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Job 38 - 39

Job 38

The LORD Answers Job

Job 38:1     Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind and said:

2  “Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge?
3  Dress for action like a man;
I will question you, and you make it known to me.

4  “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?
Tell me, if you have understanding.
5  Who determined its measurements—surely you know!
Or who stretched the line upon it?
6  On what were its bases sunk,
or who laid its cornerstone,
7  when the morning stars sang together
and all the sons of God shouted for joy?

8  “Or who shut in the sea with doors
when it burst out from the womb,
9  when I made clouds its garment
and thick darkness its swaddling band,
10  and prescribed limits for it
and set bars and doors,
11  and said, ‘Thus far shall you come, and no farther,
and here shall your proud waves be stayed’?

12  “Have you commanded the morning since your days began,
and caused the dawn to know its place,
13  that it might take hold of the skirts of the earth,
and the wicked be shaken out of it?
14  It is changed like clay under the seal,
and its features stand out like a garment.
15  From the wicked their light is withheld,
and their uplifted arm is broken.

16  “Have you entered into the springs of the sea,
or walked in the recesses of the deep?
17  Have the gates of death been revealed to you,
or have you seen the gates of deep darkness?
18  Have you comprehended the expanse of the earth?
Declare, if you know all this.

19  “Where is the way to the dwelling of light,
and where is the place of darkness,
20  that you may take it to its territory
and that you may discern the paths to its home?
21  You know, for you were born then,
and the number of your days is great!

22  “Have you entered the storehouses of the snow,
or have you seen the storehouses of the hail,
23  which I have reserved for the time of trouble,
for the day of battle and war?
24  What is the way to the place where the light is distributed,
or where the east wind is scattered upon the earth?

25  “Who has cleft a channel for the torrents of rain
and a way for the thunderbolt,
26  to bring rain on a land where no man is,
on the desert in which there is no man,
27  to satisfy the waste and desolate land,
and to make the ground sprout with grass?

28  “Has the rain a father,
or who has begotten the drops of dew?
29  From whose womb did the ice come forth,
and who has given birth to the frost of heaven?
30  The waters become hard like stone,
and the face of the deep is frozen.

31  “Can you bind the chains of the Pleiades
or loose the cords of Orion?
32  Can you lead forth the Mazzaroth in their season,
or can you guide the Bear with its children?
33  Do you know the ordinances of the heavens?
Can you establish their rule on the earth?

34  “Can you lift up your voice to the clouds,
that a flood of waters may cover you?
35  Can you send forth lightnings, that they may go
and say to you, ‘Here we are’?
36  Who has put wisdom in the inward parts
or given understanding to the mind?
37  Who can number the clouds by wisdom?
Or who can tilt the waterskins of the heavens,
38  when the dust runs into a mass
and the clods stick fast together?

39  “Can you hunt the prey for the lion,
or satisfy the appetite of the young lions,
40  when they crouch in their dens
or lie in wait in their thicket?
41  Who provides for the raven its prey,
when its young ones cry to God for help,
and wander about for lack of food?

Job 39

Job 39:1     “Do you know when the mountain goats give birth?
Do you observe the calving of the does?
2  Can you number the months that they fulfill,
and do you know the time when they give birth,
3  when they crouch, bring forth their offspring,
and are delivered of their young?
4  Their young ones become strong; they grow up in the open;
they go out and do not return to them.

5  “Who has let the wild donkey go free?
Who has loosed the bonds of the swift donkey,
6  to whom I have given the arid plain for his home
and the salt land for his dwelling place?
7  He scorns the tumult of the city;
he hears not the shouts of the driver.
8  He ranges the mountains as his pasture,
and he searches after every green thing.

9  “Is the wild ox willing to serve you?
Will he spend the night at your manger?
10  Can you bind him in the furrow with ropes,
or will he harrow the valleys after you?
11  Will you depend on him because his strength is great,
and will you leave to him your labor?
12  Do you have faith in him that he will return your grain
and gather it to your threshing floor?

13  “The wings of the ostrich wave proudly,
but are they the pinions and plumage of love?
14  For she leaves her eggs to the earth
and lets them be warmed on the ground,
15  forgetting that a foot may crush them
and that the wild beast may trample them.
16  She deals cruelly with her young, as if they were not hers;
though her labor be in vain, yet she has no fear,
17  because God has made her forget wisdom
and given her no share in understanding.
18  When she rouses herself to flee,
she laughs at the horse and his rider.

19  “Do you give the horse his might?
Do you clothe his neck with a mane?
20  Do you make him leap like the locust?
His majestic snorting is terrifying.
21  He paws in the valley and exults in his strength;
he goes out to meet the weapons.
22  He laughs at fear and is not dismayed;
he does not turn back from the sword.
23  Upon him rattle the quiver,
the flashing spear, and the javelin.
24  With fierceness and rage he swallows the ground;
he cannot stand still at the sound of the trumpet.
25  When the trumpet sounds, he says ‘Aha!’
He smells the battle from afar,
the thunder of the captains, and the shouting.

26  “Is it by your understanding that the hawk soars
and spreads his wings toward the south?
27  Is it at your command that the eagle mounts up
and makes his nest on high?
28  On the rock he dwells and makes his home,
on the rocky crag and stronghold.
29  From there he spies out the prey;
his eyes behold it from far away.
30  His young ones suck up blood,
and where the slain are, there is he.”

ESV Study Bible

What I'm Reading

Religious Liberty: More Than An Option

By J. Warner Wallace 5/1/2017

     In a recent article posted on the National Public Radio (NPR) website, Tom Gjelten wrote about the “collision of two core American values — freedom of religion and freedom from discrimination,” and predicted this collision would prompt a “showdown in legislatures and courts across the country.” This is undoubtedly true, as those who seek to live and work in a manner consistent with their Christian worldview, like Washington State florist, Barronelle Stutzman, have come under increasing scrutiny in our federal judicial system. As a Christian, I’m concerned with the growing tension between our eroding religious liberties and the emerging values of our nation, and I’m afraid that we, as Christians, have exacerbated the problem.

     There is a perception in our culture related to religious liberty. Many see it as nothing more than an effort on the part of believers to protect their subjective religious opinions.  When these opinions become unpopular and threaten the current cultural values (including notions related to marriage or sexuality), they are inevitably sacrificed. Worse yet, if a culture can somehow make the case for its evolving moral views from science or philosophy, these cultural values will gain a sure advantage over the antiquated opinions of religious people. Who, after all, would favor an outdated, subjective opinion over the most current, objective, “fact”?

     As Christians, we are partly to blame for this misperception related to religious beliefs.  I’ve been speaking in churches around the country for a number of years now. I usually begin by asking a simple question: “Why are you a Christian?” The answer I get is sometimes disappointing. The most common response I receive is related to upbringing: “I was raised in the church,” or “I’ve been a Christian as long as I can remember.” The second most repeated answer is usually grounded in an experience: “God demonstrated His existence to me,” or “I’ve had an experience that convinced me Christianity was true.” These kinds of answers, while they may be satisfying to those who offer them, are grounded in the personal, subjective experiences of individual believers. They are also common to every kind of believer, even though the religions and philosophies of the world often make competing and contradictory claims.

     We shouldn’t, therefore, be surprised when the faith of believers is viewed as an exercise in wishful thinking or personal piety based on subjective preferences. Consider, for example, the following definitions of “faith”:

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James "Jim" Warner Wallace (born June 16, 1961) is an American homicide detective and Christian apologist. Wallace is a Senior Fellow at the Colson Center for Christian Worldview and an Adjunct Professor of Apologetics at Biola University in La Mirada, California. He has authored several books, including Cold-Case Christianity, God’s Crime Scene, and Forensic Faith, in which he applies principles of cold case homicide investigation to apologetic concerns such as the existence of God and the reliability of the Gospels.

Rejoice When God Uses Someone Else

By Stephen Miller 6/8/2017

     I have a friend named Tom who has been in ministry longer than I have been alive. This is a man who might as well have Psalm 115:1 tattooed on his forehead. He walks around saying it all the time. It permeates his life in prayer and practice.

     Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to your name give glory, for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness!

     Tom is a man consumed with God getting the glory. His passion for God to be in the spotlight is always on his mind. He is an incredibly gifted leader, who radiates with Christ and has had the opportunity to mentor some of the most influential people God has used to shape our generation. All the while, most people have never ever heard Tom’s name, and he is perfectly okay with that. He is humble and meek, and he knows his ministry is not about him. He doesn’t seek the attention or the applause: “Not to Tom, O Lord, but to your name give glory.”

     Why Them? | I think deep down most of us would look at Tom and think, “I want to be like that.” There is something undeniably appealing about someone who sees God’s hand on someone else’s life and ministry and wholeheartedly champions their efforts and rejoices in their successes — someone who is constantly on the lookout for the evidences of God’s grace at work in people’s gifting and accomplishments, and then generously gives out encouragement as if it was burning a hole in his pocket.

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     Stephen Miller serves as a worship pastor at Prestonwood in Dallas, Texas. He is a husband, father of five, songwriter, and author of two books, including

Liberating King: Breaking Free from the Tyranny of Sin
Worship Leaders, We Are Not Rock Stars

The Wow of Worship

By Stephen Miller 5/29/2016

     We were near the Grand Canyon.

     This past year, our band was leading worship for a church in Phoenix when we had this realization — and found out that none of us had ever visited the Canyon for ourselves. So on a whim, we decided to make the quick trip before heading home to Texas.

     As we stood around plotting our adventure, a nearby eavesdropper interrupted, “You don’t want to see the Grand Canyon. It’s not that great. It just looks like a painting. Just go check out Sedona, then head home.”

     And we did not regret it.

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     Stephen Miller serves as a worship pastor at Prestonwood in Dallas, Texas. He is a husband, father of five, songwriter, and author of two books, including

Liberating King: Breaking Free from the Tyranny of Sin
Worship Leaders, We Are Not Rock Stars

Worship God as Our Father

By Stephen Miller 5/24/2015

     See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. 1 John 3:1

     All true worship begins with our adoption. All prayer, all praise, all singing — all of our relating to God — begins with being able to come to him as his children. That’s what Jesus won for us. When he went to the cross, he paid the immeasurable price of our adoption, to make us sons and daughters of the living God.

     And so when he teaches us to pray in Matthew 6:9, he tells us come to God like this: “Our Father who art in heaven . . .”

     There is infinite intimacy in that statement. Father in heaven. There’s transcendence (he is in heaven), yet an utter accessibility that he gives us as he calls us his sons and daughters.

     Tim Keller says that when John, the author, says, “See what kind of love the Father has given,” he is asking, “From what planet or what world does this kind of love come?” It’s unlike anything we have ever seen. Unlike anything we could compare it to. It’s not from our world. It’s not like any love a human could give. It’s otherworldly, completely set apart.

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     Stephen Miller serves as a worship pastor at Prestonwood in Dallas, Texas. He is a husband, father of five, songwriter, and author of two books, including

Liberating King: Breaking Free from the Tyranny of Sin
Worship Leaders, We Are Not Rock Stars

Be Yourself in Prayer

By Stephen Miller 10/5/2014

     Sometimes it seems as if many believers feel the need to alter who they are when they come to God in prayer, particularly when others are around. As if God will not hear them if they are themselves, they play characters, hoping to be more acceptable to God and others.

