Judges 3 - 5
Jusges 3Judges 3:1 Now these are the nations that the LORD left, to test Israel by them, that is, all in Israel who had not experienced all the wars in Canaan. 2 It was only in order that the generations of the people of Israel might know war, to teach war to those who had not known it before. 3 These are the nations: the five lords of the Philistines and all the Canaanites and the Sidonians and the Hivites who lived on Mount Lebanon, from Mount Baal-hermon as far as Lebo-hamath. 4 They were for the testing of Israel, to know whether Israel would obey the commandments of the LORD, which he commanded their fathers by the hand of Moses. 5 So the people of Israel lived among the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. 6 And their daughters they took to themselves for wives, and their own daughters they gave to their sons, and they served their gods.
Othniel7 And the people of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the LORD. They forgot the LORD their God and served the Baals and the Asheroth. 8 Therefore the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel, and he sold them into the hand of Cushan-rishathaim king of Mesopotamia. And the people of Israel served Cushan-rishathaim eight years. 9 But when the people of Israel cried out to the LORD, the LORD raised up a deliverer for the people of Israel, who saved them, Othniel the son of Kenaz, Caleb’s younger brother. 10 The Spirit of the LORD was upon him, and he judged Israel. He went out to war, and the LORD gave Cushan-rishathaim king of Mesopotamia into his hand. And his hand prevailed over Cushan-rishathaim. 11 So the land had rest forty years. Then Othniel the son of Kenaz died.
Ehud12 And the people of Israel again did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, and the LORD strengthened Eglon the king of Moab against Israel, because they had done what was evil in the sight of the LORD. 13 He gathered to himself the Ammonites and the Amalekites, and went and defeated Israel. And they took possession of the city of palms. 14 And the people of Israel served Eglon the king of Moab eighteen years.
15 Then the people of Israel cried out to the LORD, and the LORD raised up for them a deliverer, Ehud, the son of Gera, the Benjaminite, a left-handed man. The people of Israel sent tribute by him to Eglon the king of Moab. 16 And Ehud made for himself a sword with two edges, a cubit in length, and he bound it on his right thigh under his clothes. 17 And he presented the tribute to Eglon king of Moab. Now Eglon was a very fat man. 18 And when Ehud had finished presenting the tribute, he sent away the people who carried the tribute. 19 But he himself turned back at the idols near Gilgal and said, “I have a secret message for you, O king.” And he commanded, “Silence.” And all his attendants went out from his presence. 20 And Ehud came to him as he was sitting alone in his cool roof chamber. And Ehud said, “I have a message from God for you.” And he arose from his seat. 21 And Ehud reached with his left hand, took the sword from his right thigh, and thrust it into his belly. 22 And the hilt also went in after the blade, and the fat closed over the blade, for he did not pull the sword out of his belly; and the dung came out. 23 Then Ehud went out into the porch and closed the doors of the roof chamber behind him and locked them.
1 literal translation of Eglon is fat calf
2 swords were worn on the right side because most people were right handed disappearing sword?
3 servants think their king is going to toilet, but intestine is pierced
4 This story, like many stories from the Old Testament, belong to a style of writing called slave writing.
In this case we have dark humor at the expense of an oppressive nation.
24 When he had gone, the servants came, and when they saw that the doors of the roof chamber were locked, they thought, “Surely he is relieving himself in the closet of the cool chamber.” 25 And they waited till they were embarrassed. But when he still did not open the doors of the roof chamber, they took the key and opened them, and there lay their lord dead on the floor.
26 Ehud escaped while they delayed, and he passed beyond the idols and escaped to Seirah. 27 When he arrived, he sounded the trumpet in the hill country of Ephraim. Then the people of Israel went down with him from the hill country, and he was their leader. 28 And he said to them, “Follow after me, for the LORD has given your enemies the Moabites into your hand.” So they went down after him and seized the fords of the Jordan against the Moabites and did not allow anyone to pass over. 29 And they killed at that time about 10,000 of the Moabites, all strong, able-bodied men; not a man escaped. 30 So Moab was subdued that day under the hand of Israel. And the land had rest for eighty years.
Shamgar31 After him was Shamgar the son of Anath, who killed 600 of the Philistines with an oxgoad, and he also saved Israel.
Deborah and BarakJudges 4:1 And the people of Israel again did what was evil in the sight of the LORD after Ehud died. 2 And the LORD sold them into the hand of Jabin king of Canaan, who reigned in Hazor. The commander of his army was Sisera, who lived in Harosheth-hagoyim. 3 Then the people of Israel cried out to the LORD for help, for he had 900 chariots of iron and he oppressed the people of Israel cruelly for twenty years.
4 Now Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lappidoth, was judging Israel at that time. 5 She used to sit under the palm of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in the hill country of Ephraim, and the people of Israel came up to her for judgment. 6 She sent and summoned Barak the son of Abinoam from Kedesh-naphtali and said to him, “Has not the LORD, the God of Israel, commanded you, ‘Go, gather your men at Mount Tabor, taking 10,000 from the people of Naphtali and the people of Zebulun. 7 And I will draw out Sisera, the general of Jabin’s army, to meet you by the river Kishon with his chariots and his troops, and I will give him into your hand’?” 8 Barak said to her, “If you will go with me, I will go, but if you will not go with me, I will not go.” 9 And she said, “I will surely go with you. Nevertheless, the road on which you are going will not lead to your glory, for the LORD will sell Sisera into the hand of a woman.” Then Deborah arose and went with Barak to Kedesh. 10 And Barak called out Zebulun and Naphtali to Kedesh. And 10,000 men went up at his heels, and Deborah went up with him.
11 Now Heber the Kenite had separated from the Kenites, the descendants of Hobab the father-in-law of Moses, and had pitched his tent as far away as the oak in Zaanannim, which is near Kedesh.
12 When Sisera was told that Barak the son of Abinoam had gone up to Mount Tabor, 13 Sisera called out all his chariots, 900 chariots of iron, and all the men who were with him, from Harosheth-hagoyim to the river Kishon. 14 And Deborah said to Barak, “Up! For this is the day in which the LORD has given Sisera into your hand. Does not the LORD go out before you?” So Barak went down from Mount Tabor with 10,000 men following him. 15 And the LORD routed Sisera and all his chariots and all his army before Barak by the edge of the sword. And Sisera got down from his chariot and fled away on foot. 16 And Barak pursued the chariots and the army to Harosheth-hagoyim, and all the army of Sisera fell by the edge of the sword; not a man was left.
17 But Sisera fled away on foot to the tent of Jael, the wife of Heber the Kenite, for there was peace between Jabin the king of Hazor and the house of Heber the Kenite. 18 And Jael came out to meet Sisera and said to him, “Turn aside, my lord; turn aside to me; do not be afraid.” So he turned aside to her into the tent, and she covered him with a rug. 19 And he said to her, “Please give me a little water to drink, for I am thirsty.” So she opened a skin of milk and gave him a drink and covered him. 20 And he said to her, “Stand at the opening of the tent, and if any man comes and asks you, ‘Is anyone here?’ say, ‘No.’” 21 But Jael the wife of Heber took a tent peg, and took a hammer in her hand. Then she went softly to him and drove the peg into his temple until it went down into the ground while he was lying fast asleep from weariness. So he died. 22 And behold, as Barak was pursuing Sisera, Jael went out to meet him and said to him, “Come, and I will show you the man whom you are seeking.” So he went in to her tent, and there lay Sisera dead, with the tent peg in his temple.
23 So on that day God subdued Jabin the king of Canaan before the people of Israel. 24 And the hand of the people of Israel pressed harder and harder against Jabin the king of Canaan, until they destroyed Jabin king of Canaan.
The Song of Deborah and BarakJudges 5:1 Then sang Deborah and Barak the son of Abinoam on that day:
2 “That the leaders took the lead in Israel,
that the people offered themselves willingly,
bless the Lord!
3 “Hear, O kings; give ear, O princes;
to the Lord I will sing;
I will make melody to the Lord, the God of Israel.
4 “Lord, when you went out from Seir,
when you marched from the region of Edom,
the earth trembled
and the heavens dropped,
yes, the clouds dropped water.
5 The mountains quaked before the Lord,
even Sinai before the Lord, the God of Israel.
6 “In the days of Shamgar, son of Anath,
in the days of Jael, the highways were abandoned,
and travelers kept to the byways.
7 The villagers ceased in Israel;
they ceased to be until I arose;
I, Deborah, arose as a mother in Israel.
8 When new gods were chosen,
then war was in the gates.
Was shield or spear to be seen
among forty thousand in Israel?
9 My heart goes out to the commanders of Israel
who offered themselves willingly among the people.
Bless the Lord.
10 “Tell of it, you who ride on white donkeys,
you who sit on rich carpets
and you who walk by the way.
11 To the sound of musicians at the watering places,
there they repeat the righteous triumphs of the Lord,
the righteous triumphs of his villagers in Israel.
“Then down to the gates marched the people of the Lord.
12 “Awake, awake, Deborah!
Awake, awake, break out in a song!
Arise, Barak, lead away your captives,
O son of Abinoam.
13 Then down marched the remnant of the noble;
the people of the Lord marched down for me against the mighty.
14 From Ephraim their root they marched down into the valley,
following you, Benjamin, with your kinsmen;
from Machir marched down the commanders,
and from Zebulun those who bear the lieutenant's staff;
15 the princes of Issachar came with Deborah,
and Issachar faithful to Barak;
into the valley they rushed at his heels.
Among the clans of Reuben
there were great searchings of heart.
16 Why did you sit still among the sheepfolds,
to hear the whistling for the flocks?
Among the clans of Reuben
there were great searchings of heart.
17 Gilead stayed beyond the Jordan;
and Dan, why did he stay with the ships?
Asher sat still at the coast of the sea,
staying by his landings.
18 Zebulun is a people who risked their lives to the death;
Naphtali, too, on the heights of the field.
19 “The kings came, they fought;
then fought the kings of Canaan,
at Taanach, by the waters of Megiddo;
they got no spoils of silver.
20 From heaven the stars fought,
from their courses they fought against Sisera.
21 The torrent Kishon swept them away,
the ancient torrent, the torrent Kishon.
March on, my soul, with might!
22 “Then loud beat the horses' hoofs
with the galloping, galloping of his steeds.
23 “Curse Meroz, says the angel of the Lord,
curse its inhabitants thoroughly,
because they did not come to the help of the Lord,
to the help of the Lord against the mighty.
24 “Most blessed of women be Jael,
the wife of Heber the Kenite,
of tent-dwelling women most blessed.
25 He asked for water and she gave him milk;
she brought him curds in a noble's bowl.
26 She sent her hand to the tent peg
and her right hand to the workmen's mallet;
she struck Sisera;
she crushed his head;
she shattered and pierced his temple.
27 Between her feet
he sank, he fell, he lay still;
between her feet
he sank, he fell;
where he sank,
there he fell—dead.
28 “Out of the window she peered,
the mother of Sisera wailed through the lattice:
‘Why is his chariot so long in coming?
Why tarry the hoofbeats of his chariots?’
29 Her wisest princesses answer,
indeed, she answers herself,
30 ‘Have they not found and divided the spoil?—
A womb or two for every man;
spoil of dyed materials for Sisera,
spoil of dyed materials embroidered,
two pieces of dyed work embroidered for the neck as spoil?’
31 “So may all your enemies perish, O Lord!
But your friends be like the sun as he rises in his might.”
ESV Study Bible
What I'm Reading
Lay Aside the Weight of Discouragement
By Jon Bloom 3/10/2017
Discouragement often feels circumstantially determined, something we can’t help feeling because powerful forces beyond our control are causing it. That’s why our response to discouragement is often passive — we sit, weighed down with a heavy spiritual listlessness looking at the world through the grey, bleak lenses of fear.
Yes, discouragement is a species of fear. It is a loss of courage. We don’t always recognize discouragement as fear because it can feel like hopelessness with a side of cynicism. We might even call it depression because we have an accumulation of fears that are intermingled and seem somewhat undefined. And, of course, if we’re discouraged, we feel depressed. We feel like giving up.
And when we feel like giving up, we are vulnerable to a whole range of temptations. When we give in to those temptations, our sin just confirms our discouragement, and we easily slip into a cycle in which fear drives us into hiding, hiding opens us to sins of selfishness and self-indulgence, and caving in increases our sense of helplessness and self-pity. So we sit, weighed down by fear and condemnation, feeling stuck.
