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Obadiah - Jonah


Obadiah 1:1      The vision of Obadiah.

Edom Will Be Humbled

Thus says the Lord GOD concerning Edom:
We have heard a report from the LORD,
and a messenger has been sent among the nations:
“Rise up! Let us rise against her for battle!”
2  Behold, I will make you small among the nations;
you shall be utterly despised.
3  The pride of your heart has deceived you,
you who live in the clefts of the rock,
in your lofty dwelling,
who say in your heart,
“Who will bring me down to the ground?”
4  Though you soar aloft like the eagle,
though your nest is set among the stars,
from there I will bring you down,
declares the LORD.

5  If thieves came to you,
if plunderers came by night—
how you have been destroyed!—
would they not steal only enough for themselves?
If grape gatherers came to you,
would they not leave gleanings?
6  How Esau has been pillaged,
his treasures sought out!
7  All your allies have driven you to your border;
those at peace with you have deceived you;
they have prevailed against you;
those who eat your bread have set a trap beneath you—
you have no understanding.

8  Will I not on that day, declares the LORD,
destroy the wise men out of Edom,
and understanding out of Mount Esau?
9  And your mighty men shall be dismayed, O Teman,
so that every man from Mount Esau will be cut off by slaughter.

Edom’s Violence Against Jacob

10  Because of the violence done to your brother Jacob,
shame shall cover you,
and you shall be cut off forever.
11  On the day that you stood aloof,
on the day that strangers carried off his wealth
and foreigners entered his gates
and cast lots for Jerusalem,
you were like one of them.
12  But do not gloat over the day of your brother
in the day of his misfortune;
do not rejoice over the people of Judah
in the day of their ruin;
do not boast
in the day of distress.
13  Do not enter the gate of my people
in the day of their calamity;
do not gloat over his disaster
in the day of his calamity;
do not loot his wealth
in the day of his calamity.
14  Do not stand at the crossroads
to cut off his fugitives;
do not hand over his survivors
in the day of distress.

The Day of the LORD Is Near

15  For the day of the LORD is near upon all the nations.
As you have done, it shall be done to you;
your deeds shall return on your own head.
16  For as you have drunk on my holy mountain,
so all the nations shall drink continually;
they shall drink and swallow,
and shall be as though they had never been.
17  But in Mount Zion there shall be those who escape,
and it shall be holy,
and the house of Jacob shall possess their own possessions.
18  The house of Jacob shall be a fire,
and the house of Joseph a flame,
and the house of Esau stubble;
they shall burn them and consume them,
and there shall be no survivor for the house of Esau,
for the LORD has spoken.

The Kingdom of the LORD

19  Those of the Negeb shall possess Mount Esau,
and those of the Shephelah shall possess the land of the Philistines;
they shall possess the land of Ephraim and the land of Samaria,
and Benjamin shall possess Gilead.
20  The exiles of this host of the people of Israel
shall possess the land of the Canaanites as far as Zarephath,
and the exiles of Jerusalem who are in Sepharad
shall possess the cities of the Negeb.
21  Saviors shall go up to Mount Zion
to rule Mount Esau,
and the kingdom shall be the LORD’s.

Jonah 1

Jonah Flees the Presence of the LORD

Jonah 1:1     Now the word of the LORD came to Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, 2 “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it, for their evil has come up before me.” 3 But Jonah rose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the LORD. He went down to Joppa and found a ship going to Tarshish. So he paid the fare and went down into it, to go with them to Tarshish, away from the presence of the LORD.

4 But the LORD hurled a great wind upon the sea, and there was a mighty tempest on the sea, so that the ship threatened to break up. 5 Then the mariners were afraid, and each cried out to his god. And they hurled the cargo that was in the ship into the sea to lighten it for them. But Jonah had gone down into the inner part of the ship and had lain down and was fast asleep. 6 So the captain came and said to him, “What do you mean, you sleeper? Arise, call out to your god! Perhaps the god will give a thought to us, that we may not perish.”

Jonah Is Thrown into the Sea

7 And they said to one another, “Come, let us cast lots, that we may know on whose account this evil has come upon us.” So they cast lots, and the lot fell on Jonah. 8 Then they said to him, “Tell us on whose account this evil has come upon us. What is your occupation? And where do you come from? What is your country? And of what people are you?” 9 And he said to them, “I am a Hebrew, and I fear the LORD, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land.” 10 Then the men were exceedingly afraid and said to him, “What is this that you have done!” For the men knew that he was fleeing from the presence of the LORD, because he had told them.

11 Then they said to him, “What shall we do to you, that the sea may quiet down for us?” For the sea grew more and more tempestuous. 12 He said to them, “Pick me up and hurl me into the sea; then the sea will quiet down for you, for I know it is because of me that this great tempest has come upon you.” 13 Nevertheless, the men rowed hard to get back to dry land, but they could not, for the sea grew more and more tempestuous against them. 14 Therefore they called out to the LORD, “O LORD, let us not perish for this man’s life, and lay not on us innocent blood, for you, O LORD, have done as it pleased you.” 15 So they picked up Jonah and hurled him into the sea, and the sea ceased from its raging. 16 Then the men feared the LORD exceedingly, and they offered a sacrifice to the LORD and made vows.

A Great Fish Swallows Jonah

17  And the LORD appointed a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.

Jonah 2

Jonah’s Prayer

Jonah 2:1     Then Jonah prayed to the LORD his God from the belly of the fish, 2 saying,

... the Hebrew text of  Jonah 2:1 actually reads dāg gādōl, or “great fish,” rather than a technical term for “whale.” But since Hebrew possessed no special word for “whale,” and since no true fish — as opposed to a marine mammal — is known to possess a stomach as capacious as a whale’s, it is reasonable to adhere to the traditional interpretation at this point. The only other available term, tannɩ̂n, was too vague to be very serviceable here, since it could also mean shark, sea serpent, or even dragon.)     A Survey of Old Testament Introduction

“I called out to the LORD, out of my distress,
and he answered me;
out of the belly of Sheol I cried,
and you heard my voice.
3  For you cast me into the deep,
into the heart of the seas,
and the flood surrounded me;
all your waves and your billows
passed over me.
4  Then I said, ‘I am driven away
from your sight;
yet I shall again look
upon your holy temple.’
5  The waters closed in over me to take my life;
the deep surrounded me;
weeds were wrapped about my head
6  at the roots of the mountains.
I went down to the land
whose bars closed upon me forever;
yet you brought up my life from the pit,
O LORD my God.
7  When my life was fainting away,
I remembered the LORD,
and my prayer came to you,
into your holy temple.
8  Those who pay regard to vain idols
forsake their hope of steadfast love.
9  But I with the voice of thanksgiving
will sacrifice to you;
what I have vowed I will pay.
Salvation belongs to the LORD!”

10 And the LORD spoke to the fish, and it vomited Jonah out upon the dry land.

Jonah 3

Jonah Goes to Nineveh

Jonah 3:1     Then the word of the LORD came to Jonah the second time, saying, 2 “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it the message that I tell you.” 3 So Jonah arose and went to Nineveh, according to the word of the LORD. Now Nineveh was an exceedingly great city, three days’ journey in breadth. 4 Jonah began to go into the city, going a day’s journey. And he called out, “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!” 5 And the people of Nineveh believed God. They called for a fast and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them to the least of them.

The People of Nineveh Repent

6 The word reached the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, removed his robe, covered himself with sackcloth, and sat in ashes. 7 And he issued a proclamation and published through Nineveh, “By the decree of the king and his nobles: Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste anything. Let them not feed or drink water, 8 but let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and let them call out mightily to God. Let everyone turn from his evil way and from the violence that is in his hands. 9 Who knows? God may turn and relent and turn from his fierce anger, so that we may not perish.”

10 When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil way, God relented of the disaster that he had said he would do to them, and he did not do it.

Jonah 4

Jonah’s Anger and the LORD’s Compassion

Jonah 4:1     But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was angry. 2 And he prayed to the LORD and said, “O LORD, is not this what I said when I was yet in my country? That is why I made haste to flee to Tarshish; for I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and relenting from disaster. 3 Therefore now, O LORD, please take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live.” 4 And the LORD said, “Do you do well to be angry?”

5 Jonah went out of the city and sat to the east of the city and made a booth for himself there. He sat under it in the shade, till he should see what would become of the city. 6 Now the LORD God appointed a plant and made it come up over Jonah, that it might be a shade over his head, to save him from his discomfort. So Jonah was exceedingly glad because of the plant. 7 But when dawn came up the next day, God appointed a worm that attacked the plant, so that it withered. 8 When the sun rose, God appointed a scorching east wind, and the sun beat down on the head of Jonah so that he was faint. And he asked that he might die and said, “It is better for me to die than to live.” 9 But God said to Jonah, “Do you do well to be angry for the plant?” And he said, “Yes, I do well to be angry, angry enough to die.” 10 And the LORD said, “You pity the plant, for which you did not labor, nor did you make it grow, which came into being in a night and perished in a night. 11 And should not I pity Nineveh, that great city, in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know their right hand from their left, and also much cattle?”

ESV Study Bible

What I'm Reading

Why Is God So Hidden?

By J. Warner Wallace 9/21/2017

     As a young atheist, I denied the existence of Godfor practical, experiential reasons. During my elementary school years, I found it difficult to understand why anyone would believe in God without visible evidence. I knew my parents, teachers and friends were real, because I could see them and I could see their impact on the world around me. God, however, seemed completely hidden. I often thought, “If God exists, why would He hide in this way? Why wouldn’t God just come right out and make it obvious to everyone He exists?” As I examined these questions many years later, I began to consider other factors and considerations, particularly related to the nature of “love”.

     I held love and compassion in high regard, even as an unbeliever. These were values I embraced as essential to our survival as a species, and values I considered to be foundational to human “flourishing”(as many atheists commonly describe it). But love requires a certain kind of world, and if loving God does exist, it is reasonable that He would create a universe in which love is possible; a universe capable of supporting humans with the ability to love God and love one another. This kind of universe requires a number of pre-requisites, however, and these pre-requisites are best achieved when God is “hidden” in the way He often seems to be:

     Love Requires Freedom

     True love cannot be coerced. We love our children and we want them to love us. We cannot, however, force them to do so. When we give our kids direction and ask them to accept this direction as a reflection of their love for us, we must step away and give them the freedom to respond (or rebel) freely. If we are “ever-present”, their response will be coerced; they will behave in a particular way not because they love us, but because they know we are present (and they fear the consequence of rebellion). If God exists, it is reasonable that He would remain hidden (to some degree) to allow us the freedom to respond from a position of love, rather than fear.