     I have personally struggled over the years with what to say and how to say it when I pray. I’m in good company. Even the apostles asked Jesus to teach them to pray. And with kind, compassionate patience in his voice, he taught them to pray simply, humbly, confidently, according to God’s word, and for God’s glory.

     You could sum up Jesus’s teaching into a few guiding principles.

     1. Slow down and be okay with silence. | There is no need to use filler language to take up every ounce of space in prayer, as if the Lord can’t handle the silence or doesn’t have time to listen. You don’t have to speed through like an auctioneer.

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     Stephen Miller serves as a worship pastor at Prestonwood in Dallas, Texas. He is a husband, father of five, songwriter, and author of two books, including

Liberating King: Breaking Free from the Tyranny of Sin
Worship Leaders, We Are Not Rock Stars

Did Israel’s King Consult with a Witch?

By John Piper 6/9/2017

     Here is a good question that moves us into a discussion on what to think of things like fortune tellers, necromancers, palm readers, witches, and so on: “Hello Pastor John, my name is Kristine, a listener to the podcast in Norway. In 1 Samuel 28 Saul wants to contact Samuel through a medium, and he does. But how can this be possible? You cannot contact dead people. And all spirits, except the Holy Spirit, are from the devil. Why does not chapter 28 forbid it, and what are your thoughts on this passage?”

     Here’s the short answer to Kristine, and then I’ll say just a bit more. First Samuel 28 has lots to say about consulting with necromancers and mediums who interact with the dead, and all of it is negative. The point here, and throughout the Old Testament, is that God’s people should not consult with mediums, not because there’s no such thing as communication with the dead, but because it is an abomination to try to communicate with the dead. The point is never in the Old Testament that it’s impossible but that it is wicked and sinful and will bring down God’s judgment if we do it. That’s the short answer.

     The situation in 1 Samuel 28 is that Saul and David have been at odds for a long time, and David is rising in God’s favor to be the new king. Saul is becoming increasingly disobedient and unacceptable as God’s king. Back in chapter 15, Saul disobeyed God and failed to destroy the Amalekites. Samuel the prophet confronts him and says that God has now rejected him as being king. He’s torn the kingdom away from him. He’s going to give it to David.

     Then Samuel says something very significant in 1 Samuel 15:22–23. It’s very relevant to what’s going to happen over in chapter 28. Saul had defended his disobedience by saying he intended to sacrifice some of the stolen things to God. Samuel says, “Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice. . . . For rebellion is as the sin of divination” — necromancy, mediums — “and presumption is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, he has also rejected you from being king.”

     Did you hear the reference to divination? Divination refers to trying to get revelation about the future and about God’s secret plans by using demonic means or means that involve transactions with the dead. Samuel says it is, in essence, rejecting the word of the Lord. The Lord’s word is not enough. Samuel says that Saul’s disobedience, therefore, is like divination. It’s like idolatry. He puts divination and idolatry in the same category, and that’s the root issue in using mediums and necromancers. It puts the mediums and the necromancers in the place where God belongs. God tells us as much as he wants us to know about the secret councils of his plans for the future.

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      (@JohnPiper) is founder and teacher of desiringGod.org and chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary. For 33 years, he served as pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis, Minnesota.

     John Piper Books |  Go to Books Page

Did Israel’s King Consult with a Witch?

By John Piper 6/9/2017

     Here is a good question that moves us into a discussion on what to think of things like fortune tellers, necromancers, palm readers, witches, and so on: “Hello Pastor John, my name is Kristine, a listener to the podcast in Norway. In 1 Samuel 28 Saul wants to contact Samuel through a medium, and he does. But how can this be possible? You cannot contact dead people. And all spirits, except the Holy Spirit, are from the devil. Why does not chapter 28 forbid it, and what are your thoughts on this passage?”

     Here’s the short answer to Kristine, and then I’ll say just a bit more. First Samuel 28 has lots to say about consulting with necromancers and mediums who interact with the dead, and all of it is negative. The point here, and throughout the Old Testament, is that God’s people should not consult with mediums, not because there’s no such thing as communication with the dead, but because it is an abomination to try to communicate with the dead. The point is never in the Old Testament that it’s impossible but that it is wicked and sinful and will bring down God’s judgment if we do it. That’s the short answer.

     The situation in 1 Samuel 28 is that Saul and David have been at odds for a long time, and David is rising in God’s favor to be the new king. Saul is becoming increasingly disobedient and unacceptable as God’s king. Back in chapter 15, Saul disobeyed God and failed to destroy the Amalekites. Samuel the prophet confronts him and says that God has now rejected him as being king. He’s torn the kingdom away from him. He’s going to give it to David.

     Then Samuel says something very significant in 1 Samuel 15:22–23. It’s very relevant to what’s going to happen over in chapter 28. Saul had defended his disobedience by saying he intended to sacrifice some of the stolen things to God. Samuel says, “Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice. . . . For rebellion is as the sin of divination” — necromancy, mediums — “and presumption is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, he has also rejected you from being king.”

     Did you hear the reference to divination? Divination refers to trying to get revelation about the future and about God’s secret plans by using demonic means or means that involve transactions with the dead. Samuel says it is, in essence, rejecting the word of the Lord. The Lord’s word is not enough. Samuel says that Saul’s disobedience, therefore, is like divination. It’s like idolatry. He puts divination and idolatry in the same category, and that’s the root issue in using mediums and necromancers. It puts the mediums and the necromancers in the place where God belongs. God tells us as much as he wants us to know about the secret councils of his plans for the future.

Click here to go to source

      (@JohnPiper) is founder and teacher of desiringGod.org and chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary. For 33 years, he served as pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis, Minnesota.

     John Piper Books |  Go to Books Page

Deuteronomy 17

By Don Carson 6/12/2018

     Moses envisages a time when the Israelite nation will choose a king (Deut. 17:14-20). He could not know that centuries later, when the Israelites would first ask for a king, they would do so for all the wrong motives — primarily so that they could be like the pagan nations around them. The result was Saul. But that is another story.

     If the people are to have a king, what sort of king should he be? (1) He must be the Lord’s own choice (Deut. 17:15). (2) He must be an Israelite, drawn “from among your own brothers” (Deut. 17:15), not some foreigner. (3) He must not acquire for himself great numbers of horses, i.e., amass great personal wealth and military might, and especially not if it means some sort of alliance with a power such as Egypt (Deut. 17:16). (4) He must not take many wives (Deut. 17:17). The issue was not simply polygamy. In the ancient Near East, the more powerful the king the more wives he had. This prohibition is therefore simultaneously a limit on the king’s power, and a warning that many wives will likely lead his heart astray (Deut. 17:17). This is not because wives are intrinsically evil; rather, a king on the hunt for many wives is likely to marry princesses and nobility from surrounding countries, and they will bring their paganism with them. Within that framework, the king’s heart will be led astray. That is exactly what happened to Solomon. (5) Upon accession to the throne, the first thing the king must do is write out for himself, in Hebrew, a copy of “this law” — whether the book of Deuteronomy or the entire Pentateuch. Then he is to read it every day for the rest of his life (Deut. 17:18-20). The multiple purposes of this task are explicit: that he may revere the Lord his God, carefully follow all his words, and in consequence not consider himself better than his fellow citizens, and not turn aside from the law. The result will be a long-lasting dynasty.

     It is not difficult to imagine how the entire history of Israel would have been radically different if these five criteria had been adopted by each king who came to the throne of David. It would be almost a millennium and a half before there would arise in Israel a king who would be the Lord’s chosen servant, someone “made like his brothers in every way” (Heb. 2:17), a mere craftsman without wealth or power, a man not seduced by beauty or power or paganism (despite the devil’s most virulent assaults), a man steeped in the Scriptures from his youth and who carefully followed all the words of God. How we need that king!

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Don Carson is research professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois, and co-founder (with Tim Keller) of The Gospel Coalition. He has authored numerous books, and recently edited The Enduring Authority of the Christian Scriptures (Eerdmans, 2016).

     Don Carson Books |  Go to Books Page

Read The Psalms In "1" Year

Psalm 63

My Soul Thirsts for You
63 A Psalm Of David, When He Was In The Wilderness Of Judah.

1 O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you;
my soul thirsts for you;
my flesh faints for you,
as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.
2 So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary,
beholding your power and glory.
3 Because your steadfast love is better than life,
my lips will praise you.
4 So I will bless you as long as I live;
in your name I will lift up my hands.

5 My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food,
and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips,
6 when I remember you upon my bed,
and meditate on you in the watches of the night;
7 for you have been my help,
and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy.
8 My soul clings to you;
your right hand upholds me.

ESV Study Bible

By Gleason Archer Jr.

Date of the Composition of  Job

     A distinction must be drawn between the historical period when Job actually lived and the time when this record of his ordeal was composed. It might naturally be supposed to have been written soon after the events themselves. Nevertheless there is the widest divergence of opinion on this point, some estimates, as we shall see, deferring the time of authorship until after the Babylonian Exile. In general there are five main views maintained by biblical scholars today: (1) in the patriarchal age; (2) in the reign of Solomon; (3) in the reign of Manasseh; (4) in the generation of Jeremiah; (5) during or after the Exile.

     1. Before the time of Moses, in the patriarchal age. If the contents of  Job are to be regarded as historically accurate and a faithful transcript of the actual conversations of the five men involved, it would be natural to assume that this record was composed soon after Job’s restoration to prosperity, the final addition,  42:16–17, having been completed not long after his decease. If therefore Job’s career took place before the time of Moses, the book itself must date back to that same approximate era.  This was the view of the Talmud and was widely held by Christian scholars until modern times.

     In our present century there are rather few scholars even among leading Conservatives who would venture to insist upon a pre-Mosaic date. As has already been pointed out, the fact that the events take place on non-Israelite soil, that is, in North Arabia, makes the period of composition difficult to date with any precision. There is no compelling reason why the influence of the Mosaic Torah should have been felt in Uz or Teman even as late as 1000 B.C. In the absence of any literature from the same locality it is impossible to do more than conjecture what allusions to history or law or local custom might have been present in any artistic composition of North Arabia. If, moreover, the work was composed in the pre-Mosaic period prior to the Hebrew conquest, it gives rise to the possibility that it was originally composed in some language other than Hebrew, whether in a North Arabian dialect or possibly in Aramaic, as some have suggested.

     Some critics have pointed to the mention of the worship of the sun and moon in  Job 31:26, feeling that this would exclude a period of composition earlier than the rise of Mesopotamian cults in the latter days of the Jewish monarchy. It should be remembered, however, that the worship of the sun and moon had been carried on by Sumerians, Akkadians, and Egyptians from time immemorial, and the earliest Old South Arabic inscriptions which have survived indicate vigorous cults of this type flourishing in the southern part of the Arabian peninsula.

     There is no evidence of the pre-Mosaic dating of  Job due to a total ignorance of the Torah, of Abraham, Moses, or the nation of Israel in the texts of  Job. This is impossible to explain in the light of total commitment to monotheism which is apparent from all of the conversations between Job, his three counselors, and Elihu. It is difficult to imagine that they could have totally ignored the existence of a fairly nearby nation (cf. Hebrews) who were also committed to a monotheistic concept of God. Therefore, the only reasonable conclusion to draw is that the experience of Job must have taken place prior to the Israelite conquest of Canaan.

