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Joshua 19 - 21

The Inheritance for Simeon

Joshua 19:1 The second lot came out for Simeon, for the tribe of the people of Simeon, according to their clans, and their inheritance was in the midst of the inheritance of the people of Judah. 2 And they had for their inheritance Beersheba, Sheba, Moladah, 3 Hazar-shual, Balah, Ezem, 4 Eltolad, Bethul, Hormah, 5 Ziklag, Beth-marcaboth, Hazar-susah, 6 Beth-lebaoth, and Sharuhen—thirteen cities with their villages; 7 Ain, Rimmon, Ether, and Ashan—four cities with their villages, 8 together with all the villages around these cities as far as Baalath-beer, Ramah of the Negeb. This was the inheritance of the tribe of the people of Simeon according to their clans. 9 The inheritance of the people of Simeon formed part of the territory of the people of Judah. Because the portion of the people of Judah was too large for them, the people of Simeon obtained an inheritance in the midst of their inheritance.

The Inheritance for Zebulun

10 The third lot came up for the people of Zebulun, according to their clans. And the territory of their inheritance reached as far as Sarid. 11 Then their boundary goes up westward and on to Mareal and touches Dabbesheth, then the brook that is east of Jokneam. 12 From Sarid it goes in the other direction eastward toward the sunrise to the boundary of Chisloth-tabor. From there it goes to Daberath, then up to Japhia. 13 From there it passes along on the east toward the sunrise to Gath-hepher, to Eth-kazin, and going on to Rimmon it bends toward Neah, 14 then on the north the boundary turns about to Hannathon, and it ends at the Valley of Iphtahel; 15 and Kattath, Nahalal, Shimron, Idalah, and Bethlehem—twelve cities with their villages. 16 This is the inheritance of the people of Zebulun, according to their clans—these cities with their villages.

The Inheritance for Issachar

17 The fourth lot came out for Issachar, for the people of Issachar, according to their clans. 18 Their territory included Jezreel, Chesulloth, Shunem, 19 Hapharaim, Shion, Anaharath, 20 Rabbith, Kishion, Ebez, 21 Remeth, En-gannim, En-haddah, Beth-pazzez. 22 The boundary also touches Tabor, Shahazumah, and Beth-shemesh, and its boundary ends at the Jordan—sixteen cities with their villages. 23 This is the inheritance of the tribe of the people of Issachar, according to their clans—the cities with their villages.

The Inheritance for Asher

24 The fifth lot came out for the tribe of the people of Asher according to their clans. 25 Their territory included Helkath, Hali, Beten, Achshaph, 26 Allammelech, Amad, and Mishal. On the west it touches Carmel and Shihor-libnath, 27 then it turns eastward, it goes to Beth-dagon, and touches Zebulun and the Valley of Iphtahel northward to Beth-emek and Neiel. Then it continues in the north to Cabul, 28 Ebron, Rehob, Hammon, Kanah, as far as Sidon the Great. 29 Then the boundary turns to Ramah, reaching to the fortified city of Tyre. Then the boundary turns to Hosah, and it ends at the sea; Mahalab,[f] Achzib, 30 Ummah, Aphek and Rehob—twenty-two cities with their villages. 31 This is the inheritance of the tribe of the people of Asher according to their clans—these cities with their villages.

The Inheritance for Naphtali

32 The sixth lot came out for the people of Naphtali, for the people of Naphtali, according to their clans. 33 And their boundary ran from Heleph, from the oak in Zaanannim, and Adami-nekeb, and Jabneel, as far as Lakkum, and it ended at the Jordan. 34 Then the boundary turns westward to Aznoth-tabor and goes from there to Hukkok, touching Zebulun at the south and Asher on the west and Judah on the east at the Jordan. 35 The fortified cities are Ziddim, Zer, Hammath, Rakkath, Chinnereth, 36 Adamah, Ramah, Hazor, 37 Kedesh, Edrei, En-hazor, 38 Yiron, Migdal-el, Horem, Beth-anath, and Beth-shemesh—nineteen cities with their villages. 39 This is the inheritance of the tribe of the people of Naphtali according to their clans—the cities with their villages.

The Inheritance for Dan

40 The seventh lot came out for the tribe of the people of Dan, according to their clans. 41 And the territory of its inheritance included Zorah, Eshtaol, Ir-shemesh, 42 Shaalabbin, Aijalon, Ithlah, 43 Elon, Timnah, Ekron, 44 Eltekeh, Gibbethon, Baalath, 45 Jehud, Bene-berak, Gath-rimmon, 46 and Me-jarkon and Rakkon with the territory over against Joppa. 47 When the territory of the people of Dan was lost to them, the people of Dan went up and fought against Leshem, and after capturing it and striking it with the sword they took possession of it and settled in it, calling Leshem, Dan, after the name of Dan their ancestor. 48 This is the inheritance of the tribe of the people of Dan, according to their clans—these cities with their villages.

The Inheritance for Joshua

49 When they had finished distributing the several territories of the land as inheritances, the people of Israel gave an inheritance among them to Joshua the son of Nun. 50 By command of the Lord they gave him the city that he asked, Timnath-serah in the hill country of Ephraim. And he rebuilt the city and settled in it.

51 These are the inheritances that Eleazar the priest and Joshua the son of Nun and the heads of the fathers' houses of the tribes of the people of Israel distributed by lot at Shiloh before the Lord, at the entrance of the tent of meeting. So they finished dividing the land.

Joshua 20

The Cities of Refuge

Joshua 20:1 Then the Lord said to Joshua, 2 “Say to the people of Israel, ‘Appoint the cities of refuge, of which I spoke to you through Moses, 3 that the manslayer who strikes any person without intent or unknowingly may flee there. They shall be for you a refuge from the avenger of blood. 4 He shall flee to one of these cities and shall stand at the entrance of the gate of the city and explain his case to the elders of that city. Then they shall take him into the city and give him a place, and he shall remain with them. 5 And if the avenger of blood pursues him, they shall not give up the manslayer into his hand, because he struck his neighbor unknowingly, and did not hate him in the past. 6 And he shall remain in that city until he has stood before the congregation for judgment, until the death of him who is high priest at the time. Then the manslayer may return to his own town and his own home, to the town from which he fled.’”

7 So they set apart Kedesh in Galilee in the hill country of Naphtali, and Shechem in the hill country of Ephraim, and Kiriath-arba (that is, Hebron) in the hill country of Judah. 8 And beyond the Jordan east of Jericho, they appointed Bezer in the wilderness on the tableland, from the tribe of Reuben, and Ramoth in Gilead, from the tribe of Gad, and Golan in Bashan, from the tribe of Manasseh. 9 These were the cities designated for all the people of Israel and for the stranger sojourning among them, that anyone who killed a person without intent could flee there, so that he might not die by the hand of the avenger of blood, till he stood before the congregation.

Joshua 21

Cities and Pasturelands Allotted to Levi

Joshua 21:1 Then the heads of the fathers' houses of the Levites came to Eleazar the priest and to Joshua the son of Nun and to the heads of the fathers' houses of the tribes of the people of Israel. 2 And they said to them at Shiloh in the land of Canaan, “The Lord commanded through Moses that we be given cities to dwell in, along with their pasturelands for our livestock.” 3 So by command of the Lord the people of Israel gave to the Levites the following cities and pasturelands out of their inheritance.

4 The lot came out for the clans of the Kohathites. So those Levites who were descendants of Aaron the priest received by lot from the tribes of Judah, Simeon, and Benjamin, thirteen cities.

5 And the rest of the Kohathites received by lot from the clans of the tribe of Ephraim, from the tribe of Dan and the half-tribe of Manasseh, ten cities.

6 The Gershonites received by lot from the clans of the tribe of Issachar, from the tribe of Asher, from the tribe of Naphtali, and from the half-tribe of Manasseh in Bashan, thirteen cities.

7 The Merarites according to their clans received from the tribe of Reuben, the tribe of Gad, and the tribe of Zebulun, twelve cities.

8 These cities and their pasturelands the people of Israel gave by lot to the Levites, as the Lord had commanded through Moses.

9 Out of the tribe of the people of Judah and the tribe of the people of Simeon they gave the following cities mentioned by name, 10 which went to the descendants of Aaron, one of the clans of the Kohathites who belonged to the people of Levi; since the lot fell to them first. 11 They gave them Kiriath-arba (Arba being the father of Anak), that is Hebron, in the hill country of Judah, along with the pasturelands around it. 12 But the fields of the city and its villages had been given to Caleb the son of Jephunneh as his possession.

13 And to the descendants of Aaron the priest they gave Hebron, the city of refuge for the manslayer, with its pasturelands, Libnah with its pasturelands, 14 Jattir with its pasturelands, Eshtemoa with its pasturelands, 15 Holon with its pasturelands, Debir with its pasturelands, 16 Ain with its pasturelands, Juttah with its pasturelands, Beth-shemesh with its pasturelands—nine cities out of these two tribes; 17 then out of the tribe of Benjamin, Gibeon with its pasturelands, Geba with its pasturelands, 18 Anathoth with its pasturelands, and Almon with its pasturelands—four cities. 19 The cities of the descendants of Aaron, the priests, were in all thirteen cities with their pasturelands.

20 As to the rest of the Kohathites belonging to the Kohathite clans of the Levites, the cities allotted to them were out of the tribe of Ephraim. 21 To them were given Shechem, the city of refuge for the manslayer, with its pasturelands in the hill country of Ephraim, Gezer with its pasturelands, 22 Kibzaim with its pasturelands, Beth-horon with its pasturelands—four cities; 23 and out of the tribe of Dan, Elteke with its pasturelands, Gibbethon with its pasturelands, 24 Aijalon with its pasturelands, Gath-rimmon with its pasturelands—four cities; 25 and out of the half-tribe of Manasseh, Taanach with its pasturelands, and Gath-rimmon with its pasturelands—two cities. 26 The cities of the clans of the rest of the Kohathites were ten in all with their pasturelands.

27 And to the Gershonites, one of the clans of the Levites, were given out of the half-tribe of Manasseh, Golan in Bashan with its pasturelands, the city of refuge for the manslayer, and Beeshterah with its pasturelands—two cities; 28 and out of the tribe of Issachar, Kishion with its pasturelands, Daberath with its pasturelands, 29 Jarmuth with its pasturelands, En-gannim with its pasturelands—four cities; 30 and out of the tribe of Asher, Mishal with its pasturelands, Abdon with its pasturelands, 31 Helkath with its pasturelands, and Rehob with its pasturelands—four cities; 32 and out of the tribe of Naphtali, Kedesh in Galilee with its pasturelands, the city of refuge for the manslayer, Hammoth-dor with its pasturelands, and Kartan with its pasturelands—three cities. 33 The cities of the several clans of the Gershonites were in all thirteen cities with their pasturelands.

34 And to the rest of the Levites, the Merarite clans, were given out of the tribe of Zebulun, Jokneam with its pasturelands, Kartah with its pasturelands, 35 Dimnah with its pasturelands, Nahalal with its pasturelands—four cities; 36 and out of the tribe of Reuben, Bezer with its pasturelands, Jahaz with its pasturelands, 37 Kedemoth with its pasturelands, and Mephaath with its pasturelands—four cities; 38 and out of the tribe of Gad, Ramoth in Gilead with its pasturelands, the city of refuge for the manslayer, Mahanaim with its pasturelands, 39 Heshbon with its pasturelands, Jazer with its pasturelands—four cities in all. 40 As for the cities of the several Merarite clans, that is, the remainder of the clans of the Levites, those allotted to them were in all twelve cities.

41 The cities of the Levites in the midst of the possession of the people of Israel were in all forty-eight cities with their pasturelands. 42 These cities each had its pasturelands around it. So it was with all these cities.

43 Thus the Lord gave to Israel all the land that he swore to give to their fathers. And they took possession of it, and they settled there. 44 And the Lord gave them rest on every side just as he had sworn to their fathers. Not one of all their enemies had withstood them, for the Lord had given all their enemies into their hands. 45 Not one word of all the good promises that the Lord had made to the house of Israel had failed; all came to pass.

ESV Study Bible

What I'm Reading

Why It’s Important to Inoculate (Rather Than Isolate) Our Young People

By J. Warner Wallace 3/8/2017

     One Sunday, after the morning church service, I picked my daughter up from the youth ministry where she was still visiting with her pastor, his wife and their two baby daughters. The twins were five months old and were sleeping peacefully in their strollers, even though the room was filled with activity. Students were running back and forth, laughing with one another and playing the worship instruments on the stage. Music was blaring through the PA system and one student was even pounding on the drum set. Through all of this, the babies seemed undeterred. They slept as though they were nestled in the corner of a quiet library. Their mother, Rachael, noticed my interest and said, “Don’t worry about them, they can sleep through anything, they’ve been in this group since the day they were born. They’re used to the noise.” I struck me that Rachael’s babies were a great example of our need to inoculate Christian students rather than isolate them from the noise of our culture.

