Ezekiel 9 - 12
Idolaters KilledEzekiel 9:1 Then he cried in my ears with a loud voice, saying, “Bring near the executioners of the city, each with his destroying weapon in his hand.” 2 And behold, six men came from the direction of the upper gate, which faces north, each with his weapon for slaughter in his hand, and with them was a man clothed in linen, with a writing case at his waist. And they went in and stood beside the bronze altar.
3 Now the glory of the God of Israel had gone up from the cherub on which it rested to the threshold of the house. And he called to the man clothed in linen, who had the writing case at his waist. 4 And the LORD said to him, “Pass through the city, through Jerusalem, and put a mark on the foreheads of the men who sigh and groan over all the abominations that are committed in it.” 5 And to the others he said in my hearing, “Pass through the city after him, and strike. Your eye shall not spare, and you shall show no pity. 6 Kill old men outright, young men and maidens, little children and women, but touch no one on whom is the mark. And begin at my sanctuary.” So they began with the elders who were before the house. 7 Then he said to them, “Defile the house, and fill the courts with the slain. Go out.” So they went out and struck in the city. 8 And while they were striking, and I was left alone, I fell upon my face, and cried, “Ah, Lord GOD! Will you destroy all the remnant of Israel in the outpouring of your wrath on Jerusalem?”
9 Then he said to me, “The guilt of the house of Israel and Judah is exceedingly great. The land is full of blood, and the city full of injustice. For they say, ‘The LORD has forsaken the land, and the LORD does not see.’ 10 As for me, my eye will not spare, nor will I have pity; I will bring their deeds upon their heads.”
11 And behold, the man clothed in linen, with the writing case at his waist, brought back word, saying, “I have done as you commanded me.”
The Glory of the LORD Leaves the TempleEzekiel 10:1 Then I looked, and behold, on the expanse that was over the heads of the cherubim there appeared above them something like a sapphire, in appearance like a throne. 2 And he said to the man clothed in linen, “Go in among the whirling wheels underneath the cherubim. Fill your hands with burning coals from between the cherubim, and scatter them over the city.”
And he went in before my eyes. 3 Now the cherubim were standing on the south side of the house, when the man went in, and a cloud filled the inner court. 4 And the glory of the LORD went up from the cherub to the threshold of the house, and the house was filled with the cloud, and the court was filled with the brightness of the glory of the LORD. 5 And the sound of the wings of the cherubim was heard as far as the outer court, like the voice of God Almighty when he speaks.
6 And when he commanded the man clothed in linen, “Take fire from between the whirling wheels, from between the cherubim,” he went in and stood beside a wheel. 7 And a cherub stretched out his hand from between the cherubim to the fire that was between the cherubim, and took some of it and put it into the hands of the man clothed in linen, who took it and went out. 8 The cherubim appeared to have the form of a human hand under their wings.
9 And I looked, and behold, there were four wheels beside the cherubim, one beside each cherub, and the appearance of the wheels was like sparkling beryl. 10 And as for their appearance, the four had the same likeness, as if a wheel were within a wheel. 11 When they went, they went in any of their four directions without turning as they went, but in whatever direction the front wheel faced, the others followed without turning as they went. 12 And their whole body, their rims, and their spokes, their wings, and the wheels were full of eyes all around—the wheels that the four of them had. 13 As for the wheels, they were called in my hearing “the whirling wheels.” 14 And every one had four faces: the first face was the face of the cherub, and the second face was a human face, and the third the face of a lion, and the fourth the face of an eagle.
15 And the cherubim mounted up. These were the living creatures that I saw by the Chebar canal. 16 And when the cherubim went, the wheels went beside them. And when the cherubim lifted up their wings to mount up from the earth, the wheels did not turn from beside them. 17 When they stood still, these stood still, and when they mounted up, these mounted up with them, for the spirit of the living creatures was in them.
18 Then the glory of the LORD went out from the threshold of the house, and stood over the cherubim. 19 And the cherubim lifted up their wings and mounted up from the earth before my eyes as they went out, with the wheels beside them. And they stood at the entrance of the east gate of the house of the LORD, and the glory of the God of Israel was over them.
20 These were the living creatures that I saw underneath the God of Israel by the Chebar canal; and I knew that they were cherubim. 21 Each had four faces, and each four wings, and underneath their wings the likeness of human hands. 22 And as for the likeness of their faces, they were the same faces whose appearance I had seen by the Chebar canal. Each one of them went straight forward.
Judgment on Wicked CounselorsEzekiel 11:1 The Spirit lifted me up and brought me to the east gate of the house of the LORD, which faces east. And behold, at the entrance of the gateway there were twenty-five men. And I saw among them Jaazaniah the son of Azzur, and Pelatiah the son of Benaiah, princes of the people. 2 And he said to me, “Son of man, these are the men who devise iniquity and who give wicked counsel in this city; 3 who say, ‘The time is not near to build houses. This city is the cauldron, and we are the meat.’ 4 Therefore prophesy against them; prophesy, O son of man.”
5 And the Spirit of the LORD fell upon me, and he said to me, “Say, Thus says the LORD: So you think, O house of Israel. For I know the things that come into your mind. 6 You have multiplied your slain in this city and have filled its streets with the slain. 7 Therefore thus says the Lord GOD: Your slain whom you have laid in the midst of it, they are the meat, and this city is the cauldron, but you shall be brought out of the midst of it. 8 You have feared the sword, and I will bring the sword upon you, declares the Lord GOD. 9 And I will bring you out of the midst of it, and give you into the hands of foreigners, and execute judgments upon you. 10 You shall fall by the sword. I will judge you at the border of Israel, and you shall know that I am the LORD. 11 This city shall not be your cauldron, nor shall you be the meat in the midst of it. I will judge you at the border of Israel, 12 and you shall know that I am the LORD. For you have not walked in my statutes, nor obeyed my rules, but have acted according to the rules of the nations that are around you.”
13 And it came to pass, while I was prophesying, that Pelatiah the son of Benaiah died. Then I fell down on my face and cried out with a loud voice and said, “Ah, Lord GOD! Will you make a full end of the remnant of Israel?”
Israel’s New Heart and Spirit14 And the word of the LORD came to me: 15 “Son of man, your brothers, even your brothers, your kinsmen, the whole house of Israel, all of them, are those of whom the inhabitants of Jerusalem have said, ‘Go far from the LORD; to us this land is given for a possession.’ 16 Therefore say, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD: Though I removed them far off among the nations, and though I scattered them among the countries, yet I have been a sanctuary to them for a while in the countries where they have gone.’ 17 Therefore say, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD: I will gather you from the peoples and assemble you out of the countries where you have been scattered, and I will give you the land of Israel.’ 18 And when they come there, they will remove from it all its detestable things and all its abominations. 19 And I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I will put within them. I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, 20 that they may walk in my statutes and keep my rules and obey them. And they shall be my people, and I will be their God. 21 But as for those whose heart goes after their detestable things and their abominations, I will bring their deeds upon their own heads, declares the Lord GOD.”
22 Then the cherubim lifted up their wings, with the wheels beside them, and the glory of the God of Israel was over them. 23 And the glory of the LORD went up from the midst of the city and stood on the mountain that is on the east side of the city. 24 And the Spirit lifted me up and brought me in the vision by the Spirit of God into Chaldea, to the exiles. Then the vision that I had seen went up from me. 25 And I told the exiles all the things that the LORD had shown me.
Judah’s Captivity SymbolizedEzekiel 12:1 The word of the LORD came to me: 2 “Son of man, you dwell in the midst of a rebellious house, who have eyes to see, but see not, who have ears to hear, but hear not, for they are a rebellious house. 3 As for you, son of man, prepare for yourself an exile’s baggage, and go into exile by day in their sight. You shall go like an exile from your place to another place in their sight. Perhaps they will understand, though they are a rebellious house. 4 You shall bring out your baggage by day in their sight, as baggage for exile, and you shall go out yourself at evening in their sight, as those do who must go into exile. 5 In their sight dig through the wall, and bring your baggage out through it. 6 In their sight you shall lift the baggage upon your shoulder and carry it out at dusk. You shall cover your face that you may not see the land, for I have made you a sign for the house of Israel.”
7 And I did as I was commanded. I brought out my baggage by day, as baggage for exile, and in the evening I dug through the wall with my own hands. I brought out my baggage at dusk, carrying it on my shoulder in their sight.
8 In the morning the word of the LORD came to me: 9 “Son of man, has not the house of Israel, the rebellious house, said to you, ‘What are you doing?’ 10 Say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD: This oracle concerns the prince in Jerusalem and all the house of Israel who are in it.’ 11 Say, ‘I am a sign for you: as I have done, so shall it be done to them. They shall go into exile, into captivity.’ 12 And the prince who is among them shall lift his baggage upon his shoulder at dusk, and shall go out. They shall dig through the wall to bring him out through it. He shall cover his face, that he may not see the land with his eyes. 13 And I will spread my net over him, and he shall be taken in my snare. And I will bring him to Babylon, the land of the Chaldeans, yet he shall not see it, and he shall die there. 14 And I will scatter toward every wind all who are around him, his helpers and all his troops, and I will unsheathe the sword after them. 15 And they shall know that I am the LORD, when I disperse them among the nations and scatter them among the countries. 16 But I will let a few of them escape from the sword, from famine and pestilence, that they may declare all their abominations among the nations where they go, and may know that I am the LORD.”
17 And the word of the LORD came to me: 18 “Son of man, eat your bread with quaking, and drink water with trembling and with anxiety. 19 And say to the people of the land, Thus says the Lord GOD concerning the inhabitants of Jerusalem in the land of Israel: They shall eat their bread with anxiety, and drink water in dismay. In this way her land will be stripped of all it contains, on account of the violence of all those who dwell in it. 20 And the inhabited cities shall be laid waste, and the land shall become a desolation; and you shall know that I am the LORD.”
21 And the word of the LORD came to me: 22 “Son of man, what is this proverb that you have about the land of Israel, saying, ‘The days grow long, and every vision comes to nothing’? 23 Tell them therefore, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD: I will put an end to this proverb, and they shall no more use it as a proverb in Israel.’ But say to them, The days are near, and the fulfillment of every vision. 24 For there shall be no more any false vision or flattering divination within the house of Israel. 25 For I am the LORD; I will speak the word that I will speak, and it will be performed. It will no longer be delayed, but in your days, O rebellious house, I will speak the word and perform it, declares the Lord GOD.”
26 And the word of the LORD came to me: 27 “Son of man, behold, they of the house of Israel say, ‘The vision that he sees is for many days from now, and he prophesies of times far off.’ 28 Therefore say to them, Thus says the Lord GOD: None of my words will be delayed any longer, but the word that I speak will be performed, declares the Lord GOD.”
What I'm Reading
Let all the People Praise Thee (Prayer)
By Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834-1892)
OUR Father, when we read Thy description of human nature we are sure it is true, for Thou hast seen man ever since his fall, and Thou hast been grieved at heart concerning him. Moreover, Thou hast such a love towards him that Thou didst not judge him harshly ; and every word that Thou hast spoken must be according to truth. Thou hast measured and computed the iniquity of man, for Thou hast laid it on the Well-Beloved; and we know Thou hast not laid upon Him more than is meet.
O God, we are distressed, we are bowed down greatly when we see what is the condition to which we and all our race have fallen. "Where is boasting then ? " And yet we grieve to say that we do boast, and have boasted; and that our fellow-men are great at boasting ; whereas they ought rather to lay their hands upon their mouths before Thee.
