Genesis 27 - 29
Isaac Blesses JacobGenesis 27:1 When Isaac was old and his eyes were dim so that he could not see, he called Esau his older son and said to him, “My son”; and he answered, “Here I am.” 2 He said, “Behold, I am old; I do not know the day of my death. 3 Now then, take your weapons, your quiver and your bow, and go out to the field and hunt game for me, 4 and prepare for me delicious food, such as I love, and bring it to me so that I may eat, that my soul may bless you before I die.”
5 Now Rebekah was listening when Isaac spoke to his son Esau. So when Esau went to the field to hunt for game and bring it, 6 Rebekah said to her son Jacob, “I heard your father speak to your brother Esau, 7 ‘Bring me game and prepare for me delicious food, that I may eat it and bless you before the LORD before I die.’ 8 Now therefore, my son, obey my voice as I command you. 9 Go to the flock and bring me two good young goats, so that I may prepare from them delicious food for your father, such as he loves. 10 And you shall bring it to your father to eat, so that he may bless you before he dies.” 11 But Jacob said to Rebekah his mother, “Behold, my brother Esau is a hairy man, and I am a smooth man. 12 Perhaps my father will feel me, and I shall seem to be mocking him and bring a curse upon myself and not a blessing.” 13 His mother said to him, “Let your curse be on me, my son; only obey my voice, and go, bring them to me.”
14 So he went and took them and brought them to his mother, and his mother prepared delicious food, such as his father loved. 15 Then Rebekah took the best garments of Esau her older son, which were with her in the house, and put them on Jacob her younger son. 16 And the skins of the young goats she put on his hands and on the smooth part of his neck. 17 And she put the delicious food and the bread, which she had prepared, into the hand of her son Jacob.
18 So he went in to his father and said, “My father.” And he said, “Here I am. Who are you, my son?” 19 Jacob said to his father, “I am Esau your firstborn. I have done as you told me; now sit up and eat of my game, that your soul may bless me.” 20 But Isaac said to his son, “How is it that you have found it so quickly, my son?” He answered, “Because the LORD your God granted me success.” 21 Then Isaac said to Jacob, “Please come near, that I may feel you, my son, to know whether you are really my son Esau or not.” 22 So Jacob went near to Isaac his father, who felt him and said, “The voice is Jacob’s voice, but the hands are the hands of Esau.” 23 And he did not recognize him, because his hands were hairy like his brother Esau’s hands. So he blessed him. 24 He said, “Are you really my son Esau?” He answered, “I am.” 25 Then he said, “Bring it near to me, that I may eat of my son’s game and bless you.” So he brought it near to him, and he ate; and he brought him wine, and he drank.
26 Then his father Isaac said to him, “Come near and kiss me, my son.” 27 So he came near and kissed him. And Isaac smelled the smell of his garments and blessed him and said,
“See, the smell of my son
is as the smell of a field that the LORD has blessed!
28 May God give you of the dew of heaven
and of the fatness of the earth
and plenty of grain and wine.
29 Let peoples serve you,
and nations bow down to you.
Be lord over your brothers,
and may your mother’s sons bow down to you.
Cursed be everyone who curses you,
and blessed be everyone who blesses you!”
39 Then Isaac his father answered and said to him:
“Behold, away from the fatness of the earth shall your dwelling be,
and away from the dew of heaven on high.
40 By your sword you shall live,
and you shall serve your brother;
but when you grow restless
you shall break his yoke from your neck.”
46 Then Rebekah said to Isaac, “I loathe my life because of the Hittite women. If Jacob marries one of the Hittite women like these, one of the women of the land, what good will my life be to me?”
Jacob Sent to LabanGenesis 28:1 Then Isaac called Jacob and blessed him and directed him, “You must not take a wife from the Canaanite women. 2 Arise, go to Paddan-aram to the house of Bethuel your mother’s father, and take as your wife from there one of the daughters of Laban your mother’s brother. 3 God Almighty bless you and make you fruitful and multiply you, that you may become a company of peoples. 4 May he give the blessing of Abraham to you and to your offspring with you, that you may take possession of the land of your sojournings that God gave to Abraham!” 5 Thus Isaac sent Jacob away. And he went to Paddan-aram, to Laban, the son of Bethuel the Aramean, the brother of Rebekah, Jacob’s and Esau’s mother.
Esau Marries an Ishmaelite6 Now Esau saw that Isaac had blessed Jacob and sent him away to Paddan-aram to take a wife from there, and that as he blessed him he directed him, “You must not take a wife from the Canaanite women,” 7 and that Jacob had obeyed his father and his mother and gone to Paddan-aram. 8 So when Esau saw that the Canaanite women did not please Isaac his father, 9 Esau went to Ishmael and took as his wife, besides the wives he had, Mahalath the daughter of Ishmael, Abraham’s son, the sister of Nebaioth.
Jacob’s Dream10 Jacob left Beersheba and went toward Haran. 11 And he came to a certain place and stayed there that night, because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones of the place, he put it under his head and lay down in that place to sleep. 12 And he dreamed, and behold, there was a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven. And behold, the angels of God were ascending and descending on it! 13 And behold, the LORD stood above it and said, “I am the LORD, the God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac. The land on which you lie I will give to you and to your offspring. 14 Your offspring shall be like the dust of the earth, and you shall spread abroad to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south, and in you and your offspring shall all the families of the earth be blessed. 15 Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land. For I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.” 16 Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely the LORD is in this place, and I did not know it.” 17 And he was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.”
18 So early in the morning Jacob took the stone that he had put under his head and set it up for a pillar and poured oil on the top of it. 19 He called the name of that place Bethel, but the name of the city was Luz at the first. 20 Then Jacob made a vow, saying, “If God will be with me and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat and clothing to wear, 21 so that I come again to my father’s house in peace, then the LORD shall be my God, 22 and this stone, which I have set up for a pillar, shall be God’s house. And of all that you give me I will give a full tenth to you.”
Jacob Marries Leah and RachelGenesis 29:1 Then Jacob went on his journey and came to the land of the people of the east. 2 As he looked, he saw a well in the field, and behold, three flocks of sheep lying beside it, for out of that well the flocks were watered. The stone on the well’s mouth was large, 3 and when all the flocks were gathered there, the shepherds would roll the stone from the mouth of the well and water the sheep, and put the stone back in its place over the mouth of the well.
4 Jacob said to them, “My brothers, where do you come from?” They said, “We are from Haran.” 5 He said to them, “Do you know Laban the son of Nahor?” They said, “We know him.” 6 He said to them, “Is it well with him?” They said, “It is well; and see, Rachel his daughter is coming with the sheep!” 7 He said, “Behold, it is still high day; it is not time for the livestock to be gathered together. Water the sheep and go, pasture them.” 8 But they said, “We cannot until all the flocks are gathered together and the stone is rolled from the mouth of the well; then we water the sheep.”
9 While he was still speaking with them, Rachel came with her father’s sheep, for she was a shepherdess. 10 Now as soon as Jacob saw Rachel the daughter of Laban his mother’s brother, and the sheep of Laban his mother’s brother, Jacob came near and rolled the stone from the well’s mouth and watered the flock of Laban his mother’s brother. 11 Then Jacob kissed Rachel and wept aloud. 12 And Jacob told Rachel that he was her father’s kinsman, and that he was Rebekah’s son, and she ran and told her father.
13 As soon as Laban heard the news about Jacob, his sister’s son, he ran to meet him and embraced him and kissed him and brought him to his house. Jacob told Laban all these things, 14 and Laban said to him, “Surely you are my bone and my flesh!” And he stayed with him a month.
15 Then Laban said to Jacob, “Because you are my kinsman, should you therefore serve me for nothing? Tell me, what shall your wages be?” 16 Now Laban had two daughters. The name of the older was Leah, and the name of the younger was Rachel. 17 Leah’s eyes were weak, but Rachel was beautiful in form and appearance. 18 Jacob loved Rachel. And he said, “I will serve you seven years for your younger daughter Rachel.” 19 Laban said, “It is better that I give her to you than that I should give her to any other man; stay with me.” 20 So Jacob served seven years for Rachel, and they seemed to him but a few days because of the love he had for her.
21 Then Jacob said to Laban, “Give me my wife that I may go in to her, for my time is completed.” 22 So Laban gathered together all the people of the place and made a feast. 23 But in the evening he took his daughter Leah and brought her to Jacob, and he went in to her. 24 (Laban gave his female servant Zilpah to his daughter Leah to be her servant.) 25 And in the morning, behold, it was Leah! And Jacob said to Laban, “What is this you have done to me? Did I not serve with you for Rachel? Why then have you deceived me?” 26 Laban said, “It is not so done in our country, to give the younger before the firstborn. 27 Complete the week of this one, and we will give you the other also in return for serving me another seven years.” 28 Jacob did so, and completed her week. Then Laban gave him his daughter Rachel to be his wife. 29 (Laban gave his female servant Bilhah to his daughter Rachel to be her servant.) 30 So Jacob went in to Rachel also, and he loved Rachel more than Leah, and served Laban for another seven years.
Jacob’s Children31 When the LORD saw that Leah was hated, he opened her womb, but Rachel was barren. 32 And Leah conceived and bore a son, and she called his name Reuben, for she said, “Because the LORD has looked upon my affliction; for now my husband will love me.” 33 She conceived again and bore a son, and said, “Because the LORD has heard that I am hated, he has given me this son also.” And she called his name Simeon. 34 Again she conceived and bore a son, and said, “Now this time my husband will be attached to me, because I have borne him three sons.” Therefore his name was called Levi. 35 And she conceived again and bore a son, and said, “This time I will praise the LORD.” Therefore she called his name Judah. Then she ceased bearing.