     As a parent of teens, a former youth pastor and now a Christian Case Maker, I’ve given this issue a lot of thought over the years, especially after my first year as a youth leader. In my early years in youth ministry, I witnessed the spiritual exodus of many of my students once they graduated from our youth group. I had to make a decision about my strategy going forward. How could I best prepare young people to face the challenges of the secular culture? Should I equip them with strategies to isolate themselves from the influences they would ultimately face, or would it be better to expose them to the cultural challenges from the onset? Should we encourage isolation or embrace inoculation? I think you probably know my preference. Youth pastors need to think of themselves as “inoculators”; we possess the one true cure that can protect our students from the hazards of the culture. Have we been preparing them in our ministries or simply pacifying them? If we want to move from “entertaining” to “intentional training,” we’re going to need to become good inoculators:

     Inoculations are created from small quantities of the virus we are trying to treat. We expose patients to the virus in a limited, controlled way to allow their immune systems to develop the antibodies necessary to fight the virus should they encounter it more robustly in the future. If we are trying to help students resist the lies of the culture, we’re going to need to prepare an inoculation that exposes them to the secular worldview.

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

5 Reasons To Believe Matthew, Mark, Luke, & John Wrote The Gospels

By Brian Chilton 3/7/2017

     The Four Gospels are the primary documents that describe the life and teachings of Jesus. Traditionally since the earliest times of the church, the Evangelists[1] have been ascribed to Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Modern critical scholarship has been more critical of the traditional authors.

     Many scholars will claim either that the Gospels were pieced together by various writers, or that the writings were pseudonymous but given the names of the Four Evangelists to propel their apostolic authority.

     Despite the cynicism of critical scholarship, good reasons exist to hold to the traditional view of authorship for the four canonical Gospels (that is, that Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John were the Four Evangelists). This article will provide five such reasons.

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Pastor Brian Chilton is a graduate of Liberty University School of Divinity in 2015 with a Master of Divinity in Theological Studies. He is also a graduate of Gardner-Webb University with a Bachelor of Science in Religious Studies and Philosophy in 2011. Graduate of Fruitland Baptist Bible Institute in 1998 with an Associate in Religion/Church Ministry. He has also earned from Biola University the Certificate in Christian Apologetics in 2016. Beginning in early 2000, Pastor Brian left the ministry for 7 years and nearly became an agnostic due to doubts pertaining to the reliability of the Bible and the hypocritical behavior by some Christians that he knew. He came back to a strong, vibrant faith after encountering Josh McDowell’s book The New Evidence That Demands A Verdict: Evidence I & II Fully Updated in One Volume To Answer The Questions Challenging Christians in the 21st Century. and Lee Strobel’s book The Case for Christ Graduate Edition: A Journalist's Personal Investigation of the Evidence for Jesus (Case for ... Series for Students).

Isn’t there Slave Brutality in the Old Testament?

By Matthew Tingblad 3/6/2017

     I got an email from a student asking about something his humanities professor said. Apparently, this professor told his class that the Bible says you can beat your slave within an inch of his life and remain innocent as long as he doesn’t die within 48 hours. The student was rather troubled by this statement, and rightfully so.

     A Bible citation for this claim was never given. But I suspect the professor was referencing Exodus 21:20-21: “If a man beats his male or female slave with a club and the slave dies as a result, the owner must be punished. But if the slave recovers within a day or two, then the owner shall not be punished, since the slave is his property.”

     The text does not say “you can beat your slave to within an inch of his life.” It says “If you beat a slave…” So to say that the text endorses slave brutality is a very morbid and twisted way to look at it. We must be careful not to nuance this passage in a way that was never intended.

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Matthew is a former intern for Cru campus ministry in the Fargo/Moorhead area and traveling intern for Josh McDowell who is now attending Talbot School of Theology at Biola University in California. Matt enjoys speaking and writing on apologetics, identity, evangelism, and many other topics.

The Religious Roots of the Wilderness Act

By Michael Schulson 9/2/2014

     When Howard Zahniser was drafting the Wilderness Act—which marks its 50th anniversary today—he confided to a colleague that he wished he were writing poetry instead. “If I had to do this again,” he wrote, “I would much prefer to state all this in iambic rhyming couplets or even in the sequence of sonnets.”

     Zahniser drafted his bill in prose, of course, and its details, at least initially, seem prosaic. The Wilderness Act bans all kinds of motors, roads, and permanent structures from large tracts of American territory. It provides a legal definition of wilderness, as land that’s “untrammeled by man” with a “primeval character and influence.” Over the last half-century, the federal government has used the Act to preserve more than 100 million acres of land. It may be the most comprehensive, stringent land protection bill in legislative history.

     We take it for granted that wild, inhuman areas are beautiful, uplifting, and worthy of protection; that the natural is superior to the artificial; and that something pristine and untouched by human hands is better than something that’s been touched by human interference.

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     Michael Schulson is a freelance journalist covering religion, science, and technology. He lives in Durham, N.C.

2 Things to Know About Killing Sin

By Tim Challies 3/15/2012

     This is my once-monthly post on the Puritan John Owen. In this series of posts I am sharing some of what John Owen says about putting sin to death, or what he calls mortification. I have been going through John Owen’s book Overcoming Sin and Temptation and trying to distill each chapter to its essence—to a few choice quotes that capture the flavor of what Owen is trying to communicate.

     So far we’ve looked at The Foundation of Mortification, we’ve been encouraged to Daily Put Sin to Death, to understand that It Is the Holy Spirit Who Puts Sin to Death and to acknowledge that Your Spiritual Life Depends Upon Killing Sin. Then we saw What It Is Not to Put Sin to Death and What It Is to Put Sin to Death. He now moves on to the actual directions for how to put sin to death; first he deals with a couple of foundational issue (which is what I’m looking at today) and in the months that follow he’ll move on to very specific instructions.

     #1 – There Will Be No Mortification Unless a Man Be a Believer

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Tim Challies: I am a Christian, a husband to Aileen and a father to three children aged 10 to 16. I worship and serve as an elder at Grace Fellowship Church in Toronto, Ontario. I am a book reviewer, co-founder of Cruciform Press, and have written five books:

I began my web site in 2002 and have been writing there daily since 2003. It is my place to think out loud and in public while also sharing some of the interesting things I’ve discovered in my online travels.

Read The Psalms In "1" Year

Psalm 31

Into Your Hand I Commit My Spirit
31 To The Choirmaster. A Psalm Of David.

14 But I trust in you, O LORD;
I say, “You are my God.”
15 My times are in your hand;
rescue me from the hand of my enemies and from my persecutors!
16 Make your face shine on your servant;
save me in your steadfast love!
17 O LORD, let me not be put to shame,
for I call upon you;
let the wicked be put to shame;
let them go silently to Sheol.
18 Let the lying lips be mute,
which speak insolently against the righteous
in pride and contempt.

ESV Reformation Study

Joshua 18-19

By Don Carson 7-13-2018

     This (Joshua 18-19) is a good time to reflect on the many chapters of Joshua that have been devoted to the dividing up of the land.

     (1) Focusing on the division of the land, these chapters implicitly focus on the land itself. After all, the land was an irreducible component of the promise to Abraham, of the Sinai covenant, of the release of the Israelites from slavery in Egypt. It is now distributed by God’s providential supervision of the “lot.”

     (2) The inevitable conclusion is that God is faithful to his promises. That point is explicitly drawn for us a bare two chapters on: “So the LORD gave Israel all the land he had sworn to give their forefathers, and they took possession of it and settled there. The LORD gave them rest on every side, just as he had sworn to their forefathers. Not one of their enemies withstood them; the LORD handed all their enemies over to them. Not one of all the LORD’s good promises to the house of Israel failed; every one was fulfilled” (Josh. 21:43-45).

     (3) These chapters also explain how entrance into the Promised Land did not proceed in a wave of unbroken triumph. Earlier God had warned that he would not give the Israelites the whole thing at once. Now we are repeatedly told that this tribe or that could not dislodge certain Canaanites, and they continue there “to this day.” For instance, “Judah could not dislodge the Jebusites, who were living in Jerusalem; to this day the Jebusites live there with the people of Judah” (Josh. 15:63; cf. Judg. 1:21). In fact, Jerusalem was taken (Judg. 1:8), but not all the Jebusites were dislodged. Details of this sort help to explain how the tussle between fidelity and syncretism could occupy so much of Israel’s history.

     (4) Some of the elements in these chapters bring earlier strands of the narrative to closure. For instance, Caleb surfaces again. He was Joshua’s colleague among the initial group of twelve spies; they were the only two who at Kadesh Barnea, at the first approach to the Promised Land, urged the people to enter it boldly and trust God. In consequence they are the only two of their generation who are still alive to witness the Promised Land for themselves. And now in Joshua 15, Caleb is still looking for new worlds to conquer and receives his inheritance. Similarly, chapters 20-21 detail the designation of the cities of refuge and of the towns set aside for the Levites — steps mandated by the Mosaic Code.

     (5) There is trouble ahead. The ambiguities of the situation, and the memories of the final warnings of Moses, signal to the reader that these relative victories, good though they are, cannot possibly be God’s final or ultimate provision.

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

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Tribal Territories

     The territory of Benjamin ( 18:11–28 )

18:11–28. Benjamin was assigned the land that lay between Judah and Joseph, a reference to Ephraim, thus minimizing the incipient rivalry between these leading tribes. Though their area was covered by mountains and ravines, extending only 25 miles from east to west and 15 miles at its widest point from north to south, it included many cities that were important in biblical history — Jericho … Bethel … Gibeon, Ramah … Mizpah, and the Jebusite city … Jerusalem (vv.  21–28 ). So the site of the future temple in Jerusalem was in the tribe of Benjamin, a fulfillment of Moses’ prophecy ( Deut. 33:12).

     The territory of Simeon ( 19:1–9 )

19:1–9. Because Judah had more territory than it needed (v.  9 ), and in fulfillment of Jacob’s prophecy (cf.  Gen. 49:5–7 ), Simeon was given land in the southern section of Judah’s territory with 17 towns and their villages. But it was not long before Simeon was to lose his individuality as a tribe, for his territory was incorporated eventually into that of Judah and many of his citizens migrated north to Ephraim and Manasseh (cf.  2 Chron. 15:9; 34:6 ). This explains why after the division of the kingdom following Solomon there were 10 tribes in the north and only 2 in the south ( Judah and Benjamin ).

     The territory of Zebulun ( 19:10–16 )

19:10–16. According to Jacob’s prophecy Zebulun would “live by the seashore and become a haven for ships” ( Gen. 49:13 ). He was assigned a portion in lower Galilee which many consider to have been landlocked. However, it is possible to understand that a strip of land extended to the Mediterranean Sea forming an enclave in Issachar’s territory. Strangely omitted is the city of Nazareth which was within the borders of Zebulun’s allotment. (The Bethlehem mentioned in  Josh. 19:15 is not the Bethlehem village in Judah [ Micah 5:2 ] where Jesus was born.)

     The territory of Issachar ( 19:17–23 )

19:17–23. Lying east of Zebulun and south of the Sea of Galilee Issachar was to occupy the fertile and beautiful valley of Jezreel, also a noted battlefield. Until the time of David, however, its people remained in the mountainous district at the eastern end of the valley.

     The territory of Asher ( 19:24–31 )

19:24–31. Asher was assigned the Mediterranean coastal lands from Mount Carmel north to Sidon and Tyre. By virtue of its vital position he was to protect Israel from northern coastal enemies such as the Phoenicians. By David’s time Asher had faded into insignificance though his tribal identity was not lost. Anna the prophetess, who along with Simeon gave thanks for the birth of Jesus, was from the tribe of Asher (cf.  Luke 2:36–38 ).

     The territory of Naphtali ( 19:32–39 )

19:32–39. Adjacent to Asher on the east, Naphtali had the Jordan River and the Sea of Galilee as its eastern boundary. While not highly significant as a region in the Old Testament period, Naphtali occupied lands that were important in New Testament history because the Galilean ministry of Jesus Christ was centered there. Isaiah the prophet contrasted Naphtali’s early gloom (due to Assyrian invasion) with its glory when Christ would be there (cf.  Isa. 9:1–2; Matt. 4:13–17 ).

     The territory of Dan ( 19:40–48 )

19:40–48. The least desirable portion fell to Dan. Surrounded by Ephraim and Benjamin on the north and east and by Judah on the south, its boundaries coincided with theirs so Dan’s borders are not described. Only towns are included, which numbered 17. Not only was their original location too small but after part of the territory of Dan was lost to the Amorites ( Jud. 1:34 ) most of the tribe migrated to the far north, and attacked and settled in the city of Leshem (Laish) opposite the northern sector of Naphtali and named it Dan (cf.  Jud. 18; Gen. 49:17 ).

     So God provided for the needs of each tribe, though in some cases parts of their inheritances were still in the hands of the enemy. The Israelites were to possess the land by faith, trusting God to enable them to defeat their foes. Centuries later Jeremiah purchased a field held by the invading Babylonian army ( Jer. 32 ). And centuries after that a Roman citizen arranged to buy some ground on which the attackers of Rome were camped. Similarly Israel was to claim her tribal inheritances by faith. Failure to do so would be to live in poverty and weakness, conditions which God did not desire for His people.

Bible Knowledge Commentary (2 Volume Set) (Bible Knowledge Series)

Legalism Galatians 2:18

By Dr. Sinclair Ferguson

     The danger of legalism is that it builds up again what Christ has torn down. (Gal 2:18) It distorts and may actually destroy the gospel. It is inimical to the grace of God in Christ. It lies at the heart of many pastoral problems and is one of the most common spiritual sicknesses. Unfortunately it is an infectious disease, especially if a pastor or preacher has contracted it. So it is important to be able to recognize some of its common symptoms.