     Love Requires Faith

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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.

Bonhoeffer Psychology and Christianity

By Justin Taylor 5/26/2009

     Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together: The Classic Exploration of Faith in Community

     The most experienced psychologist or observer of human nature knows infinitely less of the human heart than the simplest Christian who lives beneath the Cross of Jesus.

     The greatest psychological insight, ability, and experience cannot grasp this one thing: what sin is.

     Worldly wisdom knows what distress and weakness and failure are, but it does not know the godlessness of man. And so it does not know that man is destroyed only by his sin and can be healed only by forgiveness. Only the Christian knows this.

     In the presence of a psychiatrist I can only be a sick man; in the presence of a Christian brother I can dare to be a sinner.

     The psychiatrist must first search my heart and yet he never plumbs its ultimate depth. The Christian brother knows when I come to him: here is a sinner like myself, a godless man who wants to confess and yearns for God's forgiveness.

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     Justin Taylor is executive vice president of book publishing and book publisher for Crossway and blogs at Between Two Worlds. You can follow him on Twitter.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer on Psychiatry

By Brad Hambrick 10/18/2013

     “The most experienced psychologist or observer of human nature knows infinitely less of the human heart than the simplest Christian who lives beneath the Cross of Jesus. The greatest psychological insight, ability, and experience cannot grasp this one thing: what sin is. Worldly wisdom knows what distress and weakness and failure are, but it does not know the godlessness of man. And so it also does not know that man is destroyed only by his sin and can be healed only by forgiveness. Only the Christian knows this. In the presence of a psychiatrist I can only be a sick man; in the presence of a Christian brother I can dare to be a sinner. The psychiatrist must first search my heart and yet he never plumbs its ultimate depth. The Christian brother knows when I come to him: here is a sinner like myself, a godless man who wants to confess and yearns for God’s forgiveness. The psychiatrist views me as if there were no God. The brother views me as I am before the judging and merciful God in the Cross of Jesus Christ.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer in Life Together: The Classic Exploration of Faith in Community

     There is an important familial back drop to this excerpt from Bonhoeffer (selections below from Wikipedia):

     His father, Karl Bonhoeffer, was a distinguished neurologist. In 1912, he moved the family to Berlin to become a professor of neurology and psychiatry at the University of Berlin and the director of the psychiatric clinic at Charite Hospital.

     Nonetheless, the Bonhoeffer family seldom attended church services.

     Expected to follow his father into psychiatry, Bonhoeffer surprised and dismayed his parents when he decided as a teenager to become a theologian and later a pastor. When his older brother told him not to waste his life in such a “poor, feeble, boring, petty, bourgeois institution as the church,” fourteen-year-old Dietrich replied, “If what you say is true, I shall reform it!”

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     Brad serves as the Pastor of Counseling at The Summit Church in  Durham, NC. He also serves as Instructor of Biblical Counseling at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, a council member of the Biblical Counseling Coalition, and has authored several books including Do Ask, Do Tell, Let’s Talk: Why and How Christians Should Have Gay Friends and God’s Attributes: Rest for Life’s Struggles.

What Bible Did Jesus Use?

By Dr. John Barnett 12/22/2014

     If you were put on the spot and hundreds of eyes and ears were on you and you were asked to give THE reason why you know the Bible is true—what would you say? That question is best answered by remembering what Jesus said in the same situation.

     At that huge gathering, called the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus confidently told all the thousands who heard Him speak—that Heaven and Earth would pass away before any word of His Bible failed. Wow, He sure knew He had a Bible He could trust. Jesus didn't fear that there were any historical, moral, theological, and scientific inaccuracies in His Bible. He had a copy of the Book anyone can Trust!

     But as we read Matthew 5:17-19, Jesus summed it up as simply this, HE believed God's Word and so should we:

(Mt 5:17–20) 17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. 19 Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.   ESV

     Have you ever looked down and wondered if you really held the same Bible Jesus had, the one God breathed out supernaturally by inspiration? And further, have you ever wondered if this one is okay, because it is a translation, and not the actual Hebrew or Greek words that God gave to those 40 plus men, who He used to write the Bible?

     This is the Bible Jesus Used

     The Septuagint was the first translation of the Hebrew Bible; and was made in the third century B.C. by Jewish scribes, who were direct descendents of those trained in Ezra's Great Synagogue of Jerusalem. They were complete experts in the text, being very well versed in Hebrew and Greek.

     This translation became very popular among Jews in the first two centuries before Christ because many Jews in those days did not understand Hebrew. Their ancestors had left Israel centuries before, and generation after generation gradually lost the ability to read the Scriptures in Hebrew.

     Many of the Jews in Jesus' day used the Septuagint as their Bible. Quite naturally, the early Christians also used the Septuagint in their meetings and for personal reading; and many of the New Testament apostles quoted it when they wrote the Gospels and Epistles in Greek. What is most fascinating is that the order of the books in the Septuagint is the same order in our Bibles today, and not like the Hebrew scrolls. So this means that:

     Jesus Primarily Used a Translation

     Jesus and the Apostles: studied, memorized, used, quoted, and read most often from the Bible of their day, the Septuagint. Since Matthew wrote primarily to convince the Jews that Jesus of Nazareth was indeed their promised Messiah, it follows as a matter of course that his Gospel is saturated with the Hebrew Scriptures. Yet, when Jesus quotes the Old Testament in Matthew, He uses the Hebrew text only 10% of the time, but the Greek LXX translation—90% of the time!

     Amazingly, Jesus and Paul used the LXX as their primary Bible. It was just like the Bible each of us holds in our hands, not the original Hebrew Old Testament, but a translation of the Hebrew into Greek. But it was based on exactly the same original and inspired words, and reads just like the Bible we hold in our hands today.

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     Dr. John Barnett has been teaching the Word of God for 30+ years. Born and raised in Michigan, John has studied at Michigan State University, Bob Jones University (B.S., B.A., M.A., M. Div.), The Master’s Seminary (faculty and Th. M. work), Dallas Theological Seminary (Dr. of Biblical Ministry) and with Francis Schaeffer at L’Abri Fellowship.

     John shares his life with Bonnie his beloved wife, and their eight wonderful children. As a home educating family, John and Bonnie teach children and teens with enthusiasm and love. In the past 30 years of uninterrupted ministry, John has served congregations in Michigan, Georgia, Rhode Island, California and Oklahoma before coming to the precious saints at Calvary Bible Church in Kalamazoo, Michigan in 2008. He has served on the Faculty of theMaster’s College and Seminary. He was an Associate Pastor to Dr. John MacArthur at Grace Community Church for five years overseeing the Shepherding Ministries. During graduate school, John served as the Assistant Dean of Men at Bob Jones University for five years.

     Called to the ministry as a young man—his passion remains prayer and the ministry of God’s Word. As a global Christian, and having ministered the Word in 40 nations around the world, John’s ministry is deeply touched by outreach and evangelism. Since 1978, in conjunction with Land of the Book Tours. John has led dozens of study tours, retreats, travels, and pilgrimages with over 1,500 participants, and taught on site in 21 countries and on five continents. His Tours filmed onsite are available to watch online.

     As a Seminary Professor of Theology, Church History and the English Bible, John’s messages reflect the background of the Scripture from the ancient biblical world, the history of the church and the daily life in far corners of the planet. In 1998 a new ministry called Discover the Book Ministry was launched to provide electronic copies of Pastor John’s audio, video, and text studies free of charge to pastors, missionaries, and other believers. Since then, this ministry has grown to serve saints in all 50 states and over 145 lands around the world, as well as through daily radio on a growing number of radio stations in the USA, Europe and the Caribbean.

The Story We Share

By J.D. Bridges 12/01/2013

     Ask anyone to describe the shape of a square, and you might expect a variety of explanations that yet have common talking points (for example, 90-degree corners with four equilateral sides). Get one of the defining features of a square wrong, and you’re no longer describing a square, regardless of culture, time, or place. Similarly, if a believer were to summarize the gospel, we might reasonably anticipate that each explanation would conform to a particular shape that transcends different communication styles, theological influences, and cultural idioms. In Paul’s first letter to the church at Corinth, he provides a particular shape to the gospel of “first importance” (1 Cor. 15:3–4) by forming it around the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. He goes on to provide credible eyewitness reports from various sources to validate his claims, including his own testimony (vv. 5–8).

     One facet of the Christian life where we see the importance of the shape of the gospel unfold is in evangelism. As we share the gospel, it is paramount to clearly articulate the redemptive work of Jesus for our listeners. Yet oftentimes our audience has not had access to the biblical worldview and doesn’t understand the biblical plotline. Perhaps this is why the Apostle Paul rooted his explanation of the gospel in the larger context: “in accordance with the Scriptures” (v. 3). Not only did Paul want to provide a clear shape to the gospel, but he also wanted to demonstrate that the gospel was set firmly and securely within the framework of the story of God and the redemptive history of His people.

     In order to grasp the context of the whole gospel, Paul demonstrates that a wide-angle view of the Scriptures is necessary. I witnessed this firsthand almost ten years ago when I traveled to New York City for the first time with the intent of sharing the gospel. Standing on a busy street corner in the Bronx, I was approached by a petite woman wearing dark-rimmed glasses. She startled me by giving my arm a small tug, and then she whispered something I didn’t hear. I leaned over and asked her to repeat her words. This time I heard her whisper: “Could you pray for me? I’m HIV-positive, and I don’t know if God loves me.”

     In that moment, I believe God gave me great clarity in explaining the gospel to her as she listened closely. Yet she neither said, “I believe!” or “Thanks, but no thanks.” Instead, she began to ask me more questions about the Bible. As she contemplated each answer, it seemed to ignite a new series of questions. I could see her collecting, analyzing, and categorizing her thoughts as she struggled to make sense of the gospel and her suffering. For forty-five minutes we stood there on that cold street corner: two strangers conversing about the story of God. Hearing the gospel had confronted her worldview, and each answer I provided from the Scriptures seemed to distort her old worldview even more.

