2 Chronicles 18 - 20
Jehoshaphat Allies with Ahab2 Chronicles 18:1 Now Jehoshaphat had great riches and honor, and he made a marriage alliance with Ahab. 2 After some years he went down to Ahab in Samaria. And Ahab killed an abundance of sheep and oxen for him and for the people who were with him, and induced him to go up against Ramoth-gilead. 3 Ahab king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat king of Judah, “Will you go with me to Ramoth-gilead?” He answered him, “I am as you are, my people as your people. We will be with you in the war.”
4 And Jehoshaphat said to the king of Israel, “Inquire first for the word of the LORD.” 5 Then the king of Israel gathered the prophets together, four hundred men, and said to them, “Shall we go to battle against Ramoth-gilead, or shall I refrain?” And they said, “Go up, for God will give it into the hand of the king.” 6 But Jehoshaphat said, “Is there not here another prophet of the LORD of whom we may inquire?” 7 And the king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, “There is yet one man by whom we may inquire of the LORD, Micaiah the son of Imlah; but I hate him, for he never prophesies good concerning me, but always evil.” And Jehoshaphat said, “Let not the king say so.” 8 Then the king of Israel summoned an officer and said, “Bring quickly Micaiah the son of Imlah.” 9 Now the king of Israel and Jehoshaphat the king of Judah were sitting on their thrones, arrayed in their robes. And they were sitting at the threshing floor at the entrance of the gate of Samaria, and all the prophets were prophesying before them. 10 And Zedekiah the son of Chenaanah made for himself horns of iron and said, “Thus says the LORD, ‘With these you shall push the Syrians until they are destroyed.’” 11 And all the prophets prophesied so and said, “Go up to Ramoth-gilead and triumph. The LORD will give it into the hand of the king.”
12 And the messenger who went to summon Micaiah said to him, “Behold, the words of the prophets with one accord are favorable to the king. Let your word be like the word of one of them, and speak favorably.” 13 But Micaiah said, “As the LORD lives, what my God says, that I will speak.” 14 And when he had come to the king, the king said to him, “Micaiah, shall we go to Ramoth-gilead to battle, or shall I refrain?” And he answered, “Go up and triumph; they will be given into your hand.” 15 But the king said to him, “How many times shall I make you swear that you speak to me nothing but the truth in the name of the LORD?” 16 And he said, “I saw all Israel scattered on the mountains, as sheep that have no shepherd. And the LORD said, ‘These have no master; let each return to his home in peace.’” 17 And the king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, “Did I not tell you that he would not prophesy good concerning me, but evil?” 18 And Micaiah said, “Therefore hear the word of the LORD: I saw the LORD sitting on his throne, and all the host of heaven standing on his right hand and on his left. 19 And the LORD said, ‘Who will entice Ahab the king of Israel, that he may go up and fall at Ramoth-gilead?’ And one said one thing, and another said another. 20 Then a spirit came forward and stood before the LORD, saying, ‘I will entice him.’ And the LORD said to him, ‘By what means?’ 21 And he said, ‘I will go out, and will be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets.’ And he said, ‘You are to entice him, and you shall succeed; go out and do so.’ 22 Now therefore behold, the LORD has put a lying spirit in the mouth of these your prophets. The LORD has declared disaster concerning you.”
23 Then Zedekiah the son of Chenaanah came near and struck Micaiah on the cheek and said, “Which way did the Spirit of the LORD go from me to speak to you?” 24 And Micaiah said, “Behold, you shall see on that day when you go into an inner chamber to hide yourself.” 25 And the king of Israel said, “Seize Micaiah and take him back to Amon the governor of the city and to Joash the king’s son, 26 and say, ‘Thus says the king, Put this fellow in prison and feed him with meager rations of bread and water until I return in peace.’” 27 And Micaiah said, “If you return in peace, the LORD has not spoken by me.” And he said, “Hear, all you peoples!”
The Defeat and Death of Ahab28 So the king of Israel and Jehoshaphat the king of Judah went up to Ramoth-gilead. 29 And the king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, “I will disguise myself and go into battle, but you wear your robes.” And the king of Israel disguised himself, and they went into battle. 30 Now the king of Syria had commanded the captains of his chariots, “Fight with neither small nor great, but only with the king of Israel.” 31 As soon as the captains of the chariots saw Jehoshaphat, they said, “It is the king of Israel.” So they turned to fight against him. And Jehoshaphat cried out, and the LORD helped him; God drew them away from him. 32 For as soon as the captains of the chariots saw that it was not the king of Israel, they turned back from pursuing him. 33 But a certain man drew his bow at random and struck the king of Israel between the scale armor and the breastplate. Therefore he said to the driver of his chariot, “Turn around and carry me out of the battle, for I am wounded.” 34 And the battle continued that day, and the king of Israel was propped up in his chariot facing the Syrians until evening. Then at sunset he died.
2 Chronicles 19
Jehoshaphat’s Reforms2 Chronicles 19:1 Jehoshaphat the king of Judah returned in safety to his house in Jerusalem. 2 But Jehu the son of Hanani the seer went out to meet him and said to King Jehoshaphat, “Should you help the wicked and love those who hate the LORD? Because of this, wrath has gone out against you from the LORD. 3 Nevertheless, some good is found in you, for you destroyed the Asheroth out of the land, and have set your heart to seek God.”
4 Jehoshaphat lived at Jerusalem. And he went out again among the people, from Beersheba to the hill country of Ephraim, and brought them back to the LORD, the God of their fathers. 5 He appointed judges in the land in all the fortified cities of Judah, city by city, 6 and said to the judges, “Consider what you do, for you judge not for man but for the LORD. He is with you in giving judgment. 7 Now then, let the fear of the LORD be upon you. Be careful what you do, for there is no injustice with the LORD our God, or partiality or taking bribes.”
8 Moreover, in Jerusalem Jehoshaphat appointed certain Levites and priests and heads of families of Israel, to give judgment for the LORD and to decide disputed cases. They had their seat at Jerusalem. 9 And he charged them: “Thus you shall do in the fear of the LORD, in faithfulness, and with your whole heart: 10 whenever a case comes to you from your brothers who live in their cities, concerning bloodshed, law or commandment, statutes or rules, then you shall warn them, that they may not incur guilt before the LORD and wrath may not come upon you and your brothers. Thus you shall do, and you will not incur guilt. 11 And behold, Amariah the chief priest is over you in all matters of the LORD; and Zebadiah the son of Ishmael, the governor of the house of Judah, in all the king’s matters, and the Levites will serve you as officers. Deal courageously, and may the LORD be with the upright!”
2 Chronicles 20
Jehoshaphat’s Prayer2 Chronicles 20:1 After this the Moabites and Ammonites, and with them some of the Meunites, came against Jehoshaphat for battle. 2 Some men came and told Jehoshaphat, “A great multitude is coming against you from Edom, from beyond the sea; and, behold, they are in Hazazon-tamar” (that is, Engedi). 3 Then Jehoshaphat was afraid and set his face to seek the LORD, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah. 4 And Judah assembled to seek help from the LORD; from all the cities of Judah they came to seek the LORD.
5 And Jehoshaphat stood in the assembly of Judah and Jerusalem, in the house of the LORD, before the new court, 6 and said, “O LORD, God of our fathers, are you not God in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. In your hand are power and might, so that none is able to withstand you. 7 Did you not, our God, drive out the inhabitants of this land before your people Israel, and give it forever to the descendants of Abraham your friend? 8 And they have lived in it and have built for you in it a sanctuary for your name, saying, 9 ‘If disaster comes upon us, the sword, judgment, or pestilence, or famine, we will stand before this house and before you—for your name is in this house—and cry out to you in our affliction, and you will hear and save.’ 10 And now behold, the men of Ammon and Moab and Mount Seir, whom you would not let Israel invade when they came from the land of Egypt, and whom they avoided and did not destroy— 11 behold, they reward us by coming to drive us out of your possession, which you have given us to inherit. 12 O our God, will you not execute judgment on them? For we are powerless against this great horde that is coming against us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.”
13 Meanwhile all Judah stood before the LORD, with their little ones, their wives, and their children. 14 And the Spirit of the LORD came upon Jahaziel the son of Zechariah, son of Benaiah, son of Jeiel, son of Mattaniah, a Levite of the sons of Asaph, in the midst of the assembly. 15 And he said, “Listen, all Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem and King Jehoshaphat: Thus says the LORD to you, ‘Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed at this great horde, for the battle is not yours but God’s. 16 Tomorrow go down against them. Behold, they will come up by the ascent of Ziz. You will find them at the end of the valley, east of the wilderness of Jeruel. 17 You will not need to fight in this battle. Stand firm, hold your position, and see the salvation of the LORD on your behalf, O Judah and Jerusalem.’ Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed. Tomorrow go out against them, and the LORD will be with you.”
18 Then Jehoshaphat bowed his head with his face to the ground, and all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem fell down before the LORD, worshiping the LORD. 19 And the Levites, of the Kohathites and the Korahites, stood up to praise the LORD, the God of Israel, with a very loud voice.
20 And they rose early in the morning and went out into the wilderness of Tekoa. And when they went out, Jehoshaphat stood and said, “Hear me, Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem! Believe in the LORD your God, and you will be established; believe his prophets, and you will succeed.” 21 And when he had taken counsel with the people, he appointed those who were to sing to the LORD and praise him in holy attire, as they went before the army, and say,
“Give thanks to the LORD,
for his steadfast love endures forever.”