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What I'm Reading
Two Things Nearly Everyone Believes About the Universe
By J. Warner Wallace 7/15/2017
My new book, God's Crime Scene: A Cold-Case Detective Examines the Evidence for a Divinely Created Universe, is set to release on August 1st. In this book, I examine the universe as a “crime scene” and investigate eight different pieces of evidence through the filter of a simple investigative question: “Can the evidence ‘in the room’ be explained by staying ‘in the room’? This question is key to determining whether a death scene is a crime scene, and I typically play a game I call “inside or outside the room” whenever I am trying to determine if a death is, in fact, a murder. If, for example, there is a victim in the room with a gunshot injury lying next to a handgun, but the doors are locked from the inside, all the DNA and fingerprints in the room come back to the victim, the gun is registered to the victim and there are no signs of an outside intruder, this is simply the scene of a suicide or accidental death. If, however, there exist fingerprints or DNA of an unknown suspect, the gun does not belong to the victim, and there are even bloody footprints leading outside the room, I’ve got to reconsider the cause of this death. When the evidence in the room cannot be explained by staying inside the room and is better explained by a cause outside the room, there’s a good chance I’ve got a murder. When this is the case, my investigation must shift direction. I must now begin to search for an external intruder. I think you’ll find this investigative approach applicable as you examine the case for God’s existence. If all the evidence “inside the room” of the universe can be explained by staying “inside the room”, there’s no need to invoke an ‘external’ cause. If, on the other hand, the best explanation for the evidence “inside the room” is a cause “outside the room”, we’ll need to shift our attention as we search for an “external” intruder.
There are eight distinct pieces of evidence (in four separate categories) that must be explained when examining the attributes of our universe. These divergent categories of evidence all point to the same reasonable inference. The first category involves cosmological evidence. One important attribute of the universe is simply its origin. This first piece of evidence is critical to understanding the very nature of the cosmos and has been examined deeply by atheists and theists alike. As it turns out, nearly everyone agrees on two evidential inferences related to the origin of our universe:
The Universe Came In To Existence From Nothing | The evidence for the beginning of our universe is cumulative, diverse and substantial. The “stuff” of the universe (all space, time, and matter) came into existence from nothing, and all the evidence scientists have examined so far points to this reasonable conclusion. “Big Bang” cosmology is described as the “Standard Cosmological Model” for a reason: the vast majority of physicists and scientist accept this model as an accurate description of the beginning of the universe:
“Almost everyone now believes that the universe, and time itself, had a beginning at the Big Bang.” – Stephen Hawking and Roger Penrose
“With the proof now in place, cosmologists can no longer hide behind the possibility of a past-eternal universe. There is now no escape, they have to face the problem of a cosmic beginning.” – Alexander Vilenkin
J. Warner Wallace is a Cold-Case Detective, a Christian Case Maker, and the author of:
Should We Legislate Morality?
By Douglas Groothuis, Ph.D. 7/8/2015
One objection to Christian involvement in law and politics is that it is somehow wrong to “legislate morality.” Given the heat generated by the same-sex controversy, this epithet is often hurled at Christians who dissent on the Supreme Court ruling and who do not support laws of this kind. These objections, however, have no force.
Consider the nature of civil law. Through the threat of force, these laws constrain or require actions. They are not suggestions, but imperatives. Such laws are not akin to scientific laws which describe the patterns found in nature. Civil laws prescribe behaviors. Some moral standard or moral vision lies behind all civil laws. They do not appear out of nothing, and they are not morally neutral. As R. J. Rushdoony wrote in Institutes of Biblical Law, “It must be recognized that in any culture the source of law is the god of that society.” A god rewards and punishes, forbids and requires, and defines morality. Since civil law is the last word in adjudicating human affairs, the source of that law is deemed the final authority, even if it is not.
American civil law ought to be rooted in and consistent with the Constitution, which itself is based on a philosophy of natural law or natural rights. That is, there is a law above the law to which the law should conform as much as possible in a fallen world. This powerful idea is found in the Declaration of Independence.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.
Governments are instituted to secure rights given by the Creator. Governments do not create rights by their dicta. The American vision for law is based on the Judeo-Christian worldview—however imperfectly applied.
Per Amazon | Douglas R. Groothuis (PhD, Philosophy, University of Oregon) is professor of philosophy at Denver Seminary in Denver, Colorado. He has also been a visiting professor or adjunct faculty member at Fuller Theological Seminary (Colorado Springs extension), Metropolitan State College of Denver, Westminster Theological Seminary (California campus), University of Oregon, New College Berkeley and Seattle Pacific University. His articles have been published in professional journals such asReligious Studies, Sophia, Theory and Research in Education, Philosophia Christi, Themelios, Think: A Journal of the Royal Institute of Philosophy, Christian Scholar's Review, Inquiry and Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society. He has written several books, including Truth Decay, In Defense of Natural Theology (coeditor), Unmasking the New Age, Jesus in an Age of Controversy, Deceived by the Light, The Soul in Cyberspace, and, in the Wadsworth Philosophers Series, On Pascal and On Jesus
Douglas Groothuis Books:
- 1 Christian Apologetics: A Comprehensive Case for Biblical Faith
- 2 Truth Decay: Defending Christianity Against the Challenges of Postmodernism
- 3 Philosophy in Seven Sentences: A Small Introduction to a Vast Topic
- 4 Unmasking the New Age
- 5 On Jesus (Wadsworth Philosophers Series)
- 6 Confronting the New Age: How to Resist a Growing Religious Movement
- 7 Deceived by the Light:
- 8 On Jesus (Wadsworth Philosophers) by Douglas Groothuis (June 6, 2002) Paperback 1
- 9 The Soul in Cyberspace
- 10 Jesus in an Age of Controversy
- 11 Revealing the New Age Jesus: Challenges to Orthodox Views of Christ
- 12 On Pascal (Wadsworth Philosophers Series)
The Hebrew Manuscripts and the Early Versions
By Gleason Archer Jr.In addition to the biblical fragments which have been published from Cave 1 and Cave 4, thousands of fragments have been recovered from Cave 4, with over 380 different manuscripts identified, of which perhaps 100 are from the Old Testament. Cave 2 furnished more than 180 legible fragments (one-fourth of which were biblical). The biblical materials from Cave 3 (famous for its copper scroll containing an inventory of sacred treasure hidden for safekeeping) and Caves 5 and 6 are rather meager and of minor importance, partly because they did not contain material of great significance. Cave 7 has different ranges of MS fragments, all of which are copied out in the Greek language, even though some of them translate from Old Testament texts. For details see p. 42. There has been very little reported as yet concerning the contents of Caves 8, 9, and 10. As for Cave 11, it has yielded five relatively complete scrolls: a portion of Leviticus, a scroll of a selection of Psalms, an Aramaic Targum of Job, and a noncanonical Apocalypse of the New Jerusalem.
Some of the major publications of the Qumran materials are: Millar Burrows (ed.), The Dead Sea Scrolls of St. Mark’s Monastery (New Haven, Conn.: ASOR, 1950), containing the photographed text of 1QIsa and the Habakkuk Commentary, 1QpHb; O. P. Barthelemy and J. T. Milik, Discoveries in the Judean Desert, vol. 1, Qumran Cave (Oxford: Clarendon, 1955), containing brief fragments from Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Deuteronomy, Judges, Samuel, Isaiah, Ezekiel, Psalms; Eleazar Sukenik, WṢR HMGYLWT HGNWZWT The Treasure of the Hidden Scrolls Jerusalem, 1954), containing the Hebrew University manuscript (MS) of Isaiah, 1QIsb. The following is a list of the published and unpublished biblical manuscripts of which public notice has been given in the scholarly journals.
1. The Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah (1QIsa)—the entire sixty-six chapters (150–100 B.C.). This important text belongs to the same manuscript family as the Masoretic Text (MT). Only occasionally does it favor a Septuagint (LXX) reading, and most of its deviations from the MT are the result of obvious scribal lapses, for the text was rather carelessly copied. Yet some of the proper names point to an earlier and more reliable vocalization than does the MT; for instance, 1QIsa points to the vocalization turtān (cf. the Akkadian turtannu), which is certainly more reliable than the MT’s tartān (in 20:1).
2. The Habakkuk Commentary (1QpHb)—chapters 1 and 2 only, with commentary notes interspersed between verses (100–50 B.C.). Here again the Habakkuk text quoted stands in a very close relationship to the MT. The variants are fairly numerous, though minor in character, and often explicable as simple scribal errors. Very seldom does a variant find support in the LXX or other versions. Incidentally, the commentary (or pesher) is of a very special kind: it is usually concerned with how each verse has been fulfilled in recent (Hasmonean) history or by current events.
3. The Hebrew University Isaiah Scroll (1QIsb)—substantial portions of chapters 41–66 (copied ca. 50 B.C.). This has a far closer fidelity to the MT than 1QIsa does. It was published by E. L. Sukenik in 1948 and 1955 as The Treasure of the Hidden Scrolls, which also included the Miḫāmah and the Hōdāyōt.
4. 1Q Leviticus fragments—a few verses each of chapters 19–22 (copied perhaps fourth century B.C.—de Vaux, and Burrows guardedly agrees, whereas Cross prefers second century). They were published in Barthelemy, p. 51. Textually this MS is in remarkable agreement with the MT. It is written in paleo-Hebrew script.
5. 4Q Deuteronomy-B—32:41–43 written in hemistichs as poetry, not as prose. It favors the LXX as against the MT in three instances. It was published by Skehan in BASOR, no. 136 (Dec 1954); he suggests no date for this.
6. 4Q Samuel-A—1 Samuel 1 and 2—twenty-seven fragments (first century B.C.). This agrees with the LXX as against the MT in several places; in other places, it differs from both. It was published by Cross in BASOR, no. 132 (Dec. 1953). A photo is in QHBT 273 (“Qumran and the History of the Biblical Text”).