     D.A. Carson writes, [The] gospel is integrally tied to the Bible’s storyline. Indeed, it is incomprehensible without understanding that storyline… . But the point is simply this: the good news of salvation through Jesus Christ makes sense in the context of this storyline and in no other.

     Regardless of our method of evangelism, we need to clearly present the gospel within the storyline of Scripture.

     How did it all begin? What has gone wrong? Is there any hope? What will the future hold? These are basic worldview questions that every religion attempts to answer in some way. These are the questions behind the questions and comments we encounter throughout our day in conversation, social media, or from strangers sitting behind us at a restaurant. When bad news provokes someone to say, “How could a person do something like that?” or “What is it with him/her?” we would do well to recognize these are simply questions of “What has gone wrong?”

     As we look to God’s Word to answer these questions, the major themes of the biblical worldview are revealed: creation, the fall, rescue (or redemption), and restoration (or re-creation). From Genesis to Revelation, God reveals that He is the author and main character of this story. It is this story that ultimately points us to Jesus Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge (Col. 2:3). Moreover, the biblical worldview not only provides the glorious backdrop for the gospel, but it also informs our heart for the lost.

     Like the disciples on the road to Emmaus, it is the story of God revealed by God that causes our hearts to burn within us (Luke 24:32). He must open our minds to understand it (Luke 24:45) and give us new hearts sealed with the Holy Spirit (Eph. 1:13). As the Spirit ministers to us, we are reminded again and again of Christ’s work in our behalf found throughout the Bible. It is this story of redemption that continually grips our hearts and compels our mouths to speak to the lost. By grace alone through faith alone in Jesus Christ alone, we share the gospel with others with the hope that their stories might be eternally united with His.

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     J.D. Bridges is vice president of sales for Ligonier Ministries. He is co-editor of The Story ESV Bible.

The Coming of the Kingdom part 34

By Dr. Andrew Woods 03/14/2015

We began scrutinizing New Testament texts that "kingdom now" theologians employ in an attempt to argue that the kingdom is a present reality in order to show that none of these passages teach a present form of the kingdom. We have examined the typical texts from the Gospels,  Acts, Paul's letters, and the general epistles used by "kingdom now" theologians. In this installment, we will take a similar look at common "kingdom now" proof texts allegedly found in the Book of Revelation.

A Kingdom Of Priests

A text commonly used by "kingdom now" theologians is  Revelation 1:5-6, which says that Christ has made believers into a kingdom of priests. These verses say, "And from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To Him who loves us and released us from our sins by His blood; and He has made us to be a kingdom, priests to His God and Father — to Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever." The logic of the argument from the "kingdom now" theologian here is that if we indeed are a kingdom of priests then we must now be in the present spiritual Messianic kingdom. However, such an interpretive approach is to reveal impatience with interpreting the Apocalypse. This is especially true since the Book of  Revelation typically interprets itself either in the very same or in a subsequent context. One example is how the dragon ( Rev. 12:3 ) is later interpreted as the serpent or the devil in both in the immediate ( Rev. 12:9 ) and the extended ( Rev. 20:2 ) contexts of the same book. In fact, Walvoord, in his  Revelation commentary, identifies twenty-six instances where an interpretation is conspicuously provided in the immediate context. [1]

Thus, the explanation of  Revelation 1:6 is found later in  Revelation 5:10, which says, "And thou hast made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God; and they will reign upon the earth". Notice that  Revelation 5:10 explains when and where the Church will exercise its authority as a kingdom of priests. We know that this reign will take place in the future given the future tense of the verb basileuō, which is translated "they will reign." In other words, the reign is not now but future. We also know from the final clause in  Revelation 5:10 that this reign will take place upon the earth. Thus, the explanation of  Revelation 1:6 is found in  Revelation 5:10, which anticipates a future, earthly reign rather than the present reign of believers. In other words, putting both  Revelation 1:6 and  5:10 together reveals that although believers are a present kingdom of priests, they will not actually reign in this capacity until the future earthly Messianic kingdom is established. Toussaint summarizes, "The explanation of this verse is found in  5:10 (NASB), which anticipates the future reign of believers with Christ." [2]

Fellow Partaker In The Kingdom

Another text used by "kingdom now" theologians is  Revelation 1:9, "I, John, your brother and fellow partaker in the tribulation and kingdom and perseverance which are in Jesus, was on the island called Patmos because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus." "Kingdom now" theologians believe that this text indicates that because John describes himself to his audience as a fellow partaker in the kingdom, then the kingdom must be a present spiritual reality. Yet, this represents another case where it would be better to allow the Book of  Revelation to interpret itself. Other sections of the Apocalypse describe the kingdom as both future and earthly ( Rev. 5:10; 11:15; 20:1-10 ). Thus,  Revelation 1:9 is speaking of the future millennial reign of Christ. In fact, commentators seem nearly unanimous in interpreting the Greek word basileia, translated "kingdom" in  Revelation 1:9, as the future Millennium. Thomas observes, "Little difference of opinion exists over the meaning of basileia in  1:9. It is the millennial kingdom described more fully in  Revelation 20. " [3]

Jesus Has Already Overcome

Other "kingdom now" theologians appeal to  Revelation 5:5 in order to contend for a present, spiritual kingdom. This verse says, "and one of the elders said to me, 'Stop weeping; behold, the Lion that is from the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has overcome so as to open the book and its seven seals.'" Because the verb translated "has overcome" is in the aorist tense, Bock observes:

The victory, or at least the decisive act, has already occurred. He is qualified to open the scrolls and the seals because of what he has already done as a Davidite... The timing of  Revelation 5:5 is critical, since it precedes the seal judgments and the second coming, so the text shows Jesus has his regal victorious status before he returns in  Revelation 19. The portrait of these  Revelation texts is consistent. Jesus now rules in spiritual salvific terms, in a new community that is part of the kingdom program, and in a way that inaugurates Davidic promises. That kingdom exists alongside the kingdoms of earth... [4]

Yet, neither the word "kingdom" (basileia) nor its verbal form "to reign" (basileuō) are used in  Revelation 5:5. Surely, this word group would be employed by John here had it been his intention to communicate that the kingdom is a present, spiritual reality. Rather, all this verse really communicates is that Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, has already broken into history through His First Advent and laid the ground work for the eventual establishment of His kingdom through His redemptive death. Regarding Bock's use of  Revelation 5:5, Toussaint observes, "But this does not prove a present spiritual form of the kingdom. Christ's death and resurrection have defeated Satan but the kingdom is clearly future; this is especially seen in the Apocalypse" [5]Rev. 5:10; 11:15; 20:1-10).

Perhaps an analogy from the modern legal world can help to elucidate the true meaning of  Revelation 5:5. When someone is charged with a crime, there are typically two phases of the trial. In the first phase, the accused is tried by a jury of his peers. If found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, at this point the accused becomes a convict. In the second phase of the trial, the convict later appears before the judge for sentencing. In the same way, Satan has already been convicted at the cross ( John 12:31; 16:11; Col. 2:15; Heb. 2:14; 1 John 3:8 ). In this sense, he is a defeated foe. If true, then what are we to make of the numerous passages indicating that he is still the ruler of this present world ( 2 Cor. 4:4; Eph. 2:2; 1 Pet. 5:8; 1 John 4:4; 5:19 )? The reason for these descriptors is that his sentence has not yet been imposed. Such an imposition of his punishment will not take place until the events surrounding the establishment of the kingdom ( Rev. 12:9-10; 20:2-3, 10 ). Thus, while  Revelation 5:5 describes Christ's victory at the trial's guilt phase, it is not speaking of the penalty phase of the trial, which will be accomplished in the events surrounding the establishment of the future millennial kingdom. In other words, while Christ's victory at the conviction stage has already transpired ( Rev. 5:5 ), His victory at the sentencing stage awaits the future arrival of the kingdom ( Rev. 12:9-10; 20:2-3, 10 ).

The Context:  Revelation 2-3

Moreover, the notion of interpreting any of these above texts from the Apocalypse ( Rev. 1:6, 9; 5:5 ) as conveying a reigning church in the present hardly fits the immediate context of the Book of  Revelation. As mentioned earlier in this series, [6] if we are now in a spiritual form of the Davidic Kingdom, then the deplorable spiritual condition of the churches in  Revelation 2-3 is inexplicable. Five of these seven churches in Asia Minor are in an apostate condition. In fact, it appears as if most of these churches had so departed from Christ that they are no longer governed by Him. This very scenario had certainly transpired in the Laodicean church ( Rev. 3:14-22 ) where Christ is depicted as standing outside the door of the church, knocking on the door, and seeking re-entry ( Rev. 3:20 ). Laodicea represents a church that has so apostatized from the truth that Christ has been dethroned as the church's governing authority.

Evangelists often explain this verse in terms of Christ as standing outside the heart of the unbeliever, knocking on the heart, and inviting the unbeliever to become a Christian. This is not a correct representation of the verse's context. Rather, it represents Christ seeking fellowship with His own Church and people. [7]

Consequently, Christ is portrayed as standing outside the door of His own church seeking re-admittance as ruler of His own people. In fact, "Laodicea" means "ruled by the people." Newell observes, "The name comes from laos, people, and dikao, to rule: the rule of the people: 'democracy,' in other words." [8] This sad spiritual reality hardly epitomizes a spiritual form of the kingdom where the church is depicted as presently reigning as a kingdom of priests or fellow partakers in the present kingdom or, where Christ has already gained the final victory by establishing His kingdom in the present.

