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9/19/2023     Yesterday     Tomorrow

Hosea 1 - 7

Hosea 1

Hosea 1:1      The word of the LORD that came to Hosea, the son of Beeri, in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah, and in the days of Jeroboam the son of Joash, king of Israel.

Hosea’s Wife and Children

2 When the LORD first spoke through Hosea, the LORD said to Hosea, “Go, take to yourself a wife of whoredom and have children of whoredom, for the land commits great whoredom by forsaking the LORD.” 3 So he went and took Gomer, the daughter of Diblaim, and she conceived and bore him a son.

4 And the LORD said to him, “Call his name Jezreel, for in just a little while I will punish the house of Jehu for the blood of Jezreel, and I will put an end to the kingdom of the house of Israel. 5 And on that day I will break the bow of Israel in the Valley of Jezreel.”

6 She conceived again and bore a daughter. And the LORD said to him, “Call her name No Mercy, for I will no more have mercy on the house of Israel, to forgive them at all. 7 But I will have mercy on the house of Judah, and I will save them by the LORD their God. I will not save them by bow or by sword or by war or by horses or by horsemen.”

8 When she had weaned No Mercy, she conceived and bore a son. 9 And the LORD said, “Call his name Not My People, for you are not my people, and I am not your God.”

10  Yet the number of the children of Israel shall be like the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured or numbered. And in the place where it was said to them, “You are not my people,” it shall be said to them, “Children of the living God.” 11 And the children of Judah and the children of Israel shall be gathered together, and they shall appoint for themselves one head. And they shall go up from the land, for great shall be the day of Jezreel.

Hosea 2

Israel’s Unfaithfulness Punished

Hosea 2:1     Say to your brothers, “You are my people,” and to your sisters, “You have received mercy.”

2 “Plead with your mother, plead—
for she is not my wife,
and I am not her husband—
that she put away her whoring from her face,
and her adultery from between her breasts;
3  lest I strip her naked
and make her as in the day she was born,
and make her like a wilderness,
and make her like a parched land,
and kill her with thirst.
4  Upon her children also I will have no mercy,
because they are children of whoredom.
5  For their mother has played the whore;
she who conceived them has acted shamefully.
For she said, ‘I will go after my lovers,
who give me my bread and my water,
my wool and my flax, my oil and my drink.’
6  Therefore I will hedge up her way with thorns,
and I will build a wall against her,
so that she cannot find her paths.
7  She shall pursue her lovers
but not overtake them,
and she shall seek them
but shall not find them.
Then she shall say,
‘I will go and return to my first husband,
for it was better for me then than now.’
8  And she did not know
that it was I who gave her
the grain, the wine, and the oil,
and who lavished on her silver and gold,
which they used for Baal.
9  Therefore I will take back
my grain in its time,
and my wine in its season,
and I will take away my wool and my flax,
which were to cover her nakedness.
10  Now I will uncover her lewdness
in the sight of her lovers,
and no one shall rescue her out of my hand.
11  And I will put an end to all her mirth,
her feasts, her new moons, her Sabbaths,
and all her appointed feasts.
12  And I will lay waste her vines and her fig trees,
of which she said,
‘These are my wages,
which my lovers have given me.’
I will make them a forest,
and the beasts of the field shall devour them.
13  And I will punish her for the feast days of the Baals
when she burned offerings to them
and adorned herself with her ring and jewelry,
and went after her lovers
and forgot me, declares the LORD.

The LORD’s Mercy on Israel

14  “Therefore, behold, I will allure her,
and bring her into the wilderness,
and speak tenderly to her.
15  And there I will give her her vineyards
and make the Valley of Achor a door of hope.
And there she shall answer as in the days of her youth,
as at the time when she came out of the land of Egypt.

16 “And in that day, declares the LORD, you will call me ‘My Husband,’ and no longer will you call me ‘My Baal.’ 17 For I will remove the names of the Baals from her mouth, and they shall be remembered by name no more. 18 And I will make for them a covenant on that day with the beasts of the field, the birds of the heavens, and the creeping things of the ground. And I will abolish the bow, the sword, and war from the land, and I will make you lie down in safety. 19 And I will betroth you to me forever. I will betroth you to me in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love and in mercy. 20 I will betroth you to me in faithfulness. And you shall know the LORD.

21  “And in that day I will answer, declares the LORD,
I will answer the heavens,
and they shall answer the earth,
22  and the earth shall answer the grain, the wine, and the oil,
and they shall answer Jezreel,
23  and I will sow her for myself in the land.
And I will have mercy on No Mercy,
and I will say to Not My People, ‘You are my people’;
and he shall say, ‘You are my God.’ ”

Hosea 3

Hosea Redeems His Wife

Hosea 3:1     And the LORD said to me, “Go again, love a woman who is loved by another man and is an adulteress, even as the LORD loves the children of Israel, though they turn to other gods and love cakes of raisins.” 2 So I bought her for fifteen shekels of silver and a homer and a lethech of barley. 3 And I said to her, “You must dwell as mine for many days. You shall not play the whore, or belong to another man; so will I also be to you.” 4 For the children of Israel shall dwell many days without king or prince, without sacrifice or pillar, without ephod or household gods. 5 Afterward the children of Israel shall return and seek the LORD their God, and David their king, and they shall come in fear to the LORD and to his goodness in the latter days.

Hosea 4

The LORD Accuses Israel

Hosea 4:1 Hear the word of the LORD, O children of Israel,
for the LORD has a controversy with the inhabitants of the land.
There is no faithfulness or steadfast love,
and no knowledge of God in the land;
2  there is swearing, lying, murder, stealing, and committing adultery;
they break all bounds, and bloodshed follows bloodshed.
3  Therefore the land mourns,
and all who dwell in it languish,
and also the beasts of the field
and the birds of the heavens,
and even the fish of the sea are taken away.

4  Yet let no one contend,
and let none accuse,
for with you is my contention, O priest.
5  You shall stumble by day;
the prophet also shall stumble with you by night;
and I will destroy your mother.
6  My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge;
because you have rejected knowledge,
I reject you from being a priest to me.
And since you have forgotten the law of your God,
I also will forget your children.

7  The more they increased,
the more they sinned against me;
I will change their glory into shame.
8  They feed on the sin of my people;
they are greedy for their iniquity.
9  And it shall be like people, like priest;
I will punish them for their ways
and repay them for their deeds.
10  They shall eat, but not be satisfied;
they shall play the whore, but not multiply,
because they have forsaken the LORD
to cherish 11 whoredom, wine, and new wine,
which take away the understanding.
12  My people inquire of a piece of wood,
and their walking staff gives them oracles.
For a spirit of whoredom has led them astray,
and they have left their God to play the whore.
13  They sacrifice on the tops of the mountains
and burn offerings on the hills,
under oak, poplar, and terebinth,
because their shade is good.
Therefore your daughters play the whore,
and your brides commit adultery.
14  I will not punish your daughters when they play the whore,
nor your brides when they commit adultery;
for the men themselves go aside with prostitutes
and sacrifice with cult prostitutes,
and a people without understanding shall come to ruin.

15  Though you play the whore, O Israel,
let not Judah become guilty.
Enter not into Gilgal,
nor go up to Beth-aven,
and swear not, “As the LORD lives.”
16  Like a stubborn heifer,
Israel is stubborn;
can the LORD now feed them
like a lamb in a broad pasture?

17  Ephraim is joined to idols;
leave him alone.
18  When their drink is gone, they give themselves to whoring;
their rulers dearly love shame.
19  A wind has wrapped them in its wings,
and they shall be ashamed because of their sacrifices.

Hosea 5

Punishment Coming for Israel and Judah

Hosea 5:1     Hear this, O priests!
Pay attention, O house of Israel!
Give ear, O house of the king!
For the judgment is for you;
for you have been a snare at Mizpah
and a net spread upon Tabor.
2  And the revolters have gone deep into slaughter,
but I will discipline all of them.

3  I know Ephraim,
and Israel is not hidden from me;
for now, O Ephraim, you have played the whore;
Israel is defiled.
4  Their deeds do not permit them
to return to their God.
For the spirit of whoredom is within them,
and they know not the LORD.

5  The pride of Israel testifies to his face;
Israel and Ephraim shall stumble in his guilt;
Judah also shall stumble with them.
6  With their flocks and herds they shall go
to seek the LORD,
but they will not find him;
he has withdrawn from them.
7  They have dealt faithlessly with the LORD;
for they have borne alien children.
Now the new moon shall devour them with their fields.

8  Blow the horn in Gibeah,
the trumpet in Ramah.
Sound the alarm at Beth-aven;
we follow you, O Benjamin!
9  Ephraim shall become a desolation
in the day of punishment;
among the tribes of Israel
I make known what is sure.
10  The princes of Judah have become
like those who move the landmark;
upon them I will pour out
my wrath like water.
11  Ephraim is oppressed, crushed in judgment,
because he was determined to go after filth.
12  But I am like a moth to Ephraim,
and like dry rot to the house of Judah.

13  When Ephraim saw his sickness,
and Judah his wound,
then Ephraim went to Assyria,
and sent to the great king.
But he is not able to cure you
or heal your wound.
14  For I will be like a lion to Ephraim,
and like a young lion to the house of Judah.
I, even I, will tear and go away;
I will carry off, and no one shall rescue.

15  I will return again to my place,
until they acknowledge their guilt and seek my face,
and in their distress earnestly seek me.

Hosea 6

Israel and Judah Are Unrepentant

Hosea 6:1     “Come, let us return to the LORD;
for he has torn us, that he may heal us;
he has struck us down, and he will bind us up.
2  After two days he will revive us;
on the third day he will raise us up,
that we may live before him.
3  Let us know; let us press on to know the LORD;
his going out is sure as the dawn;
he will come to us as the showers,
as the spring rains that water the earth.”

4  What shall I do with you, O Ephraim?
What shall I do with you, O Judah?
Your love is like a morning cloud,
like the dew that goes early away.
5  Therefore I have hewn them by the prophets;
I have slain them by the words of my mouth,
and my judgment goes forth as the light.
6  For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice,
the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.

7  But like Adam they transgressed the covenant;
there they dealt faithlessly with me.
8  Gilead is a city of evildoers,
tracked with blood.
9  As robbers lie in wait for a man,
so the priests band together;
they murder on the way to Shechem;
they commit villainy.
10  In the house of Israel I have seen a horrible thing;
Ephraim’s whoredom is there; Israel is defiled.

11  For you also, O Judah, a harvest is appointed.

Hosea 7

When I restore the fortunes of my people,

Hosea 7:1     when I would heal Israel,
the iniquity of Ephraim is revealed,
and the evil deeds of Samaria,
for they deal falsely;
the thief breaks in,
and the bandits raid outside.
2  But they do not consider
that I remember all their evil.
Now their deeds surround them;
they are before my face.
3  By their evil they make the king glad,
and the princes by their treachery.
4  They are all adulterers;
they are like a heated oven
whose baker ceases to stir the fire,
from the kneading of the dough
until it is leavened.
5  On the day of our king, the princes
became sick with the heat of wine;
he stretched out his hand with mockers.
6  For with hearts like an oven they approach their intrigue;
all night their anger smolders;
in the morning it blazes like a flaming fire.
7  All of them are hot as an oven,
and they devour their rulers.
All their kings have fallen,
and none of them calls upon me.

8  Ephraim mixes himself with the peoples;
Ephraim is a cake not turned.
9  Strangers devour his strength,
and he knows it not;
gray hairs are sprinkled upon him,
and he knows it not.
10  The pride of Israel testifies to his face;
yet they do not return to the LORD their God,
nor seek him, for all this.

11  Ephraim is like a dove,
silly and without sense,
calling to Egypt, going to Assyria.
12  As they go, I will spread over them my net;
I will bring them down like birds of the heavens;
I will discipline them according to the report made to their congregation.
13  Woe to them, for they have strayed from me!
Destruction to them, for they have rebelled against me!
I would redeem them,
but they speak lies against me.

14  They do not cry to me from the heart,
but they wail upon their beds;
for grain and wine they gash themselves;
they rebel against me.
15  Although I trained and strengthened their arms,
yet they devise evil against me.
16  They return, but not upward;
they are like a treacherous bow;
their princes shall fall by the sword
because of the insolence of their tongue.
This shall be their derision in the land of Egypt.

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What I'm Reading

Is The Bible Relevant Today?

By J. Warner Wallace 9/11/2017

     I have a drawer in my desk that’s filled with manuals and instruction guides. Every time I purchase a new device (whether it’s an electric garden tool or a smart phone), I store the original instruction manual in this drawer. I occasionally return to these guides when I have a problem or need an answer. But, about once a year, I sift through these documents and throw many of them away. The discarded manuals are still true and skillfully written, but they’re now irrelevant; I’ve mastered the devices they describe, and I’m able to overcome any problem I may encounter on my own. But, while my collection of instruction manuals shrinks every year, my collection of Bibles and related study materials increases. Why? Because the Bible continues to answer life’s most important questions. It solves the most pressing problem we face as humans; a problem we simply can’t resolve on our own.

