Joshua 22 - 24
The Eastern Tribes Return HomeJoshua 22:1 At that time Joshua summoned the Reubenites and the Gadites and the half-tribe of Manasseh, 2 and said to them, “You have kept all that Moses the servant of the Lord commanded you and have obeyed my voice in all that I have commanded you. 3 You have not forsaken your brothers these many days, down to this day, but have been careful to keep the charge of the Lord your God. 4 And now the Lord your God has given rest to your brothers, as he promised them. Therefore turn and go to your tents in the land where your possession lies, which Moses the servant of the Lord gave you on the other side of the Jordan. 5 Only be very careful to observe the commandment and the law that Moses the servant of the Lord commanded you, to love the Lord your God, and to walk in all his ways and to keep his commandments and to cling to him and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul.” 6 So Joshua blessed them and sent them away, and they went to their tents.
7 Now to the one half of the tribe of Manasseh Moses had given a possession in Bashan, but to the other half Joshua had given a possession beside their brothers in the land west of the Jordan. And when Joshua sent them away to their homes and blessed them, 8 he said to them, “Go back to your tents with much wealth and with very much livestock, with silver, gold, bronze, and iron, and with much clothing. Divide the spoil of your enemies with your brothers.” 9 So the people of Reuben and the people of Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh returned home, parting from the people of Israel at Shiloh, which is in the land of Canaan, to go to the land of Gilead, their own land of which they had possessed themselves by command of the Lord through Moses.
The Eastern Tribes' Altar of Witness10 And when they came to the region of the Jordan that is in the land of Canaan, the people of Reuben and the people of Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh built there an altar by the Jordan, an altar of imposing size. 11 And the people of Israel heard it said, “Behold, the people of Reuben and the people of Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh have built the altar at the frontier of the land of Canaan, in the region about the Jordan, on the side that belongs to the people of Israel.” 12 And when the people of Israel heard of it, the whole assembly of the people of Israel gathered at Shiloh to make war against them.
13 Then the people of Israel sent to the people of Reuben and the people of Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh, in the land of Gilead, Phinehas the son of Eleazar the priest, 14 and with him ten chiefs, one from each of the tribal families of Israel, every one of them the head of a family among the clans of Israel. 15 And they came to the people of Reuben, the people of Gad, and the half-tribe of Manasseh, in the land of Gilead, and they said to them, 16 “Thus says the whole congregation of the Lord, ‘What is this breach of faith that you have committed against the God of Israel in turning away this day from following the Lord by building yourselves an altar this day in rebellion against the Lord? 17 Have we not had enough of the sin at Peor from which even yet we have not cleansed ourselves, and for which there came a plague upon the congregation of the Lord, 18 that you too must turn away this day from following the Lord? And if you too rebel against the Lord today then tomorrow he will be angry with the whole congregation of Israel. 19 But now, if the land of your possession is unclean, pass over into the Lord's land where the Lord's tabernacle stands, and take for yourselves a possession among us. Only do not rebel against the Lord or make us as rebels by building for yourselves an altar other than the altar of the Lord our God. 20 Did not Achan the son of Zerah break faith in the matter of the devoted things, and wrath fell upon all the congregation of Israel? And he did not perish alone for his iniquity.’”
21 Then the people of Reuben, the people of Gad, and the half-tribe of Manasseh said in answer to the heads of the families of Israel, 22 “The Mighty One, God, the Lord! The Mighty One, God, the Lord! He knows; and let Israel itself know! If it was in rebellion or in breach of faith against the Lord, do not spare us today 23 for building an altar to turn away from following the Lord. Or if we did so to offer burnt offerings or grain offerings or peace offerings on it, may the Lord himself take vengeance. 24 No, but we did it from fear that in time to come your children might say to our children, ‘What have you to do with the Lord, the God of Israel? 25 For the Lord has made the Jordan a boundary between us and you, you people of Reuben and people of Gad. You have no portion in the Lord.’ So your children might make our children cease to worship the Lord. 26 Therefore we said, ‘Let us now build an altar, not for burnt offering, nor for sacrifice, 27 but to be a witness between us and you, and between our generations after us, that we do perform the service of the Lord in his presence with our burnt offerings and sacrifices and peace offerings, so your children will not say to our children in time to come, “You have no portion in the Lord.”’ 28 And we thought, ‘If this should be said to us or to our descendants in time to come, we should say, “Behold, the copy of the altar of the Lord, which our fathers made, not for burnt offerings, nor for sacrifice, but to be a witness between us and you.”’ 29 Far be it from us that we should rebel against the Lord and turn away this day from following the Lord by building an altar for burnt offering, grain offering, or sacrifice, other than the altar of the Lord our God that stands before his tabernacle!”
30 When Phinehas the priest and the chiefs of the congregation, the heads of the families of Israel who were with him, heard the words that the people of Reuben and the people of Gad and the people of Manasseh spoke, it was good in their eyes. 31 And Phinehas the son of Eleazar the priest said to the people of Reuben and the people of Gad and the people of Manasseh, “Today we know that the Lord is in our midst, because you have not committed this breach of faith against the Lord. Now you have delivered the people of Israel from the hand of the Lord.”
32 Then Phinehas the son of Eleazar the priest, and the chiefs, returned from the people of Reuben and the people of Gad in the land of Gilead to the land of Canaan, to the people of Israel, and brought back word to them. 33 And the report was good in the eyes of the people of Israel. And the people of Israel blessed God and spoke no more of making war against them to destroy the land where the people of Reuben and the people of Gad were settled. 34 The people of Reuben and the people of Gad called the altar Witness, “For,” they said, “it is a witness between us that the Lord is God.”
Joshua's Charge to Israel's LeadersJoshua 23:1 A long time afterward, when the Lord had given rest to Israel from all their surrounding enemies, and Joshua was old and well advanced in years, 2 Joshua summoned all Israel, its elders and heads, its judges and officers, and said to them, “I am now old and well advanced in years. 3 And you have seen all that the Lord your God has done to all these nations for your sake, for it is the Lord your God who has fought for you. 4 Behold, I have allotted to you as an inheritance for your tribes those nations that remain, along with all the nations that I have already cut off, from the Jordan to the Great Sea in the west. 5 The Lord your God will push them back before you and drive them out of your sight. And you shall possess their land, just as the Lord your God promised you. 6 Therefore, be very strong to keep and to do all that is written in the Book of the Law of Moses, turning aside from it neither to the right hand nor to the left, 7 that you may not mix with these nations remaining among you or make mention of the names of their gods or swear by them or serve them or bow down to them, 8 but you shall cling to the Lord your God just as you have done to this day. 9 For the Lord has driven out before you great and strong nations. And as for you, no man has been able to stand before you to this day. 10 One man of you puts to flight a thousand, since it is the Lord your God who fights for you, just as he promised you. 11 Be very careful, therefore, to love the Lord your God. 12 For if you turn back and cling to the remnant of these nations remaining among you and make marriages with them, so that you associate with them and they with you, 13 know for certain that the Lord your God will no longer drive out these nations before you, but they shall be a snare and a trap for you, a whip on your sides and thorns in your eyes, until you perish from off this good ground that the Lord your God has given you.
14 “And now I am about to go the way of all the earth, and you know in your hearts and souls, all of you, that not one word has failed of all the good things[a] that the Lord your God promised concerning you. All have come to pass for you; not one of them has failed. 15 But just as all the good things that the Lord your God promised concerning you have been fulfilled for you, so the Lord will bring upon you all the evil things, until he has destroyed you from off this good land that the Lord your God has given you, 16 if you transgress the covenant of the Lord your God, which he commanded you, and go and serve other gods and bow down to them. Then the anger of the Lord will be kindled against you, and you shall perish quickly from off the good land that he has given to you.”
The Covenant Renewal at ShechemJoshua 24:1 Joshua gathered all the tribes of Israel to Shechem and summoned the elders, the heads, the judges, and the officers of Israel. And they presented themselves before God. 2 And Joshua said to all the people, “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, ‘Long ago, your fathers lived beyond the Euphrates,[a] Terah, the father of Abraham and of Nahor; and they served other gods. 3 Then I took your father Abraham from beyond the River[b] and led him through all the land of Canaan, and made his offspring many. I gave him Isaac. 4 And to Isaac I gave Jacob and Esau. And I gave Esau the hill country of Seir to possess, but Jacob and his children went down to Egypt. 5 And I sent Moses and Aaron, and I plagued Egypt with what I did in the midst of it, and afterward I brought you out.
6 “‘Then I brought your fathers out of Egypt, and you came to the sea. And the Egyptians pursued your fathers with chariots and horsemen to the Red Sea. 7 And when they cried to the Lord, he put darkness between you and the Egyptians and made the sea come upon them and cover them; and your eyes saw what I did in Egypt. And you lived in the wilderness a long time. 8 Then I brought you to the land of the Amorites, who lived on the other side of the Jordan. They fought with you, and I gave them into your hand, and you took possession of their land, and I destroyed them before you. 9 Then Balak the son of Zippor, king of Moab, arose and fought against Israel. And he sent and invited Balaam the son of Beor to curse you, 10 but I would not listen to Balaam. Indeed, he blessed you. So I delivered you out of his hand. 11 And you went over the Jordan and came to Jericho, and the leaders of Jericho fought against you, and also the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Girgashites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. And I gave them into your hand. 12 And I sent the hornet before you, which drove them out before you, the two kings of the Amorites; it was not by your sword or by your bow. 13 I gave you a land on which you had not labored and cities that you had not built, and you dwell in them. You eat the fruit of vineyards and olive orchards that you did not plant.’
Choose Whom You Will Serve14 “Now therefore fear the Lord and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness. Put away the gods that your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. 15 And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”
16 Then the people answered, “Far be it from us that we should forsake the Lord to serve other gods, 17 for it is the Lord our God who brought us and our fathers up from the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery, and who did those great signs in our sight and preserved us in all the way that we went, and among all the peoples through whom we passed. 18 And the Lord drove out before us all the peoples, the Amorites who lived in the land. Therefore we also will serve the Lord, for he is our God.”
19 But Joshua said to the people, “You are not able to serve the Lord, for he is a holy God. He is a jealous God; he will not forgive your transgressions or your sins. 20 If you forsake the Lord and serve foreign gods, then he will turn and do you harm and consume you, after having done you good.” 21 And the people said to Joshua, “No, but we will serve the Lord.” 22 Then Joshua said to the people, “You are witnesses against yourselves that you have chosen the Lord, to serve him.” And they said, “We are witnesses.” 23 He said, “Then put away the foreign gods that are among you, and incline your heart to the Lord, the God of Israel.” 24 And the people said to Joshua, “The Lord our God we will serve, and his voice we will obey.” 25 So Joshua made a covenant with the people that day, and put in place statutes and rules for them at Shechem. 26 And Joshua wrote these words in the Book of the Law of God. And he took a large stone and set it up there under the terebinth that was by the sanctuary of the Lord. 27 And Joshua said to all the people, “Behold, this stone shall be a witness against us, for it has heard all the words of the Lord that he spoke to us. Therefore it shall be a witness against you, lest you deal falsely with your God.” 28 So Joshua sent the people away, every man to his inheritance.
Joshua's Death and Burial29 After these things Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of the Lord, died, being 110 years old. 30 And they buried him in his own inheritance at Timnath-serah, which is in the hill country of Ephraim, north of the mountain of Gaash.
31 Israel served the Lord all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders who outlived Joshua and had known all the work that the Lord did for Israel.
32 As for the bones of Joseph, which the people of Israel brought up from Egypt, they buried them at Shechem, in the piece of land that Jacob bought from the sons of Hamor the father of Shechem for a hundred pieces of money.[c] It became an inheritance of the descendants of Joseph.
33 And Eleazar the son of Aaron died, and they buried him at Gibeah, the town of Phinehas his son, which had been given him in the hill country of Ephraim.
ESV Study Bible
What I'm Reading
By Gleason Archer Jr.