Continue Reading (Part 35 on Sept 25 web page)

[1] John F. Walvoord, The Revelation of Jesus Christ. See also J. B. Smith, A Revelation of Jesus Christ: A Commentary on the Book of Revelation.
[2] Stanley D. Toussaint, "Israel and the Church of a Traditional Dispensationalist," in Three Central Issues in Contemporary Dispensationalism: A Comparison of Traditional & Progressive Views, ed. Herbert W. Bateman (Grand Rapids: Kregel, 1999), 248.
[3] Robert L. Thomas, Revelation 1-7 Exegetical Commentary (Wycliffe Exegetical Commentary).
[4] Darrell Bock, "The Reign of the Lord Christ," in Dispensationalism, Israel and the Church, ed. Craig A. Blaising and Darrell L. Bock (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1992), 64.
[5] Toussaint, 248.
[6] See part 25.
[7] Dennis M. Rokser, 7 Reasons Not To Ask Jesus Into Your Heart: Answering the Question: "What Must I Do to Be Saved?".
[8] William R. Newell, Revelation: Chapter-by-Chapter.

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Note I copied this article from The Bible Prophecy Blog.

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Is the Enemy of My Enemy My Friend?

By Albert Mohler 12/01/2013

     We are not living in a season of peace. Thinking Christians must surely be aware that a great moral and spiritual conflict is taking shape all around us, with multiple fronts of battle and issues of great importance at stake. The prophet Jeremiah repeatedly warned of those who would falsely declare peace when there is no peace. The Bible defines the Christian life in terms of spiritual battle, and believers in this generation face the fact that the very existence of truth is at stake in our current struggle.

     The condition of warfare brings a unique set of moral challenges to the table, and the great moral and cultural battles of our times are no different. Even ancient thinkers knew this, and many of their maxims of warfare are still commonly cited. Among the most popular of these is a maxim that was known by many of the ancients — “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.”

     That maxim has survived as a modern principle of foreign policy. It explains why states that have been at war against one another can, in a very short period of time, become allies against a common enemy. In World War II, the Soviet Union began as an ally of Nazi Germany. Yet, it ended the war as a key ally of the United States and Britain. How? It joined the effort against Hitler and became the instant “friend” of the Americans and the British. And yet, as that great war came to an end, the Soviets and their former allies entered a new phase of open hostility known as the Cold War.

     Does this useful maxim of foreign policy serve Christians well as we think about our current struggles? That is not an uncomplicated question. On the one hand, some sense of unity against a common opponent is inevitable, and even indispensible. On the other hand, the idea that a common enemy produces a true unity is, as even history reveals, a false premise.

     We must not underestimate what we are up against. We face titanic struggles on behalf of human life and human dignity against the culture of death and the great evils of abortion, infanticide, and euthanasia. We are in a great fight for the integrity of marriage as the union of a man and a woman. We face a cultural alliance determined to advance a sexual revolution that will unleash unmitigated chaos and bring great injury to individuals, families, and the society at large. We are fighting to defend gender as part of the goodness of God’s creation and to defend the very existence of an objective moral order.

     Beyond all these challenges, we are engaged in a great battle to defend the existence of truth itself, to defend the reality and authority of God’s revelation in Scripture, and to defend all that the Bible teaches. A pervasive anti-supernaturalism seeks to deny any claim of God’s existence or our ability to know him. Naturalistic worldviews dominate in the academy, and the New Atheism sells books by the millions. Theological liberalism does its best to make peace with the enemies of the church, but faithful Christians have no way to escape the battles to which this generation of believers are called.

     So, are the other enemies of our enemies our friends? Mormons, Roman Catholics, Orthodox Jews, and a host of others share many of our enemies in this respect. But, to what extent is there a unity among us?

     At this point, very careful and honest thinking is required of us. At one level, we can join with anyone, regardless of worldview, to save people from a burning house. We would gladly help an atheist save a neighbor from danger, or even beautify the neighborhood. Those actions do not require a shared theological worldview.

     At a second level, we certainly see all those who defend human life and human dignity, marriage and gender, and the integrity of the family as key allies in the current cultural struggle. We listen to each other, draw arguments from each other, and are thankful for each other’s support of our common concerns. We even recognize that there are elements common to our worldviews that explain our common convictions on these issues. And yet, our worldviews are really quite different.

     With the Roman Catholic Church our common convictions are many, including moral convictions about marriage, human life, and the family. Beyond that, we together affirm the truths of the divine Trinity, orthodox Christology, and other doctrines as well. But we disagree over what is supremely important — the gospel of Jesus Christ. And that supreme difference leads to other vital disagreements as well — over the nature and authority of the Bible, the nature of the ministry, the meaning of baptism and the Lord’s Supper, and an entire range of issues central to the Christian faith.

     Christians defined by the faith of the Reformers must never forget that nothing less than faithfulness to the gospel of Christ forced the Reformers to break from the Roman Catholic Church. Equal clarity and courage are required of us now.

     In a time of cultural conflict, the enemy of our enemy may well be our friend. But, with eternity in view and the gospel at stake, the enemy of our enemy must not be confused to be a friend to the gospel of Jesus Christ.

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Dr. R. Albert Mohler Jr. serves as president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary – the flagship school of the Southern Baptist Convention and one of the largest seminaries in the world.

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Jesus Spoke What? - For Elmer

By Edward D. Andrews

     There has always been some interest in this but the release of Mel Gibson’s film, The Passion of the Christ created a sudden wave of interest. All dialogue was in Aramaic or Latin.

     Knowing which language or languages Jesus spoke helps us understand his teaching with greater accuracy. It adds to the accuracy of the historical settings, the gap between his life and ministry, as well as the early Christian and ours. Many misinterpretations of Jesus come from the projection of English meanings and American culture into (eisegesis) Jesus’ words and ways, as opposed to taking them out (exegesis). Simply put the more we know as to the languages he spoke, the more we can know.

     It is highly  unlikely that Jesus used the Septuagint (LXX) extensively in his teachings.   See the article above, What Bible Did Jesus Use?) But he did quote from it often in his direct address. At times, word for words; other times, he would tweak the quote to add an additional sense or fuller sense than what had been penned in the Old Testament, to fit his circumstances. More on this at the end of this article. Largely, he referred to the Hebrew Old Testament (OT). However, what the New Testament (NT) authors penned is what Jesus said. First, let us touch on this in one paragraph, then give you some historical background of the Septuagint, after that, we will return to our question at the end. Jesus was likely fluent in Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek, and Latin. He was a perfect human with a perfect mind after all. Aramaic was the common language where he grew up, with Greek being the lingua franca for the Roman empire as a whole. The synagogues used the Hebrew text.

     Jesus could have taught in Greek at times if the need arose, which might very well be the case. However, he taught in his native language of Hebrew. A few of the quotations of Jesus from the Old Testament in the NT Gospels, even in the book of  Matthew, are strongly Septuagintal. However, Jesus in all likelihood spoke in Hebrew as he quoted the OT in his teaching the Jewish people or responding to Jewish religious leaders, and the Gospel writers were moved along by Holy Spirit to use the Septuagint that was the preferred reading, which, again, is what Jesus had said but in the Hebrew or Aramaic language. One would be dishonest to argue one way or the other alone. Thus, I leave open the possibility that Jesus might have spoken Greek when quoting the Septuagint at times.

     Greek was the lingua franca (the common language) of the world in the days of Jesus here on earth and the Greek Septuagint was often used by the Christians to such an extent that in the second century C.E. the Jews went back to the Hebrew text in order to separate themselves from the Christians, after a century of touting the Septuagint as inspired. However, just as true today, English being the lingua franca of the world, each country still has its own language and where English is very common, most of the population know and use it but their own language is their first language and English is their second language. Hebrew did not begin to wane in Palestine until after the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in 70 C.E. but was still used in the synagogues in the first century.

Some History And Important Insights

     It is not true that the Jews began to change over to Aramaic speech during their exile in Babylon. It is common to use  Nehemiah 8:8 as a way of saying the Hebrew was not entirely understood because they all spoke Aramaic. However, the text is not dealing with a lack of understanding of the Hebrew language, but rather it is talking about explaining the meaning of the text, the sense of what the author meant.

Nehemiah 8:8 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)  8 They continued reading aloud from the book, from the Law of the God, explaining it and putting meaning into it, so that they could understand the reading. See  Matt. 13:14, 51-52; Lu 24:27; Ac 8:30-31.

     There is not one verse in the Bible that says the Jews abandoned the Hebrew language. Yes, it is true that  Nehemiah found that some Jews had Ashdodite, Ammonite, and Moabite wives “and none of them was able to speak the language of Judah” ( Neh. 13:23-27 ) Nevertheless, the reading of God’s Word was still then mainly in Hebrew. From the days of  Malachi to  Matthew, there are no biblical books and secular records are limited, with a scant few giving any real evidence of a change from Hebrew to Aramaic. The Apocryphal books, such as Judith, Ecclesiasticus (not Ecclesiastes), Baruch, and First Maccabees, were written in Hebrew. In addition, the non-Biblical writings among the Dead Sea Scrolls were also in Hebrew, and Hebrew was used in assembling the Jewish Mishnah from the first to fourth-century C.E.

     The strongest evidence that Hebrew was still the spoken language of the Jews in the first century is found in the New Testament itself. ( John 5:2; 19:13, 17, 20; 20:16; Rev. 9:11; 16:16 ) There is no denying that Aramaic was widely known throughout Palestine in the first century C.E. But just because the Aramaic Bar instead of the Hebrew Ben is used in some names (Bartholomew and Simon Bar-jonah) means nothing, as some Jews had Greek names as well (Andrew and Philip). There were four languages current in first-century C.E. Palestine, Hebrew, Aramaic, Latin, and Greek, with Latin being the least common. The Greek transliteration of some words that are debated as to being originally Hebrew or Aramaic words, as recorded by  Matthew and  Mark, does not allow for a positive identification of the original language used. Then, we have the fact that  Matthew was originally written by him in  Hebrew.

     The evidence actually points to Hebrew declining among the Jews after the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 C.E. However, it was still used in the synagogues wherever the Jews dispersed. The Jews did view the Greek Septuagint as an inspired translation. However, this soon changed. The Jews actually found a new zeal for the Hebrew language because of the Christians using the Septuagint as an evangelism tool.