     Some critics have uncovered what they feel to be traces of the influence of the Mosaic law, especially in  Job 24:2–11. This passage mentions (a) the wickedness of keeping pawned clothes overnight (forbidden in  Ex. 22:25 ); (b) the custom of reserving for the poor the gleaning of the fields of the rich (prescribed in  Lev. 19:9 ); (c) the wickedness of moving the boundary marker of a farm (cf.  Deut. 19:14 ). However, a second reading of this passage in  Job reveals that it amounts to only a statement that the poor have been reduced to gleaning the fields of the rich, and that having pawned their clothes to the wealthy they are forced to sleep naked overnight. This falls short of invoking any legal sanctions in either case. As for denouncing the moving of a boundary marker, this was a commonplace sentiment throughout the Fertile Crescent, from Sumeria to the Nile. Numerous boundary stones have been found from the time of Hammurabi and earlier invoking divine wrath upon any miscreants who should venture to shift them from position. It turns out, therefore, that the case for an acquaintance with the Mosaic code cannot be sustained for the book of  Job.

     The absence of any demonstrable knowledge of the existence of the Mosaic code is of utmost significance. Furthermore there is a complete unawareness of any other monotheistic culture to be found in any adjacent region of western Asia than that represented by Uz, Teman, Shuah on the Euphrates and Naamah (from which the three comforters had come). Surely if the Hebrew nation, devoted to the exclusive worship of the same God (El, Eloah, Elyah, Shaddai and Yahweh) had already settled in nearby Canaan, some allusion to them would surely be expected in the conversations between Job and his counselors. Why is there no awareness whatever of Abraham, Isaac or Jacob or Moses or Joshua? Every other book in the Old Testament presupposes Abraham and the Torah and God’s covenant with Israel. How can  Job center attention upon God and the basic principles of theology without any cognizance of Israel and God’s Lordship over this monotheistic nation? The only reasonable explanation for this is that the episode of Job’s trial and the written record of his experience was written down before the conquest of Canaan by Joshua and before the departure of Israel from Egyptian bondage. This implies that the original composition was written in a language other than Hebrew, even though it was later translated into the form which has been preserved in the Hebrew Bible. If so, it turns out that  Job is actually the earliest book in the Bible, and that it was included in a Hebrew translation as a part of Scripture because of its perceived value as solving the age-long problem of how undeserved suffering can befall even sincere and godly believers.

     2. In the reign of Solomon. This view was advocated as early as the time of Gregory Nazianzen (fourth century A.D.) and also by Martin Luther, Haevernick, Keil, and Franz Delitzsch. In the conservative handbooks on Old Testament introduction, it is favored by Raven, Young, and Unger. The grounds adduced for this dating fall generally under these heads: (a) Solomon’s age was one of prosperous leisure in which literary pursuits were practiced against a background of national self-realization; (b) the age of Solomon devoted particular interest to ḥoḵmâ and pondered the deepest practical problems of life; (c) there is a similar exaltation of godly wisdom in  Proverbs 8 to that which appears in  Job 28; (d) a fairly extensive knowledge of foreign countries, or at least of conditions which existed throughout the Near East generally, indicates a wider acquaintance with the contemporary world than North Arabian conditions would presuppose. In Solomon’s time, of course, there was the widest acquaintance with the foreign nations even as remote as India, which enjoyed commercial relations with the Hebrew empire. It cannot be denied that these considerations possess a certain cumulative force; yet it is questionable whether they can be regarded as really conclusive, for most of the four features above mentioned are reconcilable with an earlier date as well, particularly if the account was composed by a non-Israelite author on non-Israelite soil.

     A problem immediately presents itself to the conservative scholar as soon as he settles upon a Solomonic date for the composition of this book. If the events themselves took place four centuries or more before  Job was written — and most of these writers consider Job to have lived at least as early as the time of Moses — then it is difficult to see how an accurate record could have been maintained of the actual remarks expressed by Job and his four counselors. Delitzsch therefore suggests that the book was not meant to be a historically accurate transcript of words actually spoken in the patriarchal period, but that it was probably intended as a drama for which the dialogue had been composed by the author. Such a drama would be historically accurate only as a play based, for example, upon the life of Abraham Lincoln might artistically represent the man’s character and what he stood for without purporting to be a reporter’s transcript of remarks that he actually voiced. Delitzsch contends that no Hebrew reader would have understood the speeches in  Job as a verbatim report, since the narrative was put into a poetic, dramatic form. Yet even as drama,  Job is not to be dismissed as mere fiction, for the author may well have composed it under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit and accurately represented the sentiments and theological opinions historically expressed by the parties concerned. It was simply that the dramatic or poetic form in which they were composed was the product of the literary artist. If, then, the book did not purport really to be a reporter’s transcript and would not have been so understood by the ancient reader, it should be understood and interpreted by the modern reader in the light of the author’s original intention.

     In support of this interpretation it certainly must be conceded that the text of  Job does not read like an ordinary conversation such as would be carried on under usual circumstances. Apart from the introductory and the concluding chapters, the main body of the text reads like a poetic and highly artistic composition, employing language which would not normally be used by persons speaking extemporaneously in a real life situation. In this respect  Job may be put in a different category from the other books in the Old Testament which purport to give a narrative of historical events, particularly if the original speakers were expressing themselves in a language other than Hebrew — as indeed they must have. Thus the ancient reader for whose spiritual benefit the book was composed would naturally expect a certain amount of artistic license in the literary form in which the speakers’ sentiments and opinions were expressed.

     3. In the reign of Manasseh, seventh century B.C. This was an age of moral degeneracy and social injustice, a time when questions concerning divine providence would call for anxious scrutiny, with error on the throne and truth on the scaffold. Therefore the prominence given to the suffering of the innocent and the prevalence of misfortune and calamity, “The earth is given into the hands of the wicked” ( Job 9:24 ), accords well with the time of King Manasseh.

     Ewald and Hitzig were outstanding proponents of this view. But as Raven points out (OTI, p. 277), these allusions in  Job do not indicate any more widespread misfortune than could be found in many periods in Hebrew history, or indeed in human experience generally. The author quite clearly is referring to the hardships of individuals here and there as exemplified by Job himself, who in his despondency over private disasters naturally tended to emphasize these darker aspects of calamity which can befall any man in this life. There is no suggestion whatsoever that national misfortunes are referred to or that what is afflicting Job is intended to be parabolic for the distress of Israel generally.

     4. The period of  Jeremiah in the late seventh century B.C. This is the view of J. E. Steinmueller (CSS, 2:165), who feels that there is a striking similarity in both contents and language between  Job and the writings of Jeremiah (cf.  Jer. 12:1–3 and  Job 21:7; Jer. 20:14–18 and  Job 3:3 ). He thinks it significant that the land of Uz is mentioned outside of  Job only in  Jer. 25:20 and  Lam. 4:21. Yet this evidence can scarcely be called compelling; the similarities referred to are quite vague in character and consist of commonplace sentiments which can be found in the writings of many ancient authors. The problem of the prosperity of the wicked ( Job 21:7–15 ) was more thoroughly discussed in  Ps. 37 (which was presumably Davidic and therefore early tenth century) than in the  Jeremiah passage ( Jer. 12:1–3 ). While it is true that the curse which Jeremiah invokes upon the day he was born ( Jer. 20:14 ) bears a close similarity to  Job 3:3, it is far more likely that  Jeremiah borrowed from  Job than the other way around. If in Jeremiah’s time the book of  Job was known and acknowledged as Holy Scripture, it is altogether likely that the unhappy prophet would have found in it many a sentiment which accorded with his own mood. The fact that Uz is mentioned in  Jer. 25:20 is hardly of pivotal significance, unless it can be proved by other evidence that the name had not arisen until the age of Jeremiah or else was completely unknown to the Hebrews before his time.

     5. The Babylonian Exile, sixth century B.C. This view is advocated by Genung in ISBE, who classifies the book of  Job as mere legend if not outright fiction. He interprets it as reflecting at least indirectly the long imprisonment and eventual release of King Jehoiachin. (It should be noted, however, that Jehoiachin’s career bears little analogy to that of Job; there is no evidence that Jehoiachin was any more godly than his wicked father, Jehoiakim, nor was he restored to his kingdom at any time prior to his death. He was simply granted more pleasant conditions during his confinement in Babylon.) Genung regards  Job 12:17–25 as suggesting the wholesale deportation of eminent persons or even of whole nations, as if the author had actually witnessed the tragic events of 587 B.C. Thus  Job 12:17–19, 23 reads: “He leadeth counselors away stripped, and Judges maketh he fools. He looseth the bond of kings, and bindeth their loins with a girdle. He leadeth priests away stripped, and overthroweth the mighty … He enlargeth the nations, and he leadeth them captive” (ASV). Yet it should be pointed out that generalizations of this sort would be appropriate to almost every normal period of Near Eastern history; such scenes as these were repeated every time a fortified city was stormed. Therefore this passage would be perfectly appropriate even in the time of Abraham in the violent age in which he lived (cf.  Gen. 14 ).

     Driver, Budde, and Cheyne seek to buttress the argument for an exilic or post-exilic date of  Job by pointing out resemblances with Deutero- Isaiah (which they would date about 550–540 B.C.). These resemblances include: (a) the extraordinarily developed form of morality and of the doctrine of God discoverable in  Job; (b) the basic analogy between the suffering of the innocent Job and that of the Servant of the Lord in  Isaiah II; (c) the points of contact between  Job and  Jeremiah already discussed in connection with Steinmueller’s theory.

     As to (a), it should be observed that neither the ethical standards nor the portrait of God can be regarded as any more “advanced” (if this question - begging term may be used) than that displayed in what critics have assigned to document D or in the Davidic  Psalms. This type of argument can appeal only to those who are committed to the presuppositions of Wellhausen’s theory of the evolutionary development of Israel’s religion. As far as (b) is concerned, the resemblance between Job and the suffering Servant is superficial indeed. While it is true that both suffered innocently — a commonplace in world literature — yet there was nothing redemptive or vicarious about the afflictions of Job as there was in the case of the suffering Servant. These arguments therefore seem to be quite weak and inconclusive except to those who are committed to the Development Hypothesis of Israel’s religion.

     A Survey of Old Testament Introduction

The Continual Burnt Offering (Matthew 18:32-35)

By H.A. Ironside - 1941

June 12
Matthew 18:32 Then his master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. 33 And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’ 34 And in anger his master delivered him to the jailers, until he should pay all his debt. 35 So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.”   ESV

     If we fail to distinguish the various aspects of forgiveness as set forth in the Word of God, we are likely to be in great confusion of mind because of God’s disciplinary dealings with us after our conversion to Christ. When He saves us He forgives us fully and eternally, and will never, as Judge, remember our sins again (Hebrews 10:17). But as His children, we are to confess our sins whenever we fail, and He gives restorative forgiveness (1 John 1:9). The governmental results that follow our failures are not to be construed as indicating that God has not pardoned. He would teach us by discipline the heinousness of sin in His sight (2 Samuel 12:13-14). Forgiven ourselves, we are to forgive our brethren who sin against us (Colossians 3:13). Members of the church who offend against God’s righteous principles are to be disciplined, but forgiven when they give evidence of repentance (Matthew 18:17; 1 Corinthians 5:13; 2 Corinthians 2:7).

Hebrews 10:17 then he adds,

“I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.”

1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

2 Samuel 12:13 David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the LORD.” And Nathan said to David, “The LORD also has put away your sin; you shall not die. 14 Nevertheless, because by this deed you have utterly scorned the LORD, the child who is born to you shall die.”