It has become a wonder to us that Thou shouldst look upon man at all ; the most hateful object in creation must be a man, because he slew Thy Son, because he has multiplied rebellions against a just and holy law. And yet truly there is no sight that gives Thee more pleasure than man, for Jesus was a man ; and the brightness of His glory covers all our shame ; and the pureness and perfectness of His obedience shines like the sun in the midst of the thick darkness. For His sake Thou art well pleased, and Thou dost dwell with us.
Lord, we once thought that those descriptions of our heart were somewhat strained, but we think not so now, for verily we perceive that had it not been for restraint which held us like fetters we, in our unregenerate state, were capable of anything ; for, even now, when we are regenerate, the old sin that abideth in us is capable of reaching to a high degree of infamy ; and did not the new life restrain the old death we know not what we might yet become.
We thought once we were humble ; but we soon found that our pride will feed on any current flattery that is laid at our door. We thought we were believers, but sometimes we are so doubting, so unbelieving, so vexed with scepticism that we should not certainly choose to follow : that is Thy work in us. By nature we are such liars that we think Thee a liar too ; the surest token of our untruthfulness, that we think that Thou canst be untrue.
Oh, this base heart of ours ! hath it not enough tinder in it to set on fire the course of nature ? If a spark do but fall into it, any one of our members left to itself would dishonour Christ, deny the Lord that bought us, and turn back into perdition.
We are altogether ashamed. Truly in us is fulfilled Thine own Word : " Thou shalt be a shame, and never open thy mouth any more." For Thy love to us hath silenced us, that great love hath hidden boasting from us ; Thy great love, wherewith Thou lovedst us even when we were dead in trespasses and sins ; Thy great love wherewith Thou hast loved us still, despite our ill manners, our wanderings, our shortcomings, and our excesses.
Oh, the matchless love of God ! Truly if there be any glory it must be all the Lord's ; if there be any virtue it is the result of grace ; if there be anything whatsoever that lifts us above the devil himself it is the work of the Divine Spirit, to whom be glory!
And now at the remembrance of all this, and being in Thy presence, we do yet rejoice that covered is our unrighteousness ; from condemnation we are free, and we are the favoured of the Lord. Thou hast given us, O Lord, to taste of that love which is not merely laid up for us, but we have enjoyed it, and do enjoy it still.
Our heart knows the Father's love, for we have received the spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, "Abba Father." And we joy and rejoice in the redemption of our spirits, and we expect the redemption of our bodies, when, at the coming of the Lord they too shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.
O Jesus, Thou wilt bring Thy Israel out of Egypt, and not a hoof shall be left behind ; no, not a bone, nor a piece of Thine elect shall be left in the hands of the adversary. We shall come out clean, delivered by Him Who doeth nothing by halves, but Who on the cross said, "It is finished." Who much more will say it on His throne : Glory be unto Father, Son and Holy Ghost, Who hath lifted us up from our ruin and condemnation, and made us new creatures, and justified us, and guaranteed us eternal life, which eternal life shall be manifested at the coming of the Lord. All glory be unto His ever blessed name for ever and ever !
And now, Lord, during the few days that remain to us here below, be it all our business to cry, "Behold the Lamb!" Oh! teach these hearts to be always conscious of Thy love ; and then these lips, that they may set out as best they can by Thy divine help the matchless story of the Cross. Oh I do give us to win many to Jesus let us not be barren, but may we have to cry that we are the beloved of the Lord, and our offspring with us. May we have many spiritual offspring that shall go with us to the throne, that we may say before Him, “I and the children that Thou hast given me."
Lord bless the work of the Church and all its branches ; and let Thy kingdom come into the hearts of multitudes by its means. Remember all churches that are really at work for Jesus, and all private individuals, workers alone, workers by themselves. Let the Lord's own name be made known by tens of thousands. Give the Word, and great may be the multitude of them that publish it. Let all this, our beloved country, know Christ, and come to His feet ; let the dark places of this huge city be enlightened with the sweet name of Jesus. And then let the heathen know Thee, and the uttermost parts of the earth hear of Thee.
Oh! from the tree declare Thou Thy salvation, and from the throne let it be published in proclamations of a king. "Let the people praise Thee, O God ; yea, let all the people praise Thee."
Our heart seems as if it had not anything else to ask for when it reaches to this ; yet would we go back a moment and say : Lord, forgive us our sins ; Lord, sanctify our persons ; Lord, guide us in difficulty ; Lord, supply our needs. The Lord teach us ; the Lord perfect us ; the Lord comfort us ; the Lord make us meet for the appearing of His Son from heaven !
And now we come back to a theme that still seems to engross our desires. Oh ! that Christ might come. Oh ! that His word might be made known to the uttermost ends of the earth! Lord, they die, they perish, they pass away by multitudes ! Every time the sun rises and sets they pass away ! Make no tarrying, we beseech Thee. Give wings to the feet of Thy messengers, and fire to their mouths, that they may proclaim the Word with Pentecostal swiftness and might. Oh ! that Thy kingdom might come, and Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven, for Thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.
J. I. Packer on Why Annihilationism Is Wrong
By Gavin Ortlund 10/7/2015
The doctrine of hell is the most difficult aspect of the Christian faith for many people. It is for me. I feel acutely the unremitting sadness of this doctrine. But to be a Christian is—at the very least—to confess Christ the Son of God, and to confess Christ the Son of God is—at the very least—to submit to his teaching. And this includes his teaching on hell (which was quite copious and colorful).
Saint Anselm once said we should give thanks for whatever of the Christian faith we can understand with our minds; but when we come to something we don’t understand, we should “bow our heads in reverent submission.” That seems like godly and wise advice to me. We simply don’t have the option to pick and choose from what the Bible teaches: we are called to submit to its authority over us.
The traditional doctrine of hell is currently undergoing significant challenges from both within and without the church. Many question the reality of hell outright, while many others opt toward annihiliationism—the belief that the damned won’t suffer eternally but will instead have their consciousness extinguished at some point. In 1997 J. I. Packer wrote a brief article in Reformation and Revival magazine reviewing the debate over annihilationism among evangelicals. In his historical summary, he defines annihilationism as follows:
What is at issue? The question is essentially exegetical, though with theological and pastoral implications. It boils down to whether, when Jesus said that those banished at the final judgment will “go away into eternal punishment” (Matt. 25:46), he envisaged a state of penal pain that is endless, or an ending of conscious existence that is irrevocable: that is (for this is how the question is put), a punishment that is eternal in its length or in its effect.
Packer then describes some current variations within annihilationism in light of its 19th-century origins, and offers two pastoral caveats:
Gavin Ortlund (PhD, Fuller Theological Seminary) is a husband, father, minister, and writer, currently working as a research fellow at the Carl F. H. Henry Center for Theological Understanding at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois. He is the author of Ascending Toward the Beatific Vision: Heaven as the Climax of Anselm’s Proslogion (Brill). Gavin blogs regularly at Soliloquium. You can follow him on Twitter.
The Uncomfortable Subject Jesus Addressed More than Anyone Else
By Leslie Schmucker 5/11/2017
Some months ago, R. C. Sproul was asked which doctrine he struggles with most. He replied: “Hell.”
It’s comforting to know a theological giant like Sproul still wrestles with something I’ve struggled with my whole Christian life.
The doctrine of hell is uncomfortable for most of us. However, our understanding of hell shapes our view of the gospel, God’s holiness, and our depravity. If we don’t accept the reality of hell, we won’t rightly understand the glory of the gospel.
Reality of Hell | A friend once challenged me to show her where Jesus talks about hell in the Gospels. Even a cursory read-through shows Jesus talked about it plenty. In fact, Jesus talked about hell more than any other person in the Bible. In Luke 16, he describes a great chasm over which “none may cross from there to us.” In Matthew 25, Jesus tells of a time when people will be separated into two groups, one entering into his presence, the other banished to “eternal fire.”
Jesus doesn’t only reference hell, he describes it in great detail. He says it is a place of eternal torment (Luke 16:23), of unquenchable fire (Mark 9:43), where the worm does not die (Mark 9:48), where people will gnash their teeth in anguish and regret (Matt. 13:42), and from which there is no return, even to warn loved ones (Luke 16:19–31). He calls hell a place of “outer darkness” (Matt. 25:30), comparing it to “Gehenna” (Matt. 10:28), which was a trash dump outside the walls of Jerusalem where rubbish was burned and maggots abounded. Jesus talks about hell more than he talks about heaven, and describes it more vividly. There’s no denying that Jesus knew, believed, and warned against the absolute reality of hell.
By John Walvoord
Prophecies In The Life Of Jesus | The Ministry of John the Baptist as a Forerunner of Christ
Matthew 3:1–12; Mark 1:2–8; Luke 3:1–18. For four hundred years before John the Baptist began his prophetic ministry preaching in the wilderness of Judea, there had been no prophet in Israel. Many in Judea and Jerusalem went out to hear him. John himself made a spectacular appearance, living in rough clothing of camels’ hair with a leather belt about his waist. His food was locusts and wild honey. His message was abrupt and unyielding. He urged the people to confess their sins ( Matt. 3:6; Mark 1:5 ). He denounced their religious leaders, especially the Pharisees and the Sadducees, calling them a “brood of vipers!” ( Matt. 3:7. ) His message was one of repentance and baptism with water as a sign of their spiritual change. John predicted that after him would come the prophesied One, “whose sandals I am not fit to carry” (v. 11 ).
His message was a practical one. If one had two coats, he should share one ( Luke 3:11 ), and the people should do likewise with their surplus of food. Publicans were exhorted not to extort taxes but only take what was legal. Soldiers were told not to do that which was violent and not to exact anything that was not correct (vv. 13–14 ). Matthew, Mark, and Luke each viewed John as fulfilling the prophecies of Isaiah 40:3: “A voice of one calling in the desert, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him’” ( Matt. 3:3; Mark 1:3; Luke 3:4; cf. Isa. 40:3–5 ). Though John the Baptist knew Jesus as an individual, he probably did not know that He was the prophesied Messiah until Jesus presented Himself for baptism. John made it clear that he was not the Messiah, but he also anticipated that the true Messiah might appear at any time.
Jesus Baptized by John in the Jordan
Matthew 3:13–17; Mark 1:9–11; Luke 3:21–22. When John demurred at the thought of baptizing Jesus, he nevertheless was exhorted to do so. After Jesus was baptized, Matthew, Mark, and Luke all record the voice from heaven declaring that Jesus was the beloved Son of the Father. Luke declared that at Jesus’ baptism, the Holy Spirit descended on Him as a dove and the voice speaking from heaven was God the Father, a clear indication of the Trinity: the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The commendation of Jesus by God the Father was anticipated in Psalm 2:7 and Isaiah 42:1.
The Kingdom of God at Hand
Matthew 4:17; Mark 1:14–15; Luke 4:14–15. Upon His arrival in Galilee, Jesus preached His central message: “The time has come.... The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!” This central aspect of His prophetic ministry persisted throughout the three years of His public preaching.
The Danger of False Profession
Matthew 7:15–27; Luke 6:46–49. Jesus warned His disciples of those who profess faith but are not true believers. He declared that such people are false prophets and are wolves, not sheep ( Matt. 7:15 ). Jesus predicted that the difference will be demonstrated in the fruit that they bear, as a good tree will bear good fruit and a bad tree will bear bad fruit (vv. 16–20 ). Jesus also predicted that those who are guilty of mere profession will not enter the kingdom of heaven (vv. 21–23 ).
Jesus illustrated this in the parable of the two builders and the two houses. He who builds his house on a rock illustrates a wise man who is true in his faith in God, and when a storm arises his house will not fail because it is founded on the rock (vv. 24–25 ). By contrast, he who professes faith but does not follow in real trust in God is like a house built on the sand, which is destroyed when the storm comes (vv. 26–27 ).