Jon Bloom serves as author, board chair, and co-founder of Desiring God. He is author of three books, Not by Sight: A Fresh Look at Old Stories of Walking by Faith, Things Not Seen: A Fresh Look at Old Stories of Trusting God's Promises, and Don't Follow Your Heart: God's Ways Are Not Your Ways. He and his wife live in the Twin Cities with their five children.
Called to childlessness: The surprising ways of God
By Karen Swallow Prior 3/6/2017
God’s model for the family is beautiful and good, the very picture of the union of Christ and his church: the fruitful marriage of one man and one woman.
Yet, the church often doesn’t know what to do with those who—whether by circumstance, conscience, choice or simply through the brokenness of creation—fall outside the mold that shapes this ideal of family life.
There is an unspoken assumption that this failure to fit the pattern is just that—a failure. To be sure, sometimes we break the mold by our choices, even our sins. But ours is a God of great imagination and infinite surprises. He sometimes calls us out of the standard mold and into a new one.
Today Let’s Honor Men Instead Of Making War Between The Sexes
By D.C. McAllister 3/8/2017
On the eve of the nationwide protest “A Day Without A Woman,” I received a phone call from my mother. “Your dad is in the hospital and isn’t doing well.” This isn’t the first time I’ve received a phone call like that. My father is a disabled veteran who has battled diabetes for years. His health has been a constant struggle, but he has always pulled through. This time it’s much worse.
“I’ll be there as soon as I can,” I said. My 76-year-old mother cares for my father alone since my brother and I live far from our childhood home. Unlike the women striking, my mother would never consider leaving my father’s side. She is ever faithful to him, tending to him, nursing the sores on his feet, bathing him, cooking for him, cleaning him when he can’t do it himself.
My father doesn’t need to be “taught a lesson” to appreciate her. He knows all too well what his life would be like without her. He loves her, needs her, still desires her with his whole heart even at the age of 80. And my mother feels the same for him.
Denise C. McAllister is a cultural and political commentator based in Charlotte, NC. She is a senior contributor at The Federalist and her work can be found at several outlets, including PJ Media where she’s a contributor, Real Clear Politics, Hot Air, and Ricochet. She has been a guest on Fox News, CNN, Newsmax TV, Sean Hannity Radio, NPR, BBC Radio, and many other radio programs across the nation. Her book, “A Burning and Shining Light,” is a dramatic narrative about the life and ministry of David Brainerd. She is also a pro-life speaker, advocating for the rights of unborn children. In addition to being a writer, she is a musician and visual artist.
Stop Calling Everything Hate
By Tim Challies 3/8/2017
Over time, a word can change its meaning, sometimes picking up an entirely new definition and sometimes expanding or contracting an existing one. It is not unusual to see a familiar word explode into contemporary parlance with a far more expansive definition than it has had in the past. Think about “tolerance.” For many years the word quietly meant something like, “accepting the rights of others to have a belief different from your own.” Then, suddenly, the word was everywhere and carried a meaning like, “accepting other people’s views without critique.” As D.A. Carson says, “this shift from ‘accepting the existence of different views’ to ‘acceptance of different views,’ from recognizing other people’s right to have different beliefs or practices to accepting the differing views of other people, is subtle in form, but massive in substance.”
We still hear a lot about tolerance and the unpardonable sin of intolerance. And now, closely related, we’ve got a second word to describe the people who commit such an offense: They are haters. And, like “tolerance,” the word “hate” has taken on a new and wider meaning. It has always been used to describe an extreme, passionate dislike for another person. But suddenly it is being used to describe simple disagreement, especially when that disagreement is with society’s prevailing opinions and agendas. Any perceived intolerance is quickly drowned out by cries of “hate!” or “hater!” The problem, of course, is that if everything’s hate, nothing’s hate. As we expand the use of the word, it loses any meaningful definition.
Today, everything short of glowing endorsement can be counted as hate. If you express concern about transgendered adults using the same changing rooms as children of the opposite sex, someone will accuse you of hate. If you express careful, kindly-spoken disagreement with same-sex marriage, perhaps urging caution to such a quick change to an institution foundational to society, the cries of “hater” will be immediate and loud. If you urge freedom of conscience for people who hesitate to bake cakes or arrange flowers for certain festivities, you’ll be considered full of hatred. Coming to blows is hate, sure, but so is constructive critique. Berating and verbally abusing is hate—no one disagrees with that—but so is measured disagreement. In a few short years we’ve completely transformed what it means to hate.
Tim Challies: I am a Christian, a husband to Aileen and a father to three children aged 10 to 16. I worship and serve as an elder at Grace Fellowship Church in Toronto, Ontario. I am a book reviewer, co-founder of Cruciform Press, and have written five books:
- The Discipline of Spiritual Discernment
- Sexual Detox: A Guide for Guys Who Are Sick of Porn
- The Next Story: Life and Faith after the Digital Explosion
- Do More Better: A Practical Guide to Productivity
- Visual Theology: Seeing and Understanding the Truth About God
I began my web site in 2002 and have been writing there daily since 2003. It is my place to think out loud and in public while also sharing some of the interesting things I’ve discovered in my online travels.
Read The Psalms In "1" Year
Psalm 32Blessed Are the Forgiven
32 A Maskil Of David.
1 Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven,
whose sin is covered.
2 Blessed is the man against whom the LORD counts no iniquity,
and in whose spirit there is no deceit.
3 For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away
through my groaning all day long.
4 For day and night your hand was heavy upon me;
my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer. Selah
5 I acknowledged my sin to you,
and I did not cover my iniquity;
I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD,”
and you forgave the iniquity of my sin. Selah
By Gleason Archer Jr.
The Tower of Babel and the Confusion of Tongues
Genesis 11 informs us that initially the descendants of Noah used the same language and constituted a single culture which developed into a form of humanism that led them to emphasize a unity of polity and worship which was to be perpetuated by the erection of an enormous skyscraper that would serve as the capital of their domain. Because of the arrogance which underlay this project God saw fit to bring it to a halt and used the means of bringing them into a state of confusion because of their inability to speak any longer in the same language.
Genesis 10 deals with the descendants of Ham, Shem, and Japheth as they began to repopulate the earth. There is no real indication in this chapter as to the languages they spoke, and so it is reasonable to assume that they all spoke about the same tongue as long as they were grouped together in the region of Mesopotamia. Ronald Youngblood in the NIV Study Bible suggests that the confusion of tongues episode may well have preceded the emergence of the various languages mentioned in Genesis 10. This might be a possible inference were it not for Gen. 11:1, which plainly states that the whole human race at that time had one language only, even though they respected their ancestral division. Other recent evangelical commentators (such as Kyle Yates in Wycliffe Bible Commentary (1962); likewise H. L. Ellison in The New Layman’s Bible Commentary (1979), D. E Payne in The International Bible Commentary (1986), including even some of the older commentaries like Jamieson, Fausset and Brown, seem to assume that the confusion of languages at Babel occurred after the spread of nations in the Middle East.
The motivation for God’s intervention at this point is very clear and understandable. The desire to remain in international harmony was perhaps reasonable at that juncture, but unfortunately it involved an effort to maintain One World unity upon a humanistic basis. The enormous tower they planned to erect would serve as a sort of United Nations headquarters that would keep all of Noah’s descendants politically correct, as it were, without any meaningful regard to the supremacy of God. They purposed to “make a great name” for themselves (v. 4 ), using the latest architectural techniques emerging from the invention of hard-baked bricks. Their mindset showed a certain approximation to modern-day attitudes that assume that man can get along very nicely without God and successfully solve all their personal and societal problems simply by working together.
God’s response to this challenge was swift and decisive. The result of human self-pride is mutual alienation. Because of sin we become so egoistic that we can no longer understand each other, nor do we even care to do so. They suddenly found themselves unable to comprehend what their fellow-workers were trying to say to them, especially if they came from a different family line. Thus they lost their ability to work together and had to abandon their great building project. It was only natural that they should migrate from the Plain of Shinar (or Mesopotamia) and begin to populate the rest of Asia, Europe, Africa, and so on, during the centuries preceding the call of Abraham. Once again, even as before the Flood, the human race had failed to keep in covenant relationship with the God who created them in His own image. Only a very few had remained loyal to the faith of Noah.
As for 11:9, which seems to furnish an etymology for the name Babel, it should be understood that this was the kind of wordplay which occurs in Scripture from time to time. For example, Abigail said to David in 1 Sam. 25:25 concerning her boorish husband, Nabal: “He is just like his name — his name is Fool (Nābāl), and folly goes with him.” It is however quite likely that his parents would never have purposely named their baby boy “Fool,” but rather something more positive. Arabic has the name Nabbālun, which means “Bowman,” and so it is quite likely that that meaning was what they intended. It is in Hebrew that nābāl means “fool,” but not in the language of their neighbors just south of Judah. Here then we have a hidden meaning derived from Babel (Akkadian Bab-ili, “Gate of God”), and brought out of bābal, which means “confuse.” Jastrow’s Dictionary of Talmudic Hebrew, p. 173, lists the pilpel stem balbēl as an intensive with the same meaning of confusion, “mix up, confuse.” Needless to say, there is a significant similarity between Babel and balbēl.
Thus it is a mistake to categorize this account as a late fanciful story without historical foundation. It is important to note in recent times the testimony for this event is to be found in the Sumerian culture as early as the Third Dynasty of Ur. Robert T. Boyd reports the discovery of a ten by five foot stela erected by King Ur-Nammu which says concerning a certain ziggurat: “The erection of this tower highly offended all the gods. In a night they threw down what man had built and impeded their progress. They were scattered abroad and their speech was strange” (Tells, Tombs and Treasures [Grand Rapids: Baker, 1969], p. 78).
The Institutes of the Christian Religion
Translated by Henry Beveridge
4. Moreover, we see by these words that self-denial has respect partly
to men and partly (more especially) to God (sec. 8-10). For when
Scripture enjoins us, in regard to our fellow men, to prefer them in
honour to ourselves, and sincerely labour to promote their advantages
(Rom. 12:10; Phil. 2:3), he gives us commands which our mind is utterly
incapable of obeying until its natural feelings are suppressed. For so
blindly do we all rush in the direction of self-love, that every one
thinks he has a good reason for exalting himself and despising all
others in comparison. If God has bestowed on us something not to be
repented of, trusting to it, we immediately become elated, and not only
swell, but almost burst with pride. The vices with which we abound we
both carefully conceal from others, and flatteringly represent to
ourselves as minute and trivial, nay, sometimes hug them as virtues.
When the same qualities which we admire in ourselves are seen in
others, even though they should be superior, we, in order that we may
not be forced to yield to them, maliciously lower and carp at them; in
like manner, in the case of vices, not contented with severe and keen
animadversion, we studiously exaggerate them. Hence the insolence with
which each, as if exempted from the common lot, seeks to exalt himself
above his neighbour, confidently and proudly despising others, or at
least looking down upon them as his inferiors. The poor man yields to
the rich, the plebeian to the noble, the servant to the master, the
unlearned to the learned, and yet every one inwardly cherishes some
idea of his own superiority. Thus each flattering himself, sets up a
kind of kingdom in his breast; the arrogant, to satisfy themselves,
pass censure on the minds and manners of other men, and when contention
arises, the full venom is displayed. Many bear about with them some
measure of mildness so long as all things go smoothly and lovingly with
them, but how few are there who, when stung and irritated, preserve the
same tenor of moderation? For this there is no other remedy than to
pluck up by the roots those most noxious pests, self-love and love of
victory (philoneiki'a kai` philauti'a). This the doctrine of Scripture
does. For it teaches us to remember, that the endowments which God has
bestowed upon us are not our own, but His free gifts, and that those
who plume themselves upon them betray their ingratitude. "Who maketh
thee to differ," saith Paul, "and what hast thou that thou didst not
receive? now if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory, as if thou
hadst not received it?" (1 Cor. 4:7). Then by a diligent examination of
our faults let us keep ourselves humble. Thus while nothing will remain
to swell our pride, there will be much to subdue it. Again, we are
enjoined, whenever we behold the gifts of God in others, so to
reverence and respect the gifts, as also to honour those in whom they
reside. God having been pleased to bestow honour upon them, it would
ill become us to deprive them of it. Then we are told to overlook their
faults, not, indeed, to encourage by flattering them, but not because
of them to insult those whom we ought to regard with honour and good
will.  In this way, with regard to all with whom we have
intercourse, our behaviour will be not only moderate and modest, but
courteous and friendly. The only way by which you can ever attain to
true meekness, is to have your heart imbued with a humble opinion of
yourself and respect for others.