7. 4Q Samuel-B—1 Samuel 16, 19, 21, 23 (225 B.C. or earlier). This is even more sparing in matres lectionis (vowel-indicating letters) than the MT. This text consistently agrees with the LXX as against the MT. It was published by Cross in JBL, no. 74 (Sept. 1955). It was republished in Cross and Talmon’s Qumran and the History of the Biblical Text (Harvard U. Press, 1975), in the chapter entitled “The Oldest MSS from Qumran,” pp. 147–76; transcriptions are on pp. 170–73 (F. M. Cross); photos are on p. 154. This cross-dates Item 7 as 4th century (QHBT 167).
8. 4Q Jeremiah-A—likewise archaic and for the same reason, according to Cross, ALQ, 187; translation only.
9. 4Q XII-A—(XII signifying a MS of the minor prophets). It is referred to by Cross in the above-mentioned article as a third-century B.C. cursive. (4QXIIc, according to Sanders.) Semitica 5 (1955) pp. 147–72 (M. Testuz).
10. 4Q Qoha—a second century cursive text of Ecclesiastes, derived from a source at least third century or earlier, according to Cross. It was published by James Muilenberg, “A Qoheleth Scroll from Qumran,” BASOR, no. 135 (Oct. 1954) pp. 20–28.
11. 4Q Exodus—a fragment of chapter 1 with a variant which favors the LXX (1:5 reads “seventy-five” instead of the MT’s “seventy”). Compare Frank M. Cross, Jr., The Ancient Library of Qumran (New York: Doubleday, Anchor, 1961), pp. 184–85.
12. 4Q Paleo-Exodusm—portions of chapters 7, 29, 30, 32 (and perhaps others), written in Paleo-Hebrew script. This MS favors the Samaritan Pentateuch as against the MT in a significant number of instances. Compare P. J. Skehan, “Exodus in the Samaritan Recension from Qumran,” JBL, no. 74 (1955), pages 182–87. (Photo in QHBT 275.)
13. 4Q Paleo-Exodus, copied perhaps 100 B.C., that conforms quite closely to the MT (QHBT 276).
14. 4Q Numbers—written in square Hebrew but with Samaritan-type expansions; for instance, after 27:23 comes an insert derived from Deuteronomy 3:21. But in other instances it agrees with the LXX as against the Samaritan and the MT (as in 35:21).
15. 4Q Deuteronomy-A—chapter 32 (Song of Moses). This MS inclines toward the LXX as against the MT at 32:43 (although it omits some of the LXX expansion here).
16. 4Q Jeremiah—supports the briefer text of Jeremiah reflected in the LXX (QHBT 276).
17. 7Q Daniel—a few fragments of Daniel in 2nd century handwriting, including the transition from Hebrew to Aramic in 2:4. (J. Trever in RQ 19  323–26 for plates.)
18. 11Q Psalms—a manuscript of Psalms from Cave 11, copied in the formal bookhand style of the Herodian period. The bottom third of each page has been lost. Thirty-three psalms have been preserved, including Ps. 151 of the LXX. Four separate fragments contain portions of four more psalms, thus making a total of thirty-seven. Represented are Pss. 93, 101–103, 105, 109, 118, 119, 121–130, 132–146, 148–151, although they do not always follow the sequence of the MT (e.g., Ps. 105 is followed by Pss. 146, 148, 121–130). There are also about six noncanonical poems (two of which are known in a Syriac translation) and one prose portion listing the number of psalms written by David (cf. BASOR, no. 165, pp. 13–15).6 DJD (1965), J. A. Sanders. (4QDt2, according to Sanders) (QHBT 406).
From the foregoing descriptions it becomes apparent that the Qumran materials point to three or possibly four main manuscript families: (1) the proto-Masoretic, from which the consonantal text of our present-day Hebrew is derived; (2) the proto-Septuagintal, the Hebrew Vorlage (preceding model) of the original Greek translations that eventuated in the later Septuagint; (3) the proto-Samaritan, forming the basis for the later Samaritan text of the Hebrew Pentateuch (probably lacking the later Samaritan additions inserted in the interest of sectarian bias); (4) a neutral family, standing more or less midway among the conflicting traditions of the first three families.
However, it should be understood that the existence of these non-Masoretic manuscript families does not necessarily mean that the proto-Masoretic does not represent the purest textual tradition of all. Nothing in the new discoveries from the Qumran caves endangers the essential reliability and authority of our standard Hebrew Bible text, as represented for example in the Kittel editions of Biblia Hebraica. They do not indicate that the Septuagint is necessarily to be exalted to a more respected position than before as a witness to the original text, except perhaps in such books as 1 and 2 Samuel in which, for some reason, we have an unusually defective Hebrew text in the MT. Certainly we may expect increasing assistance from Qumran sources in regard to Samuel, and perhaps also in some portions of Deuteronomy (particularly in those instances where a New Testament author has quoted a verse according to the LXX wording rather than the MT’s).
One further remark should be made concerning the consonantal MT. When it is compared with such examples of the proto-Masoretic tradition as 1QIsa (which contains many “extra” matres lectionis), the MT obviously goes back to a pre-Maccabean recension of the Hebrew Bible and points to the activity of a standardizing revision committee under official auspices, who consulted all the earliest and best manuscripts then available (no doubt including the official copies in the temple archives) and produced a sort of resultant text much after the manner of Westcott and Hort or Eberhard Nestle in their New Testament editions. Unlike Westcott and Hort, however, the Jewish scholars never took the trouble to record the prior manuscripts from which they had worked, but simply discarded them altogether, (or consigned them to a storeroom) feeling that their new and official text met all practical needs.
When did this hypothetical committee do its work? Some have suggested the so-called Council of Jamnia in A.D. 90, but this hardly agrees with the evidence of texts like the Hebrew University Isaiah Scroll, which corresponds almost letter for letter with the MT and yet dates from about 50 B.C. A more likely supposition is that the standardization of the consonantal text of the Old Testament took place around 100 B.C.8
There remains just one more pre-Christian MS to list here, one which did not come from the Qumran caves:
19. Nash Papyrus—containing the Decalogue and the shema˓, that is, Ex. 20:1–17 and Deut. 6:4–9 (dated by Cross at 100 B.C., by Albright at 50 B.C.). This text is close to the Masoretic tradition. It was purchased by W. L. Nash from an Egyptian antique dealer who stated that it was discovered in the Fayyūm. It has been published by W. E Albright, “A Biblical Fragment from the Maccabean Age: the Nash Papyrus,” JBL, no. 56 (1937), pp. 145–76. (Cf. Wurthwein, TOT, pl.S.)
A Survey of Old Testament Introduction
Ten Basic Facts about the NT Canon that Every Christian Should Memorize: #1: “The New Testament Books are the Earliest Christian Writings We Possess”
By Michael J. Kruger 1/21/2013
This new blog series is designed to help the lay believer learn some basic facts about the New Testament canon—the kind of facts that might be helpful in a conversation with a skeptic or inquisitive friend. The first of these facts is one that is so basic that it is often overlooked. It is simply that the New Testament books are the earliest Christian writings we possess.
One of the most formidable challenges in any discussion about the New Testament canon is explaining what makes these 27 books unique. Why these and not others? There are many answers to that question, but in this blog post we are focusing on just one: the date of these books. These books stand out as distinctive because they are earliest Christian writings we possess and thus bring us the closest to the historical Jesus and to the earliest church. If we want to find out what authentic Christianity was really like, then we should rely on the writings that are the nearest to that time period.
This is particularly evident when it comes to the four gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. These are the only gospel accounts that derive from the first century. Sure, there are a few scholars have attempted to put the Gospel of Thomas in the first century, but this has not met with much success. After all the scholarly dust has settled, even critics agree that these four are the earliest accounts of Jesus that we possess.
Now, a few qualifications are in order. First, it should be noted that there are disagreements about the dating of some New Testament books. Some critical scholars have argued that some New Testament books are forgeries written in the second century. Meanwhile, other scholars have defended the authenticity (and first-century date) of these books. This is a debate that we cannot delve into here. However, even if these debated books are left aside in our discussions, we can still affirm that the vast majority of the New Testament writings (including the four gospels) still remain the earliest Christian writings we possess.
Second, some may point out that 1 Clement is a Christian writing that dates to the first century, and it is not included in the New Testament canon. True, but the consensus date for 1 Clement is c.96 A.D. This date is later than all our New Testament books. The only possible exception is Revelation which is dated, at the latest, around 95-96 A.D. But, some date Revelation earlier. Even so, this does not affect the macro point we are making here.
Michael J. Kruger, President and Samuel C. Patterson Professor of New Testament and Early Christianity at Reformed Theological Seminary, Charlotte, NC. For more on my background and research interests, see here. Michael J. Kruger Books
Canon Revisited: Establishing the Origins and Authority of the New Testament Books
The Question of Canon: Challenging the Status Quo in the New Testament Debate
A Biblical-Theological Introduction to the New Testament: The Gospel Realized
The Heresy of Orthodoxy: How Contemporary Culture's Fascination with Diversity Has Reshaped Our Understanding of Early Christianity
The Early Text of the New Testament
Read The Psalms In "1" Year
Psalm 6O LORD, Deliver My Life
6 To The Choirmaster: With Stringed Iinstruments; Accoring To The Sheminith. A Psalm Of David.
1 O LORD, rebuke me not in your anger,
nor discipline me in your wrath.
2 Be gracious to me, O LORD, for I am languishing;
heal me, O LORD, for my bones are troubled.
3 My soul also is greatly troubled.
But you, O LORD—how long?
4 Turn, O LORD, deliver my life;
save me for the sake of your steadfast love.
5 For in death there is no remembrance of you;
in Sheol who will give you praise?
The Problem Of The Old Testament
By James Orr 1907
IV. UNIQUE IDEAS OF THE RELIGION
Thus far we have looked at the book and at the history of Israel’s religion, and have found in both a character for which no proper parallel can be discovered elsewhere: we now advance a stage further, and inquire whether the religion itself does not present a similar uniqueness. Only those who have not truly entered into its spirit, or appreciated its relation to other forms of belief, will dispute the proposition that the religion of Israel is unique. It is not the fact of its uniqueness, but whether the uniqueness is of such a kind as to require us to postulate a special, supernatural cause for its explanation, which is matter of controversy. We shall see immediately what the Old Testament itself has to say on that point.