The LORD Delivers Judah24 When Judah came to the watchtower of the wilderness, they looked toward the horde, and behold, there were dead bodies lying on the ground; none had escaped. 25 When Jehoshaphat and his people came to take their spoil, they found among them, in great numbers, goods, clothing, and precious things, which they took for themselves until they could carry no more. They were three days in taking the spoil, it was so much. 26 On the fourth day they assembled in the Valley of Beracah, for there they blessed the LORD. Therefore the name of that place has been called the Valley of Beracah to this day. 27 Then they returned, every man of Judah and Jerusalem, and Jehoshaphat at their head, returning to Jerusalem with joy, for the LORD had made them rejoice over their enemies. 28 They came to Jerusalem with harps and lyres and trumpets, to the house of the LORD. 29 And the fear of God came on all the kingdoms of the countries when they heard that the LORD had fought against the enemies of Israel. 30 So the realm of Jehoshaphat was quiet, for his God gave him rest all around.
31 Thus Jehoshaphat reigned over Judah. He was thirty-five years old when he began to reign, and he reigned twenty-five years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Azubah the daughter of Shilhi. 32 He walked in the way of Asa his father and did not turn aside from it, doing what was right in the sight of the LORD. 33 The high places, however, were not taken away; the people had not yet set their hearts upon the God of their fathers.
34 Now the rest of the acts of Jehoshaphat, from first to last, are written in the chronicles of Jehu the son of Hanani, which are recorded in the Book of the Kings of Israel.
The End of Jehoshaphat’s Reign35 After this Jehoshaphat king of Judah joined with Ahaziah king of Israel, who acted wickedly. 36 He joined him in building ships to go to Tarshish, and they built the ships in Ezion-geber. 37 Then Eliezer the son of Dodavahu of Mareshah prophesied against Jehoshaphat, saying, “Because you have joined with Ahaziah, the LORD will destroy what you have made.” And the ships were wrecked and were not able to go to Tarshish.
ESV Study Bible
What I'm Reading
By Gene Edward Veith 10/1/2007
The church growth movement mandates “contemporary worship” styles, which means, in practice, replacing hymns with “praise songs.” These consist of simple lyrical phrases, often repeated, set to a simple tune in the style of pop music. The problem with such songs is not that they are “contemporary.” In fact, the songs are often not all that contemporary. Many of them date from the 1970s. That is over three and one-half decades ago. Some go back nearly a half-century.
These songs belong mainly to their parents’ generation. The specific set of praise songs a particular church-growth pastor chooses is often based on the musical style of his adolescence. But young people often do like praise songs. Not usually because they listen to this style of music at home, but because it is “church music.” This is likely the only kind of church music they have known, the kind they grew up with. For these young people, this kind of music has become “traditional.”
Baby boomers seem to be the first generation to demand that the music they listen to in worship be in the same style as the music they listen to for entertainment. In the 1940s, it never occurred to anyone to insist that worship services incorporate the big band style of Glen Miller and his orchestra. The hymn styles of earlier eras bear the marks of the century in which they were written, but they are nothing like the eighteenth-century opera scores or nineteenth-century musical theater.
Again, the issue is not “contemporary music.” New hymns are being written and published every day. Music by hymn writers such as Steven Starke or James Boyce is more contemporary than the praise songs coming out of the Jesus Movement of the 1960s. But these contemporary hymn writers are writing hymns.
Hymns are written to be sung corporately, with many people with many different kinds of voices joining together. The praise songs that come out of the contemporary Christian music genre were originally written for solo performance. An Amy Grant needs a tune she can color up with vibrato, runs, key changes, and big swelling emotional crescendos. But a congregation of lots of people trying to sing together just cannot sing like that.
Hymns are written with a regular rhythm, making it easier for groups of people to sing together. They are typically written to accommodate high voices, low voices, and the voices in between. Thus, basses, tenors, baritones, altos, and sopranos can sing the same song, creating not discord but a wonderful and meaningful effect, namely, harmony. Praise songs, in contrast, usually have a single melodic line with lots of performance-based variations and are thus very difficult to sing well in a large group.
Hymns are also written out, so that anyone who can read music — and this is still taught in school — can sing along even if it is unfamiliar. Praise songs, for some reason, tend to have their lyrics projected onto a screen. If you do not already know the tune, you are out of luck.
The praise songs often project a level of intimacy with God that “unchurched” people — also known as non-Christians — will have a hard time relating to and that even Christians can find bewildering. They are mostly in the form of secular love-songs to Jesus. They are often from the feminine point of view, singing “Jesus, I am so in love with you” in a way that makes men squirm. Sometimes, “Jesus” is never mentioned, with the song being addressed to a “you” who could just as easily be a human lover.
These “Jesus-is-my-boyfriend” types of songs can be sacrilegious or profane. While it is true that Scripture portrays the church as the bride of Christ, that imagery is collective, apocalyptic, and creational. It is not romantic, erotic, or sentimental, as such.
Another test for praise songs is whether or not there is anything distinctly Christian about them. Such songs tend to be full of emotion and directed to a deity, but with little objective doctrinal or biblical content. A friend suggested a good rule of thumb: If a Muslim would have no problem singing this song, it is probably not good to use it in Christian worship.
The question is not whether or not we should make use of contemporary music in church, but whether we should make use of pop music. By its nature, pop music is catchy, entertaining, and thus “likeable.” It cannot have much content, much less complexity or depth. If it did, it would cease to be pop art. The art of the folk culture, with its traditions and communal experience, has such things, as does the consciously-crafted art of the high culture, with its challenging content.
The more important issue is whether we should create the impression in our worship that the Christian faith is a “pop religion” — void of depth, complexity, and demands — or whether it is traditional, communal, and challenging.
I am not saying that praise songs are necessarily all bad, nor am I criticizing the spirituality of those who like them. They can have their place in personal devotion or in singing with a youth group around the camp fire. But I am arguing that they do not work well in church, when they are used for corporate worship. This is because of their innate but objective limitations and is not just a matter of “personal preference.”
Dr. Gene Edward Veith is provost emeritus and professor of literature emeritus at Patrick Henry College and director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary in Fort Wayne, Ind.
Gene Edward Veith Books | Go to Books Page
God’s Care For You 1 Peter 2:23
By Alistair Begg from The Hand of God: Finding His Care in All Circumstances
I don’t know your circumstances. You may feel like you are in a dungeon right now. You may be suffering mistreatment. But the Lord knows. He’s not taken by surprise. And He loves you with an everlasting love.
In the mid-1960s there was a horribly violent uprising in the newly independent African nation that had been the colony called the Belgian Congo. Many people, including dozens of missionaries, were brutalized and murdered. Right in the eye of that storm was a group of medical missionaries, including Dr. Helen Roseveare.
She had graduated from Cambridge University and had offered her medical skills to the Lord in His service, saying she wanted to serve Christ no matter where, and no matter what the cost.
Dr. Roseveare went to serve Christ in the Congo, only to find herself in the midst of unbelievable chaos. Before her eyes, some of her colleagues were shot through the temple and dropped into an open grave. She and other young women were brutalized at the hands of the rebel troops. The story is told in Dr. Roseveare’s tremendous book, Give Me This Mountain.
I was privileged to have met Dr. Roseveare and to have heard her speak. In a letter I received from her, she said, “The phrase God gave me years ago, during the 1964 rebellion in Congo, in the night of my own greatest need, was this: ‘Can you thank Me for trusting you with this experience, even if I never tell you why?’ ” Dr. Roseveare was able to say yes to that question.
What a tremendous challenge! You see, we have no right to demand of God an explanation. He has every right to ask of us genuine consecration.
And as it was with Joseph and Helen Roseveare and so many others, so it was with Jesus Himself. “When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly” (1 Peter 2:23).
May we follow the example of Joseph—and of Jesus—and place ourselves in the caring, loving hand of God.
Dr. Alistair Begg | (Trent University; London School of Theology; Westminster Seminary) was born in Scotland and spent the first 30 years of life in the United Kingdom. Since September of 1983, he has been the senior pastor at Parkside Church in suburban Cleveland, Ohio. He is the daily speaker on the national radio program Truth For Life which stems from his weekly Bible teaching at Parkside. He and his wife, Susan, have three grown children.
Dr. Alvin Plantinga's Ontological Argument
By Cadre Comments 2/21/2017
Visualize in your mind a geometric shape: a square. What image comes to mind? If you are actually visualizing a square you will see a two-dimensional shape with four right angles (90 degree angles) and four sides of equal length. If you don't have four right angles but have sides of equal length, you don't have a square - you have a parallelogram. If you don't have sides that are equal in length but have four right angles, again you don't have a square - you have a rectangle. In fact, unless you have a two dimensional shape with the aforementioned properties, you simply don't have a square - you have something else - because the definition of a square requires four sides of equal length and four right angles.
Now, consider the number three - not the written Roman numeral, but the actual idea of three things - and it doesn't matter the nature of the three things being counted (be they physical, non-physical, ideas, etc.). To go from two things to four things, three of the things has to be crossed to get to four. It is difficult to imagine three not existing. Nothing less than three can fill the role of three.
There is a video that goes with this article. See last video on the right.
That They May Be One
By Carl Robbins 10/1/2007
No Christian would say he is for division in the church. Divisiveness stands condemned (1 Cor. 1:10). Even the newest believer knows that we are given warnings not to tolerate those who would cause division (Rom. 16:17–18; Titus 3:9–11). And any church that has division will certainly not be a healthy, growing church.
Conversely, we know that the New Testament reveals a strong emphasis on unity and community in the church. As believers we have a declared unity:
Yet regeneration and conversion change our bent toward alienation (Eph. 2:11–20). Instead of viewing ourselves as loners and strangers and individualists hiding from others, we must now view ourselves as part of a “holy nation” (1 Peter 2:9).
