Joshua 9 - 11
The Gibeonite DeceptionJoshua 9:1 As soon as all the kings who were beyond the Jordan in the hill country and in the lowland all along the coast of the Great Sea toward Lebanon, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites, heard of this, 2 they gathered together as one to fight against Joshua and Israel.
3 But when the inhabitants of Gibeon heard what Joshua had done to Jericho and to Ai, 4 they on their part acted with cunning and went and made ready provisions and took worn-out sacks for their donkeys, and wineskins, worn-out and torn and mended, 5 with worn-out, patched sandals on their feet, and worn-out clothes. And all their provisions were dry and crumbly. 6 And they went to Joshua in the camp at Gilgal and said to him and to the men of Israel, “We have come from a distant country, so now make a covenant with us.” 7 But the men of Israel said to the Hivites, “Perhaps you live among us; then how can we make a covenant with you?” 8 They said to Joshua, “We are your servants.” And Joshua said to them, “Who are you? And where do you come from?” 9 They said to him, “From a very distant country your servants have come, because of the name of the Lord your God. For we have heard a report of him, and all that he did in Egypt, 10 and all that he did to the two kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan, to Sihon the king of Heshbon, and to Og king of Bashan, who lived in Ashtaroth. 11 So our elders and all the inhabitants of our country said to us, ‘Take provisions in your hand for the journey and go to meet them and say to them, “We are your servants. Come now, make a covenant with us.”’ 12 Here is our bread. It was still warm when we took it from our houses as our food for the journey on the day we set out to come to you, but now, behold, it is dry and crumbly. 13 These wineskins were new when we filled them, and behold, they have burst. And these garments and sandals of ours are worn out from the very long journey.” 14 So the men took some of their provisions, but did not ask counsel from the Lord. 15 And Joshua made peace with them and made a covenant with them, to let them live, and the leaders of the congregation swore to them.
16 At the end of three days after they had made a covenant with them, they heard that they were their neighbors and that they lived among them. 17 And the people of Israel set out and reached their cities on the third day. Now their cities were Gibeon, Chephirah, Beeroth, and Kiriath-jearim. 18 But the people of Israel did not attack them, because the leaders of the congregation had sworn to them by the Lord, the God of Israel. Then all the congregation murmured against the leaders. 19 But all the leaders said to all the congregation, “We have sworn to them by the Lord, the God of Israel, and now we may not touch them. 20 This we will do to them: let them live, lest wrath be upon us, because of the oath that we swore to them.” 21 And the leaders said to them, “Let them live.” So they became cutters of wood and drawers of water for all the congregation, just as the leaders had said of them.
22 Joshua summoned them, and he said to them, “Why did you deceive us, saying, ‘We are very far from you,’ when you dwell among us? 23 Now therefore you are cursed, and some of you shall never be anything but servants, cutters of wood and drawers of water for the house of my God.” 24 They answered Joshua, “Because it was told to your servants for a certainty that the Lord your God had commanded his servant Moses to give you all the land and to destroy all the inhabitants of the land from before you—so we feared greatly for our lives because of you and did this thing. 25 And now, behold, we are in your hand. Whatever seems good and right in your sight to do to us, do it.” 26 So he did this to them and delivered them out of the hand of the people of Israel, and they did not kill them. 27 But Joshua made them that day cutters of wood and drawers of water for the congregation and for the altar of the Lord, to this day, in the place that he should choose.
The Sun Stands StillJoshua 10:1 As soon as Adoni-zedek, king of Jerusalem, heard how Joshua had captured Ai and had devoted it to destruction, doing to Ai and its king as he had done to Jericho and its king, and how the inhabitants of Gibeon had made peace with Israel and were among them, 2 he feared greatly, because Gibeon was a great city, like one of the royal cities, and because it was greater than Ai, and all its men were warriors. 3 So Adoni-zedek king of Jerusalem sent to Hoham king of Hebron, to Piram king of Jarmuth, to Japhia king of Lachish, and to Debir king of Eglon, saying, 4 “Come up to me and help me, and let us strike Gibeon. For it has made peace with Joshua and with the people of Israel.” 5 Then the five kings of the Amorites, the king of Jerusalem, the king of Hebron, the king of Jarmuth, the king of Lachish, and the king of Eglon, gathered their forces and went up with all their armies and encamped against Gibeon and made war against it.
6 And the men of Gibeon sent to Joshua at the camp in Gilgal, saying, “Do not relax your hand from your servants. Come up to us quickly and save us and help us, for all the kings of the Amorites who dwell in the hill country are gathered against us.” 7 So Joshua went up from Gilgal, he and all the people of war with him, and all the mighty men of valor. 8 And the Lord said to Joshua, “Do not fear them, for I have given them into your hands. Not a man of them shall stand before you.” 9 So Joshua came upon them suddenly, having marched up all night from Gilgal. 10 And the Lord threw them into a panic before Israel, who struck them with a great blow at Gibeon and chased them by the way of the ascent of Beth-horon and struck them as far as Azekah and Makkedah. 11 And as they fled before Israel, while they were going down the ascent of Beth-horon, the Lord threw down large stones from heaven on them as far as Azekah, and they died. There were more who died because of the hailstones than the sons of Israel killed with the sword.
12 At that time Joshua spoke to the Lord in the day when the Lord gave the Amorites over to the sons of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel,
“Sun, stand still at Gibeon,
and moon, in the Valley of Aijalon.”
13 And the sun stood still, and the moon stopped,
until the nation took vengeance on their enemies.
15 So Joshua returned, and all Israel with him, to the camp at Gilgal.
Five Amorite Kings Executed16 These five kings fled and hid themselves in the cave at Makkedah. 17 And it was told to Joshua, “The five kings have been found, hidden in the cave at Makkedah.” 18 And Joshua said, “Roll large stones against the mouth of the cave and set men by it to guard them, 19 but do not stay there yourselves. Pursue your enemies; attack their rear guard. Do not let them enter their cities, for the Lord your God has given them into your hand.” 20 When Joshua and the sons of Israel had finished striking them with a great blow until they were wiped out, and when the remnant that remained of them had entered into the fortified cities, 21 then all the people returned safe to Joshua in the camp at Makkedah. Not a man moved his tongue against any of the people of Israel.
22 Then Joshua said, “Open the mouth of the cave and bring those five kings out to me from the cave.” 23 And they did so, and brought those five kings out to him from the cave, the king of Jerusalem, the king of Hebron, the king of Jarmuth, the king of Lachish, and the king of Eglon. 24 And when they brought those kings out to Joshua, Joshua summoned all the men of Israel and said to the chiefs of the men of war who had gone with him, “Come near; put your feet on the necks of these kings.” Then they came near and put their feet on their necks. 25 And Joshua said to them, “Do not be afraid or dismayed; be strong and courageous. For thus the Lord will do to all your enemies against whom you fight.” 26 And afterward Joshua struck them and put them to death, and he hanged them on five trees. And they hung on the trees until evening. 27 But at the time of the going down of the sun, Joshua commanded, and they took them down from the trees and threw them into the cave where they had hidden themselves, and they set large stones against the mouth of the cave, which remain to this very day.
28 As for Makkedah, Joshua captured it on that day and struck it, and its king, with the edge of the sword. He devoted to destruction every person in it; he left none remaining. And he did to the king of Makkedah just as he had done to the king of Jericho.
Conquest of Southern Canaan29 Then Joshua and all Israel with him passed on from Makkedah to Libnah and fought against Libnah. 30 And the Lord gave it also and its king into the hand of Israel. And he struck it with the edge of the sword, and every person in it; he left none remaining in it. And he did to its king as he had done to the king of Jericho.
31 Then Joshua and all Israel with him passed on from Libnah to Lachish and laid siege to it and fought against it. 32 And the Lord gave Lachish into the hand of Israel, and he captured it on the second day and struck it with the edge of the sword, and every person in it, as he had done to Libnah.
33 Then Horam king of Gezer came up to help Lachish. And Joshua struck him and his people, until he left none remaining.
34 Then Joshua and all Israel with him passed on from Lachish to Eglon. And they laid siege to it and fought against it. 35 And they captured it on that day, and struck it with the edge of the sword. And he devoted every person in it to destruction that day, as he had done to Lachish.
36 Then Joshua and all Israel with him went up from Eglon to Hebron. And they fought against it 37 and captured it and struck it with the edge of the sword, and its king and its towns, and every person in it. He left none remaining, as he had done to Eglon, and devoted it to destruction and every person in it.
38 Then Joshua and all Israel with him turned back to Debir and fought against it 39 and he captured it with its king and all its towns. And they struck them with the edge of the sword and devoted to destruction every person in it; he left none remaining. Just as he had done to Hebron and to Libnah and its king, so he did to Debir and to its king.
40 So Joshua struck the whole land, the hill country and the Negeb and the lowland and the slopes, and all their kings. He left none remaining, but devoted to destruction all that breathed, just as the Lord God of Israel commanded. 41 And Joshua struck them from Kadesh-barnea as far as Gaza, and all the country of Goshen, as far as Gibeon. 42 And Joshua captured all these kings and their land at one time, because the Lord God of Israel fought for Israel. 43 Then Joshua returned, and all Israel with him, to the camp at Gilgal.
Conquests in Northern CanaanJoshua 11:1 When Jabin, king of Hazor, heard of this, he sent to Jobab king of Madon, and to the king of Shimron, and to the king of Achshaph, 2 and to the kings who were in the northern hill country, and in the Arabah south of Chinneroth, and in the lowland, and in Naphoth-dor on the west, 3 to the Canaanites in the east and the west, the Amorites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, and the Jebusites in the hill country, and the Hivites under Hermon in the land of Mizpah. 4 And they came out with all their troops, a great horde, in number like the sand that is on the seashore, with very many horses and chariots. 5 And all these kings joined their forces and came and encamped together at the waters of Merom to fight against Israel.
6 And the Lord said to Joshua, “Do not be afraid of them, for tomorrow at this time I will give over all of them, slain, to Israel. You shall hamstring their horses and burn their chariots with fire.” 7 So Joshua and all his warriors came suddenly against them by the waters of Merom and fell upon them. 8 And the Lord gave them into the hand of Israel, who struck them and chased them as far as Great Sidon and Misrephoth-maim, and eastward as far as the Valley of Mizpeh. And they struck them until he left none remaining. 9 And Joshua did to them just as the Lord said to him: he hamstrung their horses and burned their chariots with fire.
10 And Joshua turned back at that time and captured Hazor and struck its king with the sword, for Hazor formerly was the head of all those kingdoms. 11 And they struck with the sword all who were in it, devoting them to destruction;[a] there was none left that breathed. And he burned Hazor with fire. 12 And all the cities of those kings, and all their kings, Joshua captured, and struck them with the edge of the sword, devoting them to destruction, just as Moses the servant of the Lord had commanded. 13 But none of the cities that stood on mounds did Israel burn, except Hazor alone; that Joshua burned. 14 And all the spoil of these cities and the livestock, the people of Israel took for their plunder. But every person they struck with the edge of the sword until they had destroyed them, and they did not leave any who breathed. 15 Just as the Lord had commanded Moses his servant, so Moses commanded Joshua, and so Joshua did. He left nothing undone of all that the Lord had commanded Moses.