     My experience as a cold-case homicide detective is partially to blame for my growing Biblical library. The instruction manuals in my desk drawer would never have become part of my collection if they didn’t correctly describe the devices they claimed to support. Their accuracy is the key to their relevancy. When I first investigated the claims of the New Testament accounts, I knew their relevancy would be similarly dependent upon the degree to which they were true. I was thirty-five years old and a seasoned detective when I first began to evaluate the reliability of the Gospels using the same skill set I applied to my criminal investigations. Were the accounts written early enough to have been produced by eyewitnesses? Could they be corroborated by additional early witnesses, external archaeological or internal linguistic evidence? Were the accounts corrupted or changed over time? Did the authors possess a bias that would motivate them to lie? I investigated these attributes of the gospels and became convinced they were telling me the truth about Jesus of Nazareth. But their reliability and truthfulness were only part of the story. The gospels also accurately described something I observed in murderers.

     I’ve arrested my fair share of cold-case killers, and most of them were law-abiding, upstanding citizens by the time I met them, many years after they brutally killed their victims. The more I spoke with these murderers, the more I realized they were just like… me. And you. And everyone else on the planet. Some had become fire captains, some teachers, some businessmen. They were good parents, reliable family members, and trustworthy employees. But they were all protecting a dark secret from their past; striving daily to convince a watching world they were good people, even though they had done something unspeakable. None of these killers committed more than one murder, and none would likely commit another. But each bore the burden of knowing who they really were, despite appearances.

     As I investigated each cold-case homicide, I came to realize these murderers weren’t unlike the rest of us. If you think you’re incapable of committing such a crime, you’ve likely underestimated the possible scenarios you might face, and overestimated how you might respond. Even if you don’t think you’re capable of such atrocities, I bet there’s still some secret you don’t want others to discover; we’re all moral law-breakers of one kind or another. The penal code in my state describes crimes that are as old as human history. In fact, many of our statutes still reflect the Biblical language of the Old Testament. Some things change, but our fallen, base desires grudgingly remain. We are moral outlaws to one degree or another.

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

Reading Is Believing

By Mark Bauerlein 10/2017

     I’ve been tracking youth reading habits and test scores for a long time, but I’ve never asked this question: What becomes of a faith that places a book at the center of worship if the rising generation doesn’t read? I don’t mean illiteracy. The problem is what reading researchers call a-literacy—being able to read but not wanting to.

     This is not an exaggeration. The 2012 Survey of Public Participation in the Arts found that only half of eighteen- to twenty-four-year-olds read a book in leisure hours in the preceding twelve months. The same lack of interest shows up in the annual CIRP Freshman Survey, a large questionnaire administered to undergraduates a short time into their college career. Recently, it tallied one-third of college freshmen racking up zero (!) hours of “reading for pleasure” during an average week in the previous year. Another one-quarter of them did less than one hour—at most, seven or eight minutes a day. And these are four-year college students pursuing a bachelor’s degree, not vocational and two-year college students.

     When they do read, they don’t do it very well. Currently, just a bit more than one-third (37 percent) of twelfth-graders on the National Assessment of Educational Progress reach “proficiency” in reading, while SAT reading results in 2015 were the lowest in more than forty years. On last year’s ACT exam, fully 56 percent of test-takers fell short of “college readiness” in reading, which means that they had only a 50 percent chance of earning a B in a basic civics class.

     Before I came to First Things in the summer of 2014, these results meant the same thing to me that they did to other concerned observers. They are an economic and civic calamity. In writing about them, I cited a 2004 College Board report that stated that “remedying deficiencies in writing may cost American firms as much as $3.1 billion annually” (good writing skills are correlated with strong reading habits), along with a National Association of Manufacturers survey that had more than one-quarter of manufacturers (29 percent) place “inadequate reading/writing/communication skills” among “the most serious skill deficiencies in your current employees” (take a look at the daunting manuals and catalogs in a car repair shop).

     As for civics, I collected statements like Peggy Noonan’s Wall Street Journal column on the decay of reading among the political class, subtitled “What ails American democracy? Too much information and too little thought.” The “young of politics and journalism . . . have received most of what they know about political history through screens,” she remarked. It seems that “they have seen the movie and not read the book. They have heard the sound bite but not read the speech.”

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     Mark Bauerlein is Senior Editor at First Things and Professor of English at Emory University, where he has taught since earning his PhD in English at UCLA in 1989. For two years (2003-05) he served as Director of the Office of Research and Analysis at the National Endowment for the Arts. His essays have appeared in PMLA, Partisan Review, Wilson Quarterly, Commentary, and New Criterion, and his commentaries and reviews in the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Boston Globe, Weekly Standard, The Guardian, Chronicle of Higher Education, and other national periodicals. Mark Bauerlein Books:

The Power of the Broken Body

By Michael Beates 8/01/2013

     Mention the word church and a vast array of images enter the mind. A steepled building housing a congregation; a movement of God across the centuries and the world; “one, holy, catholic, and Apostolic”; “visible and invisible”; “militant and triumphant”; “local and universal.”

     More images come from the Scriptures verbatim. The bride of Christ, the temple of the Holy Spirit, the branches connected to the life-giving vine of Christ. But a most provocative and instructive biblical image is “the body of Christ.” We are tempted, especially in the West, to view this body as successful, full of well-ordered, well-dressed, well-mannered people. But the Scriptures describe the church as a broken and weak body that, by God’s grace, confounds the world by also being a hopeful body.


     God hardly ever does things the way we might expect. In fact, God takes conventional wisdom and practices and turns them on their head. The whole nature of His redemptive work is “upside down.” Instead of using people of power and integrity or beauty and influence, God uses unknown people (Ruth), cowardly people (Gideon), deeply sinful people (David), and culturally insignificant people (the twelve disciples) to achieve His purposes. Why? So that He alone will receive the glory and the credit for what happens when He works through such surprising human vessels.

     For people to understand the power of God working through His people, we must understand two things: first, brokenness forces us to see God as the ultimate and only reliable source of power; and second,  God often breaks the very people He intends to use for His glory.  Our culture focuses on outward appearance, beauty, physical and social power, self-sufficiency, and self-achievement. But our cultural pursuit of these is idolatry. We have made little gods of ourselves.

     But Paul tells us that “God chose what is foolish… weak… low… despised… things that are not, to reduce to nothing things that are, so that no one might boast in the presence of God. He is the source of your life in Christ Jesus” (1 Cor. 1:27–31). In his second letter to the church at Corinth, Paul declared that his ministry was not from his own strength but from God’s. God says to Paul, “My power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor. 12:7–10). For Paul to boast in weakness seems absolutely insane to our modern sensibilities. To admit weakness is to admit defeat. But in God’s world, to admit weakness and defeat is necessary to accepting Him as the source of real power, purpose, and hope.

     It is humbling to admit that we do not measure up, that we are not sufficient, that we are broken people. But the body of Christ must grasp this counter-intuitive truth in order to find and dwell in God’s power. We must have the courage to look at each other on Sunday, welldressed, well-spoken, appearing to “have it all together,” and say, “We know better. We are broken people, desperately needing the power of God to come in our weakness.” This is where our friends who live with disability remind us by their presence who we really are.


     Hope recognizes that God works through weakness. Therefore, ministry to the broken, disabled, and suffering is not an obligation, but a privilege.

     Paul unfolds this in 1 Corinthians 12:7–10. The body has some weaker and less presentable members. But in God’s providence, just as in our physical body, these members are “indispensable” in the body of Christ. What the world labels liabilities — those whose lives display weakness, brokenness, and neediness — God calls absolutely necessary for His church. Our culture seems to avoid and even reject those who are different due to their brokenness. God says to embrace and bring them close.

     No one “makes it” alone. We are, in fact, interdependent upon God and one another. Disability helps us see that we are all broken and all part of the same body, needing to give and receive from one another. People with disabilities have much to contribute to the body of Christ — and when they are not present in our churches, the body is incomplete, lacking essential elements. Paul says that if one member suffers, then all members suffer (1 Cor. 12:26). As we identify with those who are more outwardly broken, as we embrace the metaphor of an interdependent body, we begin to see how we can “bear one another’s burdens” (Gal. 6:2). As we suffer and receive comfort from God and His people, we are also able to “comfort one another” with the same comfort we have received (2 Cor. 1:3–7).

     The way people react to brokenness reveals their assumptions about the nature of the world. Many assume the world is the way it should be and that suffering is an anomaly to be avoided at all cost. But the broken and hopeful church says with conviction that the world is not as it should be. In fact, all creation has suffered the effects of sin and the fall, and groans for redemption and renewal. Because we admit that the world is broken, we believe with sure hope that there will be a re-making, a redress of injustice and brokenness.

     Brokenness creates a longing in God’s children for all the brokenness and weakness to be changed and made right. And in this “making right” God will receive glory and worship.

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     Dr. Michael S. Beates, a former associate editor of Tabletalk, has taught at Reformed Theological Seminary, Florida Southern, and Belhaven College.

Love by Submission

By Phil Johnson 8/01/2013

     Ephesians 5:21 poses a conundrum: Paul commends Spirit-filled Christians for “submitting to one another.” Isolate the verse from its context, and it almost sounds as if the Apostle teaches a kind of mutual, universal submission, without regard to any structured leadership, hierarchy, or chain of command—as if he means to declare all authority void.

     But in the very next verse, Paul expressly commands wives to be subject to their husbands (v. 22). Half a chapter later, he commands children to obey their parents (6:1) and slaves to obey their masters (6:5). Those injunctions aren’t followed by calls for reciprocal submission. Instead, husbands are commanded to love their wives, fathers are forbidden to provoke their children, and masters are urged to treat their slaves with Christlike generosity, goodwill, and respect. In other words, Ephesians 5:21 introduces a long passage that is all about how people under authority should respond to those in authority and vice versa. The Apostle Paul, plainly, was no egalitarian.

     The true meaning of the text, as always, is seen by looking at the context. The theme of this extended section of the epistle is love: “Walk in love, as Christ loved us” (v. 2).

     The dominant chord that ties all the practical admonitions of Ephesians 4–5 together is the self-sacrificial nature of authentic, Christlike love. The theme is introduced in 3:17, where Paul prays that the Ephesians would be “rooted and grounded in love.” From there through the end of chapter 5, the word love appears nine times. Every time Paul riffs on a related theme, he returns to the tonic note for resolution: “Walk in love.”

     Specifically, he portrays love as service and sacrifice. He starts by highlighting virtues like “humility and gentleness, with patience [and forbearance]” (4:2). He calls the church to pursue unity and live in harmony (vv. 3–6). He reminds the church of God’s love embodied in Christ and challenges her to use the many gifts Christ has given her “so that [the body] builds itself up in love” (vv. 7–16). He then gives Christians a series of admonitions about practical holiness and gracious speech, culminating in this: “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you” (v. 32).

     Chapter 5 turns to the subjects of sexual purity, chaste speech, and holy wisdom (vv. 3–17). Love remains the theme, but this subsection debunks several expressions of counterfeit love: fornication, covetousness, and any brand of carnal camaraderie where bawdy conversation is the main glue binding the brotherhood together.

     The apex of the entire section is the famous command to be filled with the Spirit. Paul names three specific traits that epitomize the Spirit-filled life. All of them are practical expressions of love: 1) joyful praise; 2) constant thanksgiving; and 3) deferential humility.

     There is Ephesians 5:21 in context. Clearly, Paul has no agenda to eliminate authority or headship in the home, church, or any other realm of human relationships. He is simply telling the Ephesians how to imitate Christ’s love.

     Human love is on display at its best and brightest in the humiliation of Christ, who “made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant,” then further sacrificed His own interests “to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Phil. 2:6–8). His voluntary submission did not diminish (much less void) the truth that He is Lord of all. Indeed, it eternally and unshakably established His authority. It is the very ground on which “God has highly exalted him” (vv. 9–11).

     Moreover, Scripture everywhere teaches us to have the same mind: “Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves” (v. 3). “Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for ‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble’” (1 Peter 5:5). “Be subject to … every fellow worker and laborer” (1 Cor. 16:16). “Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor” (Rom. 12:10).

     In Jesus’ own words: “If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you” (John 13:14–15). Scripture does indeed call every believer to have a servant’s heart and a humble self-image.

     Ephesians 5:21 is simply an echo of that principle. It compels us to prefer one another in honor and service. It is not a call for a domestic or ecclesiastical egalitarianism that renders the very idea of headship and submission null and void. If Paul had wanted to make such a statement, Ephesians 5–6 would have been the place to say so plainly. Instead he says the opposite, recognizing the divinely ordained place of headship and submission in marriage and across the spectrum of human relationships.

     Are Christians in positions of authority exempt from the command to value others more highly than self? By no means. Christ Himself addressed that question: “Whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Matt. 20:25–28).

     Here’s a simple guideline: When there is an opportunity to render service or give honor, the godly person will defer to others. Those who would lead should act as servants.

     But when an issue involving authority arises, we all must submit to those whom God has placed over us. That’s what true, Christlike love demands.

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     Phil Johnson is the Executive Director of Grace to You. He has been closely associated with John MacArthur since 1981 and edits most of John's major books. But he may be best known for several popular Web sites he maintains, including The Spurgeon Archive and The Hall of Church History.

     Phil has a bachelor's degree in theology from Moody Bible Institute (class of 1975) and was an editor at Moody Press before coming to Grace Community Church. He is an elder at Grace Community Church and pastors the GraceLife fellowship group. Phil and his wife, Darlene, have three adult sons, Jeremiah, Jedidiah, and Jonathan.