1. A unique religion will display its character equally by what it has and by what it wants. There are, on the negative side, many things absent in Israel’s religion which we should expect to find there, if it was simply one among other religions. Resemblances, as before remarked, in outward respects, there necessarily are. In the religion of Israel we have a sanctuary, priesthood, altars, sacrifices, ritual—much more that has its counterpart in other cults. When, however, from this outward vesture of the religion, we come to its heart and essence, it is not the resemblances, but the contrasts, which impress us. We are not disposed to be stinted in our acknowledgment of the better elements in the ethnic religions; but, whatever place may be given to these, the fact remains that, in their historical forms, the higher elements are hardly visible, while the foreground is occupied by an idolatrous worship, an extravagant and often immoral mythology, customs and usages debasing to the last degree. We need only recall the spirit-worship and magic of Babylonia; the animal-worship and ancestor-worship of Egypt; the stone-worship, and tree-worship, and serpent-worship, the human sacrifices, the lustful rites, the self-immolations, which enter so deeply into most non-Biblical religions. How great the contrast when we come to the religion of Israel! We do not enter into details at present, for we shall have to return to the subject in dealing with the very different theory of the critical school, that Israel began practically on the same level, and with much the same beliefs and practices, as its heathen neighbours, and only late in its history, in the days of the prophets, attained to higher conceptions. It will not be contended, at least, that this is the view of things that meets us on the face of the religion. Few will be bold enough to maintain that tree-worship, stone-worship, serpent-worship, image-worship, and similar superstitions, are conspicuous features on the Bible page. These things, we grant, or some of them, are found in the Bible history—in patriarchal and Mosaic times in sparse traces; later, in times of general declension, when the people fell away into the idolatries and vices of the nations around them, more abundantly; but they are no proper part of Israel’s religion, and are invariably resisted, denounced, and condemned, as apostacy from Jehovah. Idolatry is sternly condemned in the oldest code of laws: divination, necromancy, consulting with familiar spirits, are prohibited; the instances in which contrary practices appear, as Rachel’s teraphim, Micah’s images, Saul’s consulting of the witch of Endor, etc., are sporadic and occasional, and appear either as survivals of older superstitions, or as violations of fundamental principles of the religion, such as are met with in every age and country.
2. We do not dwell longer on these negative features of Israel’s religion, but turn to the positive side, in which, naturally, the clearest proof of its uniqueness must lie. Here it may be sufficient to fix attention on three great fundamental ideas, in which, perhaps, the contrast between it and other forms of religion is most distinctly to be traced.
(1) We take, first, what meets us on the surface—the monotheism of this Israelitish religion. This of itself is much, if we think of the polytheism and idolatry which everywhere else overspread the earth. We look to the religions of ancient Babylonia, Assyria, and Egypt, to those of Israel’s own kinsfolk and neighbours in and around Palestine; and, while recognising higher elements in these religions, ever, however, becoming dimmer as we recede from their source, we find them, one and all, in historical times, grossly, growingly, and incurably, polytheistic and corrupt. In Judah alone was God known. In no single case, moreover, was this polytheism ever thrown off by inherent effort. Even, therefore, were the theory, favoured by modern critics, that “ethical monotheism” was only attained by Israel in the age of the great prophets, allowed to be established, the fact would still remain to be accounted for that Israel, alone of all nations, did attain to it, and became the teacher of the rest of the world. We do not, however, give our adherence to the view that this monotheism of the religion of Israel was a late development of the time of the prophets. As will be shown more fully in a subsequent chapter, the Old Testament knows of no time when the people of Israel were without the knowledge of the one God as the Creator and providential Ruler of the whole world. Monotheism is not the doctrine of one part of the Old Testament, and not of another. Its oldest parts—those which the critics allow to be the oldest—have this doctrine of the unity of God as well as the latest. In these oldest parts, we have as fundamental ideas the creation of the world by God, the unity of the human family as descended from a first pair, made by God, the destruction of the whole race by a flood on account of sin, the promises to Noah, embracing the whole earth, a new descent and distribution of the race from Noah, the recognition of God by Abraham as the Judge of the whole earth,—all laying the foundation for the call of Abraham, the covenants with the patriarchs, the growth of Israel into a nation, its redemption from bondage, and formation into a people for God’s glory. While, therefore, it is not contended that there was no advance in the ideas of God,—no deepening, purifying, or spiritualising of these ideas,—from the days of Abraham and Moses, it may very confidently be maintained that, in the Old Testament as we have it, the unity of God is present as a basal conception from the first.
(2) The monotheism of Israel, however, is not the whole, is not even the main thing, in this religion. It is not so much, after all, in its declarations of what God is in Himself, or of the unity of God, as in what it tells us of the relations of God to man, and of His purposes of grace to the world, that the peculiarity of the religion of the Old Testament lies. No religion exalts man so high as the religion of the Bible, in representing him as made in the image of God, and capable of knowing, loving, and serving God; and no religion abases man so low, in picturing the depths of his apostacy from God, and his inability to deliver himself from the guilt and bondage in which that apostacy has involved him. But it is the glory of the religion of the Bible—this in both Old Testament and New—that over against the picture it gives of the developing sin and corruption of the race, there appears almost from its first page the developing plan and purpose of God for man’s salvation. The history of the Bible is essentially, what Jonathan Edwards called it, “the history of redemption.” If the malady is aggravated, the remedy provided is adequate to cope with it, even on the Bible’s own showing of its evil. In Paul’s language, “Where sin abounded, grace did abound more exceedingly.” This again brings us to the idea of teleology, but now shows us more precisely in what the teleology consists. It is the unfolding in its successive stages of God’s gracious counsel for man’s salvation. It is this which gives its unity to the Bible; which is the golden thread running through history, psalm, prophecy, Gospel, epistle, and binding all together. There is nothing, again, which even remotely resembles this in any other religion. The partial exception is the Zoroastrian, which, in a dim, mythological way, has the idea of a conflict of the good principle with the evil, and of a final triumph of the good. But, apart from the fact that, as was inevitable on a dualistic basis, good and evil are in Zoroastrianism largely physical conceptions, the idea receives no development, is the subject of no history, is embodied in no plan which is historically carried out. The uniqueness of the Biblical religion appears only the more strikingly from the contrast.
(3) The aim of God’s salvation, of His entire work of grace in humanity, is, that man shall be made holy. This brings us to a third marked feature in the religion of the Old Testament, as of the Biblical religion generally—the indissoluble relation it establishes between religion and morality. Religions can readily be found which have no close connection with morality; we are familiar also with a morality which would fain make itself independent of religion. In few of the higher religions, however, is this relation between religion and morality altogether obscured. Throughout history there is generally some dim perception that the gods will protect and reward the good, and will not fail to punish the evil-doer. The peculiarity of the Biblical religion is that in it this idea of the connection of religion with morality is the all-dominating one. To minds awakened to the significance of the moral it may now appear self-evident that a religion has no real worth which does not ally itself with moral ends,—which, going beyond even external guardianship and sanction of duties, does not take morality up into itself as the expression of the will and character of God, and count moral obedience an essential part of His service. But it should not be forgotten that this was not always the view taken of religion, and that it is largely through the influence of the religion of the Bible, purifying and ennobling our conceptions, that we have now come to perceive even this truth as clearly as we do. Already in its first pages—before the word “holy” is yet met with—the Old Testament sets itself against sin in heart and deed. God accepts and vindicates righteous men like Abel, Enoch, and Noah; overwhelms with His judgments a world corrupted by sin; destroys wicked cities like Sodom and Gomorrah. He requires that Abraham shall walk before Him and be perfect; Abraham’s assurance about Him is that the Judge of all the earth will do right. As revelation advances, the indissolubleness of this connection of religion and morality becomes only clearer. The ethical was never so exalted; the ideals of conduct were never raised so high; religion and duty were never so completely fused together, as in the pure and sublime precepts of psalms and prophets. “He hath showed thee, O man, what is good, and what doth Jehovah require of thee, but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God.” A religion of this kind, so high in its views of God, so true to the needs of man, so adequate in its provisions for man’s deliverance, so holy in its spirit, so exalted in its moral demands, never emanated, we may be sure, from man’s own devisings. It is too high for him; he could not attain to it. Even if he could have conceived the idea of it, he could not have translated it into fact and history as is done in the Scriptures.
When Your Goodness Goes Splat
By Tim Challies 1/7/2016
At some point, each one of us becomes proud of our goodness. We become proud of a good thing we have done. We boast, even if only in our own minds, about the purity of an action, the extent of a sacrifice, the value of a gift. We elevate this good act as if it could be held before God as evidence that we aren’t really all that bad, or that we are working our way back toward goodness. We elevate it as if it is worthy of his attention, his favor.
These considerations of our goodness never come about in isolation. When we think about our own goodness, we always compare ourselves to others. It’s not that we are good by any objective standard; we are good compared to the parent, the neighbor, the stranger, the criminal. We choose our comparisons carefully.
Michael Kruger uses a helpful illustration to describe the futility of this kind of boasting, and he illustrates using the Grand Canyon. Imagine that you and I travel together to Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona. We park and walk for a little while, and before we know it we are standing on the rim, on the edge, of one of the world’s natural wonders.
As we stand there, we get the idea to have a fun and friendly little competition between ourselves. We decide to see who can jump the farthest, who can make it to the far rim, or at least who can make it closest. You guess that you can make it all the way across. You back up a little bit, get a running start, and sprint off the edge. You are even better than you thought and make it nearly fourteen feet! Then, of course, you plummet to the bottom of the canyon and go splat. I take my running start and do even better with a tremendous fifteen-foot jump. Then I, too, hurtle to the bottom, my moment of triumph ending with a crunch.