In our creed (The Westminster Confession of Faith: For Study Classes, 26:1) we are instructed: “All saints…being united to one another in love….have communion in each other’s gifts and graces, and are obliged to the performance of such duties, public and private, as do conduce to their mutual good, both in the inward and outward man.” Our confession is not overstating the case when it uses the language of “obligation.” For this is exactly what the New Testament frequently does in its “one-anothering” imperatives. Listen to a smattering of these obligatory mandates: we are commanded to love one another (John 13:34–35; 15:12); we are commanded to welcome one another (Rom. 15:7); we are ordered to encourage one another (1 Thess. 5:11); we are mandated to show hospitality to one another (1 Peter 4:9); we are told to be kind to one another (Eph. 4:32); we are commanded to outdo one another in showing honor (Rom. 12:10); we are ordered to pray for one another (James 5:16); we are told to bear one another’s burdens (Gal. 6:2); we are mandated not to grumble against one another (James 5:9); we are commanded to serve one another (Gal. 5:13) and to bear with one another (Col. 3:13).
Unity and community will not “just happen” in your congregation. The body will only grow in unity as we obey these “one-anothering” commands. This is akin to a marriage-loving unity, which doesn’t just appear overnight! It happens as a man and a woman care for one another through hard times, as they serve one another, as they speak gracious words to one another, as they overlook a thousand small slights, as they forgive each other, and as they use all the other “means of unity.” Just so, your church will only grow healthy and strong as they practice
How can you and your family help the growth of your local congregation in unity? Here’s a plan for this month:
Week One: plan to show hospitality to another family in the church, call them now and invite them over for Sunday lunch.
Week Two: plan to encourage three people in your church that you know are discouraged.
Week Three: strategize on where you can serve. Yes, it will cost you time and energy, but you will be building the unity of the body.
Week Four: spend time each day praying for different members of your church — the church’s children, the deacons, the senior citizens, the elders, the teachers and Bible study leaders, and finally pray for your pastor and his sermon preparation.
Rev. Carl Robbins is senior minister of Woodruff Road Presbyterian Church in Simpsonville, South Carolina.
Read The Psalms In "1" Year
Psalm 50God Himself Is Judge
50 A Psalm Of Asaph.
1 The Mighty One, God the LORD,
speaks and summons the earth
from the rising of the sun to its setting.
2 Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty,
God shines forth.
3 Our God comes; he does not keep silence;
before him is a devouring fire,
around him a mighty tempest.
4 He calls to the heavens above
and to the earth, that he may judge his people:
5 “Gather to me my faithful ones,
who made a covenant with me by sacrifice!”
6 The heavens declare his righteousness,
for God himself is judge! Selah
Are the Five Solas Biblical?
By Stephen J. Wellum
On October 31, 1517, Martin Luther’s 95 Theses were posted at the University of Wittenberg to begin a theological discussion about the practice of indulgences, but unbeknown to Luther, this act was the spark that lit the flame of the Reformation. Over the next century, the Reformation resulted in profound changes both within the church and in the larger society. The Reformation was not a perfect time in history and some have wrongly blamed it for a number of our present problems such as individualism.
Yet the Reformation was a true recovery of the gospel, which is reason enough to celebrate it and to learn from it.
For example, the Reformers rightly emphasized the supremacy of the triune God, the authority and sufficiency of Scripture, a proper view of human dignity and depravity, the necessity of God’s grace to save, and the glorious, exclusive and all-sufficient work of our Lord Jesus Christ. In proclaiming these gospel truths, the Reformation returned to a thoroughly biblical view of the world, purged of some of its medieval distortions, and recaptured what is vital and essential to the Bible’s entire storyline.
The Reformation solas best illustrate this recovery of the Bible’s central truths. Reformation theology is often summarized by the five solas. Scripture alone (sola Scriptura) is the formal principle of the Reformation and the foundation of all theology. God’s glory alone (soli Deo gloria) functions as a capstone for all Reformation theology, connecting its various parts to God’s one purpose for creating this world and humanity in it. In between these two solas, the other three emphasize that God has chosen and acted to save us by his grace alone (sola gratia), through faith alone (sola fide), and grounded in and through Christ alone (solus Christus).
What is noteworthy about the solas is their mutual dependence; each one only makes sense in relation to the others. Why? Ultimately, because all of the solas are grounded in the triune creator-covenant God of Scripture, who alone is the center of the universe, the Lord of creation, history, and redemption, who needs nothing from us but we need everything from him, and who rightly deserves and demands all glory, honor, and praise.
In other words, central to the solas is a proper view of God and correspondingly, a proper view of humans in relation to him. In this way, the solas capture what is key to the entire Bible, namely the creator-creature distinction, with God, as our creator, Lord, and redeemer, receiving all the glory due his name, and us, as his redeemed image-bearers living our lives in worship, obedience, and service as debtors to God’s grace.
Stephen J. Wellum is professor of Christian theology at Southern Seminary and editor of the Southern Baptist Journal of Theology.
Why Professors Object to Being Recorded
By Dennis Prager 2/20/2017
After the election of Donald Trump as president, a professor at Orange Coast College in California, Olga Perez Stable Cox, went into an extended hate rant against the president-elect. Among other things, she described Trump’s election as an “act of terrorism,” labeled him a white supremacist and called Vice President-elect Mike Pence “one of the most anti-gay humans in this country.”
And this wasn’t even a political science class in which one might expect political talk, no matter how irresponsible. Cox is a professor of human sexuality.
When a student who recorded the diatribe posted the recording on social media, the professor’s union, the Coast Federation of Educators, AFT local chapter 1911, said on Facebook: “This is an illegal recording without the permission of the instructor. The student will be identified and may be facing legal action.”
When a student who recorded the diatribe posted the recording on social media, the professor’s union, the Coast Federation of Educators, AFT local chapter 1911, said on Facebook: “This is an illegal recording without the permission of the instructor. The student will be identified and may be facing legal action.”
As for me, I'm not the brightest. In seminary my mind would often stop to ponder what the prof or another student said in a discussion. The class would continue while I sat there thinking. So I missed a lot. Then I started using my laptop to record my classes for later review. My only regret is I didn't start earlier and I didn't save the recordings after I graduated. I wish more universities would follow Biola and DTS example of posting classes on line. I cannot imagine a better job than being the video editor who gets paid to record and listen.Click here for entire article
Stream contributor Dennis Prager, one of America’s most respected radio talk show hosts, has been broadcasting in Los Angeles since 1982. His popular show became nationally syndicated in 1999 and airs live, Monday through Friday, 9am to 12pm (Pacific Time), 12pm to 3pm (Eastern) from his home station, KRLA.
In 1994-95, Dennis Prager also had his own daily national television show. He has frequently appeared on C-SPAN as well as on shows such as Larry King Live, The Early Show on CBS, The Today Show, The O’Reilly Factor, Hardball, Hannity & Colmes and The Dennis Miller Show.
Dennis Prager has written four books, the best-selling Happiness Is a Serious Problem: A Human Nature Repair Manual, Think a Second Time, described by Bill Bennett as “one of those rare books that can change an intelligent mind;” Why the Jews?: The Reason for Antisemitism, and Nine Questions People Ask About Judaism, still the most used introduction to Judaism in the world. The latter two books were co-authored with Joseph Telushkin.
New York’s Jewish Week described Dennis Prager as “one of the three most interesting minds in American Jewish Life.” Since 1992, he has been teaching the Bible verse-by-verse at the University of Judaism.
Dennis Prager has engaged in interfaith dialogue with Catholics at the Vatican, Muslims in the Persian Gulf, Hindus in India, and Protestants at Christian seminaries throughout America. For ten years, he conducted a weekly interfaith dialogue on radio, with representatives of virtually every religion in the world.
From 1985 to 1995, Dennis Prager wrote and published the quarterly journal, Ultimate Issue. From 1995 to 2000, he wrote The Prager Perspective. His writings have also appeared in major national and international publications such as Commentary, The Weekly Standard, The Wall Street Journal and The Los Angeles Times.
Dennis Prager has made and starred in For Goodness Sake (1991), a video directed by David Zucker (Airplane), shown on public television and purchased by hundreds of major companies, and For Goodness Sake II (1999) directed by Trey Parker (South Park). In 2002, Dennis Prager produced a documentary, Israel in a Time of Terror (2002), a compelling look at how the average Israeli deals with the daily threat of terror. It has been shown at colleges, universities, churches and synagogues across the country.
Dennis Prager periodically conducts orchestras, and has introduced hundreds of thousands of people to classical music.
By Gleason Archer Jr.
Literary and Linguistic Arguments for the Late Date of Daniel
1. Foreign loanwords were found in the Aramaic of Daniel. It has been alleged that the numerous foreign words in the Aramaic portion of Daniel (and to a lesser extent also in the Hebrew portion) conclusively demonstrate an origin much later than the sixth century B.C. There are no less than fifteen words of probable Persian origin (although not all these have actually been discovered in any known Persian documents), and their presence proves quite conclusively that even the chapters dating back to Nebuchadnezzar and Belshazzar could not have been composed in the Chaldean period. This contention may be freely admitted, but conservative scholars do not maintain that the book of Daniel was composed, in its final form at least, until the establishment of the Persian authority over Babylonia. Since the text indicates that Daniel himself lived to serve, for several years at least, under Persian rule, there is no particular reason why he should not have employed in his language those Persian terms (largely referring to government and administration) which had found currency in the Aramaic spoken in Babylon by 530 B.C. While it is true that the Elephantine Papyri contain fewer Persian loan - words than Daniel (H. H. Rowley in 1929 contended that there were only two — actually there are several more), in the “Aramaic Documents of the 5th Century B.C.” published by G. R. Driver (Oxford, 1957) and composed for the most part in Susa or Babylon (op. cit. pp. 10–12), there are no less than twenty-six Persian loanwords.
But it is alleged that the presence of at least three Greek words in Daniel 3 indicates that the work must have been composed after the conquest of the Near East by Alexander the Great. These three words (in 3:5 ) are qayterôs (kitharis, Greek), psantērɩ̂n (psaltērion, in Greek), and sūmpōnyah (symphonia, Greek). The last of these three does not occur in extant Greek literature until the time of Plato (ca. 370 B.C.), at least in the sense of a musical instruments. From this it has been argued that the word itself must be as late as the fourth century in Greek usage. But since we now possess less than one-tenth of the significant Greek literature of the classical period, we lack suflicient data for timing the precise origin of any particular word or usage in the development of the Greek vocabulary.