     A (Self) Righteous “Temper” | Legalism produces what our forefathers called a self-righteous “temper.” Of course it can do that in the limited modern sense of the word temper—“anger” or “rage.” But in the older sense the word is closer to our word temperament—a person’s basic disposition. Temper can be controlled, at least to an extent; temperament, however, cannot be hidden. It is like the breath of a smoker or the scent of a pleasing perfume. It discloses itself in a variety of ways, some more subtle than others.

     Think of the Pharisee in Jesus’s parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector. (Luke 18:9-14)

     Pharisees lived “according to the strictest party of . . . religion.” (Acts 26:5) The name itself is probably derived from the root “to separate.” Pharisaism was essentially a conservative “holiness movement.” So the Pharisee was a man deeply exercised about personal and religious holiness in the details of life. Indeed the Pharisee Jesus pictures praying in the temple went beyond the specific requirements of the law. Listen to his prayer. He thinks of himself as:

  Not like other men. (By definition—he is, after all, a Pharisee. (The probable derivation is “a separated one.”))
  A Ten Commandments man. (He alludes to at least three of them.)
  Able to compare himself favorably with others. (He does so specifically with a tax collector who entered the temple simultaneously.)
  A man punctilious in his disciplines. (He fasts twice a week. The law included more feasts than fasts and required fasting only once a year on the Day of Atonement (Lev. 16:29, 31. Other fasts were introduced but the text that notes them (Zech. 8:19) stresses that they are to be turned into feasts!).
  A self-sacrificing man. (He tithed everything. The law required tithing of only crops, fruit, and animals.6 Apparently the Pharisee’s tithing extended beyond income to his possessions.)

     Who is this man?

     Luke tells us that Jesus told the parable “to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt.” (Luke 18:9) But Jesus himself did not tell his original hearers this. Indeed we are given the impression that his hearers were probably led along by the Pharisee’s hint that he was “not like . . . this tax collector.” Surely the Pharisee was God’s man, the righteous one who could leave the temple assured he was justified before God. It could not be the miserable tax collector, could it? For, apart from being a tax collector and therefore by definition associated with “sinners,” he:

  Could not even lift his eyes to heaven—which was expected in prayer etiquette. (See John 17:1.)
  Beat his breast in the light of his obvious sinfulness.
  Cried out to God to be “merciful” (literally, “propitiated”) to him—since no sacrifice was prescribed for his high-handed transgressions.
  Acknowledged he was “a sinner.”

     There was, surely, only one answer to Jesus’s implied question: “So which of these two men went home from temple worship that day justified, righteous in the sight of the Holy God of heaven?”

  We are over-familiar with this parable.
  We know “the right answer.”
  We have been immunized against the unexpected, indeed stunning truth.
  It was the tax collector.

     How can contemporary Christians recapture the sense of shock at hearing Jesus’s conclusion?

     In one sense the answer is simple. It should shock us because evangelical Christians may existentially have more in common with the Pharisee than with the tax collector. ( Emphasis mine. I see it in two of my sons and myself ) Those into whose temperaments justification by grace has fully permeated:

     Do not look down on another person—including another Christian. The instinct to do so is one of the most obvious telltale signs of a heart from which legalism has not yet been fully or finally banished; for it implies that we have merited grace more than another.

     Do not assume that there is anything in our devotion to the Lord that is the reason for God’s acceptance of us rather than of somebody else who lacks it.

     Do not assume that it is on the grounds of a decision we made, or for that matter our years of commitment to Christ, that we are accepted before God.

     Do not despise (“treat with contempt,” in Luke’s expression) an embarrassing breach of etiquette, or outward show of sorrow, in another person.

     So, when did you last beat your breast and say, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner”?

     Excerpt from The Whole Christ: Legalism, Antinomianism, and Gospel Assurance

     Dr. Sinclair B. Ferguson is a Ligonier teaching fellow and distinguished visiting professor of systematic theology at Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia.      Sinclair Ferguson Books |  Go to Books Page

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


     After this, I beheld until they were come into the land of Beulah, where the sun shineth night and day. Here, because they were weary, they betook themselves a while to rest. And because this country was common for pilgrims, and because the orchards and vineyards that were here belonged to the King of the Celestial country, therefore they were licensed to make bold with any of his things. But a little while soon refreshed them here; for the bells did so ring, and the trumpets continually sound so melodiously, that they could not sleep, and yet they received as much refreshing as if they had slept their sleep ever so soundly. Here also all the noise of them that walked the streets was, More pilgrims are come to town! And another would answer, saying, And so many went over the water, and were let in at the golden gates to-day! They would cry again, There is now a legion of shining ones just come to town, by which we know that there are more pilgrims upon the road; for here they come to wait for them, and to comfort them after all their sorrow. Then the pilgrims got up, and walked to and fro. But how were their ears now filled with heavenly noises, and their eyes delighted with celestial visions! In this land they heard nothing, saw nothing, felt nothing, smelt nothing, tasted nothing that was offensive to their stomach or mind; only when they tasted of the water of the river over which they were to go, they thought that it tasted a little bitterish to the palate; but it proved sweeter when it was down.

     In this place there was a record kept of the names of them that had been pilgrims of old, and a history of all the famous acts that they had done. It was here also much discoursed, how the river to some had had its flowings, and what ebbings it has had while others have gone over. It has been in a manner dry for some, while it has overflowed its banks for others.

     In this place the children of the town would go into the King’s gardens, and gather nosegays for the pilgrims, and bring them to them with much affection. Here also grew camphire, with spikenard and saffron, calamus and cinnamon, with all the trees of frankincense, myrrh, and aloes, with all chief spices. With these the pilgrims’ chambers were perfumed while they stayed here; and with these were their bodies anointed, to prepare them to go over the river, when the time appointed was come. Now, while they lay here, and waited for the good hour, there was a noise in the town that there was a post come from the Celestial City, with matter of great importance to one Christiana, the wife of Christian the pilgrim. So inquiry was made for her, and the house was found out where she was. So the post presented her with a letter. The contents were, Hail, good woman; I bring thee tidings that the Master calleth for thee, and expecteth that thou shouldst stand in his presence in clothes of immortality within these ten days.

     When he had read this letter to her, he gave her therewith a sure token that he was a true messenger, and was come to bid her make haste to be gone. The token was, an arrow with a point sharpened with love, let easily into her heart, which by degrees wrought so effectually with her, that at the time appointed she must be gone.

     When Christiana saw that her time was come, and that she was the first of this company that was to go over, she called for Mr. Great-Heart her guide, and told him how matters were. So he told her he was heartily glad of the news, and could have been glad had the post come for him. Then she bid him that he should give advice how all things should be prepared for her journey. So he told her, saying, Thus and thus it must be, and we that survive will accompany you to the river-side.

     Then she called for her children, and gave them her blessing, and told them that she had read with comfort the mark that was set in their foreheads, and was glad to see them with her there, and that they had kept their garments so white. Lastly, she bequeathed to the poor that little she had, and commanded her sons and daughters to be ready against the messenger should come for them.

     When she had spoken these words to her guide, and to her children, she called for Mr. Valiant-for-truth, and said unto him, Sir, you have in all places showed yourself true-hearted; be faithful unto death, and my King will give you a crown of life.

Rev. 2:10 Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have tribulation. Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life.   ESV

I would also entreat you to have an eye to my children; and if at any time you see them faint, speak comfortably to them. For my daughters, my sons’ wives, they have been faithful, and a fulfilling of the promise upon them will be their end. But she gave Mr. Standfast a ring.

     Then she called for old Mr. Honest, and said of him, “Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile!”

John 1:47 Then said he, I wish you a fair day when you set out for Mount Sion, and shall be glad to see that you go over the river dry-shod. But she answered, Come wet, come dry, I long to be gone; for however the weather is in my journey, I shall have time enough when I come there to sit down and rest me and dry me.

     Then came in that good man Mr. Ready-to-halt, to see her. So she said to him, Thy travel hitherto has been with difficulty; but that will make thy rest the sweeter. Watch, and be ready; for at an hour when you think not, the messenger may come.

     After him came Mr. Despondency and his daughter Much-afraid, to whom she said, You ought, with thankfulness, forever to remember your deliverance from the hands of Giant Despair, and out of Doubting Castle. The effect of that mercy is, that you are brought with safety hither. Be ye watchful, and cast away fear; be sober, and hope to the end.

     Then she said to Mr. Feeble-mind, Thou wast delivered from the mouth of Giant Slay-good, that thou mightest live in the light of the living, and see thy King with comfort. Only I advise thee to repent of thine aptness to fear and doubt of his goodness, before he sends for thee; lest thou shouldst, when he comes, be forced to stand before him for that fault with blushing.

     Now the day drew on that Christiana must be gone. So the road was full of people to see her take her journey. But behold, all the banks beyond the river were full of horses and chariots, which were come down from above to accompany her to the city gate. So she came forth, and entered the river, with a beckon of farewell to those that followed her. The last words that she was heard to say were, I come, Lord, to be with thee and bless thee! So her children and friends returned to their place, for those that waited for Christiana had carried her out of their sight. So she went and called, and entered in at the gate with all the ceremonies of joy that her husband Christian had entered with before her. At her departure, the children wept. But Mr. Great-Heart and Mr. Valiant played upon the welltuned cymbal and harp for joy. So all departed to their respective places.

     In process of time there came a post to the town again, and his business was with Mr. Ready-to-halt. So he inquired him out, and said, I am come from Him whom thou hast loved and followed, though upon crutches; and my message is to tell thee, that he expects thee at his table to sup with him in his kingdom, the next day after Easter; wherefore prepare thyself for this journey. Then he also gave him a token that he was a true messenger, saying, “I have broken thy golden bowl, and loosed thy silver cord.”

Eccles. 12:6 before the silver cord is snapped, or the golden bowl is broken, or the pitcher is shattered at the fountain, or the wheel broken at the cistern,   ESV

     After this, Mr. Ready-to-halt called for his fellow-pilgrims, and told them, saying, I am sent for, and God shall surely visit you also. So he desired Mr. Valiant to make his will. And because he had nothing to bequeath to them that should survive him but his crutches, and his good wishes, therefore thus he said, These crutches I bequeath to my son that shall tread in my steps, with a hundred warm wishes that he may prove better than I have been. Then he thanked Mr. Great-Heart for his conduct and kindness, and so addressed himself to his journey. When he came to the brink of the river, he said, Now I shall have no more need of these crutches, since yonder are chariots and horses for me to ride on. The last words he was heard to say were, Welcome life! So he went his way.

     After this, Mr. Feeble-mind had tidings brought him that the post sounded his horn at his chamber door. Then he came in, and told him, saying, I am come to tell thee that thy Master hath need of thee, and that in a very little time thou must behold his face in brightness. And take this as a token of the truth of my message: “Those that look out at the windows shall be darkened.”

Eccles. 12:3 in the day when the keepers of the house tremble, and the strong men are bent, and the grinders cease because they are few, and those who look through the windows are dimmed,   ESV

Then Mr. Feeble-mind called for his friends, and told them what errand had been brought unto him, and what token he had received of the truth of the message. Then he said, since I have nothing to bequeath to any, to what purpose should I make a will? As for my feeble mind, that I will leave behind me, for that I shall have no need of it in the place whither I go, nor is it worth bestowing upon the poorest pilgrims: wherefore, when I am gone, I desire that you, Mr. Valiant, would bury it in a dunghill. This done, and the day being come on which he was to depart, he entered the river as the rest. His last words were, Hold out, faith and patience! So he went over to the other side.

     When days had many of them passed away, Mr. Despondency was sent for; for a post was come, and brought this message to him: Trembling man! these are to summon thee to be ready with the King by the next Lord’s day, to shout for joy for thy deliverance from all thy doubtings. And, said the messenger, that my message is true, take this for a proof: so he gave him a grasshopper to be a burden unto him.

Ecclesiastes 12:5 they are afraid also of what is high, and terrors are in the way; the almond tree blossoms, the grasshopper drags itself along, and desire fails, because man is going to his eternal home, and the mourners go about the streets—   ESV

     Now Mr. Despondency’s daughter, whose name was Much-afraid, said, when she heard what was done, that she would go with her father. Then Mr. Despondency said to his friends, Myself and my daughter, you know what we have been, and how troublesomely we have behaved ourselves in every company. My will and my daughter’s is, that our desponds and slavish fears be by no man ever received, from the day of our departure, forever; for I know that after my death they will offer themselves to others. For, to be plain with you, they are ghosts which we entertained when we first began to be pilgrims, and could never shake them off after; and they will walk about, and seek entertainment of the pilgrims: but for our sakes, shut the doors upon them. When the time was come for them to depart, they went up to the brink of the river. The last words of Mr. Despondency were, Farewell, night; welcome, day! His daughter went through the river singing, but none could understand what she said.

     Then it came to pass a while after, that there was a post in the town that inquired for Mr. Honest. So he came to the house where he was, and delivered to his hand these lines: Thou art commanded to be ready against this day seven-night, to present thyself before thy Lord at his Father’s house. And for a token that my message is true, “All the daughters of music shall be brought low.”

