rest assured that, as certainly as in the patriarch’s distress, when there seemed no way of escape, the Lord appeared for him and was seen in the mount, even so shall it be with all the believing seed while time endureth. We shall all be tried and tested, but in our utmost need God will see us, and see to our deliverance, if we will but let faith have her perfect work, and will hope and quietly wait the moment when the Lord shall be seen working salvation. The Lord is the Preserver of men and the Provider for men. I long for all of us to get this truth firmly fixed in our hearts, and therefore I shall try to show that God’s provision for Abraham and Isaac typified the far greater provision by which all the faithful are delivered from death; and that God, in providing in the mount, has given us therein a sure guarantee that all our necessities shall be provided for henceforth even for ever.
Consider, then, that the provision which God made for Abraham was symbolic of the greater provision which he has made for all his chosen in Christ Jesus. “Jehovah-jireh” is a text from which to preach concerning providence, and many have been the sermons which have been distilled from it; but I take the liberty of saying that providence, in the ordinary sense of the term, is not the first thought of the passage, which should be read with some sort of reference to its connection, and the more so because that connection is exceedingly remarkable.
I. When Abraham said “Jehovah will provide,” he meant us, first of all, to learn that THE PROVISION WILL COME IN THE TIME OF OUR EXTREMITY. The provision of the ram instead of Isaac was the significant type which was before Abraham’s mind; but our Lord tells us, “Abraham rejoiced to see my day; and he saw it, and was glad;” and surely if ever Abraham saw the day of Christ, and was beyond measure glad, it was at that moment when he beheld the Lord providing a substitute for Isaac. At any rate, whether Abraham understood "the full meaning of what he said or not, he spoke not for himself, but for us. Every word he uttered is for our teaching, and the teaching is this: that God, in the gift of his Son, Jesus Christ, made the fullest provision for our greatest needs; and from that we may infer that whatever need shall ever occur to us, God will certainly provide for it; but he may delay the actual manifestation thereof till our darkest hour has come.
“Just in the last distressing hour
The Lord displays delivering power;
The mount of danger is the place
Where we shall see surprising grace.”
The Lord gave our Lord Jesus Christ to be the Substitute for men in view of the utmost need of our race. Isaac was hard pressed when God interfered in his behalf. The knife was lifted up by a resolute hand; he was within a second of death when the angelic voice said, “Lay not thine hand upon the lad.” God provided instantly when the need pressed urgently. Beloved, was Isaac nearer to death than sinful man was near to hell? Was that knife closer to the throat of the beloved Isaac than the axe of the executioner was near to the neck of every sinner, aye, to the neck of the whole race of man? We have so sinned and gone astray that it was not possible for God to wink at our transgressions; he must visit our iniquities with the just punishment, which is nothing less than death eternal. I constantly meet with persons under the convincing power of the Spirit of God, and I always find that in their apprehension the punishment of sin is something terrible and overwhelming. When God deals with men by his convincing Spirit, they feel that their sin deserves nothing less than the wrath of God in hell. So it was with our race; we had altogether destroyed ourselves, and were shut up under condemnation by the law, and it was in that dread hour that God interposed and proclaimed a Saviour for men. “While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” I would to God we all felt what a dreadful thing it is to be lost; for then we should value the provision of the Saviour much more than we do now. Oh, sirs, if no Redeemer had been provided, we might have gathered here this morning, and if you could have had patience to hear me, all I should have been able to say would have been, “Brethren, let us weep together and sigh in chorus; for we shall all die, and, dying, we shall sink into the bottomless pit, and shall abide for ever under the righteous anger of God.” It must have been so with us all if a substitute had not been found. If the gift of the loving Father had not been bestowed, if Jesus had not condescended to die in our place, we must have been left for execution by that law which will by no means spare the guilty. We talk about our salvation as if it were nothing very particular: we have heard of the plan of substitution so often that it becomes commonplace. It should not be so; I believe that it still thrills the angels with astonishment that man, when he had fallen from his high estate, and had been banished from Eden, and had become a rebel against God, should be redeemed by the blood of the Heir of all things, by whom the Divine Father made the worlds. When death and hell opened their jaws to devour, then was this miracle completed, and Jesus taken among the thorns was offered up a sacrifice for us.
God not only interposed when the death of Isaac was imminent, but also when the anguish of Abraham had reached its highest pitch. The patriarch’s faith never wavered; but we must not forget that he was a man like ourselves, and no father could see his child offered up without an inward agony which surpasses all description. The anguish of so perfect a man as Abraham, a man who felt all the domestic affections intensely, as every truly godly father must feel them, and who loved his son as much as he loved his own life, must have been unspeakably great. What must have been the force of faith which enabled the man of God to master himself, to go contrary to the current of human nature, and deliberately to stand ready to sacrifice his Isaac! He must have been wound up to a fearful pitch of anguish when he lifted up the knife to slay his son; but just then the angel arrested his hand, and God provided the ram as the substitute in the moment of his utmost misery.
Surely the world had come to a great state of misery when at last God sent forth his Son, born of a woman, that he might become the sacrifice for sin. At any rate, this I know, that as a rule men do not see Christ to be their substitute nor accept him as their Redeemer till they feel that they lie at hell’s door, and till their anguish on account of sin has become exceeding great. I remember well when I first beheld the lamb of God who suffered in my stead. I had often heard the story of his death; I could have told it out to others very correctly; but then I did not know my own pressing need, I had not come to feel the knife at my throat, nor was I about to die; and therefore my knowledge was a cold, inoperative thing. But when the law had bound me, and given me over to death, and my heart within me was crushed with fear, then the sight of the glorious Substitute was as bright to me as a vision of heaven. Did Jesus suffer in my stead without the gate? were my transgressions laid on him? then I received him with joy unspeakable, my whole nature accepting the good news. At this moment I accept the Lord Jesus as my Substitute with a deep, peaceful delight. Blessed be the name of Jehovah-jireh for having taken thought of me, a beggar, a wretch, a condemned criminal, and for having provided the Lamb of God whose precious blood was shed instead of mine.
II. Secondly, upon the mount THE PROVISION WAS SPONTANEOUSLY MADE for Abraham, and so was the provision which the Lord displayed in the fulness of time when he gave up his Son to die. The ram caught in the thicket was a provision which on Abraham’s part was quite unsought. He did not fall down and pray, “O Lord, in thy tenderness provide another victim instead of my son, Isaac.” Probably it never entered his mind. But God spontaneously, from the free grace of his own heart, put the ram where Abraham found it. You and I did not pray for Christ to die. He died for us before we were born, and if he had not done so it would never have entered into our mind to ask for so great a gift. Until the Lord sought us we did not even seek to be saved by Christ, of the fact of whose death we had been made aware. Oh, no; it is not in man by nature to seek a Saviour: it is in God to give a Saviour, and then the Spirit of God sweetly inclines the heart to seek him; but this seeking comes not of man. “When we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.” It is ours to, sin, it is God’s to save. “We have turned every one to his own way, and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.” Ours is the wandering, but the laying of those wanderings upon Jesus is of the Lord alone: we neither bought it, nor sought it, nor thought it.
In Abraham’s case I believe it was an unexpected thing. He did not reckon upon any substitute for his son; he judged that he would have to die, and viewed him as already dead. As for ourselves, if God had not revealed the plan of salvation by the substitution of his only begotten Son we should never have dreamed of it. Remember that the Son of God is one with the Father; and if the Holy Ghost had not revealed the fact that the offended God would himself bear the penalty due for the offence, it would never have occurred to the human mind. The brightest of the spirits before God’s throne would never have devised the plan of salvation by the sacrifice of Jesus. It was unexpected. Let us bless the Lord, who has done for us exceeding abundantly above what we asked or even thought in giving to us redemption through the death of our Lord Jesus Christ.