16 So Joshua took all that land, the hill country and all the Negeb and all the land of Goshen and the lowland and the Arabah and the hill country of Israel and its lowland 17 from Mount Halak, which rises toward Seir, as far as Baal-gad in the Valley of Lebanon below Mount Hermon. And he captured all their kings and struck them and put them to death. 18 Joshua made war a long time with all those kings. 19 There was not a city that made peace with the people of Israel except the Hivites, the inhabitants of Gibeon. They took them all in battle. 20 For it was the Lord's doing to harden their hearts that they should come against Israel in battle, in order that they should be devoted to destruction and should receive no mercy but be destroyed, just as the Lord commanded Moses.
21 And Joshua came at that time and cut off the Anakim from the hill country, from Hebron, from Debir, from Anab, and from all the hill country of Judah, and from all the hill country of Israel. Joshua devoted them to destruction with their cities. 22 There was none of the Anakim left in the land of the people of Israel. Only in Gaza, in Gath, and in Ashdod did some remain. 23 So Joshua took the whole land, according to all that the Lord had spoken to Moses. And Joshua gave it for an inheritance to Israel according to their tribal allotments. And the land had rest from war.
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What I'm Reading
The Stuff We All Agree on When It Comes to Origins
By J. Warner Wallace 9/19/2016
I get the chance to speak around the country and talk about how we, as Christians, assemble circumstantial evidence related to the reliability of the Gospels and the existence of God. As a result, I meet all kinds of Christians who hold a variety of views related to the Genesis creation account. Many are “Literal Day” creationists, while others lean toward some version of “Gap Theory”, “Day-Age Creation Theory”, “Creation Revelation Theory”, “Progressive Creation Theory”, “Genesis Creation Day Theory” or “Genesis Literary Theory” Creationism. Some believe that the universe is very young, others that it is very old. Some believe that God created everything in the form we see it in today (as the result of some form of “instantaneous” creation); others that God shaped His creation through some process of progressive interaction. When you ask these folks about the Bible, all of them will tell you that they believe the Bible to be the inspired word of God. All will agree that the Bible is the final authority. All will tell you that they believe what the Bible teaches. Christians simply disagree on how to interpret the first book of Moses.
I’m sensitive to the variety of views held by Christians on this matter. I see the reasonable nature of every view; I recognize that each approach to Genesis chapter one has its own virtues and its own liabilities. I’m not discouraged by this reality, but encouraged that there are so many reasonable resolutions. I am discouraged, however, when we allow our fallen human nature to get the best of us. Rather than finding areas of agreement, most of us choose to divide over areas of divergence. Regardless of your position related to the Genesis account, I’d like to point out the areas where all of us, regardless of creation theory, agree. As Christians, we all affirm the following premises:
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.
RE: John 3:16
God’s love is ‘expended in self-giving, wholly expended, without residue or reserve, drained, exhausted, spent’. That is, in giving his Son, he gave himself. Next, God’s love is ‘expended in precarious endeavour, ever poised upon the brink of failure...’. (Failure? I don't agree) For he gave his Son to die, taking the risk (Risk? I don't agree) of yielding up control over himself. Thirdly, God’s love is seen ‘waiting in the end, helpless (Helpless? I don't agree) before that which it loves, for the response which shall be its tragedy or its triumph’. For in giving his Son to die for sinners, God made himself vulnerable to the possibility that they would snub him and turn away. (I do not see God's sovereignty this way. This was in God's mind before God created this world. God knows the end from the beginning. Even now as our culture self-destructs God is neither surprised or concerned. God's will ... will be done.) Love's Endeavour, Love's Expense
No theology is genuinely Christian which does not arise from and focus on the cross. In particular, by ‘the cross’ Professor Moltmann means more than anything else the cry of dereliction. It shows, he writes, that Jesus was not only rejected by the Jews as a blasphemer and executed by the Romans as a rebel, but actually condemned and abandoned by his Father (pp.149–152 The Crucified God ). It therefore prompts the question: ‘Who is God in the cross of the Christ who is abandoned by God?
All Christian theology and all Christian life is basically an answer to the question which Jesus asked as he died’ (p.4). That is why theology has to be developed ‘within earshot of the dying cry of Jesus’ (p.201). What, then, do we understand of God when we see the crucified Jesus and hear his derelict cry? We certainly see his willingness in love to identify with human rejects. For ‘the symbol of the cross in the church points to the God who was crucified not between two candles on an altar, but between two thieves in the place of the skull, where the outcasts belong, outside the gates of the city’ (p.40). And in that awful experience which ‘divides God from God to the utmost degree of enmity and distinction’ (p.152) we have to recognize that both Father and Son suffer the cost of their surrender, though differently. ‘The Son suffers dying, the Father suffers the death of the Son. The grief of the Father here is just as important as the death of the Son. The Fatherlessness of the Son is matched by the Sonlessness of the Father’ (p.243). It is an arresting phrase. My own wish, I confess, is that Professor Moltmann had emphasized more strongly that it was with the spiritually outcast, not just the socially outcast, that is to say, with sinners not just criminals, that Jesus identified on the cross. He could then have clarified both the nature and the cause of the terrible God-forsakenness. Nevertheless, his outspoken acceptance that the dereliction was real, and is the greatest evidence of God’s love, is moving. The Cross of Christ
A Big, Dangerous Universe is NOT Evidence Against God
By Lenny Esposito 3/3/2017
The recent discovery of the seven planets orbiting the TRAPPIST star has a lot of folks talking. As I wrote last week, even though they're labeled as "earth-like" and reside in what astronomers call the habitable zone, the idea that life could exist on them is remote in the extreme. The fact that our planet is so uniquely situated in just the right spot with just the right conditions around just the right kind of star provides strong evidence for design, like finding a cabin in the middle of an unpopulated forest.
Of course, others won't admit that our world shows marks of design. Some even offer the uniqueness of the earth as evidence against its design. I had one such interaction on Facebook where a gentleman names Simeon responded to my article by saying, "The rarity of habitable planets in the universe is actually evidence for a universe not designed for human habitation." After some interaction, he went on to claim "An all-powerful deity would not need to create an entire universe to support a single planet. He could have just made a single flat Earth with a dome over it, like some of the ancients believed." He finally summarized his position by writing "I think you are demonstrably wrong that the entire universe, as is, is required to support a single life-bearing planet. There is no way for planets around a distant star to have any bearing on Earth's habitability."
I don't know if Simeon holds is a theist or not; we never discussed that issue. However, I've met many atheists who argue along similar lines, holding the vastness of space as evidence against a universe created to sustain human life. Couldn't God create any old kind of universe he wanted? Why would he need to make the universe so big just for one "pale blue dot" as Carl Sagan put it?
Lenny Esposito is president and founder of Come Reason Ministries, a Christian apologetics organization, and author of the popular www.comereason.org Web site. He has taught apologetics and Christian worldview for over 17 years and has authored hundreds articles dealing with intellectually strenuous topics such as the existence of God, theology, philosophy, social issues and Biblical difficulties.
Lenny is an in-demand speaker, teaching at conferences, churches, and schools across the nation. He is a contributor to the popular Apologetics Study Bible for Students and his articles have appeared in the Los Angeles Times and the Southern California Christian Times. He has debated many topics on faith and reason and the rationality of the Christian worldview; his most recent debate being against well-known atheists and author Dr. Richard Carrier on the question "Does God Exist?"
Lenny is a pioneer in online ministry efforts when he began using the Web to reach others near its beginnings in 1995. He produces one of the top 16 apologetics podcasts according to Apologetics 315 and his site has been viewed millions of times by visitors from nearly every country in the world.
Lenny is a member of the Evangelical Philosophical Society and the Evangelical Theological Society.
By Gleason Archer Jr.
BIBLICAL CREATIONISM AND MODERN EVOLUTIONISM (cont)
Clark, Simpson, and their modern colleagues have therefore taken refuge in the theory of emergent evolution, which affirms that dramatic new forms arise by mere chance, or by some kind of creative response to new environmental factors which cannot be further analyzed or rationally described. But can such an explanation (which really is no explanation but only an appeal for faith) be considered a more reasonable alternative than the creative act of a superior intelligence? As Carl Henry puts it: “Supposition of abrupt emergence falls outside the field of scientific analysis just as fully as the appeal to supernatural creative forces.”
Despite the foregoing considerations, however (or perhaps in ignorance of them), there are many committed Christians who are prepared to accept the theory of evolution upon a theistic basis. That is to say, they profess adherence to the mechanistic process of natural selection (according to Darwin’s formulation), or even to the newer emergent theory of evolution; but they nevertheless insist that matter was not eternal (as nontheists must suppose), but that it was created by God ex nihilo. Furthermore, they regard the whole mechanism of the evolutionary process as devised and controlled by God, rather than by some mysterious force which cannot be entirely accounted for by science.
To those who hold this position it should be pointed out that historically the whole theory was elaborated in an effort to explain the development of life along purely natural mechanical principles, without the necessity of any divine influence whatever. Darwin and his colleagues made the most determined efforts to overthrow the argument for God’s existence based upon the evidence of design in nature, and exploited every conceivable instance of dysteleology and purposelessness which they could discover. They pointed to the fact that out of the many thousands of eggs laid by a mother fish a very small percentage ever survive to maturity, and that only a very few seeds deposited by fruitbearing trees ever live to produce new trees. (Thus the food supply afforded to other creatures by this overabundance of roe and fruit was conveniently ignored.) A consistent effort was made to explain the universe without God. For this reason, Darwinian evolution became the official philosophy of the leading atheistic movements of the twentieth century (such as the purest form of Nazism and of Marxist socialism). Darwin’s concession that a higher power may have provided the original raw material and vital impulse which started evolution at the beginning was nevertheless a complete negation of Hebrew-Christian revelation. It inevitably led to the result that moral and religious conceptions discoverable in mankind result from a mere fortuitous combination of molecules and have no counterpart in spiritual reality.
Evolution as a philosophy of world view really involves an outright denial of spiritual reality even as it rejects the existence of a personal God. All of its leading exponents have said as much in no uncertain terms. Ernst Haeckel’s Riddle of the Universe (1929) employed the evolutionary thesis to disprove supernatural religion and became thereby one of the major influences for atheism in the twentieth century. G. G. Simpson declared that a wholehearted acceptance of evolution is inconsistent with belief in the activity of God in the universe. Charles Darwin himself, during an interview with a newspaper reporter soon after the publication of the Origin of Species, simply shrugged his shoulders at the whole moral issue. When asked if it was not true that his book had shown every criminal how to justify his ways, he simply dubbed the accusation “a good squib” and let the matter drop. In view of such factors as these, it seems a very dubious procedure for a convinced Christian who means to be loyal to the authority of Scripture to acknowledge himself an evolutionist, except in a most restricted sense — in fact, in a sense utterly unacceptable to Darwin and all his followers. For a Christian, there is no alternative to identifying natural selection with divine selection, whether in a direct or an indirect sense.
Read The Psalms In "1" Year
Psalm 31Into Your Hand I Commit My Spirit
31 To The Choirmaster. A Psalm Of David.
1 In you, O LORD, do I take refuge;
let me never be put to shame;
in your righteousness deliver me!
2 Incline your ear to me;
rescue me speedily!
Be a rock of refuge for me,
a strong fortress to save me!
By Don Carson 7/7/2018
The account of the Gibeonite deception (Josh. 9) has its slightly amusing elements, as well as its serious point. There are the Israelites, poking around in moldy bread and holding serious conversations about the distance these emissaries must have traveled. Yet the sad fact is that they were snookered. What lessons should we learn from this?