A Pilgrim People

By R.C. Sproul 8/01/2013

     There is just something about being at home, isn’t there? I am reminded of this every time I travel. As I write this column, it has been only a few weeks since we returned from a Ligonier study cruise in the Caribbean. We had a wonderful time of study and fellowship with Ligonier’s friends and supporters, many of whom are likely reading this column right now. Despite my enjoyment of the trip, however, I was happy to return home. I feel the same way every time I travel. I love my homeland and am happy to come back to the United States even after a blessed journey.

     Even though I am glad to come back to America, I must admit that when I come home to my country, I long to be elsewhere. At the end of the day, the United States is but an inn, a place to rest on the way to my true home — the city of heaven. As a Christian, I realize that I will never be truly home until I am with my Savior in heaven. The old spiritual puts it well: “This world is not my home … I’m just a passin’ through.”

     God’s people have always been what we would call a “pilgrim people.” The constitution of the old covenant church in the exodus gave the ancient Israelites the names pilgrims and sojourners. Living a semi-nomadic existence in the desert, they had no permanent place to call their own. Even their place of worship was a tent — the tabernacle — that had to be taken down when the Lord called Israel to move and put back up when they established a new camp. Later, John’s description of the incarnation picks up this theme. The Word of God who “became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14) translates with the English term dwelt a Greek term with the same root that means “tent” or “tabernacle.” Christ literally “pitched His tent” or “tabernacled” among us.

     Because of this, Christ is the ultimate Pilgrim revealed to us in Scripture. He became the supreme Sojourner in the incarnation, leaving His home in heaven in our behalf. He came to this world to journey along with the children of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob on their way to their heavenly home.

     Hebrews 11:13 puts it this way: The old covenant saints, having seen the promises from afar, “acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth.” Moses, Abraham, and the others went forth from their earthly homes in faith, seeking for that heavenly home that the Lord promised them. They desired “a better country, a heavenly one,” and so “God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city” (v. 16).

     Though the hall of faith in Hebrews 11 focuses on old covenant believers, the pilgrimage of God’s people did not end once they settled in Canaan, first conquered Jerusalem, or even when they returned to the Promised Land after the exile. The Christian church is a pilgrim people. The Apostle Peter is clear: “Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul” (1 Peter 2:11; KJV). We still await the holy city and heavenly Jerusalem. That is the home we were made for. “Behold the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God” (Rev. 21:3).

     On this side of heaven, the Lord gives us a glimpse of our heavenly home in many ways, especially when we gather for corporate worship. I’ve experienced this in my home church, Saint Andrew’s Chapel, where every Lord’s Day we gather and cross the threshold from the secular to the sacred. But I’ve also seen it when I have worshipped in foreign lands.

     About twenty years ago, I traveled through Eastern Europe to preach and teach in several lands that had been closed to Christian missionaries during Communist rule, which had ceased just a few years earlier. At one church in Transylvania, I had the opportunity to preach one Sunday morning, and when I looked out over the congregation, I saw many elderly women, whose faces were etched with wrinkles born from years of toiling the land with primitive tools. Though they were dressed head to toe in black—black skirts, black blouses, and black babushkas—there was nonetheless a serenity about them. They looked almost angelic. These women were listening intently to my sermon, and sometimes I even saw a tear roll down one of their cheeks.

     Standing there, I heard my preaching translated into their native Romanian language, and I marveled at what was happening. I felt a real kinship with them, a bond forged from nothing of this world. We had nothing in common. We spoke different languages, came from different cultures, followed different customs, and otherwise had nothing to tie us together. But we did have the blessed tie that binds—a shared love for God’s Word. We were all citizens of heaven, passing through this world in different geographies but with a profound union that resulted from our common union with Christ. I and those peasant women were both pilgrims on our way to the heavenly country.

     God gives us many blessings in this world and in our earthly homes. Nevertheless, “this world is not [our] home … “[we’re] just a passin’ through.”

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Robert Charles Sproul, 2/13/1939 – 12/14/2017 was an American theologian, author, and ordained pastor in the Presbyterian Church in America. Dr. R.C. Sproul was founder and chairman of Ligonier Ministries, an international Christian education and discipleship organization located near Orlando, Fla. He was also copastor of Saint Andrew’s Chapel in Sanford, Fla., chancellor of Reformation Bible College, and executive editor of Tabletalk magazine. Dr. Sproul has contributed dozens of articles to national evangelical publications, has spoken at conferences, churches, and schools around the world, and has written more than one hundred books. He also served as general editor of the Reformation Study Bible.

     R.C. Sproul Books |  Go to Books Page

The Washing of Water by the Word (Prayer)

By Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834-1892)

     O JEHOVAH, our God, Thou lovest Thy people. Thou hast placed all the saints in the hand of Jesus, and Thou hast given Jesus to be to them a leader, a commander and a husband ; and we know that Thou delightest to hear us cry on the behalf of Thy Church for Thou carest for Him, and Thou art ready to grant to Him according to the covenant provisions which Thou hast laid up in store for Christ Jesus. Therefore would we begin this prayer by entreating Thee to behold and visit the vine and the vineyard which Thy right hand hath planted. Look upon Zion the city of our solemnities ; look upon those whom Thou hast chosen from before the foundation of the world, whom Christ hath redeemed with blood, whose hearts He has won and holds, and who are His own though they be in the world.

     Holy Father, keep Thy people, we beseech Thee, for Jesus' sake. Though they are in the world let them not be of it, but may there be a marked distinction between them and the rest of mankind. Even as their Lord was holy, harmless and undefiled, and separate from sinners, so may it be with believers in Christ. May they follow Him and may they not know the voice of strangers, but come out from the rest that they may follow Him without the camp.

     We cry to Thee for the preservation of Thy Church in the world, and especially for her purity. O, Father, keep us, we beseech Thee with all keeping, that the evil one touch us not. We shall be tempted, but let him not prevail against us. In a thousand ways he will lay snares for our feet ; but, oh! deliver us as a bird from the snare of the fowler. May the snare be broken that we may escape. Let not Thy Church suffer dishonour at any time, but may her garments be always white. Let not such as come in among her that are not of her utterly despoil her. O, Christ, as Thou didst groan concerning Judas, so may Thy children cry to Thee concerning any that have fallen aside into crooked ways, lest the cause of Christ in the earth should be dishonoured. O, God, cover, we beseech Thee, with Thy feathers, all the people of Christ, and keep Thy Church even until He shall come Who, having loved His own that were in the world, loveth them even to the end.

     We would ask just now that we may be washed as to our feet ; we trust Thou hast bathed us once for all in the sin-removing fountain. Thou hast also washed us in the waters of regeneration and given us the; renewing of our minds, through Jesus Christ; but O for daily cleansing. Dost Thou see any fault in us? Ah! we know that Thou dost. Wash us that we may be clean. Are we deficient in any virtue ? Oh ! supply it that we may exhibit a perfect character to the glory of Him who has made us anew in Christ Jesus. Or is there something that would be good if not carried to excess? Be pleased to modify it lest one virtue should slaughter another, and we should not be the image of Christ completely.

     O Lord and Master, Thou who didst wash Thy disciples' feet of old, still be very patient toward us, very condescending towards our provoking faults, and go on with us, we pray Thee, till Thy great work shall be completed and we shall be brethren of the First Born, like unto Him. Gracious Master, we wish to conquer self in every respect ; we desire to live for the glory of God and the good of our fellow men ; we would have it true of us as of our Master, " He saved others. Himself He cannot save." Wilt Thou enable us especially to overcome the body with all its affections and lusts ; may the flesh be kept under ; let no appetite of any kind of the grosser sort prevail against our manhood, lest we be dishonoured and unclean. And let not even the most refined power of the natural mind be permitted to come so forward as to mar the dominion of the Spirit of God within us.

     Oh ! help us not to be so easily moved even by pain, may we have much patience, and let not the prospect of death ever cause us any fear, but may the spirit get so much the mastery of the body that we know nothing can hurt the true man. The inner new-born cannot be smitten, nor is it to die ; it is holy, incorruptible, and liveth and abideth for ever in the life that is in Christ Jesus.

     Oh ! for a complete conquest of self. Especially render us insensible to praise, lest we be too sensitive to censure. Let us reckon that to have the approbation of God and of our own conscience is quite enough; and may we be content, gracious God, to bear the cavillings of unreasonable men ; yea, and to bear the misrepresentations of our own brethren. Those that we love, if they love not us, yet may we love them none the less, and if by mistake they misjudge us, let us have no hard feelings towards them, and God grant we may never misjudge one another. Doth not our Judge stand at the bar ? Oh ! keep us like little children who do not know, but expect to know hereafter, and are content to believe things which they do not understand. Lord keep us humble, dependent, yet serenely joyful. May we be calm and quiet even as a weaned child, yet may we be earnest and active.

     O Saviour, make us like Thyself. We wish not so much to do as to be. If Thou wilt make us to be right we shall do right. We find how often we have to put a constraint upon ourselves to be right, but, oh ! that we were like Thee, Jesus, so that we had but to act out ourselves, to act out perfect holiness. We shall never rest till this is the case, till Thou hast made us ourselves to be inwardly holy, and then words and actions must be holy as a matter of course. Now, here we are, Lord, and we belong to Thee. Oh ! it is because we are Thine own that we have hope. Thou wilt make us worthy of Thee. Thy possession of us is our hope of perfection. Thou dost wash our feet because we are Thine own. Oh! how sweet is the mercy which first took us to its heart and made us all its own and now continues to deal tenderly with us, that being Christ's own we may have that of Christ within us which all may see proves us to be Christ's own !

     Now we would bring before Thee all Thy saints and ask Thee to attend to their trials and troubles. Some we know are afflicted in person, others are afflicted in their dear friends, some are afflicted in their temporal estate and are brought into sore distress. Lord, we do not know the trials of all Thy people, but Thou dost, for Thou are the Head, and the pains of all the members are centred in Thee. Help all Thy people even to the end.

     Now we pray Thee to grant us the blessing which we have already sought, and let it come upon all the churches of our beloved country. May the Lord revive true and undefiled religion here and in all the other lands where Christ is known and preached, and let the day come when heathendom shall become converted, when the crescent of Mohammed shall wane into eternal night, and when she that sitteth on the Seven Hills and exalteth herself in the place of God shall be cast down to sink like a mill-stone in the flood.

     Let the blessed Gospel of the eternal God prevail, let the whole earth be filled with His glory. Oh ! that we may live to see that day. The Lord bless our country ; have pity upon it. God bless the Sovereign with every mercy and blessing. Grant that there may be in Thine infinite wisdom a change in the state of trade and commerce, that there may be less complaint and distress. Oh ! let the people see Thy hand, and understand why it is laid upon them, that they may turn from wrongdoing and seek righteousness and follow after peace. Then shall the blessing return. The Lord hear us as in secret we often cry to Thee on behalf of this misled land. The Lord deliver it, and lift up the light of His countenance upon it yet again, for Jesus' sake. Amen.

Read The Psalms In "1" Year

Psalm 104

O LORD My God, You Are Very Great

19 He made the moon to mark the seasons;
the sun knows its time for setting.
20 You make darkness, and it is night,
when all the beasts of the forest creep about.
21 The young lions roar for their prey,
seeking their food from God.
22 When the sun rises, they steal away
and lie down in their dens.
23 Man goes out to his work
and to his labor until the evening.

24 O LORD, how manifold are your works!
In wisdom have you made them all;
the earth is full of your creatures.
25 Here is the sea, great and wide,
which teems with creatures innumerable,
living things both small and great.
26 There go the ships,
and Leviathan, which you formed to play in it.

ESV Study Bible

Trust and Obey

By R.C. Sproul Jr. 8/01/2013

     The KISS principle — Keep It Simple, Stupid — is itself a rather simple principle. It argues that when we find ourselves entangled in complex and complicated arguments, chances are we have already left the proper playing field. While, for instance, the gospel is a glory that can be studied and expounded upon for a lifetime of lifetimes, we nevertheless confess that something has gone wrong if we cannot rejoice in our salvation simply by confessing, “Lord be merciful to me, a sinner.” Jesus said that the man who prayed that way went home justified (Luke 18:14).

     The same is true after our souls are saved. Our forgiveness, our justification, our adoption all flow out of a glorious but simple truth that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us (Rom. 5:8). Our sanctification, however, our calling to grow in grace and wisdom, to put to death the old man, to become more like Jesus — this is simple too. There is no great and deep secret — we are called to trust and obey.

     This not only describes our sanctification, but as the old hymn points out, this describes the only way to be happy in Jesus. That is, the key to having a good life is profoundly simple. Now there have been many who complained about the bestselling book ISBN-13: 978-1455532285 by Joel Osteen that it was way too simple, that it lacked substance or heft, that it was the spiritual equivalent of a spool of cotton candy. I haven’t read the book, but I suspect my concern would be just the opposite. I’m not opposed to having a good life. I wish it for my children, for my friends, even for everyone who reads this article. So I am not opposed to advice on how to have a good life. I am opposed to bad advice.

     The key to living a good life is abundantly simple. According to our Maker, what we must do if we want things to go well for us in the land He has given us, is to honor our fathers and mothers. This is the first command with a promise (Eph. 6:2–3). The promise is that it will go well for us in the land.

     The world tells us that the key to a good life is a good education. Do well in school and you will get into a competitive college. Do well there and you will get into a competitive graduate school. Do well there and you will get a good, high-paying job. Then you will be able to afford a house in a neighborhood with good schools so that your children can do just what you did, and your grandchildren after them. I call this hell’s hamster wheel.