True Believers in Jesus to Enter the Kingdom of Heaven
Matthew 8:5–13; Luke 7:1–10. When Jesus entered Capernaum, a centurion approached Him, asking Him to heal his servant who was in terrible suffering at his home. Jesus responded that He would go heal him ( Matt. 8:5–7 ). The centurion replied, however, that it was not necessary for Him to go because He could command, just as the centurion commanded his soldiers to do things, and it would be done (vv. 8–9 ).
The Scriptures record, “When Jesus heard this, he was astonished and said to those following him, ‘I tell you the truth, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith. I say to you that many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. But the subjects of the kingdom will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth’” (vv. 10–12 ). Then the Scriptures further record, “Then Jesus said to the centurion, ‘Go! It will be done just as you believed it would.’ And his servant was healed at that very hour” (v. 13 ).
Judgment Pronounced on Korazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum
Matthew 11:20–24. Christ declared that the cities where most of His miracles had been performed were under God’s righteous judgment because they should have responded in repentance. He stated, “Woe to you, Korazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! If the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes” (v. 21 ). Jesus further declared, “It will be more bearable for Tyre and Sidon on the day of judgment than for you” (v. 22 ).
A final judgment was pronounced on Capernaum. Jesus declared, “If the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Sodom, it would have remained to this day. But I tell you that it will be more bearable for Sodom on the day of judgment than for you” (vv. 23–24; cf. Matt. 10:15 ).
Today Capernaum, in particular, is an eloquent witness of God’s judgment, for it stands in ruins at the north end of the Sea of Galilee, in contrast to Tiberias on the west shore of Galilee, which has never been destroyed.
The Invitation to Rest in Christ
Matthew 11:28–30. In view of His rejection on the part of those who had seen the miracles, Christ extended the invitation to individuals to come and put their trust in Christ. He stated, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (vv. 28–30 ). In contrast to addressing the nation as a group, Jesus now extended the invitation to personal faith and commitment to any individual who would come to Him.
Jesus in His Healing Ministry Would Fulfill Prophecy
Matthew 12:9–20. Because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, the Pharisees plotted to kill Him (vv. 9–14 ). Knowing of their plots to kill Him, Jesus then quoted from Isaiah 42:1–4, the prophecy that was being fulfilled in His healing ministry: “Aware of this, Jesus withdrew from that place. Many followed him, and he healed all their sick, warning them not to tell who he was. This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah: ‘Here is my servant whom I have chosen, the one I love, in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on him, and he will proclaim justice to the nations. He will not quarrel or cry out; no one will hear his voice in the streets. A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out, till he leads justice to victory’” ( Matt. 12:15–20 ).
As Isaiah prophesied, Jesus was a delight to God the Father, beloved and indwelt by the Holy Spirit. He would proclaim justice but would not quarrel or cry out. His would ultimately be the victory (vv. 18–20 ).
Warning against Careless Words of Unbelief
Matthew 12:32–37; Mark 3:28–30. In reply to those who had accused Him of performing miracles by Beelzebub ( Matt. 12:24 ), Jesus had pointed out how inconsistent this was as the Devil would be fighting his own possessions. He warned, however, “And so I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come” (vv. 31–32 ).
This declaration of Christ has raised the question as to whether there are some sins that are not subject to pardon. The point was that if people rejected the demonstration that Christ is the Son of God on the basis of the miracles He performed, they were denying what the Holy Spirit was using to bring conviction and faith; and as long as they did this, their sins were not subject to being pardoned. In the twenty-first century this sin is no longer possible because no one is a witness to these miracles, but the principle abides that rejecting the Holy Spirit’s ministry to an individual can lead to his confirmed unbelief. The rejection of the very instrument that God uses to bring faith can only result in the penalty assigned to unbelievers.
Condemnation of Those Seeking a Sign
Matthew 12:38–45. In reply to some of the Pharisees and teachers of the law who demanded a miraculous sign, Jesus replied that they would receive no sign except the sign of Jonah, for just as Jonah was in a huge fish three days and three nights, so Jesus would be in the heart of the earth three days and three nights. Nineveh, which repented at the message of Jonah, would rise up in judgment against them (v. 41 ). The Queen of the South would also condemn them because she honored Solomon, and now One greater than Solomon had appeared (v. 42 ). Jesus described the worthlessness of moral renewal without real faith as one of inviting evil spirits to take up their abode. Jesus stated, “That is how it will be with this wicked generation” (v. 45 ).
Warning concerning the Cost of Discipleship
Matthew 10:24–42. Jesus warned His disciples that if the Pharisees called Him Beelzebub (v. 25 ), they should expect similar treatment. He told them, however, “So do not be afraid of them. There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known” (v. 26 ). Jesus also indicated that those who received a prophet as sent from God would be rewarded (v. 41 ). Jesus also said, “And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is my disciple, I tell you the truth, he will certainly not lose his reward” (v. 42 ).
Matthew 12:41–42. Nineveh, as well as the Queen of the South, would rise up to condemn Israel’s unbelief (vv. 41–42 ).
Matthew 12:43–45; cf. Luke 11:24–26. Self–reformation will lead only to a worse spiritual condition as it is not a permanent solution to the problem of sin.
Worship in Your Waiting
By Kristin Tabb 6/11/2017
Our daughter, like many sons and daughters, loves Christmas. One December, when she was three, she asked us if Christmas was here yet . . . every. single. day. “Just wait,” my husband and I would say. “It’s coming.”
To her delight, we assembled and lit our Christmas tree early in the month. She went to bed eagerly that night. The next morning she ran downstairs, full of expectation and hope. The tree was dark and empty. Her face crumpled, and she turned to me with a wail, “I have waited and waited and Christmas is not coming!” I smiled, but she had my full sympathy. I have waited many a day, sometimes with hope, and sometimes not.
Waiting for What We’ll Be | All of us spend most of our lives waiting, whether for “big” things like a job, a spouse, a baby, or healing, or something that feels “smaller,” like summer vacation or for little ones to grow to maturity. Waiting can be good, and hard, and it isn’t a once-in-a-lifetime occurrence. Often when we’ve received something big that we’ve waited for expectantly, we assume happiness will follow, and our desires will be permanently satisfied. Instead, we quickly find ourselves waiting for something else — and sometimes several things at once.
Waiting is a standard part of life in a finite world. Regardless of whether our waiting feels easy or hard at the moment, how we wait is shaping the people we are becoming. Worship is essential to that wait because a Godward perspective helps us to persevere with patience and hope. Endurance, Paul tells us, “produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us” (Romans 5:4–5).
Worshipful Waiting | If we long for the endurance that produces character and leads us to hope, we must be fueled by Godward worship. Psalm 27 illustrates this principle in action so beautifully. Though the psalm opens with the confident question, “Whom shall I fear?” we find that the psalmist actually has much to fear, as he waits in a seemingly endless season for deliverance. He faces evildoers, adversaries, and foes (Psalm 27:2), an army encamped against him in a rising battle (Psalm 27:3), and enemies all around him (Psalm 27:6).
How Long Have You Been Waiting? The Gift of Unanswered Prayer
By Ann Swindell 7/12/2017
I have been praying the same prayer for healing for more than twenty years.
If you’ve been praying for one particular thing over months or years or decades, then you know how exhausting and difficult it can feel to keep returning to God with the same petition.
I was just a child when I developed trichotillomania — a hair-pulling condition — and while it’s not a life-threatening condition, it has been life-altering for me. Imagine not being able to stop pulling out your own hair, even though you hate how it makes you look — and feel. That’s been my daily experience for more than half of my life.
I’ve been asking God to do what no doctor, therapy, or medication can: heal me. I have tried various therapies and supplements, and I continue to seek to walk in healing, but there’s no clear “cure” for trichotillomania. I know that if I’m going to be healed, I will need a gift of grace from God himself. And while I wholeheartedly believe in God’s ability to heal me, I also know that he hasn’t healed me over these last two decades. Not yet.
Therefore, I wait.
Ann Swindell is an author and speaker who teaches Christ-centered writing courses at WritingwithGrace.com(registration is open now!). Her newest book is Still Waiting: Hope for When God Doesn’t Give You What You Want.
The Coming of the Kingdom part 11
By Dr. Andrew Woods 01/07/2013
Because today's evangelical world believes that the church is experiencing the Messianic kingdom, we began a study chronicling what the Bible teaches about the kingdom. This earthly kingdom is anticipated in the office of Theocratic Administrator that was lost in Eden, in the biblical covenants, in the predictions of the Old Testament prophets, and in the earthly theocracy governing Israel from the time of Moses to Zedekiah. This theocratic arrangement terminated with the initiation of the "Times of the Gentiles" when the nation had no king reigning on David's Throne as Judah was trampled by various Gentile powers. Against that backdrop entered Jesus Christ, the rightful Heir to David's Throne. Had first-century Israel enthroned Christ, the earthly kingdom would have become a reality. Despite this unprecedented opportunity, Israel rejected the kingdom offer ( Matt. 12 ) leading to the kingdom's postponement.
Due to this postponement, Christ began to explain the spiritual conditions that would prevail during the kingdom's absence. This interim program includes His revelation of the kingdom mysteries ( Matt. 13 ) and the church ( Matt. 16:18 ). Regarding the kingdom mysteries of Matthew 13, as explained in previous articles, when the parables of Matthew 13 are understood together, we can gain a picture of the course of the present "mystery age."
The second aspect of the interim phase during the Messianic kingdom's postponement is Christ's revelation of the church (Matt. 16:18). The church consists of all people, including both the Jewish remnant as well as Gentiles, who have trusted in the very Messiah Israel rejected. Unlike Israel, which was a national identity, the church is a spiritual organism consisting of all nations and ethnicities (Gal. 3:28; Rom. 10:19; Eph. 2:14). The Church Age began on the Day of Pentecost in Acts 2 and will conclude with the future rapture of the church from the earth. Rather than replacing Israel, the church represents an entirely new divine work that interrupts God’s past dealings and future dealings with national Israel. As explained in previous articles, God’s present work in and through the church is not to be confused with God's program concerning the coming kingdom. There are simply not enough points of correspondence between the New Testament church and what the Scripture predicts concerning the coming kingdom.
The Church Is Not Israel
Another reason that the church should not be confused with the kingdom is that the kingdom program revolves around national Israel. The New Testament never designates the church as "Israel." In fact, the word Israel is found seventy-three times in the New Testament and it always refers to the physical descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  Sometimes Israel in the New Testament refers to believing Jews and sometimes it refers to Jews in unbelief. However, the term Israel in the New Testament always refers to those who are physical Jews. This word never refers to Gentiles, the Church, or even a group that is a mixture of both Jews and Gentiles. In other words, the term Israel is a technical term or a word that means the same thing everywhere it is employed in Scripture. This generalization even holds true with respect to the oft cited Galatians 6:16 passage. Exegetically, the expression "Israel of God" found in Galatians 6:16 only refers to believing Jews within the Galatian churches. 
Furthermore, the Book of Acts records how the church, which came into existence in Acts 2, continued to exist alongside Israel prior to the nation's destruction in A.D. 70. Throughout this period, Acts is judicious in keeping the two entities, the Church and Israel, separate. Fruchtenbaum observes,
"In the book of Acts, both Israel and the church exist simultaneously. The term Israel is used twenty times and ekklesia (church) nineteen times, yet the two groups are always kept distinct." 
The Church And Israel Represent Different Programs Of God
An additional reason that Israel is not the church is due to the fact that the church and Israel represent separate programs of God. They are two trains running on separate railroad tracks. Theologian and founder of Dallas Theological Seminary, Lewis Sperry Chafer, noted twenty-four differences between Israel and the church.  Here are a few from Chafer's list and a few of my own.