The Hebrew Language

     Hebrew is the language in which the thirty-nine inspired books of the Old Testament were penned, apart from the Aramaic sections in  Ezra 4:8–6:18; 7:12–26; Dan. 2:4b–7:28; Jer. 10:11, as well as a few other words and phrases from Aramaic and other languages. The language is not called “Hebrew” in the Old Testament. At  Isaiah 19:18 it is spoken of as “the language [Literally “lip”] of Canaan.” The language that became known as “Hebrew” is first shown in the introduction to Ecclesiasticus, an Apocrypha[1] book. Moses, being raised in the household of Pharaoh, would have been given the wisdom of Egypt, as well as the Hebrew language of his ancestors. This would have made him the perfect person to look through any ancient Hebrew documents that may have been handed down to him, giving him the foundation for the book of  Genesis.

     Later, in the days of the Jewish kings, Hebrew came to be known as “Judean” (UASV) which is to say, the language of Judah ( Neh. 13:24; Isa. 36:11; 2 Ki. 18:26, 28 ). As we enter the period of Jesus, the Jewish people spoke an expanded form of Hebrew, which would become Rabbinic Hebrew. Nevertheless, in the Greek New Testament, the language is referred to as the “Hebrew” language, not the Aramaic. ( John 5:2; 19:13, 17; Acts 22:2; Rev. 9:11 ) Therefore, for more than 2,000 years, Biblical Hebrew served God’s chosen people, as a means of communication.

     However, once God chose to use a new spiritual Israel, made up of Jew and Gentile, there would be a difficulty within the line of communication as not all would be able to understand the Hebrew language. It became evident, 300 years before the rise of Christianity; there was a need for the Hebrew Scriptures to be translated into the Greek language of the day, because of the Jewish diaspora who lived in Egypt. Down to our day, all or portions of the Bible have been translated into about 2,287 languages.

     Even the Bible itself expresses the need for translating it into all languages. Paul, quoting  Deuteronomy 32:43, says, “Rejoice, O Gentiles [“people of the nations”], with his people.” And again, ‘Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles, and let all the peoples extol him.’” ( Rom 15:10 ) Moreover, all Christians are given what is known as the Great Commission, to “go therefore and make disciples of all nations.” ( Matt 28:19-20 ) In addition, Jesus stated, “this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations.”Matt 24:14 ) All of the above could never take place without translating the original language into the languages of the nations. What is more, ancient translations of the Bible that are extant (still in existence) in manuscript form have likewise aided in confirming the high degree of textual faithfulness of the Hebrew manuscripts.

Earliest Translated Versions

     Versions are translations of the Bible from Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek into other languages (or Hebrew into Greek). Translation work has made the Word of God accessible to billions of persons, who are incapable of understanding the original Biblical languages. The early versions of the Scriptures were handwritten and were, therefore, in the form of manuscripts. However, since the beginning of the printing press in 1455 C.E., many additional versions, or translations, have appeared, and these have been published in great quantities. Some versions have been prepared directly from Hebrew and Greek Bible texts, whereas others are based on earlier translations.

The above article is copied from here

Read The Psalms In "1" Year

Psalm 105

Tell of All His Wondrous Works

37 Then he brought out Israel with silver and gold,
and there was none among his tribes who stumbled.
38 Egypt was glad when they departed,
for dread of them had fallen upon it.

39 He spread a cloud for a covering,
and fire to give light by night.
40 They asked, and he brought quail,
and gave them bread from heaven in abundance.
41 He opened the rock, and water gushed out;
it flowed through the desert like a river.
42 For he remembered his holy promise,
and Abraham, his servant.

43 So he brought his people out with joy,
his chosen ones with singing.
44 And he gave them the lands of the nations,
and they took possession of the fruit of the peoples’ toil,
45 that they might keep his statutes
and observe his laws.
Praise the LORD!

ESV Study Bible

By John Walvoord (1990)

The Day of the Lord

     1 Thessalonians 5:1–11. Coming immediately after the revelation concerning the rapture of the church, it is natural to consider the question of when this will occur. Here the apostle appeals to a much larger doctrine of Scripture, the day of the Lord, which is a time of special divine visitation mentioned often in the Old and New Testaments.

     Paul stated, “Now, brothers, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night” (vv.  1–2 ). As the day of the Lord comes without warning, so also will the rapture. The placing of this doctrine next to the revelation of the rapture is because of the similarity of both events not having signs prior to their beginning. Like a thief in the night, who comes without warning, the rapture will occur and the day of the Lord will begin.

     Mentioned frequently in the Old Testament, the day of the Lord refers to any special period where God intervenes supernaturally, bringing judgment on the world. An outstanding illustration is the book of  Joel, which has as its theme the day of the Lord. The term is properly used of the crisis that occurred in the time of  Joel brought on by the infestation of locusts, which ruined their crops, bringing starvation and destruction.

     Joel described it: “Alas for that day! For the day of the LORD is near; it will come like destruction from the Almighty” ( Joel 1:15 ). The devastation in loss of crops was described graphically in verses  16–20. This, however, was not the only problem they faced. They were also to experience the invading Assyrian armies, which would conquer them, much as the locusts had conquered them. They were experiencing a day of judgment from God.

     The day described in  Joel was not a long period of time, but more than twenty-four hours. This impending day of the Lord fulfilled in the Old Testament was an appeal by  Joel to the people of Israel to return to the Lord.  Joel wrote, “‘Even now,’ declares the Lord, ‘return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning.’ Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity. Who knows? He may turn and have pity and leave behind a blessing — grain offerings and drink offerings for the Lord your God” ( 2:12–14 ).

     The future period of God’s intervention in the world will begin at the rapture and will include the period of trouble preceding the second coming of Christ and the establishment of God’s kingdom in the earth. The day of the Lord will also include the millennial kingdom. The entire period before and after the second coming of Christ will constitute a special divine intervention and rule of righteousness on the earth in the way that is not being experienced in the present age. The teaching that the day of the Lord does not begin until the second coming is refuted by the fact that it includes the great tribulation.  Joel made it clear that the day of the Lord included the great tribulation before the second coming ( Joel 2:28–3:2 ). The time of restoration of Israel ( Joel 3:16–21 ) following the great tribulation is related to the second coming and will be fulfilled in the millennium.

     The day of the Lord will begin as a time period at the rapture, but its major events will not begin immediately. The ten-nation kingdom must be formed in the final seven years before the second coming will begin. Because the day of the Lord will begin as a time period at the time of the rapture, the two events are linked as both beginning without warning and coming without a specific sign. Once the day of the Lord begins, however, as it will after the rapture, as time progresses there will be obvious signs that the world is in the day of the Lord and in the period leading up to the second coming, just as there will be obvious evidences that the millennial kingdom has begun after the second coming. As the rapture must precede the signs, it necessarily must occur when the day of the Lord begins.

     One of the important signs of the day of the Lord is the fact that the people will be saying, “Peace and safety,” when, as a matter of fact, “destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape” ( 1 Thess. 5:3 ). The interpretation teaching that this is the period between the rapture and the second coming fits very naturally into this period. According to  Daniel 9:27, there will be a seven-year period leading up to the second coming of Christ. The first half of this period will be a time of peace when a covenant of peace will be made with Israel, as indicated in  Daniel 9:27. During this period people will hail peace as having been achieved as mentioned in  1 Thessalonians 5:3. Then suddenly the great tribulation will begin and they will not escape its judgment. The world - shaking judgments that precede the second coming are described graphically in  Revelation 6–18.

     Because Christians are forewarned that the day of the Lord is coming, they should not be surprised and should live in the light of God’s divine revelation. “But you, brothers, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief. You are all sons of the light and sons of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness” ( 1 Thess. 5:4–5 ). The day of the Lord is pictured here as a time of night for the world because it is a time of judgment, in contrast to the Christian’s day, which is a day of light. The Christian’s day will be climaxed by the rapture; the day for the wicked will begin at that time, and the judgments related to the day of the Lord will take place according to the time sequence of this period, with the great judgments occurring in the great tribulation, climaxing in the second coming. In addition to the references to the day of the Lord in  Joel, further description of the day of the Lord is found in  Isaiah 13:9–11; Zephaniah 1:14–18; 3:4–15.

     Because Christians have been alerted, they should not be asleep but be “alert and self-controlled” ( 1 Thess. 5:6 ). In contrast to the world, which drowns its sorrows in drinking (v.  7 ), a Christian should be “self-controlled, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet” (v.  8 ). The resource of a Christian in the period leading up to the rapture will be one of faith in God, love for God and his fellow Christian, and the glorious hope of his future salvation, which is described as a helmet.

     The destinies of those who will be saved at the time of the rapture and those who are not was brought out: “For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ” (v.  9 ). For the Christian, his appointment is the rapture; for the unsaved, his appointment is the day of the Lord.

     Paul realized that some Christians would have died before the rapture and that others would still be living. Accordingly, he says of Christ, “He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him” (v.  10 ). By being awake, he was referring to Christians being still alive in the world, by being asleep, to the fact that Christians have died and their bodies will be sleeping in the grave though their souls are in heaven. His conclusion here, as in the other prophetic truths revealed in this epistle, is a practical one: “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing” (v.  11 ).

Being Blameless at the Coming of Our Lord Jesus Christ

      1 Thessalonians 5:23. The extensive prophetic revelation, as well as Paul’s counsel and exhortation to live for God, has its prophetic climax in his exhortation, “May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” (v.  23 ). In referring to Christians as having spirit, soul, and body, Paul was recognizing the essential elements of human personality. Christians have a body, which will die but will be resurrected. They also have a soul, which refers to the psychological aspect of human life, and spirit, which seems to refer to their God - consciousness and religious experiences. Though it can be demonstrated in Scripture that all these terms are sometimes used synonymously for an individual, and that the whole person is in view, nevertheless, these form the major constituent elements of human personality.

     The reference to progressive sanctification obviously states that this is a work that only God can do. A believer in Christ can be part of the sanctification process by availing himself of the means to sanctification, such as the Word of God, prayer, fellowship with the Lord’s people, and study of the Scriptures. In the end, however, God must do the sanctification, or it will not be effective. Paul anticipated the ultimate when all Christians will stand in heaven complete, with a new body, without sin, blemish, or defilement.