But what shall we say of the legend of Manu preserved among the Hindus (according to which Manu and seven others were saved in a ship from a worldwide flood); or of Fah-he among the Chinese (who understood that he was the only survivor, along with his wife, three sons, and three daughters); or of Nu-u among the Hawaiians; or of Tezpi among the Mexican Indians; or of Manabozho among the Algonquins? All of these agree that all mankind was destroyed by a great flood (usually represented as worldwide) as a result of divine displeasure at human sin, and that a single man with his family or a very few friends survived the catastrophe by means of a ship or raft or large canoe of some sort.
Not all the primitive flood traditions include the saving agency of an ark. Among some, such as the aborigines of the Andaman Islands in the Bay of Bengal, and the Battaks of Sumatra, it was a very high mountain top which furnished the vital refuge for the lone survivor. But otherwise the main outlines of the legend follow the basic structure of the Genesis account. The Kurnai (a tribe of Australian aborigines), the Fiji Islanders, the natives of Polynesia, Micronesia, New Guinea, New Zealand, New Hebrides, the ancient Celts of Wales, the tribesmen of Lake Caudie in the Sudan, the Hottentots, and the Greenlanders, all have their traditions of a universally destructive deluge which wiped out the entire human race except for one or two survivors. The most complete collection of these flood legends from all over the world is contained in Richard Andree’s German work Die Flutsagen Ethnographisch Betrachet (1891). In English perhaps the most comprehensive report is found in James Frazer’s Folklore in the Old Testament (vol. 1, 1918). Whether or not the worldwide prevalence of these traditions is reconcilable with a local-flood theory, at least it emphasizes the inclusion of all human races in the descendants of Noah, rather than excepting some of the populations of Africa, India, China, and America (as Ramm seems to imply).
Often the Genesis account has been criticized as implausible because of the insufficient capacity of the ark according to the dimensions given. But on the basis of a cubit of twenty-four inches (although it may have been as much as four inches shorter) the ark would have been 600 feet long, 100 feet wide, and 60 feet deep. Assuming a boxlike construction (altogether probable in view of its peculiar purpose), its capacity would then have been 3,600,000 cubic feet, or room enough for 2000 cattle cars (each of which carries 18 to 20 cattle, or 60 to 80 hogs, or 80 to 100 sheep). At the present time there are only 290 main species of land animal larger than sheep in size; there are 757 more species ranging in size from sheep to rats, and there are 1,358 smaller than rats. Two of each of these species would fit very comfortably into the cubic capacity of the ark, and leave plenty of room for fodder. There are, of course, manifold problems connected with maintaining such a large number of animals over so many months (especially if they maintained their normal eating habits), but none of them is insuperable. Perhaps it should be remarked at this point that a mere local flood, only coextensive with the human race in the Mesopotamian or Aral-Caspian depressions, is hard to reconcile with the divine insistence (cf. Gen. 6:19–20 ) upon the preservation of representatives of all the various kinds of animal. There are very few species today which are confined to that particular region, and so it is difficult to see why the animals in the surrounding, nonflooded areas would not have been able to repopulate the devastated region without hindrance, once the waters had receded. Hence, it would have been pointless to include them in the ark, unless the flood was indeed worldwide.
In an early Sumerian record discovered at Nippur is the earlier Sumerian account of the Flood, which records the event which, although broken after 37 lines, relates the address of a deity to his fellow gods apparently stating that this deity would save mankind from destruction. Subsequent to that, man will build cities and temples to the gods. After another break of 37 lines it states that kingship was lowered from heaven to earth and five cities were founded. These must have had a great deal to do with the decision of the gods to destroy mankind. In the next readable portion of this account we find that some of the gods are dissatisfied over this cruel decision. Ziusudra, the Sumarian equivalent of Noah, is now introduced as a pious and god-fearing king who is concerned to receive divine revelations in dreams or incantations while standing by a wall. Ziusudra hears the voice of a god informing him of the decision made by the assembly to send a flood to “destroy the seed of mankind.” Apparently the text continued with detailed instructions to Ziusudra how to build a giant boat to save himself from destruction. But, 40 lines later, when the text again becomes legible, the flood had come upon earth with all violence for seven days and nights. After that the sun-god, Utu, came forth bringing his precious light to earth. Ziusudra prostrates himself before him and offers sacrifice. The poem closes with the narrative that portrays the deification of Ziusudra for his remarkable service in saving the human race. This was published by Amo Poebel in PBS, v, 1914 (ANET2, pp. 42–44).
According to the Gilgamesh Epic, which contains the Babylonian account of the deluge, it was after an assembly of gods had decreed the flood, that the god Ea betrayed this plan to a man named Utnapishtim of Shuruppak (a city on the Euphrates). Making up a lie (at Ea’s suggestion) to lull the rest of the population into security, Utnapishtim built his unwieldy, cube-shaped ark (120 cubits in each dimension), and upon a signal (prearranged with the sun-god Shamash), he closed the door on himself, his family, his helmsman Puzur-Amurri, and all the animals in the six decks of his ship, and the deluge came. It lasted for two weeks (as contrasted with the one year and seventeen days of the Genesis account), and was of such violence in rain and wind that even the gods cowered in fear (the goddess Ishtar even shedding tears of regret at the destruction of mankind). After landing on the mountain of Nisir (in the Zagros Range northeast of Babylon), the ark held fast, and Utnapishtim sent out (a) a dove, (b) a swallow, and (c) a raven, the last of which did not return. He then disembarked and offered sacrifice to the gods, all of whom were by this time were so famished for lack of offerings that they came swooping down on the altar like a swarm of hungry flies (tab. XI. 1. 161). Enlil (or Bel) came up afterward, very angry that Utnapishtim had escaped death, but Ea successfully appealed to his sense of justice and reconciled Enlil to what had happened. Enlil thereupon promoted Utnapishtim and his wife to divine immortality. The resemblances to the Genesis narrative are such as to suggest a common origin in ancient oral tradition, but the differences are too great to permit a possibility of borrowing by the one from the other. The stark contrast between the passion - driven, quarrelsome, greedy gods of the Babylonian pantheon and the majestic holiness of Jehovah is most striking and significant. Likewise the utter implausibility of a cube - shaped ark and an inundation of the entire world by a mere fourteen-day downpour stand in opposition to the seaworthy dimensions and the gradual sinking of the waters in the biblical record.
Why it's important to defend your faith
By Dawn Klinge 10/19/2015
“[The laws of logic] were placed in our minds by the Creator during the act of creation. We speak because God has spoken. God is not the author of confusion, irrationality, or the absurd. Furthermore, his words are meant to be understood by his creatures, and a necessary condition for his creature’s understanding of those words is that they are intelligible and not irrational.” — R.C. SPROUL
Defending Your Faith: An Introduction to Apologetics, by R.C. Sproul, is a book I recently read. It’s an introduction to apologetics, something I wish I had read years ago (and why I included it in my recent booklist for teens). A simple definition of apologetics that it's a defense of the Christian faith. The book struck a chord with me because it approached the subject academically, with solid logic. This blog is all about faith and trusting in God, and I like to explore why God is trustworthy. I have written often about the work of the Holy Spirit, in speaking to our hearts and revealing his truths- and about how this work is essential to knowing God. But that is not to say that we should ignore logic or dismiss the task of defending the faith in a way that breaks down the barriers between those of us who believe and those who do not.
At its core, Christianity is rational. The task of apologetics is to provide an intellectual defense of the truth claims of the Christian faith. Since this is only a short blog post, I can’t possibly present a whole defense of the Christian faith right here, but I can encourage you to do some study on your own. I recommend Defending Your Faith, but there are also many other great resources available.
Living Faithfully in Difficult Times
By Melinda Penner 3/15/2017
I recently listened to a sermon about how Christians can live faithfully in times of opposition, preached by Tim Keller several years ago at Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City. The lesson is drawn from the book of Habakkuk. It’s encouraging to reflect on the fact that God’s followers in biblical times lived in societies that opposed them and made it difficult to faithfully follow God. And all of us have times in our lives that are hard to live through. I know sometimes I need more courage for both kinds of difficult times, and I found the lessons Keller drew from Habakkuk 2:1–4 to be encouraging.
We need to develop skills to live faithfully in the circumstances of this world, and I thought there were some practical lessons in this sermon.
We are to live patiently, perspectively, obediently, God-centrically, and joyfully.
Five Different Attitudes That Will Shape Your Apologetics
By Nate Sala 12/16/2016
“What follows here is an informal description of different attitudes Christians (and some non-Christians) might have toward apologetics. This isn’t a comprehensive list by any means: even some of my closest working associates, Ratio Christi chapter directors, fall somewhere between level 1 and 2. My purpose here isn’t to develop new labels for people, but to help us think about who we’re ministering to and what their key apologetics-related needs might be.
These, then, are five levels of apologetics interest to think about, and a few thoughts about what people at each level might need.
Core leaders. These are the scholars, teachers, speakers, and writers who produce most of the apologetics material the rest of us use. What core leaders need most in their ministry is mutual encouragement, opportunities to study, a well-developed strategic platform from which to present their material, and a heart to serve the rest of the body of Christ.
English and Forensics Teacher. B.Sc., M.Ed. University of Nevada Las Vegas. Lives in Las Vegas with his wife, two sons, and dogs.
Read The Psalms In "1" Year
Psalm 31Into Your Hand I Commit My Spirit
31 To The Choirmaster. A Psalm Of David.
19 Oh, how abundant is your goodness,
which you have stored up for those who fear you
and worked for those who take refuge in you,
in the sight of the children of mankind!
20 In the cover of your presence you hide them
from the plots of men;
you store them in your shelter
from the strife of tongues.
21 Blessed be the LORD,
for he has wondrously shown his steadfast love to me
when I was in a besieged city.
22 I had said in my alarm,
“I am cut off from your sight.”
But you heard the voice of my pleas for mercy
when I cried to you for help.
Questioning Jesus’ Existence
By John Stonestreet
Insurance company Geico has done a lot of funny commercials, but our editor at BreakPoint has a favorite. A group of teenagers are running through a dark forest being chased by a killer. After debating whether to hide in the basement, the attic or make a quick getaway in the nearby running car, they decide to hide behind dozens of chainsaws dangling from a barn door.
“When you’re in a horror movie, you make poor decisions,” says the narrator. “It’s what you do.” And this week I found myself paraphrasing: “When you’re CNN, you publish annual articles suggesting Jesus never existed. It’s what you do.”
Every year around March and December, this and other news outlets exhume the long-dead thesis that the New Testament is based on a mythological figure, not a Man who really lived, died, and rose from the grave two-thousand years ago. This year, CNN even republished an article from 2012 at CNN.com. In the piece, entitled, “Decoding Jesus: Separating Man from Myth,” John Blake suggests that Christ’s historical existence is an open question. CNN featured it at the top of their homepage as part of the push for their new series, “Finding Jesus: Faith, Fact, Forgery.”
Begun by Chuck Colson in 1991 as a daily radio broadcast, BreakPoint provides a Christian perspective on today’s news and trends via radio, interactive media, and print. Today BreakPoint commentaries, co-hosted by Eric Metaxas and John Stonestreet, air daily on more than 1,200 outlets with an estimated weekly listening audience of eight million people. The BreakPoint.org features Metaxas and Stonestreet commentaries as well as columns and feature articles by leading Christian writers, and "Youth Reads," which offers a Christian perspective on books for teens and preteens. On "BreakPoint This Week," John Stonestreet and co-host Ed Stetzer host a weekly conversation with leading Christian writers and thinkers. These compelling discussions cover a wide variety of topics, but center on the issues shaping our culture. “RE:News” gathers need-to-know news headlines, and the BreakPoint Blog equips visitors with a biblical perspective on a variety of issues and topics.
The Institutes of the Christian Religion
Translated by Henry Beveridge
THE LIFE OF A CHRISTIAN MAN. SCRIPTURAL ARGUMENTS EXHORTING TO IT.
This and the four following chapters treat of the Life of the Christian, and are so arranged as to admit of being classed under two principal heads.