It should carefully be observed that these three words are names of musical instruments and that such names have always circulated beyond national boundaries as the instruments themselves have become available to the foreign market. These three were undoubtedly of Greek origin and circulated with their Greek names in Near Eastern markets, just as foreign musical terms have made their way into our own language, like the Italian piano and viola. We know that as early as the reign of Sargon (722–705 B.C.) there were, according to the Assyrian records, Greek captives who were sold into slavery from Cyprus, Ionia, Lydia, and Cilicia. The Greek poet Alcaeus of Lesbos (fl. 600 B.C.) mentions that his brother Antimenidas served in the Babylonian army. It is therefore evident that Greek mercenaries, Greek slaves, and Greek musical instruments were current in the Semitic Near East long before the time of Daniel. It is also significant that in the Neo-Babylonian ration tablets published by E. F. Weidner, Ionian carpenters and shipbuilders are mentioned among the recipients of rations from Nebuchadnezzar’s commissary — along with musicians from Ashkelon and elsewhere (cf. “Jojachin Konig von Juda” in Melanges Syriens, vol. 2, 1939, pp. 923–35).
Two or three other words have been mistakenly assigned by some authors to a Greek origin, but these have now been thoroughly discredited. One of them was kārôz (“herald”) which was supposedly derived from the Greek kēryx (Brown-Driver-Briggs Lexicon). But in more recent works, like Koehler-Baumgartner’s Hebrew Lexicon, this derivation is explicitly rejected in favor of the old Persian khrausa, meaning “caller.” Kitchen suggests that the word ultimately came from the Hurrian Kirenze or kirezzi, “proclamation.” C. C. Torrey and A. Cowley regarded pathgām as derived from Greek, but Kutscher, in Kedem (2:74) published a leather roll of Arsames from about 410 B.C. in which this term occurs more than once. Needless to say, this renders a Greek derivation impossible. In all probability it was derived from the Old Persian pratigama, which meant originally something which has arrived, hence a “communication” or “order.” Actually, the argument based upon the presence of Greek words turns out to be one of the most compelling evidences of all that Daniel could not have been composed as late as the Greek period. By 170 B.C. a Greek - speaking government had been in control of Palestine for 160 years, and Greek political or administrative terms would surely have found their way into the language of the subject populace. The books of Maccabees testify to the very extensive intrusion of Greek culture and Greek customs into the life of the Jews by the first half of the second century, particularly in the big cities.
Furthermore it should be observed that even in the Septuagint translation of Daniel, which dates presumably from 100 B.C., or sixty-five years after Judas Maccabeus, the rendition of several of the Aramaic technical terms for state officials was mere conjecture. For example, in Dan. 3:2 ˓aḏargāzerayyā, (“counselors”) is rendered hypatous (“grandees”); gedobrayyā’ (“treasurers”) by dioikētēs (“administrators, governors”); and tiptayyē, or detāberayyā, (“magistrates,” or “judges”) by the one general phrase tous ʾepʾexousiōn (“those in authority”). (Theodotion uses still other translations, such as hēgoumenous and tyrannous, for the first two officials just mentioned.) It is impossible to explain how within five or six decades after Daniel was first composed (according to the Maccabean date hypothesis) the meaning of these terms could have been so completely forgotten even by the Jews in Egypt, who remained quite conversant in Aramaic as well as in Greek. (Cf. D. J. Wiseman, Some Problems in the Book of Daniel, p. 43.)
This is especially significant in view of the fact that the Aramaic of Daniel was a linguistic medium which readily absorbed foreign terminology. It includes approximately fifteen words of Persian origin, almost all of which relate to government and politics. It is hard to conceive, therefore, how after Greek had been the language of government for over 160 years, no single Greek term pertaining to politics or administration had ever intruded into Palestinian Aramaic. The same generalization holds good for the Hebrew portions of Daniel as well. It contains such Persian terms as palace (appeden in 11:45, from apadāna), noblemen (partemɩ̂n 1:3, from fratama) and king’s portion (paṯbāg in 1:5, from patibaga). Yet the Hebrew chapters contain not a single word of Greek origin (even though, according to some critics, Daniel’s Hebrew is later than his Aramaic sections).
It was formerly asserted that the Aramaic of Daniel is of the Western dialect and hence could not have been composed in Babylon, as would have been the case if the sixth-century Daniel was its real author. Recent discoveries of fifth-century Aramaic documents, however, have shown quite conclusively that Daniel was, like Ezra, written in a form of Imperial Aramaic (Reichsaramaisch), an official or literary dialect which had currency in all parts of the Near East. Thus the relationship to the Aramaic of the Elephantine Papyri from southern Egypt is a very close one, inasmuch as they too were written in the Imperial Aramaic.12 E. Y. Kutscher, in a review of G. D. Driver’s Aramaic Documents of the Fifth Century B.C. (1954), comments upon linguistic peculiarities of these letters which were sent from Babylon and Susa in the Eastern Aramaic area. He states: “With regard to Biblical Aramaic, which in word order and other traits is of the Eastern type (i.e., freer and more flexible in word order) and has scarcely any Western characteristics at all, it is plausible to conclude that it originated in the East. A final verdict on this matter, however, must await the publication of all the Aramaic texts from Qumran.” (Noteworthy is the uniform tendency to put the verb late in the clause.)
2. Grammatical evidences for early date of Daniel’s Aramaic. One noteworthy characteristic in the Aramaic of Daniel which marks it as of early origin is to be found in the fairly frequent interval - vowel - change passives. That is to say, instead of adhering exclusively to the standard method of expressing the passive (by the prefix hit- or ʾet-), the biblical Aramaic used a hophal formation (e.g., ḥonḥat from neḥat, hussaq from seliq, hūbad from abad and hu˓al from ʾâlal). Note than an occasional hophal appears also in a 420 B.C. Elephantine papyrus (CAP #20, line 7) “they were entrusted.” No such examples of hophal forms have as yet been discovered in any of the Aramaic documents published from the Dead Sea caves (some of which, like the Genesis Apocryphon, date from scarcely a century later than the Maccabean wars). Such forms cannot be dismissed as mere Hebraisms employed by the Jewish author of Daniel, since even the Jewish scribes of the Targums never used such forms; but only the ʾet- type of passive. If Hebrew influence could have produced internal - vowel passives it might reasonably be expected to have shown itself even in the Targums.
Largely because of the close relationship of biblical Aramaic to the Elephantine Papyri (which date from the fifth and fourth centuries B.C.), many scholars have been forced to date chapters 2 – 7 of the book of Daniel as no later than the third century B.C. Even H. H. Rowley concedes that the evidence is conclusive that biblical Aramaic stands somewhere between the Elephantine Papyri and the Aramaic of the Nabatean and Palmyrene Inscriptions. Sachau states quite plainly that the language of the Papyri is in all essential respects identical with biblical Aramaic.
The Continual Burnt Offering (Micah 4:1-2)
By H.A. Ironside - 1941
Micah 4:1 It shall come to pass in the latter days
that the mountain of the house of the LORD
shall be established as the highest of the mountains,
and it shall be lifted up above the hills;
and peoples shall flow to it,
2 and many nations shall come, and say:
“Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD,
to the house of the God of Jacob,
that he may teach us his ways
and that we may walk in his paths.”
For out of Zion shall go forth the law,
and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. ESV
To Micah, as to all the seers of the Old Testament, the era of universal peace was still in the future and was linked up with the coming and reign of the Branch of the Lord (Isaiah 4:2), who was destined to be born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2), but would be rejected when He came the first time and presented Himself as the appointed Ruler of Israel. Because of this, the earthly people were to pass through a long period of affliction, which will come to an end only when the promised Redeemer shall appear the second time to bring in the long-predicted kingdom of peace founded upon righteousness.
Until our Lord’s return there can never be settled peace among the nations in spite of all man’s best and well meant efforts, for He has declared that until the end of this age there will be wars and rumors of wars, nation rising against nation, and kingdom against kingdom (Matthew 24:6-7). In Ezekiel 21:27 God says, “Overthrown, overthrown, I will make it overthrown! It shall be no longer, until He comes whose right it is, And I will give it to Him.” This refers, as the context shows, to the first dominion which God has promised to Israel as His representative people on the earth. The Jew is, therefore, the key to the prophetic plan. 79 years later Pastor Brett Meador is still trying to get people to understand that. We are to pray for the peace of Jerusalem.
Isaiah 4:2 In that day the branch of the LORD shall be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the land shall be the pride and honor of the survivors of Israel.
Micah 5:2 But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah,
who are too little to be among the clans of Judah,
from you shall come forth for me
one who is to be ruler in Israel,
whose coming forth is from of old,
from ancient days.
Matthew 24:6 And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet. 7 For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places.
Ezekiel 21:27 A ruin, ruin, ruin I will make it. This also shall not be, until he comes, the one to whom judgment belongs, and I will give it to him.
Psalm 122:6 Pray for the peace of Jerusalem!
“May they be secure who love you! ESV
Our God shall come, the silence shall be broken,
Which long has reigned o’er this sin-stricken world;
The saints of every name and tongue shall gather
Beneath His banner which shall be unfurled.
Our God shall come, to scatter all oppressors,
For He the righteous Judge shall fill the throne;
No longer shall the tyrant have dominion,
No longer shall the helpless captive groan.
--- H. Bunn
The Continual Burnt Offering: Daily Meditations on the Word of God
Devotionals, notes, poetry and more
2/1/2009 The Unchanging Gospel
I am a Christian, and I am a Protestant. I am a Christian because I trust Jesus Christ alone, believing that salvation is accomplished by grace alone through faith alone because of Christ alone. I am a devout Protestant because I continue to protest against anyone who even suggests that salvation is accomplished in any other way.