Eccles. 12:4 and the doors on the street are shut—when the sound of the grinding is low, and one rises up at the sound of a bird, and all the daughters of song are brought low—   ESV

Then Mr. Honest called for his friends, and said unto them, I die, but shall make no will. As for my honesty, it shall go with me; let him that comes after be told of this. When the day that he was to be gone was come, he addressed himself to go over the river. Now the river at that time over-flowed its banks in some places; but Mr. Honest, in his lifetime, had spoken to one Good-conscience to meet him there, the which he also did, and lent him his hand, and so helped him over. The last words of Mr. Honest were, Grace reigns! So he left the world.

     After this it was noised abroad that Mr. Valiant-for-truth was taken with a summons by the same post as the other, and had this for a token that the summons was true, “That his pitcher was broken at the fountain.”

Eccl. 12:6 before the silver cord is snapped, or the golden bowl is broken, or the pitcher is shattered at the fountain, or the wheel broken at the cistern,   ESV

When he understood it, he called for his friends, and told them of it. Then said he, I am going to my Father’s; and though with great difficulty I have got hither, yet now I do not repent me of all the trouble I have been at to arrive where I am. My sword I give to him that shall succeed me in my pilgrimage, and my courage and skill to him that can get it. My marks and scars I carry with me, to be a witness for me that I have fought His battles who will now be my rewarder. When the day that he must go hence was come, many accompanied him to the river-side, into which as he went, he said, “Death, where is thy sting?” And as he went down deeper, he said, “Grave, where is thy victory?”

1 Cor. 15:55 “O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?”

So he passed over, and all the trumpets sounded for him on the other side.

     Then there came forth a summons for Mr. Standfast. This Mr. Standfast was he whom the rest of the pilgrims found upon his knees in the Enchanted Ground. And the post brought it him open in his hands: the contents thereof were, that he must prepare for a change of life, for his Master was not willing that he should be so far from him any longer. At this Mr. Standfast was put into a muse. Nay, said the messenger, you need not doubt of the truth of my message; for here is a token of the truth thereof, “Thy wheel is broken at the cistern.”

Eccles. 12:6 before the silver cord is snapped, or the golden bowl is broken, or the pitcher is shattered at the fountain, or the wheel broken at the cistern,   ESV

     Then he called to him Mr. Great-Heart, who was their guide, and said unto him, Sir, although it was not my hap to be much in your good company during the days of my pilgrimage, yet, since the time I knew you, you have been profitable to me. When I came from home, I left behind me a wife and five small children; let me entreat you, at your return, (for I know that you go and return to your Master’s house, in hopes that you may yet be a conductor to more of the holy pilgrims,) that you send to my family, and let them be acquainted with all that hath and shall happen unto me. Tell them moreover of my happy arrival at this place, and of the present and late blessed condition I am in. Tell them also of Christian and Christiana his wife, and how she and her children came after her husband. Tell them also of what a happy end she made, and whither she is gone. I have little or nothing to send to my family, unless it be prayers and tears for them; of which it will suffice that you acquaint them, if peradventure they may prevail. When Mr. Standfast had thus set things in order, and the time being come for him to haste him away, he also went down to the river. Now there was a great calm at that time in the river; wherefore Mr. Standfast, when he was about half-way in, stood a while, and talked with his companions that had waited upon him thither. And he said, This river has been a terror to many; yea, the thoughts of it also have often frightened me; but now methinks I stand easy; my foot is fixed upon that on which the feet of the priests that bare the ark of the covenant stood while Israel went over Jordan.

Josh. 3:17 Now the priests bearing the ark of the covenant of the LORD stood firmly on dry ground in the midst of the Jordan, and all Israel was passing over on dry ground until all the nation finished passing over the Jordan.   ESV

The waters indeed are to the palate bitter, and to the stomach cold; yet the thoughts of what I am going to, and of the convoy that waits for me on the other side, do lie as a glowing coal at my heart. I see myself now at the end of my journey; my toilsome days are ended. I am going to see that head which was crowned with thorns, and that face which was spit upon for me. I have formerly lived by hearsay and faith; but now I go where I shall live by sight, and shall be with him in whose company I delight myself. I have loved to hear my Lord spoken of; and  wherever I have seen the print of his shoe in the earth, there I have coveted to set my foot too. His name has been to me as a civet-box; yea, sweeter than all perfumes. His voice to me has been most sweet, and his countenance I have more desired than they that have most desired the light of the sun. His words I did use to gather for my food, and for antidotes against my faintings. He hath held me, and hath kept me from mine iniquities; yea, my steps hath he strengthened in his way.

     Now, while he was thus in discourse, his countenance changed; his strong man bowed under him: and after he had said, Take me, for I come unto thee, he ceased to be seen of them.

     But glorious it was to see how the open region was filled with horses and chariots, with trumpeters and pipers, with singers and players upon stringed instruments, to welcome the pilgrims as they went up, and followed one another in at the beautiful gate of the city.

     As for Christiana’s children, the four boys that Christiana brought, with their wives and children, I did not stay where I was till they were gone over. Also, since I came away, I heard one say that they were yet alive, and so would be for the increase of the church, in that place where they were, for a time.

     Should it be my lot to go that way again, I may give those that desire it an account of what I here am silent about: meantime I bid my reader


     THE END

     Pilgrim's Progress (Illustrated): Updated, Modern English. More than 100 Illustrations.

The Continual Burnt Offering

By H.A. Ironside - 1941

March 16
2 Chronicles 17:3 The LORD was with Jehoshaphat, because he walked in the earlier ways of his father David. He did not seek the Baals, 4 but sought the God of his father and walked in his commandments, and not according to the practices of Israel. 5 Therefore the LORD established the kingdom in his hand. And all Judah brought tribute to Jehoshaphat, and he had great riches and honor.  ESV

     The path of obedience is the path of blessing. This is the great lesson emphasized in the life of King Jehoshaphat. Disobedience always results in sorrow and disappointment. ( Numbers 32:23 But if you will not do so, behold, you have sinned against the LORD, and be sure your sin will find you out.   ESV ) Yet how slowly we learn these things, simple and so often demonstrated as they are! What can be more foolish than to suppose that we, poor finite creatures of a day, are capable of ruling ourselves and finding lasting happiness in acting in accordance with our own unrestrained impulses? Rather we should yield ourselves to God to do His will and be controlled and directed by Him as He has revealed His mind to us in His holy Word. It is His love for us that leads Him to give us appropriate instruction for a safe way through this life. Our greatest wisdom is demonstrated by surrendering ourselves wholly to Him, in order that He may be glorified in and through us.

“His will be done,” we say with sighs and trembling,
Expecting trial, bitter loss and tears;
And then how doth He answer us with blessings
In sweet rebuking of our faithless fears.

God’s will is peace and plenty and the power
To be and have the best that He can give,
A mind to serve Him and a heart to love Him,
The faith to die with and the strength to live.

It means for us all good, all grace, all glory,
His kingdom coming and on earth begun.
Why should we fear to say: “His will — His righteous,
His tender, loving, joyous will — be done?”
--- Annie Johnson Flint

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

By Gleason Archer Jr.

Genesis (cont)

      In explanation of this assertion, it needs to be pointed out that the Hebrew ʾereṣ, translated consistently as “earth” in our English Bibles, is also the word used for “land” (e.g., the land of Israel, the land of Egypt). There is another term, tēbēl, which means the whole expanse of the earth, or the world as a whole. Nowhere does tēbēl occur in this account, but only ʾereṣ, in all the statements which sound quite universal in the English Bible (e.g.,  7:4, 10, 17, 18, 19 ). Thus,  Gen. 6:17c can be rendered: “Everything that is in the land shall die” — that is, in whatever geographical region is involved in the context and situation. If this interpretation be allowed, then the mountains whose summits were submerged by the flood would have been the relatively lower mountains of the region surrounding Mesopotamia, rather than including the mighty Himalayas (such as Mount Everest with its nearly six miles in height). Correspondingly, the word ground (˓adāmāh) which occurs in the ASV of  7:4 (“earth,” KJV) can be understood as the soil surface of the same area covered by the ʾereṣ of the other verses. But the phrase “under the whole heaven” in  7:19 (“and all the high mountains that were under the whole heaven,” ASV) may not be so easily disposed of. It is doubtful whether anywhere else in the Hebrew Scriptures this expression “the whole heaven” can be interpreted to indicate a mere geographical region. For this reason most careful exegetes, like Franz Delitzsch in the last century and more recently H. C. Leupold, have not conceded the exegetical possibility of interpreting  Gen. 7 as describing a merely local flood.

      Formidable scientific problems are raised by a universal flood, according to Ramm’s summary. (1) According to the best estimates, to cover the highest Himalayas would require eight times more water than our planet now possesses. (2) The withdrawal of so great a quantity of water constitutes an almost insuperable problem, for there would be no place to which it could drain off. (Ramm so interprets the verb shākak in  Gen. 8:1 — yet the lexicons render it “decrease,” “abate” [“assuaged,” KJV and ASV] rather than “drain off.”) The mechanics of this abatement of water would certainly be difficult, for the atmosphere could not possibly hold that much water in evaporated form, and it is doubtful if any underground cavities in the earth could receive more than a small fraction of this additional volume of water. (3) Scarcely any plant life could have survived submersion under salt water for over a year, and the mingling of ocean water with the rain must have resulted in a lethal saline concentration, even though the mixture would have been considerably diluted. Practically all marine life would have perished, except those comparatively few organisms which can withstand tremendous pressure, for 90 percent of present marine life is found in the first fifty fathoms, and many of these species cannot survive distant migration from their native feeding grounds. Presumably the fresh water fish would have died, even though the salinity might have been high enough to support saltwater fish. (4) Certain areas of the earth’s surface show definite evidence of no submersion. For example, in Auvergne, France, there are reportedly cones of loose scoria and ashes from volcanoes thousands of years older than the flood, and yet they show no signs of having been washed or disturbed by flood waters.

      Perhaps difficulties (1) and (3) can be accounted for by special creative or recreative acts of God. (But why then the concern for the preservation of the land animals in the ark, if re-creation was so readily available?) But (2) would seem to call for a good deal of uncreation or complete annihilation of aqueous matter—which appears highly improbable. Difficulty (4) seems to defy explanation, unless the volcanoes involved were really of post-Noahic origin, and the criteria for dating them earlier turn out to be erroneous. Or else perhaps the scoria and ashes may not have been so easily disturbed by water action as the argument assumes, or else they may have been covered over by later strata before the Flood.

      It cannot be maintained, however, that even a local flood will solve all these scientific difficulties.  Gen. 7:19 states most explicitly that all the water level rose well above “all the high mountains that were under the whole heaven.” Assuming that the mountains involved were merely local (a difficult interpretation to make out from the text), at the very least the peaks of Mount Ararat itself were covered, since the ark came to rest where the higher peak (over 17,000 feet high) would be visible. The unavoidable inference would be that the water level rose more than 17,000 feet above the present sea level. This creates difficulties almost as grave for the local flood theory as those which that theory is supposed to avoid. How could the level have been that high at Ararat without being the same height over the rest of the world? Only during a very temporary surge, such as that of a tidal wave, can water fail to seek its own level. To suppose a 17,000-foot level in Armenia simultaneous with an uninundated Auvergne in France would be to propound a more incredible miracle than anything implied by the traditional understanding of a universal flood.

      The only possible solution, apparently, would be found in the supposition that the height of Ararat was much lower than at present. It is very difficult to date reliably a major upward thrust of the mountain - making variety, and hence it is quite possible that even in the few millennia which have followed the flood, the great mountain ranges have attained far higher elevation than they did before Noah’s time. Thus the recent uplift of the Sierra Nevada range in California is the only reasonable explanation of the dying out of the bristle - cone pine tree, thousands of years old, on their eastem slopes which (to judge from the width of the season rings in their trunks) apparently flourished during an earlier period when rainfall from the landward breezes from the Pacific shore was fairly plentiful. Since this species is still dying out under conditions created by increased elevation of the westernmost peaks (resulting in the cutting off of winds from the Pacific), this must have been of recent occurrence (The National Geographic [March 1958], pp. 355–68). But such a supposition could be applicable not only to the Ararat range but also to the Himalayas and the Cordilleras as well, and it would alleviate somewhat the problem of water supply for a universal flood.

      A very interesting line of evidence has been furnished by some exponents of diluvialism in the various ossiferous fissures which have been discovered in widely separate locations in both hemispheres. A. M. Rehwinkel, for example, in his Flood (1951), describes these great fissures, some of them in hills of considerable height, and anywhere from 140 to 300 feet in depth, containing the most heterogeneous mammal remains. Since no skeleton is complete, the inference is that none of these animals fell into these fissures while still alive. Nor is there any evidence of weathering in these bones, nor of being rolled by streams. They must have been deposited under water, since they were cemented together by calcite. Notably in one such deposit in the Saar Valley region were found the remains of bears, wolves, and oxen, as well as many small animals; others have been located on the island of Cerigo or Kythera (off the southeastern tip of the Peloponnesus), in the Rock of Gibraltar, and near Odessa on the Black Sea. This last named site was excavated in 1847 and produced about 4,500 bones of bears, hyenas, horses, boars, mammoths, rhinoceros, aurochs, deer, and many small creatures. In Malta a fissure was discovered in which along with these heterogeneous remains were found huge blocks of stone which could only have been carried there by violent water action. At Agate Springs in Nebraska, a similar discovery was made in 1876. In a ten-acre area were the remains of at least a thousand animals who apparently had died instantly in great numbers.