First, it must be held to be an universally acknowledged point, that no man is a Christian who does not feel some special love for righteousness, chap. 6. Secondly, in regard to the standard by which every man ought to regulate his life, although it seems to be considered in chap. 7 only, yet the three following chapters also refer to it. For it shows that the Christian has two duties to perform. First, the observance being so arduous, he needs the greatest patience. Hence chap. 8 treats professedly of the utility of the cross, and chap. 9 invites to meditation on the future life. Lastly, chap. 10 clearly shows, as in no small degree conducive to this end, how we are to use this life and its comforts without abusing them.
This sixth chapter consists of two parts,--I. Connection between this treatise on the Christian Life and the doctrine of Regeneration and Repentance. Arrangement of the treatise, sec. 1-3. II. Extremes to be avoided; 1. False Christians denying Christ by their works condemned, sec. 4. 2. Christians should not despair, though they have not attained perfection, provided they make daily progress in piety and righteousness.
1. Connection between this chapter and the doctrine of Regeneration. Necessity of the doctrine concerning the Christian Life. The brevity of this treatise. The method of it. Plainness and unadorned simplicity of the Scripture system of morals.
2. Two divisions. First, Personal holiness. 1. Because God is holy. 2. Because of our communion with his saints.
3. Second division, relating to our Redemption. Admirable moral system of Scripture. Five special inducements or exhortations to a Christian Life.
4. False Christians who are opposed to this life censured 1. They have not truly learned Christ. 2. The Gospel not the guide of their words or actions. 3. They do not imitate Christ the Master. 4. They would separate the Spirit from his word.
5. Christians ought not to despond: Provided 1. They take the word of God for their guide. 2. Sincerely cultivate righteousness. 3. Walk, according to their capacity, in the ways of the Lord. 4. Make some progress. 5. Persevere.
1. We have said that the object of regeneration is to bring the life of believers into concord and harmony with the righteousness of God, and so confirm the adoption by which they have been received as sons. But although the law comprehends within it that new life by which the image of God is restored in us, yet, as our sluggishness stands greatly in need both of helps and incentives it will be useful to collect out of Scripture a true account of this reformations lest any who have a heartfelt desire of repentance should in their zeal go astray. Moreover, I am not unaware that, in undertaking to describe the life of the Christian, I am entering on a large and extensive subject, one which, when fully considered in all its parts, is sufficient to fill a large volume. We see the length to which the Fathers in treating of individual virtues extend their exhortations. This they do, not from mere loquaciousness; for whatever be the virtue which you undertake to recommend, your pen is spontaneously led by the copiousness of the matter so to amplify, that you seem not to have discussed it properly if you have not done it at length. My intention, however, in the plan of life which I now propose to give, is not to extend it so far as to treat of each virtue specially, and expatiate in exhortation. This must be sought in the writings of others, and particularly in the Homilies of the Fathers.  For me it will be sufficient to point out the method by which a pious man may be taught how to frame his life aright, and briefly lay down some universal rule by which he may not improperly regulate his conduct. I shall one day possibly find time for more ample discourse, [or leave others to perform an office for which I am not so fit. I have a natural love of brevity, and, perhaps, any attempt of mine at copiousness would not succeed. Even if I could gain the highest applause by being more prolix, I would scarcely be disposed to attempt it],  while the nature of my present work requires me to glance at simple doctrine with as much brevity as possible. As philosophers have certain definitions of rectitude and honesty, from which they derive particular duties and the whole train of virtues; so in this respect Scripture is not without order, but presents a most beautiful arrangement, one too which is every way much more certain than that of philosophers. The only difference is, that they, under the influence of ambition, constantly affect an exquisite perspicuity of arrangement, which may serve to display their genius, whereas the Spirit of God, teaching without affectation, is not so perpetually observant of exact method, and yet by observing it at times sufficiently intimates that it is not to be neglected.
2. The Scripture system of which we speak aims chiefly at two objects. The former is, that the love of righteousness, to which we are by no means naturally inclined, may be instilled and implanted into our minds. The latter is (see chap. 7), to prescribe a rule which will prevent us while in the pursuit of righteousness from going astray. It has numerous admirable methods of recommending righteousness.  Many have been already pointed out in different parts of this work; but we shall here also briefly advert to some of them. With what better foundation can it begin than by reminding us that we must be holy, because "God is holy?" (Lev. 19:1; 1 Pet. 1:16). For when we were scattered abroad like lost sheep, wandering through the labyrinth of this world, he brought us back again to his own fold. When mention is made of our union with God, let us remember that holiness must be the bond; not that by the merit of holiness we come into communion with him (we ought rather first to cleave to him, in order that, pervaded with his holiness, we may follow whither he calls), but because it greatly concerns his glory not to have any fellowship with wickedness and impurity. Wherefore he tells us that this is the end of our calling, the end to which we ought ever to have respect, if we would answer the call of God. For to what end were we rescued from the iniquity and pollution of the world into which we were plunged, if we allow ourselves, during our whole lives, to wallow in them? Besides, we are at the same time admonished, that if we would be regarded as the Lord's people, we must inhabit the holy city Jerusalem (Isaiah rev. 8, et alibi); which, as he hath consecrated it to himself, it were impious for its inhabitants to profane by impurity. Hence the expressions, "Who shall abide in thy tabernacle? who shall dwell in thy holy hill? He that walketh uprightly, and worketh righteousness," (Ps. 15:1, 2; 24:3, 4); for the sanctuary in which he dwells certainly ought not to be like an unclean stall.
3. The better to arouse us, it exhibits God the Father, who, as he hath reconciled us to himself in his Anointed, has impressed his image upon us, to which he would have us to be conformed (Rom. 5:4). Come, then, and let them show me a more excellent system among philosophers, who think that they only have a moral philosophy duly and orderly arranged. They, when they would give excellent exhortations to virtue, can only tell us to live agreeably to nature. Scripture derives its exhortations from the true source,  when it not only enjoins us to regulate our lives with a view to God its author to whom it belongs; but after showing us that we have degenerated from our true origin--viz. the law of our Creator, adds, that Christ, through whom we have returned to favour with God, is set before us as a model, the image of which our lives should express. What do you require more effectual than this? Nay, what do you require beyond this? If the Lord adopts us for his sons on the condition that our life be a representation of Christ, the bond of our adoption,--then, unless we dedicate and devote ourselves to righteousness, we not only, with the utmost perfidy, revolt from our Creator, but also abjure the Saviour himself. Then, from an enumeration of all the blessings of God, and each part of our salvation, it finds materials for exhortation. Ever since God exhibited himself to us as a Father, we must be convicted of extreme ingratitude if we do not in turn exhibit ourselves as his sons. Ever since Christ purified us by the laver of his blood, and communicated this purification by baptism, it would ill become us to be defiled with new pollution. Ever since he ingrafted us into his body, we, who are his members, should anxiously beware of contracting any stain or taint. Ever since he who is our head ascended to heaven, it is befitting in us to withdraw our affections from the earth, and with our whole soul aspire to heaven. Ever since the Holy Spirit dedicated us as temples to the Lord, we should make it our endeavour to show forth the glory of God, and guard against being profaned by the defilement of sin. Ever since our soul and body were destined to heavenly incorruptibility and an unfading crown, we should earnestly strive to keep them pure and uncorrupted against the day of the Lord. These, I say, are the surest foundations of a well-regulated life, and you will search in vain for any thing resembling them among philosophers, who, in their commendation of virtue, never rise higher than the natural dignity of man.
4. This is the place to address those who, having nothing of Christ but the name and sign, would yet be called Christians. How dare they boast of this sacred name? None have intercourse with Christ but those who have acquired the true knowledge of him from the Gospel. The Apostle denies that any man truly has learned Christ who has not learned to put off "the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and put on Christ," (Eph. 4:22). They are convicted, therefore, of falsely and unjustly pretending a knowledge of Christ, whatever be the volubility and eloquence with which they can talk of the Gospel. Doctrine is not an affair of the tongue, but of the life; is not apprehended by the intellect and memory merely, like other branches of learning; but is received only when it possesses the whole soul, and finds its seat and habitation in the inmost recesses of the heart. Let them, therefore, either cease to insult God, by boasting that they are what they are not, or let them show themselves not unworthy disciples of their divine Master. To doctrine in which our religion is contained we have given the first place, since by it our salvation commences; but it must be transfused into the breast, and pass into the conduct, and so transform us into itself, as not to prove unfruitful. If philosophers are justly offended, and banish from their company with disgrace those who, while professing an art which ought to be the mistress of their conduct, convert it into mere loquacious sophistry, with how much better reason shall we detest those flimsy sophists who are contented to let the Gospel play upon their lips, when, from its efficacy, it ought to penetrate the inmost affections of the heart, fix its seat in the soul, and pervade the whole man a hundred times more than the frigid discourses of philosophers?
5. I insist not that the life of the Christian shall breathe nothing but the perfect Gospel, though this is to be desired, and ought to be attempted. I insist not so strictly on evangelical perfection, as to refuse to acknowledge as a Christian any man who has not attained it. In this way all would be excluded from the Church, since there is no man who is not far removed from this perfection, while many, who have made but little progress, would be undeservedly rejected. What then? Let us set this before our eye as the end at which we ought constantly to aim. Let it be regarded as the goal towards which we are to run. For you cannot divide the matter with God, undertaking part of what his word enjoins, and omitting part at pleasure. For, in the first place, God uniformly recommends integrity as the principal part of his worship, meaning by integrity real singleness of mind, devoid of gloss and fiction, and to this is opposed a double mind; as if it had been said, that the spiritual commencement of a good life is when the internal affections are sincerely devoted to God, in the cultivation of holiness and justice. But seeing that, in this earthly prison of the body, no man is supplied with strength sufficient to hasten in his course with due alacrity, while the greater number are so oppressed with weakness, that hesitating, and halting, and even crawling on the ground, they make little progress, let every one of us go as far as his humble ability enables him, and prosecute the journey once begun. No one will travel so badly as not daily to make some degree of progress. This, therefore, let us never cease to do, that we may daily advance in the way of the Lord; and let us not despair because of the slender measure of success. How little soever the success may correspond with our wish, our labour is not lost when to-day is better than yesterday, provided with true singleness of mind we keep our aim, and aspire to the goal, not speaking flattering things to ourselves, nor indulging our vices, but making it our constant endeavour to become better, until we attain to goodness itself. If during the whole course of our life we seek and follow, we shall at length attain it, when relieved from the infirmity of flesh we are admitted to full fellowship with God.
 The French adds, "C'est a dire, sermons populaires;"--that is to say, popular sermons.
 The passage in brackets is ommited in the French.
 The French begins the sentence thus, "Quant est du premier poinct;"--As to the former point.
 Mal. 1:6; Eph. 5:1; 1 John 3:1, 3; Eph. 5:26; Rom. 6:1-4; 1 Cor. 6:11; 1 Pet. 1:15, 19; 1 Cor. 6:15; John 15:3; Eph. 5:2, 3; Col. 3:1, 2; 1Cor. 3:16, 5:17; 2 Cor. 6:16; 1 Thess. 5:23
Christian Classics Ethereal Library / Public Domain
Institutes of the Christian Religion
By James Orr 1907
III. THE ABRAHAMIC AGE—THE CHEDORLAOMER EXPEDITION
Archæology throws new and valuable light upon the patriarchal age. The patriarchs themselves, whom it was proposed to resolve into tribal personifications, are found to bear personal names with which their age was perfectly familiar. A name Abe-ramu, almost the same as Abraham, appears on a contract-tablet of the second reign before Hammurabi. Other contract-tablets of that age exhibit the names Jacob and Jacob-el. The names Jacob-el and Joseph-el appear on a monument of Thothmes III. of Egypt (about 1500 B.C.) as place-names in Palestine. In other ways the whole period has been lifted up into new and commanding importance. It is generally accepted that the Hammurabi of the inscriptions is no other than the Amraphel of Gen. 14:1; and the discovery of the Code of this able ruler has given his name an éclat it can never again lose. The discovery was made at Susa in Jan. 1902, and the Code itself, the most complete and finished of any in antiquity, shows the height of civilisation to which the Babylonia of Abraham’s day had attained. The discovery bears directly on the possibility of such codes of law as we find attributed to Moses in the Pentateuch — e.g., the Code in the Book of the Covenant, — and particular provisions prove the minute fidelity with which the patriarchal history reflects the customs of that early time. Such, as formerly shown, is the law providing that the childless wife may give her maid to be a concubine; and directing what is to be done should the woman afterwards have a dispute with her mistress because she has borne children!