5. How difficult it is to perform the duty of seeking the good of our neighbour! Unless you leave off all thought of yourself and in a manner cease to be yourself, you will never accomplish it. How can you exhibit those works of charity which Paul describes unless you renounce yourself, and become wholly devoted to others? "Charity (says he, 1 Cor. 13:4) suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked," &c. Were it the only thing required of us to seek not our own, nature would not have the least power to comply: she so inclines us to love ourselves only, that she will not easily allow us carelessly to pass by ourselves and our own interests that we may watch over the interests of others, nay, spontaneously to yield our own rights and resign it to another. But Scripture, to conduct us to this, reminds us, that whatever we obtain from the Lord is granted on the condition of our employing it for the common good of the Church, and that, therefore, the legitimate use of all our gifts is a kind and liberal communication of them with others. There cannot be a surer rule, nor a stronger exhortation to the observance of it, than when we are taught that all the endowments which we possess are divine deposits entrusted to us for the very purpose of being distributed for the good of our neighbour. But Scripture proceeds still farther when it likens these endowments to the different members of the body (1 Cor. 12:12). No member has its function for itself, or applies it for its own private use, but transfers it to its fellow-members; nor does it derive any other advantage from it than that which it receives in common with the whole body. Thus, whatever the pious man can do, he is bound to do for his brethren, not consulting his own interest in any other way than by striving earnestly for the common edification of the Church. Let this, then, be our method of showing good-will and kindness, considering that, in regard to everything which God has bestowed upon us, and by which we can aid our neighbour, we are his stewards, and are bound to give account of our stewardship; moreover, that the only right mode of administration is that which is regulated by love. In this way, we shall not only unite the study of our neighbour's advantage with a regard to our own, but make the latter subordinate to the former. And lest we should have omitted to perceive that this is the law for duly administering every gift which we receive from God, he of old applied that law to the minutest expressions of his own kindness. He commanded the first-fruits to be offered to him as an attestation by the people that it was impious to reap any advantage from goods not previously consecrated to him (Exod. 22:29; 23:19). But if the gifts of God are not sanctified to us until we have with our own hand dedicated them to the Giver, it must be a gross abuse that does not give signs of such dedication. It is in vain to contend that you cannot enrich the Lord by your offerings. Though, as the Psalmist says "Thou art my Lord: my goodness extendeth not unto thee," yet you can extend it "to the saints that are in the earth," (Ps. 16:2, 3); and therefore a comparison is drawn between sacred oblations and alms as now corresponding to the offerings under the Law.
6. Moreover, that we may not weary in well-doing (as would otherwise forthwith and infallibly be the case), we must add the other quality in the Apostle's enumeration, "Charity suffiereth long, and is kind, is not easily provoked," (1 Cor. 13:4). The Lord enjoins us to do good to all without exception, though the greater part, if estimated by their own merit, are most unworthy of it. But Scripture subjoins a most excellent reason, when it tells us that we are not to look to what men in themselves deserve, but to attend to the image of God, which exists in all, and to which we owe all honour and love. But in those who are of the household of faith, the same rule is to be more carefully observed, inasmuch as that image is renewed and restored in them by the Spirit of Christ. Therefore, whoever be the man that is presented to you as needing your assistance, you have no ground for declining to give it to him. Say he is a stranger. The Lord has given him a mark which ought to be familiar to you: for which reason he forbids you to despise your own flesh (Gal. 6:10). Say he is mean and of no consideration. The Lord points him out as one whom he has distinguished by the lustre of his own image (Isaiah 58:7). Say that you are bound to him by no ties of duty. The Lord has substituted him as it were into his own place, that in him you may recognize the many great obligations under which the Lord has laid you to himself. Say that he is unworthy of your least exertion on his account; but the image of God, by which he is recommended to you, is worthy of yourself and all your exertions. But if he not only merits no good, but has provoked you by injury and mischief, still this is no good reason why you should not embrace him in love, and visit him with offices of love. He has deserved very differently from me, you will say. But what has the Lord deserved?  Whatever injury he has done you, when he enjoins you to forgive him, he certainly means that it should be imputed to himself. In this way only we attain to what is not to say difficult but altogether against nature,  to love those that hate us, render good for evil, and blessing for cursing, remembering that we are not to reflect on the wickedness of men, but look to the image of God in them, an image which, covering and obliterating their faults, should by its beauty and dignity allure us to love and embrace them.
7. We shall thus succeed in mortifying ourselves if we fulfil all the duties of charity. Those duties, however, are not fulfilled by the mere discharge of them, though none be omitted, unless it is done from a pure feeling of love. For it may happen that one may perform every one of these offices, in so far as the external act is concerned, and be far from performing them aright. For you see some who would be thought very liberal, and yet accompany every thing they give with insult, by the haughtiness of their looks, or the violence of their words. And to such a calamitous condition have we come in this unhappy age, that the greater part of men never almost give alms without contumely. Such conduct ought not to have been tolerated even among the heathen; but from Christians something more is required than to carry cheerfulness in their looks, and give attractiveness to the discharge of their duties by courteous language. First, they should put themselves in the place of him whom they see in need of their assistance, and pity his misfortune as if they felt and bore it, so that a feeling of pity and humanity should incline them to assist him just as they would themselves. He who is thus minded will go and give assistance to his brethren, and not only not taint his acts with arrogance or upbraiding but will neither look down upon the brother to whom he does a kindness, as one who needed his help, or keep him in subjection as under obligation to him, just as we do not insult a diseased member when the rest of the body labours for its recovery, nor think it under special obligation to the other members, because it has required more exertion than it has returned. A communication of offices between members is not regarded as at all gratuitous, but rather as the payment of that which being due by the law of nature it were monstrous to deny. For this reason, he who has performed one kind of duty will not think himself thereby discharged, as is usually the case when a rich man, after contributing somewhat of his substance, delegates remaining burdens to others as if he had nothing to do with them. Every one should rather consider, that however great he is, he owes himself to his neighbours, and that the only limit to his beneficence is the failure of his means. The extent of these should regulate that of his charity.
8. The principal part of self-denial, that which as we have said has reference to God, let us again consider more fully. Many things have already been said with regard to it which it were superfluous to repeat; and, therefore, it will be sufficient to view it as forming us to equanimity and endurance. First, then, in seeking the convenience or tranquillity of the present life, Scripture calls us to resign ourselves, and all we have, to the disposal of the Lord, to give him up the affections of our heart, that he may tame and subdue them. We have a frenzied desire, an infinite eagerness, to pursue wealth and honour, intrigue for power, accumulate riches, and collect all those frivolities which seem conducive to luxury and splendour. On the other hand, we have a remarkable dread, a remarkable hatred of poverty, mean birth, and a humble condition, and feel the strongest desire to guard against them. Hence, in regard to those who frame their life after their own counsel, we see how restless they are in mind, how many plans they try, to what fatigues they submit, in order that they may gain what avarice or ambition desires, or, on the other hand, escape poverty and meanness. To avoid similar entanglements, the course which Christian men must follow is this: first, they must not long for, or hope for, or think of any kind of prosperity apart from the blessing of God; on it they must cast themselves, and there safely and confidently recline. For, however much the carnal mind may seem sufficient for itself when in the pursuit of honour or wealth, it depends on its own industry and zeal, or is aided by the favour of men, it is certain that all this is nothing, and that neither intellect nor labour will be of the least avail, except in so far as the Lord prospers both. On the contrary, his blessing alone makes a way through all obstacles, and brings every thing to a joyful and favourable issue. Secondly, though without this blessing we may be able to acquire some degree of fame and opulence (as we daily see wicked men loaded with honours and riches), yet since those on whom the curse of God lies do not enjoy the least particle of true happiness, whatever we obtain without his blessing must turn out ill. But surely men ought not to desire what adds to their misery.
9. Therefore, if we believe that all prosperous and desirable success depends entirely on the blessing of God, and that when it is wanting all kinds of misery and calamity await us, it follows that we should not eagerly contend for riches and honours, trusting to our own dexterity and assiduity, or leaning on the favour of men, or confiding in any empty imagination of fortune; but should always have respect to the Lord, that under his auspices we may be conducted to whatever lot he has provided for us. First, the result will be, that instead of rushing on regardless of right and wrong, by wiles and wicked arts, and with injury to our neighbours, to catch at wealth and seize upon honours, we will only follow such fortune as we may enjoy with innocence. Who can hope for the aid of the divine blessing amid fraud, rapine, and other iniquitous arts? As this blessing attends him only who thinks purely and acts uprightly, so it calls off all who long for it from sinister designs and evil actions. Secondly, a curb will be laid upon us, restraining a too eager desire of becoming rich, or an ambitious striving after honour. How can any one have the effrontery to expect that God will aid him in accomplishing desires at variance with his word? What God with his own lips pronounces cursed, never can be prosecuted with his blessing. Lastly, if our success is not equal to our wish and hope, we shall, however, be kept from impatience and detestation of our condition, whatever it be, knowing that so to feel were to murmur against God, at whose pleasure riches and poverty, contempt and honours, are dispensed. In shorts he who leans on the divine blessing in the way which has been described, will not, in the pursuit of those things which men are wont most eagerly to desire, employ wicked arts which he knows would avail him nothing; nor when any thing prosperous befalls him will he impute it to himself and his own diligence, or industry, or fortune, instead of ascribing it to God as its author. If, while the affairs of others flourish, his make little progress, or even retrograde, he will bear his humble lot with greater equanimity and moderation than any irreligious man does the moderate success which only falls short of what he wished; for he has a solace in which he can rest more tranquilly than at the very summit of wealth or power, because he considers that his affairs are ordered by the Lord in the manner most conducive to his salvation. This, we see, is the way in which David was affected, who, while he follows God and gives up himself to his guidance, declares, "Neither do I exercise myself in great matters, or in things too high for me. Surely I have behaved and quieted myself as a child that is weaned of his mother," (Ps. 131:1, 2).
10. Nor is it in this respect only that pious minds ought to manifest this tranquillity and endurance; it must be extended to all the accidents to which this present life is liable. He alone, therefore, has properly denied himself, who has resigned himself entirely to the Lord, placing all the course of his life entirely at his disposal. Happen what may, he whose mind is thus composed will neither deem himself wretched nor murmur against God because of his lot. How necessary this disposition is will appear, if you consider the many accidents to which we are liable. Various diseases ever and anon attack us: at one time pestilence rages; at another we are involved in all the calamities of war. Frost and hail, destroying the promise of the year, cause sterility, which reduces us to penury; wife, parents, children, relatives, are carried off by death; our house is destroyed by fire. These are the events which make men curse their life, detest the day of their birth, execrate the light of heaven, even censure God, and (as they are eloquent in blasphemy) charge him with cruelty and injustice. The believer must in these things also contemplate the mercy and truly paternal indulgence of God. Accordingly, should he see his house by the removal of kindred reduced to solitude even then he will not cease to bless the Lord; his thought will be, Still the grace of the Lord, which dwells within my house, will not leave it desolate. If his crops are blasted, mildewed, or cut off by frost, or struck down by hail,  and he sees famine before him, he will not however despond or murmur against God, but maintain his confidence in him; "We thy people, and sheep of thy pasture, will give thee thanks for ever," (Ps. 79:13); he will supply me with food, even in the extreme of sterility. If he is afflicted with disease, the sharpness of the pain will not so overcome him, as to make him break out with impatience, and expostulate with God; but, recognising justice and lenity in the rod, will patiently endure. In short, whatever happens, knowing that it is ordered by the Lord, he will receive it with a placid and grateful mind, and will not contumaciously resist the government of him, at whose disposal he has placed himself and all that he has. Especially let the Christian breast eschew that foolish and most miserable consolation of the heathen, who, to strengthen their mind against adversity, imputed it to fortune, at which they deemed it absurd to feel indignant, as she was a'skopos (aimless) and rash, and blindly wounded the good equally with the bad. On the contrary, the rule of piety is, that the hand of God is the ruler and arbiter of the fortunes of all, and, instead of rushing on with thoughtless violence, dispenses good and evil with perfect regularity.
 On this and the three following chapters, which contain the second part of the Treatise on the Christian Life, see Augustine, De Moribus Ecclesiae Catholicae, and Calvin de Scandalis.