If God’s standard of holiness is as wide as the Grand Canyon—eighteen miles wide at its widest point—it hardly matters whether I end up at ten, twelve, or fifteen feet. No matter how far I jump, I will still fall far, far short of the mark. It matters even less whether I can jump farther than you, because your jump and my jump both lead to an ugly end. These attempts to meet or match God’s standard of holiness leads only to death. All of our goodness goes splat.
I began my web site in 2002 and have been writing there daily since 2003. It is my place to think out loud and in public while also sharing some of the interesting things I’ve discovered in my online travels.
Tim Challies Books:
The Deception of Jacob for the Blessing
( Genesis 27:1–40 )
God expects His servants to carry out their spiritual responsibilities by faith. Unfortunately faith is not always present and then matters become complicated. This chapter portrays an entire family attempting to carry out their responsibilities by their physical senses, without faith. This is the familiar story of how Jacob got the blessing of his father Isaac through deception. It is a story of the fragmenting of a family over spiritual matters!
All participants were at fault. Isaac knew of God’s oracle to Rebekah ( 25:23 ) that the elder would serve the younger; yet he set out to thwart it by blessing Esau! Esau, agreeing to the plan, broke the oath he had made with Jacob ( 25:33 ). Rebekah and Jacob, with a just cause, each tried to achieve God’s blessing by deception, without faith or love. Theirs would be the victory, but they would reap hatred and separation for Rebekah never saw Jacob again! So the conflict between Jacob and Esau was greatly deepened by Jacob’s pursuit — he wanted what belonged to the firstborn, the blessing. Yet the story is not just about Jacob. He alone did not destroy the family; parental preference did.
27:1–4. SCENE 1 (Isaac and Esau) — Issac offered to bless Esau. Important notes are given here about Isaac’s weak eye sight and old age. Moreover, stress is placed on the love he had for wild game and tasty food (cf. 25:28, 34 ). His palate governed his heart. But Isaac’s point was that he intended to give Esau his blessing. Here was a dilemma for Rebekah that prompted her to action.
27:5–17. SCENE 2 (Rebekah and Jacob) — Rebekah sent Jacob into action to stop Isaac. Rebekah seemed certain she could duplicate the taste of meat from wild game with goat’s meat (v. 9 ). But Jacob was not so sure he could deceive his father. After all, Jacob said, if Isaac touched him, Isaac would know the difference between Esau’s hairy skin and Jacob’s smooth skin. Jacob had no guilt — only fear — regarding the plan. But the blessing was in danger and all must be risked, including even the possibility of a curse on Rebekah (vv. 12–13 ). So Jacob did as his mother told him. Rebekah even had Jacob put on some of Esau’s best clothes!
27:18–29. SCENE 3 (Jacob and Isaac) — Jacob deceived his father and obtained the blessing. Prodded by his mother Jacob lied twice to his father, first, about his identity (I am Esau, v. 19 ), and second, that God had given him success (in hunting, v. 20 ). Three times the old man voiced his suspicion (vv. 20, 22, 24 ). But deceived by his senses of touch (vv. 16, 23 ) and smell (v. 27 ), he blessed Jacob, thinking he was Esau (vv. 27:27–29 ). The blessing included prosperity in crops (v. 28 ), domination over other nations and his brothers (cf. v. 37 ), cursing on those who cursed him, and blessing on those who blessed him (v. 29 ).
27:30–40. SCENE 4 (Esau and Isaac) — Soon Esau came home and pleaded for a blessing from his father. When Esau brought in his food, emotions ran high. Isaac trembled violently over what had happened and Esau was very bitter and angry (v. 34 ). Isaac knew he had been tampering with God’s plan and had been overruled; there was no going back now. Esau began to realize the true nature of Jacob — twice he had “overreached” or deceived Esau, by taking his birthright ( 25:27–34 ), and now by taking his blessing. All that was left was a blessing for a profane person ( 27:39–40 ). Esau would not enjoy the earth’s riches or heaven’s dew (cf. v. 28 ). The Edomites, Esau’s descendants, would live in a land less fertile than Palestine. Also Esau would live by force, be subservient to Jacob, and be restless (cf. Ishmael, 16:12 ).
So in a sense Rebekah and Jacob won, though they gained nothing that God would not have given them anyway; and they lost much.
Yet God would work through their conniving. Their activities only succeeded in doing what God’s oracle had predicted. God’s program will triumph, often in spite of human activities.
The story is one of parental favoritism, which tore their family completely apart. The story is also an account of spiritual insensitivity. All the natural senses play a conspicuous part — especially the sense of taste in which Isaac prided himself, but which gave him the wrong answer. Reliance on one’s senses for spiritual discernment not only proves fallible, but often fouls up life unduly.
Most importantly, however, the story is about deception. Jacob’s only hesitancy was his fear that he would be cursed instead of blessed ( 27:12 ). At least he realized such actions would place God’s promise in jeopardy. Jacob later would learn that blessings are given by God, not gained by deceit.
The Continual Burnt Offering
By H.A. Ironside - 1941
January 9Exodus 12:13 The blood shall be a sign for you, on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and no plague will befall you to destroy you, when I strike the land of Egypt. ESV
This was God’s word to Israel and He could not deny Himself. All who were sheltered by the blood of the lamb, sprinkled on the door posts and lintels of their houses, were as safe from judgment that night as God could make them. No angel of destruction could enter. The blood stood between the firstborn and the condemnation of death, and so it is today for all who have taken their place in faith beneath the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ, God’s Lamb, shed for the redemption of sinners. Judgment cannot reach them for it has fallen upon their substitute already.
When God the way of life would teach,
And gather all His own,
He put them safe beyond the reach
Of death, by blood alone.
It is His Word, His precious word,
It stands forever true,
When I the Lord shall see the blood
I will pass over you.
By John F. Walvoord
Prophecy In Exodus
Four books are dedicated to the exodus from Egypt, the years of wandering in the wilderness, and the death of Moses. Though mainly historical books, numerous prophecies were revealed throughout this portion of the history of Israel. In most cases the prophecies describe events that were to be fulfilled soon.
Moses Called to Deliver His People
Exodus 3:1–4:31; 6:1–8. God as the Angel of the Lord appeared to Moses at the burning bush and revealed to Moses that he was to be the deliverer of the children of Israel from Egypt. This experience is described in 3:5–12. The sign promised Moses (v. 12 ) was fulfilled ( 17:6 ).
Moses was reluctant to accept this challenge as described in 4:1–31, even though God promised to perform miracles (vv. 21–23 ). After his contest with Pharaoh ( Ex. 5 ), Moses was given confirmation of his prophetic role in leading the children of Israel out of Egypt ( 6:1–8 ). Subsequent history, of course, confirmed these prophetic promises (cf. 12:37–50 ).
Then Plagues on Egypt
Exodus 7:1–12:36. The ten plagues were inflicted on the Egyptians in fulfillment of the prophecy: (1) water was turned to blood ( 7:14–24 ); (2) the plague of frogs ( 8:1–15 ); (3) the plague of gnats (vv. 16–19 ); (4) the plague of files (vv. 20–30 ); (5) the plague on livestock ( 9:1–7 ); (6) the plague of boils (vv. 8–12 ); (7) the plague of hail and fire (vv. 13–35 ); (8) the plague of locusts ( 10:1–20 ); (9) the plague of darkness (vv. 21–29 ); (10) the plague of the death of the firstborn ( 11:1–10; 12:29–30 ).
At each of these plagues, Pharaoh was warned of the next plague. In each case, except the final plague, Pharaoh resisted letting the children of Israel go. And in each case, the prophecy of the plague was fulfilled. It is noteworthy that all of these prophecies were simple, factual prophecies of events of the future that were literally fulfilled.
Exodus 12:46; cf. Numbers 9:12. The Passover lamb was a type of Christ. The fact that no bones were broken is a foreshadowing of Christ’s sacrifice without a bone being broken ( John 19:36 ).
The Exodus Begun
Exodus 12:31–36. After the tenth plague Pharaoh allowed the children of Israel to leave, and they were delivered from Egypt as God had prophesied to Moses. The Israelites were able to take silver and gold and other plunder from the Egyptians because the Egyptians were eager to see them leave after the tenth plague (vv. 33–36 ). The exodus from Egypt was the most important move in Israel’s history until the twentieth-century movement of Israel back to the Promised Land.
Deliverance through the Red Sea
Exodus 14:1–31. Biblical history recorded Pharaoh pursuing the Israelites to prevent their departure. God intervened and protected the Israelites. Then, miraculously, God prepared a way for them through the Red Sea. The Egyptians tried to follow, but they were thwarted by the returning waters and drowned.
Victory over the Amalekites
Exodus 17:8–15. Israel was attacked by the Amalekites, but was able to overcome them. God predicted the Amalekites would be destroyed (v. 15; 1 Chron. 4:43 ).
The Preliminary Promise of the Covenant with Moses
Exodus 19:1–13. The favored status of the people of Israel in the world was revealed (vv. 1–6 ). In connection with the giving of the covenant, the children of Israel were warned not to approach Mount Sinai (vv. 11–13 ).
Prophetic Promise of Guidance for Israel
Exodus 23:20–31. God directed Israel to follow the guidance of the Angel of the Lord, who would go ahead of them and lead them to the Promised Land. God promised to establish their borders from the Red Sea to the Sea of the Philistines and from the desert to the Euphrates River. The leading of the Lord was mentioned again in 33:15; 34:10–12.Every Prophecy of the Bible: Clear Explanations for Uncertain Times
By John F. Walvoord
Prophecy In Leviticus | Promises Relating to Their Laws
The book of Leviticus is a summary of many laws and regulations that governed Israel’s religious life. Promises are often attached to a regulation indicating blessing for obedience or judgment for disobedience. Promises of forgiveness are frequently found ( 5:13, 16; 6:7; 19:22 ). Certain rites would make things or people holy ( 6:18, 27 ). Some rituals resulted in ceremonial cleansing ( 14:20; 15:22; 16:30; 17:15 ). Some offerings were declared unacceptable ( 7:18 ). Certain acts of disobedience would result in individuals being cut off from Israel ( 7:27; 17:9; 23:29 ). Some acts of disobedience would result in death ( 10:6 ).