First, Israel is the wife of Jehovah ( Isa. 54:5 ) while the church is the bride of Christ ( Eph. 5:22-33 ). Second, Israel gave birth to Christ ( Rev. 12:1-5 ) whereas Christ gave birth to the church ( Matt. 16:18 ). Third, Christ will return to rescue Israel upon her national conversion at the end of the Tribulation period ( Matt. 23:37-39 ). Conversely, He will return to rescue the church at the rapture ( John 14:1-3 ). Fourth, king-subject imagery is used to depict God's relationship to Israel ( Isa. 33:22 ) while head and groom imagery is used to depict Christ's relationship with His church ( Eph. 5:22-33 ). Fifth, God's program through Israel began in Genesis 12, and His program through the church began in Acts 2 ( Matt. 16:18; 1 Cor. 12:13; Acts 1:5; 11:15-16 ).
Sixth, while four-fifths of the Bible pertains to Israel, only one-fifth of it deals with the church. Seventh, although Israel was a direct party to the biblical covenants ( Jer. 31:31-32 ), the church was not a party to these covenants since the church was not yet in existence when these covenants were made. The church's relationship to these covenants can best be described as one of a third-party beneficiary rather than a direct party to them. Therefore, the church benefits from the covenants as opposed to being a direct party to them. Eighth, Israel is a nation ( Ps. 147:20 ). As such, she is always biblically portrayed as an independent nation with borders and a capital. Even today Israel is among the nations of the earth, just like Japan, Argentina, Canada, or any other country. By contrast, the church is not a nation ( Rom 10:19 ) but rather is comprised of people from all nations ( Gal. 3:28; Eph. 2:11-22; 3:6, 15 ). Rather than taking her seat among the nations of the earth, the church is a mere pilgrim in the world system (1 Pet. 2:11).
Ninth, while Israel fought physical wars with various enemies such as the Philistines, the church is engaged in spiritual warfare with angelic enemies (Eph. 6:10-20). Tenth, the Scripture assigns numerous a quo and ad quem statements to Israel ( Gen. 15:13-16; Jer. 25:11; 29:10; Ezek. 4:5-7; Dan. 9:24-27 ). These are timing statements with a specific beginning and ending point for each period. One searches the New Testament in vain to find comparable timing statements for the church. Eleventh, Israel had a priesthood with all her priests coming from the tribe of Levi and the line of Aaron ( Exod. 28:1 ). By contrast, the church does not have a priesthood because it is a priesthood ( Rev. 1:6 ). The New Testament teaches the priesthood of all believers ( 1 Pet. 2:5, 9 ). Every Church Age believer is a priest with direct access to God the Father through God the Son ( Heb. 4:16 ).
Twelfth, while Israel will be resurrected at the beginning of the millennial kingdom ( Dan. 12:2; John 11:23-24; Rev. 20:4-5 ), Church Age believers receive their resurrected bodies at the point of the rapture ( 1 Thess. 4:13-18; 1 Cor. 15:50-58 ). Thirteenth, Israel's judgment will take place on earth, at the end of the Tribulation period, in the wilderness ( Ezek. 20:33-44 ). By contrast, the only judgment the New Testament reveals for the church is the Bema Seat judgment of rewards in heaven following the rapture ( Rom. 14:10; 1 Cor. 3:10-15; 2 Cor. 5:10 ). Fourteenth, although the gates of the New Jerusalem are named after the twelve tribes ( Rev. 21:12 ), who were the foundation of Israel ( Matt. 19:28 ), the foundations of the eternal city are named after the twelve apostles ( Rev. 21:14 ), who are the foundation of the church ( Eph. 2:20 ). Fifteenth, people become members of the commonwealth of Israel through physical birth. By contrast, membership in the church is only attained by spiritual birth ( John 3:1-9; Titus 3:5 ).
Sixteenth, Israel was directly governed by the Mosaic Law ( Ps. 147:19-20 ). By contrast, the controlling authority for the church is New Testament revelation. While all Scripture is for the church ( 2 Tim. 3:16; Rom. 15:4 ), only the New Testament's epistolary literature is directly about the church. Seventeenth, the Holy Spirit indwelt and filled Old Testament Jews selectively ( Joel 2:28 ), temporarily ( 1 Sam. 16:14; Ps. 51:11 ), and subsequent to salvation in order to enable them to accomplish a special purpose ( Exod. 31:3 ). By contrast, the Holy Spirit indwells all Church-Age believers ( 1 Cor. 12:13 ) permanently ( John 14:16 ) and at the point of salvation ( Rom. 8:9 ). Thus, the Spirit's work in and through Israel cannot be used as a pattern to depict the believer's normative experience with the Holy Spirit in the present age ( John 7:37-39; 14:16-17; Acts 1:5 ). Eighteenth, while Christ's farewell address to Israel ( Matt. 24:15, 20 ) is recorded in the Olivet Discourse ( Matt. 24-25 ), His farewell address to the church ( John 16:12-13 ) is found in the Upper Room Discourse ( John 13-17 ). Nineteenth, although Israel is referred to as God's first-born son ( Exod. 4:22 ), the church is never given this same designation or title. Twentieth, while Israel's program is revealed in the Old Testament, the church's program was unknown in Old Testament times. Because the church is a New Testament mystery ( Eph. 3:3-6 ), or something previously hidden and now unveiled ( Rom. 16:25-26 ), Church Age doctrine comes exclusively from the New Testament ( Matt. 16:18; John 13-17 ) rather than the Old Testament. Noting such differences should caution us against taking prophecies and promises that are specifically aimed at God’s kingdom program through Israel and misapplying them to the present dispensation of the Church Age.
ENDNOTES Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum, By Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum Israelology: The Missing Link in Systematic Theology (Revised) [Hardcover] (Tustin, CA: Ariel, 1994), 684-90.
 S. Lewis Johnson, "Paul and the 'Israel of God': An Exegetical and Eschatological Case-Study," in Essays in honor of J. Dwight Pentecost,, ed. Stanley D. Toussaint and Charles H. Dyer (Chicago: Moody, 1986), 181-96.
 Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum, "Israel and the Church," in Issues in Dispensationalism, ed. Wesley R. Willis and John R. Master (Chicago: Moody, 1994), 118.
 Lewis Sperry Chafer, Chafer Systematic Theology (8 volume set). (Dallas: Dallas Seminary, 1948; reprint, [8 vols. in 4], Grand Rapids: Kregel, 1993), 4:47-53.
Dr. Andrew Woods Books
Note I copied this article from The Bible Prophecy Blog.
Dr. Andrew Woods Ministry Page, YouTube Channel, and Church.
Read The Psalms In "1" Year
Psalm 96Worship in the Splendor of Holiness
1 Oh sing to the LORD a new song;
sing to the LORD, all the earth!
2 Sing to the LORD, bless his name;
tell of his salvation from day to day.
3 Declare his glory among the nations,
his marvelous works among all the peoples!
4 For great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised;
he is to be feared above all gods.
5 For all the gods of the peoples are worthless idols,
but the LORD made the heavens.
6 Splendor and majesty are before him;
strength and beauty are in his sanctuary.
7 Ascribe to the LORD, O families of the peoples,
ascribe to the LORD glory and strength!
8 Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name;
bring an offering, and come into his courts!
9 Worship the LORD in the splendor of holiness;
tremble before him, all the earth!
The Puritans on Prayer
By Colin Rowley 6/01/2012
Psalm 66:18 states, “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear.” In our present day, how often do we hear the truth that God does not hear the prayers of the unrighteous? In my personal voyage, I have very rarely, if ever, read a book or heard a sermon addressing this characteristic of prayer. Unfortunately, the evangelical church has become subject to the seeker-sensitive tactics that have drastic effects on the communication of the truths of God’s Word. A perfect example of this is a recent book on prayer that was No. 1 on the New York Times bestseller list for 35 weeks in 2001 and has sold more than 8 million copies. Most of us have seen this book, maybe even read it, but it fails to deliver the entire counsel of God.
It is truly unfortunate that the Christian culture has digressed so much in comparison to what it was even a few hundred years ago during the Puritan era. It is probable that the Puritans, as defined by the late Dr. John H. Gerstner, were some of the godliest men in the history of the church since the apostles. Their spiritual wisdom and application are rarely found in today’s pulpits, but thanks to Soli Deo Gloria Publications and other publishers, their sermons and other writings are still in print and available for our edification.
I do not think I would be off base in stating that prayer is difficult for all of us. I am constantly struggling to be diligent and consistent in my own prayer life. But in God’s glorious providence, I picked up a book recently that helped me rediscover the importance and the duty we have in having ceaseless communion with our heavenly Father.
The Puritans on Prayer is a compilation of sermons put together by three of the leading preachers of the Puritan era: John Preston, Nathaniel Vincent, and Samuel Lee. Within this single volume are found a plethora of Biblical insights, helping to define godly prayer, explain the purposes behind it, and apply Biblical wisdom to our prayer lives so as to make it edifying to our spirits and ultimately acceptable to the Lord. Truthfully, I have never seen so much helpful insight in one book.
This book is unique in that it communicates the character of true godly prayer as gleaned from the Scriptures. Preston, for instance, reminds us that prayer is our duty before God and declares, “He will have it done for His honor’s sake.” In everything we do, including prayer, our motivation should be the glory of God alone.
But how often are our times of prayer interrupted, delayed, or even cancelled for the sake of other “priorities”? Scripture warns us of this, stating, “But the end of all things is at hand; therefore be serious and watchful in your prayers” (1 Peter 4:7). In fear of falling into snares of the flesh and the devil, Vincent prescribes various medications, including “watching as a necessary ingredient.” In fact, Jesus advises us to be cautious even to the extent of entering into a closet and locking the door behind us to pray to the Father, who is in secret (Matt. 6:6). It is within these preliminary duties that God begins to enter into communion with us, and, according to Samuel Lee, “smell a sweet savor in the fragrant perfumes and odors of His intercession.”
I do not count it coincidence that Soli Deo Gloria Publications is devoted to the reprinting of the Puritans, whose ultimate concern was giving God the glory alone. Thanks be to God for leading Soli Deo Gloria to compile such volumes for the benefit of the entire kingdom of God.
The Continual Burnt Offering (Acts 10:34)
By H.A. Ironside - 1941
September 1Acts 10:34 So Peter opened his mouth and said: “Truly I understand that God shows no partiality, 35 but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him. ESV
In the life and ministry of Simon Peter we see how God made an outstanding witness to His truth from most unlikely material. Who would have thought of the rugged, impetuous, profane fisherman Simon ever becoming the eloquent, spiritual preacher whose burning words would be used to the conversion of thousands of souls? But God works with what He brings, not simply with what He finds. Simon the fisherman, regenerated, becomes Peter the apostle, to whose sermons and letters the whole world owes a debt that it can never pay. While his ministry was primarily toward the Jews, yet the “branches run over the wall” (Genesis 49:22), and he was the one specially chosen of God to open the door of faith to the Gentiles (Acts 15:7). A man of strong prejudices, his narrow views were superseded by remarkable breadth of vision when taught by the Holy Spirit. Like his brother apostle, Paul, he delighted in “the true grace of God” (1 Peter 5:12), which knows no national or racial boundaries. Hence his messages are the delight of believers from among the nations whom he once despised, as well as among the Jews who have found in the Lord Jesus the promised Messiah.
Genesis 49:22 “Joseph is a fruitful bough,
a fruitful bough by a spring;
his branches run over the wall.
1 Peter 5:12 By Silvanus, a faithful brother as I regard him, I have written briefly to you, exhorting and declaring that this is the true grace of God. Stand firm in it. ESV
Called from above, and heavenly men by birth,
(Who once were but the citizens of earth)
As pilgrims here, we seek a heavenly home,
Our portion, in the ages yet to come.