Colossians 3:13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.

Matthew 18:17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.

1 Corinthians 5:13 God judges those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you.”

2 Corinthians 2:7 so you should rather turn to forgive and comfort him, or he may be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow.

Not far from New York, in a cemetery lone,
Close guarding its grave stands a simple headstone,
It shews not the date of the silent one’s birth,
Reveals not his frailties nor lies of his worth,
But speaks out the tale from His few feet of earth—
And when from the heavens the Lord shall descend,
This stranger shall rise, and to glory ascend,
Well known and befriended to sing without end—

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

The Institutes of the Christian Religion

Translated by Henry Beveridge

     CHAPTER 11.


This chapter may be conveniently comprehended under two heads,--I. Ecclesiastical jurisdiction, its necessity, origin, description, and essential parts--viz. the sacred ministry of the word, and discipline of excommunication, of which the aim, use, and abuse are explained, sec. 1-8. II. Refutation of the arguments advanced by Papists in defence of the tyranny of Pontiffs, the right of both swords, imperial pomp and dignity, foreign jurisdiction, and immunity from civil jurisdiction, sec. 9-16.


1. The power of the Church in regard to jurisdiction. The necessity, origin, and nature of this jurisdiction. The power of the keys to be considered in two points of view. The first view expounded.

2. Second view expounded. How the Church binds and looses in the way of discipline. Abuse of the keys in the Papacy.

3. The discipline of excommunication of perpetual endurance. Distinction between civil and ecclesiastical power.

4. The perpetual endurance of the discipline of excommunication confirmed. Duly ordered under the Emperors and Christian magistrates.

5. The aim and use of ecclesiastical jurisdiction in the primitive Church. Spiritual power was kept entirely distinct from the power of the sword.

6. Spiritual power was not administered by one individual, but by a lawful consistory. Gradual change. First, the clergy alone interfered in the judicial proceedings of the Church. The bishop afterwards appropriated them to himself.

7. The bishops afterwards transferred the rights thus appropriated to their officials, and converted spiritual jurisdiction into a profane tribunal.

8. Recapitulation. The Papal power confuted. Christ wished to debar the ministers of the word from civil rule and worldly power.

9. Objections of the Papists. 1. By this external splendour the glory of Christ is displayed. 2. It does not interfere with the duties of their calling. Both objections answered.

10. The commencement and gradual progress of the Papistical tyranny. Causes, 1. Curiosity; 2. Ambition; 3. Violence; 4. Hypocrisy; 5. Impiety.

11. Last cause, the mystery of iniquity, and the Satanic fury of Antichrist usurping worldly dominion. The Pope claims both swords.

12. The pretended donation of Constantine. Its futility exposed.

13. When, and by what means, the Roman Pontiffs attained to imperial dignity. Hildebrand its founder.

14. By what acts they seized on Rome and other territories. Disgraceful rapacity.

15. Claim of immunity from civil jurisdiction. Contrast between this pretended immunity and the moderation of the early bishops.

16. What end the early bishops aimed at in steadfastly resisting civil encroachment.

1. It remains to consider the third, and, indeed, when matters are well arranged, the principal part of ecclesiastical power, which, as we have said, consists in jurisdiction. Now, the whole jurisdiction of the Church relates to discipline, of which we are shortly to treat. For as no city or village can exist without a magistrate and government, so the Church of God, as I have already taught, but am again obliged to repeat, needs a kind of spiritual government. This is altogether distinct from civil government, and is so far from impeding or impairing it, that it rather does much to aid and promote it. Therefore, this power of jurisdiction is, in one word, nothing but the order provided for the preservation of spiritual polity. To this end, there were established in the Church from the first, tribunals which might take cognisance of morals, animadvert on vices, and exercise the office of the keys. This order is mentioned by Paul in the First Epistle to the Corinthians under the name of governments (1 Cor. 12:28): in like manner, in the Epistle to the Romans, when he says, "He that ruleth with diligence" (Rom. 12:8). For he is not addressing magistrates, none of whom were then Christians, but those who were joined with pastors in the spiritual government of the Church. In the Epistle to Timothy, also, he mentions two kinds of presbyters, some who labour in the word, and others who do not perform the office of preaching, but rule well (1 Tim. 5:17). By this latter class there is no doubt he means those who were appointed to the inspection of manners, and the whole use of the keys. For the power of which we speak wholly depends on the keys which Christ bestowed on the Church in the eighteenth chapter of Matthew, where he orders, that those who despise private admonition should be sharply rebuked in public, and if they persist in their contumacy, be expelled from the society of believers. Moreover, those admonitions and corrections cannot be made without investigation, and hence the necessity of some judicial procedure and order. Wherefore, if we would not make void the promise of the keys, and abolish altogether excommunication, solemn admonitions, and everything of that description, we must, of necessity, give some jurisdiction to the Church. Let the reader observe that we are not here treating of the general authority of doctrine, as in Mt. 21 and John 20, but maintaining that the right of the Sanhedrim is transferred to the fold of Christ. Till that time, the power of government had belonged to the Jews. This Christ establishes in his Church, in as far as it was a pure institution, and with a heavy sanction. Thus it behoved to be, since the judgment of a poor and despised Church might otherwise be spurned by rash and haughty men. And lest it occasion any difficulty to the reader, that Christ in the same words makes a considerable difference between the two things, it will here be proper to explain. There are two passages which speak of binding and loosing. The one is Mt. 16, where Christ, after promising that he will give the keys of the kingdom of heaven to Peter, immediately adds, "Whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven" (Mt. 16:19). These words have the very same meaning as those in the Gospel of John, where, being about to send forth the disciples to preach, after breathing on them, he says, "Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained" (John 20:23). I will give an interpretation, not subtle, not forced, not wrested, but genuine, natural, and obvious. This command concerning remitting and retaining sins, and that promise made to Peter concerning binding and loosing, ought to be referred to nothing but the ministry of the word. When the Lord committed it to the apostles, he, at the same time, provided them with this power of binding and loosing. For what is the sum of the gospel, but just that all being the slaves of sin and death, are loosed and set free by the redemption which is in Christ Jesus, while those who do not receive and acknowledge Christ as a deliverer and redeemer are condemned and doomed to eternal chains? When the Lord delivered this message to his apostles, to be carried by them into all nations, in order to prove that it was his own message, and proceeded from him, he honoured it with this distinguished testimony, and that as an admirable confirmation both to the apostles themselves, and to all those to whom it was to come. It was of importance that the apostles should have a constant and complete assurance of their preaching, which they were not only to exercise with infinite labour, anxiety, molestation, and peril, but ultimately to seal with their blood. That they might know that it was not vain or void, but full of power and efficacy, it was of importance, I say, that amidst all their anxieties, dangers, and difficulties, they might feel persuaded that they were doing the work of God; that though the whole world withstood and opposed them, they might know that God was for them; that not having Christ the author of their doctrine bodily present on the earth, they might understand that he was in heaven to confirm the truth of the doctrine which he had delivered to them. On the other hand, it was necessary that their hearers should be most certainly assured that the doctrine of the gospel was not the word of the apostles, but of God himself; not a voice rising from the earth, but descending from heaven. For such things as the forgiveness of sins, the promise of eternal life, and message of salvation, cannot be in the power of man. Christ therefore testified, that in the preaching of the gospel the apostles only acted ministerially; that it was he who, by their mouths as organs, spoke and promised all; that, therefore, the forgiveness of sins which they announced was the true promise of' God; the condemnation which they pronounced, the certain judgment of God. This attestation was given to all ages, and remains firm, rendering all certain and secure, that the word of the gospel, by whomsoever it may be preached, is the very word of God, promulgated at the supreme tribunal, written in the book of life, ratified firm and fixed in heaven. We now understand that the power of the keys is simply the preaching of the gospel in those places, and in so far as men are concerned, it is not so much power as ministry. Properly speaking, Christ did not give this power to men but to his word, of which he made men the ministers.

2. The other passage, in which binding and loosing are mentioned, is in the eighteenth chapter of Matthew, where Christ says, "If he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the Church: but if he neglect to hear the Church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican. Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven" (Mt. 18:17, 18). This passage is not altogether similar to the former, but is to be understood somewhat differently. But in saying that they are different, I do not mean that there is not much affinity between them. First, they are similar in this, that they are both general statements, that there is always the same power of binding and loosing (namely, by the word of God), the same command, the same promise. They differ in this, that the former passage relates specially to the preaching which the ministers of the word perform, the latter relates to the discipline of excommunication which has been committed to the Church. Now, the Church binds him whom she excommunicates, not by plunging him into eternal ruin and despair, but condemning his life and manners, and admonishing him, that, unless he repent, he is condemned. She looses him whom she receives into communion, because she makes him, as it were, a partaker of the unity which she has in Christ Jesus. Let no one, therefore, contumaciously despise the judgment of the Church, or account it a small matter that he is condemned by the suffrages of the faithful. The Lord testifies that such judgment of the faithful is nothing else than the promulgation of his own sentence, and that what they do on earth is ratified in heaven. For they have the word of God by which they condemn the perverse: they have the word by which they take back the penitent into favour. Now, they cannot err nor disagree with the judgment of God, because they judge only according to the law of God, which is not an uncertain or worldly opinion, but the holy will of God, an oracle of heaven. On these two passages, which I think I have briefly, as well as familiarly and truly expounded, these madmen, without any discrimination, as they are borne along by their spirit of giddiness, attempt to found at one time confession, at another excommunication, at another jurisdiction, at another the right of making laws, at another indulgences. The former passage they adduce for the purpose of rearing up the primacy of the Roman See. So well known are the keys to those who have thought proper to fit them with locks and doors, that you would say their whole life had been spent in the mechanic art.

3. Some, in imagining that all these things were temporary, as magistrates were still strangers to our profession of religion, are led astray, by not observing the distinction and dissimilarity between ecclesiastical and civil power. For the Church has not the right of the sword to punish or restrain, has no power to coerce, no prison nor other punishments which the magistrate is wont to inflict. Then the object in view is not to punish the sinner against his will, but to obtain a profession of penitence by voluntary chastisement. The two things, therefore, are widely different, because neither does the Church assume anything to herself which is proper to the magistrate, nor is the magistrate competent to what is done by the Church. This will be made clearer by an example. Does any one get intoxicated? In a well-ordered city his punishment will be imprisonment. Has he committed whoredom? The punishment will be similar, or rather more severe. Thus satisfaction will be given to the laws, the magistrates, and the external tribunal. But the consequence will be, that the offender will give no signs of repentance, but will rather fret and murmur. Will the Church not here interfere? Such persons cannot be admitted to the Lord's Supper without doing injury to Christ and his sacred institution. Reason demands that he who, by a bad example, gives offence to the Church, shall remove the offence which he has caused by a formal declaration of repentance. The reason adduced by those who take a contrary view is frigid. Christ, they say, gave this office to the Church when there were no magistrates to execute it. But it often happens that the magistrate is negligent, nay, sometimes himself requires to be chastised; as was the case with the Emperor Theodosius. Moreover, the same thing may be said regarding the whole ministry of the word. Now, therefore, according to that view, let pastors cease to censure manifest iniquities, let them cease to chide, accuse, and rebuke. For there are Christian magistrates who ought to correct these things by the laws and the sword. But as the magistrate ought to purge the Church of offences by corporal punishment and coercion, so the minister ought, in his turn, to assist the magistrate in diminishing the number of offenders. Thus they ought to combine their efforts, the one being not an impediment but a help to the other.