When I entered Rome for the first time not too long ago, I was naturally looking forward to visiting St. Peter’s Basilica within the towering walls of Vatican City. As I stood under the world’s tallest dome, I was simply in awe of its magnificent grandeur. However, as I considered how the entire structure was funded, I was instantly overwhelmed with emotion. Deep sorrow and righteous vexation filled my heart as I began to recall the system of indulgences contrived by particular popes and cardinals of sixteenth-century Rome, who endeavored to build the basilica on the backs of common people throughout the Holy Roman Empire. For the most part, the construction of the basilica was funded by the preaching of a twisted gospel that promised eternal life in Christ with a few qualifications, such as the one John Tetzel allegedly coined: “When a coin in the coffer rings, a soul from purgatory springs.”
As I write, dozens of men in hard hats are breaking their backs in order to build a new sanctuary and fellowship hall for Saint Andrew’s Chapel where Dr. Sproul and I serve. When complete, the sanctuary will reflect the style of the great cathedrals throughout Europe. However, as we seek to build this new sanctuary, even amid difficult economic times, we do not twist the gospel of Christ in order to fund this immense undertaking. In fact, it is precisely on account of the historic, unchangeable gospel that we are building a sanctuary wherein, Lord willing, the never-changing gospel will shine forth in this ever-changing world for generations to come. The Lord God Almighty is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Therefore, His Word cannot change, the four accounts of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ cannot change, and the simple, unqualified gospel of God cannot change. As Christians, we live, move, and have our being before the face of God, and as Protestants, we must continue to stand for the gospel, even when we find our own proud hearts wanting to add our own works to the finished work of Jesus Christ.
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Dr. Burk Parsons (@BurkParsons) is editor of Tabletalk magazine, senior pastor of Saint Andrew’s Chapel in Sanford, Fla., a visiting lecturer at Reformed Theological Seminary, and a Ligonier Ministries teaching fellow. He is editor of John Calvin: A Heart for Devotion, Doctrine, and Doxology.
Ligonier coram Deo (definition)
by Bill Federer
Army Day, Navy Day and Air Force Day were combined in 1949 to become Armed Forces Day, celebrated the third Saturday of May. This day honors the men and women of all armed forces, now serving under one Department of Defense. Army Day formerly was the date the US entered World War I, Navy Day was on President Theodore Roosevelt's birthday and Air Force Day was on the day the War Department established a division of aeronautics. Secretary of Defense William Perry stated on Armed Forces Day, May 1995: "God grants liberty only to those who love it and are always ready to… defend it."
Compiled by Richard S. Adams
Chance is perhaps the pseudonym of God
when he did not want to sign.
--- Anatole France, Le jardin d'Epicure
The garden of Epicurus
When God is involved, anything can happen. Be open. Stay that way. God has a beautiful way of bringing good vibrations out of broken chords.
--- Chuck Swindoll
The garden of Epicurus
Set us afire, Lord, stir us, we pray—
while the world perishes, we go our way
Purposeless, passionless, day after day;
set us afire, Lord, stir us, we pray!
Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions
Whenever one tries to suppress doubt, there is tyranny.
--- Simone Weil
Lectures on Philosophy
... from here, there and everywhere
Thomas A Kempis
Book Four - An Invitation To Holy Communion
The Seventh Chapter / The Examination Of Conscience And The Resolution To Amend
THE VOICE OF CHRIST
ABOVE all, God’s priest should approach the celebration and reception of this Sacrament with the deepest humility of heart and suppliant reverence, with complete faith and the pious intention of giving honor to God.
Carefully examine your conscience, then. Cleanse and purify it to the best of your power by true contrition and humble confession, that you may have no burden, know of no remorse, and thus be free to come near. Let the memory of all your sins grieve you, and especially lament and bewail your daily transgressions. Then if time permits, confess to God in the secret depths of your heart all the miseries your passions have caused.
Lament and grieve because you are still so worldly, so carnal, so passionate and unmortified, so full of roving lust, so careless in guarding the external senses, so often occupied in many vain fancies, so inclined to exterior things and so heedless of what lies within, so prone to laughter and dissipation and so indisposed to sorrow and tears, so inclined to ease and the pleasures of the flesh and so cool to austerity and zeal, so curious to hear what is new and to see the beautiful and so slow to embrace humiliation and dejection, so covetous of abundance, so niggardly in giving and so tenacious in keeping, so inconsiderate in speech, so reluctant in silence, so undisciplined in character, so disordered in action, so greedy at meals, so deaf to the Word of God, so prompt to rest and so slow to labor, so awake to empty conversation, so sleepy in keeping sacred vigils and so eager to end them, so wandering in your attention, so careless in saying the office, so lukewarm in celebrating, so heartless in receiving, so quickly distracted, so seldom fully recollected, so quickly moved to anger, so apt to take offense at others, so prone to judge, so severe in condemning, so happy in prosperity and so weak in adversity, so often making good resolutions and carrying so few of them into action.
When you have confessed and deplored these and other faults with sorrow and great displeasure because of your weakness, be firmly determined to amend your life day by day and to advance in goodness. Then, with complete resignation and with your entire will offer yourself upon the altar of your heart as an everlasting sacrifice to the honor of My name, by entrusting with faith both body and soul to My care, that thus you may be considered worthy to draw near and offer sacrifice to God and profitably receive the Sacrament of My Body. For there is no more worthy offering, no greater satisfaction for washing away sin than to offer yourself purely and entirely to God with the offering of the Body of Christ in Mass and Communion.
If a man does what he can and is truly penitent, however often he comes to Me for grace and pardon, “As I live, saith the Lord God, I desire not the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live”;50 I will no longer remember his sins, but all will be forgiven him.
The Imitation Of Christ
Practical religion. The Christian life
Oh, if we would wait and wait patiently, I tell you what the result would be. There would spring up a relationship between us and Christ so close and so tender that we should afterward be amazed at how we formerly could have lived with the idea: "I am surrendered to Christ." We should feel how far distant our intercourse with Him had previously been, and that He can, and does indeed, come and take actual possession of us, and gives unbroken fellowship all the day. The branch calls us to absolute surrender.
I do not speak now so much about the giving up of sins. There are people who need that, people who have got violent tempers, bad habits, and actual sins which they from time to time commit, and which they have never given up into the very bosom of the Lamb of God. I pray you, if you are branches of the living Vine, do not keep one sin back. I know there are a great many difficulties about this question of holiness. I know that all do not think exactly the same with regard to it. That would be to me a matter of comparative indifference if I could see that all are honestly longing to be free from every sin. But I am afraid that unconsciously there are in hearts often compromises with the idea that we cannot be without sin, we must sin a little every day; we cannot help it. Oh, that people would actually cry to God: "Lord, do keep me from sin!" Give yourself utterly to Jesus, and ask Him to do His very utmost for you in keeping you from sin.
There is a great deal in our work, in our church and our surroundings that we found in the world when we were born into it, and it has grown all around us, and we think that it is all right, it cannot be changed. We do not come to the Lord Jesus and ask Him about it. Oh! I advise you, Christians, bring everything into relationship with Jesus and say:
"Lord, everything in my life has to be in most complete harmony with my position as a branch of Thee, the blessed Vine."
Let your surrender to Christ be absolute. I do not understand that word surrender fully; it gets new meanings every now and then; it enlarges immensely from time to time. But I advise you to speak it out: "Absolute surrender to Thee, O Christ, is what I have chosen." And Christ will show you what is not according to His mind, and lead you on to deeper and higher blessedness.
In conclusion, let me gather up all in one sentence. Christ Jesus said: "I am the Vine, ye are the branches." In other words: "I, the living One who have so completely given myself to you, am the Vine. You cannot trust me too much. I am the Almighty Worker, full of a divine life and power." You are the branches of the Lord Jesus Christ. If there is in your heart the consciousness that you are not a strong, healthy, fruit-bearing branch, not closely linked with Jesus, not living in Him as you should be--then listen to Him say: "I am the Vine, I will receive you, I will draw you to myself, I will bless you, I will strengthen you, I will fill you with my Spirit. I, the Vine, have taken you to be my branches, I have given myself utterly to you; children, give yourselves utterly to me. I have surrendered myself as God absolutely to you; I became man and died for you that I might be entirely yours. Come and surrender yourselves entirely to be mine."
What shall our answer be? Oh, let it be a prayer from the depths of our heart, that the living Christ may take each one of us and link us close to Himself. Let our prayer be that He, the living Vine, shall so link each of us to Himself that we shall go away with our hearts singing:
"He is my Vine, and I am His branches—
I want nothing more—
now I have the everlasting Vine."
Then, when you get alone with Him, worship and adore Him, praise and trust Him, love Him and wait for His love. "Thou art my Vine, and I am Thy branch. It is enough, my soul is satisfied."
Glory to His blessed name!
Absolute Surrender (The Colportage Library)
by D.H. Stern
1 Better a dry piece of bread with calm
than a house full of food but also full of strife.
2 An intelligent slave will rule a shameful son
and share the inheritance with the brothers.
Complete Jewish Bible : An English Version of the Tanakh (Old Testament) and B'Rit Hadashah (New Testament)
A Daily Devotional by Oswald Chambers
The habit of rising to the occasion
That ye may know what is the hope of His calling …
--- Eph. 1:18.
Remember what you are saved for—that the Son of God might be manifested in your mortal flesh. Bend the whole energy of your powers to realize your election as a child of God; rise to the occasion every time.
You cannot do anything for your salvation, but you must do something to manifest it, you must work out what God has worked in. Are you working it out with your tongue, and your brain and your nerves? If you are still the same miserable crosspatch, set on your own way, then it is a lie to say that God has saved and sanctified you.