I may say of Christ what I could not have said of Abraham’s ram, that not only was he unsought for by us and unexpected, but now that he is given he is not perfectly comprehended.
“Much we talk of Jesu’s blood,
But how little’s understood!
Of his sufferings, so intense,
Angels have no perfect sense.”
I am often ready to beat upon my own breast as I study the wondrous mystery of atoning love; for it seems to me so mean a thing to be so little affected by such boundless grace. If we fully felt what God has done for us in the great deed of Jesus’ death, it might not be wonderful if we were to die under the amazing discovery. “Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it.” The immortal God undertakes to bear death for man! The immaculate stands in the sinner’s place. The well-pleasing Son is made accursed for those who else had been accursed for ever. He who was above all shame and sorrow laid aside his glory and became the “Man of Sorrows,” “despised and rejected of men.” “Though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor.” It is more extraordinary than romance! Poets may sing their loftiest stanzas, but they shall never reach the height of this great argument. “Paradise Lost” a Milton may compose, and fascinate a world with his majestic lines; but Paradise Restored by the divine substitution is not to be fully sung by mortal mind. God only knows the love of God. All the harps of redeemed men and all the hymns of adoring angels can never set forth the splendour of the love of Jehovah in providing for our need, providing for our salvation, providing his only-begotten Son, and providing him of his own free love, unsought, and undesired of men.
III. But, thirdly, we ought to dwell very long and earnestly upon the fact that for man’s need THE PROVISION WAS MADE BY GOD HIMSELF. The text says, “Jehovah-jireh,” the Lord will see to it, the Lord will provide. None else could have provided a ransom. Neither on earth nor in heaven was there found any helper for lost humanity. What sacrifice could be presented to God if a sacrifice could be accepted? Behold Lebanon, as it rises majestically toward heaven, white with its snows; see the forests which adorn its sides! Set these all on fire, and see them blaze as the wood of the altar of God. Yet “Lebanon is not sufficient to burn, nor the beasts thereof sufficient for a burnt offering.” Take the myriads of cattle that roam the hills, and shed their blood till you have made a sea of gore, but what of that? “It is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins.” Men may themselves die, but in death each man who dies only pays his own debt to nature; there is nothing left for another. “None can by any means redeem his brother, nor give to God a ransom for him.” Where shall a redemption be found by which it shall be possible that the multitude of the elect shall be effectually redeemed from death and hell? Such a ransom could only be found by God, and he could only find it in himself,— in him who was one with himself, who lay in the bosom of the Father from old eternity. The provision was made by God himself, since none other could provide. God alone could say, “Deliver him from going down to the pit: I have found a ransom.”
But was it not singular that the Lord Jehovah should provide it? When law has been broken, and its honour has to be retrieved, it would not be judged likely that the aggrieved party should make the sacrifice. That God, against whom all the blasphemy and sin and wickedness of a ribald world was aimed, shall he himself make expiation? Shall the judge bear the penalty due to the criminal? “Lay it on the sinner; for it is his due”; so justice cries aloud,— “Lay the penalty on the transgressor”; but if a substitute can be permitted, where can one be found able and willing to become surety for the guilty? Found upon the throne! Found in the majesty that is offended! Brethren, I am beaten down by my subject; forgive me that I cannot speak of it as I would desire. There is no room here for words; it is a matter for silent thought. We want the fact of substitution to strike us, and then the cross will grow sublimely great. In vision I behold it! Its two arms are extended right and left till they touch the east and west and overshadow all races of men; the foot of it descends lower than the grave, till it goes down even to the gates of hell; while upward the cross mounts with a halo round about it of unutterable glory, till it rises above the stars, and sheds its light upon the throne of the Most High. Atonement is a divine business; its sacrifice is infinite, even as the God who conceived it. Glory be to his name for ever! It is all that I can say. It was nothing less than a stretch of divine love for Jesus to give himself for our sins. It was gracious for the Infinite to conceive of such a thing; but for him to carry it out was glorious beyond all. What shall I say of it?
I will only interject this thought here— let none of us ever interfere with the provision of God. If in our dire distress he alone was our Jehovah-jireh, and provided for us a Substitute, let us not think that there is anything left for us to provide. O sinner, do you cry, “Lord, I must have a broken heart”? He will provide it for thee. Do you cry, “Lord, I cannot master sin, I have not the power to conquer my passions”? He will provide strength for thee. Do you mourn, “Lord, I shall never hold on and hold out to the end. I am so fickle”? Then he will provide perseverance for thee. Dost thou think that after having given his own dear Son to purchase thee he will let that work fail because thou canst not provide some little odds and ends to complete the work? Oh, dream not so; dote not on such a folly. Whatever thou wantest, poor sinner, if thou believest in Christ the Lord’s provision of a Saviour in Christ warrants thy believing that God will provide it. Salvation begins with Jehovah-jireh, the cross and the bleeding Saviour; dost thou think it will afterwards drivel down into thy providing this and that? Oh, thy pride! Thy insane pride! Thou art to do something, art thou? What! and yoke thy little something with the Eternal God? Didst thou ever hear of an angel failing to perform a duty until he was assisted by an emmet? Hast thou ever heard of God’s great laws of nature breaking down till some child’s finger could supplement their force? Thou to help thy God to provide! Get thee out of the way, and be nothing; then shall God come in and be everything. Sink! It is the Lord that must rise. He shall be seen in the mount, and not thyself. Hide thyself, and let the glory of the Lord be manifested in thee. I wish that every troubled one here could catch this idea, and hold it fast. Whatever you want to put away your sin, whatever you want to make you a new creature, whatever you want to carry you to heaven, Jehovah-jireh, the Lord will provide it. He will see to it. Trust thou in him, and ere long thou shalt see the divine provision, and Jehovah shall be glorious in thine eyes.
IV. But I must pass on. That which God prepares for poor sinners is A PROVISION MOST GLORIOUSLY MADE. God provided a ram instead of Isaac. This was sufficient for the occasion as a type; but that which was typified by the ram is infinitely more glorious. In order to save us God provided God. I cannot put it more simply. He did not provide an angel, nor a mere man, but God himself. Come, sinner, with all thy load of sin: God can bear it; the shoulders that bear up the universe can well sustain thy load of guilt. God gave thee his Godhead to be thy Saviour when he gave thee his Son.
But he also gave in the person of Christ perfect manhood,— such a man as never lived before, eclipsing even the perfection of the first Adam in the garden by the majestic innocence of his nature. When Jesus has been viewed as man, even unconverted men have so admired his excellence that they have almost adored him. Jesus is God and man, and the Father has given that man, that God, to be thy Redeemer. For thy redemption the Lord God has given thee the death of Christ; and what a death it was! I would that troubled hearts would oftener study the story of the Great Sacrifice, the agony and bloody sweat, the betrayal in the garden, the binding of the hands, the accusation of the innocent, the scourging, the thorn-crowning, the spitting in the face, the mockery, the nailing to the tree, the lifting up of the cross, the burning fever, the parching thirst, and, above all, the overpowering anguish of being forsaken of his God. Bethink thee, O soul, that to save thee the Son of God must cry, “Lama sabachthani!” Bethink thee that to save thee he must hang naked to his shame between heaven and earth, rejected of both; must cry, “I thirst,” and receive nothing but vinegar wherewith to moisten his burning lips. Jesus must “pour out his soul unto death” that we might live. He must be “numbered with the transgressors,” that we might be numbered with his saints in glory everlasting. Was not this a glorious provision? What greater gift could be bestowed than one in whom God and man are blended in one?