First, many believers who have the courage to withstand direct assault do not have the sense to withstand deception. That is why in Revelation 13 the dragon has two beasts—one whose opposition is overt and cruel, and the other who is identified as the false prophet (see the meditation for December 22). That is also why in Acts 20 Paul warns the Ephesian elders not only of rapacious wolves that will try to ravage the flock of God, but also of the fact that from among their own number men will arise who will “distort the truth” (Acts 20:30). Such people never announce what they are doing: “We are now going to distort the truth!” The danger they represent lies in the fact that they are viewed as “safe,” and then from this secure vantage they advocate “progressive” positions that distort the Gospel.
The deceptive power may be tied to such overt tricks as flattery—the very device used by the Gibeonites (9:9-10). In our day, deception becomes all the easier to arrange because so many Christians are no longer greatly shaped by Scripture. It is difficult to unmask subtle error when it aligns with the culture, deploys spiritual God-talk, piously cites a passage or two, and “works.”
Second, the failure depicted in 9:14 has haunted many believers, and not only the ancient Israelites: “The men of Israel sampled their [the Gibeonites’] provisions but did not inquire of the LORD.” Doubtless their inquiring of the Lord would have been direct; perhaps the priests would have resorted to Urim and Thummim (see meditation for March 17). We shall never know, because the people felt they did not need the Lord’s guidance. Perhaps the flattery had made them cocksure. The fact that their decision was based on their estimate of how far these Gibeonites had come makes it obvious that they were aware of the danger of treaties with the Canaanites. The failure must therefore not be taken as a mere breach of devotions that day, a hastiness that forgot a magic step. The problem is deeper: there is an unseemly negligence that betrays an overconfidence that does not think it needs God in this case. Many a Christian leader has made disastrous mistakes when he or she has not taken time to seek God’s perspective, probing Scripture and asking him for the wisdom he has promised to give (James 1:5).
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
Isaiah’s Signature Uncovered in Jerusalem
By Megan Sauter 2/22/2018
Excavations in Jerusalem have unearthed what may be the first extra-Biblical evidence of the prophet Isaiah. Just south of the Temple Mount, in the Ophel excavations, archaeologist Eilat Mazar and her team have discovered a small seal impression that reads “[belonging] to Isaiah nvy.” The upper portion of the impression is missing, and its left side is damaged. Reconstructing a few Hebrew letters in this damaged area would cause the impression to read, “[belonging] to Isaiah the prophet.”
If the reconstruction stands, this may be the signature of the Biblical prophet Isaiah—the figure we encounter in the Books of 2 Kings, 2 Chronicles, and Isaiah. Eilat Mazar of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem announces this exciting discovery in her article “Is This the Prophet Isaiah’s Signature?” published in the special March/April/May/June 2018 double issue of Biblical Archaeology Review.
Mazar’s team found the seal impression in an undisturbed area of Iron Age debris (dated to the eighth–seventh centuries B.C.E.) right outside the southeastern wall of the royal bakery, a structure that had been integrated into the city’s fortifications and had operated until the Babylonian destruction of Jerusalem in 586 B.C.E. All of the excavated dirt from this area of the Ophel was wet-sifted, meaning that it was placed on a sifting screen and washed with water. This process revealed multiple finds—including Isaiah’s seal impression and an impression of the Judahite king Hezekiah—which had been missed during traditional excavation methods. Since each of these impressions has a diameter of about half an inch and is the same color as the dirt, it is easy to understand why they were not spotted in the field.
Isaiah’s seal impression—called a bulla—was created by first placing a soft piece of clay on top of a ligature tied around a linen bag. Isaiah’s seal was then pressed into the clay, thereby sealing the parcel with his personal signature. The clay hardened and survived through the centuries, thereby preserving Isaiah’s signature.
Although most of the upper half of Isaiah’s bulla is now missing and its left side is damaged, archaeologists have been able to identify its imagery and inscription from what remains. The bulla is divided into three registers. The remains of a grazing doe, a symbol of blessing, can be seen in the top register. Written in ancient Hebrew, the name Yesha‘yah[u] (the Hebrew form of Isaiah) appears in the middle register, and the letters nvy are visible in the lower register. If the Hebrew letter aleph were added to the end of the word nvy, it would then become the word nvy’ (“navy’”), which means “prophet” in Hebrew. It is likely that the Hebrew letter vav appeared at the end of the middle register, representing the final letter of “Isaiah” (the “u” of “Yesha‘yahu”). Further, if the definite article heh (“the”) were added to the end of the name Isaiah (after the vav), the seal impression would read “[belonging] to Isaiah the prophet.”
Megan Sauter is the Associate Editor at the Biblical Archaeology Society. She holds a Master’s in Biblical archaeology from Wheaton College and was a staff member of the Leon Levy Expedition to Ashkelon, most recently completing editorial work on Ashkelon V: The Land behind Ashkelon (Eisenbrauns, 2015).
By James Orr 1907
APPENDIX TO CHAPTER X | THE LATER HISTORICAL BOOKS
IT is not proposed to discuss at length the problems connected with the age, authorship, and credibility of the later historical books of the Old Testament. Incidentally the history in the later books has been defended in the preceding chapters, and will receive further illustration in the chapter on archæology. The Pentateuchal question is, as everyone acknowledges, the fundamental one in Old Testament criticism. If that stone can be dislodged, the critics have shaken the edifice of the Old Testament to its base. If the attack on that foundation is repelled, the succeeding history has not much to fear from assault. It will be sufficient here to indicate the bearings of the results already arrived at on the composition and authority of the later books.
I. We may briefly indicate, first, the bearing of the acceptance of the critical theory on the age and value of the books in question.
1. If the P element in the Pentateuch is of exilian or post-exilian date, then necessarily all assumed P sections in the Book of Joshua must be post-exilian also, and, on the theory, destitute of historical worth. This condemns, e.g., the whole account of the division of the land in the second half of Joshua. Similarly, all passages or allusions in later books, which imply the existence of P or its institutions must (or may) be held to be late. Everything of this nature, therefore, — tent of meeting, Levites, high priest, etc., — is usually struck out as interpolation. The Levitical representations in the Books of Chronicles are a priori discredited, and put out of court as worthless.
2. In the same way, if Deuteronomy is a composition of the age of Josiah, then all Deuteronomic sections, or revisions in the D style, of the historical books must be later than Deuteronomy, and cannot be taken as genuine history. Large sections of Joshua — the reading of the law on Mount Ebal, e.g., chap. 8:30 ff. — and of Judges, are thus discredited as the unhistorical work of a D1 or D2, etc. The Books of Kings are a late compilation from a Deuteronomic point of view, and exhibit a revision of the history in a Deuteronomic spirit which amounts, in its effect, to a falsification of it. The mystery is why this Deuteronomic revision has left nearly untouched the Books of Samuel, and, in view of most, the narratives of the Pentateuch.
3. If the JE narratives belong at earliest to the ninth or eighth centuries, a presumption is created, in the opinion of the critics, in favour of their legendary character, and all additions or redactions of members of the “school” must be later, and less trustworthy, still. As Deuteronomy rests on the JE histories, the late date of that book is held to be confirmed.
II. The matter presents itself in a very different light when looked at from the opposite point of view.
1. If the P sections in the Pentateuch are not of post-exilian date, but go back to early times, there is no need for putting the P sections in Joshua late; or for expunging the allusions to priesthood and tabernacle in the historical books; or even, on this ground, for discrediting the statements of the Books of Chronicles. Delitzsch, e.g., precisely inverting the usual style of argument, finds his conclusion that “the literary activity of the Elohistic pen reaches back to ancient times nearly approaching those of Moses” actually “confirmed by the Book of Joshua,” with its account of the division of the land. “Modern criticism,” he says, “indeed greatly depreciates the historical authority of the priestly narrator in matters relating to the history of the conquest; but the priestly narrator wrote also the main bulk of the account of the division, and this may lay claim to documentary authority. For that this history of the division is based upon written documents may be conjectured from its very nature, while the sēpher (book) of the commissioners entrusted with the task of describing the land (chap. 18:9 ), shows that the division of the land was carried out with legal accuracy.… It is therefore quite an arbitrary assertion, at least with respect to the history of the division, that the priestly narrator of the Book of Joshua was of more recent times than the Jehovist and the Deuteronomian, and it is certainly possible that the Deuteronomian himself composed and formed the Book of Joshua from Jehovistic and Elohistic models.”
2. If Deuteronomy is not late, but early, and if the discourses contained in it are in substance really Mosaic, then the reason falls for discrediting the D sections and colouring in Joshua, Judges, and Kings. A good deal, we shall see below, is taken for granted in speaking of “Deuteronomic” revision. In any case, assuming such to be present, it neither, on the view we uphold, argues late date nor unhistorical presentation. There is no longer ground, e.g., for questioning the genuineness in substance of such speeches as Solomon’s at the dedication of the temple ( 1 Kings 8 ), or the justice of the condemnation of the toleration of high places; or for regarding these “Deuteronomic” speeches as compositions of an exilian compiler. We do not deny that there may be a measure of freedom in the reproduction of the speeches, but they need not on that account be late, or untrue to the occasion on which they were delivered.
III. The critical treatment of the historical books is itself a strong argument for the second of these views rather than the first. Not only does the critical hypothesis imply invention and falsification of history on an unprecedented scale, but it results in a disintegration of the books in a fashion as complicated and bewildering as in the Pentateuch analysis, and often, as the radical disagreement of critics shows, as assumptive and arbitrary.
The Book of Joshua has already been referred to. A few remarks may be made on the others.
In general, it is not denied that the historical books are compilations, for the most part, from older writings, which criticism is quite within its rights in endeavouring to distinguish if it can. It is the fact that the books embody old and authentic material which gives them their value. The narratives incorporated in the Book of Judges, e.g., must in many cases have taken shape not long after the events which they relate, — the Song of Deborah is practically contemporary, — and the sources of the Books of Samuel are, in like manner, very old. There seems no ground for doubting the view, borne out by the notices in the later books, that the prophets themselves — from Samuel on — acted as the sacred “historiographers” of their nation, and that it is to narratives composed by them that we owe the greater part of the material embodied in our canonical writings (hence the name “former prophets” applied to Joshua — 2 Kings, excepting Ruth ). What is objected to is not a cautious discrimination based on the clear phenomena of the books, but the assumption of the ability to dissect a historic book into its minutest parts, and distribute out the fragments to writers of widely separated ages, with frequently a wholesale impeachment of the integrity of the composers.
1. We take the Book of Judges as a first example. In Kautzsch, who is by no means the extremest of the critics, we have the book parcelled out into a great number of elements. We have H1, an older stratum of Hero - Stories, constituting the nucleus of the book; H2, Hero-Stories from the early kingly period; ri, fragments of a list of Judges from the later kingly period; Ri, the first Deuteronomic compiler; N and N1 pre-Deuteronomic compilers of the narratives in the appendix (“chaps. 20, 21 originally came from this source, but have been thoroughly revised by a hand related to the Priests’ Code”); R, the post-exilic editor or editors of the present book. In addition there are “later glosses” and “passages of doubtful origin” (Jephthah). As showing the minuteness of the analysis, we may give the parts attributed to N1 — “ 17:2–4, 6, 12; 18:1a, 2*, 7*, 10b, 14*, 15*, 18*, 20*, 30.” The asterisks mean worked over by redactors. Does criticism here by its very minuteness not destroy confidence in itself?