4. And indeed, on attending more closely to the words of Christ, it will readily appear that the state and order of the Church there described is perpetual, not temporary. For it were incongruous that those who refuse to obey our admonitions should be transferred to the magistrate--a course, however, which would be necessary if he were to succeed to the place of the Church. Why should the promise, "Verily I say unto you, What thing soever ye shall bind on earth," be limited to one, or to a few years? Moreover, Christ has here made no new enactment, but followed the custom always observed in the Church of his ancient people, thereby intimating, that the Church cannot dispense with the spiritual jurisdiction which existed from the beginning. This has been confirmed by the consent of all times. For when emperors and magistrates began to assume the Christian name, spiritual jurisdiction was not forthwith abolished, but was only so arranged as not in any respect to impair civil jurisdiction, or be confounded with it. And justly. For the magistrate, if he is pious, will have no wish to exempt himself from the common subjection of the children of God, not the least part of which is to subject himself to the Church, judging according to the word of God; so far is it from being his duty to abolish that judgment. For, as Ambrose says, "What more honourable title can an emperor have than to be called a son of the Church? A good emperor is within the Church, not above the Church" (Ambros. ad Valent. Ep. 32). Those, therefore, who to adorn the magistrate strip the Church of this power, not only corrupt the sentiment of Christ by a false interpretation, but pass no light condemnation on the many holy bishops who have existed since the days of the apostles, for having on a false pretext usurped the honour and office of the civil magistrate.

     Christian Classics Ethereal Library / Public Domain

     Institutes of the Christian Religion

  • Ezekiel 37, Valley of
    dry Bones, 1948
  • Gospel By
    The Numbers
  • Sustained
    in Suffering

#1     May 29, 2023 | Ken Johnson


#2 Haddon Robinson | Gordon Conwell


#3 by the Saga of Job | C.J. Mahaney


     Devotionals, notes, poetry and more

coram Deo
     7/1/2011 | A Generation of Heroes

     Satan watches for those vessels that sail without a convoy,” wrote Puritan pastor George Swinnock (1627–1673). Every individual knows he was created for community. Isolation is the Devil’s playground, and our Enemy is on the lookout for the Christian who thinks he can stand alone in independent isolation from the fellowship, accountability, and encouragement of faithful brothers and sisters.

     Before the fall of man, even though the Lord God walked in close communion with Adam in the garden, our gracious and triune God knew it was not good for man to be alone (Gen. 2:18), and so God created someone who would meet Adam’s needs and relate to Adam in a way that, by design, God Himself did not. In His often-overlooked grace, God blessed mankind with the most beautiful, intimate, and joyous relationship that exists between mere human beings: holy wedlock between a man and a woman, who by design and covenant become one flesh. Nevertheless, even from that glorious union, He called them to multiply themselves into communities of families that would populate and dominate creation to share life and glorify God together.

     God gave each of us an insatiable hunger to experience life together — life’s joys and passions and life’s sorrows and burdens. Men need men, and women need women. Younger men and women need to listen to and learn from the wisdom and experiences of older men and women. Older men and women need the passion and patience to sit down and tell their stories and lessons to the next generation. Women need authentic relationships with other women to form the enduring companionship of sisterhood that not only detests divisive gossip and grudges but defends, encourages, and bears the burdens of every woman so that no woman is left alone to fend for herself in serving the Lord in her many callings.

     Even though many men are completely content with the community and companionship of images, games, and voices on a screen, men desperately need the camaraderie and fraternity of other men. Men are made to experience intimate and authentic, loyal and enduring friendships with other men — on the battlefield, in the foxhole, at the gates of the city, and at the coffee shop on the corner. And while no wise and truly humble man will ever consider himself a hero, each and every man of God by His grace is called to strive to conquer this world, his flesh, and the Devil, shoulder to shoulder with other men who together serve one another in a company of heroes as husbands and dads who serve by leading their wives, families, churches, and communities into fellowship with God.

     click here for article source

     Dr. Burk Parsons (@BurkParsons) is editor of Tabletalk magazine, senior pastor of Saint Andrew’s Chapel in Sanford, Fla., a visiting lecturer at Reformed Theological Seminary, and a Ligonier Ministries teaching fellow. He is editor of John Calvin: A Heart for Devotion, Doctrine, and Doxology.

Ligonier     coram Deo (definition)

American Minute
     by Bill Federer

     He received the Distinguished Flying Cross for his service in the Pacific during World War II. He studied at Yale, was a congressman, ambassador to the U.N., CIA director and Vice-President under Ronald Reagan before becoming America's forty-first President. His name: George Bush, born this day, June 12, 1924. In his Inaugural Address, President Bush stated: "I have just repeated… the oath taken by George Washington 200 years ago, and the Bible on which I place my hand is the Bible on which he placed his…. And my first act as President is a prayer. I ask you to bow your heads."

American Minute

Lean Into God
     Compiled by Richard S. Adams

I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about him: I'm ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don't accept his claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic- on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg - or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon and you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.
--- C.S. Lewis
Mere Christianity

We may be statistics and numbers as far as the world’s computers are concerned, but we are precious individuals as far as our Shepherd is concerned. He knows his sheep personally.
--- Warren Wiersbe
Be What You Are

God promises to pardon, to receive into his favour, and finally to save all who believe the record which He has given of his Son. To believe, is therefore to believe this promise; and to appropriate this promise to ourselves is to believe that God is reconciled to us.
--- Charles Hodge
Systematic Theology - (3-Volume Set)

The first time you receive guidance you will know the difference. You can mistake rhinestones for diamonds, but you can never mistake a diamond for a rhinestone.
--- Adele Rogers St. John, Guideposts, December 1968

... from here, there and everywhere

The Shema: Spirituality and Law in Judaism
     CHAPTER 8 / “The Lord Is One”:
     “One” and Contemporary Science

     Eḥad is an issue not only for theologians and religious laymen but, in a non-theistic context, for scientists and philosophers as well—in fact, it ultimately concerns all human beings. Indeed, although starting out from totally different vantage points, religious and scientific considerations of unity run parallel; both acknowledge unifying forces in the universe—and perhaps beyond it. In this chapter, we will briefly discuss how the concept of divine unity is refracted through the two lenses of modernity. First, we will consider how contemporary physicists now view the natural universe. Then we will turn to the question of the psycho-cultural orientation of modern society and to its relation to God.

     Albert Einstein, after successfully developing his revolutionary theories—the special and the general theories of relativity—next turned his attention to discovering the underlying pattern of the entire universe, seeking a single theory that would embrace all physical phenomena from the cosmic to the subatomic. That ambition to formulate a “theory of everything” has so far proved elusive. Einstein died before he could find the great unified field theory of physics that could account for the four forces of Nature: gravitation, electromagnetism, and both the weak and strong nuclear forces within the atom. That unified theory has still not been discovered. Although proponents of a “super-string” theory have recently made claims for such a unifying concept within their models of the universe, many physicists are skeptical. This quest remains central to legions of nuclear physicists. Like the Jewish monotheistic intuition that one absolutely “simple” Creator is responsible for both the creation and governance of Nature, (1) modern scientists instinctively believe that a fundamental unity underlies all natural phenomena.

(1)     Eugene Borowitz has written about this briefly in his introductory chapter to the book he edited, Echad: The Many Meanings of God is One (New York: Sh’ma, 1988).

     However, not all physicists share this conviction that one unified theory can explain or describe all of Nature, that all natural phenomena are somehow reflections of an underlying cosmic unity. Some distinguished scientists, albeit a minority, believe that such an equation or theory will never be found, either because it is undiscoverable or—more significantly—because it simply doesn’t exist. In their view, the cosmos is composed of a multiplicity of unrelated forces. There is no underlying unity of all creation.

     Is it legitimate to draw an analogy between the creation—the physical universe—and the Creator, to assert that the unity of the one truly reflects the unity of the Other? And what of the contrary claim, that Nature is not characterized by an underlying unity? Would proving this claim true deny the unity of the Creator? Or might it do just the reverse?

     This controversy is not entirely new. Predating contemporary scientists by almost a thousand years, two of the greatest medieval Jewish philosophers debated the same questions with a similar degree of ardor and sophistication. Saadia (882–942) and Maimonides (1135–1204) both agree that this understanding of the natural universe flows from our affirmation of divine unity. (2) But they hold profoundly different views on what that understanding is.

(2)     I elaborate upon this divergence of views between Saadia and Maimonides in my article, “The Unity of God and the Unity of the World: Saadia and Maimonides,” in Torah and Wisdom: Studies in Jewish Philosophy, Kabbalah, and Halacha—Essays in Honor of Arthur Hyman, ed. Ruth Link-Salinger (New York: Sheugold Publishing, 1992), pp. 113–8.

     For Saadia, the unity of God is so exclusive that nothing else can lay claim to this attribute. Thus, the cosmos must necessarily be multiple. Were he alive today, Saadia undoubtedly would side with those physicists who argue against a unified field theory. Thus, he writes:

     [Inasmuch as] the Creator of the universe, exalted and magnified be He, is essentially one, it follows by logical necessity that His creatures be composed of many elements, as I have made clear in the foregoing.

     At this point, now, I would say that the thing that generally gives the appearance of constituting a unity, whatever sort of unity it be, is singular only in number. Upon careful consideration, however, it is found to be of a multiple nature. To reduce this generalization to simpler terms, when the substances of all beings are analyzed, they are found to be endowed with the attributes of heat and cold and moisture and dryness. When the substance of the tree is examined, it is found to include, in addition to the aforementioned, branches and leaves and fruits, and all that is connected therewith. When the human body, again, is examined, it is found to be composed, besides the elements listed above, of flesh and bones and sinews and arteries and muscles and all that goes with them. This is a matter about which no doubt can be entertained and the reality of which is not to be denied. All these phenomena are in accord with the laws of creation: namely, that the Creator, exalted and magnified be He, be One and His works manifold. That is also borne out by such statements of the Scriptures as, “How manifold are Thy works, O Lord! In wisdom hast Thou made them all” (
Ps. 104:24). (3)

(3)     Saadia, The Book of Beliefs and Opinions, trans. Samuel Rosenblatt (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1948), Treatise

  The Shema: Spirituality and Law in Judaism

History of the Destruction of Jerusalem
     Thanks to Meir Yona

     CHAPTER 18.

     How Herod And Sosius Took Jerusalem By Force; And What Death Antigonus Came To. Also Concerning Cleopatra's Avaricious Temper.

     1. Now the multitude of the Jews that were in the city were divided into several factions; for the people that crowded about the temple, being the weaker part of them, gave it out that, as the times were, he was the happiest and most religious man who should die first. But as to the more bold and hardy men, they got together in bodies, and fell a robbing others after various manners, and these particularly plundered the places that were about the city, and this because there was no food left either for the horses or the men; yet some of the warlike men, who were used to fight regularly, were appointed to defend the city during the siege, and these drove those that raised the banks away from the wall; and these were always inventing some engine or another to be a hinderance to the engines of the enemy; nor had they so much success any way as in the mines under ground.