Every Prophecy of the Bible: Clear Explanations for Uncertain Times

The Lord’s Day and Discipleship

By James Harvey 1/01/2014

     If you ask a Christian how to grow as a disciple, you may hear a wide range of suggestions: personal Bible study, one-on-one discipleship, small-group discipleship, men’s and women’s groups, attending conferences, campus ministries, community Bible studies, and so on. Within the past two decades, the Internet has grown to offer an abundance of additional resources. Audio and video presentations of sermons, seminary courses, and entire worship services are at our fingertips. We can all be grateful to God for these resources. To the degree that faithful, doctrinally sound study of God’s Word is taking place, all these endeavors will bear spiritual fruit. We are able to share in the gifts and graces of the church universal like never before.

     A word of caution is in order, however. While God’s providence affords us unprecedented access to the teaching of the church universal, God intends our discipleship as Christians to be expressed in the church particular. When Jesus told His disciples that baptism was integral to the Great Commission, He was establishing the priority of the local church and Lord’s Day ministry in discipleship. Baptism signifies entrance into the visible church, and the most fundamental activity of the visible church is worship on the Lord’s Day. If we are not committed to a particular church, we cannot receive ministry nor give ministry as the New Testament envisions.

     Consider some of the unique discipleship blessings that we find in committing to worshiping on the Lord’s Day with the local church:

A Foretaste of Heaven

     It is wonderful to stream your favorite teaching with a cup of coffee in the comfort of your own home. It is sweet to meet at a friend’s home and study the Bible together. But neither private listening nor small-group study give the foretaste of the world to come as corporate worship does.

     The corporate worship of the church is a foretaste of the future glory that awaits us in Christ. We hear God’s Word read, sing His praises, confess our sins, receive His grace, join our hearts in prayer, receive the Lord’s Supper, and place ourselves under the proclamation of His Word. And we do this together. What is happening spiritually when we gather like this? “[We] come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God” (Heb. 12:22). In this corporate worship, the church is like a mother, providing weekly shelter and refreshment from the wilderness of the world until the Lord Jesus Christ returns and makes all things new. Without this weekly gathering, we shrivel and die in the wilderness.

A Context for Love

     An abundance of solid food does not ensure that any of it will be digested and used for nourishment. We need commitment to the local church to grow spiritually.

     The goal of Christian discipleship is love (Mark 12:29–31; 1 Cor. 13:1–13; 2 Peter 2:5–7). The local church is the place where we grow in love over the long haul. Being a faithful church member is difficult. The people are not all like you. But, you grow to accept one another in love. If you spend any time among the same group of people, they will eventually disappoint you in some ways, or perhaps positively harm you. But you grow to forgive one another in love.

     If you leave a church because the people are not like you or because you have been wounded, you have cut short the discipleship process before it has begun. The only legitimate lure that Jesus says we have for the world is the love that we manifest in our corporate life as a church: “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35). This visible expression of love is rooted in gathering on the Lord’s Day as one body.

A Place to Give and Receive

     God puts us in a local body of believers to share in the gifts and graces of that body, and this sharing (communion) is essential to discipleship. The local church is your spiritual family; you share mutually in burdens and blessings with one another. The local pastor is your pastor-teacher. He is God’s gift to you, and God will use him uniquely in your life when you receive his ministry regularly with faith and prayer. The elders and deacons are your elders and deacons. They are God’s gift to you to care for your body and soul. All these gifts are from God. How dare we say to any, “I have no need of you”? (1 Cor. 12:21).

     I don’t think many Christians actually intend to neglect Lord’s Day worship. It just happens as we let other things draw us away from God’s people and God’s worship on Sunday. Before we know it, we are missing half of the corporate services of worship, waning in our love for Christ, and feeling disconnected from the church.

     Pastors can be reticent to speak about the Lord’s Day, fearing perceptions of legalism or self-aggrandizement. But we need to be reminded through teaching and the example of church officers of the importance of the Lord’s Day for Christian discipleship. As Jesus said, “The Sabbath was made for man” (Mark 2:27). The Lord’s Day is designed by God to bless us. It is foundational to our Christian discipleship.

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     Rev. James L. Harvey III is senior pastor of Evangelical Presbyterian Church in Newark, Del.

The Continual Burnt Offering (1 Corinthians 2:1)

By H.A. Ironside - 1941

September 24
1 Corinthians 2:1 And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. 2 For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.    ESV

     It is the preaching (Rom 10:17) of the cross which is the appointed method of winning souls and building men up in Christ. Paul did not undervalue culture and education, but he dreaded the possibility of the refinements of rhetoric and the cleverness of the orator so occupying the minds of his hearers that they would become impressed with his ability instead of with the Christ he proclaimed. Therefore he studiously avoided anything that would have such a tendency, and in all simplicity he preached the message of the cross in humble dependence on the Holy Spirit to use that proclamation for the salvation of souls. In this he became an example to all other preachers.

Romans 10:1–17 1 Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved. 2 For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. 3 For, being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. 4 For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.

5 For Moses writes about the righteousness that is based on the law, that the person who does the commandments shall live by them. 6 But the righteousness based on faith says, “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’ ” (that is, to bring Christ down) 7 “or ‘Who will descend into the abyss?’ ” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). 8 But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); 9 because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. 11 For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. 13 For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

14 How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? 15 And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” 16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?”  17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. 

Yonder, on a cross uplifted,
One in ignominy dies;
Wounded, He, for our transgressions,
Bruised for our iniquities;
Utmost love is there revealed;
By those stripes our wounds are healed.
Not by men was He delivered,
Thus to suffer and to die;
God Himself had preordained it,
Had foreknown—eternally;
He is pleased to bruise Him thus,
To provide release for us.
Lo! the land is whelmed in darkness,—
Nature cannot hide the sight;
But upon His anguished spirit
Falls a deeper, denser night,
Whence He cries in agony,
“Why hast Thou forsaken Me?”
Now His suffering is over;
The atonement has been made;
Stilled, the law’s insistent clamors,
As in death He bows His head;
Now may guilty sinners hide
In a Saviour crucified.
--- T. O. Chisholm

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

  • Boars in God's
  • Passion for
  • Messianic

Charles R. Swindoll |
Dallas Theological Seminary


Dr. Darrell Bock |
Dallas Theological Seminary


     Devotionals, notes, poetry and more

UCB The Word For Today
     Understanding Satan’s role (4)
     (Sept 24)    Bob Gass

     ‘Hand that man over to Satan.’

(1 Co 5:5) 5 you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord. ESV

     Satan’s attack can be a wake-up call. Do you know that when you refuse to acknowledge your sin and repent of it, the wall of protection around you is breached and Satan is free to come in and attack you? Paul writes to the Corinthian church: ‘I have heard terrible things about some of you. In fact, you are behaving worse than the Gentiles. A man is even sleeping with his own stepmother. You are proud, when you ought to feel bad enough to chase away anyone who acts like that’ (vv. 1-2 CEV). Then Paul instructs the leaders of the church, ‘You must then hand that man over to Satan. His body will be destroyed, but his spirit will be saved when the Lord Jesus returns.’ Later the man repented of his sin and Paul said he should be restored to fellowship in the church. So, what Paul was saying, in essence, was: ‘Let him be driven to despair that he might be driven back into the arms of God.’ Again, Paul writes: ‘Some people have made a mess of their faith because they didn’t listen to their consciences. Two of them are Hymenaeus and Alexander. I have given these men over to the power of Satan, so they will learn not to oppose God’ (1 Timothy 1:19-20 CEV). Does God enjoy seeing us suffer? No more than a parent enjoys disciplining a child. But holy love makes tough choices. (Remember, discipline should result in mercy, not misery.) Some of us are awakened by a tap on the shoulder, while others need a two-by-four on the head. And whenever God needs a two-by-four, Satan gets the call.

Luke 18:1-17
Ps 97-99

UCB The Word For Today
American Minute
     by Bill Federer

     “The power to tax is the power to destroy,” wrote John Marshall, the fourth Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, who was born this day, September 24, 1755. No one had a greater impact on Constitutional Law in America, as he served on the bench 34 years and helped write over 1000 decisions. He fought in the Revolution under Washington, enduring the terrible winter at Valley Forge. The nation felt a profound loss at his death. The Liberty Bell cracked while tolling at his funeral. Chief Justice John Marshall wrote: “It would be strange, indeed, if with such a people, our institutions did not presuppose Christianity and did not often refer to it.”

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

     Blessed, yet not always happy. For by prayers we are set tasks sometimes which (at first, at least) may add to life’s burden. Our eyes being opened, we see problems to which before we were blind, and we hear calls that no more let us alone. And I have said that we are shown ourselves at times in a way to dishearten us, and take effective dogmatism out of us. We lose effect on those people who take others at their own emphatic valuation, who do not try the spirits, and who have acquired no skill to discern the Lord in the apostle. True searching prayer is incompatible with spiritual dullness or self-complacency. And, therefore, such stupidity is not a mere defect, but a vice. It grew upon us because we did not court the searching light, nor haunt the vicinity of the great white Throne. We are chargeable with it because of our neglect of what cures it. Faith is a quickening spirit, it has insight; and religious density betrays its absence, being often the victim of the sermon instead of the alumnus of the Gospel. It is not at all the effect of ignorance. Many ignorant people escape it by the exercise of themselves unto godliness; and they not only show wonderful spiritual acumen, but they turn it upon themselves; with a result, often, of great but vigilant humility, such axis apt to die out of an aggressive religion more eager to bring in a kingdom coming than to trust a Kingdom come. They are self-sufficient in a godly sort, and can even carry others, in a way which reveals the action of a power in them beyond all natural and unschooled force. We can feel in them the discipline of the Spirit. We can read much habitual prayer between their lines. They have risen far above religion. They are in the Spirit, and live in a long Lord’s day. We know that they are not trying to serve Christ with the mere lustiness of natural religion, nor expecting do do the Spirit’s work with the force of native temperament turned pious. There are, even amongst the religious, people of a shrewd density or numble dullness who judge heavenly things with an earthly mind. And, outside the religious, among those who are but interested in religion, there may be a certain gifted stupidity, a witty obtuseness; as among some writers who sans gene turn what they judge to be the spirit of the age upon the realities of Eternity, and believe that it dissolves them in spray. Whether we meet this type within the Church or without, we can mostly feel that it reveals the prayerless temper whatever the zeal or vivacity may be. Not to pray is not to discern—not to discern the things that really matter, and the powers that really rule. The mind may see acutely and clearly, but the personality perceives nothing subtle and mighty; and then it comforts and deludes itself by saying it is simple and not sophisticated; and it falls a victim to the Pharisaism of the plain man. The finer (and final) forces, being unfelt, are denied or decried. The eternal motives are misread, the spell of the Eternal disowned. The simplicity in due course becomes merely bald. And all because the natural powers are unschooled, unchastened, and unempowered by the energy of prayer; and yet they are turned, either, in one direction, to do Christian work, active but loveless, or, on the other, to discuss and renounce Christian truth. It is not always hard to tell among Christian men those whose thought is matured in prayer, whose theology there becomes a hymn, whose energy is disciplined there, whose work there becomes love poured out, as by many a Salvationist lass, and whose temper is there subdued to that illuminated humility in which a man truly finds his soul. “The secret of the Lord is with them that fear Him, and He will show them His covenant.” The deeper we go into things the more do we enter a world where the mastery and the career is not to talent but to prayer.