 Calvin. de Sacerdotiis Eccles. Papal. in fine.
 French, "Car si nous disons qu'il n'a merité que mal de nous; Dieu nous pourra demander quel mal il nous a fait, lui dont nous tenons tout notre bien;"-- For if we say that he has deserved nothing of us but evil, God may ask us what evil he has done us, he of whom we hold our every blessing.
 Mt. 5:44; 6:14; 18:35; Luke 17:3.
 The French is, "Soit que ses bleds et vignes soyent gastées et destruites par gelée, gresle, ou autre tempeste;"-- whether his corn and vines are hurt and destroyed by frost, hail, or other tempest.
Christian Classics Ethereal Library / Public Domain
Institutes of the Christian Religion
By James Orr 1907
V. THE MOSAIC PERIOD—THREE GREAT DISCOVERIES
We come now to the Mosaic period, but, to make the bearings of recent discoveries on this period intelligible, it is necessary, first, to say a few words on the general course of Egyptian history and on the more important of these discoveries.
Three great periods are commonly distinguished in the history of Egypt — the Old, the Middle, and the New Empires. The Old Empire embraces the first eleven dynasties of Manetho; the Middle Empire extends from the twelfth dynasty to the seventeenth;3 the New Empire runs from the eighteenth dynasty to the thirtieth, after which (340 B.C.) Egypt loses its independence.
Of the Old Empire, the fourth and fifth dynasties have left their memorials in the great Pyramids; but of the first three dynasties nothing was known till recently from the monuments but the names of kings; the period from the seventh to the tenth dynasties was (and remains) hardly less obscure. The founder of the first dynasty bore the name of Menes; but scholars were disposed to regard this king, and the first dynasties generally, as mythical. Maspero, in his Dawn of Civilisation, treats Menes as purely mythical, and gives an elaborate explanation of how the myth arose. As lately as 1894, Professor Flinders Petrie could write: “The first three dynasties are a blank, so far as monumental statements are concerned; they are as purely on a literary basis as the kings of Rome or the primeval kings of Ireland.… We cannot regard these dynasties as anything but a series of statements made by a state chronographer, about 3000 years after date, concerning a period of which he had no contemporary material.” The judgment thus passed on the early dynasties has been suddenly reversed, largely by the brilliant explorations of Professor Petrie himself. The actual tombs of Menes and his successors have been discovered, with many valuable objects belonging to them, and the first two dynasties have been clearly proved to be historical. Civilisation, and the hieroglyphic system of writing, are carried back into predynastic times. The result is a striking object - lesson — one of many in recent years — on the unreliableness of what the discoverer calls “the criticism of myths.”
In the Middle Empire, the period from the thirteenth dynasty to the seventeenth is again one of confusion and uncertainty. This was the time when Egypt was ruled by the Hyksos, or Shepherd Kings, under one of whom Joseph was taken down to Egypt, soon to be followed by Jacob with his household. With the overthrow of the Shepherd Kings came the founding of the eighteenth dynasty under Aahmes, and the beginning of the New Empire. Under the eighteenth and nineteenth dynasties we reach, perhaps, the period of greatest splendour in Egypt. It is a period of the greatest interest to the Biblical student, for it is under one or other of these dynasties, undoubtedly, that we are to seek for the Israelitish oppression, and for the Exodus. The prevailing opinion among scholars has been that the Pharaoh of the oppression was the great ruler Rameses II, and that the Pharaoh of the Exodus was his son Meneptah, or one of his immediate successors. Much may be said for this identification. Especially does it seem to be indicated by the mention in Ex. 1:11 of the building of the store cities Pithom and Raamses, both of which are directly connected, the one (Pi-tum, discovered by M. Naville in 18831) by its bricks, the other by its name, with Rameses II. Yet three great discoveries in recent times have again thrown more than doubt on the identification.
1. First in order was the astonishing discovery, in 1881, of the mummies of the Pharaohs themselves. In a gallery given off from a pit, 35 feet deep, in a mountain gorge a few miles from Thebes, some thirty-nine mummies were found, which proved on inspection to include amongst them the most renowned kings and queens of Egypt from the seventeenth to the twenty-first dynasties. “At the first report of the discovery,” wrote one, “the boldest held his breath, so astounding is the list, which includes almost every name most renowned in the annals of Egypt.” The list embraced Aahmes, founder of the eighteenth dynasty; Thothmes III., and other kings of the same dynasty; Rameses I., Seti I., and Rameses II., of the nineteenth dynasty. A subsequent discovery of the tomb of Amenophis II., in 1898, added seven other mummies to the list. One of these, taken at first for that of Amenophis II., was found later to be the mummy of Meneptah, the supposed Pharaoh of the Exodus. To whatever period the Exodus is assigned, it is beyond reasonable doubt that we have in our possession the actual mummy of the Pharaoh who oppressed the Israelites, and from whose face Moses fled.
2. This first discovery was eclipsed, in 1887, by a second, still more extensive in its bearings. This was the discovery, already repeatedly referred to, at Tel el-Amarna (a place on the eastern bank of the Nile, 180 miles south of Cairo), of a mass of inscribed tablets, some three hundred in number, forming part, as it proved, of the official correspondence of two of the later kings of the eighteenth dynasty — Amenophis III. and Amenophis IV. This latter king (c. 1380 B.C.), otherwise called Khu-n-aten, was a “heretic king.” He sought to introduce, and compulsorily to enforce, a new worship — that of the solar disk (Aten). The opposition he encountered led him to leave Thebes, and found this new capital, whither he removed the court records of his father and himself. The remarkable thing about the correspondence is that the tablets are written, not in Egyptian hieroglyphic, but in Babylonian cuneiform — a fact of the utmost importance as showing that the Babylonian language was at that time not only widely known, but was the medium of official communication between Egypt and other countries, as French is today in Europe. The letters reveal the wide political relations of Egypt, and are particularly valuable for the light they throw on the state of culture in Palestine, and on the events transpiring in that country, about 1400 B.C. They include, as will be afterwards seen, many letters from the king of Jerusalem and other rulers in Canaan.
3. The third discovery is still more recent, and bears on the question often asked — Is there any mention of Israel on the Egyptian monuments? Identifications with the Hebrews have been repeatedly sought, as, e.g., in the aperiu mentioned in some of the inscriptions; but it was not till 1896 that the name “Israel” was actually found by Professor Flinders Petrie on a stela of Meneptah, believed, as above said, to be the Pharaoh of the Exodus. The inscription on the monument, however, it was soon found, created more difficulties than it removed. It recounted the victories of Meneptah over various peoples in and about Palestine, and apparently included Israel in the list. “Israel is spoiled,” it reads, “it hath no seed.” But if Israel was in Palestine in the time of Meneptah — and there seems independent evidence that at least Asher, and perhaps Judah, was — it is clear that Meneptah cannot, in consistency with Bible history, be the Pharaoh of the Exodus. This at once raised a new question — Is the usual assumption that Rameses II. was the oppressor, and that the Exodus took place under Meneptah, or later, a correct one? The question is one which it is now necessary to consider.
1. The Word of Forgiveness
A.W. Pink from The Seven Sayings of the Savior on the Cross
"Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do."
4. Here we see the blindness of the human heart.
"They know not what they do." This does not mean that the enemies of Christ were ignorant of the fact of his crucifixion. They did know full well that they had cried out "Crucify him". They did know full well that their vile request had been granted them by Pilate. They did know full well that he had been nailed to the tree for they were eye-witnesses of the crime. What then did our Lord mean when he said, "They know not what they do"? He meant they were ignorant of the enormity of their crime. They "knew not" that it was the Lord of glory they were crucifying. The emphasis is not on "They know not" but on "they know not what they do".
And yet they ought to have known. Their blindness was inexcusable. The Old Testament prophecies which had received their fulfillment in him were sufficiently plain to identify him as the Holy One of God. His teaching was unique, for his very critics were forced to admit "Never man spake like this man" (John 7:46). And what of his perfect life! He had lived before men a life which had never been lived on earth before. He pleased not himself. He went about doing good. He was ever at the disposal of others. There was no self-seeking about him. His was a life of self-sacrifice from beginning to end. His was a life ever lived to the glory of God. His was a life on which was stamped heaven’s approval, for the Father’s voice testified audibly, "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am wellpleased". No, there was no excuse for their ignorance. It only demonstrated the blindness of their hearts. Their rejection of the Son of God bore full witness, once for all, that the carnal mind is "enmity against God".
How sad to think this terrible tragedy is still being repeated! Sinner, you little know what you are doing in neglecting God’s great salvation. You little know how awful is the sin of slighting the Christ of God and spurning the invitations of his mercy. You little know the deep guilt which is attached to your act of refusing to receive the only one who can save you from your sins. You little know how fearful is the crime of saying, "We will not have this man to reign over us". You know not what you do. You regard the vital issue with callous indifference. The question comes today as it did of old, "What shall I do with Jesus which is called Christ?" For you have to do something with him: either you despise and reject him, or you receive him as the Saviour of your soul and the Lord of your life. But, I say again, it seems to you a matter of small moment, of little importance, which you do. For years you have resisted the strivings of his Spirit. For years you have shelved the all-important consideration. For years you have steeled your heart against him, closed your ears to his appeals, and shut your eyes to his surpassing beauty. Ah! you know not WHAT you do. You are blind to your madness. Blind to your terrible sin. Yet are you not excuseless? You may be saved now if you will. "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved." 0 come to the Saviour now and say with one of old, "Lord, that I might receive my sight."
"Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do."
5. Here we see a lovely exemplification of his own teaching.
In the Sermon on the Mount our Lord taught his disciples, "Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you and persecute you" (Matthew 5:44). Above all others Christ practiced what he preached. Grace and truth came by Jesus Christ. He not only taught the truth but was himself the truth incarnate. Said he, "I am the way, the truth and the life" (John 14:6). So here on the cross he perfectly exemplified his teaching of the mount. In all things he has left us an example.
Notice Christ did not personally forgive his enemies. So in Matthew 5:44 he did not exhort his disciples to forgive their enemies, but he does exhort them to "pray" for them. But are we not to forgive those who wrong us? This leads us to a point concerning which there is much need for instruction today.
Does scripture teach that under all circumstances we must always forgive? I answer emphatically, it does not. The word of God says, "If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him. And if he trespass against thee seven times a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee saying, 1 repeat, thou shalt forgive him" (Luke 17:3,4). Here we are plainly taught that a condition must be met by the offender before we may pronounce forgiveness. The one who has wronged us must first "repent", that is, judge himself for his wrong and give evidence of his sorrow over it. But suppose the offender does not repent? Then 1 am not to forgive him.
But let there be no misunderstanding of our meaning here. Even though the one who has wronged me does not repent, nevertheless, I must not harbor ill-feelings against him. There must be no hatred or malice cherished in the heart. Yet, on the other hand, I must not treat the offender as if he had done no wrong. That would be to condone the offence, and therefore I should fail to uphold the requirements of righteousness, and this the believer is ever to do. Does God ever forgive where there is no repentance? No, for scripture declares, "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9). One thing more. If one has injured me and repented not, while I cannot forgive him and treat him as though he had not offended, nevertheless, not only must! hold no malice in my heart against him, but I must also pray for him. Here is the value of Christ’s perfect example. If we cannot forgive, we can pray for God to forgive him.
"Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do."
Do Not Hope in Kings 11/7/16
by Stephen Witmer
Many of us are struggling to make sense of, and respond to, the current presidential election cycle. As Christian citizens, what should we say? How should we pray?
A short passage halfway through Luke’s Gospel may help us see what Jesus might say concerning this election, and every other. To be clear, Luke 13 was not written to help twenty-first-century Americans respond to presidential politics; the main point is to provide a window into Jesus’s compassionate heart and redemptive mission. Nevertheless, observing how Jesus related to governing authorities cannot help but profit our understanding of how we should act in the present moment.
Refuse to Fear | “At that very hour some Pharisees came and said to [Jesus], ‘Get away from here, for Herod wants to kill you’” (Luke 13:31).
Herod, the ruler over Galilee, had already locked John the Baptist in prison and lopped off his head (Matthew 14:3–12). Now he has heard about Jesus and apparently has a desire to kill him, possibly because he believed it was John back from the dead. Herod is powerful and paranoid (Matthew 14:1–2), as well as selfish and erratic in his behavior. This is no idle threat.