      All these finds certainly point to a sudden catastrophe involving the breaking up of the earth surface into enormous cracks, into which were poured the corpses of great numbers of animals who were suddenly overwhelmed in a flood. Whether or not the fluorine dating and carbon 14 tests would indicate a sufficiently recent date to identify this catastrophe with Noah’s flood is another matter. In the case of extinct species such as the mammoth, the question of the true date of their extinction is of pivotal importance. Some scientific grounds for bringing this event closer to our own time would have to be found before these data (assembled by George McCready Price and repeated by Rehwinkel) can be associated with the biblical episode. It is possible that uniformitarian presuppositions with regard to the fluorine test and carbon 14 will some day be shown invalid by the discovery of new evidence.

      At this point it should be mentioned that some writers have raised the question of whether in point of fact the flood resulted in the destruction of the entire human race (apart from the family of Noah). The list of descendants in the respective lines of Ham, Shem, and Japheth as recorded in  Gen. 10 does not permit any easy identification with the remoter races who lived in the lower reaches of Africa, Far East Asia, Australia, and the Americas. Particularly in the case of Australia, with its peculiar fauna indicating a long period of separation from the Eurasian continent, the difflculty of assigning either the human or the subhuman population with the passengers in the ark has been felt to be acute. Perhaps, then, these scholars suggest, we are to see in the family of Noah only the ancestors of the nations more immediately surrounding the Holy Land, that is, the peoples of the Near and Middle East, and of the Mediterranean coastlands.

      This suggestion encounters at least three formidable difficulties, in the light of the biblical evidence. The first is that the divine purpose, as indicated in the flood narrative, was to destroy the entire human race. Thus in  Gen. 6:7 we read: “And the Lord [Jehovah] said, I will destroy man [hāʾādām] whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them.” So also verse  17: “And, behold, I, even I, do bring a flood of waters upon the earth, to destroy all flesh, wherein is the breath of life, from under heaven; and everything that is in the earth shall die.” Even if we hold in abeyance the admissibility of translating ʾereṣ here as “land” rather than “earth,” it seems quite evident that a total destruction of the human race was involved.

      Second, it is made abundantly evident in the  Genesis account that the reason for sending the flood was the sinful condition of mankind.  Gen. 6:5 reads: “And Jehovah saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” Again, in verse  11: “The earth also was corrupt [wattishshāḥēt] before God, and the earth was filled with violence” [ḥāmās—“injurious wrongdoing”]. It hardly seems likely that the ancestors of the Australians and Far Eastern peoples presented such a stark contrast in morals to the Middle Eastern nations that God saw fit to exempt them from the judgment of the flood. The Scripture clearly includes all mankind in the verdict of guilty (e.g.,  Rom. 3:19, “That every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may be guilty” [“accountable,” RSV] before God”). This is a basic premise of the New Testament gospel. No ground for differentiating between the nations closer to Palestine and those more remote from it can possibly be made out on the basis of superior morality.

      Third, we have the unequivocal corroboration of the New Testament that the destruction of the human race at the time of the flood was total and universal. In  2 Peter 3:6 we read: “The world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished.” Compare  2 Peter 2:5: God “spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly.” Christ Himself remarked, according to  Matt. 24:38–39, concerning the days of Noah:  “For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, and knew not until the flood came, and took them all [hapantas] away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.” While the word all may not always be used in a completely universal sense in Scripture, it is consistently used to apply to the whole number of individuals involved in the situation under discussion. Certainly all men since Adam have been sinners; therefore even in Noah’s day all must have been included in the destruction of the great deluge.

      One very important line of evidence has yet to be mentioned, and that is the remarkable prevalence of oral and written traditions concerning the flood which have persisted among the most diverse peoples of earth. The Sumerians, Babylonians, and Assyrians of Mesopotamia might well be expected to cherish a similar tradition to that of the Hebrews, since they lived so close to the presumed seat of antediluvian civilization. Possibly the Egyptian legend reported in Plato’s Timaeus, and Manetho’s version (in which only Toth was saved from the flood) would be explicable from their geographical proximity to the Fertile Crescent. The Greek tradition of Deucalion and Pyrrha (so charmingly related in Ovid’s Metamorphoses) might have been a borrowing from the Near East. The same could be true of the Noah tradition in Apamea (Asia Minor) which inspired a representation of the ark on some of their coins.

     A Survey of Old Testament Introduction

By James Orr 1907


Beginning with the origins, a first question we naturally ask is — Do the early chapters of  Genesis really preserve for us the oldest traditions of our race? There are two reasons entitling us to look with some confidence for an answer to this question to Babylonia. The first is, that in Babylonia we are already far back into the times to which these traditions relate; and the second is, that these traditions themselves point to Babylonia as their seat and centre. Eden was in Babylonia, as shown by its rivers Euphrates and Tigris; the land of Nod, to which Cain and his posterity betook themselves, was to the east of Babylonia; the ark was built in Babylonia, and it was on one of the mountains N. or N. E. of Babylonia that it ultimately rested; from the plain of Shinar (Sumir) in Babylonia was the earth repeopled. If, therefore, the oldest traditions of the race lingered anywhere, it should be in Babylonia. And now that we have in our hands the records of that ancient people, dating back to very early times, it is possible to compare the Bible traditions with them, and see how far they correspond. It may be claimed that the tablets and inscriptions which have been deciphered do show that the first chapters of  Genesis are indeed what we have assumed them to be — a record of the very oldest traditions of our race. We shall look first at the facts, then at the explanation.

1. Though out of chronological order, we may begin with a statement in that old and much - discussed chapter in  Genesis — the account in chap.  10 of the divisions of men after the flood. This “table of nations,” as it is called, we look on as one of the oldest and most precious documents of its kind in existence. In vers.  8–12 of this chapter we read: “Cush begat Nimrod: he began to be a mighty one in the earth.… And the beginning of his kingdom was Babel, and Erech, and Accad, and Calneh, in the land of Shinar. Out of that land he went forth into Assyria [or, went forth Asshur] and builded Nineveh, and Rehoboth - Ir, and Calah, and Resen between Nineveh and Calah: the same is the great city.” The very names of these cities take us back into the midst of the ancient Babylonia unearthed by exploration. But more particularly, the passage makes three statements of the first importance. It affirms (1) that Babel and the other cities named existed before Nineveh; (2) that Assyria was colonised from Babylonia; and (3) that the founder of Babylonian civilisation was not a Semite, but a Cushite — a descendant of Ham. Each of these statements, till the time of the Assyrian discoveries, was confidently disputed. The received tradition put Nineveh before Babylon, and the Babylonians, like the Assyrians, were held to be Semites. The monuments, however, confirm the Bible in all three points. It is no longer questioned that the Babylonian kingdoms were the older — the antiquity ascribed to some of their cities (e.g., to Nippur = Calneh) is almost fabulous. It is no longer doubted that Assyrian civilisation was derived from Babylonia. Strangest of all, it is now known (for though there are rival theories, we state correctly the prevailing view), that the founders of the Babylonian civilisation, the inventors of its alphabet, laws, arts, the founders of its libraries, were not Semites, but people of a different stock — Turanian or Hamitic (the Accadians).

Another instance may be given from this chapter. In ver.  22 Elam is mentioned as the oldest son of Shem. But the Elam of history was not Semitic, but Aryan. On the ground of its language even Hommel wrote recently: “The Elam mentioned here as one of the sons of Shem cannot possibly be identical with Elam proper.” The work of exploration of the French expedition at Susa, the capital of Elam, has, however, resulted in the remarkable discovery of a civilisation older than any yet known in this region. More striking still, it is found that the inscriptions on the oldest bricks are written in cuneiform characters, and not in the language of later Elam, but either in Semitic Babylonian, or in Accadian. Thus Elam is proved to be, after all, “the son of Shem.”

A still wider result from these explorations, in their bearings on our subject, is the growing conviction that “the plain of Shinar” (chap.  11 ), or Southern Babylonia, was really the centre of distribution of the families of mankind. Babylonian civilisation is carried back by the discoveries at Nippur to a period so much earlier than that of any other known civilisation, that the inference seems irresistible that it is the source from which these other civilisations are derived. It has been seen that this is true of Assyria. It is beginning to be assumed by leading Egyptologists that the same is true of Egypt. Learned books have been written to show that it is true of China. Probably it will be found to be true of Crete, etc. The Biblical account of these matters, in short, is found to rest on far older and more accurate information than that possessed by any scholars prior to the new discoveries.

2. The stories of the Creation and the Flood in  Genesis have been so often compared with the corresponding Babylonian legends that it is hardly necessary to bestow much space upon them. Among the tablets found in Assurbanipal’s palace were some which proved on examination to contain an account of creation, resembling in certain of its features the narrative in  Gen. 1. The contrasts, indeed, are much more apparent than the likeness. The Babylonian story is debased throughout by polytheism — begins, in fact, by recounting the birth of the great gods from the chaotic ocean. This is followed by a long mythological description, abounding in repetition, of the war of Merodach (god of light) with Tiamat (the primeval ocean), the conflict issuing in the woman being cut in two, and heaven being formed of one half, and earth of the other. The order of the creative works, however, seems to bear some resemblance to that in  Gen. 1. The fifth tablet narrates the appointing of the constellations, and another fragment the making of the animals. A trace of an older conception may, perhaps, be discerned in the fact that in the latter (if it really belongs to the same series, which is doubtful) the work of creation is ascribed, not to Merodach, but to “all the gods” together, thus:

“When all the gods had made (the world),
Had created the heavens, had formed (the earth),
Had brought forth living creatures into being,
The cattle of the field, the (beasts) of the field, and
The creeping things (of the field).”

Inscriptions show that both Babylonians and Assyrians had a species of seventh-day sabbath. The word sabattu itself occurs, and is defined as “a day of rest for the heart.” It differed, however, from the Jewish sabbath, in that the reckoning began afresh each month — 7th, 14th, 21st, 28th, — while the Jewish went on consecutively. On it ordinary works were prohibited, at least to king and high officials.

Abundant material exists for the illustration of the narrative of Paradise. On the other hand, no clear account of the fall of man has yet been recovered. But that the Babylonians had some story resembling that in  Gen. 3 is rendered probable by the representation on an ancient seal in which a man and a woman are depicted as seated on either side of a tree, and reaching out their hands to pluck the fruit, while behind the woman a serpent rears itself, and appears to whisper in her ear. Scholars are divided in opinion as to the identification; but to most people the picture will seem to speak for itself.

No doubt, at least, can rest on the parallelism between the Biblical and the Babylonian stories of the Deluge. The Babylonian story, inserted as an episode in a longer epic poem, must be older than the latter; we may safely place it as early as 3000 B.C. Though defaced, like the creation story, by a gross polytheism, it presents in its general structure, and in many of its details, a striking resemblance to the account in  Genesis. It relates, in brief, how the Babylonian Noah was commanded to build a ship for the saving of himself and of the seed of life of every sort; how, when the ship was built and smeared with bitumen, he took into it his household and the animals (the sun-god Samas commands: “Enter into thy ship, and close thy door”); how the flood came and destroyed mankind; how the ship rested on the mountain Nizir (E. of Tigris); how after seven days he sent forth in succession a dove, a swallow, and a raven, the last of which did not return; how he then sent forth the animals, and offered a sacrifice, to which the gods “gathered like flies”; how the bow was set in the heaven (?), etc. The hero is ultimately, like Enoch, translated to the abode of the gods without dying. It was before mentioned that the parallel with the Babylonian story requires for its completeness both the Elohistic and the Jehovistic narratives in  Genesis — a fact with important bearings on the critical analysis.

3. There can be no dispute, therefore, as to the close relationship of the old Babylonian traditions with the early narratives in  Genesis the question which remains is, How are these similarities to be explained?

(1) The favourite hypothesis in critical circles up to the present is that of borrowing on the part of the Israelites from the Babylonians; and, as the Babylonians are undeniably the older people, this view may seem to have much to commend it. The Biblical writers, it is thought, or, before them, the nation, adopted the legends in question, purifying them, perhaps gradually, from polytheistic elements, and making them the vehicles of the purer ideas of their own religion. Then the further question arises — At what period did this borrowing take place? and here we encounter wide divergences of opinion. In accordance with the date they assign to the Priestly Writing, the tendency in the Wellhausen school is to represent it as taking place in the exile, or later. To this view, however, an increasing band of scholars, largely influenced by archæology, raise objections which seem insuperable. How extremely improbable that any Israelite, of the time of the exile, should dream of taking over these grossly polytheistic stories from a heathen people, and of placing them, in purified form, in the forefront of his Book of the Law! The purification itself, assuming it to have taken place, is not so easy a task as is supposed, and can only be thought of as a long process. The same objection, nearly, applies to the borrowing of the Babylonian myths in the age of Ahaz, or in the reign of Solomon. A new vista of possibility, however, opens itself with the Tel el-Amarna discoveries — on which more below — which show Canaan to have been, in the fifteenth century B.C., penetrated with Babylonian influences and culture. May we not assume that the Israelites borrowed these legends, with other elements of their civilisation, from the Canaanites, after they had come into possession of the land? To anyone who retains the least faith in the Biblical picture of the Mosaic age, or of the relations of the Israelites and Canaanites after the conquest, the improbability of such borrowing will appear as great as in the exilian theory. This is the difficulty of the “process” — how is it to get a start? For at some point the legends must have been taken over in their grossly polytheistic form: nay, must long have retained that form in the bosom of Jehovah-worshipping Israel. Is this likely, or is there any proof of it? There is one other possibility — that the Hebrews brought these traditions with them in their original migration from Ur of the Chaldees. But once this is admitted, we come in sight of an alternative hypothesis, on which something will immediately be said.