The Feasts of the Lord
Though no major prophecies were revealed, Leviticus 23 outlines the feasts of the Lord that are typically prophetic of future events. The Passover pointed to the sacrifice of Christ (vv. 4–5 ). The Feast of Unleavened Bread represents the holiness of communion with Christ as represented by the absence of leaven (vv. 6–8 ). The Feast of the Firstfruits anticipates Christ’s resurrection as the firstfruit from the dead (vv. 9–14 ). The Feast of Weeks, also known as Pentecost — fifty days after the Feast of Firstfruits — represents the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost (vv. 15–22 ). The Feast of Trumpets anticipates the future regathering of Israel (vv. 23–25 ).
The Day of Atonement was a feast held on the tenth day of the seventh month (cf. Lev. 16 ), recognizing the sacrifice of atonement offered by the high priest that day and anticipating the repentance of Israel at the second coming ( 23:26–32 ). The final feast, that of Tabernacles, is a memorial of Israel’s redemption from Egypt and is prophetic of her regathering and restoration at the second coming (vv. 33–44 ).
Conditions for Blessing and Warnings of Curses
Leviticus 26 reveals the conditions for blessing and the warnings of curses. They are commanded not to make idols, to observe the Sabbath, and to reverence the sanctuary (vv. 1–2 ).
Conditions of blessing and resulting disobedience include bounteous crops, peace, triumph over enemies, increase in their numbers, and God’s presence among them (vv. 3–13 ).
An extended statement of the curses for disobedience are revealed, similar to the warnings of Moses ( Deut. 28:15–68 ). They were promised distress (vv. 16–17 ), drought (vv. 18–20 ), wild animals (vv. 21–22 ), plagues (vv. 23–26 ), famine (vv. 27–31 ), and worldwide dispersion (vv. 32–39 ).
Israel was promised forgiveness if their sins were confessed. The Abrahamic covenant was reaffirmed as being certain of fulfillment even if they sinned (vv. 40–45 ).
The Institutes of the Christian Religion
Translated by Henry Beveridge
6. In those actions, which in themselves are neither good nor bad, and
concern the corporeal rather than the spiritual life, the liberty which
man possesses, although we have above touched upon it (supra, Chap. 2
sect. 13-17), has not yet been explained. Some have conceded a free
choice to man in such actions; more, I suppose, because they were
unwilling to debate a matter of no great moment, than because they
wished positively to assert what they were prepared to concede. While I
admit that those who hold that man has no ability in himself to do
righteousness, hold what is most necessary to be known for salvation, I
think it ought not to be overlooked that we owe it to the special grace
of God, whenever, on the one hand, we choose what is for our advantage,
and whenever our will inclines in that direction; and on the other,
whenever with heart and soul we shun what would otherwise do us harm.
And the interference of Divine Providence goes to the extent not only
of making events turn out as was foreseen to be expedient, but of
giving the wills of men the same direction. If we look at the
administration of human affairs with the eye of sense, we will have no
doubt that, so far, they are placed at man's disposal; but if we lend
an ear to the many passages of Scripture which proclaim that even in
these matters the minds of men are ruled by God, they will compel us to
place human choice in subordination to his special influence. Who gave
the Israelites such favour in the eyes of the Egyptians, that they lent
them all their most valuable commodities? (Exod. 11:3). They never
would have been so inclined of their own accord. Their inclinations,
therefore, were more overruled by God than regulated by themselves. And
surely, had not Jacob been persuaded that God inspires men with divers
affections as seemeth to him good, he would not have said of his son
Joseph (whom he thought to be some heathen Egyptian), "God Almighty
give you mercy before the man," (Gen. 43:14). In like manner, the whole
Church confesses that when the Lord was pleased to pity his people, he
made them also to be pitied of all them that carried them captives (Ps.
106:46). In like manner, when his anger was kindled against Saul, so
that he prepared himself for battle, the cause is stated to have been,
that a spirit from God fell upon him (1 Sam. 11:6). who dissuaded
Absalom from adopting the counsel of Ahithophel, which was wont to be
regarded as an oracle? (2 Sam. 17:14). Who disposed Rehoboam to adopt
the counsel of the young men? (1 Kings 12:10). Who caused the approach
of the Israelites to strike terror into nations formerly distinguished
for valour? Even the harlot Rahab recognised the hand of the Lord. Who,
on the other hand, filled the hearts of the Israelites with fear and
dread (Lev. 26:36), but He who threatened in the Law that he would give
them a nn "trembling heart"? (Deut. 28:65).
7. It may be objected, that these are special examples which cannot be regarded as a general rule. They are sufficient, at all events, to prove the point for which I contend--viz. that whenever God is pleased to make way for his providence, he even in external matters so turns and bends the wills of men, that whatever the freedom of their choice may be, it is still subject to the disposal of God. That your mind depends more on the agency of God than the freedom of your own choice, daily experience teaches. Your judgment often fails, and in matters of no great difficulty, your courage flags; at other times, in matters of the greatest obscurity, the mode of explicating them at once suggests itself, while in matters of moment and danger, your mind rises superior to every difficulty.  In this way, I interpret the words of Solomon, "The hearing ear, and the seeing eye, the Lord hath made even both of them," (Prov. 20:12). For they seem to me to refer not to their creation, but to peculiar grace in the use of them, when he says, "The king's heart is in the hand of the Lord as the rivers of water; he turneth it whithersoever he will," (Prov. 21:1), he comprehends the whole race under one particular class. If any will is free from subjection, it must be that of one possessed of regal power, and in a manner exercising dominion over other wills. But if it is under the hand of God, ours surely cannot be exempt from it. On this subject there is an admirable sentiment of Augustine, "Scripture, if it be carefully examined, will show not only that the good wills of men are made good by God out of evil, and when so made, are directed to good acts, even to eternal life, but those which retain the elements of the world are in the power of God, to turn them whither he pleases, and when he pleases, either to perform acts of kindness, or by a hidden, indeed, but, at the same time, most just judgment to inflict punishment," (August. De Gratia et Lib. Arb. ad Valent. cap. 20).
8. Let the reader here remember, that the power of the human will is not to be estimated by the event, as some unskilful persons are absurdly wont to do. They think it an elegant and ingenious proof of the bondage of the human will, that even the greatest monarchs are sometimes thwarted in their wishes. But the ability of which we speak must be considered as within the man, not measured by outward success. In discussing the subject of free will, the question is not, whether external obstacles will permit a man to execute what he has internally resolved, but whether, in any matter whatever, he has a free power of judging and of willing. If men possess both of these, Attilius Regulus, shut up in a barrel studded with sharp nails, will have a will no less free than Augustus Caesar ruling with imperial sway over a large portion of the globe. 
 The French adds, "dont on doute communement;" on which doubts are commonly entertained.
 The French adds, "Car quand nous voyons des voleurs, qui ont commis quelque meurtre ou larrecin, nous ne doutons point de leur imputer la faute, et de les condamner."--For when we see robbers who have committed some murder or robbery, we hesitate not to impute the blame to them, and condemn them.
 The French adds, "se retractant de l'autre sentence;" retracting the other sentiment.
 Ezek. 7:26; Psalm 107:40; Job 12:20, 24; Isiah 63:17; Exod. 4:21; 7:3; 10:1; 3:19.
 Isa. 5:26; 7:18; Ezek. 12:13; 17:20; Jer. 2:.23; Isa. 10:15.
 The French adds, "D'où procede cela sinon que Dieu besongne tant d'une part que d'autre?"--Whence this, but that God interferes thus far in either case?
 The French is simply, "Car si cela pouvoit etre en l'homme, il ne seroit par moins libre enfermé en un prison que dominant par toute la terre." If that could be in man, he would be no less free shut up in a prison than ruling all the earth.
Christian Classics Ethereal Library / Public Domain Institutes of the Christian Religion
Devotionals, notes, poetry and more
by Bill Federer
Richard Milhous Nixon was born this day, January 9, 1913. A Lieutenant Commander in the Navy during WWII, he was a Congressman, Senator, and Vice-President under Eisenhower. He lost his first presidential race to John F. Kennedy by the smallest margin ever in a presidential election. He served as America’s 37th President before resigning. In his Inaugural Address, President Nixon stated: “No man can be fully free while his neighbor is not…. This means black and white together as one nation, not two…. What remains is… to insure… that as all are born equal in dignity before God, all are born equal in dignity before man.”
Thomas R. Kelly
America’s entry into the war stirred him to volunteer his services as a Quaker, first in canteen duty with the Y.M.C.A. and then in work with German prisoners of war in England where he spent from June 1917 to February 1918. The happy and moving experiences with the German prisoners drew him to a concern for the German people that was never to desert him. He took his Bachelor of Divinity degree at the Seminary in 1919. One of his colleagues there has forgotten any details of Thomas Kelly's years at the Seminary except that he was the gayest, heartiest one of them all and that when there was any fun going, he could usually be found at the center of it.
At that period the Macy household, a Congregational clergyman's family, was an institution at the Hartford Theological Seminary. The father was him self a graduate of the Seminary, the son was a student there, and the daughters enjoyed high favor among the Seminary students. It was in his Seminary years that Thomas Kelly met Lael Macy. With an offer to return to his old college at Wilmington, Ohio, as a teacher of the Bible, he married her on the next day after his graduation in 1919. The war and the years of study had modified the mission goal, but the interest in Japan and the Far East continued. He spent two years at Wilmington College but he was restless to be on. In spite of the price that it would exact from him and from his loyal wife at that stage of his career, it was decided that he should prepare himself to teach philosophy and he was resolved that it must be a broad and a comprehensive enough philosophy to fathom Eastern as well as Western culture. He returned to Hartford Theological Seminary and spent three years with Professor A. L. Gillett giving himself to the study of philosophy. In June 1924 he secured his Ph.D. degree with a thesis on the place of value judgments in Lotze's philosophy.