God is the Master Engineer, He allows the difficulties to come in order to see if you can vault over them properly—“By my God have I leaped over a wall.” God will never shield you from any of the requirements of a son or daughter of His. Peter says—“Think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you.” Rise to the occasion; do the thing. It does not matter how it hurts as long as it gives God the chance to manifest Himself in your mortal flesh.
May God not find the whine in us any more, but may He find us full of spiritual pluck and athleticism, ready to face anything He brings. We have to exercise ourselves in order that the Son of God may be manifested in our mortal flesh. God never has museums. The only aim of the life is that the Son of God may be manifested, and all dictation to God vanishes. Our Lord never dictated to His Father, and we are not here to dictate to God; we are here to submit to His will so that He may work through us what He wants. When we realize this, He will make us broken bread and poured-out wine to feed and nourish others.
My Utmost for His Highest
the Poetry of RS Thomas
My father is dead.
I who am look at him
who is not, as once he
went looking for me
in the woman who was.
There are pictures
of the two of them, no
need of a third, hand
in hand, hearts willing
to be one but not three.
What does it mean
life? I am here I am
there. Look! Suddenly
the young tool in their hands
for hurting one another.
And the camera says:
Smile; there is no wound
time gives that is not bandaged
by time. And so they do the
three of them at me who weep.
THE BREAD OF TRUTH
Bava Batra 60b
What ultimately motivates people to change? Rava and Rav Dimi have two different conceptions. To Rava, the catalyst for change is internal: People change because they want to improve, and external comparisons only serve to heighten their sense of inadequacy. We do best, in Rava's eyes, when we are judged against our personal standard rather than against external paradigms.
Rav Dimi conceives of motivation as something quite different, involving a kind of "creative tension." When we see how someone else is doing, we are pushed to improve ourselves, trying to reach that ideal and standard that the other has presented.
Each approach has its positives, as seen in the tenure system for university faculty. Some say that tenure gives faculty the sense of security they need to excel in their academic work. A professor with tenure will not have to worry about the "publish or perish" of university life, a system that heightens nervousness more than it heightens scholarship. Others hold that faculty should never be beyond review, that constant pressure is a positive force, generating creativity and learning. Without this tension, professors would tend to be laid-back and complacent.
We see a corollary of Rav Dimi's approach in the push for legislative term limits. Proponents of this position believe that only by holding legislators constantly accountable can we see any positive results. Incumbents who seem to have a permanent appointment eventually slouch off and do not do their jobs well. Opponents say that it takes years to learn the legislative system. Veteran representatives not only know the ropes but also can call in favors and in other ways use their seniority to the benefit of their constituents.
Just as the Talmud brings in different approaches to the topic, we too can often benefit from both viewpoints. Some people who work with us or for us will be motivated by competition. The friction of working against others causes them to work harder. Others do better in a cooperative setting. Often, these people find rivalry between colleagues detrimental and even threatening. At times, we ourselves will be motivated by an internal urge to excel, while at other times, it will be competition with a friend or colleague: "She's not going to outperform me!"
There is no absolute right or wrong for personal motivation with every person or in every situation. We need to know what motivates others—and ourselves—so that a suitable atmosphere can be set and appropriate methods utilized.
Text / Our Rabbis taught: When the second Temple was destroyed, the number of ascetics in Israel who would not eat meat or drink wine increased. Rabbi Yehoshua met with them. He said to them: "My children, why are you not eating meat or drinking wine?" They said to him: "Shall we eat meat that used to be offered on the altar that is no longer functioning? Shall we drink wine that used to be poured on the altar that is no longer in use?"
He said to them: "If that is so, we should not eat bread, because the Meal Offerings have ceased. What about fruit? We should not eat fruit, because the First Fruit offerings have ceased.… We should not drink water because the Water Libations have ceased." They were silent. He said to them: "My children, come and I will speak to you. Not to mourn at all is impossible, because the decree has already been set down. But to mourn too much is impossible, for a decree should not be imposed upon the community unless the majority of the community can follow it, as it is written: 'You are suffering under a curse, yet you go on defrauding Me—the whole nation of you' [Malachi 3:9]. Rather, this is what the Sages said: 'When a person plasters his home, he leaves a small section undone.' (How much? Rav Yosef said: 'A square cubit.' Rav Ḥisda said: 'It should be by the door.') When a person prepares a meal, let him leave something out. (What? Rav Papa said: 'A dish of hors d'oeuvres.') When a woman is putting on her jewelry, she should leave something off. (What? Rav said: 'She should not remove the hair from her temples.')"
Context / The Talmud goes on to praise those who mourn (in an appropriate way) for the destruction of the Temple: All those who grieve over Jerusalem will merit to see her rejoicing, as it says: "Rejoice with Jerusalem and be glad for her, all you who love her! Join in her jubilation, all you who mourned over her …" (Isaiah 66:10). The Rabbis read the beginning and the end of the verse not as two separate clauses, but rather as one interdependent unit: Only those who have mourned will one day rejoice.
The first Temple built by Solomon was destroyed by the Babylonians in the year 586 B.C.E. The second Temple was built about a century after that and was destroyed by the Romans in the year 70 C.E. The Temple was not only the center of Jewish religious life, it was the symbol of Jewish nationhood and independence. Its destruction led to severe mourning by Jews. Some individuals became ascetics, believing that life could not go on as it had before the tragedies. These Jews, called perushim, or "those who set themselves apart," began refraining from pleasurable activities that would have reminded them of the Temple. Eating meat brought to their minds the animal sacrifices where a portion of the offering was given to the worshipper to eat in the city of Jerusalem. Drinking wine caused them to recall the nisukh ha-yayin, the libation of wine accompanying some sacrifices that was poured out at the base of the altar.
Rabbi Yehoshua challenged these restrictive practices by taking the arguments of the perushim to their logical conclusion: Bread should also not be eaten, because bread and meal offerings were brought in the Temple. Fruits should not be eaten, because they were offered to the kohanim during the harvest season. Even water should be avoided, because the pouring out of water was central to the Temple ritual during the festival of Sukkot.
Rabbi Yehoshua argued that the restrictions of the perushim were more than the people could bear. He derived the principle "A decree should not be imposed upon the community unless the majority of the community can follow it" from his reading of the verse in Malachi: The entire nation has made a vow to bring the ma'aser—a tenth of the harvest—to God. Failure to do so would have resulted in a self-imposed curse falling upon the people. According to Rabbi Yehoshua, such a vow with its harsh accompanying curse was valid only because "the whole nation" had accepted it upon themselves. Instead of the harsh restrictions of the perushim, the Talmud suggests three other alternative expressions of mourning that the majority of the people would have been able to follow.
Swimming in the Sea of Talmud: Lessons for Everyday Living
Saul should have taught Israel the danger of relying on a human king. Every human being is flawed. Only God can be relied on fully.
Yet stories of Israel's first, flawed king continue to teach us important spiritual lessons.
Keys to success (1 Samuel 9, 1 Samuel 11). Saul began his reign with notable success. What were the qualities that made his success possible? These chapters point up several.
* Humility. Saul was initially free from a sense of self-importance. When told that God had chosen him as king, Saul protested. He pointed out that he was a member of the "smallest tribe of Israel, and is not my clan the least of all the clans of the tribe of Benjamin?" (1 Samuel 9:21)
The same trait may have led Saul to hide himself among the baggage as Samuel later led the people through a process of divination—possibly using the Urim and Thummin by which God guided Israel. When he was brought out, the people were excited because he looked like a king, being a head taller than anyone in Israel. How good when we can remain humble, as Saul was, when others are impressed by some superficial trait.
* Restraint. When Saul was proclaimed king a few "troublemakers" objected. In those times a monarch might have been expected to be angry, and act quickly to punish the affront. Saul however showed restraint and kept silent. It is a great personal strength when you and I can overlook criticism and even affronts.
* Godly concern. The city of Jabesh Gilead, lying across the River Jordan, was besieged by the Ammonites. The purpose was to terrorize Israel, and humble this people who had just anointed a king. God's Spirit filled Saul with fury, and he commanded that all the men of Israel appear to fight the Ammonites. Saul responded in a godly way, for as king he was responsible to protect his people. How good when we too have a godly concern for others, and are willing to be responsible to help meet their needs.
* Wisdom. Saul's army was large, but poorly armed. Only Saul and Jonathan had iron weapons when they faced the Philistines (1 Samuel 13:22). The people of Israel were armed only with clubs, axes, and sickles!
So Saul had the people of Jabesh tell the Ammonites they would surrender the next day. That night he attacked the Ammonite camp from three sides. The surprise was complete, and the enemy force so completely shattered that "no two of them were left together" (1 Samuel 11:11).
* Magnanimity. After this victory the people remembered those who had slandered Saul earlier. They were eager to kill them to honor Saul, whom they credited with their stunning victory.
But Saul was magnanimous in victory. He refused to put them to death on the day that God had won such a victory for his people. What a lesson for us to learn. We need not rebuke others, for as we walk with God His evident blessings in events will rebuke them. We need not defend ourselves, for as we walk with God others sense God's blessing and they will speak up on our behalf.
* Praise. Saul was not proud in his victory. Instead he led his people to give credit and praise to God. It was not Saul, the king said, but "the Lord [who] has rescued Israel" (1 Samuel 11:13). What an important lesson for you and me, for our victories too are won by the Lord, and are to issue in praise and celebration.
God's choice of Saul was a wise one. Saul was a man of many good qualities, and many of the traits we see in this 30-year-old are endearing.
Saul's flaws (1 Sam. 13–15). Saul was relatively young when he began to rule. Events early in his 40-year reign revealed flaws that had been hidden by the young king's many positive qualities. Several events demonstrate the nature of these flaws.
* Disobedience (1 Samuel 13:1–15). Saul established a small standing army, posting his men at Gibeah and Micmash to defend against Philistine attacks. These cities, which lie just a little to the east of Jerusalem, show how deeply the Philistines had penetrated into Israel's territory.