And yet, this passage records no hint of fear on Jesus’s part. Jesus’s strongest emotions don’t even involve Herod, whom he seems to dismiss and quickly forget. Herod is actively seeking his life, but Jesus isn’t fazed.
Stephen Witmer is the pastor of Pepperell Christian Fellowship in Pepperell, Massachusetts, and teaches New Testament at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. He is the author of Eternity Changes Everything and a 12-Week-Study-Revelation
The Coming Prince
By Sir Robert Anderson 1841-1918
Chapter 1 Introduction
And if the new birth and the faith of Christianity were thus produced in the case of persons who received the Gospel immediately from the Apostles, nothing less will avail with us who are separated by eighteen centuries from the witnesses and their testimony. God is with His people still. And He speaks to men's hearts, now, as really as He did in early times; not indeed through inspired Apostles, and still less by dreams or visions, but through the Holy Writings which He Himself inspired; 
 God is omnipresent; but there is a real sense in which the Father and the Son are not on earth but in heaven, and in that same sense the Holy Spirit is not in heaven but on earth.and as the result believers are "born of God," and obtain the knowledge of forgiveness of sins and of eternal life. The phenomenon is not a natural one, resulting from the study of the evidences; it is supernatural altogether. "Thinking minds," regarding it objectively, may, if they please, maintain towards it what they deem "a rational attitude;" but at least let them own the fact that there are thousands of credible people who can testify to the reality of the experience here spoken of, and further let them recognize that it is entirely in accordance with the teaching of the New Testament.
And such persons have transcendental proof of the truth of Christianity. Their faith rests, not on the phenomena of their own experience, but on the great objective truths of revelation. Yet their primary conviction that these are Divine truths does not depend on the "evidences" which skepticism delights to criticize, but on something which skepticism takes no account of. 
 Such faith is inseparably connected with salvation, and salvation is the gift of God (Ephesians 2:8). Hence the solemn words of Christ, "I thank Thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because Thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes" (Matthew 11:25).Ephesians 2:8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, ESV
Matthew 11:25 At that time Jesus declared, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; ESV
"No book can be written in behalf of the Bible like the Bible itself. Man's defenses are man's word; they may help to beat off attacks, they may draw out some portion of its meaning. The Bible is God's word, and through it God the Holy Ghost, who spake it, speaks to the soul which closes not itself against it." 
 Pusey, Daniel, Pref. p. 25.But more than this, the well-instructed believer will find within it inexhaustible stores of proof that it is from God. The Bible is far more than a textbook of theology and morals, or even than a guide to heaven. It is the record of the progressive revelation God has vouchsafed to man, and the Divine history of our race in connection with that revelation. Ignorance may fail to see in it anything more than the religious literature of the Hebrew race, and of the Church in Apostolic times; but the intelligent student who can read between the lines will find there mapped out, sometimes in clear bold outline, sometimes dimly, but yet always discernible by the patient and devout inquirer, the great scheme of God's counsels and workings in and for this world of ours from eternity to eternity.
And the study of prophecy, rightly understood, has a range no narrower than this. Its chief value is not to bring us a knowledge of "things to come," regarded as isolated events, important though this may be; but to enable us to link the future with the past as part of God's great purpose and plan revealed in Holy Writ. The facts of the life and death of Christ were an overwhelming proof of the inspiration of the Old Testament. When, after His resurrection, He sought to confirm the disciples' faith,
Luke 24:27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself. ESV
But many a promise had been given, and many a prophecy recorded, which seemed to be lost in the darkness of Israel's national extinction and Judah's apostasy. (Remember, this was written before God restored Israel as a nation in one day in 1948.) The fulfillment of them all depended on Messiah; but now Messiah was rejected, and His people were about to be cast away, that Gentiles might be taken up for blessing. Are we to conclude then that the past is wiped out for ever, and that God's great purposes for earth have collapsed through human sin? As men now judge of revelation, Christianity dwindles down to be nothing but a "plan of salvation" for individuals, and if St. John's Gospel and a few of the Epistles be left them they are content. How different was the attitude of mind and heart displayed by St. Paul! In the Apostle's view the crisis which seemed the catastrophe of everything the old prophets had foretold of God's purposes for earth, opened up a wider and more glorious purpose still, which should include the fulfillment of them all; and rapt in the contemplation, he exclaimed,
Romans 11:33 Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! ESV
True prophetic study is an inquiry into these unsearchable counsels, these deep riches of Divine wisdom and knowledge. Beneath the light it gives, the Scriptures are no longer a heterogeneous compilation of religious books, but one harmonious whole, from which no part could be omitted without destroying the completeness of the revelation. And yet the study is disparaged in the Churches as being of no practical importance. If the Churches are leavened with skepticism at this moment, their neglect of prophetic study in this its true and broader aspect has done more than all the rationalism of Germany (Consider the rationalism of Germany before the 2 great wars and consider the rationalism of today.) to promote the evil. Skeptics may boast of learned Professors and Doctors of Divinity among their ranks, but we may challenge them to name a single one of the number who has given proof that he knows anything whatever of these deeper mysteries of revelation. The attempt to put back the rising tide of skepticism is hopeless. Indeed the movement is but one of many phases of the intense mental activity which marks the age. The reign of creeds is past. The days are gone for ever when men will believe what their fathers believed, without a question. Rome, in some phase of its development, has a strange charm for minds of a certain caste, and rationalism is fascinating to not a few; but orthodoxy in the old sense is dead, and if any are to be delivered it must be by a deeper and more thorough knowledge of the Scriptures. ( ... and yet Christians will not even read their Bibles!)
These pages are but a humble effort to this end; but if they avail in any measure to promote the study of Holy Writ their chief purpose will be fulfilled. The reader therefore may expect to find the accuracy of the Bible vindicated on points which may seem of trifling value. When David reached the throne of Israel and came to choose his generals, he named for the chief commands the men who had made themselves conspicuous by feats of prowess or of valor. Among the foremost three was one of whom the record states that he defended a tract of lentiles, and drove away a troop of the Philistines.
2 Samuel 23:11-12 11 And next to him was Shammah, the son of Agee the Hararite. The Philistines gathered together at Lehi, where there was a plot of ground full of lentils, and the men fled from the Philistines. 12 But he took his stand in the midst of the plot and defended it and struck down the Philistines, and the LORD worked a great victory. ESV
To others it may have seemed little better than a patch of weeds, and not worth fighting for, but it was precious to the Israelite as a portion of the divinely-given inheritance, and moreover the enemy might have used it as a rallying ground from which to capture strongholds. So is it with the Bible. It is all of intrinsic value if indeed it be from God; and moreover, the statement which is assailed, and which may seem of no importance, may prove to be a link in the chain of truth on which we are depending for eternal life.
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 19Ezra 7:10 For Ezra had set his heart to study the Law of the LORD, and to do it and to teach his statutes and rules in Israel. ESV
Psalm 1:2 but his delight is in the law of the LORD,
and on his law he meditates day and night.
Psalm 19:7 The law of the LORD is perfect,
reviving the soul;
the testimony of the LORD is sure,
making wise the simple;
Psalm 119:45 and I shall walk in a wide place,
for I have sought your precepts.
Psalm 119:96 I have seen a limit to all perfection,
but your commandment is exceedingly broad.
97 Oh how I love your law!
It is my meditation all the day.
98 Your commandment makes me wiser than my enemies,
for it is ever with me.
99 I have more understanding than all my teachers,
for your testimonies are my meditation.
100 I understand more than the aged,
for I keep your precepts. ESV
The order here is most instructive, particularly for any who desire to serve the Lord in ministering to others. Note the four things that characterized Ezra. First “he prepared his heart.” We are told that “The preparations of the heart…[are] from the Lord” (Proverbs 16:1). This is all-important. A prepared mind will never take the place of a prepared heart. In the second place, Ezra sought the law of the Lord. He endeavored to become acquainted with the Scriptures. Thirdly, he set himself to do according to what he read. He was obedient to the Word. Then, lastly, he began to teach others the statutes and judgments of the Lord. To do and then to teach was what was exemplified in our Lord Himself (Acts 1:1). We can only help others as we walk in obedience ourselves. It is the surrendered life that counts for God.
Proverbs 16:1 The plans of the heart belong to man,
but the answer of the tongue is from the LORD.
O grant, Lord Jesus, mine may be
A life surrendered unto Thee.
The vessel need not be of gold,
Need not be strong, or wise, or bold,
But, Lord, the vessel Thou shalt choose,
It must be clean for Thee to use.
So fill my heart till all shall see
A living, reigning Christ, in me.
--- Barbara E. Cornet
The Continual Burnt Offering: Daily Meditations on the Word of God
Devotionals, notes, poetry and more
4/2006 | A Simple Mystery
John Wesley is quoted as having said: “Bring me a worm that can comprehend a man, and then I will show you a man that can comprehend the triune God.” A clever statement indeed, but just as every analogy of the Trinity that has ever been offered breaks down under scrutiny, so Wesley’s analogy of a worm’s comprehension of man compared to our comprehension of God breaks down as well. First of all, worms are not made in the image of man. Secondly, worms have not been given special revelation from man, and, what is more, no man ever became a worm, even though at times our wives may be led to think otherwise. We were made in the image of our triune God with minds carefully crafted by God to understand certain things about God. Our Creator then provided us with certain information about Himself through His revelation to us. As a result, we have been given the ability and the knowledge to understand all that God has intended for us to comprehend — and such comprehension comes only through faith given to us by God, for the natural man cannot understand the things of God.
At the heart of Wesley’s statement is the truth that no mere man can comprehend God completely. But the mistake is often made by the people of God in thinking that we cannot comprehend God rightly. In fact, in many circles, for someone to speak of God as some sort of unknowable, mysterious figure that is beyond reality is thought of as super-spiritual. The Bible does teach that there are certain things God has hidden from us (Deut. 29:29). The Bible also teaches that God is not completely comprehendible by men, nor are His ways fully understood by men (Rom. 11:33–34; 1 Cor. 2:16). Nevertheless, as we examine the Bible, many divine mysteries are unfolded by God Himself. Though we may not understand completely how God is three in person and one in essence, we do know the simple truth that He is..
We who are finite in our capacity cannot fully comprehend our infinite God, for the infinite mystery of our triune God is contained only by He who is infinite. And although the explanations that our Lord provides are simple, they are indeed true. For that reason, we should be less concerned with trying to figure out those things about God that He has not given us the ability to comprehend and be more concerned with living coram Deo, before His face, according to all that we can comprehend about our gracious and holy, triune God.
click here for article source
Dr. Burk Parsons (@BurkParsons) is editor of Tabletalk magazine, senior pastor of Saint Andrew’s Chapel in Sanford, Fla., a visiting lecturer at Reformed Theological Seminary, and a Ligonier Ministries teaching fellow. He is editor of John Calvin: A Heart for Devotion, Doctrine, and Doxology.
Ligonier coram Deo (definition)
by Bill Federer
William Bradford was born this day, March 19, 1590. He sailed with the Pilgrims on the Mayflower and was chosen as their governor in 1621, being reelected 30 times until his death. In his History of the Plymouth Plantation, William Bradford wrote of the Pilgrims’ plight: “What could now sustaine them but ye spirite of God and His grace? May not and ought not the children of these fathers rightly say: Our fathers were Englishmen which came over this great ocean, and were ready to perish in this wilderness; but they cried unto ye Lord, and He heard their voyce.”
Compiled by Richard S. Adams
Let us put theology out of religion. Theology has always sent the worst to heaven, the best to hell.
--- Robert G. Ingersoll
It is not your idea, not your understanding, not your thinking, not your reasoning, not even your profession of faith, that here can quench the thirst. The home-sickness goes out after God Himself... it is not the name of God but God Himself whom your soul desires and cannot do without.
--- Abraham Kuyper
Space for God: Study and Practice of Spirituality and Prayer (Bible Way)
By a Carpenter mankind was made,
and only by that Carpenter can mankind be remade.
--- Desiderius Erasmus
27/28: Literary and Educational Writings, volume 27 and volume 28: 5: Panegyricus / Moria / Julius exclusus / Institutio principis christiani . ... 6: Ciceronianus (Collected Works of Erasmus)
It is true greatness to have in one the frailty of a man and the security of a god.