A Testament of Devotion
Compilation by RickAdams7
Compromise with the world
leads to unbalanced conduct
and immature character. --- W. W. Wiersbe
Jesus Christ lived in the midst of his enemies.
At the end all his disciples deserted him.
On the Cross he was utterly alone,
surrounded by evildoers and mockers.
For this cause he had come,
to bring peace to the enemies of God.
So the Christian, too,
belongs not in the seclusion of a cloistered life
but in the thick of foes.
There is his commission, his work.
'The kingdom is to be in the midst of your enemies.
And he who will not suffer this
does not want to be of the Kingdom of Christ;
he wants to be among friends,
to sit among roses and lilies,
not with the bad people but the devout people.
O you blasphemers and betrayers of Christ!
If Christ had done what you are doing
who would ever have been spared' (Luther).
--- Dietrich Bonhoeffer
A Christian is a person who, when getting to the end of his/her rope, ties a knot and determines to hang on, realizing that human extremity now becomes God’s opportunity.
... from here, there and everywhere
by D.H. Stern
keep my commands in your heart;
2 for they will add to you many days,
years of life and peace.
3 Do not let grace and truth leave you—
bind them around your neck;
write them on the tablet of your heart.
4 Then you will win favor and esteem
in the sight of God and of people.
Complete Jewish Bible : An English Version of the Tanakh (Old Testament) and B'Rit Hadashah (New Testament)
A Daily Devotional by Oswald Chambers
And I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless. --- 1 Thessalonians 5:23.
“Your whole spirit …” The great mystical work of the Holy Spirit is in the dim regions of our personality which we cannot get at. Read the 139th Psalm; the Psalmist implies—‘Thou art the God of the early Mornings, the God of the late at nights, the God of the mountain peaks, and the God of the sea; but, my God, my soul has further horizons than the early Mornings, deeper darkness than the nights of earth, higher peaks than any mountain peaks, greater depths than any sea in nature—Thou Who art the God of all these, be my God. I cannot reach to the heights or to the depths; there are motives I cannot trace, dreams I cannot get at—my God, search me out.’
Do we believe that God can garrison the imagination far beyond where we can go? “The blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth us from all sin’ —if that means in conscious experience only, may God have mercy on us. The man who has been made obtuse by sin will say he is not conscious of sin. Cleansing from sin is to the very heights and depths of our spirit if we will keep in the light as God is in the light, and the very Spirit that fed the life of Jesus Christ will feed the life of our spirits. It is only when we are garrisoned by God with the stupendous sanctity of the Holy Spirit, that spirit, soul and body are preserved in unspotted integrity, undeserving of censure in God’s sight, until Jesus comes. We do not allow our minds to dwell as they should on these great massive truths of God.
My Utmost for His Highest
the Poetry of R.S. Thomas
He wore no hat, but he produced, say
from up his sleeve, an answer
to their question about
the next life. It is here,
he said, tapping his forehead
as one would to indicate
an idiot. The crowd frowned
and took up stones
to punish his adultery
with the truth. But he, stooping
to write on the ground, looked
sideways at them, as they withdrew
each to the glass-house of his own mind.
Model of models;
virgin smile over
he ageless babe,
my portrait is in
the world's galleries:
a husband; chastity
my complexion. Cradle
of flesh for one
not born of the flesh.
Alas, you painters
of a half-truth, the
poets excel you.
They looked in under
my lids and saw
as through a stained glass
window the hill
the infant must climb,
the crookedness of
the kiss he appended
to his loving epistle.
I knew what I knew.
She denied it.
I went with her
on the long journey.
My seed, was the star
that the wise men
followed. Their gifts were no good
to us. I taught him
the true trade: to go
with the grain.
He left me
for a new master
who put him to the fashioning
of a cross for himself.
That imperious summons! Spring's
restlessness among dry
leaves. He stands at the grave's
entrance and rubs death from his eyes,
while thought's fountain recommences
its play, watering the waste ground
over again for the germination
of the blood's seed,
where roses should blow.
picked flowers stole birds' eggs
like the rest was his mother's
fondling passed under the tree
he would hang from without
realizing looked through the branches
saw only the cloud face
of God and the sky mirroring
the water he was brought up by
was a shrewd youth with a talent
for sums became treasurer
to the disciplines was genuinely
hurt by a certain extravagance
in the Master went out of his own
free will to do that which lie had to do.
Wrong question, Paul. Who am I,
Lord? is what you should have asked.
And the answer, surely, somebody
who it is easy for us to kick against.
There were some matters
you were dead right
about. For instance, I like you
on love. But marriage -- I could have thought
too many had been burned in that fire
for your contrast to hold.
Still, you are the mountain
the teaching of the carpenter of Nazareth
congealed into. The theologians
have walked around you for centuries
and none of them scaled you.
Your letters remain
unanswered, but survive the recipients
of them. And we,
pottering among the foot-hills
of their logic, find ourselves staring
across deep crevices at conclusions at which
the living Jesus
would not willingly have arrived.
The Poems of R.S. Thomas
Dictionary Of Jesus And The Gospels
A sequence of thoughts or images occurring during sleep. Dreams have been the subject of intense interest and critical reflection from time immemorial. Modern concepts of dreams are indebted to Sigmund Freud (1856–1939), who established the basic principles which guide modern dream research. Scripture, however, nowhere reflects an interest in the psycho analysis of dreams.
The major references to dreams in the Bible, including the Gospels, are those instances in which dreams functioned as vehicles of divine revelation. These references appear in three major clusters: the early patriarchal period (Gen 20–41), the life of Daniel (Dan 1–7), and the infancy narrative of Matthew’s Gospel (Mt 1–2; see Birth of Jesus). As it was commonly held in the ancient world, the Jews believed that God communicated his will through dreams (Num 12:6: “I [the LORD] speak to him in dreams” [NIV]).
The references to dreams in the Gospels are limited to the six occurrences in Matthew. Significantly, each occurrence concerns the person of Jesus. Through dreams Mary’s conception was explained to Joseph (1:20); the wise men were warned not to return to Herod (2:12); Joseph was told to flee with his family to Egypt (2:13); Joseph was warned against settling in Judea (2:22); and Pontius Pilate’s wife was convicted on Jesus’ account (27:19). That all of these accounts are from the hand of the Evangelist is suggested by the use of the stereotypical phrase kat˒ onar, “in a dream,” occurring in each of these passages.
These dreams recorded in Matthew are of two basic subtypes. The dreams of the infancy narrative were given for guidance and were clearly supernatural, while the source of the dream of Pilate’s wife is less clear; it may point to disturbed mental activity, or it may have been a supernatural sign of Jesus’ righteousness. In Matthew, however, the dream of Pilate’s wife plays no less important a role than those of Joseph and the wise men. The concerns are essentially the same in both subtypes: questions of destiny, security, personal well-being, etc. Hence, the dream of Pilate’s wife serves to reinforce with the others the basic Matthean theme that Jesus is God’s chosen one. The very fact that we should be given a glimpse of her emotional torment, a torment so severe that she felt it necessary to interrupt her husband while he was sitting “on the judge’s seat” (27:19), clearly reinforces Matthew’s stress on Jesus’ innocence and the treachery of his opposition.
The details of the dreams in the infancy narrative follow a relatively meaningful sequence. One can argue that these details play an important part in the purpose of Matthew to show the divine care exercised in the life of Jesus. First there was God’s directive that Joseph take Mary as his wife and thus establish a home with a father and mother in which Jesus would be protected from the charge of illegitimacy (1:19–23). This is followed by a dream in which the wise men who worshiped Jesus as “king” are instructed to return to their country, without first reporting back to Herod (2:12). There can be little doubt that Matthew intends thereby to show God’s particular provision for the infant Jesus in the face of life-threatening danger.
This theme of divine protection extends to the third nativity dream, recorded in 2:13. In commanding the holy family to seek refuge from Herod in a Roman province of some one million Jews, God takes sovereign action to preserve the infant from the massacre in Bethlehem and (potentially) in other towns of Judea. In addition, it was the function of this dream to make possible the fulfillment of Hosea 11:1, cited in Matthew 2:15: “Out of Egypt I called my son” (NIV). In Matthew’s chronicling of the events surrounding the nativity of Jesus, there can be little doubt that this prediction-fulfillment motif anticipates the opposition to Jesus throughout his life, culminating in his death in Jerusalem under the eyes of another Herod.
The final two revelatory dreams, recounted in 2:19–23, continue the theme of divine preservation. Joseph is informed that the enemies of Jesus are dead and that he is to return “to the land of Israel” (2:20). But since Joseph was probably intent on raising the child in Bethlehem, the city of David, he was guided by a fifth and final dream to settle instead in despised Galilee. Once again, Scripture is fulfilled: By settling the family in Galilee Joseph ensures that Jesus will be called (pejoratively) “a Nazarene” (2:23).
From Matthew’s perspective, then, Jesus, the new born child of Mary, is himself the King of the Jews. Accordingly, asserts Matthew, through dreams God intervenes in human history to make known his divine purposes for this child and to protect him.
A final issue is raised by the fact that an “angel of the Lord” is mentioned in connection with four of the five dreams in the infancy narrative (1:20, 24; 2:13, 19). It is not clear whether we are to think merely of angels or more specifically of a manifestation of Yahweh. The lack of precise data with regard to the identity of this figure has given rise to various conclusions. Without question the angel of the Lord is to be identified in some way with God, yet he appears to be distinguished from God. Perhaps the best view is to see the angel of the Lord as a self-manifestation of Yahweh in a form that would communicate his presence and concern to those to whom he appeared.
Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels (IVP Bible Dictionary)
Give thanks in all circumstances. --- 1 Thessalonians 5:18.