When Abraham on the mount offered a sacrifice it was called a “burnt offering”; but when the Lord Jesus Christ on Calvary died it was not only a burnt offering, but a sin offering, a meat offering, and a peace offering, and every other kind of sacrifice in one. Under the oldest of all dispensations, before the mosaic economy, God had not taught to men the distinctions of sacrifice, but an offering unto the Lord meant all that was afterwards set forth by many types. When the venerable patriarch offered a sacrifice, it was an offering for sin, and a sweet smelling savour besides. So was it with our Lord Jesus Christ. When he died he made his soul an offering for sin, and “put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.” When he died, he also offered unto God a burnt offering, for we read, “And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet smelling savour.” When Jesus died he gave to us a peace offering; for we come to feast upon him with God, and to us “his flesh is meat indeed, his blood is drink indeed.” One would need many a day in which to expatiate upon the infinite virtues and excellencies of Christ, in whom all perfections are sweetly hived. Blessed be his name, God has most gloriously provided for us in the day of our need. Jehovah-jireh!
V. Fifthly, THE PROVISION WAS MADE EFFECTIVELY. Isaac did not die; the laughter in Abraham’s house was not stifled; there was no grief for the patriarch; he went home with his son in happy companionship, because Jehovah had provided himself a lamb for a burnt offering. The ram which was provided did not bleed in vain; Isaac did not die as well as the ram; Abraham did not have to slay the God-provided victim and his own son also. No, the one sacrifice sufficed. Beloved, this is my comfort in the death of Christ— I hope it is yours,— that he did not die in vain. I have heard of a theology which, in its attempt to extol the efficacy of Christ’s death, virtually deprives it of any certain efficiency; the result of the atonement is made to depend entirely upon the will of man, and so is left to hap-hazard. Our Lord, according to certain teachers, might or might not see of the travail of his soul. I confess that I do not believe in this random redemption, and I wonder that any persons can derive comfort from such teaching. I believe that the Son of God could not possibly have come into the world in the circumstances in which he did come, and could not have died as he did die, and yet be defeated and disappointed. He died for those who believe in him, and these shall live, yea, they do live in him.
I should think that Isaac, the child of laughter, was solemnly joyous as he descended the hill and went home with his father. Methinks both of them tripped along with happy step towards Sarah’s house and their own loved home; and you and I this day may go home with like joyousness. We shall not die, for the Lamb of God has died for us. We shall never perish, for he has suffered in our stead. We were bound on the altar, we were laid on the wood, and the fire was ready for our consuming; but no knife shall touch us now, for the sacrifice is offered once for all. No fire shall consume us, for he who suffered in our stead has borne the heat of the flame on our behalf. We live, and we shall live. “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus.” This is an effectual and precious providing. I do not believe in a redemption which did not redeem, nor in an atonement which did not atone; but I do believe in him who died in vain for none, but will effectually save his own church and his own sheep for whom he laid down his life. To him we will all render praise, for he was slain, and he has redeemed us unto God by his blood out of every kindred and people and nation.
VI. Turn we then, sixthly, to this note, that we may well glorify Jehovah-jireh because THIS PROVISION WAS MADE FOR EVERY BELIEVER. The provision on the Mount of Moriah was made on behalf of Abraham: he was himself a man of faith, and he is styled the “father of the faithful”; and now every faithful or believing one may stand where Abraham stood, and say, “Jehovah-jireh, the Lord will provide.” Remember, however, that our faith must be of the same nature as that of Abraham, or it will not be counted to us for righteousness. Abraham’s faith worked by love; it so worked in him that he was willing to do all that the Lord bade him, even to the sacrifice of his own dear son. You must possess a living, working, self-sacrificing faith if you would be saved. If you have it, you may be as sure that you are saved as you are sure that you have sinned. “He that believeth on him is not condemned,” because Christ was condemned for him. “He that believeth on him hath everlasting life:” he cannot die, for Christ died for him. The great principle upon which our security is based is the righteousness of God, which assures us that he will not punish the substitute and then punish the person for whom the substitute endured the penalty. It were a matter of gross injustice if the sinner, having made atonement for his sin in the person of his covenant Head, the Lord Jesus, should afterwards himself be called upon to account for the very sin which was atoned for. Sin, like anything else, cannot be in two places at once: if the great God took my sin, and laid it on his Son, then it is not on me any more. If Jesus bore the wrath of God for me, I cannot bear that wrath; it were contrary to every principle of a just moral government that the Judge should cast our Surety into prison and exact the penalty of him, and then come upon those for whom the suretyship was undertaken. By this gospel I am prepared to stand or fall; yea, by it I will live or die: I know no other. Because I believe it, I this day cry from the bottom of my heart, “Jehovah-jireh,” the Lord has provided an effectual redemption for all those who put their trust in him whom God has set forth to be a propitiation. It is true, as it is written, “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved.” It is true that the faith which worketh by love brings justification to the soul.
VII. But now I close with a remark which will reveal the far-reaching character of my text. “Jehovah-jireh” is true concerning all necessary things. The instance given of Abraham being provided for shows us that the Lord will ever be a Provider for his people. As to the gift of the Lord Jesus, this is A PROVISION WHICH GUARANTEES ALL OTHER PROVISION. “He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?” Abraham learned that; for, as soon as he had slaughtered the ram, the covenant was repeated in his ears, and repeated as he had never heard it before,— accompanied with an oath. God cannot swear by any greater than himself, and so he said, “By myself have I sworn.” Thus was the covenant ratified by blood and by the oath of God. Oh, that bleeding Sacrifice! The covenant of God is confirmed by it, and our faith is established. If you have seen Jesus die for you, your heart has heard God swear, “Surely in blessing I will bless thee!” By two immutable things, wherein it is impossible for God to lie, he hath given us strong consolation who have fled for refuge to the hope set before us in the gospel. Let us fall back on this eternal verity, that if God has provided his own Well-beloved Son to meet the most awful of all necessities, then he will provide for us in everything else.
Where will he provide? He will provide for us in the mount, that is to say, in the place of our trial. When we reach the place where the fatal deed of utmost obedience is to be wrought, then God will interpose. You desire him to provide for you when you lift up your eyes and see the mount afar off. He does not choose so to do; but in the mount it shall be seen, in the place of the trial, in the heat of the furnace, in the last extremity Jehovah will be seen, for he will see to it, and it shall become a proverb with you,— “In the mount Jehovah shall be seen.” That is to say, when you cannot see, the Lord will see you and see to your need; for his eyes are upon the righteous, and his ears are open to their cry. You will not need to explain to God your difficulties and the intricacies of your position, he will see it all. Joyfully sing that revival ditty—
“This my Father knows.”
As soon as the Lord has seen our need, then his provision shall be seen. You need not climb to heaven or descend into the deep to find it: the Lord’s provision is near at hand,— the ram in the thicket is behind you though you see it not as yet. When you have heard God speak to you, you shall turn and see it, and wonder you never saw it before. You will heartily bless God for the abundant provision which he reveals in the moment of trial. Then shall the Lord himself be seen. You will soon die, and perhaps in dying you will be troubled by the fear of death; but let that evil be removed by this knowledge— that the Lord will yet be seen, and when he shall appear you shall be manifested in his glory. In the day of the revelation of the Lord Jesus your body shall be raised from the dead, and then shall the divine provision yet more fully be discovered. “In the mount it shall be seen,” and there shall God himself be manifested to you, for your eyes shall behold him and not another.