It is the Deuteronomic editor of Judges who, we are told, has supplied the introduction and unhistorical “scheme” of the book, representing the alternate declensions and repentances of the people, with their corresponding experiences of oppression and deliverance. This is declared to be doubly unhistorical: (1) As picturing the people as a unity, “acting together, suffering together, repenting together, ruled over as a whole by one judge at a time,” whereas “up to that time the Hebrew tribes had no such sense of unity”; and (2) as crediting them with a religious knowledge and ideal of duty they did not possess. ‘There is no conception of spiritual worship or moral duty in the book.” On which representations three things, in reply, may be said:—
(1) Is it perfectly clear — König at least thinks not — that the introduction and framework are Deuteronomic in the sense intended? But whether they are or not, it is still to be shown that the representation of alternate declension and deliverance given as the interpretation of the history is false to the facts. Professor Robertson points out very pertinently that the summary in Judges gives precisely the same picture of the people’s behaviour as the prophets give after. It is not the Book of Judges simply, but Israel’s whole representation of its history — early and late — that is challenged.
(2) It is at least an exaggeration to say that Israel had no sense of its unity. There are the best grounds for believing that Israel, in the initial stages of the conquest, acted as one people under Joshua, and even when the tribes settled in their various regions, this sense of unity was never wholly lost. A consciousness of unity is already very strongly expressed in the Song of Deborah, and in chaps. 20, 21, which for that very reason (as by Thatcher) is made post-exilian. A critic like König says: “The assertion that in the time of the Judges ‘a common acting on the part of the twelve tribes of Israel is excluded’ (Budde on chaps. 19–21 ) is quite ungrounded.… If in the period of the Judges one could not entertain the notion that a common danger to Israel could not be warded off by the common action of all the tribes, one could not have blamed those tribes which kept aloof in the struggle against the northern Canaanites ( Judg. 5:15–17).” “It is not only in prose,” says Dr. A. B. Davidson, “that this mode of speech prevails, in which it might be due to later conceptions, and to a point of view taken after the rise of the kingdom; the same manner of speaking appears in the Song of Deborah.… In spite of actual disintegration, the conception of an Israel forming a unity, the people of Jehovah, appears everywhere.”
(3) It is a still greater exaggeration to say that there is “no conception of spiritual worship or moral duty” in the book. Higher religious and moral conceptions, mingling with the ruder elements, are implied, not simply in the recurrent narratives of repentance, and in the lofty strains of the Song of Deborah, but in the admitted fact that the conditions had in them the germ of the “spiritual and ethical worship” to which the people afterwards attained, and in the possibility, even, of such a religious revival as we find under Samuel. We do not envy the reader who can see no evidences of a spiritual faith in the history of a man like Gideon. Is there not through all the history a vein of recognition of obligation to Jehovah, of a law of righteous providential requital, of the heinousness of wanton cruelty and unrestrained licentiousness? The beautiful family history of Ruth also has to be relegated to the region of post-exilian fiction before the utter lack of spiritual religion can be made out.
The Pilgrim's Progress From This World To That Which Is To Come;
Delivered Under The Similitude Of A Dream (Part 2)
By John Bunyan 1678
THE EIGHTH STAGEWhen they were gone from the shepherds, they quickly came to the place where Christian met with one Turn-away that dwelt in the town of Apostasy. Wherefore of him Mr. Great-Heart their guide now put them in mind, saying, This is the place where Christian met with one Turn-away, who carried with him the character of his rebellion at his back. And this I have to say concerning this man; he would hearken to no counsel, but once a falling, persuasion could not stop him.
When he came to the place where the cross and sepulchre were, he did meet with one that did bid him look there; but he gnashed with his teeth, and stamped, and said he was resolved to go back to his own town. Before he came to the gate, he met with Evangelist, who offered to lay hands on him, to turn him into the way again; but this Turn-away resisted him, and having done much despite unto him, he got away over the wall, and so escaped his hand.
Then they went on; and just at the place where Little-Faith formerly was robbed, there stood a man with his sword drawn, and his face all over with blood. Then said Mr. Great-Heart, Who art thou? The man made answer, saying, I am one whose name is Valiant-for-truth. I am a pilgrim, and am going to the Celestial City.
Now, as I was in my way, there were three men that did beset me, and propounded unto me these three things: 1. Whether I would become one of them. 2. Or go back from whence I came. 3. Or die upon the place.
Prov. 1:11–14 11 If they say, “Come with us, let us lie in wait for blood;
let us ambush the innocent without reason;
12 like Sheol let us swallow them alive,
and whole, like those who go down to the pit;
13 we shall find all precious goods,
we shall fill our houses with plunder;
14 throw in your lot among us;
we will all have one purse” ESV
— To the first I answered, I had been a true man for a long season, and therefore it could not be expected that I should now cast in my lot with thieves. Then they demanded what I would say to the second. So I told them that the place from whence I came, had I not found incommodity there, I had not forsaken it at all; but finding it altogether unsuitable to me, and very unprofitable for me, I forsook it for this way. Then they asked me what I said to the third. And I told them my life cost far more dear than that I should lightly give it away. Besides, you have nothing to do thus to put things to my choice; wherefore at your peril be it if you meddle. Then these three, to wit, Wild-head, Inconsiderate, and Pragmatic, drew upon me, and I also drew upon them. So we fell to it, one against three, for the space of above three hours. They have left upon me, as you see, some of the marks of their valor, and have also carried away with them some of mine. They are but just now gone; I suppose they might, as the saying is, hear your horse dash, and so they betook themselves to flight.
GREAT. But here was great odds, three against one.
VALIANT. ’Tis true; but little and more are nothing to him that has the truth on his side: “Though an host should encamp against me,” said one,
Psa. 27:3 Though an army encamp against me,
my heart shall not fear;
though war arise against me,
yet I will be confident. ESV
“my heart shall not fear: though war should rise against me, in this will I be confident,” etc. Besides, said he, I have read in some records, that one man has fought an army: and how many did Samson slay with the jawbone of an ass!
GREAT. Then said the guide, Why did you not cry out, that some might have come in for your succor?
VALIANT. So I did to my King, who I knew could hear me, and afford invisible help, and that was sufficient for me.
GREAT. Then said Great-Heart to Mr. Valiant-for-truth, Thou hast worthily behaved thyself; let me see thy sword. So he showed it him.
When he had taken it in his hand, and looked thereon awhile, he said, Ha, it is a right Jerusalem blade.
VALIANT. It is so. Let a man have one of these blades, with a hand to wield it, and skill to use it, and he may venture upon an angel with it. He need not fear its holding, if he can but tell how to lay on. Its edge will never blunt. It will cut flesh and bones, and soul, and spirit, and all.
Heb. 4:12 For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. ESV
GREAT. But you fought a great while; I wonder you was not weary.
VALIANT. I fought till my sword did cleave to my hand; and then they were joined together as if a sword grew out of my arm; and when the blood ran through my fingers, then I fought with most courage.
GREAT. Thou hast done well; thou hast resisted unto blood, striving against sin. Thou shalt abide by us, come in and go out with us; for we are thy companions. Then they took him and washed his wounds, and gave him of what they had, to refresh him: and so they went together.
Pilgrim's Progress (Illustrated): Updated, Modern English. More than 100 Illustrations.
The Institutes of the Christian Religion
Translated by Henry Beveridge
31. But since they also arm themselves with passages of Scripture, let
us see what the arguments are which they employ. David, they say, when
upbraided by Nathan the Prophet for adultery and murder, receives
pardon of the sin, and yet by the death of the son born of adultery is
afterwards punished (2 Sam. 12:13, 14). Such punishments which were to
be inflicted after the remission of the guilt, we are taught to ransom
by satisfactions. For Daniel exhorted Nebuchadnezzar: "Break off thy
sins by righteousness, and thine iniquities by showing mercy to the
poor," (Dan. 4:27). And Solomon says, "by mercy and truth iniquity is
purged" (Prov. 16:6); and again, "love covereth all sins," (Prov.
10:12). This sentiment is confirmed by Peter (1 Pet. 4:8). Also in
Luke, our Lord says of the woman that was a sinner, "Her sins, which
are many, are forgiven; for she loved much," (Luke 7:47). How perverse
and preposterous the judgment they ever form of the doings of God!
 Had they observed, what certainly they ought not to have
overlooked, that there are two kinds of divine judgment, they would
have seen in the correction of David a very different form of
punishment from that which must be thought designed for vengeance. But
since it in no slight degree concerns us to understand the purpose of
God in the chastisements by which he animadverts upon our sins and how
much they differ from the exemplary punishments which he indignantly
inflicts on the wicked and reprobate, I think it will not be improper
briefly to glance at it. For the sake of distinction, we may call the
one kind of judgment punishment, the other chastisement. In judicial
punishment, God is to be understood as taking vengeance on his enemies,
by displaying his anger against them, confounding, scattering, and
annihilating them. By divine punishment, properly so called, let us
then understand punishment accompanied with indignation. In judicial
chastisement, he is offended, but not in wrath; he does not punish by
destroying or striking down as with a thunderbolt. Hence it is not
properly punishment or vengeance, but correction and admonition. The
one is the act of a judge, the other of a father. When the judge
punishes a criminal, he animadverts upon the crime, and demands the
penalty. When a father corrects his son sharply, it is not to mulct or
avenge, but rather to teach him, and make him more cautious for the
future. Chrysostom in his writings employs a simile which is somewhat
different, but the same in purport. He says, "A son is whipt, and a
slave is whipt, but the latter is punished as a slave for his offense:
the former is chastised as a free-born son, standing in need of
correction." The correction of the latter is designed to prove and
amend him; that of the former is scourging and punishment.