     2. Now as for the robberies which were committed, the king contrived that ambushes should be so laid, that they might restrain their excursions; and as for the want of provisions, he provided that they should be brought to them from great distances. He was also too hard for the Jews, by the Romans' skill in the art of war; although they were bold to the utmost degree, now they durst not come to a plain battle with the Romans, which was certain death; but through their mines under ground they would appear in the midst of them on the sudden, and before they could batter down one wall, they built them another in its stead; and to sum up all at once, they did not show any want either of painstaking or of contrivances, as having resolved to hold out to the very last. Indeed, though they had so great an army lying round about them, they bore a siege of five months, till some of Herod's chosen men ventured to get upon the wall, and fell into the city, as did Sosius's centurions after them; and now they first of all seized upon what was about the temple; and upon the pouring in of the army, there was slaughter of vast multitudes every where, by reason of the rage the Romans were in at the length of this siege, and by reason that the Jews who were about Herod earnestly endeavored that none of their adversaries might remain; so they were cut to pieces by great multitudes, as they were crowded together in narrow streets, and in houses, or were running away to the temple; nor was there any mercy showed either to infants, or to the aged, or to the weaker sex; insomuch that although the king sent about and desired them to spare the people, nobody could be persuaded to withhold their right hand from slaughter, but they slew people of all ages, like madmen. Then it was that Antigonus, without any regard to his former or to his present fortune, came down from the citadel, and fell at Sosius's feet, who without pitying him at all, upon the change of his condition, laughed at him beyond measure, and called him Antigona. 26 Yet did he not treat him like a woman, or let him go free, but put him into bonds, and kept him in custody.

     3. But Herod's concern at present, now he had gotten his enemies under his power, was to restrain the zeal of his foreign auxiliaries; for the multitude of the strange people were very eager to see the temple, and what was sacred in the holy house itself; but the king endeavored to restrain them, partly by his exhortations, partly by his threatenings, nay, partly by force, as thinking the victory worse than a defeat to him, if any thing that ought not to be seen were seen by them. He also forbade, at the same time, the spoiling of the city, asking Sosius in the most earnest manner, whether the Romans, by thus emptying the city of money and men, had a mind to leave him king of a desert,—and told him that he judged the dominion of the habitable earth too small a compensation for the slaughter of so many citizens. And when Sosius said that it was but just to allow the soldiers this plunder as a reward for what they suffered during the siege, Herod made answer, that he would give every one of the soldiers a reward out of his own money. So he purchased the deliverance of his country, and performed his promises to them, and made presents after a magnificent manner to each soldier, and proportionably to their commanders, and with a most royal bounty to Sosius himself, whereby nobody went away but in a wealthy condition. Hereupon Sosius dedicated a crown of gold to God, and then went away from Jerusalem, leading Antigonus away in bonds to Antony; then did the axe bring him to his end, 27 who still had a fond desire of life, and some frigid hopes of it to the last, but by his cowardly behavior well deserved to die by it.

     4. Hereupon king Herod distinguished the multitude that was in the city; and for those that were of his side, he made them still more his friends by the honors he conferred on them; but for those of Antigonus's party, he slew them; and as his money ran low, he turned all the ornaments he had into money, and sent it to Antony, and to those about him. Yet could he not hereby purchase an exemption from all sufferings; for Antony was now bewitched by his love to Cleopatra, and was entirely conquered by her charms. Now Cleopatra had put to death all her kindred, till no one near her in blood remained alive, and after that she fell a slaying those no way related to her. So she calumniated the principal men among the Syrians to Antony, and persuaded him to have them slain, that so she might easily gain to be mistress of what they had; nay, she extended her avaricious humor to the Jews and Arabians, and secretly labored to have Herod and Malichus, the kings of both those nations, slain by his order.

     5. Now is to these her injunctions to Antony, he complied in part; for though he esteemed it too abominable a thing to kill such good and great kings, yet was he thereby alienated from the friendship he had for them. He also took away a great deal of their country; nay, even the plantation of palm trees at Jericho, where also grows the balsam tree, and bestowed them upon her; as also all the cities on this side the river Eleutherus, Tyre and Sidon 28 excepted. And when she was become mistress of these, and had conducted Antony in his expedition against the Parthians as far as Euphrates, she came by Apamia and Damascus into Judea and there did Herod pacify her indignation at him by large presents. He also hired of her those places that had been torn away from his kingdom, at the yearly rent of two hundred talents. He conducted her also as far as Pelusium, and paid her all the respects possible. Now it was not long after this that Antony was come back from Parthia, and led with him Artabazes, Tigranes's son, captive, as a present for Cleopatra; for this Parthian was presently given her, with his money, and all the prey that was taken with him.

     The Project Gutenberg EBook of The Wars of the Jews or History of the Destruction of Jerusalem, by Flavius Josephus Translator: William Whiston

The War of the Jews: The History of the Destruction of Jerusalem (complete edition, 7 books)

Proverbs 19:8-9
     by D.H. Stern

8     To acquire good sense is to love oneself;
to treasure discernment is to prosper.

9     A false witness will not go unpunished;
whoever breathes out lies will perish.

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

                Getting there

     Where the self-interest sleeps and the real interest awakens: Master, where dwellest Thou?… Come and see.… Come with Me.
--- John 1:39.

     “They abode with Him that day.” That is about all some of us ever do, then we wake up to actualities, self-interest arises and the abiding is passed. There is no condition of life in which we cannot abide in Jesus.

     “Thou art Simon, thou shalt be called Cephas.” God writes the new name on those places only in our lives where He has erased the pride and self-sufficiency and self-interest. Some of us have the new name in spots only, like spiritual measles. In sections we look all right. When we have our best spiritual mood on, you would think we were very high-toned saints; but don’t look at us when we are not in that mood. The disciple is one who has the new name written all over him; self-interest and pride and self-sufficiency have been completely erased.

     Pride is the deification of self, and this to-day in some of us is not of the order of the Pharisee, but of the publican. To say ‘Oh, I’m no saint,’ is acceptable to human pride, but it is unconscious blasphemy against God. It literally means that you defy God to make you a saint. ‘I am much too weak and hopeless, I am outside the reach of the Atonement.’ Humility before men may be unconscious blasphemy before God. Why are you not a saint? It is either that you do not want to be a saint, or that you do not believe God can make you one. It would be all right, you say, if God saved you and took you straight to heaven. That is just what He will do! “We will come unto Him, and make our abode with Him.” Make no conditions, let Jesus be everything, and He will take you home with Him not only for a day, but for ever.

My Utmost for His Highest

Night and Morning
     the Poetry of RS Thomas

                Night and Morning

One night of tempest I arose and went
  Along the Menai shore on dreaming bent;
  The wind was strong, and savage swung the tide,
  And the waves blustered on Caernarfon side.

  But on the morrow, when I passed that way,
  On Menai shore the hush of heaven lay;
  The wind was gentle and the sea a flower
  And the sun slumbered on Caernarfon tower.
          (From the Welsh Traditional)

Selected Poems, 1946-68

Searching For Meaning In Midrash
     How to use this book—a sample entry

     Just as a hammer splits [a rock] into many pieces, so will one verse have many meanings.

     (A פִּתְגָּם/pitgam, or "maxim," will headline each of the entries in this book. These Rabbinic proverbs are to be found in the body of the midrashic texts that we will study. Many of these pitgamim [plural of pitgam] have found their way into the collective Jewish consciousness and are often quoted in both religious and secular contexts.)

     "BIBLE TEXT / Jeremiah 23:28–29 / Let the prophet who has a dream tell the dream; and let him who has received My word report My word faithfully! How can straw be compared to grain?—says the Lord. Behold, My word is like fire—declares the Lord—and like a hammer that shatters rock!

     "(Each entry in this book will quote a few verses from the Bible or, to be more precise, the Torah [the first five books of the Bible, often referred to as the Five Books of Moses]. For the purposes of this sample entry, we have chosen verses from the Prophets, since the Midrash on these verses speaks to the process of interpretation. While there are midrashic commentaries to the entire Bible, in this book we have chosen to concentrate on what the Rabbis had to teach about selected verses from Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy.

     "Biblical quotations are cited by book, chapter, and—following a colon—the verses. Thus, Jeremiah 23:28–29 means the biblical Book of Jeremiah (from the Prophets section of the Bible), chapter 23, verses 28–29. To help the reader differentiate the Bible from the Midrash, we have adopted the convention of printing the biblical texts in italics).

     "MIDRASH TEXT / Sanhedrin 34a / One biblical verse may have many meanings, but a single meaning does not emerge from several biblical verses. In the School of Rabbi Yishmael it was taught: " '… like a hammer that shatters rock' (Jeremiah 23:29). Just as a hammer splits [a rock] into many pieces, so will one verse have many meanings."

     "(Citations to the Midrash texts are by the book of Midrash, chapter, and—following a comma—section. [In this case, the Midrash is quoted from the Talmud, which is cited by tractate, page, and side a or b of the page]. Thus, Genesis Rabbah 19, 6 means that the Midrash is taken from the collection called Genesis [or Bereshit] Rabbah, chapter 19, section 6. To assist the reader, when the "Midrash Text" quotes from the "Bible Text," we have set that quote in italics.)

     "CONTEXT / The passage in Sanhedrin deals with the judicial procedures in capital cases. The question is raised why the arguments for acquittal must be recorded. The answer given is that it is to make sure that two different judges, in rendering a decision, don't base the same argument on two separate biblical verses. The Talmud then states the general principle that one biblical verse may have many meanings, but a single meaning does not emerge from several biblical verses. We then learn that the school of Rabbi Yishmael derived this principle from a verse in the Book of Jeremiah.

     "The פְּשָׁט/P'shat, or "contextual meaning," of the passage from Jeremiah concerns false prophets. Jeremiah, a true prophet, brings a message that God is angered by individuals who have dreams and then try to pass them off as the word of God. Dreams, as compared with the true words of the Lord, are like straw compared to grain: Straw is worthless; God's word, on the other hand, is as nutritious as grain and as powerful as fire or as a hammer blow.

     "In the דְּרָשׁ/D'rash, the "interpretive meaning," the verse has a very different sense: The hammer blow smashes a single rock into many pieces, just as the Rabbis could deduce multiple meanings from one verse. The Rabbis believed that the finite verses in the Bible could be interpreted and understood in an almost infinite number of ways. This provided them with the flexibility to find in the Bible a lesson or teaching to cover almost every possible circumstance. The corollary, however, was that two different verses would never mean the very same thing. Thus, "You shall not steal" in Exodus 20:13 and "You shall not steal" in Leviticus 19:11 cannot both be about robbery. The Rabbis interpreted the former to be about kidnapping, the latter about the theft of property.

     "(In the Context section, we explain the Midrash text. It will quickly become apparent to the reader that much more than a translation is required to understand Rabbinic teachings. Midrash and Talmud almost always assume that the reader knows what the teacher is thinking. We will provide the background material that is left out. We will also attempt to show not only what the Rabbis thought [and didn't say] but also how they thought [and the forms and functions of the midrashic process]. We shall endeavor to explain what the Rabbis said, as well as what they meant. In this section, we may give a running commentary on the Midrash text; when we quote the actual words of the text, they will appear in bold print.)

Searching for Meaning in Midrash: Lessons for Everyday Living
Hosea 11–14 Love So Amazing
     W. W. Wiersbe

     "How could Hosea's unfaithful wife Gomer ever question her husband's love? Didn't he demonstrate it by seeking her out, pleading with her to come home, and paying the price to set her free?

     How could Israel ever question God's love and refuse to respond to it? After all, the nation had not only broken the Law of God; they had broken the heart of God. In the closing chapters of this book, Hosea reminded them of God's compassion for His people, and he did it by presenting three clear evidences of God's love.