There is a rendering given to my text which we cannot quite pass over. Some read it that “in the mount the people shall be seen,”— in that mount in years to come the multitude would gather to worship God. God’s presence was in the temple which was built upon that spot, and thither the tribes went up, the tribes of the Lord to worship the Most High. I dwell in a house not made with hands, but piled by God of solid slabs of mercy. He is building for me a palace of crystal, pure and shining, transparent as the day. I see the house in which I am to abide for ever gradually growing around me. Its foundation was laid of old, in eternal love,— “in the mount it shall be seen.” The Lord provided for me a Covenant Head, a Redeemer, and a Friend, and in him I abide. Since then, course upon course of the precious stones of lovingkindness has been laid, and the jewelled walls are all around me. Has it not been so with you? By-and-by we shall be roofed in with glory everlasting, and then as we shall look to the foundations, and the walls, and to the arch above our head, we shall shout, “Jehovah-jireh,”— God has provided all this for me! How we shall rejoice in every stone of the divine building! How will our memory think over the method of the building! On such a day was that stone laid, I remember it right well: “I was sore sick and the Lord comforted me.” On such a day was that other stone laid,— I was in prison spiritually, and the heavenly visitor came unto me. On such another day was that bejewelled course completed, for my heart was glad in the Lord and my glory rejoiced in the God of my salvation. The walls of love are still rising, and when the building is finished and the topstone is brought out with shoutings of “Grace, grace, unto it!” we shall then sing this song unto the Lord— JEHOVAH-JIREH! The Lord has provided it. From the beginning to the end there is nothing of man and nothing of merit, nothing of self, but all of God in Christ Jesus, who hath loved us with an everlasting love, and therefore hath abounded towards us in blessing according to the fulness of his infinite heart. To him be praise world without end. Amen, and Amen.
When Charles Spurgeon died in January 1892, London went into mourning. Nearly 60,000 people came to pay homage during the three days his body lay in state at the Metropolitan Tabernacle. Some 100,000 lined the streets as a funeral parade two miles long followed his hearse from the Tabernacle to the cemetery. Flags flew at half-staff and shops and pubs were closed. See entire article here.Charles Spurgeon Books | Go to Books Page
The Continual Burnt Offering
By H.A. Ironside - 1941
January 7Genesis 43:10 If we had not delayed, we would now have returned twice.” ESV
A free translation of these words of Judah’s would be: “If we had not put it off, we would certainly have been back by now.” He was referring to the contemplated second trip to Egypt to get more corn, providing Benjamin was with them. Jacob could not bear the thought of permitting him to go, yet he and they knew it had to be. Procrastination only prolonged their exercises. When at last they acted as Joseph required of them, all went well. How often we lose much by putting off the inevitable! Many are risking the loss of their souls by waiting for a more convenient season. If you had not put it off, you might have been saved long ago. Or if already a Christian, you may be postponing obedience to some specific word of the Lord. If you had not put it off, what blessing might have been yours by now!
Life at best is very brief,
Like the falling of a leaf,
Like the binding of a sheaf,
Be in time.
Fleeting days are telling fast,
That the die will soon be cast,
And the fatal line be passed,
Be in time.
Fairest flowers soon decay,
Youth and beauty pass away,
Oh, you have not long to stay,
Be in time.
While God’s Spirit bids you come,
Sinner, do not longer roam,
Lest you seal your hopeless doom,
Be in time.
Subbiblical Views of Inspiration
By Gleason Archer Jr.PROCEDURES FOR HANDLING BIBLICAL DIFFICULTIES
- 1. Be fully persuaded an explanation or reconciliation exists.
- 2. Trust in the inerrancy of the Scripture as originally written down.
- 3. Carefully study the context and framework of the verse to ascertain the original intent of the author.
- 4. Practice careful exegesis: determine author intent, study key words, note parallel passages.
- 5. Harmonize parallel passages.
- 6. Consult Bible commentaries, dictionaries, lexical sources, encyclopedias.
- 7. Check for a transmissional error in the original text.
- 8. Remember that the historical accuracy of the biblical text is unsurpassed; that the transmitted text of Scripture is supported by thousands of extant manuscripts some of which date back to the second century B.C.
This brings us to the question of the peculiarity of Neo-Orthodox faith, the faith which soars to God without the fettering dogma of scriptural inerrancy. What is faith, but a trust in something or someone other than itself? In what or whom, then, is this exalted faith reposed? Ostensibly it is reposed in God, or in the insights derived from religious experience as the believer encounters God, whether in the pages of Scripture or in some other context. But how are these insights to be adjudged in their validity? Since they cannot be verified by appeal to any objective authority whatever (whether the Scripture or an infallible human teacher or church), the believer cannot look to any authority except his own. He cannot even be sure that there is a God, if the Bible is not reliable as an objective witness; he can only trust in himself. In other words, this Neo-Orthodox type of faith must in the last analysis be faith in man, not in God; that is, the believer’s faith is reposed in himself. Since the Bible cannot be trusted, nor any human authority either (since humanity implies fallibility), therefore the Neo-Orthodox believer can know nothing except his own opinion, and hope that this may turn out to be correct. Otherwise he is irretrievably lost. It is only a bit of self-deception for him to suppose that his faith rests in a God outside himself; lacking any objective authority whatever, he is at the mercy of his own subjective impressions and opinions. He can never be sure that his revelations are not mere hallucinations.
Dealing with Difficulties in the BibleIt must be admitted that the text of Scripture as transmitted to us contains occasional difficulties which appear to challenge the doctrine of biblical inerrancy. Some of these difficulties are relieved by a proper use of the science of textual criticism. Others, such as discrepancies in statistics or the spelling of names, call for an emending of text which goes beyond the available data of textual criticism. Still others present logical difficulties, such as the endorsement given in Judg. 11 to the apparent sacrifice of Jephthah’s daughter, when Deut. 12:31 forbids all human sacrifice in Israel.
There are two possible methods of dealing with these problems: (1) one may hold in abeyance the biblical claims to infallibility until each individual difficulty is cleared up. Each time a new problem presents itself, the Bible becomes demoted to a suspect status until the matter is satisfactorily settled. Meanwhile, the believer is kept on the tenterhooks of painful suspense and anguish of soul until the Bible is again cleared of the charges against it. (2) One may, even in the face of apparent discrepancies, retain his faith in the infallibility of the biblical record and wait with patience for the vindication which later investigation will surely provide. Having been convinced that only divine origin explains the phenomena of Scripture, he may take his stand with Jesus of Nazareth upon the inerrancy of the written Word of God, and look forward to an eventual clearing up of all the problems that may arise.
Those who follow this second approach may perhaps be accused of illogical subjectivism, because they proceed on the basis of an a priori conviction. But this accusation is not well founded, for the Bible cannot be studied at all except upon the basis of one a priori or another. One must start with the prior assumption that the Bible is either a fallible record or an infallible one. There is no middle ground; one cannot remain in a state of neutral suspense and insist, “Just let the Bible speak for itself.” We must first of all ascertain what kind of book this Bible is which does the speaking. Is it the infallible Word of God, or is it the error-prone product of man, having elements of divine truth intermingled with human mistakes? If it presents such data as to compel an acknowledgment that it can be only of divine origin—and it does present such data in abundance—then the only reasonable course is to take seriously its own assertions of infallibility. If the Scriptures constitute an authoritative self-disclosure of God, then any discrepancies which appear must be dealt with as only apparent, not real. When all the facts are in, the charges of error will prove to be unsubstantiated.
It should be pointed out that such a procedure is commonly followed in human relations without adverse criticism. For example, a husband who has come to the conviction that his wife is a faithful and virtuous woman will steadfastly refuse to become suspicious of her, even though she has been seen going out with some other man. Without jumping to adverse conclusions, he will simply await further information which will clear up the situation and satisfactorily explain her association with the man in question. It would be foolish and unworthy for him to abandon his conviction of her integrity until her action is vindicated. Only an initial presumption that she is inconstant and untrustworthy would justify such a reaction on his part.