One of the most striking instances of the confirmation of the historical accuracy of the patriarchal narratives is that connected with the expedition of Chedorlaomer in Gen. 14. The events recorded in this chapter are very remote, going back, most probably, to about 2100 B.C. The historical relations also are intricate, and in part singular. They are such as floating tradition could neither have invented nor preserved. It is implied in the story that a king of Elam, Chedorlaomer (a strange name), at that time held sovereignty over Babylonia; that, with the vassal kings, whose names are given, he made an expedition against Palestine; that a second expedition was undertaken fourteen years later to crush rebellion. The chapter further tells how Lot was carried away prisoner, and how Abraham organised a pursuit, and rescued him. The historical character of this narrative was widely discredited — as by Nöldeke. How could a late Israelitish writer possibly know of such events? How could such an expedition take place? How could such a rescue be effected? The story was declared to be a complete fiction. Strange as it is, however, it has now, as respects its historical framework, been singularly confirmed. It has been established by indubitable evidence that Babylonia was at this time under Elamitic suzerainty; we have even the name and date (c. 2280 B.C.) of the king who overran it. It was found, further, that the known names of the kings of this Elamitic dynasty began with the word “Kudur,” meaning “servant” — thus Kudur - Nankhundi, Kudur-Mabug. It was discovered that there was an Elamitic goddess named “Lagamar,” so that Kudur-Lagamar (Chedorlaomer) was a name of genuine Elamitic formation. It was found that these kings claimed sovereignty over “Martu” (the west), or Palestine. It was ascertained that Kudur - Mabug had a son — Eri-aku (also called Rim-sin), king of Larsa: there can be little doubt, the Arioch of Ellasar of this chapter. Amraphel was identified with Hammurabi. Finally, it was announced that the name of Chedorlaomer himself had been found on a late inscription. The identification is questioned, and we need not press it; but it is significant that three leading specialists, Dr. Pinches (the discoverer), Professor Hommel, and Professor Sayce, still express themselves satisfied of the correctness of the reading. In any case, it seems abundantly made out that the author of this chapter is not romancing, but writes with a clear knowledge of the historical conditions of the times to which his narrative relates. For the rest, the Tel el-Amarna tablets testify to Uru-Salim as an ancient Canaanitish name for Jerusalem, and even Gunkel is disposed to accept Melchizedek as an historical person.
All this, it is now to be owned, makes not the slightest impression on most of the critics. Even Dr. Driver can write: “Monumental evidence that the narrative is historical is at present entirely lacking.” It does not matter that the historical setting of the story — even in the points that were formerly challenged — is proved to be surprisingly correct; it is held sufficient to reply that there has not been found on the monuments any direct mention of Abraham and his rescue of Lot. As if this had ever been claimed, or was a reasonable thing to expect. What is claimed is, that the writer of this chapter is proved to have his feet on firm historical ground in these remote times; that he knows what he is writing about, and is not romancing; and that, when we find his narrative trustworthy in a multitude of difficult points where we can test it, we are entitled to give him credit for like fidelity in the parts we cannot test. This would seem to be the common - sense way of looking at the matter; yet the critics prefer to believe that the chapter is an “unhistorical Midrash” of the time of the exile, or later, drawn up by someone who had chanced to fall in with a fragment of old Babylonian history, and pleased himself by weaving into it these traditions or fables of Abraham and Lot! How interesting the combination of accurate archæologist and romancing fabulist which this theory presents! — a theory for which, we are justified in affirming, there is no evidence whatever, and which is opposed to every consideration of probability. One feels, in reading the narrative, that it is of a piece throughout in its archaic character, and must be taken as a whole, or left as a whole. As Hommel well remarks: “Even assuming Gen. 14. to be nothing more than a very late narrative of a Midrash character, belonging to post-exilic times, how came its author to introduce into it a whole host of ancient phrases and names, to which he himself is obliged to add explanatory glosses, in order that they may be better understood?… Are we to assume that he did this intentionally in order to invest his story with an air of greater antiquity? In that case, all we can say is, that no similar example of literary finesse can be found throughout the whole of the Old Testament.” It need not be added that many critics of more positive tendency put much greater value on the narrative, and ably defend its historicity.
Law in the Context of Redemptive History
By Sinclair Ferguson
It is a basic presupposition in Reformed theology that the glory of God is manifested in redemptive history through the restoration of man as the image of God. (Rom. 8:29; 2 Cor. 3:18; Eph. 4:22–24; Col. 3:9–10; 1 John 3:2) God’s salvation economy always involves the renewal of what was true of us in creation. The Big and the Bigger Picture
It is true that salvation transcends life at creation in its movement toward glorified reality. But the movement is bi-directional: back to created Eden, forward to re-created and glorified Eden; God’s revelation parallels this—it keeps reworking the patterns of earlier revelation and redemption and progresses them.
Nothing is more fundamental to this than the way in which divine indicatives give rise to divine imperatives. This is the Bible’s underlying grammar. Grace, in this sense, always gives rise to obligation, duty, and law. This is why the Lord Jesus himself was at pains to stress that love for him is expressed by commandment keeping. (John 13:34; 14:23–24; 15:10, 12, 14, 17)
It is true that the New Testament teaches us about the law of love. Love is the fulfilling of the law. (Rom. 13:10) Indeed, “the whole law is fulfilled in one word: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’” (Gal. 5:14) But love is never said to be a replacement for law in Scripture, for several important reasons.
The first is that love is what law commands, and the commands are what love fulfills. The law of love is not a freshly minted, new-covenant idea; it is enshrined at the heart of old-covenant faith and life. It was to be Israel’s constant confession: the Lord is one, and he is to be loved in a whole-souled manner. (Deut. 6:5–6)
The second is the often overlooked principle: love requires direction and principles of operation. Love is motivation, but it is not self-interpreting direction.
Paul’s exposition of the Christian life in Romans 13:8–10 involves the significant principle that love is the fulfilling of the law. But he spells out for us that the “law” he is talking about in this context is “the commandments”—that is, the Ten Commandments. He cites four of the “neighbor love” commandments (in the order in which they appeared in his Greek Old Testament at Deut. 5:17–21). But he does not isolate these particular commandments (adultery, murder, stealing, coveting); rather he goes on to include “any other commandment.” (Rom. 13:9)
Commandments are the railroad tracks on which the life empowered by the love of God poured into the heart by the Holy Spirit runs. Love empowers the engine; law guides the direction. They are mutually interdependent. The notion that love can operate apart from law is a figment of the imagination. It is not only bad theology; it is poor psychology. It has to borrow from law to give eyes to love.
But there is a bigger Bible picture, which extends from Sinai both backward and forward.
The exodus was itself a restoration, intended to be seen as a kind of re-creation. The people were placed in a kind of Eden—a land “flowing with milk and honey.” There, as in Eden, they were given commands to regulate their lives to the glory of God. (The tabernacle and the temple were also reflections of Eden.) Grace and duty, privilege and responsibility, indicative and imperative were the order of the day as they lived before God and with one another.
In addition to or, more accurately, as the foundation of these applications, God gave them the Decalogue. It was simply a transcript in largely negative form, set within a new context in the land, of the principles of life that had constituted Adam’s original existence.
Fast-forward to Calvary and the coming of the Spirit. As Moses ascended Mount Sinai and brought down the Law on tablets of stone, now Christ has ascended into the heavenly Mount, but in contrast to Moses, he has sent down the Spirit who rewrites the law not now merely on tablets of stone but in our hearts. There is a recalibration to Eden, albeit in the heart of a person formerly enslaved to sin, bearing its marks, and living in a world still under the dominion of sin. Now the empowerment is within, through the indwelling of Christ the obedient one, the law keeper, by the Spirit. This is what now provides both motivation and empowerment in the Christian. And this empowerment reduplicates in us what was true for the Lord Jesus—the ability to say, “Oh how I love your law!” Grace and law are perfectly correlated to one another.
Thus, in Christ, what was interim in Old Testament law becomes obsolete. There is an international fulfillment of the Abrahamic promise, given 430 years before Sinai. (Gal. 3:17) Now whatever in the Sinaitic covenant was intended (1) to preserve and distinguish the people as a nation in a particular land, and (2) to point them to Christ by means of ceremonies and sacraments, has ceased to be binding on the church.
But by the same token, what was the expression of God’s created intention for man remains in place. Restoration to the image of God implies this. And since this is so, the Christian can no more be an antinomian than he can adopt the view that salvation is not the restoration of his life as the image of God.
The Big and the Bigger PictureWe have already considered various aspects of the Bible’s big picture. At Sinai God’s law was given to govern his people’s relationship to him (“religious” or “ceremonial” law) and also their relationship to each other in society (“civil” law). The latter was intended for them as (1) a people redeemed from Egypt, (2) while they lived in the land, (3) with a view to the coming of the Messiah.
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 Coming Prince
By Sir Robert Anderson 1841-1918
Chapter 1 Introduction
To living men no time can be so solemn as "the living present," whatever its characteristics; and that solemnity is immensely deepened in an age of progress unparalleled in the history of the world. But the question arises whether these days of ours are momentous beyond comparison, by reason of their being in the strictest sense the last? Is the world's history about to close? The sands of its destiny, are they almost run out, and is the crash of all things near at hand?
Earnest thinkers will not allow the wild utterances of alarmists, or the vagaries of prophecy-mongers, to divert them from an inquiry at once so solemn and so reasonable. It is only the infidel who doubts that there is a destined limit to the course of "this present evil world." That God will one day put forth His power to ensure the triumph of the good, is in some sense a matter of course. The mystery of revelation is not that He will do this, but that He delays to do it. Judged by the public facts around us, He is an indifferent spectator of the unequal struggle between good and evil upon earth.
Ecclesiastes 4:1 Again I saw all the oppressions that are done under the sun. And behold, the tears of the oppressed, and they had no one to comfort them! On the side of their oppressors there was power, and there was no one to comfort them. ESV
And how can such things be, if indeed the God who rules above is almighty and all-good? Vice and godlessness and violence and wrong are rampant upon every side, and yet the heavens above keep silence. The infidel appeals to the fact in proof that the Christian's God is but a myth. 
 According to Mill, the course of the world gives proof that both the power and the goodness of God are limited. His Essays on Religion clearly show that skepticism is an attitude of mind which it is practically impossible to maintain. Even with a reasoner so clear and able as Mill, it inevitably degenerates to a degrading form of faith." The rational attitude of a thinking mind towards the supernatural" (he declares) "is that of skepticism, as distinguished from belief on the one hand, and from atheism on the other;" and yet he immediately proceeds to formulate a creed. It is not that there is a God, for that is only probable, but that if there be a God He is not almighty, and His goodness toward man is limited. (Essays, etc., pp. 242, 243.) He does not prove his creed, of course. Its truth is obvious to a "thinking mind." It is equally obvious that the sun moves round the earth. A man only needs to be as ignorant of astronomy as the infidel is of Christianity, and he will find the most indisputable proof of the fact every time he surveys the heavens!
The Christian finds in it a further proof that the God he worships is patient and longsuffering– "patient because He is eternal," longsuffering because He is almighty, for wrath is a last resource with power. But the day is coming when
He is like a tree
planted by streams of water
that yields its fruit in its season,
and its leaf does not wither.
In all that he does, he prospers. ESV
This is not a matter of opinion, but of faith. He who questions it has no claim whatever to the name of Christian, for it is as essentially a truth of Christianity as is the record of the life and death of the Son of God. The old Scriptures teem with it, and of all the writers of the New Testament there is not so much as one who does not expressly speak of it. It was the burden of the first prophetic utterance which Holy Writ records; (Jude 14) and the closing book of the sacred Canon, from the first chapter to the last, confirms and amplifies the testimony.
The only inquiry, therefore, which concerns us relates to the nature of the crisis and the time of its fulfillment. And the key to this inquiry is the Prophet Daniel's vision of the seventy weeks. Not that a right understanding of the prophecy will enable us to prophesy. That is not the purpose for which it was given. 