Be thankful to God for everything that is pleasant. (Sermons and Addresses) We so often speak about the religious benefits of affliction that we are in danger of overlooking the other side. It is a religious duty to enjoy every rightful pleasure of earthly existence. He who gave us these bodies desires that we should find life a pleasure.
We work best at what we enjoy. The young should enjoy what they are studying. [But] it is possible that by well-guided efforts they should learn to relish studies to which they were at first disinclined. I sometimes hear young married people say, “We are going to set up housekeeping, and then we can have what we like.” I sometimes reply, “Yes, you may, but what is far more important and interesting—you will be apt to like what you have.” To have what we like is, for the most part, an impossible dream; to like what we have is a possibility and not only a duty but a high privilege.
Be thankful to God for everything that is painful. That may be stating the matter too strongly. Notice that the apostle does not say, “For every circumstance give thanks”; he says, “Give thanks in all circumstances” (1 Thess. 5:18). That, surely, need not seem impossible. We may always be thankful that the situation is no worse. With some persons it has been worse. Let us always bless the Lord that, but for his special mercies, it would be worse with us today.
An unpublished anecdote about President Madison [relates that] the venerable ex-president suffered from many diseases and took a variety of medicines. A friend sent him a box of vegetable pills of his own production and begged to be informed whether they helped. In due time came back one of those carefully written and often felicitous notes for which Mr. Madison and Mr. Jefferson were both famous: “My dear friend, I thank you very much for the box of pills. I have taken them all, and while I cannot say that I am better since taking them, it is quite possible that I might have been worse if I had not taken them, and so I beg you to accept my sincere acknowledgments.” Really, my friends, this is not a mere pleasantry. There is always something, known or unknown, but for which our condition might have been worse. And that something constitutes an occasion for gratitude.
--- John A. Broadus
Take Heart: Daily Devotions with the Church's Great Preachers
The Peculiar Preacher
The Lord gives each of us a unique personality, and his choicest servants have sometimes been, well, peculiar. “Uncle” Bob Sheffey was among them.
Sheffey was born on Independence Day, 1820. When his mother died, an aunt in Abingdon, Virginia, took him in. There, over Greenway’s Store, he was converted on January 9, 1839. He was 19. Feeling the call to preach, he dropped out of college and started through the Virginia hills as a Methodist circuit rider preaching the Gospel.
He did it oddly. For example, one day he was called to a cabin on Wolfe Creek. He had previously tried to win this family to Christ, but without success. As he rode up this time, things were different. A member had been bitten by a rattlesnake. There seemed little hope. Entering the house, Sheffey sank to his knees and prayed, “O Lord, we do thank thee for rattlesnakes. If it had not been for a rattlesnake they would not have called on You. Send a rattlesnake to bite Bill, one to bite John, and send a great big one to bite the old man!”
He is well-remembered for prayers like that. An acquaintance said, “Brother Sheffey was the most powerful man in prayer I ever heard, but he couldn’t preach a lick.” Once, encountering moonshiners in the mountains, he dismounted, knelt, and offered a long prayer for God to “smash the still into smithereens.” He rose, smoothed his trousers, and continued his journey. A heavy tree fell on the still, wrecking it. The owner rebuilt it, and Sheffey prayed again. This time a flash flood did the job.
His prayers were honest, down-to-earth, and plain-spoken—even routine prayers like grace at meals. Once, being entertained in a neighborhood home, he was asked to offer thanks. Sheffey, who loved chicken-and-dumplings, said, “Lord, we thank Thee for this good woman; we thank Thee for this good dinner—but it would have been better if the chicken had dumplings in it. Amen.”
Robert Sheffey’s unorthodox prayers and sermons ushered many mountaineers into the kingdom and earned him the title the Peculiar Preacher.
Each of you has been blessed with one of God’s many wonderful gifts to be used in the service of others. So use your gift well. If you have the gift of speaking, preach God’s message. If you have the gift of helping others, do it with the strength that God supplies.
--- 1 Peter 4:10-11.
On This Day 365 Amazing And Inspiring Stories About Saints, Martyrs And Heroes
Daily Readings / CHARLES H. SPURGEON
Morning - January 9
“I will be their God.” --- Jeremiah 31:33.
Christian! here is all thou canst require. To make thee happy thou wantest something that shall satisfy thee; and is not this enough? If thou canst pour this promise into thy cup, wilt thou not say, with David, “My cup runneth over; I have more than heart can wish”? When this is fulfilled, “I am thy God”, art thou not possessor of all things? Desire is insatiable as death, but he who filleth all in all can fill it. The capacity of our wishes who can measure? but the immeasurable wealth of God can more than overflow it. I ask thee if thou art not complete when God is thine? Dost thou want anything but God? Is not his all-sufficiency enough to satisfy thee if all else should fail? But thou wantest more than quiet satisfaction; thou desirest rapturous delight. Come, soul, here is music fit for heaven in this thy portion, for God is the Maker of Heaven. Not all the music blown from sweet instruments, or drawn from living strings, can yield such melody as this sweet promise, “I will be their God.” Here is a deep sea of bliss, a shoreless ocean of delight; come, bathe thy spirit in it; swim an age, and thou shalt find no shore; dive throughout eternity, and thou shalt find no bottom. “I will be their God.” If this do not make thine eyes sparkle, and thy heart beat high with bliss, then assuredly thy soul is not in a healthy state. But thou wantest more than present delights—thou cravest something concerning which thou mayest exercise hope; and what more canst thou hope for than the fulfilment of this great promise, “I will be their God”? This is the masterpiece of all the promises; its enjoyment makes a heaven below, and will make a heaven above. Dwell in the light of thy Lord, and let thy soul be always ravished with his love. Get out the marrow and fatness which this portion yields thee. Live up to thy privileges, and rejoice with unspeakable joy.
Evening - January 9
“Serve the Lord with gladness.” --- Psalm 100:2.
Delight in divine service is a token of acceptance. Those who serve God with a sad countenance, because they do what is unpleasant to them, are not serving him at all; they bring the form of homage, but the life is absent. Our God requires no slaves to grace his throne; he is the Lord of the empire of love, and would have his servants dressed in the livery of joy. The angels of God serve him with songs, not with groans; a murmur or a sigh would be a mutiny in their ranks. That obedience which is not voluntary is disobedience, for the Lord looketh at the heart, and if he seeth that we serve him from force, and not because we love him, he will reject our offering. Service coupled with cheerfulness is heart-service, and therefore true. Take away joyful willingness from the Christian, and you have removed the test of his sincerity. If a man be driven to battle, he is no patriot; but he who marches into the fray with flashing eye and beaming face, singing, “It is sweet for one’s country to die,” proves himself to be sincere in his patriotism. Cheerfulness is the support of our strength; in the joy of the Lord are we strong. It acts as the remover of difficulties. It is to our service what oil is to the wheels of a railway carriage. Without oil the axle soon grows hot, and accidents occur; and if there be not a holy cheerfulness to oil our wheels, our spirits will be clogged with weariness. The man who is cheerful in his service of God, proves that obedience is his element; he can sing,
“Make me to walk in thy commands,
’Tis a delightful road.”
Reader, let us put this question—do you serve the Lord with gladness? Let us show to the people of the world, who think our religion to be slavery, that it is to us a delight and a joy! Let our gladness proclaim that we serve a good Master.
Morning and Evening
PRAYER IS THE SOUL’S SINCERE DESIRE
James Montgomery, 1771–1854
Men ought always to pray, and not to faint. (Luke 18:1 KJV)
Living a life without prayer is like building a house without nails. --- Unknown
Prayer is releasing the energies of God. For prayer is asking God to do what we cannot do ourselves. --- Selected
Except for Charles Wesley or Isaac Watts, no writer has made a greater contribution to English hymnody than the author of this text, James Montgomery. He wrote more than 400 hymns, many of which are still in popular use: “Stand Up and Bless the Lord,” “Angel From the Realms of Glory,” “In the Hour of Trial,” and “According to Thy Gracious Word.”
Though trained for the ministry, Montgomery spent his lifetime as a journalist and newspaper editor. He became widely known for his writings and poetry, yet when once asked, “Which of your poems will live?” he replied, “None, sir, except a few of my hymns.” His words were prophetic. It is by his hymns that Montgomery is remembered, rather than by his more classic poetry.
Many have acclaimed this hymn as one of the finest definitions and descriptions of prayer to be found in short form. Such colorful metaphors as “hidden fire,” “a sign,” “a falling tear,” “an upward glance,” “vital breath,” and “native air” describe in poetic language the mystic meaning of prayer—understood by experience, yet often difficult to express in words. Perhaps those terms will lead you to a new appreciation for the “soul’s sincere desire.”
Prayer is the soul’s sincere desire, uttered or unexpressed, the motion of a hidden fire that trembles in the breast.
Prayer is the burden of a sigh, the falling of a tear, the upward glancing of an eye when none but God is near.
Prayer is the simplest form of speech that infant lips can try; prayer, the sublimest strains that reach the Majesty on high.
Prayer is the Christian’s vital breath, the Christian’s native air; his watchword at the gates of death: He enters heav’n with prayer.
O Thou by whom we come to God, the Life, the Truth, the Way! The path of prayer Thyself hast trod: Lord, teach us how to pray!
For Today: Matthew 6:5–8; Luke 11:1–4; Colossians 4:2, 12; 1 Thessalonians 5:17.
Reflect on the importance of prayer in your daily life. Determine to make an even greater use of this spiritual power throughout the day. Use this musical reminder ---
Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions
Anatomy of Deception
January 22, 2023
Betrayed by a Kiss
January 29, 2023
February 5, 2023
Sin’s Temporary Consequences
February 12, 2023
February 20, 2023
A Stairway To Heaven 1
March 5, 2023
A Stairway To Heaven 2
March 19, 2023
Faithful in the Little Things
March 26, 2023
The Deceiver is Deceived
April 2, 2023
God Values Us
April 16, 2023
April 23, 2023
Brett Meador | Athey Creek
He Ran To Haran Genesis 28:10-16
s2-020 | 3-09-2014