Essays: Or, Counsels Civil and Moral, and the Two Books of the Proficience and Advancement of Learning
... from here, there and everywhere
University of Virginia Library 1994
Thirteenth of sixth month. -- The sun appearing, we set forward, and as I rode over the barren hills my meditations were on the alterations in the circumstances of the natives of this land since the coming in of the English. The lands near the sea are conveniently situated for fishing; the lands near the rivers, where the tides flow, and some above, are in many places fertile, and not mountainous, while the changing of the tides makes passing up and down easy with any kind of traffic. The natives have in some places, for trifling considerations, sold their inheritance so favorably situated, and in other places have been driven back by superior force; their way of clothing themselves is also altered from what it was, and they being far removed from us have to pass over mountains, swamps, and barren deserts, so that travelling is very troublesome in bringing their skins and furs to trade with us. By the extension of English settlements, and partly by the increase of English hunters, the wild beasts on which the natives chiefly depend for subsistence are not so plentiful as they were, and people too often, for the sake of gain, induce them to waste their skins and furs in purchasing a liquor which tends to the ruin of them and their families.
My own will and desires were now very much broken, and my heart was with much earnestness turned to the Lord, to whom alone I looked for help in the dangers before me. I had a prospect of the English along the coast for upwards of nine hundred miles, where I travelled, and their favorable situation and the difficulties attending the natives as well as the negroes in many places were open before me. A weighty and heavenly care came over my mind, and love filled my heart towards all mankind, in which I felt a strong engagement that we might be obedient to the Lord while in tender mercy he is yet calling to us, and that we might so attend to pure universal righteousness as to give no just cause of offence to the gentiles, who do not profess Christianity, whether they be the blacks from Africa, or the native inhabitants of this continent. Here I was led into a close and laborious inquiry whether I, as an individual, kept clear from all things which tended to stir up or were connected with wars, either in this land or in Africa; my heart was deeply concerned that in future I might in all things keep steadily to the pure truth, and live and walk in the plainness and simplicity of a sincere follower of Christ. In this lonely journey I did greatly bewail the spreading of a wrong spirit, believing that the prosperous, convenient situation of the English would require a constant attention in us to Divine love and wisdom, in order to their being guided and supported in a way answerable to the will of that good, gracious, and Almighty Being, who hath an equal regard to all mankind. And here luxury and covetousness, with the numerous oppressions and other evils attending them, appeared very afflicting to me, and I felt in that which is immutable that the seeds of great calamity and desolation are sown and growing fast on this continent. Nor have I words sufficient to set forth the longing I then felt, that we who are placed along the coast, and have tasted the love and goodness of God, might arise in the strength thereof, and like faithful messengers labor to check the growth of these seeds, that they may not ripen to the ruin of our posterity.
On reaching the Indian settlement at Wyoming, we were told that an Indian runner had been at that place a day or two before us, and brought news of the Indians having taken an English fort westward, and destroyed the people, and that they were endeavoring to take another; also that another Indian runner came there about the middle of the previous night from a town about ten miles from Wehaloosing, and brought the news that some Indian warriors from distant parts came to that town with two English scalps, and told the people that it was war with the English.
Our guides took us to the house of a very ancient man. Soon after we had put in our baggage there came a man from another Indian house some distance off. Perceiving there was a man near the door I went out; the man had a tomahawk wrapped under his match-coat out of sight. As I approached him he took it in his hand; I went forward, and, speaking to him in a friendly way, perceived he understood some English. My companion joining me, we had some talk with him concerning the nature of our visit in these parts; he then went into the house with us, and, talking with our guides, soon appeared friendly, sat down and smoked his pipe. Though taking his hatchet in his hand at the instant I drew near to him had a disagreeable appearance, I believe he had no other intent than to be in readiness in case any violence were offered to him.
On hearing the news brought by these Indian runners, and being told by the Indians where we lodged, that the Indians about Wyoming expected in a few days to move to some larger towns, I thought, to all outward appearance, it would be dangerous travelling at this time. After a hard day's journey I was brought into a painful exercise at night, in which I had to trace back and view the steps I had taken from my first moving in the visit; and though I had to bewail some weakness which at times had attended me, yet I could not find that I had ever given way to wilful disobedience. Believing I had, under a sense of duty, come thus far, I was now earnest in spirit, beseeching the Lord to show me what I ought to do. In this great distress I grew jealous of myself, lest the desire of reputation as a man firmly settled to persevere through dangers, or the fear of disgrace from my returning without performing the visit, might have some place in me. Full of these thoughts, I lay great part of the night, while my beloved companion slept by me, till the Lord, my gracious Father, who saw the conflicts of my soul, was pleased to give quietness. Then I was again strengthened to commit my life, and all things relating thereto, into his heavenly hands, and got a little sleep towards day.
John Woolman's Journal
Practical religion. The Christian life
God Accomplishes Your Surrender
I am sure there is many a heart that says: "Ah, but that absolute surrender implies so much!" Someone says: "Oh, I have passed through so much trial and suffering, and there is so much of the self-life still remaining, and I dare not face the entire giving of it up, because I know it will cause so much trouble and agony."
Alas! alas! that God's children have such thoughts of Him, such cruel thoughts. Oh, I come to you with a message, fearful and anxious one. God does not ask you to give the perfect surrender in your strength, or by the power of your will; God is willing to work it in you. Do we not read: "It is God that worketh in us, both to will and to do of his good pleasure" (Phil. 2:13)? And that is what we should seek for--to go on our faces before God, until our hearts learn to believe that the everlasting God Himself will come in to turn out what is wrong, to conquer what is evil, and to work what is well-pleasing in His blessed sight. God Himself will work it in you.
Look at the men in the Old Testament, like Abraham. Do you think it was by accident that God found that man, the father of the faithful and the Friend of God, and that it was Abraham himself, apart from God, who had such faith and such obedience and such devotion? You know it is not so. God raised him up and prepared him as an instrument for His glory.
Did not God say to Pharaoh: "For this cause have I raised thee up, for to show in thee my power" (Ex. 9:16)?
And if God said that of him, will not God say it far more of every child of His?
Oh, I want to encourage you, and I want you to cast away every fear. Come with that feeble desire; and if there is the fear which says: "Oh, my desire is not strong enough, I am not willing for everything that may come, I do not feel bold enough to say I can conquer everything"—I pray you, learn to know and trust your God now. Say: "My God, I am willing that Thou shouldst make me willing." If there is anything holding you back, or any sacrifice you are afraid of making, come to God now, and prove how gracious your God is, and be not afraid that He will command from you what He will not bestow.
God comes and offers to work this absolute surrender in you. All these searchings and hungerings and longings that are in your heart, I tell you they are the drawings of the divine magnet, Christ Jesus. He lived a life of absolute surrender, He has possession of you; He is living in your heart by His Holy Spirit. You have hindered and hindered Him terribly, but He desires to help you to get hold of Him entirely. And He comes and draws you now by His message and words. Will you not come and trust God to work in you that absolute surrender to Himself? Yes, blessed be God, He can do it, and He will do it.
God not only claims it and works it, but God accepts it when we bring it to Him.
God Accepts Your Surrender
I am using the 1895 Public Domain version. Below is an Amazon link for a modern copy.
by D.H. Stern
but the way of the wicked will lead them astray.
27 A lazy man doesn’t roast what he hunted;
but when a man is diligent, his wealth is precious.
28 In the road of righteousness is life;
no death is in its pathway.
I was not left very long at the mercy of the Tousle-Headed Poet, because another passenger interrupted our conversation: but before that happened I had learned a good deal about him. He appeared to be a singularly ill-used man. His parents had never appreciated him and none of the five schools at which he had been educated seemed to have made any provision for a talent and temperament such as his. To make matters worse he had been exactly the sort of boy in whose case the examination system works out with the maximum unfairness and absurdity. It was not until he reached the university that he began to recognise that all these injustices did not come by chance but were the inevitable results of our economic system. Capitalism did not merely enslave the workers, it also vitiated taste and vulgarised intellect: hence our educational system and hence the lack of ‘Recognition’ for new genius. This discovery had made him a Communist. But when the war came along and he saw Russia in alliance with the capitalist governments, he had found himself once more isolated and had to become a conscientious objector. The indignities he suffered at this stage of his career had, he confessed, embittered him. He decided he could serve the cause best by going to America: but then America came into the war too. It was at this point that he suddenly saw Sweden as the home of a really new and radical art, but the various oppressors had given him no facilities for going to Sweden. There were money troubles. His father, who had never progressed beyond the most atrocious mental complacency and smugness of the Victorian epoch, was giving him a ludicrously inadequate allowance. And he had been very badly treated by a girl too. He had thought her a really civilised and adult personality, and then she had unexpectedly revealed that she was a mass of bourgeois prejudices and monogamic instincts. Jealousy, possessiveness, was a quality he particularly disliked. She had even shown herself, at the end, to be mean about money. That was the last straw. He had jumped under a train …
I gave a start, but he took no notice.
Even then, he continued, ill luck had continued to dog him. He’d been sent to the grey town. But of course it was a mistake. I would find, he assured me, that all the other passengers would be with me on the return journey. But he would not. He was going to stay ‘there’. He felt quite certain that he was going where, at last, his finely critical spirit would no longer be outraged by an uncongenial environment—where he would find ‘Recognition’ and ‘Appreciation’. Meanwhile, since I hadn’t got my glasses, he would read me the passage about which Cyril Blellow had been so insensitive …
It was just then that we were interrupted. One of the quarrels which were perpetually simmering in the bus had boiled over and for a moment there was a stampede. Knives were drawn: pistols were fired: but it all seemed strangely innocuous and when it was over I found myself unharmed, though in a different seat and with a new companion. He was an intelligent-looking man with a rather bulbous nose and a bowler hat. I looked out of the windows. We were now so high that all below us had become featureless. But fields, rivers, or mountains I did not see, and I got the impression that the grey town still filled the whole field of vision.
‘It seems the deuce of a town,’ I volunteered, ‘and that’s what I can’t understand. The parts of it that I saw were so empty. Was there once a much larger population?’
‘Not at all,’ said my neighbour. ‘The trouble is that they’re so quarrelsome. As soon as anyone arrives he settles in some street. Before he’s been there twenty-four hours he quarrels with his neighbour. Before the week is over he’s quarrelled so badly that he decides to move. Very likely he finds the next street empty because all the people there have quarrelled with their neighbours—and moved. If so he settles in. If by any chance the street is full, he goes further. But even if he stays, it makes no odds. He’s sure to have another quarrel pretty soon and then he’ll move on again. Finally he’ll move right out to the edge of the town and build a new house. You see, it’s easy here. You’ve only got to think a house and there it is. That’s how the town keeps on growing.’
‘Leaving more and more empty streets?’
‘That’s right. And time’s sort of odd here. That place where we caught the bus is thousands of miles from the Civic Centre where all the newcomers arrive from earth. All the people you’ve met were living near the bus stop: but they’d taken centuries—of our time—to get there, by gradual removals.’
‘And what about the earlier arrivals? I mean—there must be people who came from Earth to your town even longer ago.’
‘That’s right. There are. They’ve been moving on and on. Getting further apart. They’re so far off by now that they could never think of coming to the bus stop at all. Astronomical distances. There’s a bit of rising ground near where I live and a chap has a telescope. You can see the lights of the inhabited houses, where those old ones live, millions of miles away. Millions of miles from us and from one another. Every now and then they move further still. That’s one of the disappointments. I thought you’d meet interesting historical characters. But you don’t: they’re too far away.’
The Great Divorce or The Great Divorce
A Daily Devotional by Oswald Chambers
The way of Abraham in faith
He went out, not knowing whither he went. --- Hebrews 11:8.
In the Old Testament, personal relationship with God showed itself in separation, and this is symbolized in the life of Abraham by his separation from his country and from his kith and kin. Today the separation is more of a mental and moral separation from the way that those who are dearest to us look at things, that is, if they have not a personal relationship with God. Jesus Christ emphasized this (see Luke 14:26).
Faith never knows where it is being led, but it loves and knows the One Who is leading. It is a life of faith, not of intellect and reason, but a life of knowing Who makes us ‘go’. The root of faith is the knowledge of a Person, and one of the biggest snares is the idea that God is sure to lead us to success.
The final stage in the life of faith is attainment of character. There are many passing transfigurations of character; when we pray we feel the blessing of God enwrapping us and for the time being we are changed, then we get back to the ordinary days and ways and the glory vanishes. The life of faith is not a life of mounting up with wings, but a life of walking and not fainting. It is not a question of sanctification; but of something infinitely further on than sanctification, of faith that has been tried and proved and has stood the test. Abraham is not a type of sanctification, but a type of the life of faith, a tried faith built on a real God. “Abraham believed God.”