32. To have a short and clear view of the whole matter, we must make two distinctions. First, whenever the infliction is designed to avenge, then the curse and wrath of God displays itself. This is never the case with believers. On the contrary, the chastening of God carries his blessing with it, and is an evidence of love, as Scripture teaches.  This distinction is plainly marked throughout the word of God. All the calamities which the wicked suffer in the present life are depicted to us as a kind of anticipation of the punishment of hell. In these they already see, as from a distance, their eternal condemnation; and so far are they from being thereby reformed, or deriving any benefit, that by such preludes they are rather prepared for the fearful doom which finally awaits them. The Lord chastens his servants sore, but does not give them over unto death (Ps. 118:18). When afflicted, they acknowledge it is good for them, that they may learn his statutes (Ps. 119:71). But as we everywhere read that the saints received their chastisements with placid mind, so inflictions of the latter kind they always most earnestly deprecated. "O Lord, correct me," says Jeremiah, "but with judgment; not in thine anger, lest thou bring me to nothing. Pour out thy furry upon the heathen that know thee not, and upon the families that call not on thy name," (Jer. 10:24-25). David says "O Lord, rebuke me not in thine anger, neither chasten me in thy hot displeasure" (Ps. 6:1). There is nothing inconsistent with this in its being repeatedly said, that the Lord is angry with his saints when he chastens them for their sins (Ps. 38:7). In like manner, in Isaiah, "And in that day thou shalt say, O Lord, I will praise thee: though thou west angry with me, thine anger is turned away, and thou comfortedst me," (Isa. 12:1). Likewise in Habakkuk, "In wrath remember mercy," (Hab. 3:2); and in Micah, "I will bear the indignation of the Lord, because I have sinned against him," (Mic. 7:9). Here we are reminded not only that those who are justly punished gain nothing by murmuring, but that believers obtain a mitigation of their pain by reflecting on the divine intention. For the same reason, he is said to profane his inheritance; and yet we know that he will never profane it. The expression refers not to the counsel or purpose of God in punishing, but to the keen sense of pain, endured by those who are visited with any measure of divine severity. For the Lord not only chastens his people with a slight degree of austerity, but sometimes so wounds them, that they seem to themselves on the very eve of perdition. He thus declares that they have deserved his anger, and it is fitting so to do, that they may be dissatisfied with themselves for their sins, may be more careful in their desires to appease God, and anxiously hasten to seek his pardon; still, at this very time, he gives clearer evidence of his mercy than of his anger. For He who cannot deceive has declared, that the covenant made with us in our true Solomon  stands fast and will never be broken, "If his children forsake my law, and walk not in my judgments; if they break my statutes, and keep not my commandments; then will I visit their transgressions with the rod, and their iniquity with stripes. Nevertheless, my loving-kindness will I not utterly take from him, nor suffer my faithfulness to fail," (Ps. 89:31-34). To assure us of this mercy, he says, that the rod with which he will chastise the posterity of Solomon will be the "rod of men," and "the stripes of the children of men," (2 Sam. 7:14). While by these terms he denotes moderation and levity, he, at the same time, intimates, that those who feel the hand of God opposed to them cannot but tremble and be confounded. How much regard he has to this levity in chastening his Israel he shows by the Prophet, "Behold, I have refined thee, but not with silver; I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction," (Isa. 48:10). Although he tells them that they are chastisements with a view to purification, he adds, that even these are so tempered, that they are not to be too much crushed by them. And this is very necessary, for the more a man reveres God, and devotes himself to the cultivation of piety, the more tender he is in bearing his anger (Ps. 90:11; and ibid. Calv). The reprobate, though they groan under the lash,  yet because they weigh not the true cause, but rather turn their back, as well upon their sins as upon the divine judgment, become hardened in their stupor; or, because they murmur and kick, and so rebel against their judge, their infatuated violence fills them with frenzy and madness. Believers, again, admonished by the rod of God, immediately begin to reflect on their sins, and, struck with fear and dread, retake themselves as suppliants to implore mercy. Did not God mitigate the pains by which wretched souls are excruciated, they would give way a hundred times, even at slight signs of his anger.
33. The second distinction is, that when the reprobate are brought under the lash of God, they begin in a manner to pay the punishment due to his justice; and though their refusal to listen to these proofs of the divine anger will not escape with impunity, still they are not punished with the view of bringing them to a better mind, but only to teach them by dire experience that God is a judge and avenger. The sons of God are beaten with rods, not that they may pay the punishment due to their faults, but that they may thereby be led to repent. Accordingly, we perceive that they have more respect to the future than to the past. I prefer giving this in the words of Chrysostom rather than my own: "His object in imposing a penalty upon us, is not to inflict punishment on our sins but to correct us for the future," (Chrysost. Serm. de Poenit. et Confess). So also Augustine, "The suffering at which you cry, is medicine, not punishment; chastisement, not condemnation. Do not drive away the rod, if you would not be driven away from the inheritance. Know, brethren, that the whole of that misery of the human race, under which the world groans, is a medicinal pain, not a penal sentence," (August. in Psal. 102, circa finem). It seemed proper to quote these passages, lest any one should think the mode of expression which I have used to be novel or uncommon. To the same effect are the indignant terms in which the Lord expostulates with his people, for their ingratitude in obstinately despising all his inflictions. In Isaiah he says, "Why should ye be stricken any more? ye will revolt more and more. The whole head is sick and the whole heart faint," (Isa. 1:5, 6). But as such passages abound in the Prophets, it is sufficient briefly to have shown, that the only purpose of God in punishing his Church is to subdue her to repentance. Thus, when he rejected Saul from the kingdoms he punished in vengeance (1 Sam. 15:23); when he deprived David of his child, he chastised for amendment (2 Sam. 12:18). In this sense Paul is to be understood when he says, "When we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world," (1 Cor. 11:32); that is, while we as sons of God are afflicted by our heavenly Father's hand, it is not punishment to confound, but only chastisement to train us. On this subject Augustine is plainly with us (De Peccator. Meritis ac Remiss. Lib. 2 cap. 33, 34). For he shows that the punishments with which men are equally chastened by God are to be variously considered; because the saints after the forgiveness of their sins have struggles and exercises, the reprobate without forgiveness are punished for their iniquity. Enumerating the punishments inflicted on David and other saints, he says, it was designed, by thus humbling them, to prove and exercise their piety. The passage in Isaiah, in which it is said, "Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished that her iniquity is pardoned; for she has received of the Lord's hands double for all her sins," (Isa. 40:2), proves not that the pardon of sin depends on freedom from punishment. It is just as if he had said, Sufficient punishment has now been exacted; as for their number and heinousness you have long been oppressed with sorrow and mourning, it is time to send you a message of complete mercy, that your minds may be filled with joy on feeling me to be a Father. For God there assumes the character of a father who repents even of the just severity which he has been compelled to us, towards his son.
34. These are the thoughts with which the believer ought to be provided in the bitterness of affliction, "The time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God," "the city which is called by my name," (1 Pet. 4:17; Jer. 25:29). What could the sons of God do, if they thought that the severity which they feel was vengeance? He who, smitten by the hand of God, thinks that God is a judge inflicting punishment, cannot conceive of him except as angry and at enmity with him; cannot but detest the rod of God as curse and condemnation; in short, Can never persuade himself that he is loved by God, while he feels that he is still disposed to inflict punishment upon him. He only profits under the divine chastening who considers that God, though offended with his sins, is still propitious and favorable to him. Otherwise, the feeling must necessarily be what the Psalmist complains that he had experienced, "Thy wrath lieth hard upon me, and thou hast afflicted me with all thy waves." Also what Moses says, "For we are consumed by thine anger, and by thy wrath we are troubled. Thou hast set our iniquities before thee, our secret sins in the light of thy countenance. For all our days are passed away in thy wrath; we spend our years as a tale that is told," (Ps. 90:7-9). On the other hand, David speaking of fatherly chastisements, to show how believers are more assisted than oppressed by them, thus sings "Blessed is the man whom thou chastenest, O Lord, and teachest him out of thy law; that thou mayest give him rest from the days of adversity, until the pit be digged for the wicked," (Ps. 94:12, 13). It is certainly a sore temptation, when God, sparing unbelievers and overlooking their crimes, appears more rigid towards his own people. Hence, to solace them, he adds the admonition of the law which teaches them, that their salvation is consulted when they are brought back to the right path, whereas the wicked are borne headlong in their errors, which ultimately lead to the pit. It matters not whether the punishment is eternal or temporary. For disease, pestilence, famine, and war, are curses from God, as much as even the sentence of eternal death, whenever their tendency is to operate as instruments of divine wrath and vengeance against the reprobate.
35. All, if I mistake not, now see what view the Lord had in chastening David, namely, to prove that murder and adultery are most offensive to God, and to manifest this offensiveness in a beloved and faithful servant, that David himself might be taught never again to dare to commit such wickedness; still, however, it was not a punishment designed in payment of a kind of compensation to God. In the same way are we to judge of that other correction, in which the Lord subjects his people to a grievous pestilence, for the disobedience of David in forgetting himself so far as to number the people. He indeed freely forgave David the guilt of his sin; but because it was necessary, both as a public example to all ages and also to humble David himself, not to allow such an offense to go unpunished, he chastened him most sharply with his whip. We ought also to keep this in view in the universal curse of the human race. For since after obtaining grace we still continue to endure the miseries denounced to our first parent as the penalty of transgression, we ought thereby to be reminded, how offensive to God is the transgression of his law, that thus humbled and dejected by a consciousness of our wretched condition, we may aspire more ardently to true happiness. But it were most foolish in any one to imagine, that we are subjected to the calamities of the present life for the guilt of sin. This seems to me to have been Chrysostom's meaning when he said, "If the purpose of God in inflicting punishment is to bring those persisting in evil to repentance, when repentance is manifested punishment would be superfluous," (Chrysos. Homily. 3 de Provid.). Wherefore, as he knows what the disposition of each requires, he treats one with greater harshness and another with more indulgence. Accordingly, when he wishes to show that he is not excessive in exacting punishment, he upbraids a hard hearted and obstinate people, because, after being smitten, they still continued in sin (Jer. 5:3). In the same sense he complains, that "Ephraim is a cake not turned" (Hos. 7:8), because chastisement did not make a due impression on their minds, and, correcting their vices, make them fit to receive pardon. Surely he who thus speaks shows, that as soon as any one repents he will be ready to receive him, and that the rigor which he exercises in chastising faults is wrung from him by our perverseness, since we should prevent him by a voluntary correction. Such, however, being the hardness and rudeness of all hearts, that they stand universally in need of castigation, our infinitely wise Parent has seen it meet to exercise all without exception, during their whole lives, with chastisement. It is strange how they fix their eyes so intently on the one example of David, and are not moved by the many examples in which they might have beheld the free forgiveness of sins. The publican is said to have gone down from the temple justified (Luke 18:14); no punishment follows. Peter obtained the pardon of his sin (Luke 22:61). "We read of his tears," says Ambrose (Serm. 46, De Poenit. Petri), "we read not of satisfaction." To the paralytic it is said, "Son, be of good cheer; thy sina be forgiven thee," (Mt. 9:2); no penance is enjoined. All the acts of forgiveness mentioned in Scripture are gratuitous. The rule ought to be drawn from these numerous examples, rather than from one example which contains a kind of specialty.
Christian Classics Ethereal Library / Public Domain
Institutes of the Christian Religion
The Continual Burnt Offering
By H.A. Ironside - 1941
March 131 Chronicles 9:33 Now these, the singers, the heads of fathers’ houses of the Levites, were in the chambers of the temple free from other service, for they were on duty day and night.
1 Chronicles 6:31 These are the men whom David put in charge of the service of song in the house of the LORD after the ark rested there. 32 They ministered with song before the tabernacle of the tent of meeting until Solomon built the house of the LORD in Jerusalem, and they performed their service according to their order. 33 These are the men who served and their sons. Of the sons of the Kohathites: Heman the singer the son of Joel, son of Samuel,
1 Chronicles 15:16 David also commanded the chiefs of the Levites to appoint their brothers as the singers who should play loudly on musical instruments, on harps and lyres and cymbals, to raise sounds of joy. 17 So the Levites appointed Heman the son of Joel; and of his brothers Asaph the son of Berechiah; and of the sons of Merari, their brothers, Ethan the son of Kushaiah; 18 and with them their brothers of the second order, Zechariah, Jaaziel, Shemiramoth, Jehiel, Unni, Eliab, Benaiah, Maaseiah, Mattithiah, Eliphelehu, and Mikneiah, and the gatekeepers Obed-edom and Jeiel. 19 The singers, Heman, Asaph, and Ethan, were to sound bronze cymbals; 20 Zechariah, Aziel, Shemiramoth, Jehiel, Unni, Eliab, Maaseiah, and Benaiah were to play harps according to Alamoth; 21 but Mattithiah, Eliphelehu, Mikneiah, Obed-edom, Jeiel, and Azaziah were to lead with lyres according to the Sheminith. 22 Chenaniah, leader of the Levites in music, should direct the music, for he understood it.