Where all the saints of ev’ry clime shall meet,
And each with all shall all the ransomed greet,
But oh, the height of bliss, my Lord, shall be
To owe it all, and share it all, with Thee!
--- J. G. Deck
Devotionals, notes, poetry and more
by Bill Federer
The British invaded Washington, D.C. The Capitol was burned. President James and Dolly Madison fled the White House. On this day, September 1, 1814, President Madison wrote: “The enemy by a sudden incursion has succeeded in invading the capitol of the nation… During their possession… though for a single day only, they wantonly destroyed the public edifices…. An occasion which appeals so forcibly to the … patriotic devotion of the American people, none will forget… Independence… is now to be maintained… with the strength and resources which… Heaven has blessed.”American Minute
Compiled by Richard S. Adams
Life is a journey, not a home;
a road, not a city of habitation;
and the enjoyments and blessings we have
are but little inns on the roadside of life,
where we may be refreshed for a moment,
that we may with new strength press on to the end -
to the rest that remaineth for the people of God.
--- Horatius Bonar
I expect to pass through this world but once. Any good, therefore, that I can do or any kindness I can show to any fellow creature, let me do it now. Let me not defer or neglect it for I shall not pass this way again.
--- author disputed http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Stephen_Grellet
Self is the great antichrist and anti-God in the world, that sets up itself above all else.
--- Stephen Charnock
One of the peculiar sins of the twentieth century which we've developed to a very high level is the sin of credulity. It has been said that when human beings stop believing in God they believe in nothing. The truth is much worse: they believe in anything.
--- Malcolm Muggeridge
... from here, there and everywhere
by Richard S. Adams
I was reading H.A. Ironside and he used the expression, the branches ran over the wall. I thought of vines, how they climb over our walls, fences, lattice. I thought of the lemon tree in a yard next to Ryan’s yard and how a branch full of lemons hung over the wall and into his yard.
“The branches ran over the wall.” I love that expression. It makes me think of my beautiful wife. She has been cleaning people’s houses for over ten years. I know her clients appreciate her. They give her gifts, tips and tell her she should raise her price. She came to them only by recommendation. They see she works hard. Their homes testify to her thoroughness.
When they can her clients will stop her to visit because she is light-hearted, friendly and laughs easily. She is a joy to be around. Her integrity and honesty have been proven. Her clients leave their keys with her when they go on vacation because they trust her. I am very proud of her. I am honored to be her friend. I am honored to be her husband.
I’m sure her clients think they know her well, but they don’t. The sweet young lady of 63, she looks young, is a warrior.
They don’t know how steeped she is in God’s Word. They don’t know how she prays for them every night. They don’t see her spirit surge with anger as she calls on the name of Jesus when evil threatens.
My bride is more than she appears to be. Her branches, like the lemon tree next to Ryan’s fence, do indeed run over the wall.
Richard S. Adams | Lover of Christ, husband of Lily, father of four, grandfather of eleven, Masters in Divinity and Certificate in Spiritual Direction. On staff at George Fox 1/2009 to 7/2018.
Jan 23 Potholes
Jan 24 The Hornet
Jan 26 Dealing With Disappointment
Jan 27 Lost
Jan 28 Life Support, A Non-Stop Flight
Feb 5 Prosperity and the Camp Fire
Feb 7 Job 6:14-23
Feb 10 Spontaneous Generation
Feb 14 Hindsight
Feb 18 The Cure For Despair
Feb 22 RE: Job's Friends
Feb 23 Job 23:14
Feb 25 No Time To Text
Mar 5 Polemics and Caricature
Mar 6 Polemics and Caricature
Mar 17 A Walk In The Rain
Mar 25 The Corona Virus
Apr 20 Death and My Master's Voice
Apr 26 The Unexpected Blessing Returns
May 10 Ruth | Relationships
May 25 Jesus and the Passover
June 2 Extension Cords
June 18 Lincoln City 6/2/18
July 14 Tom - Gen and Revelation
July 15 Knowledge and World Peace
July 16 The Church as Lobbyist
Aug 3 Have You Noticed
Sept 1 Branches Ran Over The Wall
Sept 2 1 Corinthians 9:1-2
Sept 2 Many Young Folks Get This
Nov 27 The Way The World Is
Nov 30 The Renewal Of Israel
Dec 11 Open Door
Dec 20 Replacement Theology
Thanks to Meir Yona
6. Now the people were come to that degree of meanness and fear, and these robbers to that degree of madness, that these last took upon them to appoint high priests. 4 So when they had disannulled the succession, according to those families out of which the high priests used to be made, they ordained certain unknown and ignoble persons for that office, that they might have their assistance in their wicked undertakings; for such as obtained this highest of all honors, without any desert, were forced to comply with those that bestowed it on them. They also set the principal men at variance one with another, by several sorts of contrivances and tricks, and gained the opportunity of doing what they pleased, by the mutual quarrels of those who might have obstructed their measures; till at length, when they were satiated with the unjust actions they had done towards men, they transferred their contumelious behavior to God himself, and came into the sanctuary with polluted feet.
7. And now the multitude were going to rise against them already; for Ananus, the ancientest of the high priests, persuaded them to it. He was a very prudent man, and had perhaps saved the city if he could but have escaped the hands of those that plotted against him. These men made the temple of God a strong hold for them, and a place whither they might resort, in order to avoid the troubles they feared from the people; the sanctuary was now become a refuge, and a shop of tyranny. They also mixed jesting among the miseries they introduced, which was more intolerable than what they did; for in order to try what surprise the people would be under, and how far their own power extended, they undertook to dispose of the high priesthood by casting lots for it, whereas, as we have said already, it was to descend by succession in a family. The pretense they made for this strange attempt was an ancient practice, while they said that of old it was determined by lot; but in truth, it was no better than a dissolution of an undeniable law, and a cunning contrivance to seize upon the government, derived from those that presumed to appoint governors as they themselves pleased.
8. Hereupon they sent for one of the pontifical tribes, which is called Eniachim, 5and cast lots which of it should be the high priest. By fortune the lot so fell as to demonstrate their iniquity after the plainest manner, for it fell upon one whose name was Phannias, the son of Samuel, of the village Aphtha. He was a man not only unworthy of the high priesthood, but that did not well know what the high priesthood was, such a mere rustic was he! yet did they hail this man, without his own consent, out of the country, as if they were acting a play upon the stage, and adorned him with a counterfeit tree; they also put upon him the sacred garments, and upon every occasion instructed him what he was to do. This horrid piece of wickedness was sport and pastime with them, but occasioned the other priests, who at a distance saw their law made a jest of, to shed tears, and sorely lament the dissolution of such a sacred dignity.
9. And now the people could no longer bear the insolence of this procedure, but did all together run zealously, in order to overthrow that tyranny; and indeed they were Gorion the son of Josephus, and Symeon the son of Gamaliel, 6 who encouraged them, by going up and down when they were assembled together in crowds, and as they saw them alone, to bear no longer, but to inflict punishment upon these pests and plagues of their freedom, and to purge the temple of these bloody polluters of it. The best esteemed also of the high priests, Jesus the son of Gamalas, and Ananus the son of Ananus when they were at their assemblies, bitterly reproached the people for their sloth, and excited them against the zealots; for that was the name they went by, as if they were zealous in good undertakings, and were not rather zealous in the worst actions, and extravagant in them beyond the example of others.
10. And now, when the multitude were gotten together to an assembly, and every one was in indignation at these men's seizing upon the sanctuary, at their rapine and murders, but had not yet begun their attacks upon them, [the reason of which was this, that they imagined it to be a difficult thing to suppress these zealots, as indeed the case was,] Ananus stood in the midst of them, and casting his eyes frequently at the temple, and having a flood of tears in his eyes, he said, "Certainly it had been good for me to die before I had seen the house of God full of so many abominations, or these sacred places, that ought not to be trodden upon at random, filled with the feet of these blood-shedding villains; yet do I, who am clothed with the vestments of the high priesthood, and am called by that most venerable name [of high priest], still live, and am but too fond of living, and cannot endure to undergo a death which would be the glory of my old age; and if I were the only person concerned, and as it were in a desert, I would give up my life, and that alone for God's sake; for to what purpose is it to live among a people insensible of their calamities, and where there is no notion remaining of any remedy for the miseries that are upon them? for when you are seized upon, you bear it! and when you are beaten, you are silent! and when the people are murdered, nobody dare so much as send out a groan openly! O bitter tyranny that we are under! But why do I complain of the tyrants? Was it not you, and your sufferance of them, that have nourished them? Was it not you that overlooked those that first of all got together, for they were then but a few, and by your silence made them grow to be many; and by conniving at them when they took arms, in effect armed them against yourselves? You ought to have then prevented their first attempts, when they fell a reproaching your relations; but by neglecting that care in time, you have encouraged these wretches to plunder men. When houses were pillaged, nobody said a word, which was the occasion why they carried off the owners of those houses; and when they were drawn through the midst of the city, nobody came to their assistance. They then proceeded to put those whom you have betrayed into their hands into bonds. I do not say how many and of what characters those men were whom they thus served; but certainly they were such as were accused by none, and condemned by none; and since nobody succored them when they were put into bonds, the consequence was, that you saw the same persons slain. We have seen this also; so that still the best of the herd of brute animals, as it were, have been still led to be sacrificed, when yet nobody said one word, or moved his right hand for their preservation. Will you bear, therefore, will you bear to see your sanctuary trampled on? and will you lay steps for these profane wretches, upon which they may mount to higher degrees of insolence? Will not you pluck them down from their exaltation? for even by this time they had proceeded to higher enormities, if they had been able to overthrow any thing greater than the sanctuary. They have seized upon the strongest place of the whole city; you may call it the temple, if you please, though it be like a citadel or fortress. Now, while you have tyranny in so great a degree walled in, and see your enemies over your heads, to what purpose is it to take counsel? and what have you to support your minds withal? Perhaps you wait for the Romans, that they may protect our holy places: are our matters then brought to that pass? and are we come to that degree of misery, that our enemies themselves are expected to pity us? O wretched creatures! will not you rise up and turn upon those that strike you? which you may observe in wild beasts themselves, that they will avenge themselves on those that strike them. Will you not call to mind, every one of you, the calamities you yourselves have suffered? nor lay before your eyes what afflictions you yourselves have undergone? and will not such things sharpen your souls to revenge? Is therefore that most honorable and most natural of our passions utterly lost, I mean the desire of liberty? Truly we are in love with slavery, and in love with those that lord it over us, as if we had received that principle of subjection from our ancestors; yet did they undergo many and great wars for the sake of liberty, nor were they so far overcome by the power of the Egyptians, or the Medes, but that still they did what they thought fit, notwithstanding their commands to the contrary. And what occasion is there now for a war with the Romans? [I meddle not with determining whether it be an advantageous and profitable war or not.] What pretense is there for it? Is it not that we may enjoy our liberty? Besides, shall we not bear the lords of the habitable earth to be lords over us, and yet bear tyrants of our own country? Although I must say that submission to foreigners may be borne, because fortune hath already doomed us to it, while submission to wicked people of our own nation is too unmanly, and brought upon us by our own consent. However, since I have had occasion to mention the Romans, I will not conceal a thing that, as I am speaking, comes into my mind, and affects me considerably; it is this, that though we should be taken by them, [God forbid the event should be so!] yet can we undergo nothing that will be harder to be borne than what these men have already brought upon us. How then can we avoid shedding of tears, when we see the Roman donations in our temple, while we withal see those of our own nation taking our spoils, and plundering our glorious metropolis, and slaughtering our men, from which enormities those Romans themselves would have abstained? to see those Romans never going beyond the bounds allotted to profane persons, nor venturing to break in upon any of our sacred customs; nay, having a horror on their minds when they view at a distance those sacred walls; while some that have been born in this very country, and brought up in our customs, and called Jews, do walk about in the midst of the holy places, at the very time when their hands are still warm with the slaughter of their own countrymen. Besides, can any one be afraid of a war abroad, and that with such as will have comparatively much greater moderation than our own people have? For truly, if we may suit our words to the things they represent, it is probable one may hereafter find the Romans to be the supporters of our laws, and those within ourselves the subverters of them. And now I am persuaded that every one of you here comes satisfied before I speak that these overthrowers of our liberties deserve to be destroyed, and that nobody can so much as devise a punishment that they have not deserved by what they have done, and that you are all provoked against them by those their wicked actions, whence you have suffered so greatly. But perhaps many of you are affrighted at the multitude of those zealots, and at their audaciousness, as well as at the advantage they have over us in their being higher in place than we are; for these circumstances, as they have been occasioned by your negligence, so will they become still greater by being still longer neglected; for their multitude is every day augmented, by every ill man's running away to those that are like to themselves, and their audaciousness is therefore inflamed, because they meet with no obstruction to their designs. And for their higher place, they will make use of it for engines also, if we give them time to do so; but be assured of this, that if we go up to fight them, they will be made tamer by their own consciences, and what advantages they have in the height of their situation they will lose by the opposition of their reason; perhaps also God himself, who hath been affronted by them, will make what they throw at us return against themselves, and these impious wretches will be killed by their own darts: let us but make our appearance before them, and they will come to nothing. However, it is a right thing, if there should be any danger in the attempt, to die before these holy gates, and to spend our very lives, if not for the sake of our children and wives, yet for God's sake, and for the sake of his sanctuary. I will assist you both with my counsel and with my hand; nor shall any sagacity of ours be wanting for your support; nor shall you see that I will be sparing of my body neither."