 Prophecy is not given to enable us to prophesy, but as a witness to God when the time comes." – PUSEY, Daniel, p. 80.
But it will prove a sufficient safeguard against error in the study. Notably it will save us from the follies into which false systems of prophetic chronology inevitably lead those who follow them. It is not in our time only that the end of the world has been predicted. It was looked for far more confidently at the beginning of the sixth century. All Europe rang with it in the days of Pope Gregory the Great. And at the end of the tenth century the apprehension of it amounted to a general panic. "It was then frequently preached on, and by breathless crowds listened to; the subject of every one's thoughts, every one's conversation." "Under this impression, multitudes innumerable," says Mosheim, "having given their property to monasteries or churches, traveled to Palestine, where they expected Christ to descend to judgment. Others bound themselves by solemn oaths to be serfs to churches or to priests, in hopes of a milder sentence on them as being servants of Christ's servants. In many places buildings were let go to decay, as that of which there would be no need in future. And on occasions of eclipses of sun or moon, the people fled in multitudes for refuge to the caverns and the rocks." 
 Elliott, Horae Apoc. (3rd Ed.), 1., 446: and see also ch. 3, pp. 362-376
And so in recent years, one date after another has been confidently named for the supreme crisis; but still the world goes on. A.D. 581 was one of the first years fixed for the event,  1881 is among the last. (In my old mind I think of the popular book ON BORROWED TIME & 88 REASONS WHY THE RAPTURE WILL BE IN 1988 Two Books in One) These pages are not designed to perpetuate the folly of such predictions, but to endeavor in a humble way to elucidate the meaning of a prophecy which ought to deliver us from all such errors and to rescue the study from the discredit they bring upon it.
 Elliott, 1., 373. Hippolytus predicted A. D. 500.
No words ought to be necessary to enforce the importance of the subject, and yet the neglect of the prophetic Scriptures, by those even who profess to believe all Scripture to be inspired, is proverbial. Putting the matter on the lowest ground, it might be urged that if a knowledge of the past be important, a knowledge of the future must be of far higher value still, in enlarging the mind and raising it above the littlenesses produced by a narrow and unenlightened contemplation of the present. If God has vouchsafed a revelation to men, the study of it is surely fitted to excite enthusiastic interest, and to command the exercise of every talent which can be brought to bear upon it.
The Coming Prince
and also at this website. https://www.whatsaiththescripture.com/Voice/The.Coming.Prince.html#1-2
The Continual Burnt Offering
By H.A. Ironside - 1941
March 172 Chronicles 26:16 But when he was strong, he grew proud, to his destruction. For he was unfaithful to the LORD his God and entered the temple of the LORD to burn incense on the altar of incense. ESV
There is a very real danger in success even for those who are children of God. It is easy to become proud and to take credit to oneself instead of giving all the glory to Him through whom promotion comes (Psalm 75:6-7). King Uzziah, as he is called here, otherwise known as Azariah (2 Kings 14:21; 15:1-7), is a striking illustration of this truth. Like many others, he began well and ended badly. In his early years he was earnest and energetic in building up the kingdom of Judah and in furthering the observance of the law of the Lord. While under the helpful influence of “Zechariah, who had understanding in the visions of God” (2 Chronicles 26:5), he sought after God, and as long as he did so he prospered. “But when he was strong his heart was lifted up, to his destruction.” In his old age he became “disqualified” (1 Corinthians 9:27). He was set to one side as unfit to be used of the Lord, while his son acted as regent in his place.
Psalm 75:6 For not from the east or from the west
and not from the wilderness comes lifting up,
7 but it is God who executes judgment,
putting down one and lifting up another.
2 Kings 15:1 In the twenty-seventh year of Jeroboam king of Israel, Azariah the son of Amaziah, king of Judah, began to reign. 2 He was sixteen years old when he began to reign, and he reigned fifty-two years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Jecoliah of Jerusalem. 3 And he did what was right in the eyes of the LORD, according to all that his father Amaziah had done. 4 Nevertheless, the high places were not taken away. The people still sacrificed and made offerings on the high places. 5 And the LORD touched the king, so that he was a leper to the day of his death, and he lived in a separate house. And Jotham the king’s son was over the household, governing the people of the land. 6 Now the rest of the acts of Azariah, and all that he did, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Judah? 7 And Azariah slept with his fathers, and they buried him with his fathers in the city of David, and Jotham his son reigned in his place.
2 Chronicles 26:5 He set himself to seek God in the days of Zechariah, who instructed him in the fear of God, and as long as he sought the LORD, God made him prosper.
1 Corinthians 9:27 But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified. ESV
There is a service God-inspired,
A zeal that tireless grows,
Where self is crucified with Christ,
And joy unceasing flows.
There is a being “right with God,”
That yields to His commands
Unswerving, true fidelity,
A loyalty that stands.
There is a meekness free from pride,
That feels no anger rise
At slights, or hate, or ridicule,
But counts the cross a prize.
There is a patience that endures
Without a fret or care,
But joyful sings, “His will be done,
My Lord’s sweet grace I share.”
The Continual Burnt Offering: Daily Meditations on the Word of God
Devotionals, notes, poetry and more
2/2006 The Heart Restored
As we consider the history of God’s people in the Old Testament, we do not observe a people who served the Lord faithfully. The people of Israel did not demonstrate their love for God with all their hearts. Even some of the great heroes of Israel manifested the depths of depravity in their lives.
Nevertheless, it is through our careful study of Israel’s past that we find great comfort. With spiritually discerning minds, we have been given the ability to understand the way in which God’s redemption of His people has been displayed throughout history. As such, we possess insight into the unfolding drama of redemption, from the beginning of life itself to the very end when death itself is conquered.
It is for no small reason that God’s record of His people is replete with stories of failure and renewal. For it is in the history of redemption that the patient God of Israel restores His people time after time, demonstrating His enduring love and faithfulness. Despite their lawlessness and rebellion, the people of God in the Old Testament were repeatedly brought to repentance by the kindness of God and were always renewed in their sweet communion with Him. This common theme of restoration is perhaps best illustrated in the life of David who was the son of Jesse, the shepherd of Bethlehem, the defender of the kingdom of God, the king of Israel, the adulterer, the deceiver, and the murderer. In the biblical portrait of David, we observe a man whose heart was broken by his sin and healed by his Lord.
Upon the occasion of David’s anointing, we recall the words of God to Samuel concerning David’s older brother Eliab: “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the LORD sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart” (1 Sam. 16:7). The boldness and sheer magnificence of these words demand that we hearken to the words of Samuel when he proclaimed to Saul that “the LORD has sought out a man after his own heart…to be prince over his people” (1 Sam. 13:14). David was a man after God’s own heart, not because the heart of David was pure. Rather, he was a man after God’s own heart precisely because he understood that his heart was not pure, and for that reason he hid the Word of God in his heart so that he might not sin against the Lord and so that he might love the Lord with all his heart, coram Deo.
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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)
by Bill Federer
This day, March 17th is the date St. Patrick died in 461AD. At sixteen, he was kidnapped to Ireland and made a slave on a pig farm for six years, until he escaped back to England. In his early forties he returned to Ireland, confronted the Druids, converted Chieftains, and used the three-leaf clover to explain the Trinity. Founding 300 churches and baptizing 120,000 converts, he wrote in his Confessions: “Patrick the sinner, an unlearned man to be sure…. None should ever say that it was my ignorance that accomplished any small thing… it was the gift of God.”
Compiled by Richard S. Adams
Never accept the proposition that just because a solution satisfies a problem, that it must be the only solution.
--- Raymond E. Feist
The Forge of God
The will of God — nothing less, nothing more, nothing else.
--- F. E. Marsh
A Pilgrimage of Faith: The Mennonite Brethren Church in Russia and North America, 1860-1990 (Perspectives on Mennonite Life and Thought, 8)
To the artist, Christ is the one altogether lovely.
To the builder, He is the sure foundation.
To the doctor, He is the great physician.
To the geologist, He is the Rock of Ages.
To the sinner, He is the Lamb of God who cleanses and forgives sin.
To the Christian, Jesus Christ is the Son of the Living God, our great Savior.
Joy to the World: The Stories Behind Your Favorite Christmas Carols
Never let your sense of morals keep you from doing what is right.
--- Isaac Asimov
Foundation's Edge (Foundation Novels)
... from here, there and everywhere
University of Virginia Library 1994
In the eleventh month this year, feeling an engagement of mind to visit some families in Mansfield, I joined my beloved friend Benjamin Jones, and we spent a few days together in that service. In the second month, 1763, I joined, in company with Elizabeth Smith and Mary Noble, in a visit to the families of Friends at Ancocas. In both these visits, through the baptizing power of truth, the sincere laborers were often comforted, and the hearts of Friends opened to receive us. In the fourth month following, I accompanied some Friends in a visit to the families of Friends in Mount Holly; during this visit my mind was often drawn into an inward awfulness, wherein strong desires were raised for the everlasting welfare of my fellow-creatures, and through the kindness of our Heavenly Father our hearts were at times enlarged, and Friends were invited, in the flowings of Divine love, to attend to that which would settle them on the sure foundation.
Having for many years felt love in my heart towards the natives of this land who dwell far back in the wilderness, whose ancestors were formerly the owners and possessors of the land where we dwell, and who for a small consideration assigned their inheritance to us, and being at Philadelphia in the 8th month, 1761, on a visit to some Friends who had slaves, I fell in company with some of those natives who lived on the east branch of the river Susquehanna, at an Indian town called Wehaloosing, two hundred miles from Philadelphia. In conversation with them by an interpreter, as also by observations on their countenances and conduct, I believed some of them were measurably acquainted with that Divine power which subjects the rough and froward will of the creature. At times I felt inward drawings towards a visit to that place, which I mentioned to none except my dear wife until it came to some ripeness. In the winter of 1762 I laid my prospects before my friends at our Monthly and Quarterly, and afterwards at our General Spring Meeting; and having the unity of Friends, and being thoughtful about an Indian pilot, there came a man and three women from a little beyond that town to Philadelphia on business. Being informed thereof by letter, I met them in town in the 5th month, 1763; and after some conversation, finding they were sober people, I, with the concurrence of Friends in that place, agreed to join them as companions in their return, and we appointed to meet at Samuel Foulk's, at Richland, in Bucks County, on the 7th of sixth month. Now, as this visit felt weighty, and was performed at a time when travelling appeared perilous, so the dispensations of Divine Providence in preparing my mind for it have been memorable, and I believe it good for me to give some account thereof.
After I had given up to go, the thoughts of the journey were often attended with unusual sadness, at which times my heart was frequently turned to the Lord with inward breathings for his heavenly support, that I might not fail to follow him wheresoever he might lead me. Being at our youth's meeting at Chesterfield, about a week before the time I expected to set off, I was there led to speak on that prayer of our Redeemer to the Father: "I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil." And in attending to the pure openings of truth, I had to mention what he elsewhere said to his Father: "I know that thou hearest me at all times"; so, as some of his followers kept their places, and as his prayer was granted, it followed necessarily that they were kept from evil; and as some of those met with great hardships and afflictions in this world, and at last suffered death by cruel men, so it appears that whatsoever befalls men while they live in pure obedience to God certainly works for their good, and may not be considered an evil as it relates to them. As I spake on this subject my heart was much tendered, and great awfulness came over me. On the first day of the week, being at our own afternoon meeting, and my heart being enlarged in love, I was led to speak on the care and protection of the Lord over his people, and to make mention of that passage where a band of Syrians, who were endeavoring to take captive the prophet, were disappointed; and how the Psalmist said, "The angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear him." Thus, in true love and tenderness, I parted from Friends, expecting the next morning to proceed on my journey. Being weary I went early to bed. After I had been asleep a short time I was awoke by a man calling at my door, and inviting me to meet some Friends at a public-house in our town, who came from Philadelphia so late that Friends were generally gone to bed. These Friends informed me that an express had arrived the last morning from Pittsburg, and brought news that the Indians had taken a fort from the English westward, and had slain and scalped some English people near the said Pittsburg, and in divers places. Some elderly Friends in Philadelphia, knowing the time of my intending to set off, had conferred together, and thought good to inform me of these things before I left home, that I might consider them and proceed as I believed best. Going to bed again, I told not my wife till morning. My heart was turned to the Lord for his heavenly instruction; and it was an humbling time to me. When I told my dear wife, she appeared to be deeply concerned about it; but in a few hours' time my mind became settled in a belief that it was my duty to proceed on my journey, and she bore it with a good degree of resignation. In this conflict of spirit there were great searchings of heart and strong cries to the Lord, that no motion might in the least degree be attended to but that of the pure spirit of truth.