Even so it is foolish and unworthy for one who has been convinced of the divine authority of the Bible to question its infallibility until each new allegation against it has been cleared up. Rather than being a scientific and objective procedure, as is sometimes asserted, such a policy involves only an illogical shifting from one a priori to another with weakminded vacillation. A genuine, outright contradiction in the Scriptures (especially if demonstrable for the original autographs) would be good cause for abandoning faith in the inerrancy of Scripture; but until such has been proved, or until some outright error in history or science has been demonstrated according to the laws of legal evidence, the believer in Scripture need never feel embarrassed about holding to the assumption that it is the inerrant Word of God. It is highly significant that no such mistake has ever yet been proved to the satisfaction of a court of law, although various attempts have been made to do so. A Survey of Old Testament Introduction
By John F. Walvoord
Isaac and Jacob
Genesis 21:1–21. The rule that prophecy is normally interpreted literally is illustrated once again in the birth of Isaac. Impossible as it seemed, Abraham and Sarah were the parents of Isaac. Hagar and Ishmael were sent away with Abraham’s blessing, but without the promises which Isaac would inherit (vv. 9–20 ). The promises to Ishmael were also fulfilled ( 1 Chron. 1:28–29 ).
Genesis 22:15–18. Because Abraham had obeyed God, he was promised again innumerable blessings, victory over enemies, and that all nations would be blessed because of him. This is fulfilled in history and prophecy.
Genesis 24:1–26:6. Isaac was promised that the blessing on Abraham would pass to him, and he would fulfill in part the promise of a great nation and blessing on the whole world. The place of blessing was in the land that God had promised to Abraham. In that land, God provided a bride for Isaac ( 24:1–66 ). Isaac and Rebekah were childless for nineteen years, and it seemed that Isaac would have the same problem that Abraham had of not having a suitable heir. Twenty years after marriage, when Isaac was sixty years old, Jacob and Esau were born ( 25:20, 26 ).
The promise of the land was also repeated in Genesis 26. Isaac, like his father, sought to go to Egypt because of the famine in the land. In confirmation of earlier prophecies, verses 2–6 repeat the promise of the land: “The LORD appeared to Isaac and said, ‘Do not go down to Egypt; live in the land where I tell you to live. Stay in this land for a while, and I will be with you and will bless you. For to you and your descendants will I give all these lands and will confirm the oath I swore to your father Abraham. I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and will give them all these lands, and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because Abraham obeyed me and kept my requirements, my commands, my decrees and my laws.’ So Isaac stayed in Gerar.”
Genesis 27:1–40. Though Jacob was not the firstborn, he connived with his mother Rebekah to deceive Isaac, who now was old and blind, into bestowing the blessing that normally would go to the firstborn. The Scriptures record that Isaac blessed Jacob with a prophetic benediction: “Ah, the smell of my son is like the smell of a field that the LORD has blessed. May God give you of heaven’s dew and of earth’s richness — an abundance of grain and new wine. May nations serve you and peoples bow down to you. Be lord over your brothers, and may the sons of your mother bow down to you. May those who curse you be cursed and those who bless you be blessed” (vv. 27–29 ). When Esau came in later, Isaac also blessed him and prophesied his future (vv. 39–40 ). It was the will of God, however, that Jacob and not Esau should be the one who inherited the Abrahamic promises. These promises were fulfilled in history and prophecy.
Genesis 27:41–28:22. The promise of the land, however, continued to be the magnet around which the history of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob would unfold. Because of Esau’s hatred of Jacob, his mother Rebekah arranged to send him back to her people. On the way, the Lord reiterated the promise of the land: “I am the LORD, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac. I will give you and your descendants the land on which you are lying. Your descendants will be like the dust of the earth, and you will spread out to the west and to the east, to the north and to the south. All peoples on earth will be blessed through you and your offspring. I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you” ( 28:13–15 ).
This prophecy is of utmost importance because it makes clear that the promise of the land, as well as other promises specifically given to the promised seed of Abraham, were given to Isaac, not Ishmael, and to Jacob, not Esau. While some of the promises of blessing extended to all of Abraham’s descendants, the promise of the land was limited to Jacob and his heirs.
Genesis 36:1–37:36; 39:1–48:22. The latter chapters of Genesis describe the history of Jacob. Genesis 37:1 summarizes: “Jacob lived in the land where his father had stayed, the land of Canaan.” As the story of Jacob and his children unfolded, Joseph was sold as a slave into Egypt (vv. 1–36 ) and in the end rescued his people and brought them down to Egypt to escape the famine ( 41:1–43; 45:9–46:7 ). In Joseph’s prophetic dream ( 37:5–7 ) it was predicted that his brethren would bow down to him (vv. 8–11 ). This was later fulfilled in Egypt ( 42:6 ). A number of prophetic utterances were recorded in the closing chapters of Genesis. These prophecies included the prediction that Pharaoh’s cupbearer would be restored ( 40:12–13, 21 ), and his baker would be hanged (vv. 18–19, 22 ). Both prophecies were fulfilled (vv. 21–22 ). Later this paved the way to interpret Pharaoh’s dream ( 41:1–42 ), which predicted seven years of plenty to be followed by seven years of famine (vv. 25–36 ). This was later fulfilled (vv. 47–57 ). Joseph was elevated to a position next to Pharaoh and put in charge of grain storage (vv. 37–42 ). This made it possible for Jacob to see Joseph again, the prophecy predicted ( 46:4 ) and fulfilled (v. 29 ). Toward the close of his life, Jacob pronounced his blessing on Joseph and his sons ( 48:15–20 ).
Genesis 49:1–28 . Jacob had gathered his sons about his bed to give them his final prophetic blessing.
Reuben, the firstborn, was commended with the description, “My might, the first sign of my strength, excelling in honor, excelling in power” (v. 3 ). Further praise of Reuben, however, was cut short by the fact that he had defiled his father’s bed. As Jacob expressed it, “Turbulent as the waters, you will no longer excel, for you went up onto your father’s bed, onto my couch and defiled it” (v. 4 ). The reference here is to Reuben’s adultery with Jacob’s concubine Bilhah ( 35:22 ). Though Reuben as firstborn would normally receive the double inheritance and be given the place of leadership ( 1 Chron. 5:1–2 ), there is no evidence that he received his inheritance, and he did not provide leadership for Israel (cf. Judg. 5:15–16 ).
Simeon and Levi are grouped in Jacob’s prophecy ( Gen. 49:5–7 ). They were characterized as being violent with the sword and having “killed men in their anger” (v. 6 ). They were both guilty of anger, ferocity, and cruelty, and Jacob predicted that they would be scattered in the land (v. 7 ).
Judah is a subject of major recognition prophetically (vv. 8–12 ). Jacob predicted that Judah would triumph over his enemies and be strong like a lion (vv. 8–9 ). The most significant prophecy given was that the scepter, referring to the future Messiah, would come from the tribe of Judah. Jacob predicted, “The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until he comes to whom it belongs and the obedience of the nations is his” (v. 10 ). This was fulfilled in Christ ( Rev. 2:27; 12:5; 19:15 ). This clearly refers to Christ coming from the family of David, which is a part of the tribe of Judah. He is described poetically, “He will tether his donkey to a vine, his colt to the choicest branch; he will wash his garments in wine, his robes in the blood of grapes. His eyes will be darker than wine, his teeth whiter than milk” ( Gen. 49:11–12 ). The poetic language indicates the abundance that will characterize the millennial kingdom, when there will be an abundance of vines so that they can tether a donkey to them. Wine will be so plentiful that it can be regarded as wash water. The whiteness of the teeth would come from drinking milk. This is a poetic description of the abundance of the millennial kingdom.
In connection with Zebulun, Jacob predicted, “Zebulun will live by the seashore and become a haven for ships; his border will extend toward Sidon” (v. 13 ). Though Zebulun would not actually be bordered on the sea, it would be near enough so that they would benefit by seaborne trade.
Concerning Issachar, Jacob predicted, “Issachar is a rawboned donkey lying down between two saddlebags” (v. 14 ). He is pictured, however, as submitting to forced labor (v. 15 ).