     In prayer we do not ask God to do things contrary to Nature. Rather here ascending Nature takes its true effect and arrives. For the God we invoke is the Lord and Destiny of the whole creation; and in our invocation of Him Nature ends on its own key-note. He created the world at the first with a final and constant reference to the new creation, whose native speech is prayer. The whole creation thus comes home and finds itself in our prayer; and when we ask from the God of the whole Creation we neither do not expect an arbitrary thing. We petition a God in whom all things are fundamentally working together for good to such a congenial cry. So far from crossing Nature, we give it tongue. We lift it to its divinest purpose, function, and glory. Nature excels itself in our prayer. The Creation takes its true effect in personality, which at once resists it, crowns it, and understands it; and personality takes true effect in God—in prayer. If there be a divine teleology in Nature at all, prayer is the telos. The world was made to worship God, for God’s glory. And this purpose is the world’s providence, the principle of creation. It is an end present all along the line and course of natural evolution; for we deal in prayer most closely with One to whom is no after nor before. We realize the simultaneity of Eternity.

     When we are straitened in prayer we are yet not victims of Nature, we are yet free in the grace of God—as His own freedom was straitened in Christ’s incarnation, not to say His dereliction, to the finishing of His task. It is hard, it is often impossible, for us to tell whether our hour of constriction or our hour of expansion contributes more to the divine purpose and its career. Both go to make real prayer. They are the systole and diastole of the world’s heart. True prayer is the supreme function of the personality which is the world’s supreme product. It is personality with this function that God seeks above all to rear—it is neither particular moods of its experience, nor influential relations of it with the world. The praying personality has an eternal value for God as an end in itself. This is the divine fullness of life’s time and course, the one achievement that survives with more power in death than in life. The intercession of Christ in heaven is the continuity and consummation of His supreme work on earth. To share it is the meaning of praying in the Spirit. And it has more effect on history than civilization has. This is a hard saying, but a Christian can say no otherwise without in so far giving up his Christianity.

     “There is a budding morrow in midnight.” And every juncture, every relation, and every pressure of life has in it a germ of possibility and promise for our growth in God and grace; which germ to rear is the work of constant and progressive prayer. (For as a soul has a history, prayer has its progress.) This germ we do not always see, nor can we tend it as if we did. It is often hidden up under the earthly relations, and may there be lost—our soul is lost. (It can be lost even through love.) But also is may from there be saved—and we escape from the fowler’s net. It’s growth is often visible only to the Saviour whom we keep near by prayer, whose search we invoke, and for whose action we make room in prayer. Our certainty of Him is girt round with much uncertainty, about His working, about the steps of His process. But in prayer we become more and more sure that He is sure, and knows all things to His end. All along Christ is being darkly formed within us as we pray; and our converse with God goes on rising to become an element of the intercourse of the Father and the Son, whom we overhear, as it were, at converse in us. Yet this does not insulate us from our kind; for other people are then no more alien to us, but near in a Lord who is to them what He is to us. Private prayer may thus become more really common prayer that public prayer is.

--- Forsyth, P. T. (1848-1921).

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

     The most experienced psychologist or observer of human nature knows infinitely less of the human heart than the simplest Christian who lives beneath the Cross of Jesus.
     The greatest psychological insight, ability, and experience cannot grasp this one thing: what sin is. Worldly wisdom knows what distress and weakness and failure are, but it does not know the godlessness of man. And so it also does not know that man is destroyed only by his sin and can be healed only by forgiveness. Only the Christian knows this.
     In the presence of a psychiatrist I can only be a sick man; in the presence of a Christian brother I can dare to be a sinner. The psychiatrist must first search my hear and yet he never plumbs its ultimate depth.
     The Christian brother knows when I come to him: here is a sinner like myself, a godless man who wants to confess and yearns for God’s forgiveness.
     The psychiatrist views me as if there were no God. The brother views me as I am before the judging and merciful God in the Cross of Jesus Christ.
--- Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Life Together: The Classic Exploration of Christian in Community

     Here is a test to find whether your mission on Earth is finished: if you are alive, it isn’t.
--- Richard Bach
Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah

     When I was young, I admired clever people. Now that I am old, I admire kind people.
--- Abraham Joshua Heschel

... from here, there and everywhere

History of the Destruction of Jerusalem
     Thanks to Meir Yona

     CHAPTER 4.

     The Description Of Jerusalem.

     1. The city of Jerusalem was fortified with three walls, on such parts as were not encompassed with unpassable valleys; for in such places it had but one wall. The city was built upon two hills, which are opposite to one another, and have a valley to divide them asunder; at which valley the corresponding rows of houses on both hills end. Of these hills, that which contains the upper city is much higher, and in length more direct. Accordingly, it was called the "Citadel," by king David; he was the father of that Solomon who built this temple at the first; but it is by us called the "Upper Market-place." But the other hill, which was called "Acra," and sustains the lower city, is of the shape of a moon when she is horned; over against this there was a third hill, but naturally lower than Acra, and parted formerly from the other by a broad valley. However, in those times when the Asamoneans reigned, they filled up that valley with earth, and had a mind to join the city to the temple. They then took off part of the height of Acra, and reduced it to be of less elevation than it was before, that the temple might be superior to it. Now the Valley of the Cheesemongers, as it was called, and was that which we told you before distinguished the hill of the upper city from that of the lower, extended as far as Siloam; for that is the name of a fountain which hath sweet water in it, and this in great plenty also. But on the outsides, these hills are surrounded by deep valleys, and by reason of the precipices to them belonging on both sides they are every where unpassable.

     2. Now, of these three walls, the old one was hard to be taken, both by reason of the valleys, and of that hill on which it was built, and which was above them. But besides that great advantage, as to the place where they were situated, it was also built very strong; because David and Solomon, and the following kings, were very zealous about this work. Now that wall began on the north, at the tower called "Hippicus," and extended as far as the "Xistus," a place so called, and then, joining to the council-house, ended at the west cloister of the temple. But if we go the other way westward, it began at the same place, and extended through a place called "Bethso," to the gate of the Essens; and after that it went southward, having its bending above the fountain Siloam, where it also bends again towards the east at Solomon's pool, and reaches as far as a certain place which they called "Ophlas," where it was joined to the eastern cloister of the temple. The second wall took its beginning from that gate which they called "Gennath," which belonged to the first wall; it only encompassed the northern quarter of the city, and reached as far as the tower Antonia. The beginning of the third wall was at the tower Hippicus, whence it reached as far as the north quarter of the city, and the tower Psephinus, and then was so far extended till it came over against the monuments of Helena, which Helena was queen of Adiabene, the daughter of Izates; it then extended further to a great length, and passed by the sepulchral caverns of the kings, and bent again at the tower of the corner, at the monument which is called the "Monument of the Fuller," and joined to the old wall at the valley called the "Valley of Cedron." It was Agrippa who encompassed the parts added to the old city with this wall, which had been all naked before; for as the city grew more populous, it gradually crept beyond its old limits, and those parts of it that stood northward of the temple, and joined that hill to the city, made it considerably larger, and occasioned that hill, which is in number the fourth, and is called "Bezetha," to be inhabited also. It lies over against the tower Antonia, but is divided from it by a deep valley, which was dug on purpose, and that in order to hinder the foundations of the tower of Antonia from joining to this hill, and thereby affording an opportunity for getting to it with ease, and hindering the security that arose from its superior elevation; for which reason also that depth of the ditch made the elevation of the towers more remarkable. This new-built part of the city was called "Bezetha," in our language, which, if interpreted in the Grecian language, may be called "the New City." Since, therefore, its inhabitants stood in need of a covering, the father of the present king, and of the same name with him, Agrippa, began that wall we spoke of; but he left off building it when he had only laid the foundations, out of the fear he was in of Claudius Caesar, lest he should suspect that so strong a wall was built in order to make some innovation in public affairs; for the city could no way have been taken if that wall had been finished in the manner it was begun; as its parts were connected together by stones twenty cubits long, and ten cubits broad, which could never have been either easily undermined by any iron tools, or shaken by any engines. The wall was, however, ten cubits wide, and it would probably have had a height greater than that, had not his zeal who began it been hindered from exerting itself. After this, it was erected with great diligence by the Jews, as high as twenty cubits, above which it had battlements of two cubits, and turrets of three cubits altitude, insomuch that the entire altitude extended as far as twenty-five cubits.

          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)
Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year)
     David Brown - Jews for Jesus

     Rosh Hashanah, or Jewish New Year, is at once solemn and joyful. It is solemn because of the Awe of judgment. It is joyful because it represents the hope of the future redemption of Israel. Rosh Hashanah marks the beginning of the High Holy Days. It falls on the first day of the seventh month, according to the Hebrew calendar (see Leviticus 23:23). It could occur anywhere from the first to the last week of September on the Western calendar. (Sept. 11, in 1999) It ushers in the ten days of repentance leading up to Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement.