The Project Gutenberg EBook of The Wars of the Jews or History of the Destruction of Jerusalem, by Flavius Josephus Translator: William Whiston
by D.H. Stern
and don’t desire to be with them.
2 For their minds are occupied with violence,
and their lips speak of making trouble.
Complete Jewish Bible : An English Version of the Tanakh (Old Testament) and B'Rit Hadashah (New Testament)
A Daily Devotional by Oswald Chambers
My Utmost for His Highest
Destiny of holiness
Ye shall be holy; for I am holy. --- 1 Peter 1:16 (R.V.).
Continually restate to yourself what the purpose of your life is. The destined end of man is not happiness, nor health, but holiness. Nowadays we have far too many affinities, we are dissipated with them; right, good, noble affinities which will yet have their fulfilment, but in the meantime God has to atrophy them. The one thing that matters is whether a man will accept the God Who will make him holy. At all costs a man must be rightly related to God.
Do I believe I need to be holy? Do I believe God can come into me and make me holy? If by your preaching you convince me that I am unholy, I resent your preaching. The preaching of the Gospel awakens an intense resentment because it must reveal that I am unholy; but it also awakens an intense craving. God has one destined end for mankind, viz., holiness. His one aim is the production of saints. God is not an eternal blessing-machine for men; He did not come to save men out of pity: He came to save men because He had created them to be holy. The Atonement means that God can put me back into perfect union with Himself, without a shadow between, through the Death of Jesus Christ.
Never tolerate through sympathy with yourself or with others any practice that is not in keeping with a holy God. Holiness means unsullied walking with the feet, unsullied talking with the tongue, unsullied thinking with the mind—every detail of the life under the scrutiny of God. Holiness is not only what God gives me, but what I manifest that God has given me.
the Poetry of RS Thomas
Selected poems, 1946-1968
His first ship; his last poem;
And between them what turbulent acres
Of sea or land with always the flesh ebbing
In slow waves over the salt bones.
But don't be too hard; so to have written
Even in smoke on such fierce skies,
Or to have brought one poem safely to harbour
From such horizons is not now to be scorned.
My apple trees will never get across
And eat the cones under his pines, I tell him.
He only says, “Good fences make good neighbors.”
So wrote Robert Frost. He also wrote, in the same poem: (Mending Wall)
Before I built a wall I’d ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out.
The laissez-faire attitude toward a neighbor, as projected by the protagonist in Frost’s poem, is antithetical to the Jewish value of community. Good fences do not make good neighbors, not only because community is a value, but also because (as the protagonist later acknowledges) we don’t necessarily know what we’re walling in, or out.
In the case of the environment, we cannot build fences from our neighbors. What others do ultimately affects us, just as our own actions have a strong impact on those near us. If a local factory pollutes the air, there is no way that we will remain immune from its effects. If I pour antifreeze down the drain, my pollution will have an impact on the entire community. What each of us does affects the other. There is no wall, dam, or barrier that will perfectly protect us from harm.
The Rabbis understood this as they wrote this Midrash:
When the Holy One, praised is He, created the first human, He took him around to all the trees in the Garden of Eden, saying to him: “Look at how beautiful and splendid my creations are! All that I created—I created for you. Pay attention that you not ruin and destroy My world, for if you ruin it, there will be no one after you to repair it.” (Ecclesiastes Rabbah 7:13)
All human beings live on one planet, in one large community. We cannot close our eyes to the offenses of our neighbors, nor can we hope that our misdeeds will not harm others. We are all guarantors one for the other.
The line “All Israel are guarantors one for the other” has been invoked many times to emphasize the unity and solidarity of the Jewish people. In a pinch, we are there for one another, But what exactly does this adage require of us?
The Hebrew word עֲרֵבִים/areivim, “guarantors,” signifies a financial obligation. When the poor lack food, clothing, or shelter, we have to give tzedakah and provide those things for them. When an orphan girl is ready to get married, the community must step forward and do the mitzvah of hakhnasat kallah and provide a dowry for the bride. When Jews are taken hostage and are being held for ransom, other Jews collect money for pidyon shevuyyim, the redeeming of the captives.
In addition to the financial responsibility, the phrase also implies a moral obligation. As the Midrash teaches, one person’s sins could cause many others to stumble. Consequently, each member of the community has a stake in what every other member does.
Several times during Yom Kippur, we recite the prayer Al Ḥet. It is a catalogue of sins, listed in alphabetical order. Each line begins with the formula, “For the sin that we have committed by …” and ends with a specific transgression. Most people read through the list and probably think “I didn’t do this one” or “I’m not guilty of that one.” But the instructions are not “Check those that apply.” Instead, every person is supposed to recite all the sins. Why is this so? Two reasons are offered. First, we don’t pray for ourselves alone. Virtually every Jewish prayer is written in the plural; if we didn’t commit this particular sin, or that one, then some other Jew did. And when we ask God to forgive us, it is not only for our individual sins; it is for all the collective sins of the Jewish people. As we say in the Al Ḥet prayer, “for the sins that we have committed.…”
But there is a second reason. We are all responsible for each other. If a family member sinned, we are partially responsible. If a friend or neighbor did wrong, then some of the blame rests with us. It is our sin too, because we did not stop them. In Leviticus 19:17 we read the following: “Reprove your kinsman but incur no guilt because of him.” This verse is interpreted by the Rabbis to mean that we cannot just sit back and watch as other people do wrong. We have a responsibility to prevent them from doing wrong, even if it takes a hundred warnings, even if they curse us, even if they strike us. In Jewish law, it is not “Every man for himself.” Rather, each of us is obligated to look out for the other—not only financially, but morally as well.
Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law. --- Psalm 119:18.
True wonder is never dispelled by what we know.
(The Afterglow Of God:
Sunday Evenings In A Glasgow Pulpit (1912) )
That alone is genuine wonder—the wonder not of ignorance but of knowledge, the wonder that does not vanish when we know but grows and deepens with everything we know. It was the wonder of the apostle Paul. It was the wonder in the heart of Jesus. And it is the wonder we will feel forever in the perfected knowledge of eternity.
It is not knowledge, then, that is the foe of wonder; it is something far more commonplace than that. The blight that wilts our faculty of wonder is the familiarity that begets contempt. Someone has said that if all the stars were to cease shining for a hundred years and then were suddenly to flash on again, there is not an eye on earth but would be lifted heavenward and not a heart but would break forth in praise to God. But the stars were there when we were little children, and they will be shining in the heavens tonight. And to us the spectacle is so familiar that we have lost the wonder of it all. Live forty years in such a world as this and a certain blindness falls on the eyes. And therefore the need that when the Evening falls, the Morning breaks, and the summer comes again, we should pray as the psalmist prayed so long ago, “Lord, open my eyes that I may see.”
May I say in passing that all great experiences tend to recreate the sense of wonder? Sickness, sorrow, death, conversion have a way of bringing new wonder into everything. And I suggest that in the will of God, which is as merciful as it is wise, that recreating of the sense of wonder may be one purpose of many an hour of discipline.
--- George H. Morrison
The Pagan Pontiff September 1
The history of the church tells lessons good and bad. Its heroes include the noblest saints who ever lived, but its rosters also record scoundrels who have blackened its name. For example …
In 1460 29-year-old Cardinal Rodrigo Borgia of Spain fumed as he opened the letter from the reigning pope. Pius II was upset over news of another wild Borgia party. “None of the allurements of love was lacking,” the pope complained. He condemned Borgia’s orgies, warning him of “disgrace” and “contempt.”
But Borgia, ever more unrestrained, advanced in office until he purchased the papacy itself in 1492. He called himself Pope Alexander VI. His sinful exploits increased with age, and he always kept a stable of women.
But Pope Alexander was upstaged by his illegitimate daughter, Lucrezia Borgia. What we know of Lucrezia is sketchy but vivid. She was charming, shrewd, and bewitching. Her long, golden hair crowned her angelic face and reached almost to her feet. She inherited her father’s lustiness as a teenager.
Her brother Caesar had become a cardinal who mixed church work with immorality and murder. And another Borgia brother, Juan, was equally immoral.
In the 1490s Rome gossiped that Lucrezia was sleeping with her father and both her brothers—incest upon incest and that the brothers were violently jealous. On the Morning of June 15, 1497, Juan’s corpse was found in the Tiber, bearing nine dagger wounds. Caesar was suspected, though nothing was proven.
Lucrezia became pregnant. The Vatican sought to hide her condition, but word filtered out. The child was named Giovanni. But who was his father? On September 1, 1501 Pope Alexander VI issued two extraordinary edicts. The first, which was made public, identified Giovanni as Caesar’s child. But the second, hidden in church vaults, identified Giovanni as the pope’s own son, making Pope Alexander both the child’s father and his grandfather.
A young monk named Martin Luther was watching.
I have heard terrible things about some of you. In fact, you are behaving worse than the Gentiles. A man is even sleeping with his own stepmother. Don’t you know how a little yeast can spread through the whole batch of dough? Get rid of the old yeast!
--- 1 Corinthians 5:1,6,7a.
Daily Readings / CHARLES H. SPURGEON
Morning - September 1
“Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel, and afterward receive me to glory.” --- Psalm 73:24.