Concerning Dan, Jacob predicted, “Dan will provide justice for his people as one of the tribes of Israel. Dan will be a serpent by the roadside, a viper along the path, that bites the horse’s heels so that its rider tumbles backwards” (vv. 16–17 ). The name “Dan” means “a judge,” implying fair and equal justice. Instead of that, Dan is described as a snake that bites at the horse’s heels, resulting in the rider tumbling off his horse. Implied in this prediction is that Dan does not live up to the expectation of his name. Some believe the fact that idolatry appeared first among the sons of Jacob in the tribe of Dan ( Judg. 18:30 ) is a reason for this. The tribe of Dan is also omitted in the description of the one hundred forty-four thousand of Israel ( Rev. 7:4–8 ), implying that it was not an outstanding tribe.
Jacob inserted a plea for God’s deliverance before continuing his prophecy, saying, “I look for your deliverance, O LORD” ( Gen. 49:18 ). As Jacob contemplated the difficulties that the tribes of Israel would encounter, he recognized that only God could deliver.
In connection with Gad, Jacob predicted, “Gad will be attacked by a band of raiders, but he will attack them at their heels” (v. 19 ). The name “Gad” means “attack,” and there is a play on words in this prediction where Gad, the attacker, is attacked, but the prophecy indicates that Gad will counterattack. The surprise attacks from enemies were common, and the prophecy may refer to this (cf. 1 Chron. 5:18–19 ).
Concerning Asher, Jacob predicted, “Asher’s food will be rich; he will provide delicacies fit for a king” ( Gen. 49:20 ). The tribe of Asher was located in an area of Canaan with rich soil, able to provide much food, and possibly the prediction relates to this.
Concerning Naphtali, Jacob predicted, “Naphtali is a doe set free that bears beautiful fawns” (v. 21 ). The tribe of Naphtali settled northwest of the Sea of Galilee in a mountainous area and is pictured here like a deer that is free. Deborah, in her song, pictured both the people of Zebulun and Naphtali as risking their lives “on the heights of the field” ( Judg. 5:18 ).
Jacob gave a long prediction concerning Joseph: “Joseph is a fruitful vine, a fruitful vine near a spring, whose branches climb over a wall” ( Gen. 49:22 ). Joseph is pictured as a fruitful vine in keeping with the meaning of his son Ephraim’s name, which means “fruitful.” Jacob predicted that Joseph would be attacked: “With bitterness archers attacked him, they shot at him with hostility. But his bow remained steady, his strong arm stayed limber, because the hand of the Mighty One of Jacob, because of the Shepherd, the Rock of Israel, because of your father’s God, who helps you, because the Almighty, who blesses you with blessings from the heavens above, blessings of the deep that lies below, blessings of the breast and womb” (vv. 23–25 ). Joseph is pictured as strong and able to defend himself against all attacks because he is under the blessings of God.
Jacob went on, “Your father’s blessings are greater than the blessings of the ancient mountains, than the bounty of the age-old hills. Let all these rest on the head of Joseph, on the brow of the prince among his brothers” (v. 26 ). The extensive prophecies concerning Joseph indicate Jacob’s particular interest and concern for him, and Jacob predicted great blessings on Joseph in the midst of his brethren.
Jacob concluded with a prophecy concerning Benjamin: “Benjamin is a ravenous wolf; in the morning he devours the prey, in the evening he divides the plunder” (v. 27 ). Benjamites were great warriors and are here described as being powerful like a wolf.
In general, the prophecies that Jacob bestowed on his children were fulfilled in their subsequent history. In his prophecies Jacob was realistic, picturing the bad as well as the good, and estimating effectively and accurately the character of his sons. As the Scriptures indicate, each was given “the blessing appropriate to him” (v. 28 ). Following his prophecy, Jacob breathed his last.
The Institutes of the Christian Religion
Translated by Henry Beveridge
HOW GOD WORKS IN THE HEARTS OF MEN.
The leading points discussed in this chapter are, I. Whether in bad actions anything is to be attributed to God; if anything, how much. Also, what is to be attributed to the devil and to man, sec. 1-5. II. In indifferent matters, how much is to be attributed to God, and how much is left to man, sec. 6. III. Two objections refuted, sec. 7, 8.
1. Connection of this chapter with the preceding. Augustine's similitude of a good and bad rider. Question answered in respect to the devil.
2. Question answered in respect to God and man. Example from the history of Job. The works of God distinguished from the works of Satan and wicked men. 1. By the design or end of acting. How Satan acts in the reprobate. 2. How God acts in them.
3. Old Objection, that the agency of God in such cases is referable to prescience or permission, not actual operation. Answer, showing that God blinds and hardens the reprobate, and this in two ways; 1. By deserting them; 2. By delivering them over to Satan.
4. Striking passages of Scripture, proving that God acts in both ways, and disposing of the objection with regard to prescience. Confirmation from Augustine.
5. A modification of the former answer, proving that God employs Satan to instigate the reprobate, but, at the same time, is free from all taint.
6. How God works in the hearts of men in indifferent matters. Our will in such matters not so free as to be exempt from the overruling providence of God. This confirmed by various examples.
7. Objection, that these examples do not form the rule. An answer, fortified by the testimony of universal experience, by Scripture, and a passage of Augustine.
8. Some, in arguing against the error of free will, draw an argument from the event. How this is to be understood.
1. That man is so enslaved by the yoke of sin, that he cannot of his own nature aim at good either in wish or actual pursuit, has, I think, been sufficiently proved. Moreover, a distinction has been drawn between compulsion and necessity, making it clear that man, though he sins necessarily, nevertheless sins voluntarily. But since, from his being brought into bondage to the devil, it would seem that he is actuated more by the devil's will than his own, it is necessary, first, to explain what the agency of each is, and then solve the question,  Whether in bad actions anything is to be attributed to God, Scripture intimating that there is some way in which he interferes? Augustine (in Psalm 31 and 33) compares the human will to a horse preparing to start, and God and the devil to riders. "If God mounts, he, like a temperate and skilful rider, guides it calmly, urges it when too slow, reins it in when too fast, curbs its forwardness and over-action, checks its bad temper, and keeps it on the proper course; but if the devil has seized the saddle, like an ignorant and rash rider, he hurries it over broken ground, drives it into ditches, dashes it over precipices, spurs it into obstinacy or fury." With this simile, since a better does not occur, we shall for the present be contented. When it is said, then, that the will of the natural man is subject to the power of the devil, and is actuated by him, the meaning is not that the wills while reluctant and resisting, is forced to submit (as masters oblige unwilling slaves to execute their orders), but that, fascinated by the impostures of Satan, it necessarily yields to his guidance, and does him homage. Those whom the Lord favours not with the direction of his Spirit, he, by a righteous judgment, consigns to the agency of Satan. Wherefore, the Apostle says, that "the god of this world has blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine into them." And, in another passage, he describes the devil as "the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience," (Eph. 2:2). The blinding of the wicked, and all the iniquities consequent upon it, are called the works of Satan; works the cause of which is not to be Sought in anything external to the will of man, in which the root of the evil lies, and in which the foundation of Satan's kingdom, in other words, sin, is fixed.