An objection urged to this view of the antiquity of the Biblical traditions is the absence of all allusions to them in the pre-exilian writings. “With regard both to the Creation and to the Deluge stories,” says Dr. Cheyne, “if they were in circulation in early pre-exilic times, it is difficult to understand the absence of any direct allusion to them in the undoubted pre-exilic writings.” This is once more the argument from silence, so often shown to be inconclusive. But the argument in this case proves too much: the silence, besides, is not so complete as the objection represents. The Deluge is part of the Jehovistic story, which most critics place in the ninth or eighth century B.C. It is referred to also, as before shown, in  Isa. 54:9, in a way which implies pre-exilian knowledge. The creation narrative, again, forms the basis of the Fourth Commandment in  Ex. 20:11; seems alluded to in  Deut. 4:32; and is the foundation of  Pss. 8 and  104. To put all these references and  Psalms late because  Gen. 1 is assumed to be post-exilian, is to beg the question.

Isaiah 54:9 (KJV 1900)
9 For this is as the waters of Noah unto me:
For as I have sworn that the waters of Noah should no more go over the earth;
So have I sworn that I would not be wroth with thee, nor rebuke thee.

Exodus 20:11 For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is,
and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.

Deuteronomy 4:32 For ask now of the days that are past, which were before thee,
since the day that God created man upon the earth, and ask from the one side of heaven unto the other,
whether there hath been any such thing as this great thing is, or hath been heard like it?

(2) We do not say that the hypothesis of the borrowing of Babylonian myths, and of their purification by the spirit of revelation in Israel, in such wise that they become the vehicles of higher teaching, is abstractly inadmissible; but we do not think it is the conclusion which most naturally follows from the comparison of the Biblical and Babylonian stories. The former, it is allowed, possess a character of sobriety, monotheistic elevation, and purity of religious and ethical conception, altogether absent from the latter; the contrasts vastly overbear the resemblances; and it is hard to understand how, from legends so debased, and foreign to the whole genius of the Israelitish religion, could arise the noble products of a purer faith which we have in our Bible. The differences are so great as to lead many scholars to seek the explanation of the resemblance along another line altogether — in a relation of cognateness, rather than one of derivation. On this view, the Biblical stories are not late and purified versions of the Babylonian, but represent an independent related version, going back to a common origin with the Babylonian, but preserving their monotheistic character in the line of revelation, when the others had long sunk under the corrupting influences of polytheism. Or, if purification is to be spoken of, it is purification on the basis of an older and less debased tradition. Such a view harmonises with the Bible’s own postulate that the light of a true knowledge of God has never been wholly extinguished among men, and that from the first there has been a line of pious worshippers, a seed of blessing and promise, on the earth.

(3) In the discussions which have arisen on the connection of Israel with Babylonia, it is not surprising that attention should latterly have become focussed on the question of how far the old Babylonian religion, among its other elements, included a monotheistic strain, and whether it is from this source that Israel derived its monotheistic conception. This is the question peculiarly agitated in what — from the title of the lecture of Fried. Delitzsch which inaugurated it — has been called the “Babel and Bible” controversy. The truth, it seems to us, lies midway between those who affirm, and those who deny, a monotheistic substratum in the Babylonian religion. That Israel borrowed its idea of the one God from this source is another matter. The name JA’U — corresponding with Yahweh — may or may not be found, as alleged, on tablets of the Hammurabi age. Reading and meaning of the inscriptions are still under discussion. But this, though interesting in its bearings on the age of the name, proves nothing as to its Babylonian origin. F. Delitzsch himself does not take it to be a native Babylonian name of God.

     The Problem of the Old Testament

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     Devotionals, notes, poetry and more

coram Deo
     1/2006 | Progress Redefined

     The world measures success in terms of that which is tangible — by what is bigger, faster, and by what draws the most attention. For many people, success is defined solely by numbers and circumstantial outcomes. True success, however, cannot be measured merely by what is perceived by the eyes of men. We measure our success according to economic and sociological standards, which at times is certainly appropriate considering that we are to be good stewards of our time, talents, and finances; however, the problem lies in that we measure our Christian lives according to the same principles — evaluating our success in the Christian life based on what is bigger, faster, and, especially, on what draws the most attention. However, often what is considered “successful” by the world’s standards is entirely unsuccessful according to the standards of God. Though it could be said that the measure of a man in terms of his success is based upon the subjective standards of others, true success is measured objectively by God, whose standard is impartial and immutable.

     According to the prophet Micah, God has provided us with His standard of success: “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8). Simply stated, God is not first and foremost concerned with our success; rather, He is concerned with our faithfulness. Herein is the standard of the pilgrim’s progress: As pilgrims of God, we progress not in our successfulness but in our faithfulness to God. Our standard for faithfulness does not come from the world, it does not come from those around us, and it certainly does not come from within us.

     Our standard is from God alone and is found in the cross of Christ alone, and it is upon the cross that Christ took the burden from our backs and set us free to live, move, and have our being in Him.

     As we learn from Bunyan’s classic, our progress as Christians is not measured on the scale of man’s justice but on the scale of God’s grace. For His burden is easy and His yoke light, and to walk humbly before God is to be lifted up by God (James 4:10), to know weakness is to know the perfection of God’s strength (2 Cor. 12:9), to bear the cross is to wear the crown (Gal. 6:14), and to live for Christ coram Deo, before the face of God, is to die to ourselves (Mark 8:34).

     click here for article source

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

Ligonier     coram Deo (definition)

American Minute
     by Bill Federer

     He was called the “Chief Architect of the Constitution,” and wrote many of the Federalist Papers which where instrumental in the States ratifying the Constitution. He introduced the Bill of Rights in the first session of Congress. As President, he and his wife Dolly had to flee the White House when the British set it on fire during the War of 1812. Who was he? James Madison, born this day, March 16, 1751. James Madison wrote: “Before any man can be considered as a member of Civil Society, he must be considered as a subject of the Governor of the Universe.”

American Minute

Lean Into God
     Compiled by Richard S. Adams

He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.
--- Jim Elliot
Living Without the Veil: Knowing God Intimately, and Making Him Known

If you have no opposition in the place you serve,
you're serving in the wrong place.
--- G. Campbell Morgan
The Ministry of the Word:

I've learned that you shouldn't go through life with a catcher's mitt on both hands; you need to be able to throw something back.
--- Maya Angelou
Rosh Hashanah Readings: Inspiration, Information and Contemplation

It is the final proof of God's omnipotence that he need not exist in order to save us.
--- Peter De Vries
The Analytic Theist: An Alvin Plantinga Reader

... from here, there and everywhere

Journal of John Woolman 3/16
     University of Virginia Library 1994

     On the 31st of fifth month, 1761, I was taken ill of a fever, and after it had continued near a week I was in great distress of body. One day there was a cry raised in me that I might understand the cause of my affliction, and improve under it, and my conformity to some customs which I believed were not right was brought to my remembrance. In the continuance of this exercise I felt all the powers in me yield themselves up into the hands of Him who gave me being, and was made thankful that he had taken hold of me by his chastisements. Feeling the necessity of further purifying, there was now no desire in me for health until the design of my correction was answered. Thus I lay in abasement and brokenness of spirit, and as I felt a sinking down into a calm resignation, so I felt, as in an instant, an inward healing in my nature, and from that time forward I grew better.

     Though my mind was thus settled in relation to hurtful dyes, I felt easy to wear my garments heretofore made, and continued to do so about nine months. Then I thought of getting a hat the natural color of the fur, but the apprehension of being looked upon as one affecting singularity felt uneasy to me. Here I had occasion to consider that things, though small in themselves, being clearly enjoined by Divine authority, become great things to us; and I trusted that the Lord would support me in the trials that might attend singularity, so long as singularity was only for his sake. On this account I was under close exercise of mind in the time of our General Spring Meeting, 1762, greatly desiring to be rightly directed; when, being deeply bowed in spirit before the Lord, I was made willing to submit to what I apprehended was required of me, and when I returned home got a hat of the natural color of the fur.

     In attending meetings this singularity was a trial to me, and more especially at this time, as white hats were used by some who were fond of following the changeable modes of dress, and as some Friends who knew not from what motives I wore it grew shy of me, I felt my way for a time shut up in the exercise of the ministry. In this condition, my mind being turned toward my Heavenly Father with fervent cries that I might be preserved to walk before him in the meekness of wisdom, my heart was often tender in meetings, and I felt an inward consolation which to me was very precious under these difficulties.

     I had several dyed garments fit for use which I believed it best to wear till I had occasion for new ones. Some Friends were apprehensive that my wearing such a hat savored of an affected singularity; those who spoke with me in a friendly way I generally informed, in a few words, that I believed my wearing it was not in my own will. I had at times been sensible that a superficial friendship had been dangerous to me; and many Friends being now uneasy with me, I had an inclination to acquaint some with the manner of my being led into these things; yet upon a deeper thought I was for a time most easy to omit it, believing the present dispensation was profitable, and trusting that if I kept my place the Lord in his own time would open the hearts of Friends towards me. I have since had cause to admire his goodness and loving-kindness in leading about and instructing me, and in opening and enlarging my heart in some of our meetings.

John Woolman's Journal

Proverbs 12:22-23
     by D.H. Stern

22     Lying lips are an abomination to ADONAI,
but those who deal faithfully are his delight.
23     A cautious person conceals knowledge,
but the heart of a fool blurts out folly.

Complete Jewish Bible : An English Version of the Tanakh (Old Testament) and B'Rit Hadashah (New Testament)
The Great Divorce - A Dream
     C.S. Lewis


     ‘That’s just what I say. I haven’t got my rights. I always done my best and I never done nothing wrong. And what I don’t see is why I should be put below a bloody murderer like you.’

     ‘Who knows whether you will be? Only be happy and come with me.’

     ‘What do you keep on arguing for? I’m only telling you the sort of chap I am. I only want my rights. I’m not asking for anybody’s bleeding charity.’

     ‘Then do. At once. Ask for the Bleeding Charity. Everything is here for the asking and nothing can be bought.’

     ‘That may do very well for you, I daresay. If they choose to let in a bloody murderer all because he makes a poor mouth at the last moment, that’s their look out. But I don’t see myself going in the same boat as you, see? Why should I? I don’t want charity. I’m a decent man and if I had my rights I’d have been here long ago and you can tell them I said so.’

     The other shook his head. ‘You can never do it like that,’ he said. ‘Your feet will never grow hard enough to walk on our grass that way. You’d be tired out before we got to the mountains. And it isn’t exactly true, you know.’ Mirth danced in his eyes as he said it.

     ‘What isn’t true?’ asked the Ghost sulkily.

     ‘You weren’t a decent man and you didn’t do your best. We none of us were and none of us did. Lord bless you, it doesn’t matter. There is no need to go into it all now.’

     ‘You!’ gasped the Ghost. ‘You have the face to tell me I wasn’t a decent chap?’

     ‘Of course. Must I go into all that? I will tell you one thing to begin with. Murdering old Jack wasn’t the worst thing I did. That was the work of a moment and I was half mad when I did it. But I murdered you in my heart, deliberately, for years. I used to lie awake at nights thinking what I’d do to you if I ever got the chance. That is why I have been sent to you now: to ask your forgiveness and to be your servant as long as you need one, and longer if it pleases you. I was the worst. But all the men who worked under you felt the same. You made it hard for us, you know. And you made it hard for your wife too and for your children.’

     ‘You mind your own business, young man,’ said the Ghost. ‘None of your lip, see? Because I’m not taking any impudence from you about my private affairs.’

     ‘There are no private affairs,’ said the other.

     ‘And I’ll tell you another thing,’ said the Ghost. ‘You can clear off, see? You’re not wanted. I may be only a poor man but I’m not making pals with a murderer, let alone taking lessons from him. Made it hard for you and your like, did I? If I had you back there I’d show you what work is.’

     ‘Come and show me now,’ said the other with laughter in his voice, ‘It will be joy going to the mountains, but there will be plenty of work.’

     ‘You don’t suppose I’d go with you?’

     ‘Don’t refuse. You will never get there alone. And I am the one who was sent to you.’

     ‘So that’s the trick, is it?’ shouted the Ghost, outwardly bitter, and yet I thought there was a kind of triumph in its voice. It had been entreated: it could make a refusal: and this seemed to it a kind of advantage. ‘I thought there’d be some damned nonsense. It’s all a clique, all a bloody clique. Tell them I’m not coming, see? I’d rather be damned than go along with you. I came here to get my rights, see? Not to go snivelling along on charity tied onto your apron-strings. If they’re too fine to have me without you, I’ll go home.’ It was almost happy now that it could, in a sense, threaten. ‘That’s what I’ll do,’ it repeated, ‘I’ll go home. I didn’t come here to be treated like a dog. I’ll go home. That’s what I’ll do. Damn and blast the whole pack of you …’ In the end, still grumbling, but whimpering also a little as it picked its way over the sharp grasses, it made off.