     1. God's Mercies in the Past (Hosea 11:1–12)

     At least fourteen times in the Book of Deuteronomy, Moses used the word remember. Deuteronomy is Moses' farewell address to the new generation of Israelites as they were preparing to enter the Promised Land. But why would Moses ask these young people to look back when they were getting ready to move forward? Because a correct understanding of God's dealings in the past is the best way to be certain of success in the future. Philosopher George Santayana expressed this truth succinctly: "Those who do not remember the past are condemned to relive it." (The prophet Hosea was very familiar with Jewish history, not only what happened but why it happened and how it related to the present and the future of his People. He refers to the Exodus (2:15; 11:11; 12:9, 13; 13:4), the events surrounding Jehu and Jezreel (1:4, 11; 2:22), Achan and the Valley of Achor (2:15), the wickedness of Gibeah (9:9; 10:9), Israel's sins at Baal-Peor (9:10), the destruction of the cities of the plain (11:8), and events in the life of Jacob (12:3–4, 12).

     God's love demonstrated at the Exodus (Hosea 11:1–2). God sent Joseph ahead into Egypt to prepare the way for Jacob and his sons. What Joseph's brothers did to their brother was meant for evil, but God used it for good (Gen. 50:20). Because of Joseph, the people of Israel were kept alive during the severe famine and were able to multiply in the ensuing years. From this humble beginning, God formed a nation; Moses led that nation out of Egypt in great power and triumph (Ex. 12–15).

     Hosea pictures the God of the Exodus as a tender father who freed his son from bondage. The emphasis here is not on Israel, the unfaithful wife, but on Israel, the ungrateful son. (For God as "Father" and Israel as a "son," see
Ex. 4:22–23
; Isa. 1:2–4; and Deut. 32:5). After all God did for His son, he will refuse to return His love or obey His will.

     God's love demonstrated in the wilderness
(Hosea 11:3–4). The loving father not only carried His son out of bondage, but He taught him to walk and tenderly cared for him during the wilderness journey. When a child stumbles and gets bruised, mother and father are there to give healing and encouragement, and that's what God did for His people. He taught them, healed them, and led them; He was careful to lead them as you would a child and not as you would an animal. He bound Himself to them with cords of love, not with bit and bridle (Ps. 32:8–9) or a galling yoke.

     Read Hosea 11:1–4 again, but instead of noting what God did for Israel, notice how Israel treated God. Like spoiled children, they rebelled against their Father and turned to idols. God spoke to them through His prophets, but the more God called to Israel, the more they strayed from Him! They were happy to enjoy His gifts, but they didn't want to obey the Giver. He sought to lead them with ties of love, but they said, "Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us" (Ps. 2:3, KJV).

     Throughout history, whether Jewish or Gentile, human nature is pretty much the same, and all of us are prone to do what Israel did: enjoy God's blessings, but take God for granted. "My people are determined to turn from me"
(Hosea 11:7, NIV). "Also, sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a brood of evildoers, children who are corrupters!" (Isa. 1:4, NKJV) God set them free and guided them to their inheritance, but within one generation after the death of Joshua, the nation turned to idolatry and forsook the Lord (Jud. 2:7ff).

     God's love demonstrated by His long-suffering
(Hosea 11:5–7). On more than one occasion, God could have destroyed the nation and started over again
(Ex. 32:10), but He chose to be long-suffering. When the journey became difficult, the Jews wanted to go back to Egypt; they complained when they should have been praying and giving thanks for God's mercies.

     We have already seen that some of the references to Egypt in this book refer to the "new bondage" in Assyria (Hosea 11:5). Israel refused to repent, so the nation had to go into captivity. They made plans without consulting God, so their defenses would fall before the invaders. The only time they called on God was when they were in trouble, and God graciously helped them; but now the end had come.

     God's love demonstrated by His faithfulness to His promises (Hosea 11:8–9). What a revelation we have in 11:8 of the compassionate heart of God! According to Jewish law, a rebellious son was supposed to be turned over to the elders of the city and stoned to death
(Deut. 21:18–21), but how could God do this to His beloved son, Israel? (Centuries later, His innocent, only-begotten Son would suffer for the sins of the whole world.) God destroyed the cities of the plain because of their sins
(Gen. 18:16–19:29), and those people didn't have the same privileges of learning about God that Israel had. What right did Israel have to expect God to spare them, especially since they were sinning against a flood of light.

     What motivated God to spare Israel from total destruction? Not only His deep compassion, but also His faithfulness to His covenant. "For I am God, and not man" (Hosea 11:9, KJV). "God is not a man, that He should lie, nor a son of man that He should repent. Has He said, and will He not do it? Or has He spoken, and will he not make it good?" (Num. 23:19)

     God's covenant with Abraham (Gen. 12:1–3) is unconditional and will not change; therefore, the nation of Israel is preserved. But His covenant with Israel at Sinai had conditions attached, and if the people failed to meet those conditions, God was obligated to withdraw His blessings. Israel's possession of the land and its blessings is based on the Abrahamic Covenant, but their enjoyment of the land and its blessings is based on the Mosaic Covenant. God was faithful to both covenants: He preserved the nation, but He disciplined them for their sins.

     God's love demonstrated by the hope of future restoration (Hosea 11:10–12). Often in Scripture you will find a declaration of judgment immediately followed by a promise of hope, and that's the case here. Hosea looks ahead to the end times when Israel will be gathered together from all the nations, brought to their own land, cleansed of their sins, and established in their kingdom. In the past, God roared like a lion when He judged the nation (5:14; 13:7, but in the future, His "roar" will call His people to come back to their land. Like birds turned loose from their cages, the people of Israel will swiftly fly to their own land, and God will "settle them in their homes" (11:11, NIV).

     Meanwhile, God is long-suffering with His people, as He is with all sinners (2 Peter 3:9), even though they lie to Him and rebel against Him (Hosea 11:12). What Jesus said to Jerusalem in His day, God was saying through Hosea to the people of that day: "How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!" (Matt 23:37, NKJV)

     God's mercies in the past certainly proved His love, but Hosea offered a second evidence that God loved His people.

Be Amazed (Minor Prophets): Restoring an Attitude of Wonder and Worship (The BE Series Commentary)

The Evidence from Qumran for the Process toward Canon
     Eerdmans Dictionary of Early Judaism

     In the absence of clear early written discussion, surveying the Qumran evidence can be somewhat illuminating, especially since it generally agrees with the New Testament evidence. Criteria of varying strengths for canon or scriptural status would be: (a) a title of the canon or its parts, or a list of its books; (b) formulas that introduce explicit quotations of Scripture; (c) books explicitly quoted as Scripture; (d) multiple copies of a book; (e) books on which commentaries were written; and (f) books that were translated into the vernacular languages.

     Unfortunately, the Dead Sea Scrolls provide no conclusive evidence for determining the exact contents of the collection that the covenanters considered the authoritative books of Scripture or whether they even discussed the question. But that they regarded the Law and the Prophets as divinely revealed Scripture is clear from statements such as “[God] commanded through Moses and all his servants the prophets” (1QS 1:1–3), “As you said through Moses” (1QM 10:6), and “As God said through Isaiah the prophet” (CD 4:13). Thus, there is (a) no clear evidence for a canon of Scripture, but (b) certitude regarding the Law and the Prophets as Scripture. (c) Isaiah and the Minor Prophets are quoted nine times, pentateuchal books (but not Genesis) and Ezekiel 1–5 times; the only others are Psalms and Daniel 2, and one each for Jeremiah, Proverbs, and Jubilees. The Former Prophets and the remainder of the Writings are never quoted (except for the prophetic oracle in 2 Samuel 7). (d) There are thirty-six Hebrew copies of the Psalms, thirty of Deuteronomy, twenty-one of Isaiah, twenty of Genesis, seventeen of Exodus, fourteen of Jubilees, thirteen of Leviticus, twelve (or twenty?) of 1 Enoch, eight of the Minor Prophets and Daniel, seven of Numbers, six of Jeremiah and Ezekiel, and five of Tobit. The Former Prophets and the Writings all have four or fewer copies—fewer than the Community Rule, the Damascus Document, the Hodayot, and the War Scroll. (e) Exegetical commentaries treat only the Law and the Prophets (Isaiah, the Minor Prophets, and Psalms). Finally, (f) the Qumran texts show only the Torah (and possibly 1 Enoch) translated into Greek, while Aramaic targums were rare: one for Leviticus and two for Job. The Greek Minor Prophets scroll from Naḥal Ḥever, however, adds valuable evidence. Since this scroll from the turn of the era is already in revised Greek form, it indicates that the original Greek translation of the main prophetic books had also been accomplished at least by the first century B.C.E.

     Admittedly, the evidence for each criterion is only suggestive; but the combination is quite persuasive. It is clear that the books of the Torah and the Prophets (including Psalms and Daniel) were considered Scripture. Jubilees and 1 Enoch have a strong claim. Job and possibly Proverbs might qualify. But regarding the Former Prophets and the remainder of the Writings, it can only be claimed that the literature was known to the Qumran covenanters; it may or may not have been considered Scripture, though the presence of four copies of Canticles presumably indicates that it was read at least as spiritual allegory.

The Eerdmans Dictionary of Early Judaism

Take Heart
     June 12

     Even in darkness light dawns for the upright.
Psalm 112:4.

     There is a fourth beam of light, the awakening of the human conscience. (Classic Sermons on Suffering (Kregel Classic Sermons Series))

     One main function of the face of the suffering that we encounter all around us is to be a perpetual challenge to us to be cooperating with a burden-bearing God and to be giving ourselves in consecrated service for the healing of this broken earth.

     If poverty, unemployment, and war were the will of God, there would be no call for us to stir a finger to remove the sufferings they bring. But if these things are not the will of God at all but simply the product of human bungling and selfishness and sin, and if, accordingly, God’s mind and program for the race is that [these things] should one day be banished from the earth, then clearly we are not meant to lie down under them.

     He means us to be the agents of his purpose and the channels of his providence to one another.

     Yet we admit quite frankly that if these gleams of light were the sum-total of the comfort to be offered, one would hardly have the heart to dwell on it at all. For what men and women want most in the hour of trouble is not an answer to a problem but a power to carry them through. And, indeed, even if the best and most completely satisfying solution of the mystery of suffering were available, that would not alter the fact that the actual suffering itself—the grim reality in experience—would still be there to be endured.

     So we begin to see that there is a deeper question. The ultimate demand is not “Why has this happened to me?” but “How, seeing it has happened, am I to face it?” And when you see that, suddenly the New Testament comes right in. The New Testament is not much concerned about Why? But it is desperately and magnificently concerned about How? It does not offer you a theory and an explanation—it offers you a power and a victory.

     Most of us would say that the real crux of the whole problem of evil, the cruel sting of the thing, is the absolutely indiscriminate way in which trouble aims its blows with appalling indifference at those who deserve them and at those who do not deserve them in the least.