My Utmost for His Highest
the Poetry of R.S. Thomas
Come to me a moment, stand,
Ageing yet lovely still,
At my side, let me tell you that,
With the clouds massing for attack
And the wind worrying the leaves
From the branches and the blood seeping
Thin and slow through the ventricles
Of the heart, I regret less,
Looking back on the poem's
Weakness, the failure of the mind
To be clever than of the heart
To deserve you as you showed how.
When the time approached in which, according to the promise made to Abraham, his children would be redeemed, it was seen that they had no pious deeds to their credit for the sake of which they deserved release from bondage. God therefore gave them two commandments, one bidding them to sacrifice the paschal lamb and one to circumcise their sons.201 Along with the first they received the calendar in use among the Jews, for the Passover feast is to be celebrated on the fifteenth day of the month of Nisan, and with this month the year is to begin. But the computations for the calendar are so involved that Moses could not understand them until God showed him the movements of the moon plainly. There were three other things equally difficult, which Moses could comprehend only after God made him to see them plainly. They were the compounding of the holy anointing oil, the construction of the candlestick in the Tabernacle, and the animals the flesh of which is permitted or prohibited.202 Also the determination of the new moon was the subject of special Divine teaching. That Moses might know the exact procedure, God appeared to him in a garment with fringes upon its corners, bade Moses stand at His right hand and Aaron at His left, and then, citing Michael and Gabriel as witnesses, He addressed searching questions to the angels as to how the new moon had seemed to them. Then the Lord addressed Moses and Aaron, saying, “Thus shall My children proclaim the new moon, on the testimony of two witnesses and through the president of the court.” (PK 5, 55a; PR 15, 78a–78b. According to ShR 15.20, the first Nisan was “proclaimed holy” by the court consisting of God as the president and Moses and Aaron as His assessors. On the “secret of the calendar” (סוד העבור) revealed to Moses, see PRE 8; Leket Midrashim 2a; PK 5, 43b. Sabba Bo 71b, quotes, from an unknown source (the same as that referred to in note 194?), the statement that the Jewish calendar was introduced as a protest against the Egyptian one which was a part of their system of idolatry.)
When Moses appeared before the children of Israel and delivered the Divine message to them, telling them that their redemption would come about in this month of Nisan, they said: “How is it possible that we should be redeemed? Is not the whole of Egypt full of our idols? And we have no pious deeds to show making us worthy of redemption.” Moses made reply, and said: “As God desires your redemption, He pays no heed to your idols; He passes them by. Nor does He look upon your evil deeds, but only upon the good deeds of the pious among you.”
God would not, indeed, have delivered Israel if they had not abandoned their idol worship. Unto this purpose He commanded them to sacrifice the paschal lamb. Thus they were to show that they had given up the idolatry of the Egyptians, consisting in the worship of the ram.205 The early law was different from the practice of later times, for they were bidden to select their sacrificial animal four days before the day appointed for the offering, and to designate it publicly as such, to show that they did not stand in awe of the Egyptians.
With a heavy heart the Egyptians watched the preparations of the Israelites for sacrificing the animals they worshipped. Yet they did not dare interpose an objection, and when the time came for the offering to be made, the children of Israel could perform the ceremonies without a tremor, seeing that they knew, through many days’ experience, that the Egyptians feared to approach them with hostile intent. There was another practice connected with the slaughter of the paschal lamb that was to show the Egyptians how little the Israelites feared them. They took of the blood of the animal, and openly put it on the two side posts and on the lintel of the doors of their houses.
Moses communicated the laws regulating the Passover sacrifice to the elders, and they in turn made them known to the people at large. The elders were commended for having supported the leader at his first appearance, for their faith in Moses caused the whole people to adhere to him at once. Therefore God spake, saying: “I will reward the elders for inspiring the people with confidence in Moses. They shall have the honor of delivering Israel. They shall lead the people to the Passover sacrifice, and through this the redemption will be brought about.”
The ceremonies connected with the Passover sacrifice had the purpose of conveying instruction to Israel about the past and the future alike. The blood put on the two side posts and on the lintel of their doors was to remind them of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; and the bunch of hyssop for sprinkling the blood on the doors was to imply that, although Israel’s position among the peoples of the earth is as lowly as that of the hyssop among the plants, yet this little nation is bound together like the bunch of hyssop, for it is God’s peculiar treasure.
The paschal sacrifice afforded Moses the opportunity for inducing the children of Israel to submit themselves to circumcision, which many had refused to do until then in spite of his urgent appeals. But God has means of persuasion. He caused a wind to blow that wafted the sweet scents of Paradise toward Moses’ paschal lamb, and the fragrance penetrated to all parts of Egypt, to the distance of a forty days’ journey. The people were attracted in crowds to Moses’ lamb, and desired to partake of it. But he said, “This is the command of God, ‘No uncircumcised person shall eat thereof,’ ” and they all decided to undergo circumcision. When the Lord passed through the land of Egypt, He blessed every Israelite for his fulfilment of the two commands, the command of the paschal sacrifice and the command regarding circumcision.
The Lord performed a great miracle for the Israelites. As no sacrifice may be eaten beyond the borders of the Holy Land, all the children of Israel were transported thither on clouds, and after they had eaten of the sacrifice, they were carried back to Egypt in the same way.
The Legends of the Jews (Seven Volumes, Complete Set)
The midrashic process of interpreting biblical verses, a traditional rabbinic approach to Scripture, often assigns specific symbolic meaning to certain words. For example, nourishment words (water, milk) are frequently taken as referring to Torah, since it sustains us. The love poetry of Song of Songs is seen not simply as the yearning of a man for a woman, but as a metaphor for the love of God for the Jewish people.
The traditional midrashic form of interpretation takes many of these terms and ideas and assigns them meaning on a purely symbolic level. Mar’s reminder is that we should not lose sight of the original verse. Freud expressed a similar idea when (in a story which is likely apocryphal) he was asked if the cigar in his mouth was not a phallic symbol. To this query, Freud supposedly quipped: “Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.” That is, despite the fact that he had expounded that there is usually a deeper meaning to things, sometimes there is no deeper meaning, and a cigar is not a phallic symbol but only a cigar.
A youngster is caught defacing property by spray-painting swastikas. When arrested by the police, he denies any hatred or anti-Jewish prejudice in his actions. The teen claims: “I’m not an anti-Semite. I’m not a neo-Nazi. I disagree with what the Nazis did to the Jews. I just like the shape of the swastika, and I like painting it on walls.” To this young man, we can respond that symbols never really lose their meaning, that the message is wrapped up in the medium. The swastika, like German uniforms and flags, will always represent Nazi values. Even when one claims that the symbol is unimportant, we know that it still carries its message.
Today, we often hear criticism of the music that people, especially teenagers, listen to. The lyrics are filled with hate and bigotry. The songs express ideas and values contrary to those of our religious system, our community, or family. Yet, when asked about these songs, the teen may answer: “I don’t listen to the lyrics. I just like the music.” To this, we can respond that just as a verse never loses its contextual meaning, so too a song cannot be taken out of the context of its words. The music may be exciting and vibrant, but if the song is malicious or amoral, it is dangerous.
Wherever the Sages prohibited something because of appearance’s sake, it is also prohibited in private.
Text / Rav Yehudah said in the name of Rav: “Wherever the Sages prohibited something because of appearance’s sake, it is also prohibited in private.” It is taught: “… nor with a bell, even if it is plugged up.” But in another place it was taught: “The bell around its neck can be plugged up, and he can walk it in the courtyard.” This is a difference of opinion among the Tannaim, as it is taught: “They are spread out in the sun, but not where everyone can see them. Rabbi Eliezer and Rabbi Shimon forbid it.”
Context / A donkey may not go out [on Shabbat] with a blanket that is not tied on [before Shabbat], nor with a bell, even if it is plugged up, nor with a yoke fashioned like a ladder around its neck, nor with a thong around its foot. (Mishnah Shabbat 5:4)
But an animal can go out [on Shabbat] with a bandage on a wound, or with splints on a fracture, or with the after-birth hanging down, and the bell around its neck can be plugged up and he can walk it in the courtyard. (Shabbat 53a)
One whose clothes slipped into the water on the road can walk in them and need not fear. When he reaches the outer courtyard, he spreads them out in the sun, but not where everyone can see. (Mishnah Shabbat 22:4)
Much of Masekhet Shabbat deals with what is permitted and prohibited on the Sabbath. Some activities were forbidden because they were violations of the prohibition against working on the seventh day. Other things which were not actual violations were also prohibited because they appeared to be violations. This is known in Hebrew as mar’it ayin, “what the eye sees.” The Rabbis were afraid that someone not well-versed in the law might draw the wrong conclusions from what was seen. Watching a person do an act that appeared to be a prohibited activity, one might assume that either, a) the forbidden act was actually permitted (and the observer would go out and do that prohibited act); or b) the person doing that act (who is actually committing no breach of law) is a flagrant sinner. To prevent these incorrect conclusions, the Rabbis established a category of law whereby certain otherwise permitted acts were prohibited because of “appearance’s sake.”
The first example presented by the Talmud is the prohibition on Shabbat to walk a donkey with a bell tied around its neck. It is prohibited to ring a bell on Shabbat. The Rabbis extended the prohibition so that even if the bell was plugged up and produced no sound, it was still prohibited to put it on a donkey and take the animal for a walk on Shabbat. People might assume the person was taking the donkey to market to sell it—a clear violation of the laws of Shabbat. (It was the custom to “dress up” an animal before selling it by placing a bell around its neck.)
This led the Rabbis to the principle that whatever the Sages prohibited because of appearance’s sake was also prohibited in private. But the principle is challenged by another teaching that specifically allowed the plugged-up bell on the donkey, as long as the donkey was kept within one’s own courtyard (where no one would see it).
These two conflicting traditions are apparently unreconcilable. They go back to an early disagreement among the Tannaim, the Rabbis of the mishnaic period (the first and second centuries). One viewpoint held that clothing that fell into water on Shabbat could be spread out in the sun, but only in an area where people would not see it. The Rabbis were afraid that people seeing clothes left out to dry on Shabbat would wrongly conclude that it was permitted to wash clothing on Shabbat. Rabbi Eliezer and Rabbi Shimon prohibit even that, following the principle that what the Sages prohibited for appearance’s sake was forbidden even in private.
Swimming in the Sea of Talmud: Lessons for Everyday Living
Thomas A Kempis
Book Three - Internal Consolation
The Tenth Chapter / To Despie The World And Serve God Is Sweet
NOW again I will speak, Lord, and will not be silent. I will speak to the hearing of my God, my Lord, and my King Who is in heaven. How great, O Lord, is the multitude of Your mercies which You have stored up for those who love You. But what are You to those who love You? What are You to those who serve You with their whole heart?
Truly beyond the power of words is the sweetness of contemplation You give to those who love You. To me You have shown the sweetness of Your charity, especially in having made me when I did not exist, in having brought me back to serve You when I had gone far astray from You, in having commanded me to love You.
O Fountain of unceasing love, what shall I say of You? How can I forget You, Who have been pleased to remember me even after I had wasted away and perished? You have shown mercy to Your servant beyond all hope, and have exhibited grace and friendship beyond his deserving.
What return shall I make to You for this grace? For it is not given every man to forsake all things, to renounce the world, and undertake the religious life. Is it anything great that I should serve You Whom every creature is bound to serve? It should not seem much to me; instead it should appear great and wonderful that You condescend to receive into Your service one who is so poor and unworthy. Behold, all things are Yours, even those which I have and by which I serve You. Behold, heaven and earth which You created for the service of man, stand ready, and each day they do whatever You command. But even this is little, for You have appointed angels also to minister to man—yea more than all this—You Yourself have condescended to serve man and have promised to give him Yourself.
What return shall I make for all these thousands of benefits? Would that I could serve You all the days of my life! Would that for but one day I could serve You worthily! Truly You are worthy of all service, all honor, and everlasting praise. Truly You are my Lord, and I am Your poor servant, bound to serve You with all my powers, praising You without ever becoming weary. I wish to do this—this is my desire. Do You supply whatever is wanting in me.
It is a great honor, a great glory to serve You and to despise all things for Your sake. They who give themselves gladly to Your most holy service will possess great grace. They who cast aside all carnal delights for Your love will find the most sweet consolation of the Holy Ghost. They who enter upon the narrow way for Your name and cast aside all worldly care will attain great freedom of mind.