The Great Divorce   or   The Great Divorce

     C.S. Lewis

     C.S. Lewis Books |  Go to Books Page

My Utmost For The Highest
     A Daily Devotional by Oswald Chambers

                The master assizes

For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ. --- 2 Cor. 5:10.

     Paul says that we must all, preacher and people alike, “appear before the judgment seat of Christ.” If you learn to live in the white light of Christ here and now, judgment finally will cause you to delight in the work of God in you. Keep yourself steadily faced by the judgment seat of Christ; walk now in the light of the holiest you know. A wrong temper of mind about another soul will end in the spirit of the devil, no matter how saintly you are. One carnal judgment, and the end of it is hell in you. Drag it to the light at once and say—‘My God, I have been guilty there.’ If you don’t, hardness will come all through. The penalty of sin is confirmation in sin. It is not only God who punishes for sin; sin confirms itself in the sinner and gives back full pay. No struggling or praying will enable you to stop doing some things, and the penalty of sin is that gradually you get used to it and do not know that it is sin. No power save the incoming of the Holy Ghost can alter the inherent consequences of sin.

     “But if we walk in the light as He is in the light.” Walking in the light means for many of us walking according to our standard for another person. The deadliest Pharisaism to-day is not hypocrisy, but unconscious unreality.

My Utmost for His Highest

     the Poetry of R.S. Thomas


My luminary.
  my morning and evening
  star. My light at noon
  when there is no sun
  and the sky lowers. My balance
  of joy in a world
  that has gone off joy's
  standard. Yours the face
  that young I recognised
  as though I had known you
  of old. Come, my eyes
  said, out into the morning
  of a world whose dew
  waits for your footprint.
  Before a green altar
  with the thrush for priest
  I took those gossamer
  vows that neither the Church
  could stale nor the Machine
  tarnish, that with the years
  have grown hard as flint,
  lighter than platinum
  on our ringless fingers.

The JPS Torah commentary

     The Book of Numbers contains a fair sampling of poetry, ranging from the four poems that comprise Balaam’s oracles (chaps. 23–24) to smaller pieces of a few lines. The latter most likely stem from earlier sources. The Priestly Blessing (6:24–26) probably originates in the cult of the First Temple (see Lev. 9:23 and Excursus 13; the outside origin of the Song of the Ark (10:35–36) is probably indicated by the inserted nuns that frame it; the excerpt on God the Warrior is expressly borrowed from the “Book of the Wars of the Lord”; the Song of the Well (21:17–18) may plausibly be traced to the time and region in which Israel found itself during its wilderness sojourn, but it required a special prose introduction (21:16) to emphasize that it was the Lord rather than man who provided the water; and the Song of Heshbon (21:27–30) is most likely an Amorite victory song over the Moabites borrowed by Israel to substantiate its claim that it took Transjordan from the Amorites and not from the Moabites, which demonstrates that the Bible contains pre-Israelite poetry.

     There is also evidence in Numbers of borrowings from epic sources found in the narratives of Exodus. Thus the statement that the Levites were chosen at Mount Sinai (3:1, 5–13) alludes to their consecration at the time of the episode of the golden calf (Exod. 32:26–29), and the comprehensive wilderness itinerary (chap. 33) includes the opening line of a narrative found in Exodus (for 33:14, see Exod. 17:1; see also 33:40 and the beginning of 21:1–3). Also, the calendar of Leviticus 23 presumes a knowledge of chaps. 28–29.

     Borrowings from Leviticus are also in evidence, especially from the second half of the book (chaps. 17–26), generally known as the Holiness Code (H). The frequent inclusion of the ger, the “resident alien,” in the legislation of Numbers (e.g., 9:13–14; 15:26–30; 19:13, 20; 35:15) is an indication that these passages are dependent on the doctrine that the Land of Israel is holy, and hence all its inhabitants, Israelites and non-Israelites alike, are under obligation not to pollute it by violating the Lord’s prohibitive commandments. This doctrine, however, is the expressed teaching of Leviticus 17–26 (H), which may imply that all the passages that cite the ger are dependent on these chapters—which would then mandate that the final redaction of the Book of Numbers took place later than that of Leviticus. This conclusion would be supported by the observation that the law of corpse contamination (Num. 19; note the ger, vv. 13, 20) was not inserted in the Book of Leviticus, which deals with human impurities (chaps. 12–15) and presumes the knowledge of corpse impurity (e.g., 5:3; 7:21; 21:1–4; and esp. 22:3–4), because the law in Numbers reflects a time subsequent to that presupposed by the impurity laws of Leviticus. Details are found in Excursus 48.

     Further evidence that Numbers is posterior to Leviticus is the large number of clearly demonstrable interpolations evident in Numbers, as presented above. Indeed, the fact that its editorial sutures are, in the main, fully visible, and at times crudely done, renders this material subject to the exegetical principle: “The less integrated the disturbance is into the context, the later it may be assumed to have been combined.… The grossest disturbances are thus to be ascribed to the last redactional stage of combination, while lesser disturbances belong to earlier development of the tradition complexes.” For glaring examples of interpolation, see the structural schemes charted below, on pages xxiv to xxviii and in their respective Excursuses. Leviticus, on the other hand, contains many fewer interpolations, and even this material, as I demonstrate in my Leviticus commentary, has been smoothly integrated into the text.

     There is also evidence of borrowing from Deuteronomy. The victory over Og in Numbers 21:33–35 must be adjudged a copy of Deuteronomy 3:1–2, made for the purpose of conforming the Numbers narrative to the deuteronomic position that all of Transjordan was conquered at once (see the Comments to 21:33–35, and Excursus 55).

     Conversely, Numbers itself may be the source for other Torah books. The wilderness itinerary list (chap. 33) may well be the basis for the individual itinerary statements in Exodus and Numbers (Exod. 12:37; 13:20; 14:1–2; 15:22; 17:1; 19:2; Num. 10:12; 20:1, 22; 21:10–11; 22:1; see Excursus 71). Deuteronomy has picked up items from Numbers. For example, Deuteronomy 1:39 is clearly a reworking and condensation of Numbers 14:30–33. At the same time, two pericopes characterized by the same subject and vocabulary need not be interdependent; for example, the two laws on the purification offering (15:22 and Lev. 4:13–21) probably reflect discrete traditions.

     In sum, the pericopes of Numbers are not, in the main, unitary compositions but are composites of or contain insertions from other sources. Some of these sources are old poems, narratives in Exodus, and cultic material in Leviticus. Conversely, Numbers material can be shown to have influenced the composition of Exodus and Deuteronomy.

The JPS Torah Commentary: Numbers (English and Hebrew Edition)

Swimming In The Sea of Talmud
     Shabbat 10b


     Imagine that you are a hospital patient. A friend pays you a visit, and you thank him for visiting. Which response would you rather hear—“It’s no big deal; I was driving by anyway,” or “I really wanted to see you, and I’m glad that you and I had this time together”? Most of us would prefer the latter, showing that our friends pay special attention to us, notice us, even go out of their way for us. These are the sentiments that Ben Zoma expresses. None of us wants to think that what has been done for us required no effort. On the contrary: We enjoy being pampered and having someone pay special attention to us.

     This is especially true because we live in a huge, impersonal world. Much of the time, no one goes out of their way just for us. When we spend hours trying to get a question answered in a huge bureaucracy, we may feel as if we are simply numbers in a computer. If we do our banking at an automated teller machine, months may go by without our seeing a human teller. To the employee at the drive-through fast food place, we are one of hundreds of anonymous patrons who will pick up dinner in a bag that night.

     In this nameless, cold world of impersonal machines and detached people, any sign of personal attention is most welcome. It deserves not only our notice but also our gratitude. Thus, Ben Zoma reminds us of two things: First, we must appreciate the good things that people do for us and express our thanks to them. When we do not notice, we only contribute to the increased impersonality of society. Second, we should, whenever possible, give that extra special personal attention to others. We become better hosts—as well as employers, employees, friends, and relatives—by catering to the needs of others. By appreciating the kindness that is shown to us both by God and by people, and by showing kindness to others, we make a cold world a much warmer place.

     Rest Stop

     Tell the Israelites to turn back and encamp before Pi-hahiroth, between Migdol and the sea, before Baal-zephon; you shall encamp facing it, by the sea. (Exodus 14:2)

     Words of Torah are compared to water … as it says: “Ho, all who are thirsty, come for water” [Isaiah 55:1].… Just as water restores the soul, as it says: “So God split open the hollow which is at Lehi, and the water gushed out of it; he drank, regained his strength, and revived” [Judges 15:19], so too with Torah, as it says: “The teaching of the Lord is perfect, renewing life” [Psalms 19:8]. (Song of Songs Rabbah 1, 3)

     They asked Rabbi Levi Yitzḥak: “Why is the first page number missing in all the tractates of the Babylonian Talmud? Why does each begin with the second?” He replied: “However much a man may learn, he should always remember that he has not even gotten to the first page.” (Martin Buber. Tales of the Hasidim Early Masters

     Seder Moed / Introduction to Seder Moed

     The second Order of the Mishnah is called Moed, or “Holiday.” It is comprised of twelve tractates that discuss the laws of the various festivals of the Jewish year. The Order begins with two tractates concerning Shabbat. They are followed by sections that cover Pesaḥ, Yom Kippur, Sukkot, Rosh Hashanah, Purim, and fast days, as well as the laws of what is permitted and prohibited during a holiday and the intermediate days of the festivals.

     One who gives a gift to a friend must inform him.

     Text / Rava bar Meḥasya said in the name of Rav Ḥama bar Gurya in the name of Rav: “One who gives a gift to a friend must inform him, as it says: ‘That you may know that I the Lord have consecrated you’ [Exodus 31:13].” It is also taught: “That you may know that I the Lord have consecrated you” [Ibid.]. The Holy One said to Moses: “I have a great gift in my treasury, and its name is Shabbat. I want to give it to Israel; go inform them!”
     Based on this, Rabban Shimon ben Gamliel said: “One who gives bread to a child must inform his mother.” What should be done to him? Abaye said: “Rub him with oil and paint his eyes.” But now that we are concerned with witchcraft, what should be done? Rav Papa said: “Rub him with what he gave him.” … Rav Ḥisda held two gift oxen in his hands. He said: “Whoever can tell me a new teaching of Rav, I will give these to him.” Rava bar Meḥasya said to him: “This is what Rav said: ‘One who gives a gift to his friend must inform him, as it says: “That you may know that I the Lord have consecrated you.” ’ ” He gave them to him. He said to him: “Are Rav’s teachings so precious to you?” He said: “Yes.” He said: “A thing is precious to its wearer.”

     Context / The Lord spoke to Moses: See, I have singled out by name Bezalel son of Uri son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah. I have endowed him with a divine spirit of skill, ability, and knowledge in every kind of craft; to make designs for work in gold, silver, and copper, to cut stones for setting and to carve wood—to work in every kind of craft.… And the Lord said to Moses: Speak to the Israelite people and say: Nevertheless, you must keep My sabbaths, for this is a sign between Me and you throughout the ages, that you may know that I the Lord have consecrated you. (Exodus 31:1–5, 12–13)

     These stories all teach the same lesson, based on the saying of Rava bar Meḥasya, that one must announce a gift before giving it. Rava bar Meḥasya uses as proof a verse from Exodus: “That you may know that I the Lord have consecrated you.” The verse appears in a section where God appoints Bezalel to build the mishkan, or portable tabernacle that the Israelites used in the wilderness. (The verse is repeated—“It is also taught”—because first Rava uses it for his explanation, and then the verse is brought in to prove the point about God.) Rava comments on the strange language of the verse, that God wants the Israelites to know that God has consecrated them. In other words, God doesn’t just give the great gift of Shabbat but announces it first. The connection with the mishkan is, apparently, that God expects the Shabbat to be observed even by the builders of the Sanctuary. The Shabbat may be one of the great treasures in God’s storehouse, but the recipients, Israel, must be willing to accept it. If it is not seen as a treasure, it will be a wasted gift.

     Since a child will probably not remember to tell his mother, Rabban Shimon ben Gamliel teaches that we must inform the child’s mother when we give the youngster bread. Yet, there must be a child-proof means of informing her. Abaye recommends putting on oil and paint (probably a blue eye makeup that was commonly used). The mother will surely notice these, ask the child, and find out that he has recently eaten bread. However, these cosmetics were used in forms of witchcraft, and therefore fell into disuse by the Jews. In this case, Rav Papa recommends that we take some of the food itself and rub it onto the child. A youngster who returns home with bread crumbs all over will undoubtedly be asked about it.