The Psalmist felt his need of divine guidance. He had just been discovering the foolishness of his own heart, and lest he should be constantly led astray by it, he resolved that God’s counsel should henceforth guide him. A sense of our own folly is a great step towards being wise, when it leads us to rely on the wisdom of the Lord. The blind man leans on his friend’s arm and reaches home in safety, and so would we give ourselves up implicitly to divine guidance, nothing doubting; assured that though we cannot see, it is always safe to trust the all-seeing God. “Thou shalt,” is a blessed expression of confidence. He was sure that the Lord would not decline the condescending task. There is a word for thee, O believer; rest thou in it. Be assured that thy God will be thy counsellor and friend; he shall guide thee; he will direct all thy ways. In his written Word thou hast this assurance in part fulfilled, for holy Scripture is his counsel to thee. Happy are we to have God’s Word always to guide us! What were the mariner without his compass? And what were the Christian without the Bible? This is the unerring chart, the map in which every shoal is described, and all the channels from the quicksands of destruction to the haven of salvation mapped and marked by one who knows all the way. Blessed be thou, O God, that we may trust thee to guide us now, and guide us even to the end! After this guidance through life, the Psalmist anticipates a divine reception at last—“and afterward receive me to glory.” What a thought for thee, believer! God himself will receive thee to glory—thee! Wandering, erring, straying, yet he will bring thee safe at last to glory! This is thy portion; live on it this day, and if perplexities should surround thee, go in the strength of this text straight to the throne.
Evening - September 1
“Trust in him at all times.”
--- Psalm 62:8.
Faith is as much the rule of temporal as of spiritual life; we ought to have faith in God for our earthly affairs as well as for our heavenly business. It is only as we learn to trust in God for the supply of all our daily need that we shall live above the world. We are not to be idle, that would show we did not trust in God, who worketh hitherto, but in the devil, who is the father of idleness. We are not to be imprudent or rash; that were to trust chance, and not the living God, who is a God of economy and order. Acting in all prudence and uprightness, we are to rely simply and entirely upon the Lord at all times.
Let me commend to you a life of trust in God in temporal things. Trusting in God, you will not be compelled to mourn because you have used sinful means to grow rich. Serve God with integrity, and if you achieve no success, at least no sin will lie upon your conscience. Trusting God, you will not be guilty of self-contradiction. He who trusts in craft, sails this way to-day, and that way the next, like a vessel tossed about by the fickle wind; but he that trusteth in the Lord is like a vessel propelled by steam, she cuts through the waves, defies the wind, and makes one bright silvery straightforward track to her destined haven. Be you a man with living principles within; never bow to the varying customs of worldly wisdom. Walk in your path of integrity with steadfast steps, and show that you are invincibly strong in the strength which confidence in God alone can confer. Thus you will be delivered from anxious care, you will not be troubled with evil tidings, your heart will be fixed, trusting in the Lord. How pleasant to float along the stream of providence! There is no more blessed way of living than a life of dependence upon a covenant-keeping God. We have no care, for he careth for us; we have no troubles, because we cast our burdens upon the Lord.
THE CHURCH’S ONE FOUNDATION
Samuel J. Stone, 1839–1900
… Christ is the head of the church, His body, of which He is the Savior. Ephesians 5:23)
During an especially heated period of theological controversy in England in 1866 when liberalism threatened to destroy the great cardinal doctrines of the Anglican church, this hymn was written by Pastor Samuel Stone. He was a strong supporter of the conservative faith and refused to compromise in any way the critical attacks on doctrinal orthodoxy.
It was Stone’s desire to write a hymn that would reaffirm the Lordship of Christ as the foundation of the church. To combat the skeptical liberal scholarship, Samuel Stone wrote twelve hymn texts based on the Apostles’ Creed. This particular text refers to the ninth article: “The Holy Catholic (Universal) Church, the communion of saints: He is the Head of this body.”
Described as the poor man’s pastor, Samuel Stone demonstrated his firm belief in the church as the instrument of Christ for meeting the needs of people. He spent much time ministering to the poor and underprivileged people in London’s East End. It was said that “he created a beautiful place of worship for the humble folk and made it a center of light in dark places.”
This is what the local church was meant to be—a spiritual hospital for hurting humanity, never an exclusive private club for self-righteous Christians. Called out from the world by God for Himself, the church consists of people who meet regularly for worship, inspiration, instruction, and fellowship. After that, Christ our Head sends His own back into the world to represent Him and to model His love for all mankind.
The Church’s one foundation is Jesus Christ her Lord; She is His new creation by water and the Word: from heav’n He came and sought her to be His holy bride; with His own blood He bought her, and for her life He died.
Elect from ev’ry nation, yet one o’er all the earth, her charter of salvation One Lord, one faith, one birth; one holy name she blesses, partakes one holy food, and to one hope she presses, with ev’ry grace endued.
Yet she on earth hath union with God the Three in One, and mystic sweet communion with those whose rest is won: O happy ones and holy! Lord, give us grace that we, like them, the meek and lowly, on high may dwell with Thee.
For Today: Matthew 16:15–18; 1 Corinthians 3:11; Colossians 1:18
Give thanks to God for your local church as well as for fellow-believers of the church universal everywhere. Affirm your conviction in Christ as the head of the church as you carry this musical truth ---
DISCOURSE IV - ON SPIRITUAL WORSHIP
JOHN 4:24. —God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth. HAVING thus despatched the first proposition, “God is a Spirit,” it will not be amiss to handle the inference our Saviour makes from that proposition, which is the second observation propounded.
Doct. That the worship due from us to God ought to be spiritual, and spiritually performed. Spirit and truth are understood variously. We are to worship God,
1. Not by legal ceremonies. The evangelical administration being called spirit, in opposition to the legal ordinances as carnal; and truth in opposition to them as typical. As the whole Judaical service is called flesh, so the whole evangelical service is called spirit; or spirit may be opposed to the worship at Jerusalem, as it was carnal; truth, to the worship on the Mount Gerizim, because it was false. They had not the true object of worship, nor the true medium of worship as those at Jerusalem had. Their worship should cease, because it was false; and the Jewish worship should cease, because it was carnal. There is no need of a candle when the sun spreads his beams in the air; no need of those ceremonies when the Sun of righteousness appeared; they only served for candles to instruct and direct men till the time of his coming. The shadows are chased away by displaying the substance, so that they can be of no more use in the worship of God, since the end for which they were instituted is expired; and that discovered to us in the gospel, which the Jews sought for in vain among the baggage and stuff’ of their ceremonies.
2. With a spiritual and sincere frame. In spirit, i. e. with spirit; with the inward operations of all the faculties of our souls, and the cream and flower of them; and the reason is, because there ought to be a worship suitable to the nature of God; and as the worship was to be spiritual, so the exercise of that worship ought to be in a spiritual manner. It shall be a worship “in truth,” because the true God shall be adored without those vain imaginations and fantastic resemblances of him, which were common among the blind Gentiles, and contrary to the glorious nature of God, and unworthy ingredients in religious services. It shall be a worship “in spirit,” without those carnal rites the degenerate Jews rested on; such a posture of soul which is the life and ornament of every service God looks for at your hands. There must be some proportion between the object adored, and the manner in which we adore it; it must not be a mere corporeal worship, because God is not a body; but it must rise from the centre of our soul, because God is a Spirit. If he were a body, a bodily worship might suit him, images might be fit to represent him; but being a Spirit, our bodily services enter us not into communion with him. Being a spirit, we must banish from our minds all carnal imaginations of him, and separate from our wills all cold and dissembled affections to him. We must not only have a loud voice, but an elevated soul; not only a bended knee, but a broken heart; not only a supplicating tone, but a groaning spirit; not only a ready ear for the word, but a receiving heart; and this shall be of greater value with him, than the most costly outward services offered at Gerizim or Jerusalem. Our Saviour certainly meant not by worshipping in spirit, only the matter of the evangelical service, as oppose to the legal administration, without the manner wherein it was to be performed. It is true, God always sought a worship in spirit; he expected the heart of the worshipper should join with his instituted rights of adoration in every exercise of them; but he expects such a carriage more under the gospel administration, because of the clearer discoveries of his nature made in it, and the greater assistances conveyed by it. I shall, therefore, 1. Lay down some general propositions. 2. Show what this spiritual worship is. 3. Why we must offer to God a spiritual service. 4. The use.
1. Some general propositions. Prop. I. The right exercise of worship is founded upon, and riseth from, the spirituality of God. The first ground of the worship we render to God, is the infinite excellency of his nature, which is not only one attribute, but results from all; for God, as God, is the object of worship; and the notion of God consists not in thinking him wise, good, just, but all those infinitely beyond any conception; and hence it follows that God is an object infinitely to be loved and honored. His goodness is sometimes spoken of in Scripture as a motive of our homage (Psalm 130:4): “There is forgiveness with thee that thou mayest be feared.” Fear, in the Scripture dialect, signifies the “whole worship of God” (Acts 10:35): but in every nation, “he that fears him” is accepted of him. If God should act towards men according to the rigors of his justice due to them for the least of their crimes, there could be no exercise of any affection but that of despair, which could not engender a worship of God, which ought to be joined with love, not with hatred. The beneficence and patience of God, and his readiness to pardon men, is the reason of the honor they return to him; and this is so evident a motive, that generally the idolatrous world ranked those creatures in the number of their gods, which they perceived useful and beneficial to mankind, as the sun and moon, the Egyptians the ox, &c. And the more beneficial anything appeared to mankind, the higher station men gave it in the rank of their deities, and bestowed a more peculiar and solemn worship upon it. Men worshipped God to procure and continue his favor, which would not have been acted by them, had they not conceived it a pleasing thing to him to be merciful and gracious. Sometimes his justice is proposed to us as a motive of worship (Heb. 12:28, 29): “Serve God with reverence and godly fear, for our God is a consuming fire;” which includes his holiness, whereby he doth hate sin, as well as his wrath, whereby he doth punish it. Who but a mad and totally brutish person, or one that was resolved to make war against heaven, could behold the effects of God’s anger in the world, consider him in his justice as a “consuming fire,” and despise him, and rather be drawn out by that consideration to biasphemy and despair, than to seek all ways to appease him? Now though the infinite power of God, his unspeakable wisdom, his incomprehensible goodness, the holiness of his nature, the vigilance of his evidence, the bounty of his hand, signify to man that he should love and honor him, and are the motives of worship; yet the spirituality of his nature is the rule of worship, and directs us to render our duty to him with all the powers of our soul. As his goodness beams out upon us, worship is due in justice to him; and as he is the most excellent nature, veneration is due to him in the highest manner with the choicest affections. So that indeed the spirituality of God comes chiefly into consideration in matter of worship: all his perfections are grounded upon this: he could not be infinite, immutable, omniscient, if he were a corporeal being; we cannot give him a worship unless we judge him worth, excellent, and deserving a worship at our hands; and we cannot judge him worthy of a worship, unless we have some apprehensions and admirations of his infinite virtues; and we cannot apprehend and admire those perfections, but as we see them as causes shining in their effects. When we see, therefore, the frame of the world to be the work of his power, the order of the world to be the fruit of his wisdom, and the usefulness of the world to be the product of his goodness, we find the motives and reasons of worship; and weighing that this power wisdom, goodness, infinitely transcend any corporeal nature, we find a rule of worship, that it ought to be offered by us in a manner suitable to such a nature as is infinitely above any bodily being. His being a Spirit declares what he is; his other perfections declare what kind of Spirit he is. All God’s perfections suppose him a Spirit; all centre in this; his wisdom doth not suppose him merciful, or his mercy suppose him omniscient; there may be distinct notions of those, but all suppose him to be of a spiritual nature. How cold and frozen will our devotions be, if we consider not his omniscience, whereby he discerns our hearts! How carnal will our services be, if we consider him not as a pure Spirit! In our offers to, and transactions with men, we deal not with them as mere animals, but as rational creatures; and we debase their natures if we treat them otherwise; and if we have not raised apprehensions of God’s spiritual nature in our treating with him, but allow him only such frames as we think fit enough for men, we debase his spirituality to the littleness of our own being. We must, therefore, possess our souls with this; we shall else render him no better than a fleshly service. We do not much concern ourselves in those things of which we are either utterly ignorant, or have but slight apprehensions of. That is the first proposition; — The right exercise of worship is grounded upon the spirituality of God.