1 Chronicles 16:4 Then he appointed some of the Levites as ministers before the ark of the LORD, to invoke, to thank, and to praise the LORD, the God of Israel. 5 Asaph was the chief, and second to him were Zechariah, Jeiel, Shemiramoth, Jehiel, Mattithiah, Eliab, Benaiah, Obed-edom, and Jeiel, who were to play harps and lyres; Asaph was to sound the cymbals, 6 and Benaiah and Jahaziel the priests were to blow trumpets regularly before the ark of the covenant of God.
1 Chronicles 25:1 David and the chiefs of the service also set apart for the service the sons of Asaph, and of Heman, and of Jeduthun, who prophesied with lyres, with harps, and with cymbals. The list of those who did the work and of their duties was: ESV
Is singing work? It is certainly not labor in the sense of toilsome effort. But we read of the “service of song.” And when our hearts are lifted up to God in praise and our lips sing thanksgivings to His name, it is indeed a work in which He finds delight. He has said, “Whoever offers praise glorifies Me” (Psalm 50:23). Of old the Levites, who were set apart for the special ministry of song, were “employed in that work day and night.” It is no light thing to be appointed to lead the praises of God’s people. It is a blessed and joyous service in which the heart must be continually occupied. Paul and Silas were true singing Levites, even in a prison cell with their feet fast in the stocks. It is God alone who gives songs in the night.
Psalm 50:23 The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me;
to one who orders his way rightly
I will show the salvation of God!”
25 About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them, 26 and suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken. And immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone’s bonds were unfastened. ESV
When shadowed in the darkness,
And pressed by every foe,
Then let your gladdest carols
And sweetest anthems flow;
The praise so sweet to Jesus,
The “sacrifice of praise,”
Is when no earthly sunshine
Pours forth its cheering rays.
‘Tis then your song is wafted
All human heights above,
And mingles with the angels’
In realms of perfect love;
‘Tis then the God of Glory
Makes Satan fear and flee,
And sends a mighty earthquake
To set His ransomed free.
Devotionals, notes, poetry and more
Break your alabaster jar (2)
3/13/2018 Bob Gass
‘More than a year’s wages.’
(Mk 14:5) For this ointment could have been sold for more than three hundred denarii and given to the poor.” And they scolded her. ESV
It’s possible the alabaster jar of perfume represented every penny of this woman’s life savings. The value is evidenced by the fact that two gospel writers find it noteworthy enough to give us a written estimate: three hundred denarii – the equivalent of an entire year’s salary. Let’s get down to brass tacks. For most of us, the alabaster jar of perfume is money. It’s our nest egg. It’s our pay cheque. It’s our retirement fund. And the question is this: are you willing to give it all away? We’re not suggesting you should not pay your bills or plan for your future or take care of your family. But if God prompted you to give it all away, would you be willing to break your alabaster jar and pour it all at the feet of Jesus? During his lifetime, John Wesley gave away approximately thirty thousand pounds. Adjusted for inflation, that’s more than £1,350,000 in today’s money. Wesley made a covenant with God in 1731 to limit his income to twenty-eight pounds a year. But the first year he made only thirty pounds, so he gave just two pounds. The next year his income doubled, and because he managed to continue living on twenty-eight pounds, he gave away thirty-two pounds. He never had more than one hundred pounds in his possession because he was afraid of storing up earthly treasure. He believed God’s blessing should result in raising our standard of giving, not our standard of living. Even when his income rose to thousands of pounds, he lived simply and gave away all surplus money. He died with a few coins in his pocket, but a storehouse of treasure in heaven. Think about it!
UCB The Word For Today
by Bill Federer
Susan B. Anthony, whose face is on the U.S. dollar coin, died this day, March 13, 1906. She was raised in a Quaker home, known properly as the Society of Friends, she was taught individuals could have a personal relationship with God and that armed conflict and slavery were wrong. The self-reliance instilled in her upbringing aided Susan in her crusade against slavery and alcohol and to give women the right to vote. Susan B. Anthony was arrested for voting in the 1872 Presidential Election and fined. Finally, in 1920, all women in America were given the right to vote.
Compiled by Richard S. Adams
People have a peculiar pleasure in making converts; that is, in causing others to enjoy what they enjoy, thus finding their own likeness represented and reflected back to them.
--- Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe
Maxims and Reflections
If when I am able to discover something which has baffled others, I forget Him who revealeth the deep and secret things, and knoweth what is in the darkness and showeth it to us; if I forget that it was He who granted that ray of light to His most unworthy servant, then I know nothing of Calvary love.
--- Amy Carmichael
[Your] dream will challenge, prod and haunt you until you surrender to its call.
--- Wayne Cordeiro
The Divine Mentor: Growing Your Faith as You Sit at the Feet of the Savior
I cannot and will not recant anything, for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. Here I stand, I can do no other, so help me God. Amen.
--- Martin Luther
... from here, there and everywhere
University of Virginia Library 1994
After the Yearly Meeting we were at meetings at New-town, Cushnet, Long Plain, Rochester, and Dartmouth. From thence we sailed for Nantucket, in company with Ann Gaunt, Mercy Redman, and several other Friends. The wind being slack we only reached Tarpawling Cove the first day; where, going on shore, we found room in a public-house, and beds for a few of us, -- the rest slept on the floor. We went on board again about break of day, and though the wind was small, we were favored to come within about four miles of Nantucket; and then about ten of us got into our boat and rowed to the harbor before dark; a large boat went off and brought in the rest of the passengers about midnight. The next day but one was their Yearly Meeting, which held four days, the last of which was their Monthly Meeting for business. We had a laborious time amongst them; our minds were closely exercised, and I believe it was a time of great searching of heart. The longer I was on the Island the more I became sensible that there was a considerable number of valuable Friends there, though an evil spirit, tending to strife, had been at work amongst them. I was cautious of making any visits except as my mind was particularly drawn to them; and in that way we had some sittings in Friends' houses, where the heavenly wing was at times spread over us, to our mutual comfort. My beloved companion had very acceptable service on this island.
When meeting was over we all agreed to sail the next day if the weather was suitable and we were well; and being called up the latter part of the night, about fifty of us went on board a vessel; but, the wind changing, the seamen thought best to stay in the harbor till it altered, so we returned on shore. Feeling clear as to any further visits, I spent my time in my chamber, chiefly alone; and after some hours, my heart being filled with the spirit of supplication, my prayers and tears were poured out before my Heavenly Father for his help and instruction in the manifold difficulties which attended me in life. While I was waiting upon the Lord, there came a messenger from the women Friends who lodged at another house, desiring to confer with us about appointing a meeting, which to me appeared weighty, as we had been at so many before; but after a short conference, and advising with some elderly Friends, a meeting was appointed, in which the Friend who first moved it, and who had been much shut up before, was largely opened in the love of the gospel. The next morning about break of day going again on board the vessel, we reached Falmouth on the Main before night, where our horses being brought, we proceeded towards Sandwich Quarterly Meeting.
Being two days in going to Nantucket, and having been there once before, I observed many shoals in their bay, which make sailing more dangerous, especially in stormy nights; also, that a great shoal, which encloses their harbor, prevents the entrance of sloops except when the tide is up. Waiting without for the rising of the tide is sometimes hazardous in storms, and by waiting within they sometimes miss a fair wind. I took notice that there was on that small island a great number of inhabitants, and the soil not very fertile, the timber being so gone that for vessels, fences, and firewood, they depend chiefly on buying from the Main, for the cost whereof, with most of their other expenses, they depend principally upon the whale fishery. I considered that as towns grew larger, and lands near navigable waters were more cleared, it would require more labor to get timber and wood. I understood that the whales, being much hunted and sometimes wounded and not killed, grow more shy and difficult to come at. I considered that the formation of the earth, the seas, the islands, bays, and rivers, the motions of the winds, and great waters, which cause bars and shoals in particular places, were all the works of Him who is perfect wisdom and goodness; and as people attend to his heavenly instruction, and put their trust in him, he provides for them in all parts where he gives them a being; and as in this visit to these people I felt a strong desire for their firm establishment on the sure foundation, besides what was said more publicly, I was concerned to speak with the women Friends in their Monthly Meeting of business, many being present, and in the fresh spring of pure love to open before them the advantage, both inwardly and outwardly, of attending singly to the pure guidance of the Holy Spirit, and therein to educate their children in true humility and the disuse of all superfluities. I reminded them of the difficulties their husbands and sons were frequently exposed to at sea, and that the more plain and simple their way of living was the less need there would be of running great hazards to support them. I also encouraged the young women to continue their neat, decent way of attending themselves on the affairs of the house; showing, as the way opened, that where people were truly humble, used themselves to business, and were content with a plain way of life, they had ever had more true peace and calmness of mind than they who, aspiring to greatness and outward show, have grasped hard for an income to support themselves therein. And as I observed they had so few or no slaves, I had to encourage them to be content without them, making mention of the numerous troubles and vexations which frequently attended the minds of the people who depend on slaves to do their labor.
John Woolman's Journal
by D.H. Stern
but the wise pay attention to advice.
16 A fool’s anger is known at once,
but a cautious person slighted conceals his feelings.
17 He who tells the truth furthers justice,
but a false witness furthers deceit.
Complete Jewish Bible : An English Version of the Tanakh (Old Testament) and B'Rit Hadashah (New Testament)
‘You mean, if they had to live together they’d gradually learn to quarrel less?’
‘Well, I don’t know about that. I daresay they could be kept a bit quieter. You’d have a chance to build up a police force. Knock some kind of discipline into them. Anyway’ (here he dropped his voice) ‘it’d be better, you know. Everyone admits that. Safety in numbers.’
‘Safety from what?’ I began, but my companion nudged me to be silent. I changed my question.
‘But look here,’ said I, ‘if they can get everything just by imagining it, why would they want any real things, as you call them?’
‘Eh? Oh well, they’d like houses that really kept out the rain.’
‘Their present houses don’t?’
‘Well, of course not. How could they?’
‘What the devil is the use of building them, then?’ The Intelligent Man put his head closer to mine. ‘Safety again,’ he muttered. ‘At least, the feeling of safety. It’s all right now: but later on … you understand.’
‘What?’ said I, almost involuntarily sinking my own voice to a whisper.
He articulated noiselessly as if expecting that I understood lipreading. I put my ear up close to his mouth. ‘Speak up,’ I said. ‘It will be dark presently,’ he mouthed.
‘You mean the evening is really going to turn into a night in the end?’
‘What’s that got to do with it?’ said I.
‘Well … no one wants to be out of doors when that happens.’
His reply was so furtive that I had to ask him several times to repeat it. When he had done so, being a little annoyed (as one so often is with whisperers), I replied without remembering to lower my voice.
‘Who are “They”?’ I asked. ‘And what are you afraid they’ll do to you? And why should they come out when it’s dark? And what protection could an imaginary house give if there was any danger?’
‘Here!’ shouted the Big Man. ‘Who’s talking all that stuff? You stop your whispering, you two, if you don’t want a hiding, see? Spreading rumours, that’s what I call it. You shut your face, Ikey, see?’
‘Quite right. Scandalous. Ought to be prosecuted. How did they get on the bus?’ growled the passengers.
A fat clean-shaven man who sat on the seat in front of me leaned back and addressed me in a cultured voice.