The subjects before mentioned, on which I had so lately spoken in public, were now fresh before me, and I was brought inwardly to commit myself to the Lord, to be disposed of as he saw best. I took leave of my family and neighbors in much bowedness of spirit, and went to our Monthly Meeting at Burlington. After taking leave of Friends there, I crossed the river, accompanied by my friends Israel and John Pemberton; and parting the next morning with Israel, John bore me company to Samuel Foulk's, where I met the before-mentioned Indians; and we were glad to see each other. Here my friend Benjamin Parvin met me, and proposed joining me as a companion, -- we had before exchanged some letters on the subject, -- and now I had a sharp trial on his account; for, as the journey appeared perilous, I thought if he went chiefly to bear me company, and we should be taken captive, my having been the means of drawing him into these difficulties would add to my own afflictions; so I told him my mind freely, and let him know that I was resigned to go alone; but after all, if he really believed it to be his duty to go on, I believed his company would be very comfortable to me. It was, indeed, a time of deep exercise, and Benjamin appeared to be so fastened to the visit that he could not be easy to leave me; so we went on, accompanied by our friends John Pemberton and William Lightfoot of Pikeland. We lodged at Bethlehem, and there parting with John, William and we went forward on the 9th of the sixth month, and got lodging on the floor of a house, about five miles from Fort Allen. Here we parted with William, and at this place we met with an Indian trader lately come from Wyoming. In conversation with him, I perceived that many white people often sell rum to the Indians, which I believe is a great evil. In the first place, they are thereby deprived of the use of reason, and their spirits being violently agitated, quarrels often arise which end in mischief, and the bitterness and resentment occasioned hereby are frequently of long continuance. Again, their skins and furs, gotten through much fatigue and hard travels in hunting, with which they intended to buy clothing, they often sell at a low rate for more rum, when they become intoxicated; and afterward, when they suffer for want of the necessaries of life, are angry with those who, for the sake of gain, took advantage of their weakness. Their chiefs have often complained of this in their treaties with the English. Where cunning people pass counterfeits and impose on others that which is good for nothing, it is considered as wickedness; but for the sake of gain to sell that which we know does people harm, and which often works their ruin, manifests a hardened and corrupt heart, and is an evil which demands the care of all true lovers of virtue to suppress. While my mind this evening was thus employed, I also remembered that the people on the frontiers, among whom this evil is too common, are often poor; and that they venture to the outside of a colony in order to live more independently of the wealthy, who often set high rents on their land. I was renewedly confirmed in a belief, that if all our inhabitants lived according to sound wisdom, laboring to promote universal love and righteousness, and ceased from every inordinate desire after wealth, and from all customs which are tinctured with luxury, the way would be easy for our inhabitants, though they might be much more numerous than at present, to live comfortably on honest employments, without the temptation they are so often under of being drawn into schemes to make settlements on lands which have not been purchased of the Indians, or of applying to that wicked practice of selling rum to them.
John Woolman's Journal
Practical religion. The Christian life
"And Ben-hadad the king of Syria gathered all his host together: and there were thirty and two kings with him, and horses, and chariots: and he went up and besieged Samaria, and warred against it. And he sent messengers to Ahab king of Israel into the city, and said unto him,
Thus saith Ben-hadad, Thy silver and thy gold is mine; thy wives also and thy children, even the goodliest, are mine. And the king of Israel
answered and said, My lord, O king, according to thy saying, I am thine
and all that I have" (1 Ki. 20:1-4).
What Ben Hadad asked was absolute surrender; and what Ahab gave was what was asked of him--absolute surrender. I want to use these words: "My lord, O king, according to thy saying, I am thine, and all that I have," as the words of absolute surrender with which every child of God ought to yield himself to his Father. We have heard it before, but we need to hear it very definitely--the condition of God's blessing is absolute surrender of all into His hands. Praise God! If our hearts are willing for that, there is no end to what God will do for us, and to the blessing God will bestow.
Absolute surrender--let me tell you where I got those words. I used them myself often, and you have heard them numberless times. But in Scotland once I was in a company where we were talking about the condition of Christ's Church, and what the great need of the Church and of believers is; and there was in our company a godly worker who has much to do in training workers, and I asked him what he would say was the great need of the Church, and the message that ought to be preached. He answered very quietly and simply and determinedly:
"Absolute surrender to God is the one thing."
The words struck me as never before. And that man began to tell how, in the workers with whom he had to deal, he finds that if they are sound on that point, even though they be backward, they are willing to be taught and helped, and they always improve; whereas others who are not sound there very often go back and leave the work. The condition for obtaining God's full blessing is absolute surrender to Him.
And now, I desire by God's grace to give to you this message--that your God in Heaven answers the prayers which you have offered for blessing on yourselves and for blessing on those around you by this one demand: Are you willing to surrender yourselves absolutely into His hands? What is our answer to be? God knows there are hundreds of hearts who have said it, and there are hundreds more who long to say it but hardly dare to do so. And there are hearts who have said it, but who have yet miserably failed, and who feel themselves condemned because they did not find the secret of the power to live that life. May God have a word for all!
Let me say, first of all, that God claims it from us.
God Expects Your Surrender
I am using the 1895 Public Domain version. Below is an Amazon link for a modern copy.
Absolute Surrender (The Colportage Library)
by D.H. Stern
while the lazy will be put to forced labor.
25 Anxiety in a person’s heart weighs him down,
but a kind word cheers him up.
Complete Jewish Bible : An English Version of the Tanakh (Old Testament) and B'Rit Hadashah (New Testament)
Richard S. Adams
I was walking in the rain today. It has been raining now for quite a while. Maybe I should define that. It seems it never really rains here, not like it does in the South. Here it mostly spits and sputters and drizzles a lot. Nearly everyone complains about it. It rarely rains hard enough for an umbrella. I see a lot of folks wearing a hat. A ball cap is really all you need.
It used to take me 42 minutes to walk from our apt. around the pond at Browns Ferry. Now it takes at least an hour. The good thing about that is I have more time to look at the Tualatin River, observe the ducks in the pond, and see an occasional nutria. Occasionally, once in a while, I see a blue Heron, but I can never get close enough to get a good picture with my cell phone.
Today a man and his dog passed me, everyone passes me, and as he did, he said hello and asked if I was ready to build an ark. We both laughed, but as he walked away, I thought about that.
My wife is very creative. Her mind is like that elusive blue heron I can never get a good picture of. It soars to places I just never think of. I depend on her to make my mind go where it hasn’t gone before.
When he asked if I was ready to build an ark I was in the middle of a prayer. So, it was natural to suddenly start thinking of prayer as building an ark. I like that metaphor.
Noah’s ark was not about saving Noah. It was about being obedient to God. God’s will was, is, and always will be, to save others, not just Noah. The Bible tells us God takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked, neither is it God's will for any to perish. Ezekiel 18:23, Ezekiel 33:11, 2 Peter 3:9
Ezekiel 18:23 “Do I have any pleasure in the death of the wicked,” declares the Lord GOD, “rather than that he should turn from his ways and live?
Ezekiel 33:11 “Say to them, ‘As I live!’ declares the Lord GOD, ‘I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn back, turn back from your evil ways! Why then will you die, O house of Israel?’
2 Peter 3:9 The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance. (NASB95)
I believe, no, I know that we are all called to be ark builders. It is quite beautiful to walk among these trees, next to the river, as the rain comes down softly, but these trees that shelter me from most of the rain are no good at all for the coming storm. The next time someone asks me what they should do in these turbulent times of uncertainty and political violence I will suggest they build an ark. Nothing else will do.
Richard S. Adams | Lover of Christ, husband of Lily, father of four, grandfather of eleven, Masters in Divinity and Certificate in Spiritual Direction. On staff at George Fox 1/2009 to 7/2018.
Jan 23 Potholes
Jan 24 The Hornet
Jan 26 Dealing With Disappointment
Jan 27 Lost
Jan 28 Life Support, A Non-Stop Flight
Feb 5 Prosperity and the Camp Fire
Feb 7 Job 6:14-23
Feb 10 Spontaneous Generation
Feb 14 Hindsight
Feb 18 The Cure For Despair
Feb 22 RE: Job's Friends
Feb 23 Job 23:14
Feb 25 No Time To Text
Mar 5 Polemics and Caricature
Mar 17 A Walk In The Rain
Apr 20 Death and My Master's Voice
Apr 26 The Unexpected Blessing Returns
May 10 Ruth | Relationships
June 18 Lincoln City 6/2/18
July 14 Tom - Gen and Revelation
July 15 Knowledge and World Peace
July 16 The Church as Lobbyist
Aug 3 Have You Noticed
Nov 27 The Way The World Is
Nov 30 The Renewal Of Israel
Dec 11 Open Door
Dec 20 Replacement Theology
For a moment there was silence under the cedar trees and then—pad, pad, pad—it was broken. Two velvet-footed lions came bouncing into the open space, their eyes fixed upon each other, and started playing some solemn romp. Their manes looked as if they had been just dipped in the river whose noise I could hear close at hand, though the tree hid it. Not greatly liking my company, I moved away to find that river, and after passing some thick flowering bushes, I succeeded. The bushes came almost down to the brink. It was as smooth as the Thames but flowed swiftly like a mountain stream: pale green where trees overhung it but so clear that I could count the pebbles at the bottom. Close beside me I saw another of the Bright People in conversation with a ghost. It was that fat ghost with the cultured voice who had addressed me in the bus, and it seemed to be wearing gaiters.
‘My dear boy, I’m delighted to see you,’ it was saying to the Spirit, who was naked and almost blindingly white. ‘I was talking to your poor father the other day and wondering where you were.’
‘You didn’t bring him?’ said the other.
‘Well, no. He lives a long way from the bus, and, to be quite frank, he’s been getting a little eccentric lately. A little difficult. Losing his grip. He never was prepared to make any great efforts, you know. If you remember, he used to go to sleep when you and I got talking seriously! Ah, Dick, I shall never forget some of our talks. I expect you’ve changed your views a bit since then. You became rather narrow-minded towards the end of your life: but no doubt you’ve broadened out again.’
‘How do you mean?’
‘Well, it’s obvious by now, isn’t it, that you weren’t quite right. Why, my dear boy, you were coming to believe in a literal Heaven and Hell!’
‘But wasn’t I right?’
‘Oh, in a spiritual sense, to be sure. I still believe in them in that way. I am still, my dear boy, looking for the Kingdom. But nothing superstitious or mythological …’
‘Excuse me. Where do you imagine you’ve been?’
‘Ah, I see. You mean that the grey town with its continual hope of morning (we must all live by hope, must we not?), with its field for indefinite progress, is, in a sense, Heaven, if only we have eyes to see it? That is a beautiful idea.’
‘I didn’t mean that at all. Is it possible you don’t know where you’ve been?’
‘Now that you mention it, I don’t think we ever do give it a name. What do you call it?’
‘We call it Hell.’
The Great Divorce or The Great Divorce
C.S. Lewis Books | Go to Books Page
A Daily Devotional by Oswald Chambers
The worker’s ruling passion
Wherefore we labour, that, … we may be accepted of Him.
--- 2 Cor. 5:9.
“Wherefore we labour …” It is arduous work to keep the master ambition in front. It means holding one’s self to the high ideal year in and year out, not being ambitious to win souls or to establish churches or to have revivals, but being ambitious only to be “accepted of Him.” It is not lack of spiritual experience that leads to failure, but lack of labouring to keep the ideal right. Once a week at least take stock before God, and see whether you are keeping your life up to the standard He wishes. Paul is like a musician who does not heed the approval of the audience if he can catch the look of approval from his Master.