     Now we must press right in, until we reach the Holy Place, and there we shall see, coming forth to meet us, God’s answer—when we lift our eyes and gaze on a cross.
--- James S. Stewart

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

On This Day
     I Can Plod  June 12

     At nine o’clock on Thursday night, June 12, 1806, pioneer missionary William Carey, weary from the day’s labors, sat at his desk and wrote this letter in the flickering light of his oil lamp:

     I rose this day at a quarter before six, read a chapter in the Hebrew Bible, and spent the time till seven in private addresses to God and then attended family prayer with the servants in Bengalee. While tea was pouring out, I read a little in Persian with a Moonshi [a native assistant] who was waiting when I left my bedroom. Read also before breakfast a portion of the Scriptures in Hindoosthanee. The moment breakfast was over sat down to the translation of the Ramayuna [an Indian epic] from Sangskrit, with a Pundit … continued this translation till ten o’clock, at which time I went to College (Fort William), and attended the duties there (teaching Bengali, Sanskrit, and Marathi) till between one and two o’clock—When I returned home I examined a proof sheet of the Bengalee translation of Jeremiah, which took till dinner time. … After dinner translated with the assistance of the chief Pundit of the College, greatest part of the 8th Chap. of Matthew, into Sangskrit—this employed me till six o’clock, after six sat down with a Tilingua Pundit … to learn that Language. Mr. Thomas (son of the Rev. Tho. Thomas of London) called in the Evening; I began to collect a few previous thoughts into the form of a Sermon, at seven o’clock, and preached in English at half past seven. … The Congregation was gone by nine o’clock. I then sat down to write to you, after this I conclude the Evening by reading a Chapter in the Greek testament, and commending myself to God. I have never more time in a day than this, though the exercises vary.

     Eustace Carey said that her uncle never displayed resentment at interruptions. He could give visitors his undivided attention then return immediately to his work. And he never took a furlough from missionary service, living and working in India for nearly 41 years.

     “I can plod,” he once said. “To this I owe everything.”

     Teach us to use wisely all the time we have. --- Psalm 90:12.

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

Morning and Evening
     Daily Readings / CHARLES H. SPURGEON

          Morning - June 12

     “Thou art weighed in the balances and art found wanting.”
--- Daniel 5:27.

     It is well frequently to weigh ourselves in the scale of God’s Word. You will find it a holy exercise to read some psalm of David, and, as you meditate upon each verse, to ask yourself, “Can I say this? Have I felt as David felt? Has my heart ever been broken on account of sin, as his was when he penned his penitential Psalms? Has my soul been full of true confidence in the hour of difficulty as his was when he sang of God’s mercies in the cave of Adullam, or in the holds of Engedi? Do I take the cup of salvation and call upon the name of the Lord?” Then turn to the life of Christ, and as you read, ask yourselves how far you are conformed to his likeness. Endeavour to discover whether you have the meekness, the humility, the lovely spirit which he constantly inculcated and displayed. Take, then, the epistles, and see whether you can go with the apostle in what he said of his experience. Have you ever cried out as he did—“O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” Have you ever felt his self-abasement? Have you seemed to yourself the chief of sinners, and less than the least of all saints? Have you known anything of his devotion? Could you join with him and say, “For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain”? If we thus read God’s Word as a test of our spiritual condition, we shall have good reason to stop many a time and say, “Lord, I feel I have never yet been here, O bring me here! give me true penitence, such as this I read of. Give me real faith; give me warmer zeal; inflame me with more fervent love; grant me the grace of meekness; make me more like Jesus. Let me no longer be ‘found wanting,’ when weighed in the balances of the sanctuary, lest I be found wanting in the scales of judgment.” “Judge yourselves that ye be not judged.”

          Evening - June 12

     “Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling.”
--- 2 Timothy 1:9.

     The apostle uses the perfect tense and says, “Who hath saved us.” Believers in Christ Jesus are saved. They are not looked upon as persons who are in a hopeful state, and may ultimately be saved, but they are already saved. Salvation is not a blessing to be enjoyed upon the dying bed, and to be sung of in a future state above, but a matter to be obtained, received, promised, and enjoyed now. The Christian is perfectly saved in God’s purpose; God has ordained him unto salvation, and that purpose is complete. He is saved also as to the price which has been paid for him: “It is finished” was the cry of the Saviour ere he died. The believer is also perfectly saved in his covenant head, for as he fell in Adam, so he lives in Christ. This complete salvation is accompanied by a holy calling. Those whom the Saviour saved upon the cross are in due time effectually called by the power of God the Holy Spirit unto holiness: they leave their sins; they endeavour to be like Christ; they choose holiness, not out of any compulsion, but from the stress of a new nature, which leads them to rejoice in holiness just as naturally as aforetime they delighted in sin. God neither chose them nor called them because they were holy, but he called them that they might be holy, and holiness is the beauty produced by his workmanship in them. The excellencies which we see in a believer are as much the work of God as the atonement itself. Thus is brought out very sweetly the fulness of the grace of God. Salvation must be of grace, because the Lord is the author of it: and what motive but grace could move him to save the guilty? Salvation must be of grace, because the Lord works in such a manner that our righteousness is for ever excluded. Such is the believer’s privilege—a present salvation; such is the evidence that he is called to it—a holy life.

Morning and Evening

Amazing Grace
     June 12


     Elizabeth C. Clephane, 1830–1869

     There will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent. (Luke 15:7)

     The Bible teaches that man does not seek after God, but that God initiates the search for lost man. “The Ninety and Nine,” based on the parable in Luke 15:3–7, presents a vivid picture of this scriptural truth.

     Written for children by an invalid woman named Elizabeth Clephane in Melrose, Scotland, the text appeared in a newspaper and caught the attention of Ira Sankey, the well-known music associate of evangelist D. L. Moody. Since he was on the way to their next evangelistic meetings in Edinburgh, Scotland, Mr. Sankey simply tucked the poem in his vest pocket and thought no more of it. During the service that afternoon, Mr. Moody concluded his stirring message on the Good Shepherd and abruptly asked Ira to close with an appropriate solo. Startled, Sankey suddenly remembered the poem in his pocket. He related that he breathed a quick prayer for divine help, struck the chord of A flat on his little pump organ, and began to sing, composing the melody as he went. When Sankey reached the end of the song, both he and Mr. Moody were in tears. During the invitation, many “lost sheep” responded to the call of Christ.

     During their series of evangelistic meetings in Great Britain, Moody and Sankey held a service in Melrose, Scotland. The two sisters of Elizabeth Clephane were in the audience. To their surprise and delight, they heard their departed sister’s poem set to a melody and delivered by the noted Ira Sankey with great spiritual impact.

     There were ninety and nine that safely lay in the shelter of the fold, but one was out on the hills away, far off from the gates of gold—Away on the mountains wild and bare, away from the tender Shepherd’s care, away from the tender Shepherd’s care.

     “Lord, Thou hast here Thy ninety and nine; are thy not enough for Thee?” but the Shepherd made answer: “This of Mine has wandered away from Me. And altho’ the road be rough and steep, I go to the desert to find my sheep; I go to the desert to find My sheep.”

     But all thro’ the mountains, thunder-riv’n, and up from the rocky steep, there arose a glad cry to the gate of heav’n, “Rejoice! I have found My sheep!” And the angels echoed around the throne, “Rejoice, for the Lord brings back His own! Rejoice, for the Lord brings back His own.”

     For Today: Isaiah 55:7; Mark 2:17; Luke 15:3–7; 2 Peter 3:9.

     Lift your heart and voice in praise to God for sending His son to seek and find you when you were lost and indifferent to Him. Sing this portion of the hymn as you go ---

Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions

De Servo Arbitrio “On the Enslaved Will” or The Bondage of the Will
     Martin Luther | (1483-1546)

     Sect. LIII. — BUT I will attack the Diatribe itself. If thou really think, O Madam Reason! that these conclusions stand good, ‘If thou wilt — therefore thou hast a free power,’ why dost thou not follow the same thyself? For thou sayest, according to that ‘probable opinion,’ that “Free-will” cannot will any thing good. By what conclusion then can such a sentiment flow from this passage also, ‘if thou wilt keep,’ when thou sayest that the conclusion flowing from this, is, that man can will and not will freely? What! can bitter and sweet flow from the same fountain? Dost thou not here much more deride man thyself, when thou sayest, that he can keep that, which he can neither will nor choose? Therefore, neither dost thou, from thy heart, believe that this is a just conclusion, ‘if thou wilt — therefore thou hast a free power,’ although thou contendest for it with so much zeal, or, if thou dost believe it, then thou dost not, from thy heart, say, that that opinion is ‘probable,’ which holds that man cannot will good. Thus, reason is so caught in the conclusions and words of her own wisdom, that she knows not what she says, nor concerning what she speaks: nay, knows nothing but that which it is most right she should know — that “Free-will” is defended with such arguments as mutually devour, and put an end to each other; just as the Midianites destroyed each other by mutual slaughter, when they fought against Gideon and the people of God. Judges vii.

     Nay, I will expostulate more fully with this wisdom of the Diatribe. Ecclesiasticus does not say, ‘if thou shalt have the desire and the endeavour of keeping,’ (for this is not to be ascribed to that power of yours, as you have concluded) but he says, “if thou wilt keep the commandments they shall preserve thee.” Now then, if we, after the manner of your wisdom, wish to draw conclusions, we should infer thus: — therefore, man is able to keep the commandments. And thus, we shall not here make a certain small degree of desire, or a certain little effort of endeavour to be left in man, but we shall ascribe unto him the whole, full, and abundant power of keeping the commandments. Otherwise, Ecclesiasticus will be made to laugh at the misery of man, as commanding him to ‘keep,’ who, he knows, is not able to ‘keep.’ Nor would it have been sufficient if he had supposed the desire and the endeavour to be in the man, for he would not then have escaped the suspicion of deriding him, unless he had signified his having the full power of keeping.

     But however, let us suppose that that desire and endeavour of “Free-will” are a real something. What shall we say to those, (the Pelagians, I mean) who, from this passage, have denied grace in toto, and ascribed all to “Free-will?” If the conclusion of the Diatribe stand good, the Pelagians have evidently established their point. For the words of Ecclesiasticus speak of keeping, not of desiring or endeavouring. If, therefore, you deny the Pelagians their conclusion concerning keeping, they, in reply, will much more rightly deny you your conclusion concerning endeavouring. And if you take from them the whole of “Free-will,” they will take from you your remnant particle of it: for you cannot assert a remnant particle of that, which you deny in toto. In what degree soever, therefore, you speak against the Pelagians, who from this passage ascribe the whole to “Freewill,” in the same degree, and with much more determination, shall we speak against that certain small remnant desire of your “Free-will.” And in this, the Pelagians themselves will agree with us, that, if their opinion cannot be proved from this passage, much less will any other of the same kind be proved from it: seeing, that if the subject be to be conducted by conclusions, Ecclesiasticus, above all makes the most forcibly for the Pelagians: for he speaks in plain words concerning keeping only, “If thou wilt keep the commandments:” nay, he speaks also concerning faith, “If thou wilt keep the faith:” so that, by the same conclusion, keeping the faith ought also to be in our power, which, however, is the peculiar and precious gift of God.

     In a word, since so many opinions are brought forward in support of “Free-will,” and there is no one that does not catch at this passage of Ecclesiasticus in defence of itself; and since they are diverse from, and contrary to each other, it is impossible but that they must make Ecclesiasticus contradictory to, and diverse from themselves in the self same words; and therefore, they can from him prove nothing. Although, if that conclusion of yours be admitted, it will make for the Pelagians against all the others; and consequently, it makes against the Diatribe; which, in this passage, is stabbed by its own sword!

The Bondage of the Will   or   Christian Classics Ethereal Library

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