When Saul's son Jonathan attacked a Philistine outpost, this enemy assembled an overwhelming army that cut through Palestine to assemble near Gilgal, almost on the banks of the Jordan River! This invasion terrorized the Israelites, who forgot their recent victory. Saul called out his people to fight, but instead the men of Israel scattered, to hide in rocks and caves.
Earlier Samuel had predicted this situation, and had told Saul to wait at Gilgal seven days for Samuel to come and offer sacrifice. Saul had been told, "You must wait seven days until I come to you and tell you what you are to do" (1 Samuel 10:8). So now Saul waited.
And he watched as members of his army slipped away! Saul did not know what he could do. But as the seventh day slowly passed, Saul felt he could not wait any longer.
Disobeying the word of God's spokesman Saul ordered a fire laid, and he himself, though not of priestly lineage, offered a burnt sacrifice to the Lord!
Saul had been effective in action. But he was unable to stand the pressure of waiting!
How like so many of us. As long as there is something to do, we're all right. But when there are pressures, when we don't know what to do and we have to wait, we too are tempted to act foolishly.
The smoke from Saul's sacrifice was no sooner drifting up into the skies than Samuel appeared. Shocked, the old prophet confronted the disobedient king. "You have not kept the command the Lord your God gave you," Samuel told him. "Now your kingdom will not endure" (1 Samuel 10:13–14).
The biblical passage makes one striking addition. It reports that when Samuel left Gilgal, and Saul counted the men who were with him, they numbered about 600. Is this number significant?
Some years before Gideon had been called to deliver Israel from an enemy even more numerous. God gradually reduced his army, until only 300 remained. With the 300 God won total victory, and the enemy was routed.
I wonder. Did Saul, when the count was finally taken, remember Gideon? Did he wonder then, if he had only had the courage to wait, if God might not have given him a victory twice as great as Gideon's?
We will never know Saul's thoughts as he learned the number of the men who had remained with him. But we do know now the nature of Saul's flaw. Under pressure Saul would be unable to trust God. Under pressure Saul would be unable to wait. Under pressure, Saul would refuse to obey.
Saul's hypocrisy (1 Sam. 14). A sense of sin is intended to lead us to confession of our faults to God, and is to help us develop a compassionate sensitivity to others who may also fall.
A little later Jonathan again initiated an attack on a Philistine detachment that was deep in Israelite territory. Jonathan and his armor-bearer killed some 20 of the enemy in a half-acre area. The Philistines panicked, and the panic spread! As the Philistines ran, Saul and his men attacked!
As Saul sent out his men he commanded that no one taste food until Evening. But as the running battle continued, Saul's men became weak from their exertion. Only Jonathan, who had not heard his father's command, snatched up a little honey as he pursued the enemy through a forest area.
That night, after the men had eaten, Saul wanted to continue his assault. But when he asked God for guidance, the Lord did not respond. Saul took this as a sign that someone had sinned. Again using the means God had provided for special guidance, Saul demanded to know who was at fault. The blame was fixed on Jonathan!
When Jonathan confessed that he had unknowingly violated his father's command, Saul was actually willing to put him to death.
Then the men of the army interceded. Should Jonathan die, who with God's help had routed the enemy? Never!
What an insight into the king. He was ready to kill a son he loved for violating his command. But the king had knowingly violated the command of God! Rather than making Saul sensitive to the weakness of others, he was harsh with those whose fault was less than his own!
Saul fought valiantly against Israel's enemies (1 Samuel 14:47–48). He won many victories. But Saul was never able to win the most important victory of all: a victory over his own inner weaknesses and flaws.
The Teacher's Commentary
Judaism in the Land of Israel
Several works give an account of revelatory experiences given to exemplary leaders; the revelations to them disclose information about the future and the heavenly world. Among the apocalypses, perhaps the oldest is the Enochic Apocalypse of Weeks (1 Enoch 93:1–10; 91:11–17), which divides all of history and the future judgments into ten “weeks” (long units of time). Other early instances are the various revelations in Daniel 7–12, which “predict” the attacks on Jews and Judaism by Antiochus IV as the climax of evil and distress before the deliverance of the people of God. The Animal Apocalypse (1 Enoch 83–90) may come from nearly the same time. It surveys scriptural history, symbolizing almost all characters as various kinds of animals, and pictures a new age after the final woes caused by the nations that rule Israel and the judgment on the sinners. A number of other works fit in this category: the Similitudes of Enoch (1 Enoch 37–71), the Testament of Moses, 4 Ezra, and 2 Baruch. The first two of these may have been written around the turn of the eras, while the latter two offer apocalyptic reflection upon the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple. In some of the apocalypses a messianic leader plays a role in the final drama (e.g., Animal Apocalypse, Similitudes of Enoch, 4 Ezra, 2 Baruch).
It is generally agreed that there was no canon of Scripture until perhaps the very end of the Second Temple period, but it is evident that there were ancient writings that exercised considerable influence and were acknowledged to contain God’s words. Those books would have included Genesis through Deuteronomy and the prophetic works and Psalms and probably more, but it is not possible, given the evidence at hand, to decide exactly which books were considered authoritative and by whom.
The Eerdmans Dictionary of Early Judaism
Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!” Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” --- John 20:28–29.
Not only is imagination an aid to love. ( The Return of the Angels : Sunday evenings in a Glasgow Pulpit ) It is also an aid to faith in the unseen. In imagination unseen realities draw very near. Like a breath of wind it plays on the mists till they scatter and show the everlasting hills. And so imagination, which is an aid to love, is also an aid to faith in the invisible, for it draws into something of visionary clearness the objects on which faith must always rest. Imagination is not faith, any more than it is love. But imagination may be their foster mother. Faith is the whole being turning Godward and coming to rest in the eternal certainties. The imagination is only a particular faculty or power of that being. No one is saved by imagination. It is a question if anyone is saved without it. Without its vivifying and realizing help, the task of faith is simply overwhelming. And therefore, because it wakes the sleeping past, because it helps to [compassion], because it helps to God, I want you to realize that the imagination is a religious power of the highest order.
Friends, among all the services of Christ to a world that he has redeemed and is redeeming, there are not many more notable and blessed than his quickening of the imagination. It would be much had he taught us perfect truth, but he has done more: he has shown us perfect beauty. He has given us a vision of such grace that it haunts the heart and will not let it go. It is that figure, so tender and so loving, so brave and patient, so silent, so unselfish, that has cast a spell on the imagination and through the imagination reached the heart. No worse curse can fall on a person than to have a corrupt imagination. There is no greater purifying power than an imagination that is pure. And the person who dwells in the communion of Christ has such a vision of what is fair and lovely that things unclean and bestial and base steal away into the forests of the night.
--- George H. Morrison
Take Heart: Daily Devotions with the Church's Great Preachers
The Prodigal May 15
“The Law of the LORD is perfect,” says Psalm 19:7. “It gives us new life”—and sometimes in unexpected ways.
One of the most powerful personal evangelists of the nineteenth century was “Uncle” John Vassar, who grew up in his family’s brewery in Poughkeepsie, New York. Following his conversion to Christ, he abandoned beer-making for soul-winning, and on May 15, 1850 he was commissioned as an agent for the American Tract Society of New York. Vassar took off across the country, never resting in his mission of selling Christian literature and asking everyone he met about their relationship with Christ.
On one occasion, traveling in the West, he visited the home of a praying wife whose husband was an infidel. She begged for a Bible, and Vassar gave her one and went his way. He had no sooner left when the husband, coming home, saw the book and was enraged. Seizing the Bible with one hand and the ax with the other, he hurried to the woodpile where he placed it on the chopping block and hacked it crosswise in two. Returning to the house, he threw half of the destroyed Bible at his wife, saying, “As you claim a part of all the property around here, there is your share of this.”
The other half he tossed into his tool shed.
Months later on a wet winter’s day, the man, wanting to get away from his Christian wife, retreated to his shed. The time passed slowly, and in boredom he looked around for something to read. Thumbing through the mutilated Bible, his attention was caught by the story of the prodigal son in Luke 15. He became absorbed in the parable only to discover that its ending belonged to his wife’s section. He crept into the house and secretly searched for the bottom half of the book, but was unable to find where his wife had hidden it.
Finally he broke down, asked her for it, and read the story again and again. In the process he came to the heavenly Father like a penitent prodigal returning home.
The son said, “Father, I have sinned against God in heaven and against you. I am no longer good enough to be called your son.” But his father said to the servants, “Hurry and bring the best clothes and put them on him. … This son of mine was dead, but has now come back to life. He was lost and has now been found.” And they began to celebrate.
--- Luke 15:21,22,24.
On This Day 365 Amazing And Inspiring Stories About Saints, Martyrs And Heroes
Daily Readings / CHARLES H. SPURGEON
Morning - May 15
“All that believe are justified.” --- Acts 13:39.
The believer in Christ receives a present justification. Faith does not produce this fruit by-and-by, but now. So far as justification is the result of faith, it is given to the soul in the moment when it closes with Christ, and accepts him as its all in all. Are they who stand before the throne of God justified now?—so are we, as truly and as clearly justified as they who walk in white and sing melodious praises to celestial harps. The thief upon the cross was justified the moment that he turned the eye of faith to Jesus; and Paul, the aged, after years of service, was not more justified than was the thief with no service at all. We are to-day accepted in the Beloved, to-day absolved from sin, to-day acquitted at the bar of God. Oh! soul-transporting thought! There are some clusters of Eshcol’s vine which we shall not be able to gather till we enter heaven; but this is a bough which runneth over the wall. This is not as the corn of the land, which we can never eat till we cross the Jordan; but this is part of the manna in the wilderness, a portion of our daily nutriment with which God supplies us in our journeying to and fro. We are now—even now pardoned; even now are our sins put away; even now we stand in the sight of God accepted, as though we had never been guilty. “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus.” There is not a sin in the Book of God, even now, against one of his people. Who dareth to lay anything to their charge? There is neither speck, nor spot, nor wrinkle, nor any such thing remaining upon any one believer in the matter of justification in the sight of the Judge of all the earth. Let present privilege awaken us to present duty, and now, while life lasts, let us spend and be spent for our sweet Lord Jesus.