2. The nature of the divine agency in such cases is very different. For the purpose of illustration, let us refer to the calamities brought upon holy Job by the Chaldeans. They having slain his shepherds, carry off his flocks. The wickedness of their deed is manifest,  as is also the hand of Satan, who, as the history informs us, was the instigator of the whole. Job, however, recognises it as the work of God, saying, that what the Chaldeans had plundered, "the Lord" had "taken away." How can we attribute the same work to God, to Satan, and to man, without either excusing Satan by the interference of God, or making God the author of the crime? This is easily done, if we look first to the end, and then to the mode of acting. The Lord designs to exercise the patience of his servant by adversity; Satan's plan is to drive him to despair; while the Chaldeans are bent on making unlawful gain by plunder. Such diversity of purpose makes a wide distinction in the act. In the mode there is not less difference. The Lord permits Satan to afflict his servant; and the Chaldeans, who had been chosen as the ministers to execute the deed, he hands over to the impulses of Satan, who, pricking on the already depraved Chaldeans with his poisoned darts, instigates them to commit the crime. They rush furiously on to the unrighteous deed, and become its guilty perpetrators. Here Satan is properly said to act in the reprobate, over whom he exercises his sway, which is that of wickedness. God also is said to act in his own way; because even Satan when he is the instrument of divine wrath, is completely under the command of God, who turns him as he will in the execution of his just judgments. I say nothing here of the universal agency of God, which, as it sustains all the creatures, also gives them all their power of acting. I am now speaking only of that special agency which is apparent in every act. We thus see that there is no inconsistency in attributing the same act to God, to Satan, and to man, while, from the difference in the end and mode of action, the spotless righteousness of God shines forth at the same time that the iniquity of Satan and of man is manifested in all its deformity.
Christian Classics Ethereal Library / Public Domain
Institutes of the Christian Religion
Devotionals, notes, poetry and more
January 7, 2016
Not as chilly, icy as yesterday. I’ve been trying to think what I can do for a couple of my daughters-in-laws who have birthdays coming up. I usually like to make them family videos from the pictures they send me, but I don’t have many right now. The last couple of weeks I have been looking through old pictures, which I like to do, trying to get ideas. I often revisit old videos, despite the poor quality, sigh.
I hope I have grown beyond the idea that thoughts spontaneously dropped into my consciousness are somehow more authentic than ideas that emerge from memories, Lily, other people, etc. After all, many of my spontaneous thoughts don’t appear as though from heaven, but rather, betray the evil heart the Bible tells me I have. Guarding my thoughts, choosing what I will think about, helps me stay the course, remain on track, instead of finding myself on a dead end street where all the street lights have not worked in years. I've been there too many times. It is too easy for me to dwell on the negative, expect the worse, and rob myself of the joy of the present. I have never been able to finish counting my blessings. Isn't that the point?
Without God’s Spirit, there is nothing we can do that will count for God’s kingdom. Without God’s Spirit, the church simply can’t be the church.
Simply Christian: Why Christianity Makes Sense
by Bill Federer
He became the 13th President when President Zachary Taylor died unexpectedly. He sent Commodore Perry to Japan and admitted California, which had just begun the Gold Rush, into the Union. His name was Millard Fillmore and he was born this day, January 7, 1800. When the Library of Congress caught fire, he and his Cabinet formed a bucket brigade to extinguish the flames. Millard Fillmore stated: “On commencing my Presidential career, I found the Sabbath had frequently been employed… for private interviews with the President…. To… end to this [I] ordered my doorkeeper to meet all Sunday visitors with an indiscriminate refusal.”
Thomas R. Kelly
An adequate life, like Spinoza’s definition of an adequate idea, might be described as a life which has grasped intuitively the whole nature of things, and has seen and felt and refocused itself to this whole. An inadequate life is one that lacks this adjustment to the whole nature of things – hence its twisted perspective, its partiality, its confusion. The story of Thomas Kelly’s life is the story of a passionate and determined quest for adequacy. In the three years of his life that preceded his sudden death in January 1941, this search culminated in a rare degree of adequacy. The adequate life that he had known, he described with unusual simplicity and grace in the collection of his writings that are gathered in this slender volume.
Thomas Raymond Kelly was born on June 4, 1893 on a farm in southwestern Ohio near Chillicothe. His parents were ardent enough Quakers to have reopened an old Quaker meeting-house and to have revived a meeting for worship during their young married life. Thomas Kelly’s father died when he was four, and in order to support him and his sister Mary, his mother worked the farm and delivered butter and eggs in the village for the next six years. Then she moved to Wilmington, Ohio, in order that the children might have the advantage of a good school and later of a Quaker College. She learned stenography and bookkeeping and started work in the office of the Irwin Auger Bit Company at five dollars a week to support her little family.
A Testament of Devotion
Compiled by Richard S. Adams
In reference to the Bible,
That book, Sir, is the Rock
upon which our republic rests.
--- President Andrew Jackson
Praise is the best diet for us, after all.
--- Sydney Smith (19th century English author and Anglican clergyman
We have grasped the mystery of the atom and rejected the Sermon on the Mount…. The world has achieved brilliance without conscience. Ours is a world of nuclear giants and ethical infants.
--- Five Star General Omar Bradley
There is a level of cowardice lower than that of the conformist: the fashionable non-conformist.
--- Ayn Rand
... from here, there and everywhere
by D.H. Stern
and from those who speak deceitfully,
13 who leave the paths of honesty
to walk the ways of darkness,
14 who delight in doing evil
and take joy in being stubbornly deceitful,
15 from those whose tracks are twisted
and whose paths are perverse.
Complete Jewish Bible : An English Version of the Tanakh (Old Testament) and B'Rit Hadashah (New Testament)
A Daily Devotional by Oswald Chambers
Intimate with Jesus
Have I been so long with you, and yet hast thou not known Me? --- John 14:9.
These words are not spoken as a rebuke, nor even with surprise; Jesus is leading Philip on. The last One with whom we get intimate is Jesus. Before Pentecost the disciples knew Jesus as the One Who gave them power to conquer demons and to bring about a revival (see Luke 10:18–20). It was a wonderful intimacy, but there was a much closer intimacy to come—“I have called you friends.” Friendship is rare on earth. It means identity in thought and heart and spirit. The whole discipline of life is to enable us to enter into this closest relationship with Jesus Christ. We receive His blessings and know His word, but do we know Him?
Jesus said—“It is expedient for you that I go away”—in that relationship, so that He might lead them on. It is a joy to Jesus when a disciple takes time to step more intimately with Him. Fruitbearing is always mentioned as the manifestation of an intimate union with Jesus Christ (John 15:1–4).
When once we get intimate with Jesus we are never lonely, we never need sympathy, we can pour out all the time without being pathetic. The saint who is intimate with Jesus will never leave impressions of himself, but only the impression that Jesus is having unhindered way, because the last abyss of his nature has been satisfied by Him. The only impression left by such a life is that of the strong calm sanity that Our Lord gives to those who are intimate with Him.
My Utmost for His Highest: Quality Paperback Edition
the Poetry of R.S. Thomas
Taking the next train
to the city, yet always returning
to his place on a bridge
over a river, throbbing
with trout, whose widening
circles are the mandala
for contentment. So will a poet
return to the work laid
on one side and abandoned
for the voices summoning hint
to the wrong tasks. Art
is not life. It is not the river
carrying us away, but the motionless
image of itself on a fast-
¬running surface with which life
tries constantly to keep up.
The Poems of R.S. Thomas
Some time later the brook dried up. --- 1 Kings 17:7.
The deepest lesson of the story is that the ceasing of the prophet’s brook was the beginning of larger views of God. (The Weaving of Glory (The Morrison Classic Sermon Series))
There is a faith that runs through the green fields of childhood, making everything it laps on fresh and beautiful. Yet while some never lose that faith, living in its gladness until the end, for most of us, some time later the brook dries up. There may be moral causes at the back of that. A vast deal of doubt runs down to moral grounds. But if we are earnest and truthful and if we trust and pray, there is nothing to sigh for in the failing brook. For the God whom we find again through many a struggle and the faith that we make ours by many a battle and the things that we wrestle for until break of day—although we may go limping ever after—these are our own for time and for eternity, and neither life nor death can take them from us.
And then there are the blessings we enjoy—our health, our prosperity, the love of those who love us. There are many people who never lose these blessings, moving beside still waters to the end. But there are others with whom it is not so. They have suffered terribly or had sharp and sore reverses. There was a day when they had everything they wanted, but it came to pass some time later that the brook dried up. I will not comfort them by any platitudes. I will only ask them, Has not God been nearer—has not religion been more to them since then? And if it has taken the failing of the stream to cast them utterly on the arm of God, if they have risen from an empty brook to drink of an ocean that is ever full—perhaps it was not in anger but in love that the waters ceased to be musical at Cherith.