‘Excuse me,’ he said, ‘but I couldn’t help overhearing parts of your conversation. It is astonishing how these primitive superstitions linger on. I beg your pardon? Oh, God bless my soul, that’s all it is. There is not a shred of evidence that this twilight is ever going to turn into a night. There has been a revolution of opinion on that in educated circles. I am surprised that you haven’t heard of it. All the nightmare fantasies of our ancestors are being swept away. What we now see in this subdued and delicate half-light is the promise of the dawn: the slow turning of a whole nation towards the light. Slow and imperceptible, of course. “And not through Eastern windows only, When daylight comes, comes in the light.” And that passion for “real” commodities which our friend speaks of is only materialism, you know. It’s retrogressive. Earth-bound! A hankering for matter. But we look on this spiritual city—for with all its faults it is spiritual—as a nursery in which the creative functions of man, now freed from the clogs of matter, begin to try their wings. A sublime thought.’
Hours later there came a change. It began to grow light in the bus. The greyness outside the windows turned from mud-colour to mother of pearl, then to faintest blue, then to a bright blueness that stung the eyes. We seemed to be floating in a pure vacancy. There were no lands, no sun, no stars in sight: only the radiant abyss. I let down the window beside me. Delicious freshness came in for a second, and then—
‘What the hell are you doing?’ shouted the Intelligent Man, leaning roughly across me and pulling the window sharply up. ‘Want us all to catch our death of cold?’
‘Hit him a biff,’ said the Big Man.
I glanced round the bus. Though the windows were closed, and soon muffed, the bus was full of light. It was cruel light. I shrank from the faces and forms by which I was surrounded. They were all fixed faces, full not of possibilities but impossibilities, some gaunt, some bloated, some glaring with idiotic ferocity, some drowned beyond recovery in dreams; but all, in one way or another, distorted and faded. One had a feeling that they might fall to pieces at any moment if the light grew much stronger. Then—there was a mirror on the end wall of the bus—I caught sight of my own.
And still the light grew.
The Great Divorce or The Great Divorce
C.S. Lewis Books | Go to Books Page
A Daily Devotional by Oswald Chambers
The abandonment of God
God so loved the world that He gave … --- John 3:16.
Salvation is not merely deliverance from sin, nor the experience of personal holiness; the salvation of God is deliverance out of self entirely into union with Himself. My experimental knowledge of salvation will be along the line of deliverance from sin and of personal holiness; but salvation means that the Spirit of God has brought me into touch with God’s personality, and I am thrilled with something infinitely greater than myself; I am caught up into the abandonment of God.
To say that we are called to preach holiness or sanctification, is to get into a side-eddy. We are called to proclaim Jesus Christ. The fact that He saves from sin and makes us holy is part of the effect of the wonderful abandonment of God.
Abandonment never produces the consciousness of its own effort, because the whole life is taken up with the One to Whom we abandon. Beware of talking about abandonment if you know nothing about it, and you will never know anything about it until you have realized what John 3:16 means, that God gave Himself absolutely. In our abandonment we give ourselves over to God just as God gave Himself for us, without any calculation. The consequence of abandonment never enters into our outlook because our life is taken up with Him.
My Utmost for His Highest
the Poetry of R.S. Thomas
I never told you this.
He told me about it often:
Seven days in an open boat - burned out,
No time to get food:
Biscuits and water and the unwanted sun,
With only the oars' wing-beats for motion,
Labouring heavily towards land
That existed on a remembered chart,
Never on the horizon
Seven miles from the boat's bow.
After two days song dried on their lips;
After four days speech.
On the fifth cracks began to appear
In the faces' masks; salt scorched them.
They began to think about death,
Each man to himself, feeding it
On what the rest could not conceal.
The sea was as empty as the sky,
A vast disc under a dome
Of the same vastness, perilously blue.
But on the sixth day towards evening
A bird passed. No one slept that night;
The boat had become an ear
Straining for the desired thunder
Of the wrecked waves. It was dawn when it came
Ominous as the big guns
Of enemy shores. The men cheered it.
From the swell's rise one of them saw the ruins
Of all that sea, where a lean horseman
Rode towards them and with a rope
Galloped them up on to the curt sand.
Collected Later Poems: 1988-2000
With the Law given, the priests ordained, and the sacrificial system which provided for forgiveness of sin instituted, it was time for God’s people to move on.
Israel had come to Sinai exactly three months after leaving Egypt. On the twentieth day of the second month of the second year out of Egypt they would set out again (Numbers 10:11).
From this point on, Israel would be responsible to God for the choices individuals, groups, and the whole community made. Despite punishments for disobedience along the way, this generation did not learn the vital lesson of obedience. When the time came to make life’s most significant choice, these people would hear God’s voice, and turn away.
I. At Sinai 1–9
A. Organizing the people 1–4
B. Culminating worship 5–9
II The Lost Generation 10–20
A. The journey 10–12
B. Israel’s disobedience 13–14
C. Years of wandering 15–19
III. Prelude to Victory 20–36
A. Warfare 20–21
B. Baalam 22–25
C. The new generation 26–31
D. Victory preview 32–36
A most significant statement about God is found in this section of Scripture: “The Lord is slow to anger, abounding in love and forgiving sin and rebellion. Yet He does not leave the guilty unpunished” (Numbers 14:18). God is love. But persons are responsible to Him for their choices.
The Teacher's Commentary
The conclusion of the story (42:7–16) seems to many to be an anticlimax. Job’s wealth is restored double. He has seven more sons and three more daughters. And Job is told to pray for his three friends because, God said to them, “You have not spoken of Me what is right, as My servant Job has” (v. 7).
Thus the Book of Job leaves us with more questions than when we began. But perhaps it suggests answers.
How did Job speak what was right, and his friends incur God’s anger in the dialogue? Perhaps because only Job was willing to test his concept of God against his own experience and observation. True faith is no retreat from reality, but a willingness to face mystery. Job’s three friends were unwilling to admit the possibility that their understanding of God might be imperfect. Is it possible that their trust was not in God but in in His likeness?
Why did Job suffer? No answer is given in the text. But there are clues. For instance, at the beginning Job cries out that what he feared has come upon him (3:25). Can it be that Job’s relationship with God was flawed by a fear that blocked full trust and love? Certainly Job’s meeting with God replaced hearing with sight. Job lost all trust in his own righteousness as the basis for a standing with God (42:6), and simply bowed down before the Lord.
Deep release and freedom are available for us too when we let God’s perfect love cast out our fear and no longer think of what we do as having merit in God’s eyes. Like Job we need to trust in the Lord and to abandon reliance on any righteousness of ours.
What do we learn about our suffering? One message is clear. We wrong God if we fall into the way of thinking of Job’s three friends. We wrong God if each trial of ours is excused by condemning ourselves for supposed sins. Instead, we need to approach God with trust in His love and His righteousness. His purposes will be just and what He does in our lives will be for our good.
The New Testament adds special insight here. In 1 Peter God assures those who suffer for doing right that, when such suffering does come, it is a special purposive act of the Lord. Christ also suffered though He was innocent, and through that suffering accomplished the wonderful purpose of bringing us to God (1 Peter 3:13–18).
We may not know exactly why Job suffered, or why we sometimes suffer. But we can know that the suffering of God’s own is purposive, intended for good. Like Job, and like Jesus, when suffering comes we must simply trust.
The Teacher's Commentary
There is much to be said against any mitzvah performed by means of a transgression, of doing a good deed in a way that breaks the law. Robin Hood stole from the rich and gave to the poor. While aiding the needy is a laudable act, accomplishing this act by defrauding others is less than praiseworthy. After all, we still express our moral disapproval by saying that Robin Hood “stole” from the rich—not “borrowed,” “recovered,” or even “took.”
Thus, we are aware that we must be careful not only that we do mitzvot, but also how we perform them. The power of this rule is attested to by the fact that all of us know of those who perform mitzvot through a transgression and thus bring shame to God, the Torah, and the Jewish people. The slumlord who keeps his tenants living in squalor, who denies them heat in the winter and running water all year long, yet gives generously to many worthy causes has performed a mitzvah by means of a transgression.
Surprisingly, the Gemara does not come down unequivocally against the mitzvah performed by a transgression. It seems that if the transgression is insignificant (freeing a slave) or the need is great (a minyan to fulfill the prayer obligation), then the general rule is waived, and the mitzvah is allowed even though a minor transgression is involved.
But what is a minor transgression? What constitutes the “public good” or a “great need?” The answers to these questions are surely debatable and subjective. Perhaps this is the point of the Gemara. There are no hard-and-fast rules for conduct that will cover every possible case. This text, like much of the Gemara, forces us to think without thinking for us.
Every one of us will undoubtedly face issues where we see good happening via corruption. We can then recall this Gemara and ask ourselves: Is the need that great that we can allow the transgression? And is the sin so awful that we have to speak out against the good that will be done? Some would prefer a legal system that gives us every answer and covers each conceivable situation. Halakhah, Jewish law, does not do this, not only for practical reasons (it’s impossible), but also for philosophical reasons (it’s unhealthy). Though we are made uncomfortable by the situation, and by our need to work out a suitable answer, we are reassured by our texts which limit the choices and bring the values into focus, while not totally limiting our free will and personal involvement.
The frequent and the infrequent—the frequent takes precedence.
Text / Our Rabbis taught: “The differences between Bet Shammai and Bet Hillel regarding a meal—Bet Shammai says: ‘The blessing is first said over the day and then over the wine, because it is on account of the day that the wine is used; and the day already was sanctified before the wine was brought.’ Bet Hillel says: ‘The blessing is first said over the wine and then over the day, because the wine provides the opportunity for the prayer of sanctification to be said.’ Another explanation: ‘The blessing over the wine is said frequently, while the blessing over the day is said only infrequently, and [in a case of] the frequent and the infrequent—the frequent takes precedence.’ ”
Context / The text of kiddush recited Friday evening: Praised are You, Lord our God, King of the universe who creates fruit of the vine. Praised are You, Lord our God, King of the Universe whose mitzvot add holiness to our lives, cherishing us through the gift of His holy Shabbat granted lovingly, gladly, a reminder of Creation. It is the first among our days of sacred assembly which recall the Exodus from Egypt. Thus You have chosen us, endowing us with holiness, from among all peoples by granting us Your holy Shabbat lovingly and gladly. Praised are You, Lord who hallows Shabbat. (Translation, Siddur Sim Shalom)
At the beginning of Shabbat and festivals, a special prayer, kiddush (“sanctification”), is recited over a cup of wine at the evening meal. Kiddush is composed of two parts: A one-line blessing for the wine, and a longer blessing praising God for having created the special day. The question that Bet Shammai and Bet Hillel are discussing is which of the two blessings is recited first. Bet Shammai holds that Shabbat begins Friday at sunset; only afterwards do we sit down to a meal and recite the kiddush over the wine. Therefore, the blessing over the day (“Praised are You, O Lord, Who hallows Shabbat”) is recited first. It is then followed by the blessing over the wine (“Praised are You, O Lord … Who creates fruit of the vine”).
Bet Hillel takes the opposite position: The prayer praising God for having created the special day is recited only by virtue of our drinking wine in celebration of the day. Therefore, the blessing over the wine should come first. Another reason is offered by the Gemara for this position: We drink wine quite often, and the blessing over wine is recited each time we do so. But the blessing “over the day” is recited only at the onset of that special occasion. Bet Hillel follows the principle that things which comes frequently take precedence over things which come infrequently.
The halakhah today follows the opinion of Bet Hillel: We begin with the blessing over the wine and follow with the blessing over the day.