Evening - May 15
“Made perfect.” --- Hebrews 12:23.
Recollect that there are two kinds of perfection which the Christian needs—the perfection of justification in the person of Jesus, and the perfection of sanctification wrought in him by the Holy Spirit. At present, corruption yet remains even in the breasts of the regenerate—experience soon teaches us this. Within us are still lusts and evil imaginations. But I rejoice to know that the day is coming when God shall finish the work which he has begun; and he shall present my soul, not only perfect in Christ, but perfect through the Spirit, without spot or blemish, or any such thing. Can it be true that this poor sinful heart of mine is to become holy even as God is holy? Can it be that this spirit, which often cries, “O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this sin and death?” shall get rid of sin and death—that I shall have no evil things to vex my ears, and no unholy thoughts to disturb my peace? Oh, happy hour! may it be hastened! When I cross the Jordan, the work of sanctification will be finished; but not till that moment shall I even claim perfection in myself. Then my spirit shall have its last baptism in the Holy Spirit’s fire. Methinks I long to die to receive that last and final purification which shall usher me into heaven. Not an angel more pure than I shall be, for I shall be able to say, in a double sense, “I am clean,” through Jesus’ blood, and through the Spirit’s work. Oh, how should we extol the power of the Holy Ghost in thus making us fit to stand before our Father in heaven! Yet let not the hope of perfection hereafter make us content with imperfection now. If it does this, our hope cannot be genuine; for a good hope is a purifying thing, even now. The work of grace must be abiding in us now or it cannot be perfected then. Let us pray to “be filled with the Spirit,” that we may bring forth increasingly the fruits of righteousness.
Morning and Evening
THINE IS THE GLORY
Edmond L. Budry, 1854–1932
Translated by Richard B. Hoyle, 1875–1939
But thanks be to God! He gives the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 15:57)
In the ancient world, no celebration was considered more glorious than the march of triumphant returning warriors through their capital city. Many visual depictions have been made of the victorious Roman soldiers in the early centuries marching proudly through the streets and arches of Rome, leading captive slaves and hearing the boisterous approval of cheering admirers.
Christ our Savior fought the greatest battle of all time against the prince of this world and all of his legions. Our Lord returned triumphant to His Father, having conquered not only sin, death, and the grave, but Satan and hell also. Now He sits on the Father’s right hand as the ruler of His kingdom and our personal advocate before God.
But the day of our celebration is just ahead. One can picture with imagination the procession that will occur in heaven when the Captain of Our Faith, Christ Himself, leads His Bride, the Church, through the heavenly portals amidst the shouts and songs of praise and glory to the “risen, conqu’ring Son.”
“Thine Is the Glory” was originally written in 1884 in French—“A Toi la Gloire,” by Edmond Budry, a pastor in Vevey, Switzerland. Nearly 40 years later, it was translated into English by Richard Hoyle and appeared in the Cantate Domino Hymnal used by the Student Christian Federation.
Thine is the glory, risen, conqu’ring Son; endless is the vict’ry Thou o’er death hast won. Angels in bright raiment rolled the stone away, kept the folded grave clothes where Thy body lay.
Lo! Jesus meets us, risen, from the tomb; lovingly He greets us, scatters fear and gloom; let His church with gladness hymns of triumph sing, for her Lord now liveth; death hath lost its sting.
No more we doubt Thee, glorious Prince of Life! Life is naught without Thee; aid us in our strife; make us more than conqu’rors, through Thy deathless love; bring us safe through Jordan to Thy home above.
Refrain: Thine is the glory, risen, conqu’ring Son; endless is the vict’ry Thou o’er death hast won.
For Today: Romans 5:6, 10, 11; 1 Corinthians 15:50–58; Revelation 1:5, 6.
Live in the triumphant promise of the joy that you will one day experience with all fullness when you share in the heavenly celebration with the saints of the ages. But for now, raise your voice in praise to our victorious Lord.Copyright (c) World Student Christian Federation. Used by permission.
Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions
Martin Luther | (1483-1546)
Sect XXV. — AS to the other paradox you mention, — that, ‘whatever is done by us, is not done by Free-will, but from mere necessity’ — . Let us briefly consider this, lest we should suffer any thing most perniciously spoken, to pass by unnoticed. Here then, I observe, that if it be proved that our salvation is apart from our own strength and counsel, and depends on the working of God alone, (which I hope I shall clearly prove hereafter, in the course of this discussion,) does it not evidently follow, that when God is not present with us to work in us, every thing that we do is evil, and that we of necessity do those things which are of no avail unto salvation? For if it is not we ourselves, but God only, that works salvation in us, it must follow, whether or no, that we do nothing unto salvation before the working of God in us.
But, by necessity, I do not mean compulsion; but (as they term it) the necessity of immutability, not of compulsion; that is, a man void of the Spirit of God, does not evil against his will as by violence, or as if he were taken by the neck and forced to it, in the same way as a thief or cut-throat is dragged to punishment against his will; but he does it spontaneously, and with a desirous willingness. And this willingness and desire of doing evil he cannot, by his own power, leave off, restrain, or change; but it goes on still desiring and craving. And even if he should be compelled by force to do any thing outwardly to the contrary, yet the craving will within remains averse to, and rises in indignation against that which forces or resists it. But it would not rise in indignation, if it were changed, and made willing to yield to a constraining power. This is what we mean by the necessity of immutability: — that the will cannot change itself, nor give itself another bent; but rather the more it is resisted, the more it is irritated to crave; as is manifest from its indignation. This would not be the case if it were free, or had a “Free-will.” Ask experience, how hardened against all persuasion they are, whose inclinations are fixed upon any one thing. For if they yield at all, they yield through force, or through something attended with greater advantage; they never yield willingly. And if their inclinations be not thus fixed, they let all things pass and go on just as they will.
But again, on the other hand, when God works in us, the will, being changed and sweetly breathed on by the Spirit of God, desires and acts, not from compulsion, but responsively, from pure willingness, inclination, and accord; so that it cannot be turned another way by any thing contrary, nor be compelled or overcome even by the gates of hell; but it still goes on to desire, crave after, and love that which is good; even as before, it desired, craved after, and loved that which was evil. This, again, experience proves. How invincible and unshaken are holy men, when, by violence and other oppressions, they are only compelled and irritated the more to crave after good! Even as fire, is rather fanned into flames than extinguished, by the wind. So that neither is there here any willingness, or “Free-will,” to turn itself into another direction, or to desire any thing else, while the influence of the Spirit and grace of God remain in the man.
In a word, if we be under the god of this world, without the operation and Spirit of God, we are led captives by him at his will, as Paul saith. (2 Tim. ii. 26.) So that, we cannot will any thing but that which he wills. For he is that “strong man armed,” who so keepeth his palace, that those whom he holds captive are kept in peace, that they might not cause any motion or feeling against him; otherwise, the kingdom of Satan, being divided against itself, could not stand; whereas, Christ affirms it does stand. And all this we do willingly and desiringly, according to the nature of will: for if it were forced, it would be no longer will. For compulsion is (so to speak) unwillingness. But if the “stronger than he” come and overcome him, and take us as His spoils, then, through the Spirit, we are His servants and captives (which is the royal liberty) that we may desire and do, willingly, what He wills. Thus the human will is, as it were, a beast between the two. If God sit thereon, it wills and goes where God will: as the Psalm saith, “I am become as it were a beast before thee, and I am continually with thee.” (Ps. lxxiii. 22-23.) If Satan sit thereon, it wills and goes as Satan will. Nor is it in the power of its own will to choose, to which rider it will run, nor which it will seek; but the riders themselves contend, which shall have and hold it.
The Bondage of the Will or Christian Classics Ethereal Library
W. Phillip Keller | (1920-1997)
8 Your Rod and Your Staff, They Comfort Me
Over and over I have turned to Him and in audible, open language asked for His opinion on a problem. I have asked, “What would you do in this case?” or I have said, “You are here now. You know all the complexities; tell me precisely what is the best procedure at this point.” And the thrilling thing is He does just that. He actually conveys the mind of Christ in the matter to my mind. Then the right decisions are made with confidence.
It is when I do not do this that I end up in difficulty. It is then that I find myself in a jam of some sort. And here again the gracious Spirit comes to my rescue just as the shepherd rescues his sheep out of the situations into which their own stupidity leads them.
Being stubborn creatures, sheep often get into the most ridiculous and preposterous dilemmas. I have seen my own sheep, greedy for one more mouthful of green grass, climb down steep cliffs where they slipped and fell into the sea. Only my long shepherd’s staff could lift them out of the water back onto solid ground again. One winter day I spent several hours rescuing a ewe that had done this very thing several times before. Her stubbornness was her undoing.
Another common occurrence was to find sheep stuck fast in labyrinths of wild roses or brambles where they had pushed in to find a few stray mouthfuls of green grass. Soon the thorns were so hooked in their wool they could not possibly pull free, tug as they might. Only the use of a staff could free them from their entanglement.
Likewise with us. Many of our jams and impasses are of our own making. In stubborn, self-willed self-assertion we keep pushing ourselves into a situation where we cannot extricate ourselves. Then in tenderness, compassion, and care our Shepherd comes to us. He draws near and in tenderness lifts us by His Spirit out of the difficulty and dilemma. What patience God has with us! What longsuffering and compassion! What forgiveness!
Your staff comforts me! Your Spirit, O Christ, is my consolation!
A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23
Brett Meador | Athey Creek
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