--- George H. Morrison
Take Heart: Daily Devotions with the Church's Great Preachers
… Whose Will Be Done
Faithfulness eclipses fame as the mark of greatness. Not everyone is named Augustine, Luther, or Graham. The names of some are obscured by time, but they have done the Father’s will. Take John Hooper, for example — born in Sommersetshire, England, in 1495. While studying at Oxford, he discovered the book of Romans which “seriously affected the salvation of my soul,” he wrote, “and my everlasting welfare. Therefore with an earnest study, I employed myself therein both night and day.” Hooper found the death of Christ sufficient for salvation without additional work or merit. He confessed, “I had blasphemed God by wicked worship and an almost idolatrous heart until I became rightly acquainted with the Lord.”
His Reformation beliefs put him at risk, and he escaped to the coast on a borrowed horse, then to France and later to Zurich where he studied Greek, theology, and the writings of Zwingli. Returning to England during King Edward’s reign, he preached to packed houses and before the king himself. His wife watched with alarm as he wore himself out in ministry. But his labors ceased when Bloody Queen Mary ascended the throne and unleashed a storm against Protestants. Hooper was thrown into Fleet prison where his clammy bed of rotten straw lay beside the city sewer. Hooper described conditions in a letter on January 7, 1554: “On the one side is the stink and filth of the house, and on the other side the town ditch, so that the stench hath infected me with sundry diseases—during which time I have been sick; and the doors, bars, and chains being closed, and made fast upon me, I have mourned and cried for help … neither is there suffered any to come at me whereby I might have relief. But I commit my cause to God, whose will be done, whether it be by life or death.”
Hooper soon fulfilled that commitment. While being burned at the stake, his voice joined those of the assembled crowd praying, “Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done. …” (KJV).
Here is a true message: If we died with Christ, we will live with him. If we don’t give up, we will rule with him. If we deny that we know him, he will deny that he knows us. If we are not faithful, he will still be faithful. Christ cannot deny who he is.
--- 2 Timothy 2:11-13.
On This Day 365 Amazing And Inspiring Stories About Saints, Martyrs And Heroes
Daily Readings / CHARLES H. SPURGEON
Morning - January 7
“For me to live is Christ.” --- Philippians 1:21.
The believer did not always live to Christ. He began to do so when God the Holy Spirit convinced him of sin, and when by grace he was brought to see the dying Saviour making a propitiation for his guilt. From the moment of the new and celestial birth the man begins to live to Christ. Jesus is to believers the one pearl of great price, for whom we are willing to part with all that we have. He has so completely won our love, that it beats alone for him; to his glory we would live, and in defence of his Gospel we would die; he is the pattern of our life, and the model after which we would sculpture our character. Paul’s words mean more than most men think; they imply that the aim and end of his life was Christ—nay, his life itself was Jesus. In the words of an ancient saint, he did eat, and drink, and sleep eternal life. Jesus was his very breath, the soul of his soul, the heart of his heart, the life of his life. Can you say, as a professing Christian, that you live up to this idea? Can you honestly say that for you to live is Christ? Your business—are you doing it for Christ? Is it not done for self- aggrandizement and for family advantage? Do you ask, “Is that a mean reason?” For the Christian it is. He professes to live for Christ; how can he live for another object without committing a spiritual adultery? Many there are who carry out this principle in some measure; but who is there that dare say that he hath lived wholly for Christ as the apostle did? Yet, this alone is the true life of a Christian—its source, its sustenance, its fashion, its end, all gathered up in one word—Christ Jesus. Lord, accept me; I here present myself, praying to live only in thee and to thee. Let me be as the bullock which stands between the plough and the altar, to work or to be sacrificed; and let my motto be, “Ready for either.”
Evening - January 7
“My sister, my spouse.” --- Song of Solomon 4:12.
Observe the sweet titles with which the heavenly Solomon with intense affection addresses his bride the church. “My sister, one near to me by ties of nature, partaker of the same sympathies. My spouse, nearest and dearest, united to me by the tenderest bands of love; my sweet companion, part of my own self. My sister, by my Incarnation, which makes me bone of thy bone and flesh of thy flesh; my spouse, by heavenly betrothal, in which I have espoused thee unto myself in righteousness. My sister, whom I knew of old, and over whom I watched from her earliest infancy; my spouse, taken from among the daughters, embraced by arms of love, and affianced unto me for ever. See how true it is that our royal Kinsman is not ashamed of us, for he dwells with manifest delight upon this two-fold relationship. We have the word “my” twice in our version; as if Christ dwelt with rapture on his possession of his Church. “His delights were with the sons of men,” because those sons of men were his own chosen ones. He, the Shepherd, sought the sheep, because they were his sheep; he has gone about “to seek and to save that which was lost,” because that which was lost was his long before it was lost to itself or lost to him. The church is the exclusive portion of her Lord; none else may claim a partnership, or pretend to share her love. Jesus, thy church delights to have it so! Let every believing soul drink solace out of these wells. Soul! Christ is near to thee in ties of relationship; Christ is dear to thee in bonds of marriage union, and thou art dear to him; behold he grasps both of thy hands with both his own, saying, “My sister, my spouse.” Mark the two sacred holdfasts by which thy Lord gets such a double hold of thee that he neither can nor will ever let thee go. Be not, O beloved, slow to return the hallowed flame of his love.
Morning and Evening: A New Edition of the Classic Devotional Based on The Holy Bible, English Standard Version
TEACH ME TO PRAY
Words and Music by Albert S. Reitz, 1879–1966
Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. (Hebrews 4:16)
One of the most important emphases during this season of Epiphany is that of prayer, both for our own daily guidance and as the undergirding power needed for the spiritual journey of our local church.
What is prayer? To many, prayer is regarded as a foolish repetition of words, a refuge for weaklings, or a childish petition for material needs. How sadly this reservoir of spiritual power is undervalued when perceived in these terms, just as we would underestimate electricity if we talked of it only in terms of a 40-watt bulb.
For the child of God, prayer is far more than the mere gratification of our human whims. It is the practice of the presence of Almighty God in every activity of our daily lives.
Prayer is so simple. It is like quietly opening a door and slipping into the very presence of God. --- Unknown
Rev. Albert S. Reitz left this account:
When I was pastor of the Rosehill Baptist Church, we had a heart-warming Day of Prayer under the leadership of the Evangelical Prayer Union of Los Angeles. The next Morning in my study the Lord gave the words and the music then followed.
As you read these words, may they challenge you to recognize the importance of an earnest prayer life.
Teach me to pray, Lord, teach me to pray; this is my heart cry day unto day; I long to know Thy will and Thy way; teach me to pray, Lord, teach me to pray.
Power in prayer, Lord, power in prayer, here ’mid earth’s sin and sorrow and care; men lost and dying, souls in despair—O give me power, power in prayer!
My weakened will, Lord, Thou canst renew; my sinful nature Thou canst subdue; fill me just now with power anew, power to pray and power to do!
Teach me to pray, Lord, teach me to pray; Thou art my Pattern day unto day; Thou art my surety now and for aye; teach me to pray, Lord, teach me to pray.
Chorus: Living in Thee, Lord, and Thou in me; constant abiding, this is my plea; grant me Thy power boundless and free: Power with men and power with Thee.
For Today: Matthew 5:44; 21:22; Mark 11:25; Luke 18:1.
Practice God’s presence even amidst the noise and clamor of your busy day. Don’t forget to pray for the ongoing ministry of your church. Carry this tuneful message to help ---
Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions
Brett Meador | Athey Creek
Jehovah-jireh Genesis 22:1-14
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