Any ambition which is in the tiniest degree away from this central one of being “approved unto God” may end in our being castaways. Learn to discern where the ambition leads, and you will see why it is so necessary to live facing the Lord Jesus Christ. Paul says—Lest my body should make me take another line, I am constantly watching so that I may bring it into subjection and keep it under. (1 Cor. 9:27.)
I have to learn to relate everything to the master ambition, and to maintain it without any cessation. My worth to God in public is what I am in private. Is my master ambition to please Him and be acceptable to Him, or is it something less, no matter how noble?
My Utmost for His Highest
the Poetry of R.S. Thomas
The Way of It
With her fingers she turns paint
into flowers, with her body
flowers into a remembrance
of herself. She is at work
always, mending the garment
of our marriage, foraging
like a bird for something
for us to eat. If there are thorns
in my life, it is she who
will press her breast to them and sing.
Her words, when she would scold,
are too sharp. She is busy
after for hours rubbing smiles
into the wounds. I saw her,
when young, and spread the panoply
of my feathers instinctively
to engage her. She was not deceived,
but accepted me as a girl
will under a thin moon
in love's absence as someone
she could build a home with
for her imagined child.
A Nation: Numbers 1–10
Here is where we see the first indication that the great mob of people who swarmed out of Egypt are now to be treated as a responsible nation. A census was taken, with the men of military age numbering 603,550. This figure is given in several different texts, though in some it is rounded off (Ex. 12:37; 38:26; Num. 1:46; 2:32; 11:21). The later census of Numbers 26:51 shows similarity, but also some change over the 38-year period. The total population of Israel now ready to leave Sinai probably ranged between 2 and 2 1/2 million people.
Tribal marching and camping positions were set. The duties of the Levites were defined, and a system of trumpet calls was set to signal assembly, the order of departure, alarms, etc.
As the people of Israel marched they were to respond to the direct leading of God. The pillar of cloud and fire which had appeared as Israel left Egypt (Exodus 13:21) now rested over the tabernacle. When the cloud rested, the people remained in camp. But when in the morning the cloud lifted up, the people set out and followed it as God led them where He chose. As the Bible says, “At the Lord’s command they encamped, and at the Lord’s command they set out. They obeyed the Lord’s order in accordance with His command through Moses” (Numbers 9:23).
Even in this, the people were being taught to respond to God. God’s people must always look to Him for guidance, and go or wait at His command.
Most of us want gifts. We enjoy receiving them—for birthdays, graduations, and other special occasions. Yet, we know that some gifts are simply unneeded or unwanted. Each of us likely has one such item stored in a closet or sitting on a shelf—unopened, unused, and collecting dust. Officers of nonprofit organizations tell stories of receiving countless unusable donations. For example, people frequently drop off old school textbooks at libraries. These volumes are not only unusable; they are also a disposal problem. In the end, such “gifts” end up costing the recipient much time and expense. Often, the donor expects a letter attesting that the contribution was worth a great deal of money.
At the same time, we have received—and given—enough gifts to know that we cannot possibly inform the recipient of every present beforehand. Nonetheless, as a general principle, the words of Rava bar Meḥasya, that a gift should be wanted by the recipient, are sound. Rava’s words can apply equally to other “gifts” that we give. Notification in advance is advisable. When we “dish out” advice to a friend, we think of it as helpful, but advice, like a gift, should be wanted. Doesn’t the advice we receive from others go farther when they first say to us: “Would you like my comments about your dress?” “Can I share with you a thought about your report?” “Would you mind my being frank about this plan?”
Whether we are giving another a birthday gift or words of wisdom, we should strive to make sure that we inform the recipient. Doing less may leave our gift or favor unusable and unwanted. Informing another means that the gift can be both given and received in the same welcome spirit.
We raise up in matters of holiness, not bring down.
Text / Our Rabbis taught: “The mitzvah of Hanukkah—a light for a man and his household. Those who are particular—a light for each and every person. Those who are extremely particular—Bet Shammai says: ‘On the first day light eight; from then on, continue to decrease.’ Bet Hillel says: ‘On the first day light one; from then on continue to add.’ ” Ulla said: “Two Amoraim in the West, Rabbi Yosé bar Avin and Rabbi Yosé bar Zavida, disagreed. One said: ‘The reason of Bet Shammai is that it corresponds to the days that are left, and the reason of Bet Hillel is that it corresponds to the days that are past.’ The other said: ‘The reason of Bet Shammai is that it corresponds to the bulls [offered] on the festival [of Sukkot], and the reason of Bet Hillel is that we raise up in matters of holiness, not bring down.’ ”
Context / On the fifteenth day of the seventh month [the festival of Sukkot], you shall observe a sacred occasion.… You shall present a burnt offering, an offering by fire of pleasing odor to the Lord: Thirteen bulls of the herd.… Second day: Twelve bulls of the herd.… Third day: Eleven bulls.… Fourth day: Ten bulls.… Fifth day: Nine bulls.… Sixth day: Eight bulls.… Seventh day: Seven bulls.… On the eighth day you shall hold a solemn gathering.… You shall present a burnt offering, an offering by fire of pleasing odor to the Lord; one bull.… (Numbers 29:12–36)
Though the lighting of the Hanukkah menorah is such a well-known ritual, we read in the Gemara that there were four different traditions of how it was to be done. The basic method was to kindle one light each night of the festival: the first night, one light; then on the second night, again only one light was kindled. The second method was a variation of the first, but each individual kindled one light, every night. The last two methods are those of Bet Hillel and Bet Shammai. Bet Hillel set the custom that we follow to this day. Bet Shammai practiced that custom, but in reverse.
Two explanations are brought for the different practices of the two schools. Bet Shammai’s lighting eight candles the first day and gradually decreasing the lights reminds us of how many days are left in the holiday; Bet Hillel’s starting with one and then increasing highlights which day we are on. Additionally, the decreasing candles parallel the decreasing number of bulls sacrificed during Sukkot. (The connection between Hanukkah and Sukkot is interesting: Both are observed for eight days. In addition, after the Maccabees liberated and rededicated the Temple, they celebrated the Sukkot festival, because they had been unable to celebrate it while in the wilderness, fighting.) Bet Hillel had a philosophical basis for its custom: In matters of holiness, in other words, in things relating to God and religion, it was important to “raise up,” rather than bring down. Bet Shammai’s practice makes us feel that the ritual is dwindling and disappearing; Bet Hillel’s custom leaves us with a sense of growth and strength.
Swimming in the Sea of Talmud: Lessons for Everyday Living
Thomas A Kempis
Book Three - Internal Consolation
The Eighth Chapter / Self-Abasement In The Sight Of God
I WILL speak to my Lord, I who am but dust and ashes. If I consider myself anything more than this, behold You stand against me, and my sins bear witness to the truth which I cannot contradict. If I abase myself, however, if I humble myself to nothingness, if I shrink from all self-esteem and account myself as the dust which I am, Your grace will favor me, Your light will enshroud my heart, and all self-esteem, no matter how little, will sink in the depths of my nothingness to perish forever.
It is there You show me to myself—what I am, what I have been, and what I am coming to; for I am nothing and I did not know it. Left to myself, I am nothing but total weakness. But if You look upon me for an instant, I am at once made strong and filled with new joy. Great wonder it is that I, who of my own weight always sink to the depths, am so suddenly lifted up, and so graciously embraced by You.
It is Your love that does this, graciously upholding me, supporting me in so many necessities, guarding me from so many grave dangers, and snatching me, as I may truly say, from evils without number. Indeed, by loving myself badly I lost myself; by seeking only You and by truly loving You I have found both myself and You, and by that love I have reduced myself more profoundly to nothing. For You, O sweetest Lord, deal with me above all my merits and above all that I dare to hope or ask.
May You be blessed, my God, for although I am unworthy of any benefits, yet Your nobility and infinite goodness never cease to do good even for those who are ungrateful and far from You. Convert us to You, that we may be thankful, humble, and devout, for You are our salvation, our courage, and our strength.
The Imitation Of Christ
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.
The preparations made by Christ for his death were the solemn recommendation of his friends to his Father, the institution of a commemorative sign to perpetuate and refresh the memory of his death in the hearts of his people, till he come again, and his pouring out his soul to God by prayer in the garden, which was the posture he chose to be found in when they apprehended him. ( The Whole Works of the Reverend Mr. John Flavel ... )
The fatherly care and tender love of our Lord Jesus Christ was eminently displayed in that pleading prayer he poured out for his people at his parting with them. It belonged to the priest and father of the family to bless the rest, especially when he was to be separated from them by death. This was a rite in Israel. When good Jacob was grown old, and the time came that he would be gathered to his fathers, then he blessed Joseph and his sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, saying, “May the God before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked, the God who has been my shepherd all my life to this day, the Angel who has delivered me from all harm—may he bless these boys” (Gen. 48:15–16). This was a prophetic and patriarchal blessing—not that Jacob could bless as God blesses. He could speak the words of blessing, but he knew that the effect, the real blessing itself, depended on God. Now when Jesus Christ comes to die, he will bless his children also and in this will reveal how much dear and tender love he has for them: “Having loved his own who were in the world, he now showed them the full extent of his love” (John 13:1). The last act of Christ in this world was an act of blessing (Luke 24:50–51).
--- John Flavel
Take Heart: Daily Devotions with the Church's Great Preachers
St. Patrick’s Day
Our greatest misfortune can catapult us into our greatest service for the Lord. Consider Joseph and Daniel, two Old Testament teens whose kidnappings took them to distant countries where they later become God’s ambassadors in strange lands.
Saint Patrick died March 17, 461, a day that has since borne his name. Patrick was born about 389 in Britain. His father was a deacon and his grandfather a priest. Roman protection of England had deteriorated, and bands of Irish invaders tormented coastal areas, pillaging farms, slaughtering villagers, kidnapping teens. Patrick was taken at age 16. The Irish farmer who bought him put him to tending sheep, and somehow through all this Patrick found Christ. “The Lord opened to me a sense of my unbelief, that I might be converted with all my heart unto the Lord.”
Following a daring escape at age 22, Patrick returned home to joyous parents who prayed that he would never again leave. But Patrick’s heart burned for his erstwhile captors, and one night he dreamt an Irishman was begging him to return and preach. After several years of Bible study, Patrick returned to Ireland as a missionary. The Irish were almost wholly unevangelized at the time, worshiping the elements, seeing evil spirits in trees and stones, and engaging in magic, even in human sacrifice, performed by the druids. “It very much becomes us,” he said, “to stretch our nets, that we may take for God a copious and crowded multitude.” And so he did, planting 200 churches and baptizing approximately 100,000 converts, despite a dozen attempts against his life and violent opposition from civil authorities. In his Confessions, he wrote, I am greatly a debtor to God, who has bestowed his grace so largely upon me, that multitudes were born again to God through me. The Irish, who had never had the knowledge of God and worshipped only idols and unclean things, have lately become the people of the Lord, and are called sons of God.
Jesus said to them, “You don’t need to know the time of those events that only the Father controls. But the Holy Spirit will come upon you and give you power. Then you will tell everyone about me in Jerusalem, in all Judea, in Samaria, and everywhere in the world.” After Jesus had said this and while they were watching, he was taken up into a cloud.
--- Acts 1:7-9a.
On This Day 365 Amazing And Inspiring Stories About Saints, Martyrs And Heroes
Daily Readings / CHARLES H. SPURGEON
Morning - March 17
“Remember the poor.”
--- Galatians 2:10.