Prop. II. This spiritual worship of God is manifest by the light of nature, to be due to him. In reference to this, consider,
1. The outward means or matter of that worship which would be acceptable to God, was not known by the light of nature. The law for a worship, and for a spiritual worship by the faculties of our souls was natural, and part of the law of creation; though the determination of the particular acts, whereby God would have this homage testified, was of positive institution, and depended not upon the law of creation. Though Adam in innocence knew God was to be worshipped, yet by nature he did not know by what outward acts he was to pay this respect, or at what time he was more solemnly to be exercised in it than at another: this depended upon the directions God, as the sovereign Governor and Lawgiver, should prescribe. You therefore find the positive institutions of the “tree of the knowledge of good and evil,” and the determination of the time of worship (Gen. 2:3, 17). Had there been any such notion in Adam naturally, as strong as that other, that a worship was due to God, there would have been found some relics of these modes universally consented to by mankind, as well as of the other. But though all nations have by an universal consent concurred in the acknowledgment of the being of God, and his right to adoration, and the obligation of the creature to it; and that there ought to be some public rule and polity in matters of religion (for no nation hath been in the world without a worship, and without external acts and certain ceremonies to signify that worship); yet their modes and rites have been as various as their climates, unless in that common notion of sacrifices, not descending to them by nature, but tradition from Adam; and the various ways of worship have been more provoking. than pleasing. Every nation suited the kind of worship to their particular ends and polities they designed to rule by. How God was to be worshipped is more difficult to be discerned by nature with its eyes out than with its eyes clear. The pillars upon which the worship of God stands cannot be discerned without revelation, no more than blind Samson could tell where the pillars of the Philistines’ theatre stood, without one to conduct him. What Adam could not see with his sound eyes, we cannot with our dim eyes; he must be told from heaven what worship was fit for the God of heaven. It is not by nature that we can have such a full prospect of God as may content and quiet us; this is the noble effect of Divine revelation; He only knows himself, and can only make himself known to us. It could not be supposed that an infinite God should have no perfections but what were visible in the works of his hands; and that these perfections should not be infinitely greater, than as they were sensible in their present effects: this had been to apprehend God a limited Being; meaner than he is. Now it is impossible to honor God as we ought, unless we know him as he is; and we could not know him as he is, without divine revelation from himself; for none but God can acquaint us with his own nature: and therefore the nations void of this conduct, heaped up modes of worahip from their own imaginations, unworthy of the majesty of God, and below the nature of man. A rational man would scarce have owned such for signs of honor, as the Scripture mentions in the services of Baal and Dagon; much less an infinitely wise and glorious God. And when God had signified his mind to his own people, how unwilling were they to rest satisfied with God’s determination, but would be warping to their own inventions, and make gods, and ways of worship to themselves! as in the matter of the golden calf, as was lately spoken of.
2. Though the outward manner of worship acceptable to God could not be known without revelation, and those revelations might be various; yet the inward manner of worship with our spirits was manifest by nature: and not only manifest by nature to Adam in innocence, but after his fall, and the scales he had brought upon his understanding by that fall. When God gave him his positive institutions before the fall, or whatsoever additions God should have made, had he persisted in that state; or, when he appointed him, after his fall, to testify his acknowledgment of him by sacrifices, there needed no command to him to make those acknowledgments by those outward ways prescribed to him, with the intention and prime affection of his spirit: this nature would instruct him in without revelation; for he could not possibly have any semblance of reason to think that the offering of beasts, or the presenting the first fruits of the increase of the ground, as an acknowledgment of God’s sovereignty over him and his bounty to him, was sufficient, without devoting to him that part wherein the image of his Creator did consist: he could not but discern, by a reflection upon his own being, that he was made for God as well as by God: for it is a natural principle of which the apostle speaks (Rom. 11:36), “For of him, and through him, and to him are all things,” &c.: that the whole whereof he did consist was due to God; and that his body, the dreggy and dusty part of his nature, was not fit to be brought alone before God, without that nobler principle, which he had, by creation, linked with it. Nothing in the whole law of nature, as it is informed of religion, was clearer, next to the being of a God, than this manner of worshipping God with the mind and spirit. And as the Gentiles never sunk so low into the mud of idolatry, as to think the images they worshiped were really their gods, but the representations, or habitations of their gods; so they never deserted this principle in the notion of it, that God was to be honored with the best they were, and the best they had: as they never denied the being of a God in the notion, though they did in the practice, so they never rejected this principle in notion, though they did, and now most men do, in the inward observation of it: it was a maxim among them that God was mens animus, mind and spirit, and therefore was to be honored with the mind and spirit: that religion did not consist in the ceremonies of the body, but the work of the soul; whence the speech of one of them: “Sacrifice to the gods, not so much clothed with purple garments as a pure heart:” and of another: “God regards not the multitude of the sacrifices, but the disposition of the sacrificer.” It is not fit we should deny God the cream and the flower, and give him the flotten part and the stalks. And with what reverence and intention of mind they thought their worship was to be performed, is evident by the priests crying out often, Hoc age, Mind this, let your spirits be intent upon it. This could not but result, (1.) From the knowledge of ourselves. It is a natural principle, “God hath made us, and not we ourselves” (Psalm 100:1, 2). Man knows himself to be a rational creature; as a creature he was to serve his Creator, and as a rational creature with the best part of that rational nature he derived from him. By the same act of reason that he knows himself to be a creature, he knows himself to have a Creator; that this Creator is more excellent than himself, and that an honor is due from him to the Creator for framing of him; and, therefore, this honor was to be offered to him by the most excellent part which was framed by him. Man cannot consider himself as a thinking, understanding, being, but he must know that he must give God the honor of his thoughts, and worship him with those faculties whereby he thinks, wills, and acts. He must know his faculties were given him to act, and to act for the glory of that God who gave him his soul, and the faculties of it; and he could not in reason think they must be only active in his own service, and the service of the creature, and idle and unprofitable in the service of his Creator. With the same powers of our soul, whereby we contemplate God, we must also worship God; we cannot think of him but with our minds, nor love him but with our will; and we cannot worship him without the acts of thinking and loving, and therefore cannot worship him without the exercise of our inward faculties: how is it possible then for any man that knows his own nature, to think that extended hands, bended knees, and lifted up eyes, were sufficient acts of worship, without a quickened and active spirit?
(2.) From the knowledge of God. As there was a knowledge of God by nature, so the same nature did dictate to man, that God was to be glorified as God; the apostle implies the inference in the charge he brings against them for neglecting it. “We should speak of God as he is,” said one; and the same reason would inform them that they were to act towards God as he is. The excellency of the object required a worship according to the dignity of his nature, which could not be answered but by the most serious inward affection, as well as outward decency; and a want of this cannot but be judged to be unbecoming the majesty of the Creator of the world, and the excellency of religion. No nation, no person, did ever assert, that the vilest part of man was enough for the most excellent Being, as God is; that a bodily service could be a sufficient acknowledgment for the greatness of God, or a sufficient return for the bounty of God. Man could not but know that he was to act in religion conformably to the object of religion, and to the excellency of his own soul: the notion of a God was sufficient to fill the mind of man with admiration and reverence, and the first conclusion from it would be to honor God, and that he have all the affection placed on him that so infinite and spiritual a Being did deserve: the progress then would be, that this excellent Being was to be honored with the motions of the understanding and will, with the purest and most spiritual powers in the nature of man, because he was a spiritual being, and had nothing of matter mingled with him. Such a brutish imagination, to suppose that blood and fumes, beasts and incense, could please a Deity, without a spiritual frame, cannot be supposed to befall any but those that had lost their reason in the rubbish of sense. Mere rational nature could never conclude that so excellent a Spirit would be put off with a mere animal service; an attendance of matter and body without spirit, when they themselves, of an inferior nature, would be loth to sit down contented with an outside service from those that belong to them; so that this instruction of our Saviour, that God is to be worshipped in spirit and truth, is conformable to the sentiments of nature, and drawn from the most undeniable principles of it. The excellency of God’s nature, and the excellent constitution of human faculties, concur naturally to support this persuasion; this was as natural to be known by men, as the necessity of justice and temperance for the support of human societies and bodies. It is to be feared, that if there be not among us such brutish apprehensions, there are such brutish dealings with God, in our services, against the light of nature; when we place all our worship of God in outward attendances and drooping countenances, with unbelieving frames and formal devotions; when prayer is muttered over in private, slightly, as a parrot learns lessons by rote, not understanding what it speaks, or to what end it speaks it; not glorifying God in thought and spirit, with understanding and will.
Martin Luther | (1483-1546)
Sect. CXXXV. — PAUL, writing to the Romans, thus enters upon his argument, against Free-will, and for the grace of God. “The wrath of God (saith he) is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness.” (Rom. i. 18) —
Dost thou hear this general sentence “against all men,” — that they are all under the wrath of God? And what is this but declaring, that they all merit wrath and punishment? For he assigns the cause of the wrath against them — they do nothing but that which merits wrath; because they are all ungodly and unrighteous, and hold the truth in unrighteousness. Where is now the power of “Freewill” which can endeavour any thing good? Paul makes it to merit the wrath of God, and pronounces it ungodly and unrighteous. That, therefore, which merits wrath and is ungodly, only endeavours and avails against grace, not for grace.
But some one will here laugh at the yawning inconsiderateness of Luther, for not looking fully into the intention of Paul. Some one will say, that Paul does not here speak of all men, nor of all their doings; but of those only who are ungodly and unrighteous, and who, as the words themselves describe them, “hold the truth in unrighteousness;” but that, it does not hence follow, that all men are the same.
Here I observe, that in this passage of Paul, the words “against all ungodliness of men” are of the same import, as if you should say, — against the ungodliness of all men. For Paul, in almost all these instances, uses a Hebraism: so that, the sense is, — all men are ungodly and unrighteous, and hold the truth in unrighteousness; and therefore, all merit wrath. Hence, in the Greek, there is no relative which might be rendered ‘of those who,’ but an article, causing the sense to run thus, “The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, holding the truth in unrighteousness.” So that this may be taken as an epithet, as it were, applicable to all men as “holding the truth in unrighteousness:” even as it is an epithet where it is said, “Our Father which art in heaven:” which might in other words be expressed thus: Our heavenly Father, or Our Father in heaven. For it is so expressed to distinguish those who believe and fear God.
But these things might appear frivolous and vain, did not the very train of Paul’s argument require them to be so understood, and prove them to be true. For he had said just before, “The Gospel is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” (Rom. i. 16). These words are surely neither obscure or ambiguous, “to the Jew first and also to the Greek:” that is, the Gospel of the power of God is necessary unto all men, that, believing in it, they might be saved from the wrath of God revealed. Does he not then, I pray you, who declares, that the Jews who excelled in righteousness, in the law of God, and in the power of “Free-will,” are, without difference, destitute and in need of the power of God, by which they might be saved, and who makes that power necessary unto them, consider that they are all under wrath? What men then will you pretend to say are not under the wrath of God, when you are thus compelled to believe, that the most excellent men in the world, the Jews and Greeks, were so?
And further, whom among those Jews and Greeks themselves will you except, when Paul subjects all of them, included in the same word, without difference, to the same sentence? And are we to suppose that there were no men, out of these two most exalted nations, who ‘aspired to what was meritoriously good?’ Were there none among them who thus aspired with all the powers of their “Free-will?” Yet Paul makes no distinction on this account, he includes them all under wrath, and declares them all to be ungodly and unrighteous. And are we not to believe that all the other Apostles each one according to the work he had to do, included all other nations under this wrath, in the same way of declaration?
The Bondage of the Will or Christian Classics Ethereal Library
9-2016 Feast of Tabernacles
9-2016 Feast of Tabernacles 2
Brett Meador | Athey Creek