     God’s plan is so much more plain, so much more simple. Which is likely why we don’t believe it. We are offended by simplicity. In our pride, we like to believe that anything worth having must be terribly difficult to get, and terribly difficult to figure out how to get. We would rather go it alone and have it go poorly for us in the land than embrace the simple truth that we just need to honor those God has placed in authority over us.

     Or is that the real rub? Is our objection not the simplicity of the rule, but the rule itself? That is, do we object to God’s promise that it will go well for us in the land if we submit to those in authority over us because we don’t want to submit to those in authority over us?

     The devil, before his fall, lived a rather spectacular life. He threw it all away because he didn’t want to be ruled. Adam and Eve lived in a literal paradise, the land God had given them. All they had to do to stay there forever was submit to their Father. They threw it all away. And we are their children. Is this not the very essence of what Jesus taught in the Sermon on the Mount? What does it mean to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness but to pursue obedience to our heavenly Father with a single minded passion? Does He not tell us to set aside our worries about all those things we think will give us a good life and to give ourselves to seeking His righteousness? The simple question is, do we trust our Father? Do we believe that His law is a burden to submit to, or a map to joy?

     Of course there are selfish husbands. There are sinful parents. There are faithless elders. There are corrupt civil leaders. All of these, however, existed when our giving, sinless, faithful, pure Father promised us it would go well for us if we would submit to those in authority over us. He not only knows best, but He controls all things. He, after all, has the whole world in His hands.

     There is no need to toss and turn all night wondering what you should do differently to make a better life. Seek first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness. Submit to those in authority over you: “Obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. ‘Honor your father and mother’ (this is the first commandment with a promise), ‘that it may go well with you and you may live long in the land’” (Eph. 6:1–3). Keep it simple, and be wise. It will go well for you.

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     R.C. Sproul Jr. has served previously as a pastor, professor, and teacher. He is author of numerous books. Some are listed below.

     R.C. Sproul Jr. Books |  Go to Books Page

The Anchor of Theology

By Janet Mefferd 9/01/2013

     “Why aren’t Christian women interested in theology?” I often hear that question (usually from men), and I’m never sure how to answer. That’s likely because I can’t relate to the premise that Christian women aren’t interested in theology — the study of God.

     This wasn’t always true of me. If I’d heard that question when I was a college student, I probably would have answered, “Theology is for pastors. The most important thing is to have a relationship with Jesus Christ.”

     I had a lot to learn.

     At the time, my thinking about Christianity was influenced heavily by my interest in contemporary Christian music. And one of my favorite songs was the Twila Paris tune, “Do I Trust You?” Twila had written the song to express her grief after her friend and fellow Christian singer, Keith Green, was killed in a plane crash. The song really resonated with me. I’d lost my best friend to leukemia just a few years before, so I knew exactly how Twila felt as she poured out her honest grief to the Lord: “Shaken down to the cavity in my soul, I know the doctrine and theology. But right now they don’t mean much to me.”

     Yes, I thought. There are times when the last thing you need is theology.

     Eventually, my Twila Paris cassette ended up in a shoebox somewhere. And while I still loved Christian music, the Lord was turning me in a new direction.

     It started with a providential turn when I came across Dr. James Montgomery Boice’s book ISBN-13: 978-1596381599 in a public library. When I opened that book and read Dr. Boice’s deep, biblical exegesis of the Christmas story, I immediately thought: “He knows the same Jesus I do — but I’ve never read anyone who knew so much about Him.”

     I was naïvely stunned that anything about Jesus could be new to me. I’d been in church all my life. I became a Christian as a child. I went to Sunday School and Bible study. But after I read Dr. Boice’s book, I suddenly realized how little I really knew about the Lord and His Word. I was starving for truth, and I wanted more of it.

     I bought every book by Dr. Boice that I could find, and I also started filling my book shelves with titles by Dr. R.C. Sproul, Dr. D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Dr. John MacArthur, and others. I learned about the nature and character of God, the redemptive work of Jesus, sanctification. I was eating it up. I would read a Christian book, then my Bible, back and forth.

     Without fully realizing it, I had come to love theology.

     What’s more, I was beginning to understand what John Calvin meant when he said in his ISBN-13: 978-1598561685   ( free to read on this web site )   that “nearly all the wisdom which we possess, that is to say, true and sound wisdom, consists of two parts: the knowledge of God and of ourselves.” This is what studying theology was helping me to grasp. I was realizing the depths of my sin and God’s amazing grace to me in Christ. And as I grew in my knowledge about God, I was drawing closer to Him, as He lovingly and patiently sanctified me.

     A short time later, my Twila Paris tape resurfaced. As I popped the cassette back into the tape player, I was anxious to hear my old favorite song, “Do I Trust You?” And soon, I heard the familiar lyric: “Shaken down to the cavity in my soul, I know the doctrine and theology. But right now they don’t mean much to me.”

     I couldn’t believe what I was hearing! Did she just sing, “Doctrine and theology …don’t mean much to me”?

     I love your music, Twila, I thought. But I don’t agree! When grief shakes me “down to the cavity in my soul,” theology now means everything to me.

     I may not “feel” the presence of God when I grieve, but because I know that He is sovereign, that He cares for me, and that He is close to the brokenhearted, I can endure whatever situation He has ordained for me. It’s precisely because of the emotional ups and downs of life that the Christian must be rooted in theology — in the objective truth about God in His Word.

      This is true for every Christian to understand, but perhaps especially for women. Though many women do love theology, others discount it in favor of mere subjective experience with God. Yet we ignore theology to our peril. As C.S. Lewis noted, “If you do not listen to theology, that will not mean that you have no ideas about God. It will mean that you have a lot of wrong ones — bad, muddled, out-of-date ideas.”

     What’s more, women need to remember the spiritual benefit of glorifying God with our minds. Studying theology helps us to understand and love the great God who saved us. It enables us to think properly about God, and it anchors our emotions in truth as we “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18).

     That’s why if we love the Lord, then we should love learning about Him. Theology should mean much to us.

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     Janet Mefferd is a radio host whose program, The Janet Mefferd Show, takes a distinctively Christ-centered look at the news and events of the day. She can be heard daily on more than one hundred stations across the country.

The Continual Burnt Offering (Romans 8:7)

By H.A. Ironside - 1941

September 19
Romans 8:7 For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. 8 Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.    ESV

     What the law forbids, the heart of the unrenewed man produces. It is like a field full of noxious weeds which thrive despite all effort to curb or destroy them. By the new birth men become “partakers of the divine nature” (2 Peter 1:4) and so learn to delight in those things which please God, for the new life imparted is heavenly in origin and uncontaminated by lust. Nevertheless, the old nature abides until the day when the returning Christ shall transform these bodies of our humiliation. Hence the importance of the exhortations to uprightness, honesty, and integrity that abound in the Epistles, where true Christian life is set forth in all its fullness.

2 Peter 1:4 by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.   ESV

The Lord looked down upon the earth,
But what did He behold?—
A groaning, wretched, sinful world
By Satan’s will controlled.
He saw corruption like a flood
Roll o’er His fair domain,
Rebellion, lust, and wickedness
Possessing hill and plain.
He saw man’s heart, He knew his will,
He saw sin’s full extent—
The whole creation rife with wrong—
Man’s race on evil bent.
--- C. C. Crowston

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

The Coming of the Kingdom part 29

By Dr. Andrew Woods 02/11/2015

Evangelical Confusion

We began scrutinizing New Testament texts that "kingdom now" theologians employ in an attempt to argue that the kingdom is a present reality to show that none of these passages teach a present, spiritual form of the kingdom. We began examining the typical texts from  Acts used by "kingdom now" theologians.

Jesus Currently Reigning On David's Throne?

Perhaps the primary reason advanced by "kingdom now" theologians in their attempt to equate God's present work in the church with a present, spiritual manifestation of the Messianic kingdom is that following His Ascension Christ supposedly took His seat on David's Throne in heaven. From this regal position He now orchestrates the spiritual, Messianic kingdom through the church. However, it is far better to reject the notion that the Davidic Kingdom is present in any sense today and instead to maintain that this kingdom will not be inaugurated until the millennial age. At least six reasons support this conclusion.

First, we noted that the Old Testament consistently depicts the Davidic Throne in terrestrial rather than celestial terms. Second, we noted that because of this scriptural portrayal of the Davidic Throne, to argue that the Davidic Throne is now manifesting itself in this age from heaven is to place under unnatural duress the notions of progress of revelation and literal or normal, grammatical, historical hermeneutics. Third, as we began explaining in the last two issues, no New Testament verse or passage, including those frequently appealed to in early  Acts, clearly puts Christ on David's Throne in the present age.

Because of the lack of strong New Testament evidence supporting an inaugurated Davidic Kingdom, a superior classification of Christ's present position is His present heavenly session as Melchizedekian priest rather than His Davidic reign. [1] Recognized prophetic scholars have long observed that of the 59 New Testament references to David and of the multiple New Testament references to Christ's present session, no New Testament reference equates the Davidic Throne with Christ's present session. Thus, dispensationalists have long recognized a distinction between Christ's present session and His future Davidic reign. Walvoord notes:

The New Testament has fifty-nine references to David. It also has many references to the present session of Christ. A search of the New Testament reveals that there is not one reference connecting the present session of Christ with the Davidic throne. While this argument is, of course, not conclusive, it is almost incredible that in so many references to David and in so frequent reference to the present session of Christ on the Father's throne there should be not one reference connecting the two in any authoritative way. The New Testament is totally lacking in positive teaching that the throne of the Father in heaven is to be identified with the Davidic throne. The inference is plain that Christ is seated on the Father's throne, but that this is not at all the same as being seated on the throne of David.[2]

Fourth, the prophet  Daniel made it clear that the Davidic, Messianic kingdom could not come until the kingdoms of man had run their course ( Dan. 2; 7 ). During the kingdoms of man,  Daniel predicted that Israel would be trampled down by various Gentile powers. These powers include Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, Rome as well as the future revived Roman Empire of the Antichrist. Only after the final kingdom of man (the revived Roman Empire of the Antichrist) will have been deposed by Christ, would the Davidic kingdom then be established on earth ( Dan. 2:34-35; 43-45; 7:23-27 ). Unfortunately, kingdom now theologians ignore this chronology by arguing for a present, spiritual form of the kingdom despite the fact that the kingdoms of man have not yet run their course, the Antichrist and His kingdom have not yet been overthrown, and the Second Advent has not yet occurred. Far from God's Kingdom being established in the present, it is actually the kingdom of the Antichrist that is seemingly on the rise.

Kingdom now theologians contend that the smiting stone that crushes the final empires of man ( Dan. 2:34-35, 44-45 ) represents a spiritual kingdom that supposedly was established by Christ at His First Advent. However, such a view is inadequate because the kingdom now view interprets the early part of Nebuchadnezzar's dream one way while the latter part of the statue is interpreted another way. In other words, this view inconsistently calls for interpreting the previous empires in Nebuchadnezzar's vision, as represented by the body parts of the statue (Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome), in literal and geo-political terms. If the body parts of the statue all represented physical, Gentile empires and actual land, why should not the smiting stone also be interpreted in physical terms similarly featuring actual real estate ( Gen. 15:18-21 )? The kingdom now view simultaneously interprets the smiting stone, or the last empire in the same dream, in strictly spiritual terms. Also, theologian J. Dwight Pentecost gives six reasons as to why the smiting stone that crushes the final kingdom of the Times of the Gentiles could not have been satisfied at Christ's first coming. [3]

Amillennialists hold that this kingdom was established by Christ at His First Advent and that now the church is that kingdom. They argue that: (a) Christianity, like the growing mountain, began to grow and spread geographically and is still doing so; (b) Christ came in the days of the Roman Empire; (c) the Roman Empire fell into the hands of 10 kingdoms (10 toes); (d) Christ is the chief Cornerstone ( Eph. 2:20 ).

Premillenarians, however, hold that the kingdom to be established by Christ on earth is yet future. At least six points favor that view: (1) The stone will become a mountain suddenly, not gradually. Christianity did not suddenly fill "the whole earth" ( Dan. 2:35 ) at Christ's First Advent. (2) Though Christ came in the days of the Roman Empire, He did not destroy it. (3) During Christ's time on earth the Roman Empire did not have 10 kings at once. Yet Nebuchadnezzar's statue suggests that when Christ comes to establish His kingdom, 10 rulers will be in existence and will be destroyed by Him. (4) Though Christ is now the chief Cornerstone to the church ( Eph. 2:20 ) and "a stone that causes [unbelievers] to stumble" ( 1 Peter 2:8 ), He is not yet a smiting Stone as He will be when He comes again. (5) The Stone (Messiah) will crush and end all the kingdoms of the world. But the church has not and will not conquer the world's kingdoms. (6) The church is not a kingdom with a political realm, but the future Millennium will be. Thus Nebuchadnezzar's dream clearly teaches premillennialism, that Christ will return to earth to establish His rule on the earth, thereby subduing all nations. The church is not that kingdom.

Fifth, because the church is an unrevealed mystery to the Old Testament writers ( Eph 3:9 ), it is wholly unrelated to the Davidic Covenant and Kingdom. Ryrie presents a word study from both the biblical and extra-biblical material and thus concludes "...that the mystery of the equality of Jews and Gentiles in the one body of Christ was unknown and unrevealed in the Old Testament." [4] Thus, unless overtly stated in the New Testament, the church cannot be connected to an Old Testament concept if the church was unrevealed at the time the concept was given.