O sweet and joyful service of God, which makes man truly free and holy! O sacred state of religious bondage which makes man equal to the angels, pleasing to God, terrible to the demons, and worthy of the commendation of all the faithful! O service to be embraced and always desired, in which the highest good is offered and joy is won which shall remain forever!
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.
With what arguments does he plead with the Father for these mercies? ( The Whole Works of the Reverend Mr. John Flavel ... )
The first is drawn from the joint interest that both he and his Father have in the persons for whom he prays, “All I have is yours, and all you have is mine” (v. 10), as if he would say, “Father, see and consider the persons I pray for, they are not aliens but Christians. Yes, they are your children as well as mine, the very ones on whom you have set your eternal love and in that love have given to me. Great is our interest in them, and interest draws care and tenderness. Everyone cares for his own, provides for and secures his own. Property, even among creatures, is fundamental to their labor, care, and watchfulness; they would not so much prize life, health, estates, or children if they were not their own. Lord, these are your own by many ties or titles. O therefore keep, comfort, sanctify, and save them, for they are yours.” What a mighty plea is this! Surely, Christians, your intercessor is skillful in his work, your advocate lacks no eloquence or ability to plead for you.
The second argument, and that a powerful one, treads on the very heel of the former, “Glory has come to me through them”; “my glory and honor are infinitely dear to you; I know your heart is entirely on the exalting and glorifying of your Son. Now what glory have I in the world but what comes from my people? Others neither can nor will glorify me; no, I am daily blasphemed and dishonored by them. From these my active glory and praise in the world must rise. It is true, both you and I have glory from other creatures; the works that we have made and impress our power, wisdom, and goodness on thus glorify us, and we have honor from our very enemies accidentally, their very wrath will praise us. But for active and voluntary praise, where does this come from except from the people who were formed for that very purpose? Should these then go wrong and perish, where shall my glory be demonstrated and active, and from whom shall I expect it?” Here his property and his glory are pleaded with the Father to prevail for those mercies, and they are both great and valuable things with God. What dearer, what nearer to the heart of God?
--- John Flavel
Take Heart: Daily Devotions with the Church's Great Preachers
Pope vs. Peacemaker
Frederick was only four when his father, Henry IV, suddenly died, and he was yet a teenager when officially given his father’s crown. But in time he became known as “the Wonder of the World.” Frederick was a cultured man who knew when to negotiate and when to fight. He quarreled with the papacy all his life and remained skeptical of religion till his death. He was repeatedly excommunicated—once, ironically, for being a peacemaker.
It happened during the Sixth Crusade. The deepest passion of Pope Honorius III was wresting Jerusalem from the Muslims. Having no army of his own, he looked to Frederick for help and set a date for the crusading armies to depart. The day came and went. The pope then schemed by hook and crook to nudge Frederick eastward into holy war. Still, the emperor showed little passion for the mission.
The next pope, Gregory IX, was tough as leather and soon secured Frederick’s pledge to lead a new crusade. This time Frederick suddenly called off the crusade saying he felt sick. Gregory angrily excommunicated him and applied every possible pressure. Frederick set off at last, troops in tow.
He reached Palestine on September 7, 1228, and found two Muslim chieftains engaged in conflict. Frederick used their disarray to secure a peace treaty allowing Christians free access to Jerusalem. The crusade was over before the first battlecry. There was no war, no bloodshed. Holy places were reopened to Christians.
Frederick then entered Jerusalem and visited the ancient Church of the Holy Sepulcher. There on March 19, 1229, in historic fashion, he crowned himself king according to ancient tradition. But his peace treaty was denounced by devotees of both faiths, and on the same March 19, the Catholic patriarch of Jerusalem pronounced an interdict over the city. Frederick was pelted with offal as he made his way home.
He returned to a furious pope who excommunicated him yet again, this time for making peace rather than war. But of all the latter crusades, only this one was successful in gaining Christian access to holy sites.
Everything on earth has its own time and its own season. There is a time… For killing and healing, destroying and building, For crying and laughing, weeping and dancing. There is also a time for love and hate, for war and peace.
--- Ecclesiastes 3:1-4,8.
On This Day 365 Amazing And Inspiring Stories About Saints, Martyrs And Heroes
Daily Readings / CHARLES H. SPURGEON
Morning - March 19
“Strong in faith.”
--- Romans 4:20.
Christian, take good care of thy faith; for recollect faith is the only way whereby thou canst obtain blessings. If we want blessings from God, nothing can fetch them down but faith. Prayer cannot draw down answers from God’s throne except it be the earnest prayer of the man who believes. Faith is the angelic messenger between the soul and the Lord Jesus in glory. Let that angel be withdrawn, we can neither send up prayer, nor receive the answers. Faith is the telegraphic wire which links earth and heaven—on which God’s messages of love fly so fast, that before we call he answers, and while we are yet speaking he hears us. But if that telegraphic wire of faith be snapped, how can we receive the promise? Am I in trouble?—I can obtain help for trouble by faith. Am I beaten about by the enemy?—my soul on her dear Refuge leans by faith. But take faith away—in vain I call to God. There is no road betwixt my soul and heaven. In the deepest wintertime faith is a road on which the horses of prayer may travel—aye, and all the better for the biting frost; but blockade the road, and how can we communicate with the Great King? Faith links me with divinity. Faith clothes me with the power of God. Faith engages on my side the omnipotence of Jehovah. Faith ensures every attribute of God in my defence. It helps me to defy the hosts of hell. It makes me march triumphant over the necks of my enemies. But without faith how can I receive anything of the Lord? Let not him that wavereth—who is like a wave of the Sea—expect that he will receive anything of God! O, then, Christian, watch well thy faith; for with it thou canst win all things, however poor thou art, but without it thou canst obtain nothing. “If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.”
Evening - March 19
“And she did eat, and was sufficed, and left." Ruth 2:14.
Whenever we are privileged to eat of the bread which Jesus gives, we are, like Ruth, satisfied with the full and sweet repast. When Jesus is the host no guest goes empty from the table. Our head is satisfied with the precious truth which Christ reveals; our heart is content with Jesus, as the altogether lovely object of affection; our hope is satisfied, for whom have we in heaven but Jesus? and our desire is satiated, for what can we wish for more than “to know Christ and to be found in him?” Jesus fills our conscience till it is at perfect peace; our judgment with persuasion of the certainty of his teachings; our memory with recollections of what he has done, and our imagination with the prospects of what he is yet to do. As Ruth was “sufficed, and left,” so is it with us. We have had deep draughts; we have thought that we could take in all of Christ; but when we have done our best we have had to leave a vast remainder. We have sat at the table of the Lord’s love, and said, “Nothing but the infinite can ever satisfy me; I am such a great sinner that I must have infinite merit to wash my sin away;” but we have had our sin removed, and found that there was merit to spare; we have had our hunger relieved at the feast of sacred love, and found that there was a redundance of spiritual meat remaining. There are certain sweet things in the Word of God which we have not enjoyed yet, and which we are obliged to leave for awhile; for we are like the disciples to whom Jesus said, “I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now.” Yes, there are graces to which we have not attained; places of fellowship nearer to Christ which we have not reached; and heights of communion which our feet have not climbed. At every banquet of love there are many baskets of fragments left. Let us magnify the liberality of our glorious Boaz.
Morning and Evening
BE THOU MY VISION
Text—Irish hymn, c. 8th century • Music—Irish Melody
Translated by Mary E. Byrne, 1880–1931
Versified by Eleanor H. Hull, 1860–1935
Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he. (Proverbs 29:18)
Truly our visionary attitude throughout life is often the difference between success and mediocrity. One is reminded of the classic story of the two shoe salesmen who were sent to a primitive island to determine business potential. The first salesman wired back, “Coming home immediately. No one here wears shoes.” The second man responded, “Send a boatload of shoes immediately. The possibilities for selling shoes here are unlimited.”
For the Christian, vision is a true awareness of Christ in all of His fullness and enabling power. This ancient 8th century hymn text from Ireland is still meaningful for us today with its expression of a yearning for the presence and leading of God in our lives. The earnest prayer is enhanced by such quaint but tender phrases as “Lord of my heart,” “Thy presence my light,” “bright heav’n’s Sun,” and “heart of my heart.” The text states that when we allow God to have first place in our lives, He becomes our treasure; we care no more for the pursuit of riches or “man’s empty praise.”
The entire Irish poem was first translated into English in 1905 by Mary Bryne, a research worker and writer for the Board of Intermediate Education in Dublin, Ireland. Several years later Eleanor Hull, a writer of English history and literature, put the prose into verse form and included it in her book of poems, The Poem Book of the Gael. The melody for this hymn is a traditional Irish tune.
Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart—Nought be all else to me save that Thou art: Thou my best thought, by day or by night—waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.
Be Thou my Wisdom, and Thou my true Word—I ever with Thee and Thou with me, Lord; Thou my great Father, I Thy true Son—Thou in me dwelling, and I with Thee one.
Riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise—Thou mine inheritance, now and always; Thou and Thou only, first in my heart—High King of heaven, my Treasure Thou art.
High King of heaven, my victory won, may I reach heaven’s joys, O bright heav’n’s Sun! Heart of my own heart, whatever befall, still be my Vision, O Ruler of all.
For Today: Matthew 13:44–52; Ephesians 2:13–22; Philippians 3:12.
Ask God to give you a vision of some task that you can do for Him that will require your complete reliance upon His enabling power to accomplish it well. Carry this hymn with you ---
Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions
A.W. Pink | (1886-1952)
The Burden and Catholicity of the Apostles’ Prayers
Consider also the burden of them. In the recorded apostolic prayers there is no supplicating God for the supply of temporal needs and (with a single exception) no asking Him to interpose on their behalf in a providential way (though petitions for these things are legitimate when kept in proper proportion to spiritual concerns. Instead, the things asked for are wholly of a spiritual and gracious nature: that the Father may give unto us the spirit of understanding and revelation in the knowledge of Himself, the eyes of our understanding being enlightened so that we may know what is the hope of His calling, the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and the exceeding greatness of His power to usward who believe (Eph. 1: 17-19); that He would grant us, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might by His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in our hearts by faith, that we might know the love of Christ which passeth knowledge, and be filled with all the fulness of God (Eph. 3:16-19); that our love may abound more and more, that we might be sincere and without offense, and be filled with the fruits of righteousness (Phil. 1:9-il); that we might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing (Col. 1:10); that we might be sanctified wholly (1 Thess. 5:23).
Note also the catholicity of them. Not that it is either wrong or unspiritual to pray for ourselves individually, any more than it is to supplicate for temporal and providential mercies; I mean, rather, to direct attention to where the apostles placed their emphasis. In one only do we find Paul praying for himself, and rarely for particular individuals (as is to be expected with prayers that are a part of the public record of Holy Scripture, though no doubt he prayed much for individuals in secret). His general custom was to pray for the whole household of faith. In this he adheres closely to the pattern prayer given us by Christ, which I like to think of as the Family Prayer. All its pronouns are in the plural number: “Our Father,” “give us” (not only “me”), “forgive us,” and so forth. Accordingly we find the Apostle Paul exhorting us to be making “supplication for all saints” (Eph. 6:18), and in his prayers he sets us an example of this very thing. He pleaded with the Father that the Ephesian church might “be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge” (Eph. 3:18). What a corrective for self-centeredness! If I am praying for “all saints,” I include myself.
A Striking Omission
Finally, let me point out a striking omission. If all the apostolic prayers be read attentively, it will be found that in none of them is any place given to that which occupies such prominence in the prayers of Arminians. Not once do we find God asked to save the world in general or to pour out His Spirit on all flesh without exception. The apostles did not so much as pray for the conversion of an entire city in which a particular Christian church was located. In this they conformed again to the example set for them by Christ: “I pray not for the world,” said He, “but for them which thou hast given me” (John 17:9). Should it be objected that the Lord Jesus was there praying only for His immediate apostles or disciples, the answer is that when He extended His prayer beyond them it was not for the world that He prayed, but only for His believing people until the end of time (see John 17:20, 21). It is true that Paul teaches “that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all [classes of] men; for kings, and for all that are in authority” (1 Tim. 2:1, 2a, brackets mine)—in which duty many are woefully remiss—yet it is not for their salvation, but “that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty” (v. 2b, ital. mine). There is much to be learned from the prayers of the apostles.
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