Why does God allow so many of his children to be poor? He could make them all rich if he pleased; he could lay bags of gold at their doors; he could send them a large annual income; or he could scatter round their houses abundance of provisions, as once he made the quails lie in heaps round the camp of Israel, and rained bread out of heaven to feed them. There is no necessity that they should be poor, except that he sees it to be best. “The cattle upon a thousand hills are his”—he could supply them; he could make the richest, the greatest, and the mightiest bring all their power and riches to the feet of his children, for the hearts of all men are in his control. But he does not choose to do so; he allows them to suffer want, he allows them to pine in penury and obscurity. Why is this? There are many reasons: one is, to give us, who are favoured with enough, an opportunity of showing our love to Jesus. We show our love to Christ when we sing of him and when we pray to him; but if there were no sons of need in the world we should lose the sweet privilege of evidencing our love, by ministering in alms-giving to his poorer brethren; he has ordained that thus we should prove that our love standeth not in word only, but in deed and in truth. If we truly love Christ, we shall care for those who are loved by him. Those who are dear to him will be dear to us. Let us then look upon it not as a duty but as a privilege to relieve the poor of the Lord’s flock—remembering the words of the Lord Jesus, “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” Surely this assurance is sweet enough, and this motive strong enough to lead us to help others with a willing hand and a loving heart—recollecting that all we do for his people is graciously accepted by Christ as done to himself.
Evening - March 17
“Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God." Matthew 5:9.
This is the seventh of the beatitudes: and seven was the number of perfection among the Hebrews. It may be that the Saviour placed the peacemaker the seventh upon the list because he most nearly approaches the perfect man in Christ Jesus. He who would have perfect blessedness, so far as it can be enjoyed on earth, must attain to this seventh benediction, and become a peacemaker. There is a significance also in the position of the text. The verse which precedes it speaks of the blessedness of “the pure in heart: for they shall see God.” It is well to understand that we are to be “first pure, then peaceable.” Our peaceableness is never to be a compact with sin, or toleration of evil. We must set our faces like flints against everything which is contrary to God and his holiness: purity being in our souls a settled matter, we can go on to peaceableness. Not less does the verse that follows seem to have been put there on purpose. However peaceable we may be in this world, yet we shall be misrepresented and misunderstood: and no marvel, for even the Prince of Peace, by his very peacefulness, brought fire upon the earth. He himself, though he loved mankind, and did no ill, was “despised and rejected of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.” Lest, therefore, the peaceable in heart should be surprised when they meet with enemies, it is added in the following verse, “Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Thus, the peacemakers are not only pronounced to be blessed, but they are compassed about with blessings. Lord, give us grace to climb to this seventh beatitude! Purify our minds that we may be “first pure, then peaceable,” and fortify our souls, that our peaceableness may not lead us into cowardice and despair, when for thy sake we are persecuted.
Morning and Evening
TRUST AND OBEY
John H. Sammis, 1846–1919
But Samuel replied, “Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice of the Lord? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams.” (1 Samuel 15:22)
Life can often be a restless, disrupted existence until we give ourselves wholeheartedly to something beyond ourselves and follow and obey it supremely. Such implicit trust in God’s great love and wisdom with a sincere desire to follow His leading should be every Christian’s goal. Our willingness to trust and obey is always the first step toward God’s blessing in our lives.
In 1886 Daniel B. Towner, director of the music department at Moody Bible Institute, was leading the music for evangelist D. L. Moody’s series of meetings in Brockton, Massachusetts. A young man rose to give a testimony, saying, “I am not quite sure—but I am going to trust, and I am going to obey.” Mr. Towner jotted down this statement and sent it to the Rev. J. H. Sammis, a Presbyterian minister and later a teacher at Moody, who wrote the present five stanzas.
Salvation is God’s responsibility. Our responsibility is to trust in that salvation and then to obey its truths. “Trust and Obey” presents a balanced view of a believer’s trust in Christ’s redemptive work, and it speaks of the resulting desire to obey Him and do His will in our daily lives. Then, and only then, do we experience real peace and joy.
When we walk with the Lord in the light of His Word, what a glory He sheds on our way! While we do His good will He abides with us still, and with all who will trust and obey.
Not a shadow can rise, not a cloud in the skies, but His smile quickly drives it away; not a doubt nor a fear, not a sigh nor a tear, can abide while we trust and obey.
Not a burden we bear, not a sorrow we share, but our toil He doth richly repay; not a grief nor a loss, not a frown nor a cross, but is blest if we trust and obey.
But we never can prove the delights of His love until all on the altar we lay, for the favor He shows and the joy He bestows are for them who will trust and obey.
Then in fellowship sweet we will sit at His feet, or we’ll walk by His side in the way; what He says we will do, where He sends we will go—Never fear, only trust and obey.
Chorus: Trust and obey—for there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus—but to trust and obey.
For Today: Psalm 37:3-5; John 8:31; John 14:23; James 2:14–26; 1 John 2:6.
Experience the glory and abiding presence of Christ as you determine to trust Him more completely and obey His leading more fully in all that you do. Carry this musical reminder with you remembering ---
Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions
A.W. Pink | (1886-1952)
Much has been written on what is usually called “the Lord’s Prayer” (which I prefer to term “the Family Prayer”) and much upon the high priestly prayer of Christ in John 17, but very little upon the prayers of the apostles. Personally, I know of no book devoted to the apostolic prayers, and except for a booklet on the two prayers of Ephesians 1 and Ephesians 3 have been scarcely any separate exposition of them. It is not easy to explain this omission. One would think that the apostolic prayers are so filled with important doctrine and practical value for believers that they should have attracted the attention of those who write on devotional subjects. While many of us very much deprecate the efforts of those who would have us believe that the prayers of the Old Testament are obsolete and inappropriate for the saints of this Gospel age, it seems to me that even Dispensational teachers should recognize and appreciate the peculiar suitability to Christians of the prayers recorded in the Epistles and the Book of Revelation. With the exception of the prayers of our Redeemer, only in the Apostolic prayers are praises and petitions specifically addressed to “the Father.” Of all the prayers of Scripture, only these are offered in the name of the Mediator. Furthermore, in these apostolic prayers alone do we find the full breathings of the Spirit of adoption.
How blessed it is to hear some elderly saint, who has long walked with God and enjoyed intimate communion with Him, pouring out his heart before the Lord in adoration and supplication. But how much more blessed would we have esteemed ourselves had we had the privilege of listening to the Godward praises and appeals of those who had companied with Christ during the days of His tabernacling among men! And if one of the apostles were still here upon earth, what a high privilege we would deem it to hear him engage in prayer! Such a high one, methinks, that most of us would be quite willing to go to considerable inconvenience and to travel a long distance in order to be thus favored. And if our desire were granted, how closely would we listen to his words, how diligently would we seek to treasure them up in our memories. Well, no such inconvenience, no such journey, is required. It has pleased the Holy Spirit to record a number of the apostolic prayers for our instruction and satisfaction. Do we evidence our appreciation of such a boon? Have we ever made a list of them and meditated upon their import?
No Apostolic Prayers in Acts
In my preliminary task of surveying and tabulating the recorded prayers of the apostles, two things impressed me. The first observation came as a complete surprise, while the second was fully expected. That which is apt to strike us as strange — to some of my readers it may be almost startling — is this: the Book of Acts, which supplies most of the information we possess concerning the apostles, has not a single prayer of theirs in its twenty-eight chapters. Yet a little reflection should show us that this omission is in full accord with the special character of the book; for Acts is much more historical than devotional, consisting far more of a chronicle of what the Spirit wrought through the apostles than in them. The public deeds of Christ’s ambassadors are there made prominent, rather than their private exercises. They are certainly shown to be men of prayer, as is seen by their own words: “But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word” (Acts 6:4). Again and again we behold them engaged in this holy exercise (Acts 9:40; 10:9; 20:36; 21:5; 28:8), yet we are not told what they said. The closest Luke comes to recording words clearly attributable to apostles is in Acts 8:14,15, but even there he merely gives us the quintessence of that for which Peter and John prayed. I regard the prayer of Acts 1:24 as that of the 120 disciples. The great, effectual prayer recorded in Acts 4:24-30 is not that of Peter and John, but that of the whole company (v. 23) who had assembled to hear their report.
Paul, an Exemplar in Prayer
The second feature that impressed me while contemplating the subject that is about to engage us, was that the great majority of the recorded prayers of the apostles issued from the heart of Paul. And this, as we have said, was really to be expected. If one should ask why this is so, several reasons might be given in reply. First, Paul was, preeminently, the apostle to the Gentiles. Peter, James, and John ministered principally to Jewish believers (Gal. 2:9), who, even in their unconverted days, had been accustomed to bow the knee before the Lord. But the Gentiles had come out of heathenism, and it was fitting that their spiritual father should also be their devotional exemplar. Furthermore, Paul wrote twice as many God-breathed epistles as all the other apostles added together, and he gave expression to eight times as many prayers in his Epistles as the rest did in all of theirs. But chiefly, we call to mind the first thing our Lord said of Paul after his conversion: “for, behold, he prayeth” (Acts 9:11). The Lord Christ was, as it were, striking the keynote of Paul’s subsequent life, for he was to be eminently distinguished as a man of prayer.
It is not that the other apostles were devoid of this spirit. For God does not employ prayerless ministers, since He has no dumb children. “Crying day and night unto him” is given by Christ as one of the distinguishing marks of God’s elect (Luke 18:7). Yet certain of His servants and some of His saints are permitted to enjoy closer and more constant fellowship with the Lord than others, and such was obviously the case (with the exception of John) with the man who on one occasion was even caught up into Paradise (2 Cor. 12:1-5). An extraordinary measure of “the spirit of grace and of supplications” (Zech. 12:10) was vouchsafed him, so that he appears to have been anointed with that spirit of prayer above even his fellow apostles. Such was the fervor of his love for Christ and the members of His mystical Body, such was his intense solicitude for their spiritual wellbeing and growth, that there continually gushed from his soul a flow of prayer to God for them and of thanksgiving on their behalf.
The Wide Spectrum of Prayer
Before proceeding further it should be pointed out that in this series of studies I do not propose to confine myself to the petitionary prayers of the apostles, but rather to take in a wider range. In Scripture prayer includes much more than merely making known our requests to God. We need to be reminded of this. Moreover, we believers need to be instructed in all aspects of prayer in an age characterized by superficiality and ignorance of God-revealed religion. A key Scripture that presents to us the privilege of spreading our needs before the Lord emphasizes this very thing: “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God” (Phil. 4:6). Unless we express gratitude for mercies already received and give thanks to our Father for His granting us the continued favor of petitioning Him, how can we expect to obtain His ear and thus to receive answers of peace? Yet prayer, in its highest and fullest sense, rises above thanksgiving for gifts vouchsafed: the heart is drawn out in contemplating the Giver Himself, so that the soul is prostrated before Him in worship and adoration.
Though we ought not to digress from our immediate theme and enter into the subject of prayer in general, yet it should be pointed out that there is still another aspect that ought to take precedence over thanksgiving and petition, namely self-abhorrence and confession of our own unworthiness and sinfulness. The soul must solemnly remind itself of Who it is that is to be approached, even the Most High, before whom the very seraphim veil their faces (Isa. 6:2). Though Divine grace has made the Christian a son, nevertheless he is still a creature, and as such at an infinite and inconceivable distance below the Creator. It is only fitting that he should deeply feel this distance between himself and his Creator and acknowledge it by taking his place in the dust before God. Moreover, we need to remember what we are by nature: not merely creatures, but sinful creatures. Thus there needs to be both a sense and an owning of this as we bow before the Holy One. Only in this way can we, with any meaning and reality, plead the mediation and merits of Christ as the ground of our approach.
Thus, broadly speaking, prayer includes confession of sin, petitions for the supply of our needs, and the homage of our hearts to the Giver Himself. Or, we may say that prayer’s principal branches are humiliation, supplication, and adoration. Hence we hope to embrace within the scope of this series not only passages like Ephesians 1:16-19 and 3:14-21, but also single verses such as 2 Corinthians 1:3 and Ephesians 1:3. That the clause “blessed be God” is itself a form of prayer is clear from Psalm 100:4: “Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.” Other references might be given, but let this suffice. The incense that was offered in the tabernacle and temple consisted of various spices compounded together (Exod. 30:34, 35), and it was the blending of one with another that made the perfume so fragrant and refreshing. The incense was a type of the intercession of our great High Priest (Rev. 8:3, 4) and of the prayers of saints (Mal. 1:11). In like manner there should be a proportioned mingling of humiliation, supplication, and adoration in our approaches to the throne of grace, not one to the exclusion of the others, but a blending of all of them together.
A Guide to Fervent Prayer