Sixth, because the church represents a parenthesis or an intercalation in God's dealing with national Israel and because the Davidic Covenant pertains to national Israel, the church is unrelated to the Davidic Covenant. Kingdom now theology rejects viewing the church as a parenthesis instead opting to understand it as part of a unifying kingdom theme found throughout Scripture. Yet a parenthesis is the best conceptual tool for understanding God's purposes for the Church Age. The first 69 weeks of  Daniel's prophecy of the 70 Weeks ( Dan. 9:24-27 ) represent God's past program for national Israel while the 70th week represents God's future program for national Israel. The Church Age transpires in the interlude between the 69th and 70th weeks. [5] Thus, the church represents a unique spiritual organism where Jew and Gentile experience equal status ( Eph. 2:11-22 ) in between God's past and future program for national Israel. This interlude is best captured through the conceptual tool of a parenthesis. In sum, because God's present work through the church can best be described as a parenthesis or interlude between God's past work with Israel (the first 69 weeks of  Daniel's prophecy) and God's future work with Israel (the 70th week of  Daniel's prophecy), and because the Davidic Covenant and kingdom specifically concerns Israel rather than the church, the Davidic Covenant and Kingdom could not be fulfilled now in any sense during the present Church Age.

It is for these preceding six reasons that the Dispensational tradition has never confused Christ's present session with the Davidic kingdom. The only exception to this rule is the modern advent of Progressive Dispensationalism, which maintains that the Davidic Kingdom is present in spiritual form as Jesus now reigns from David's Throne from heaven over the church. While still holding to a future or "not yet" earthly reign of Christ following Christ's Second Advent, Progressive Dispensationalists still argue that the Davidic Kingdom is "already" here in spiritual form. However, as we will see in the next installment, because of this radical alteration in understanding Christ's present activity, many question whether this new theological approach legitimately deserves the title Dispensationalism. [8]

Continue Reading (Part 30 on Sept 20 web page)

[1] L.S. Chafer, Les grandes doctrines de la Bible (French Edition)

[2] J.F. Walvoord, The Millennial Kingdom: A Basic Text in Premillennial Theology by John F. Walvoord (1983-10-27). See also J.D. Pentecost, Thy Kingdom Come: Tracing God's Kingdom Program and Covenant Promises Throughout History. Although one discovers multiple references of Christ in His present session portrayed as the David heir (Heb. 1:6; Rev. 3:7, etc...), no verse portrays him seated on David's Throne ruling in the exact terrestrial manner predicted in 2 Samuel 7:12-16.

[3] J.D. Pentecost, "Daniel," in Bible Knowledge Commentary (2 Volume Set) (Bible Knowledge Series)

[4] Charles Ryrie, Dispensationalism

[5] Randall Price, "Prophetic Postponement in Daniel 9 and Other Prophetic Texts," in Issues in Dispensationalism

     Dr. Andrew Woods Books

Note I copied this article from The Bible Prophecy Blog.

Dr. Andrew Woods Ministry Page, YouTube Channel, and Church.

By John Walvoord (1990)

The Prediction that Satan Will Be Crushed

     Romans 16:20. In connection with the greetings to various Christians in Rome, in which Paul exhorted them to serve the Lord with their full hearts, he prophesied, “The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet” (v.  20 ). Because the present age is of indeterminate length, and its length was unknown to Paul and others in the first century, it appeared to them that the final conquering of Satan would occur at the second coming of Christ and will be confirmed at the end of the millennium. Throughout the history of the church, these prophecies have had the quality of being soon, or imminent, as the present age and its duration is indeterminate in length.

     Taken as a whole, the epistle to the  Romans not only sets forth the great doctrines of sin, salvation, and sanctification, but also how these doctrines affect Israel in the present age and in the future, when Israel’s restoration is assured.

Prophecy In 1 Corinthians

     Frequent reference to the prophetic future is found in  1 Corinthians, scattered more or less throughout the entire book. Most important are the prophecies of  1 Corinthians 15, constituting a major contribution to prophetic truth.

Introductory Prophecies in  1 Corinthians

     1 Corinthians 1:8–9. Much of this epistle consists of rebuke and correction of the many problems that existed in the Corinthian church. It is, therefore, most significant that early in the first chapter Paul called attention to God’s sovereign purpose that they will someday be presented faultless in the presence of the Lord: “He will keep you strong to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God, who has called you into fellowship with his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful” (vv.  8–9 ).

     Though the epistle contains many exhortations and corrections of the problems in the Corinthian church, Paul had the long view, as stated in this passage, of how they will be presented perfect at the time of the rapture of the church. The expression “day of our Lord Jesus Christ” is apparently a reference to the rapture. The same day is referred to as “the day of the Lord” ( 1 Cor. 5:5; 2 Cor. 1:14 ), “the day of Christ Jesus” ( Phil. 1:6 ), and “the day of Christ” ( Phil. 1:10; 2:16 ). The context of these references indicate that they refer to the rapture of the church.

     As such, however, they are in contrast to references to the day of the Lord as in  1 Thessalonians 5:1–11, which refers to the extended period of time, beginning at the rapture, extending through the time of tribulation and second coming and even the millennial kingdom. It is a period in which God deals directly with the earth. The rapture is the event that begins this extended period. At the rapture of the church, the Corinthian church, for all its imperfections, will be perfected, and every Christian in that church will be caught up to be with the Lord forever. In view of God’s faithfulness in fulfilling His covenant promise to them, Paul had a basis for beginning his exhortations and corrections in the verses that follow.

The Message of the Cross as Foolishness

     1 Corinthians 1:18–19. One of the problems of the Corinthian church was that they greatly admired the intellectualism of Corinth with its philosophic teaching. By contrast, the gospel was simple, as Paul stated, “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God” (v.  18 ). In support of this, he quoted  Isaiah 29:14: “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate” ( 1 Cor. 1:19 ). In the passage that follows (vv.  20–31 ), Paul pointed out that the wisdom of man is foolishness with God, and the foolishness of the gospel was declared to be the wisdom of God, “wisdom from God — that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption” (v.  30 ).

The Wisdom of God

     1 Corinthians 2:6–12. In keeping with his earlier discussion on God’s wisdom as opposed to man’s wisdom, Paul pointed out how the wisdom of God is a matter of divine revelation, which far exceeds human wisdom. Paul stated, “We do, however, speak a message of wisdom among the mature, but not the wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. No, we speak of God’s secret wisdom, a wisdom that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began. None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory” (vv.  6–8 ).

     The revealed wisdom of God far exceeds anything that man can devise by his own wisdom. This was further stated, “However, as it is written: ‘No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him’ — but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit” (vv.  9–10 ). The quotation Paul recorded is from  Isaiah 64:4.

     In the revelation that follows, the contrast between spiritual truth and natural truth is discussed, and the world’s evaluation of the wisdom of God as foolishness is because they do not spiritually understand the truth of God’s revelation ( 1 Cor. 2:14 ). The spiritual truth that Paul stated here is the heart of the spiritual life and constitutes the truth that God reveals to those who are walking in fellowship with Him.

The Judgment of a Believer’s Works

     1 Corinthians 3:11–15. In keeping with the previous discussion in  1 Corinthians concerning the wisdom of God, which contrasts it to the wisdom of men, here Paul pointed out the difference in value that is made clear when what God values as worthwhile is contrasted to what the world values as worthwhile.

     The Christian life is viewed here as a building that uses the foundation of Jesus Christ. This is in reference to salvation, without which it is impossible to build a Christian life. In the verses that follow, six possible building materials are mentioned: “gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw” (v.  12 ). When the rapture occurs, as referred to by “the Day” (v.  13 ), the quality of our lives will be tested at the judgment seat of Christ.

     The test will be that the building will be subjected to fire. Obviously, the wood, hay, and straw, representing different degrees of human worth, are all reduced to ashes. The gold, silver, and costly stones survive because they are not combustible. They will constitute the basis for reward. The matter clearly refers to rewards, not salvation, because Paul stated, referring to the works being destroyed, “If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames” (v.  15 ).

     Paul didn’t assign spiritual values to the gold, silver, and precious stones. In Scripture, gold is characteristically used for the glory of God and was therefore prominent in the tabernacle and in the temple. Whatever is done for the glory of God is represented by gold. Silver is the metal of redemption ( Num. 3:46–51 ). Whatever is done in evangelism or soul winning is represented by silver. The costly stones are not identified, as they represent so many ordinary tasks that, if fulfilled to the glory of God, will constitute a basis for reward. For other passages on the judgment seat of Christ, refer to  Romans 14:10–12; 1 Corinthians 9:24–27; and  2 Corinthians 5:10.

The Lord, the Judge of His Servants

     1 Corinthians 4:1–5. Because a Christian is a trustee of all that God has committed to him, whether natural or spiritual talents or opportunity, as a trustee, a Christian should be faithful. “Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful” (v.  2 ). Paul pointed out how the Lord will judge, but not until the appointed time (v.  5 ). A reassurance was given, “At that time each will receive his praise from God” (v.  5 ). Apparently, every Christian will have something that he has accomplished that is worthwhile from God’s eternal point of view.

God, the Ultimate Judge

     1 Corinthians 5:13. In the fifth chapter, Paul exhorted the Corinthians to judge a case of immorality that existed in the church as well as other open sins. In connection with this, they should not associate with sexually immoral people, those who are greedy, swindlers, or idolaters (v.  9 ). Though it is impossible to separate completely from the wicked world, we should not maintain fellowship with Christians who are obviously living as the world is living (v.  11 ). As a final statement in connection with this, even though we are not qualified to judge the outside world, he stated, “God will judge those outside. ‘Expel the wicked man from among you’” (v.  13 ).

The Saints as Judges

     1 Corinthians 6:1–3. One of the problems in the Christian church was that some in the assembly were suing others in the assembly. Paul sharply rebuked them, “If any of you has a dispute with another, dare he take it before the ungodly for judgment instead of before the saints? Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if you are to judge the world, are you not competent to judge trivial cases? Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more the things of this life!” (vv.  1–3 ).

     Scripture teaches that we should not judge each other by evaluating others’ actions. Here, however, is a case of dispute between Christians that Paul tells them should have been taken before the church to be settled. In the process he predicted that we will have part in judging the world (v.  2 ), and we will have part in judging angels (v.  3 ). If this is true, we are qualified to judge things that relate to this life.

God to Judge the Wicked

     1 Corinthians 6:9–20. Proceeding from judging disputes among Christians, Paul then pointed out how God will judge the wicked, including those who are sexually immoral, idolaters, adulterers, male prostitutes, homosexuals, thieves, the greedy, drunkards, slanderers, and swindlers (vv.  9–10 ). Those whose lives are characterized by these sins do not manifest that they are children of God. The Corinthians were reminded, however, that some of them once committed these sins, but that having come to Christ, Paul stated, “But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God” (v.  11 ).

     Though even Christians have freedom of choice in many matters, God is the ultimate judge (v.  13 ). A Christian should not give himself to immorality in view of the fact that God, who raised Jesus from the dead, will also give us a resurrection body. Now, however, Christians are already members of the body of Christ. Under these circumstances, a Christian should not unite with a prostitute (vv.  14–17 ). Paul’s final argument was that the believer’s body is the temple of God: “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body” (vv.  19–20 ).


Every Prophecy of the Bible: Clear Explanations for Uncertain Times

  • The Christian Family
    Part 1
  • Christian Family
    Part 2
  • Christian Family
    Part 3

#2 Colossians 3:18 | Alistair Begg


#3 Colossians 3:19 | Alistair Begg


     Devotionals, notes, poetry and more

UCB The Word For Today
     Free from people’s approval
     (Sept 19)    Bob Gass

(1 Th 2:4) 4 but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please man, but to please God who tests our hearts. ESV

     There’s a world of difference between performing for people’s approval, and being free to minister to their needs because you know you already have God’s approval. Striving for approval is like any other drug; you can never get enough of it. And like all drug addicts you go crazy when it’s withheld. It places you at the mercy of other people’s opinions, and as a result you live on an emotional roller coaster. That’s not how God wants you to live! Paul was free to speak the truth in love: to confront people or to be gentle with them. When someone told Paul they didn’t like him, he didn’t lose sleep over it because his security and self-worth weren’t built on their acceptance. ‘We speak as those approved by God’ (v. 4 NIV 2011 Edition). Paul didn’t go around comparing himself with others, demonstrating his superiority by trying to be top dog or the one who’s always in charge. Knowing he already had God’s approval set him free from such anxiety and meant he could enjoy the life God called him to. When we’re immature, we worry about what others think of us. But as we become more mature, we realise that most of the time they aren’t thinking about us at all. They’re too busy thinking about themselves - or worrying about what we think of them! Knowing you have God’s approval gives you the strength to deal with criticism and conflict because you’re secure in your identity. And your identity is this: you’re redeemed, called, and approved by God.

Is 32-33
Eph 5:1-16

UCB The Word For Today
American Minute
     by Bill Federer

     Like the Roman leader Cincinnatus, who twice led the Roman Republic to victory in battle and then resigned and returned to farming, George Washington led America to victory over the British, then served two terms as President, only to resign and return to manage his farm at Mount Vernon. The world stood in awe as Washington delivered his Farewell Address on this day, September 19, 1796. He stated: “Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, Religion and Morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of Patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great Pillars.”