Swimming in the Sea of Talmud: Lessons for Everyday Living
Thomas A Kempis
Book Three - Internal Consolation
The Fourth Chapter / We Must Walk Before God In Humility And Truth
The Voice Of Christ
MY CHILD, walk before Me in truth, and seek Me always in the simplicity of your heart. He who walks before Me in truth shall be defended from the attacks of evil, and the truth shall free him from seducers and from the slanders of wicked men. For if the truth has made you free, then you shall be free indeed, and you shall not care for the vain words of men.
O Lord, it is true. I ask that it be with me as You say. Let your truth teach me. Let it guard me, and keep me safe to the end. Let it free me from all evil affection and badly ordered love, and I shall walk with You in great freedom of heart.
THE VOICE OF CHRIST
I shall teach you those things which are right and pleasing to Me. Consider your sins with great displeasure and sorrow, and never think yourself to be someone because of your good works. You are truly a sinner. You are subject to many passions and entangled in them. Of yourself you always tend to nothing. You fall quickly, are quickly overcome, quickly troubled, and quickly undone. You have nothing in which you can glory, but you have many things for which you should think yourself vile, for you are much weaker than you can comprehend. Hence, let none of the things you do seem great to you. Let nothing seem important or precious or desirable except that which is everlasting. Let the eternal truth please you above all things, and let your extreme unworthiness always displease you. Fear nothing, abhor nothing, and fly nothing as you do your own vices and sins; these should be more unpleasant for you than any material losses.
Some men walk before Me without sincerity. Led on by a certain curiosity and arrogance, they wish to know My secrets and to understand the high things of God, to the neglect of themselves and their own salvation. Through their own pride and curiosity, and because I am against them, such men often fall into great temptations and sins.
Fear the judgments of God! Dread the wrath of the Almighty! Do not discuss the works of the Most High, but examine your sins—in what serious things you have offended and how many good things you have neglected.
Some carry their devotion only in books, some in pictures, some in outward signs and figures. Some have Me on their lips when there is little of Me in their hearts. Others, indeed, with enlightened understanding and purified affections, constantly long for everlasting things; they are unwilling to hear of earthly affairs and only with reluctance do they serve the necessities of nature. These sense what the Spirit of truth speaks within them: for He teaches them to despise earthly things and to love those of heaven, to neglect the world, and each day and night to desire heaven.
The Imitation Of Christ
We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord.
--- 2 Corinthians 5:8.
The souls of true saints, when they leave their bodies at death, go to be with Christ. ( The Works of Jonathan Edwards, 2 Volumes ) They are brought into perfect conformity to and union with him. Their spiritual conformity is begun while they are in the body, but when they see him as he is in heaven, then they become like him in another manner. That perfect sight will abolish all remains of deformity, disagreement, and sinful unlikeness, as all darkness is abolished before the blaze of the sun. It is impossible that the least degree of obscurity should remain before such light; so it is impossible the least degree of sin and spiritual deformity should remain before the beauty and glory of Christ. When saints see that Sun of righteousness, they themselves shine forth as little suns, without spot.
And then the saints’ union with Christ is perfected. This also is begun in this world. The union of a heart to Christ is begun when that heart is drawn to Christ at conversion, and consequent to this a vital union is established with Christ, by which the believer becomes a living branch of the true vine, living by a communication of the vital juice of the root, and a member of Christ’s mystical body, living by a communication of spiritual influences from the Head and by a kind of participation in Christ’s own life. But while the saints are in the body, there is much remaining distance between Christ and them: there are remainders of alienation, and the union is very imperfect and so, consequently, is the communication of spiritual influences. There is much between Christ and believers to keep them apart—sin, temptation, a world of carnal objects to keep the soul from Christ and hinder a perfect coming together.
But when the soul leaves the body, all these clogs and hindrances will be removed, every separating wall will be broken down and every impediment taken out of the way, and all distance will cease. The heart will be wholly and forever bound to him by a perfect view of his glory. And the vital union will then be brought to perfection; the soul will live perfectly in and on Christ, being perfectly filled with his spirit and animated by his vital influences—living, as it were, only by Christ’s life, without any remainder of spiritual death or carnal life.
--- Jonathan Edwards
Take Heart: Daily Devotions with the Church's Great Preachers
Johann Gutenberg grew up in Mainz, Germany. He devoured books, reading all that his wealthy father ordered. The volumes were outrageously expensive, sometimes costing as much as a farm. Local scribes copied the texts by hand, illuminators decorated the margins, and binders made the covers. Finally the title was stamped into the leather cover by brass punches. It was the punches that suggested an idea to Johann. Why not make separate metal letters and arrange them into words? Why not set up a page and print it using a press?
Johann moved to Strasbourg and set up a secret workshop near an old monastery. Though beset by problems, he toiled for years to get his invention to work. Finally, Johann returned to Mainz where he was assured an income by inheritance.
He set up a printing shop, and in 1450, after 30 years, he was ready to begin. He chose the Bible as his first book. Such a project required he borrow 800 guldens from Johann Fust, but if he wasn’t repaid with interest in five years, Fust demanded, all the equipment and materials would revert to him.
It took Johann two years to set up a workshop. He hired workers, had presses built, and taught laborers to grind and mix ink. Then he was ready to begin printing. Two more years went by, and the invention wasn’t working well. Another year passed, and two months before the Bible was completed, Fust sued. On November 6, 1455 the judge ruled in his favor.
Gutenberg angrily turned over his presses and almost-completed Bibles to Fust. The Bible was reportedly first published on March 13, 1456, and for many years the credit went to Fust and his partner, Peter Schoffer. But after Gutenberg died on February 3, 1469, Schoffer admitted that, after all, Johann Gutenberg had invented printing.
What God has said isn’t only active and alive! It is sharper than any double-edged sword. His word can cut through our spirits and souls and through our joints and marrow, until it discovers the desires and thoughts of our hearts.
--- Hebrews 4.12.
On This Day 365 Amazing And Inspiring Stories About Saints, Martyrs And Heroes
Daily Readings / CHARLES H. SPURGEON
Morning - March 13
“Why sit we here until we die?” --- 2 Kings 7:3.
Dear reader, this little book was mainly intended for the edification of believers, but if you are yet unsaved, our heart yearns over you: and we would fain say a word which may be blessed to you. Open your Bible, and read the story of the lepers, and mark their position, which was much the same as yours. If you remain where you are you must perish; if you go to Jesus you can but die. “Nothing venture, nothing win,” is the old proverb, and in your case the venture is no great one. If you sit still in sullen despair, no one can pity you when your ruin comes; but if you die with mercy sought, if such a thing were possible, you would be the object of universal sympathy. None escape who refuse to look to Jesus; but you know that, at any rate, some are saved who believe in him, for certain of your own acquaintances have received mercy: then why not you? The Ninevites said, “Who can tell?” Act upon the same hope, and try the Lord’s mercy. To perish is so awful, that if there were but a straw to catch at, the instinct of self-preservation should lead you to stretch out your hand. We have thus been talking to you on your own unbelieving ground, we would now assure you, as from the Lord, that if you seek him he will be found of you. Jesus casts out none who come unto him. You shall not perish if you trust him; on the contrary, you shall find treasure far richer than the poor lepers gathered in Syria’s deserted camp. May the Holy Spirit embolden you to go at once, and you shall not believe in vain. When you are saved yourself, publish the good news to others. Hold not your peace; tell the King’s household first, and unite with them in fellowship; let the porter of the city, the minister, be informed of your discovery, and then proclaim the good news in every place. The Lord save thee ere the sun goes down this day.
Evening - March 13
“Then he put forth his hand, and took her, and pulled her in unto him into the ark.” --- Genesis 8:9.
Wearied out with her wanderings, the dove returns at length to the ark as her only resting place. How heavily she flies—she will drop—she will never reach the ark! But she struggles on. Noah has been looking out for his dove all day long, and is ready to receive her. She has just strength to reach the edge of the ark, she can hardly alight upon it, and is ready to drop, when Noah puts forth his hand and pulls her in unto him. Mark that: “pulled her in unto him.” She did not fly right in herself, but was too fearful, or too weary to do so. She flew as far as she could, and then he put forth his hand and pulled her in unto him. This act of mercy was shown to the wandering dove, and she was not chidden for her wanderings. Just as she was she was pulled into the ark. So you, seeking sinner, with all your sin, will be received. “Only return”—those are God’s two gracious words—“only return.” What! nothing else? No, “only return.” She had no olive branch in her mouth this time, nothing at all but just herself and her wanderings; but it is “only return,” and she does return, and Noah pulls her in. Fly, thou wanderer; fly thou fainting one, dove as thou art, though thou thinkest thyself to be black as the raven with the mire of sin, back, back to the Saviour. Every moment thou waitest does but increase thy misery; thine attempts to plume thyself and make thyself fit for Jesus are all vanity. Come thou to him just as thou art. “Return, thou backsliding Israel.” He does not say, “Return, thou repenting Israel” (there is such an invitation doubtless), but “thou backsliding one,” as a backslider with all thy backslidings about thee, Return, return, return! Jesus is waiting for thee! He will stretch forth his hand and “pull thee in”—in to himself, thy heart’s true home.
Morning and Evening
YIELD NOT TO TEMPTATION
Words and Music by Horatio R. Palmer, 1834–1907
Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. (Matthew 26:41)
Temptations are common to everyone, even mature Christians. The noblest souls are often the ones most tempted. It seems that Satan assaults Christians in positions of leadership with his strongest weapons. Therefore, we must all be on our constant spiritual guard.
Jesus’ 40 day temptation in the wilderness dramatically instructs us how to overcome Satan’s attacks. In each temptation, Jesus answered the devil with Scripture. All of the scriptural quotations Jesus used were from the book of Deuteronomy, an indication of the importance of being well-acquainted with the Old Testament (Deuteronomy 8:3; Matthew 4:4).
It is impossible to isolate ourselves from all of life’s temptations. The allurements of modern living are ever near. But we are not alone in this struggle. “We have One who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15). And “because He Himself suffered when He was tempted, He is able to help those who are being tempted” (Hebrews 2:18). Regardless of the temptation, our Lord understands what we are facing and stands ready to provide the strength to resist and to emerge victorious.
Horatio R. Palmer, author and composer, was an American musician. One day while he was working on a music theory exercise, the idea for this hymn suddenly came to him. He wrote it down as quickly as possible and with few exceptions the hymn has remained as it was written. The hymn has been an excellent teaching song for both young and old in learning how to face the daily temptations of life.
Yield not to temptations for yielding is sin; each vict’ry will help you some other to win; fight manfully onward, dark passions subdue; look ever to Jesus—He’ll carry you through.
Shun evil companions, bad language disdain; God’s name hold in rev’rence, nor take it in vain; be thoughtful and earnest, kind-hearted and true; look ever to Jesus—He’ll carry you through.
To him that o’er-cometh God giveth a crown; thru faith we will conquer tho often cast down; He who is our Savior our strength will renew; look ever to Jesus—He’ll carry you through.
Chorus: Ask the Savior to help you, comfort, strengthen and keep you; He is willing to aid you—He will carry you through.
For Today: Psalm 97:10; Matthew 6:13; 1 Corinthians 10:13; James 1:14, 15, 2 Peter 2:9; Revelation 3:10.
Ask God to make you a victor over all temptations that may come your way. Carry this musical reminder to help you ---
Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions
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