     In the first section of the Gemara, Rava records the teaching of Rav, with a biblical verse as the proof. In the second and parallel account, the proof is in a clever story about the giving of a gift. (It is possible that these two stories originated in the same incident.) Rav Ḥisda announces that he will give a gift (two oxen fit for presentation to the kohanim in the Temple) to anyone who can teach him a saying by his mentor, Rav, that he had never heard before. The answer is ironic, for Rava responds by quoting a teaching of Rav on giving gifts: One must announce a gift in public before giving it. This humor was not lost on the editors of the Talmud. Rava uses Rav Ḥisda’s challenge, and Rav’s teaching about gifts, not only to instruct others but also to receive a gift for himself! Rava, however, is a bit puzzled that Rav Ḥisda would give away two oxen for an original saying by Rav. Rav Ḥisda’s answer, “A thing is precious to its wearer,” seems to mean that only one who “wears” the words of his teacher truly cherishes them. Rav Ḥisda is one such person. In directing his words to Rava, Rav Ḥisda is also complimenting his colleague Rava who finds Rav’s words equally precious.

Swimming in the Sea of Talmud: Lessons for Everyday Living

The Imitation Of Christ
     Thomas A Kempis

     Book Three - Internal Consolation

     The Seventh Chapter / Grace Must Be Hidden Under The Mantle Of Humility


     IT IS better and safer for you to conceal the grace of devotion, not to be elated by it, not to speak or think much of it, and instead to humble yourself and fear lest it is being given to one unworthy of it. Do not cling too closely to this affection, for it may quickly be changed to its opposite. When you are in grace, think how miserable and needy you are without it. Your progress in spiritual life does not consist in having the grace of consolation, but in enduring its withdrawal with humility, resignation, and patience, so that you neither become listless in prayer nor neglect your other duties in the least; but on the contrary do what you can do as well as you know how, and do not neglect yourself completely because of your dryness or anxiety of mind.

     There are many, indeed, who immediately become impatient and lazy when things do not go well with them. The way of man, however, does not always lie in his own power. It is God’s prerogative to give grace and to console when He wishes, as much as He wishes, and whom He wishes, as it shall please Him and no more.

     Some careless persons, misusing the grace of devotion, have destroyed themselves because they wished to do more than they were able. They failed to take account of their own weakness, and followed the desire of their heart rather than the judgment of their reason. Then, because they presumed to greater things than pleased God they quickly lost His grace. They who had built their homes in heaven became helpless, vile outcasts, humbled and impoverished, that they might learn not to fly with their own wings but to trust in Mine.

     They who are still new and inexperienced in the way of the Lord may easily be deceived and overthrown unless they guide themselves by the advice of discreet persons. But if they wish to follow their own notions rather than to trust in others who are more experienced, they will be in danger of a sorry end, at least if they are unwilling to be drawn from their vanity. Seldom do they who are wise in their own conceits bear humbly the guidance of others. Yet a little knowledge humbly and meekly pursued is better than great treasures of learning sought in vain complacency. It is better for you to have little than to have much which may become the source of pride.

     He who gives himself up entirely to enjoyment acts very unwisely, for he forgets his former helplessness and that chastened fear of the Lord which dreads to lose a proffered grace. Nor is he very brave or wise who becomes too despondent in times of adversity and difficulty and thinks less confidently of Me than he should. He who wishes to be too secure in time of peace will often become too dejected and fearful in time of trial.

     If you were wise enough to remain always humble and small in your own eyes, and to restrain and rule your spirit well, you would not fall so quickly into danger and offense.

     When a spirit of fervor is enkindled within you, you may well meditate on how you will feel when the fervor leaves. Then, when this happens, remember that the light which I have withdrawn for a time as a warning to you and for My own glory may again return. Such trials are often more beneficial than if you had things always as you wish. For a man’s merits are not measured by many visions or consolations, or by knowledge of the Scriptures, or by his being in a higher position than others, but by the truth of his humility, by his capacity for divine charity, by his constancy in seeking purely and entirely the honor of God, by his disregard and positive contempt of self, and more, by preferring to be despised and humiliated rather than honored by others.

The Imitation Of Christ

Take Heart
     March 16

     They are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name …so that they may be one as we are one.
John 17:11.

     This Scripture contains the first preparation of Christ for death, where he sets his house in order, prays for his people, and blesses them before he dies. ( The Whole Works of the Reverend Mr. John Flavel ... ) The love of Christ was ever tender and strong to his people, but the greatest demonstration of it was at parting, in two ways especially: in leaving support and comfort with them in his last heavenly sermon, in John 14 through 16, and in pouring out his soul to the Father for them in this heavenly prayer, chapter 17. In this prayer he gives them a sample of his intercession, which he was just then going to perform in heaven for them. Here his heart overflowed, for he was leaving them and going to the Father. The last words of a dying person are remarkable—how much more a dying Savior?

     We have here Christ’s petition in behalf of his people, not only those at that place, but all others that then did or afterwards would believe on him. And the sum of what he here requests for them is that his Father would protect them through his name, where you have both the mercy and the means of attaining it. The mercy is to be protected. Protecting implies danger, and there is a double danger anticipated in this request: danger in respect of sin and danger in respect of ruin and destruction. To both these the people of God lie open in this world.

     The means of their preservation from both is the name, that is, the power of God. This name of the Lord is the strong tower that the righteous run to and are safe (
Prov. 18:10). Alas! It is not your own strength or wisdom that keeps you, but you are kept by the mighty power of God. This protecting power of God does not, however, exclude our care and diligence but implies it. God keeps his people, and yet they are to keep themselves in God’s love (Jude 21), to, above all else, guard their hearts (Prov. 4:23).

     The arguments with which he urges and presses on this request are drawn partly from his own condition—within a very few hours he will be separated from them in regard to his corporeal presence; partly from their condition—“they are still in the world,” that is, I must leave them in the midst of danger; and partly from the joint interest his Father and he himself had in them: Keep those you have given me.
--- John Flavel

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

On This Day | March 16
     The Fifth Lateran Council

     Pope Leo announced his special sale of indulgences just as the Fifth Lateran Council was finishing its work.

     Leo had been born Giovanni de’ Medici, second son of Lorenzo the Magnificent. At age 8 he was nominated to an archbishopric. By age 14 he had become a cardinal-deacon, the youngest ever to be so named. His father wrote to him, warning that Rome “was the sink of all iniquities” and that he must live “a virtuous life.…”

     Leo ignored the advice. When he became pope at age 37, his attitude was, “Let’s enjoy the papacy, for God has given it to us.” He entered Rome on a white horse amid great pageantry and immediately became embroiled in European politics as though in a chess game. He promoted relatives to church positions and imprisoned enemies in deepest dungeons. He was nearly assassinated by poison, and the unfortunate plotters were tortured and strangled. He enjoyed ornate clothing and covered his fingers with gems. He reveled in entertainment and kept a monk able to swallow a pigeon in one mouthful and 40 eggs at one sitting. He hunted, aided by 70 dogs. He commissioned artists to elaborate projects and attended pornographic plays.

     He exhausted his treasury, and that was one of the concerns of the Fifth Lateran Council. The council, which resumed shortly after Leo’s election, made several important decisions. The newly invented printing press was recognized as a gift from heaven, but only books approved by the Vatican could be published. A new crusade against the Turks was approved, and a tax was authorized to pay for it. The Roman pontiff was assured of authority over all church councils, and obedience to the pope was declared necessary for salvation. And to raise money, Pope Leo, aided by the council, lifted the prohibition against usury, took out outrageous loans, and issued his special sale of indulgences.

     Having accomplished its work, the council adjourned on March 16, 1517, and Leo returned to the pleasures of his office. He once reportedly quipped, “How profitable that fable of Christ has been to us.”

     Jerusalem’s prophets are proud and not to be trusted.
     The priests have disgraced the place of worship
     And abused God’s Law.
     All who do evil are shameless,
     But the LORD does right and is always fair.
     With the dawn of each day, God brings about justice.
     --- Zephaniah 3:4,5.

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

Morning and Evening
     Daily Readings / CHARLES H. SPURGEON

          Morning - March 16

     “I am a stranger with thee.”
--- Psalm 39:12.

     Yes, O Lord, with thee, but not to thee. All my natural alienation from thee, thy grace has effectually removed; and now, in fellowship with thyself, I walk through this sinful world as a pilgrim in a foreign country. Thou art a stranger in thine own world. Man forgets thee, dishonours thee, sets up new laws and alien customs, and knows thee not. When thy dear Son came unto his own, his own received him not. He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. Never was foreigner so speckled a bird among the denizens of any land as thy beloved Son among his mother’s brethren. It is no marvel, then, if I who live the life of Jesus, should be unknown and a stranger here below. Lord, I would not be a citizen where Jesus was an alien. His pierced hand has loosened the cords which once bound my soul to earth, and now I find myself a stranger in the land. My speech seems to these Babylonians among whom I dwell an outlandish tongue, my manners are singular, and my actions are strange. A Tartar would be more at home in Cheapside than I could ever be in the haunts of sinners. But here is the sweetness of my lot: I am a stranger with thee. Thou art my fellow-sufferer, my fellow-pilgrim. Oh, what joy to wander in such blessed society! My heart burns within me by the way when thou dost speak to me, and though I be a sojourner, I am far more blest than those who sit on thrones, and far more at home than those who dwell in their ceiled houses.

     “To me remains nor place, nor time:
     My country is in every clime;
     I can be calm and free from care
     On any shore, since God is there.

     While place we seek, or place we shun,
     The soul finds happiness in none:
     But with a God to guide our way,
     ’Tis equal joy to go or stay.”

          Evening - March 16

     “Keep back thy servant also from presumptuous sins." Psalm 19:13.

     Such was the prayer of the “man after God’s own heart.” Did holy David need to pray thus? How needful, then, must such a prayer be for us babes in grace! It is as if he said, “Keep me back, or I shall rush headlong over the precipice of sin.” Our evil nature, like an ill-tempered horse, is apt to run away. May the grace of God put the bridle upon it, and hold it in, that it rush not into mischief. What might not the best of us do if it were not for the checks which the Lord sets upon us both in providence and in grace! The psalmist’s prayer is directed against the worst form of sin—that which is done with deliberation and wilfulness. Even the holiest need to be “kept back” from the vilest transgressions. It is a solemn thing to find the apostle Paul warning saints against the most loathsome sins. “Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry.” What! do saints want warning against such sins as these? Yes, they do. The whitest robes, unless their purity be preserved by divine grace, will be defiled by the blackest spots. Experienced Christian, boast not in your experience; you will trip yet if you look away from him who is able to keep you from falling. Ye whose love is fervent, whose faith is constant, whose hopes are bright, say not, “We shall never sin,” but rather cry, “Lead us not into temptation.” There is enough tinder in the heart of the best of men to light a fire that shall burn to the lowest hell, unless God shall quench the sparks as they fall. Who would have dreamed that righteous Lot could be found drunken, and committing uncleanness? Hazael said, “Is thy servant a dog, that he should do this thing?” and we are very apt to use the same self-righteous question. May infinite wisdom cure us of the madness of self-confidence.

Morning and Evening

Amazing Grace
     March 16


     Elisha A. Hoffman, 1839–1929

     The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms. (Deuteronomy 33:27)

     When close friends or family members turn to us for comfort in their grief following the loss of a loved one, often we find it difficult to express just the right words of consolation. One day successful author, business man, and devout Presbyterian layman Anthony J. Showalter received sorrowful letters from two different friends, telling him of their recent bereavements. In sending messages of comfort to them, Mr. Showalter included Deuteronomy 33:27 ---

     “The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms …”

     As he concluded his letters the thought occurred to him that this verse would be a fine theme for a hymn. Almost spontaneously he jotted down the words and music for the refrain of this soon-to-be favorite.

     Feeling that he should have some assistance in completing a text based on this comforting verse from Deuteronomy, Mr. Showalter asked his friend Elisha A. Hoffman, a pastor and author of more than 2,000 gospel songs, to furnish the stanzas. The hymn then was published in 1887 in the Glad Evangel for Revival, Camp and Evangelistic Meetings Hymnal.

     It is not surprising that “Leaning on the Everlasting Arms,” with its assurance of God’s steadfast care and guidance and the peace that is ours as we enjoy the intimacy of His fellowship, has been another of the gospel song favorites enjoyed by all ages. Each day we need to relearn the truths of these words:

     What a fellowship, what a joy divine, leaning on the everlasting arms; what a blessedness, what a peace is mine, leaning on the everlasting arms.
     O how sweet to walk in this pilgrim way, leaning on the everlasting arms; O how bright the path grows from day to day, leaning on the everlasting arms.
     What have I to dread, what have I to fear, leaning on the everlasting arms? I have blessed peace with my Lord so near, leaning on the everlasting arms.
     Chorus: Leaning, leaning, safe and secure from all alarms; leaning, leaning, leaning on the everlasting arms.

     For Today: Psalm 17:8; Psalm 57:1; Psalm 91:2; Proverbs 14:26; 1 John 1:7.

     When the events of today seem difficult, or even overwhelming, apply the lesson of leaning on “those everlasting arms,” as you learn to rest and relax in His loving care. Share the truth of Deuteronomy 33:27 with another needing encouragement. Use this little musical message as your theme song for today ---

Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions

Joshua 19 - 21
     Brett Meador | Athey Creek

Cities Of Refuse Joshua 20
s2-114 | 4-17-2016

Joshua 21-22
m2-111 4-20-2016

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Know, Reckon, Present, Obey
Dr. Dennis Rokser | Duluth Bible

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