American Minute
The Soul of Prayer
     by P.T. Forsyth, (1848-1921)

               Practical theology / PREFACE

     For the sake of completeness, Chapters V and VI are reprinted from another little book1 of which they make a part, and I have to thank Messrs. Hodder Stoughton for ready leave to do so.

     Parts have also appeared in the London Quarterly Review, and I gladly acknowledge the complaisance of its Editor.

     Dedication: TO MRS. WATERHOUSE / Lomberdale Hall, in the High Peak

     There is, high among the hills, a garden with a walk—a terraced walk. The moors lie round it, and the heights face it; and below the village drowses; while far, far afield, the world agonizes in a solemn tragedy of righteousness (where you, too, have your sepulchres)—a tragedy not quite divorced from the war in heaven, nor all unworthy of the glorious cusp of sky that roofs the riot of the hills.

     The walk begins with a conservatory of flowers and it ends in an old Gothic arch—rising, as it were, from beauty natural and frail to beauty spiritual and eternal. And it curves and twines between rocky plants, as if to suggest how arduous the passage from the natural to the spiritual is. And it has, half-way, a little hermitage on it, like a wayside chapel, of old carved and inscribed stones. And the music and the pictures! Close by, the mowers whir upon the lawn, and the thrust flutes in the birch hedge; beyond, in the gash of the valley, the stream purrs up through the steep woods; still farther, the limestone rocks rise fantastic, like castles in the air; and, over all, the lark still soars and sings in the sun (as he does even in Flanders), and makes melody in his heart to the Lord.

     That terrace was made with a purpose and a welcome at will. And it is good to pace the Italian paving, to tread the fragrance from the alyssum in the seams, to brood upon the horizons of the far, long wolds, with their thread of road rising and vanishing into busy Craven, and all the time to think greatly of God and kindly of men—faithfully of the past, lovingly of the present, and hopefully of the future.

     So in our soul let us make a cornice road for God to come when He will, and walk upon our high places. And a little lodge and shelter let us have on it, of sacred stones, a shrine of ancient writ and churchly memories. Let us make an eyrie there of large vision and humane, a retreat of rest and refitting for a dreadful world. May He show us, up there apart, transfigured things in a noble light. May He prepare us for the sorrows of the valley by a glorious peace, and for the action of life by a fellowship gracious, warm, and noble (as even earthly friendships may be). So may we face all the harsh realisms of Time in the reality, power, and kindness of the Eternal, whose Mercy is as His Majesty forever.

The Soul of Prayer
Lean Into God
     Compiled by Richard S. Adams

The men who followed Him were unique in their generation.
They turned the world upside down because their hearts
had been turned right side up.
The world has never been the same.
--- Billy Graham

Doubt is part of all religion. All the religious thinkers were doubters.
--- Isaac Bashevis Singer

Only a very bad theologian would confuse the certainty that follows revelation with the truths that are revealed. They are entirely different things.
--- Denis Diderot

There is the cistern of Pleasure, engraved with fruits and flowers, wrought at the cost of health and peace; the cistern of Wealth, gilded and inlaid with costly gems; the cistern of Human love, which, however fair and beautiful, can never satisfy the soul that rests in it alone – all these, erected at infinite cost of time and strength, are treacherous and disappointing.
--- F.B. Meyer

... from here, there and everywhere

History of the Destruction of Jerusalem
     Thanks to Meir Yona

     4. And now there were three treacherous factions in the city, the one parted from the other. Eleazar and his party, that kept the sacred first-fruits, came against John in their cups. Those that were with John plundered the populace, and went out with zeal against Simon. This Simon had his supply of provisions from the city, in opposition to the seditious. When, therefore, John was assaulted on both sides, he made his men turn about, throwing his darts upon those citizens that came up against him, from the cloisters he had in his possession, while he opposed those that attacked him from the temple by his engines of war. And if at any time he was freed from those that were above him, which happened frequently, from their being drunk and tired, he sallied out with a great number upon Simon and his party; and this he did always in such parts of the city as he could come at, till he set on fire those houses that were full of corn, and of all other provisions. 4 The same thing was done by Simon, when, upon the other's retreat, he attacked the city also; as if they had, on purpose, done it to serve the Romans, by destroying what the city had laid up against the siege, and by thus cutting off the nerves of their own power. Accordingly, it so came to pass, that all the places that were about the temple were burnt down, and were become an intermediate desert space, ready for fighting on both sides of it; and that almost all that corn was burnt, which would have been sufficient for a siege of many years. So they were taken by the means of the famine, which it was impossible they should have been, unless they had thus prepared the way for it by this procedure.

     5. And now, as the city was engaged in a war on all sides, from these treacherous crowds of wicked men, the people of the city, between them, were like a great body torn in pieces. The aged men and the women were in such distress by their internal calamities, that they wished for the Romans, and earnestly hoped for an external war, in order to their delivery from their domestical miseries. The citizens themselves were under a terrible consternation and fear; nor had they any opportunity of taking counsel, and of changing their conduct; nor were there any hopes of coming to an agreement with their enemies; nor could such as had a mind flee away; for guards were set at all places, and the heads of the robbers, although they were seditious one against another in other respects, yet did they agree in killing those that were for peace with the Romans, or were suspected of an inclination to desert them, as their common enemies. They agreed in nothing but this, to kill those that were innocent. The noise also of those that were fighting was incessant, both by day and by night; but the lamentations of those that mourned exceeded the other; nor was there ever any occasion for them to leave off their lamentations, because their calamities came perpetually one upon another, although the deep consternation they were in prevented their outward wailing; but being constrained by their fear to conceal their inward passions, they were inwardly tormented, without daring to open their lips in groans. Nor was any regard paid to those that were still alive, by their relations; nor was there any care taken of burial for those that were dead; the occasion of both which was this, that every one despaired of himself; for those that were not among the seditious had no great desires of any thing, as expecting for certain that they should very soon be destroyed; but for the seditious themselves, they fought against each other, while they trod upon the dead bodies as they lay heaped one upon another, and taking up a mad rage from those dead bodies that were under their feet, became the fiercer thereupon. They, moreover, were still inventing somewhat or other that was pernicious against themselves; and when they had resolved upon any thing, they executed it without mercy, and omitted no method of torment or of barbarity. Nay, John abused the sacred materials, 5 and employed them in the construction of his engines of war; for the people and the priests had formerly determined to support the temple, and raise the holy house twenty cubits higher; for king Agrippa had at a very great expense, and with very great pains, brought thither such materials as were proper for that purpose, being pieces of timber very well worth seeing, both for their straightness and their largeness; but the war coming on, and interrupting the work, John had them cut, and prepared for the building him towers, he finding them long enough to oppose from them those his adversaries that thought him from the temple that was above him. He also had them brought and erected behind the inner court over against the west end of the cloisters, where alone he could erect them; whereas the other sides of that court had so many steps as would not let them come nigh enough the cloisters.

     6. Thus did John hope to be too hard for his enemies by these engines constructed by his impiety; but God himself demonstrated that his pains would prove of no use to him, by bringing the Romans upon him, before he had reared any of his towers; for Titus, when he had gotten together part of his forces about him, and had ordered the rest to meet him at Jerusalem, marched out of Cesarea. He had with him those three legions that had accompanied his father when he laid Judea waste, together with that twelfth legion which had been formerly beaten with Cestius; which legion, as it was otherwise remarkable for its valor, so did it march on now with greater alacrity to avenge themselves on the Jews, as remembering what they had formerly suffered from them. Of these legions he ordered the fifth to meet him, by going through Emmaus, and the tenth to go up by Jericho; he also moved himself, together with the rest; besides whom, marched those auxiliaries that came from the kings, being now more in number than before, together with a considerable number that came to his assistance from Syria. Those also that had been selected out of these four legions, and sent with Mucianus to Italy, had their places filled up out of these soldiers that came out of Egypt with Titus; who were two thousand men, chosen out of the armies at Alexandria. There followed him also three thousand drawn from those that guarded the river Euphrates; as also there came Tiberius Alexander, who was a friend of his, most valuable, both for his good-will to him, and for his prudence. He had formerly been governor of Alexandria, but was now thought worthy to be general of the army [under Titus]. The reason of this was, that he had been the first who encouraged Vespasian very lately to accept this his new dominion, and joined himself to him with great fidelity, when things were uncertain, and fortune had not yet declared for him. He also followed Titus as a counselor, very useful to him in this war, both by his age and skill in such affairs.

     The Project Gutenberg EBook of The Wars of the Jews or History of the Destruction of Jerusalem, by Flavius Josephus Translator: William Whiston

The War of the Jews: The History of the Destruction of Jerusalem (complete edition, 7 books)
The Apostles' Creed
     Creed Of The ‘King's Book’

     I beleve in God the Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth; and in Iesu Christe, his only sonne our Lorde; whiche was conceived by the Holy Goste, borne of the Virgine Mary, suffred under Ponce Pylate, was crucified, dead, buried, and descended into hell; and the third day he rose agen from deth; he ascended into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of God the Father almighty; from thens he shall come to judge the quicke and the deade. I beleve in the Holy Goste; the holy Catholike Churche; the communyon of sayntes; the forgyveness of synnes, the resurrection of the body; and the lyfe everlastynge. Amen.

Swete, H. B. (1899). The Apostles' Creed: Its Relation to Primitive Christianity
Proverbs 25:15
     by D.H. Stern

15     With patience a ruler may be won over,
     and a gentle tongue can break bones.

Complete Jewish Bible : An English Version of the Tanakh (Old Testament) and B'Rit Hadashah (New Testament)
My Utmost For The Highest
     A Daily Devotional by Oswald Chambers

                Do you continue to go with Jesus?

     Ye are they which have continued with Me in My temptations. --- Luke 22:28.

     It is true that Jesus Christ is with us in our temptations, but are we going with Him in His temptations? Many of us cease to go with Jesus from the moment we have an experience of what He can do. Watch when God shifts your circumstances, and see whether you are going with Jesus, or siding with the world, the flesh and the devil. We wear His badge, but are we going with Him? “From that time many of His disciples went back and walked no more with Him.” The temptations of Jesus continued throughout His earthly life, and they will continue throughout the life of the Son of God in us. Are we going with Jesus in the life we are living now?

     We have the idea that we ought to shield ourselves from some of the things God brings round us. Never! God engineers circumstances, and whatever they may be like we have to see that we face them while abiding continually with Him in His temptations. They are His temptations, not temptations to us, but temptations to the life of the Son of God in us. The honour of Jesus Christ is at stake in your bodily life. Are you remaining loyal to the Son of God in the things which beset His life in you?

     Do you continue to go with Jesus? The way lies through Gethsemane, through the city gate, outside the camp; the way lies alone, and the way lies until there is no trace of a footstep left, only the voice,
“Follow Me.”

My Utmost for His Highest
The Visit (Pieta)
     the Poetry of RS Thomas

                The Visit (Pieta)

She was small;
  Composed in her way
  Like music. She sat
  In the chair I had not
  Offered, smiling at my left
  Shoulder. I waited on
  For the sentences her smile
          That the tongue
  Is a whip needed no
  Proving. And yet her eye
  Fondled me. It was clear
  What anger brought her
  To my door would not unleash
  The coils. Instead she began
  Rehearsing for her
  Departure. As though ashamed
  Of a long stay, she rose,
  Touched the tips of my cold
  Hand with hers and turned
  To the closed door. I remember
  Not opening it.

Selected poems, 1946-1968
Searching For Meaning In Midrash

     Our Midrash says, “The servant of a king is a king: Stick to the captain and they will bow down to you.” In other words, if you stay among the great and powerful, some of their prestige will rub off on you; others will treat you with deference and honor.

     But in the Talmud, Zevaḥim 96b, it says, “The nobleman has taken us [by the hand], and his scent lingers on the hand.” That is to say, the only benefit that accrues to you in seeking the company of the great and powerful is the lingering scent of their perfume; it will be gone in a moment’s time and then you will be left with nothing.

     How is this contradiction to be explained? Are we to understand that these are opposing teachings? And if that is the case, how are we supposed to know to whom we should listen? Or is it possible that these two sections can be reconciled and are not in opposition? Let us suggest a possible reading; whether it reflects historic truth, we cannot say. But it shows a way of understanding Rabbinic texts and deriving meaningful lessons from them.

     Note that the Midrash Sifrei was composed in Israel at a time when the Romans were occupying the land and ruling over a people not their own. They were very much interested in maintaining order and keeping the lid on a potentially explosive situation. Like other occupying powers in history, the Romans probably set Jews up in positions of authority to be their middlemen, to be on the front line in dealing with the masses. The Romans had to make it worthwhile for the Jews to take on those roles. Anyone willing to pledge loyalty and to cooperate with Rome was rewarded with a modicum of power and privilege. The common people thus saw that there were real rewards for playing along.

     The Talmud selection from Zevaḥim, in contrast, was composed in Babylonia, where there was a very different political reality. The Jews were not in the majority there, as they were in Israel, and they were not living on their “own” soil. The Persian authorities were not foreign occupiers. They did not have to look for ways to win over the Jews. They had the power, and probably had little or no fear of the Jews. Coming close to the “nobleman” (alkafta, the title of a high Persian dignitary) brought only the illusion of power; it didn’t bring with it any real or lasting advantages.

     One lesson that we learn is that no one rule or piece of advice operates in every circumstance. The Midrash and the Talmud present two different approaches to politics and power, each anchored in its own separate reality. Teachings do not come in a vacuum; it is our task to search for the context so that we know if and when those teachings might apply to us.


     We live in a world inundated with publicity. When a rock star has a platinum record, a member of her staff will distribute a press release. This not only acknowledges the achievement; it also attempts to capitalize on it, thereby selling even more records on the heels of success. A business mogul who successfully acquires a new holding for his company will publicize his accomplishment widely, thus assuring not only a good name for himself but also the possibility of further acquisitions.

     This is the way of our modern times. “Run it up the flagpole” is as well known a platitude as we have. Yet, the story of the Euphrates says something else: It [the Euphrates] said to them, “My deeds testify about me.” The personified river states that it doesn’t need to run anything up the flagpole, or through its press agent, or on its website. The river’s accomplishments, its “track record,” are its own best publicity.

     We may be surprised to learn that the wisdom of the Rabbis, put into the “mouth” of the river Euphrates, has been proven by contemporary studies on publicity. What is the best way of advertising a product? Is it through television, radio, or newspaper? A combination of these?

     What the pros found should not surprise us: The best source of publicity is word of mouth. A movie will receive a greater boost in sales from people telling their friends how great the film was than through any other form of advertising. An inferior product will meet certain doom on the shelves of America’s marketplaces when one person relates to another, who informs a third, who lets the word out to a fourth, that this item is of shoddy design, inferior quality, questionable use—or all of these.

     And what’s true of movies and widgets is also true about people. Media hype and press agents can be helpful, but ultimately it is our deeds that testify most about us. In the end, PR does matter—if that PR is not Public Relations but Performance Record.

Searching for Meaning in Midrash: Lessons for Everyday Living
Take Heart
     September 19

     For the transgression of my people he was stricken.
--- Isaiah 53:8.

     The benefit of Christ’s sufferings depends almost entirely on people coming to a true knowledge of themselves. ( The Precious and Sacred Writings of Martin Luther Based on the Kaiser Chronological: Edition, With References to the Erlangen and Walch Editions, Vol. 11 (Classic Reprint) ) Where people do not come to this point, the sufferings of Christ have no benefit to them. For the characteristic, natural work of Christ’s sufferings is that they make all people equal and alike, so that as Christ was horribly martyred, we must also be martyred in our consciences by our sins. This does not take place by means of words but by means of deep thoughts and a profound realization of our sins.

     Take an illustration: If an evildoer were judged because he or she had murdered the child of a monarch, and someone convinced you that you had enabled the wicked person to do the act—then you would be in the greatest straits, especially if your conscience also revolted against you. Much more anxious than this you should be when you consider Christ’s sufferings. For you are truly the one who strangled and crucified the Son of God through your sins.

     Whoever perceive themselves to be so hard that they are not terror stricken by Christ’s sufferings and led to a knowledge of him, they should fear and tremble. For it cannot be otherwise; you must become like the picture and sufferings of Christ, whether in life or in hell. You must at the time of death, if not sooner, fall into terror, tremble, quake, and experience all Christ suffered on the cross. It is truly terrible to attend to this on your deathbed; therefore you should pray God to soften your heart and permit you fruitfully to meditate on Christ’s suffering. For it is impossible for us profoundly to meditate on the sufferings of Christ of ourselves unless God sink them into our hearts. But first you are to seek and long for the grace of God, that you may accomplish it through God’s grace and not through your own power. Some people never treat the sufferings of Christ aright, for they never call on God for that purpose but devise out of their own ability their own way and treat those sufferings entirely in a human and an unfruitful manner.

     Such a meditation changes a person’s character, and almost as in baptism he or she is born anew. Then Christ’s suffering accomplishes its true and noble work; it slays the old Adam, banishes all lust, pleasure, and security that one may obtain from God’s creatures, just like Christ was forsaken by all, even by God.
--- Martin Luther

Take Heart: Daily Devotions with the Church's Great Preachers
On This Day
     Glory, Laud, and Honor  September 19

     As the 700s rolled into the 800s, the greatest man in the world was Charlemagne, king of the Franks and Holy Roman Emperor. Having gained control of most of Western Europe, he set himself to reform the legal, judicial, and military systems of his empire. He established schools and promoted Christianity; and in his capital, scholars and saints gathered from across Europe.

     Among them was Theodulf. He was about 50 years old in 800, and he possessed an established reputation as churchman, poet, and scholar. Charlemagne made him bishop of Orleans in Spain, and Theodulf traveled widely, taking part in the great events of the empire. Upon the death of Alcuin, Charlemagne’s “Secretary of Education,” Theodulf advanced to that position. Unfortunately, Theodulf’s fortunes died when Charlemagne did. Accused by the new emperor of treason, he was imprisoned. He maintained his innocence and was pardoned in 818; but he died shortly afterward and was buried on September 19, 821.

     Theodulf worked vigorously to provide the clergy with a good education. Among his books is Directions to the Priests of the Diocese, in which he issued maxims such as these:

•     No woman is allowed to live in the house with a priest.
•     Priests must not get drunk or frequent taverns.
•     Priests must teach everyone the Lord’s Prayer and the
     Apostle’s Creed. (See below)
•     Daily, honest confession of sins to God ensures pardon.
•     True charity consists in the union of good deeds with a
     virtuous life.

     Theodulf of Orleans is best remembered, however, for his beautiful hymn Gloria, Laus et Honor, which has been sung every Palm Sunday for over 1,000 years in churches around the world: All glory, laud, and honor / To Thee, Redeemer, King, / To whom the lips of children / Make sweet hosannas ring: / Thou art the King of Israel, / Thou David’s royal Son, / Who in the Lord’s name comest, / The King and blessed one!

     Many people spread clothes in the road, while others put down branches which they had cut from trees. Some people walked ahead of Jesus and others followed behind. They were all shouting, “Hooray for the Son of David! God bless the one who comes in the name of the Lord. Hooray for God in heaven above!”
--- Matthew 21:8,9.

On This Day 365 Amazing And Inspiring Stories About Saints, Martyrs And Heroes
Morning and Evening
     Daily Readings / CHARLES H. SPURGEON

          Morning - September 19

     "The liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free." --- Galatians 5:1.

     This “liberty” makes us free to heaven’s charter—the Bible. Here is a choice passage, believer, “When thou passest through the rivers, I will be with thee.” You are free to that. Here is another: “The mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed, but my kindness shall not depart from thee”; you are free to that. You are a welcome guest at the table of the promises. Scripture is a never-failing treasury filled with boundless stores of grace. It is the bank of heaven; you may draw from it as much as you please, without let or hindrance. Come in faith and you are welcome to all covenant blessings. There is not a promise in the Word which shall be withheld. In the depths of tribulations let this freedom comfort you; amidst waves of distress let it cheer you; when sorrows surround thee let it be thy solace. This is thy Father’s love-token; thou art free to it at all times. Thou art also free to the throne of grace. It is the believer’s privilege to have access at all times to his heavenly Father. Whatever our desires, our difficulties, our wants, we are at liberty to spread all before him. It matters not how much we may have sinned, we may ask and expect pardon. It signifies nothing how poor we are, we may plead his promise that he will provide all things needful. We have permission to approach his throne at all times—in midnight’s darkest hour, or in noontide’s most burning heat. Exercise thy right, O believer, and live up to thy privilege. Thou art free to all that is treasured up in Christ—wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption. It matters not what thy need is, for there is fulness of supply in Christ, and it is there for thee. O what a “freedom” is thine! freedom from condemnation, freedom to the promises, freedom to the throne of grace, and at last freedom to enter heaven!

          Evening - September 19

     “For this child I prayed.” --- 1 Samuel 1:27.

     Devout souls delight to look upon those mercies which they have obtained in answer to supplication, for they can see God’s especial love in them. When we can name our blessings Samuel, that is, “asked of God,” they will be as dear to us as her child was to Hannah. Peninnah had many children, but they came as common blessings unsought in prayer: Hannah’s one heaven-given child was dearer far, because he was the fruit of earnest pleadings. How sweet was that water to Samson which he found at “the well of him that prayed!” Quassia cups turn all waters bitter, but the cup of prayer puts a sweetness into the draughts it brings. Did we pray for the conversion of our children? How doubly sweet, when they are saved, to see in them our own petitions fulfilled! Better to rejoice over them as the fruit of our pleadings than as the fruit of our bodies. Have we sought of the Lord some choice spiritual gift? When it comes to us it will be wrapped up in the gold cloth of God’s faithfulness and truth, and so be doubly precious. Have we petitioned for success in the Lord’s work? How joyful is the prosperity which comes flying upon the wings of prayer! It is always best to get blessings into our house in the legitimate way, by the door of prayer; then they are blessings indeed, and not temptations. Even when prayer speeds not, the blessings grow all the richer for the delay; the child Jesus was all the more lovely in the eyes of Mary when she found him after having sought him sorrowing. That which we win by prayer we should dedicate to God, as Hannah dedicated Samuel. The gift came from heaven, let it go to heaven. Prayer brought it, gratitude sang over it, let devotion consecrate it. Here will be a special occasion for saying, “Of thine own have I given unto thee.” Reader, is prayer your element or your weariness? Which?

Morning and Evening
Amazing Grace
     September 19


     Johann C. Schwedler, 1672–1730
     Translated by Benjamin H. Kennedy, 1804–1889

     For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. (1 Corinthians 2:2)

     A question that many struggle with today is “What is the real purpose of living?” Or, “What is the ultimate reality or joy in life?” The testimony of the author of the book of Ecclesiastes would no doubt echo the frustrations of many in contemporary society—“All is vanity, empty and meaningless.”

     The author of this hymn text, Johann Schwedler, a prominent German minister and hymn writer of his era, discovered quite a different answer for his life—“Jesus Christ, the Crucified”—the consoler, reviver, healer, and final rewarder. For the apostle Paul, all of life also revolved around a personal relationship with Jesus Christ—“For me to live is Christ” (Philippians 1:2l).

     C. S. Lewis has written: “Either Jesus Christ was what He claimed or He was a liar and we should repudiate Him. Or if He was not what He claimed to be and not a liar, He was a madman, and we should treat Him as such. Or He was what He claimed to be and we should fall at His feet and worship Him.”

     With doubting Thomas, the apostle Paul, and devout followers of Christ through the centuries, may our purpose in life be expressed in a devoted, daily relationship with our Lord. May we speak out with clarity and conviction: “My Lord and God—my highest joy!”

     Ask ye what great thing I know that delights and stirs me so? What the high reward I win? Whose the name I glory in? Jesus Christ, the Crucified.
     Who defeats my fiercest foes? Who consoles my saddest woes? Who revives my fainting heart, healing all its hidden smart? Jesus Christ, the Crucified.
     Who is life in life to me? Who the death of death will be? Who will place me on His right, with the countless hosts of light? Jesus Christ, the Crucified.
     This is that great thing I know—This delights and stirs me so: Faith in Him who died to save, Him who triumphed o’er the grave, Jesus Christ, the Crucified.

     For Today: Acts 2:36; Romans 5:1; Galatians 2:20; 6:14; Philippians 3:13, 14; 1 Peter 3:15

     Be prepared to speak out if someone should ask about your real purpose in life. Carry this hymn as a help ---

Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions
The Existence and Attributes of God
     Stephen Charnock


     (2.) If God were changeable in his knowledge, it would make him unfit to be an object of trust to any rational creature. His revelations would want the due ground for entertainment, if his understanding were changeable; for that might be revealed as truth now which might prove false hereafter, and that as false now which hereafter might prove true; and so God would be an unfit object of obedience in regard of his precepts, and an unfit object of confidence in regard of his promises. For if he be changeable in knowledge he is defective in knowledge, and might promise that now which he would know afterwards was unfit to be promised, and, therefore, unfit to be performed. It would make him an incompetent object of dread, in regard of his threatenings; for he might threaten that now which he might know hereafter were not fit or just to be inflicted. A changeable mind and understanding cannot make a due and right judgment of things to be done, and things to be avoided; no wise man would judge it reasonable to trust a weak and flitting person. God must needs be unchangeable in his knowledge; but, as the schoolmen say, that, as the sun always shines, so God always knows; as the sun never ceaseth to shine, so God never ceaseth to know. Nothing can be hid from the vast compass of his understanding, no more than anything can shelter itself without the verge of his power. This farther appears in that, 1st. God knows by his own essence. He doth not know, as we do, by habits, qualities, species, whereby we may be mistaken at one time and rectified at another. He hath not an understanding distinct from his essence as we have, but being the most simple Being, his understanding is his essence; and as from the infiniteness of his essence we conclude the infiniteness of his understanding, so from the unchangeableness of his essence, we may justly conclude the unchangeableness of his knowledge. Since, therefore, God is without all composition, and his understanding is not distinct from his essence, what he knows, he knows by his essence, and there can then be no more mutability in his knowledge than there can be in his essence; and if there were any in that, he could not be God, because he would have the property of a creature. If his understanding then be his essence, his knowledge is as necessary, as unchangeable as his essence. As his essence eminently contains all perfections in itself, so his understanding comprehends all things past, present, and future, in itself. If his understanding and his essence were not one and the same, he were not simple, but compounded: if compounded, he would consist of parts; if he consisted of parts, he would not be an independent Being, and so would not be God.

     2d. God knows all things by one intuitive act. As there is no succession in his being, so that he is one thing now and another thing hereafter; so there is no succession in his knowledge. He knows things that are successive, before their existence and succession, by one single act of intuition; by one cast of his eye all things future are present to him in regard of his eternity and omnipresence; so that though there is a change and variation in the things known, yet his knowledge of them and their several changes in nature is invariable and unalterable. As imagine a creature that could see with his eye at one glance the whole compass of the heavens, by sending out beams from his eye without receiving any species from them, he would see the whole heavens uniformly, this part now in the east, then in the west, without any change in his eye, for he sees every part and every motion together; and though that great body varies and whirls about, and is in continual agitation, his eye remains steadfast, suffers no change, beholds all their motions at once and by one glance. God knows all things from eternity, and, therefore, perpetually knows them; the reason is because the Divine knowledge is infinite, and therefore, comprehends all knowable truths at once. An eternal knowledge comprehends in itself all time, and beholds past and present in the same manner, and, therefore, his knowledge is immutable: by one simple knowledge he considers the infinite spaces of past and future.

     3d. God’s knowledge and will is the cause of all things and their successions. There can be no pretence of any changeableness of knowledge in God; but in this case, before things come to pass, he knows that they will come to pass; after they are come to pass, he knows that they are past; and slide away. This would be something if the succession of things were the cause of the Divine knowledge, as it is of our knowledge; but on the contrary, the Divine knowledge and will is the cause of the succession of them: God doth not know creatures because they are; but they are because he knows them: “All his works were known to him from the beginning of the world” (Acts 15:18). All his works were not known to him, if the events of all those works were not also known to him; if they were not known to him, how should he make them? he could not do anything ignorantly. He made them then after he knew them, and did not know them after he made them. His knowledge of them made a change in them; their existence made no change in his knowledge. He knew them when they were to be created, in the same manner that he knew them after they were created; before they were brought into act, as well as after they were brought into act; before they were made, they were, and were not; they were in the knowledge of God, when they were not in their own nature; God did not receive his knowledge from their existence, but his knowledge and will acted upon them to bring them into being.

     4th. Therefore the distinction of past and future makes no change in the knowledge of God. When a thing is past, God hath no more distinct knowledge of it after it is past, than he had when it was to come; all things were all in their circumstances of past, present, and to come; seen by his understanding, as they were determined by his will. Besides, to know a day to be past or future, is only to know the state of that day in itself, and to know its relation to that which follows, and that which went before. This day wherein we are, if we consider it in the state wherein it was yesterday, it was to come, it was future; but if we consider it in that state wherein it will be to-morrow, we understand it as past. This in man cannot be said to be a different knowledge of the thing itself, but only of the circumstance attending a thing, and the different relation of it. As I see the sun this day, I know it was up yesterday, I know it will be up to- morrow; my knowledge of the sun is the same; if there be any change, it is in the sun, not in my knowledge; only I apply my knowledge to such particular circumstances. How much more must the knowledge of those things in God be unchangeable, who knows all those states, conditions, and circumstances, most perfectly from eternity; wherein there is no succession, no past or future, and therefore will know them forever! He always beholds the same thing; he sees, indeed, succession in things, and he sees a thing to be past which before was future. As from eternity he saw Adam as existing in such a time; in the first time he saw that he would be, in the following time he saw that he had been; but this he knew from eternity; this he knew in the same manner; though there was a variation in Adam, yet there was no variation in God’s knowledge of him, in all his states; though Adam was not present to himself, yet in all his states he was present to God’s eternity.

     5th. Consider, that the knowledge of God, in regard of the manner of it, as well as the objects, is incomprehensible to a finite creature. So that though we cannot arrive to a full understanding of the manner of God’s knowledge, yet we must conceive so of it, as to remove all imperfection from him in it. And since it is an imperfection to be changeable, we must remove that from God; the knowledge of God about things past, present and future, must be inconceivably above ours: “His understanding is infinite” (Psalm 147:6). There is no number of it; it can no more be calculated or drawn into an account by us, than infinite spaces, which have no bounds and limits, can be measured by us. We can no more arrive, even in heaven, to a comprehensive understanding of the manner of his knowledge, than of the infinite glory of his essence; we may as well comprehend one as the other. This we must conclude, that God being not a body, doth not see one thing with eyes, and another thing with mind, as we do; but being a spirit, he sees and knows only with mind, and his mind is himself, and is as unchangeable as himself; and therefore as he is not now another thing than what he was, so he knows not anything now in another manner than as he knew it from eternity; he sees all things in the glass of his own essence; as, therefore, the glass doth not vary, so neither doth his vision.

     3. God is unchangeable in regard of his will and purpose. A change in his purpose is, when a man determines to do that now which before he determined not to do, or to do the contrary; when a man hates that thing which he loved, or begins to love that which he before hated; when the will is changed, a man begins to will that which he willed not before, and ceaseth to will that which he willed before. But whatsoever God hath decreed, is immutable; whatsoever God hath promised, shall be accomplished: “The word that goes forth of his mouth shall not return to him void, but it shall accomplish that which he pleaseth” (Isa. 55:11); whatsoever “he purposeth, he will do” (Isa. 46:11; Num. 23:19); his decrees are therefore called “mountains of brass” (Zech. 6:1): brass, as having substance and solidity; mountains, as being immovable, not only by any creature, but by himself; because they stand upon the basis of infallible wisdom, and are supported by uncontrollable power. From this immutability of his will, published to man, there could be no release from the severity of the law, without satisfaction made by the death of a Mediator, since it was the unalterable will of God, that death should be the wages of sin; and from this immutable will it was, that the length of time, from the first promise of the Redeemer to his mission, and the daily provocations of men, altered not his purpose for the accomplishment of it in the fulness of that time he had resolved upon; nor did the wickedness of former ages hinder the addition of several promises as buttresses to the first. To make this out, consider,

     (1.) The will of God is the same with his essence. If God had a will distinct from his essence, he would not be the most simple Being. God hath not a faculty of will distinct from himself; as his understanding is nothing else but Deus intelligens, God understanding; so his will is nothing else but Deus volens, God willing; being, therefore, the essence of God; though it is considered, according to our weakness, as a faculty, it is as his understanding and wisdom, eternal and immutable; and can no more be changed than his essence. The immutability of the Divine counsel depends upon that of his essence; he is the Lord Jehovah, therefore he is true to his word (Mal.3:6; Isa. 43:13): “Yea, before the day I am he, and there is none that can deliver out of my hand.” He is the same, immutable in his essence, therefore irresistible in his power.

     (2.) There is a concurrence of God’s will and understanding in everything. As his knowledge is eternal, so is his purpose. Things created had not been known to be, had not God resolved them to be the act of his will; the existence of anything supposeth an act of his will. Again, as God knows all things by one simple vision of his understanding, so he wills all things by one act of volition; therefore the purpose of God in the Seripture is not expressed by counsels in the plural number, but counsel; showing that all the purposes of God are not various, but as one will, branching itself out into many acts towards the creature; but all knit in one root, all links of one chain. Whatsoever is eternal is immutable; as his knowledge is eternal, and therefore immutable, so is his will; he wills or nills nothing to be in time, but what he willed and nilled from eternity; if he willed in time that to be that he willed not from eternity, then he would know that in time which he knew not from eternity; for God knows nothing future, but as his will orders it to be future, and in time to be brought into being.

     (3.) There can be no reason for any change in the will of God. When men change in their minds, it must be for want of foresight; because they could not foresee all the rubs and bars which might suddenly offer themselves; which if they had foreseen, they would not have taken such measures: hence men often will that which they afterwards wish they had not willed when they come to understand it clearer, and see that to be injurious to them which they thought to be good for them; or else the change proceeds from a natural instability without any just cause, and an easiness to be drawn into that which is unrighteous; or else it proceeds from a want of power, when men take new counsels, because they are invincibly hindered from executing the old. But none of those can be in God.

     1st. It cannot be for want of foresight. What can be wanting to an infinite understanding? How can any unknown event defeat his purpose, since nothing happens in the world but what he wills to effect, or wills to permit; and therefore all future events are present with him? Besides, it doth not consist with God’s wisdom to resolve anything, but upon the highest reason; and what is the highest and infinite reason, cannot but be unalterable in itself; for there can be no reason and wisdom higher than the highest. All God’s purposes are not bare acts of will, but acts of counsel. “He works all things according to the counsel of his own will” (Eph. 1:11): and he doth not say so much that his will, as that “his counsel shall stand” (Isa. 46:10). It stands, because it is counsel; and the immutability of a promise is called the “immutability of his counsel” (Heb. 6:1?), as being introduced and settled by the most perfect wisdom, and therefore to be carried on to a full and complete execution; his purpose, then, cannot be changed for want of foresight; for this would be a charge of weakness.

     2d. Nor can it proceed from a natural instability of his will, or an easiness to be drawn to that which is unrighteous. If his will should not adhere to his counsel, it is because it is not fit to be followed, or because it will not follow it; if not fit to be followed, it is a reflection upon his wisdom; if it be established, and he will not follow it, there is a contrariety in God, as there is in a fallen creature, will against wisdom. That cannot be in God which he hates in a creature, viz. the disorder of faculties, and being out of their due place. The righteousness of God is like a “great mountain” (Psalm 36:6). The rectitude of his nature is as immovable in itself, as all the mountains in the world are by the strength of man. “He is not as a man, that he should repent or lie” (Num. 23:19); who often changes, out of a perversity of will, as well as want of wisdom to foresee, or want of ability to perform. His eternal purpose must either be righteous or unrighteous; if righteous and holy, he would become unholy by the change; if not righteous nor holy, then he was unrighteous before the change; which way soever it falls, it would reflect upon the righteousness of God, which is a blasphemous imagination. If God did change his purpose, it must be either for the better,—then the counsel of God was bad before; or for the worse, —then he was not wise and good before.

     3d. Nor can it be for want of strength. Who hath power to control him? Not all the combined devices and endeavors of men can make the counsel of God to totter (Prov. 19:21): “There are many devices in a man’s heart; nevertheless the counsel of the Lord, that shall stand;” that, and that only shall stand. Man hath a power to devise and imagine, but no power to effect and execute of himself. God wants no more power to effect what he will, than he wants understanding to know what is fit. Well, then, since God wanted not wisdom to frame his decrees, nor holiness to regulate them, nor power to effect them, what should make him change them? since there can be no reason superior to his, no event unforeseen by him, no holiness comparable to his, no unrighteousness found in him, no power equal to his, to put a rub in his way.

     4th. Though the will of God be immutable, yet it is not to be understood so, as that the things themselves so willed are immutable. Nor will the immutability of the things willed by him, follow upon the unchangeableness of his will in willing them; though God be firm in willing them, yet he doth not will that they should alway be. God did not perpetually will the doing those things which he once decreed to be done; he decreed that Christ should suffer, but he did not decree that Christ should alway suffer; so he willed the Mosaical rites for a time, but he did not will that they should alway continue; he willed that they should endure only for a time; and when the time came for their ceasing, God had been mutable if he had not put an end to them, because his will had fixed such a period. So that the changing of those things which he had once appointed to be practised, is so far from charging God with changeableness, that God would be mutable if he did not take them away; since he decreed as well their abolition at such a time, as their continuance till such a time; so that the removal of them was pursuant to his unchangeable will and decree. If God had decreed that such laws should alway continue, and afterwards changed that decree, and resolved the abrogation of them, then indeed God had been mutable; he had rescinded one decree by another; he had then seen an error in his first resolve, and there must be some weakness in the reason and wisdom whereon it was grounded. But it was not so here; for the change of those laws is so far from slurring God with any mutability, that the very, change of them is no other than the issue of his eternal decree; for from eternity he purposed in himself to change this or that dispensation, though he did decree to bring such a dispensation into the world. The decree itself was eternal and immutable, but the thing decreed was temporary and mutable. As a decree from eternity doth not make the thing decreed to be eternal, so neither doth the immutability of the decree render the thing so decreed to be immutable: as for example, God decreed from all eternity to create the world; the eternity of this decree did not make the world to be in being and actually created from eternity; so God decreed immutably that the world so created should continue for such a time; the decree is immutable if the world perish at that time, and would not be immutable if the world did endure beyond that time that God hath fixed for the duration of it: as when a prince orders a man’s remaining in prison for so many days; if he be prevailed with to give him a delivery before those days, or to continue him in custody for the same crime after those days, his order is changed; but if he orders the delivery of him just at that time, till which he had before decreed that he should continue in prison, the purpose and order of the prince remains firm, and the change in the state of the prisoner is the fruit of that firm and fixed resolution: so that we must distinguish between the person decreeing, the decree itself, and the thing decreed. The person decreeing, viz., God, is in himself immutable, and the decree is immutable; but the thing decreed may be mutable; and if it were not changed according to the first purpose, it would argue the decree itself to be changed; for while a man wills that this may be done now, and another thing done afterwards, the same will remains; and though there be a change in the effects, there is no change in the will.

     5th. The immutability of God’s will doth not infringe the liberty of it. The liberty of God’s will consists with the necessity of continuing his purpose. God is necessarily good, immutably good; yet he is freely so, and would not be otherwise than what he is. God was free in his first purpose; and purposing this or that by an infallible and unerring wisdom, it would be a weakness to change the purpose. But, indeed, the liberty of God’s will doth not seem so much to consist in an indifferericy to this or that, as in an independency on anything without himself: his will was free, because it did not depend upon the objects about which his will was conversant. To be immutably good is no point of imperfection, but the height of perfection.

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     Gary Hamrick

God Will Take You Back
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     Jon Courson

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click here

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     Paul LeBoutillier

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     Brett Meador | Athey Creek

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s2-370 | Judgment


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Brett Meador

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