     The name "Rosh Hashanah" literally means "Beginning of the Year" You may wonder how this can be, since it is called the first day of the seventh month! The reason is that the Jewish calendar is built on two cycles-the religious calendar beginning in the Spring, and the civil calendar beginning in the Fall. In the Torah, the months are never named but only numbered, beginning with the month of Nisan in the early Spring, which is the first month according to the religious calendar.

     Rosh Hashanah Customs

     Among the many traditions of Rosh Hashanah are:

  Dipping of bread into honey after kiddush and ha-Motzi, as a symbol of the hope that the new year will be sweet.
  Dipping pieces of apple into honey, for the same reason.
  Also, the apple is said to symbolize the Divine Presence.
  Use of round loaf of bread instead of the usual braided hallah. Some say the round shape symbolizes a crown. Avoidance of nuts. This is because the numerical value of the Hebrew word for "nut" is the same as the word for "sin."
  Tashlikh ceremony, in which "sins" are ceremoniously tossed into a river and washed away, as penitential prayers are said.

     The Shofar

     The most obvious distinguishing feature of Rosh Hashanah is the blowing of the shofar, or ram's horn. The Biblical name for this holiday is in fact Zichron Teruah (Remembrance of the shofar blast), or Yom Teruah. (Day of the shofar blast). In some English Bibles it is called The Feast of Trumpets.

     Over a thousand years ago, the great Jewish sage Saadia Gaon came up with ten reasons for sounding the Shofar:

  1.The shofar is associated with the coronation of a King.
  2.The shofar heralds the beginning of the penitential period.
  3.The Torah was given amid blasts of a shofar
  4.The prophets compare their message to blasts of shofar.
  5.It is a reminder of the Conquering armies that destroyed the temple.
  6.It is a reminder of the Substitutionary Sacrifice of the ram for Isaac.
  7.It fills one with Awe-Amos 3:6.
  8. It is associated with Judgment Day-Zephaniah. 1:14, 16.
  9.It heralds the Messianic Age, Isaiah 27:13.
  10. It heralds the Resurrection.


     Unlike Passover, the Bible does not clearly identify Rosh Hashanah with a historical event, so we must look to tradition to discover its significance.

     According to Talmudic tradition, the Ten Days of Awe which begin at Rosh Hashanah are the time in which God determines the fate of each human being. On Rosh Hashanah, the wholly righteous are supposedly inscribed in the Sefer ha-Hayyim, or Book of Life, while the wholly wicked are inscribed in the Book of Death. The fate of all others hangs in the balance until Yom Kippur. Consequently, it is a time for introspection, for taking stock of one's behavior over the past year and making amends for any wrongdoing.

     The Book of Life in the Bible

     In chapter 32 of the book of Exodus we find the first hint of the book of life. Moses has been on the mountain receiving the Torah while the people of Israel waited below. Seeing that Moses was taking a long time in returning, the people gave up waiting and made themselves a golden calf to worship, thus incurring the wrath of God. Moses asks to be "blotted out of the book" if God will not forgive the sins of the people. (See also Deut. 9:13).

     There are a number of other references in the Tanakh which mention God blotting out or not blotting out someone from the Book. In Psalm 51:3/2, David asks to have his sins blotted out. Psalm 69:29/28 uses the exact phrase "Book of Life" See also 2 Kings 14:27, Psalm 9:5/6.

     Rosh Hashanah in the Bible

     The Torah does not use the term "Rosh Hashanah," but calls this holiday Yom Teruah, The Day of the Sounding of the Shofar. According to Leviticus 23:23-25, it was to be celebrated by blowing a shofar, or ram's horn, by resting from all work, and by calling a holy assembly, and presenting an offering. The offering is described in Numbers 29:2-6. In Nehemiah 8:2-9 we find Ezra reading the Torah to the assembled people of Israel on this date. Psalms 93-100 are also believed to have been composed for Rosh Hashanah.

     Modern Observance and Jewish Tradition

     In modern Jewish observance of Rosh Hashanah, the principal themes are:

  1.Repentance (Teshuvah in Hebrew-literally "turning back" to God).
  2.Redemption-restoration of a severed relationship with God.
  3.The coming of Messiah.

     The Coming Messiah

     The following quotes underscore the theme of the coming Messiah in Rosh Hashanah tradition: "The sounding of the shofar is related to the Messianic theme, and in one tradition, Rosh Hashanah is said to be the time of the ultimate redemption." - Philip Sigal

     "The prayers . . . in many ways allude to God's enthronement, for the kingship of Heaven materializes with the advent of Messiah, who presides over the last judgment." - Philip Sigal The Brit Ha-Hadashah (New Testament) also associates the sound of the shofar with the coming of Messiah. Paul's letter to the Thessalonians, a book of the Brit Ha-Hadashah, tells us:

     "For the Lord himself (i.e., Yeshua ha-Mashiach) will come down from heaven, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call (Tekiat Shofar) of God, and the dead in the Messiah (i.e., those who believed in Yeshua and have died) will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. . . ."-I Thessalonians 4:16 - 17. (Believers refer to this coming event as the "Rapture," from the Latin word for "caught up.")

     The description of Things to Come given in the Brit ha-Hadashah fits well with all the modern themes of Rosh Hashanah. In order to participate in the Rapture, one must 1) Repent: Turn away from sin and toward God. Then you will be personally 2) Redeemed. The soul will be redeemed immediately, and your body on that day when 3) The Messiah comes again and "we shall all be changed/ we shall be like him as he is!" (1 Corinthians 15:51, I John 3:2) and therefore ready for the (4) Judgment.(Revelation 20:11-15) before the world is 5) created anew (Revelation 21).

     The Book of Life in the Brit ha-Hadashah

     The Concept of the Book of Life is found in the New Covenant Scriptures as well. In Philippians 4:3, Paul mentions his faithful colaborers as being written in the book of Life. The book of Revelation, dedicated to the themes of judgment and the coming Messiah, contains several references to the "Book of Life."

  Rev 3:5 - "he who overcomes" will not be blotted out.
  Rev 13:8 -- All who are not written in the Book of Life belonging to the Lamb will worship the beast.
  Rev 17:8 -- All who are not written in the Book of Life belonging to the Lamb will be astonished at the beast.
  Rev 20:12 -- Judgment by the Book.
  Rev 20:15 -- All who are not found in the book are thrown into the lake of fire.
  Rev 21:27 -- Those who are in the Book will enter the New Jerusalem.


     One very interesting ceremony of Rosh Hashanah is the custom of Tashlikh. In a Tashlikh service, worshippers go to a body of water such as a stream or an ocean, and toss the contents of their pockets into it while reciting passages such as Micah 7:19, ("You will hurl (Tashlikh) all their sins into the depths of the sea.") as a symbol of sin being swallowed up in forgiveness.

     A New Covenant

     This is not the only place in the Tanakh where God speaks of such total forgiveness for his people. Jeremiah 31:34 says: "For I will forgive their iniquities and remember their sins no more." Only one verse before, God declares that one day he will make a New Covenant (Brit Hadashah) with Israel, and put his Torah in their minds and write it on their hearts: "See, a time is coming-declares the LORD-when I will make a new covenant with the House of Israel and the House of Judah. It will not be like the covenant I made with their fathers, when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt, a covenant which they broke, so that I rejected them-declares the LORD."

     What is this "New Covenant"? What is to be the basis of Atonement under it? The Torah teaches that atonement requires the shedding of blood, i.e. a sacrifice. (Leviticus 17:11). Yet, there is no more temple in which to make the sacrifice, so how can there be atonement? It is impossible to keep the Torah completely as long as there is no temple. The rabbis declared that prayers would take the place of the sacrifices, but is that really enough? If prayer is as good as sacrifice, why did God ever demand sacrifice in the first place? Would HaShem allow the temple-so central to his service-to be taken away for so long without putting an alternative plan in place? Hass ve'halilah! If God has allowed the temple to lie in ruins for so long, could it be that it is because he has provided another way?

     Suppose someone you know to be reliable gives you directions to someplace and you suddenly find yourself at a dead end. You know the directions are good, so you back up to see if you missed a turn somewhere. Those directions are the Torah and the prophets. The dead end is the Hurban. The missed turn is the New Covenant-one that doesn't need a physical temple, because the ultimate sacrifice has already been made, making all other sacrifice obsolete. The Hebrew prophets predicted that a "Righteous Servant" would some day make such a sacrifice. (Isaiah 53:6, 8, 12)

     "And the LORD visited upon him the guilt of us all."-Isaiah 53:6 (JPS).

     "My righteous servant makes the many righteous, It is their punishment that he bears" -- Isaiah 53:11 (JPS).

     "For he was cut off from the land of the living Through the sin of my people, who deserved the punishment " -- Isaiah 53:8 (JPS).

     "He bore the guilt of the many And made intercession for sinners." --
Isaiah 53:12 (JPS).

     We believe that Yeshua is that Righteous Servant (what other candidates are there?), and that his Atonement is the basis of the New Covenant spoken of by Jeremiah. If the New Testament ("Testament" is simply another word for Covenant or Brit) is true, it proves that God has not abandoned Am Yisroel. We believe that God has come in person to rescue his people from their sins as a prerequisite to the final restoration of Israel to the Land, when HaShem Himself will rule over them as King. Marana Tha!*

     *(Aramaic for "Our Lord, Come!")

     This article was originally published in 1978.

          Jews for Jesus

Proverbs 25:21-22
     by D.H. Stern

21     If someone who hates you is hungry, give him food to eat;
     and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink.
22     For you will heap fiery coals [of shame] on his head,
     and ADONAI will reward you.

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

                The “go” of preparation

     Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there thou rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift. --- Matthew 5:23, 24.

     It is easy to imagine that we shall get to a place where we are complete and ready, but preparation is not suddenly accomplished, it is a process steadily maintained. It is dangerous to get into a settled state of experience. It is preparation and preparation.

     The sense of sacrifice appeals readily to a young Christian. Humanly speaking, the one thing that attracts to Jesus Christ is our sense of the heroic, and the scrutiny of Our Lord’s words suddenly brings this tide of enthusiasm to the test.
“First be reconciled to thy brother.” The “go” of preparation is to let the word of God scrutinize. The sense of heroic sacrifice is not good enough. The thing the Holy Spirit is detecting in you is the disposition that will never work in His service. No one but God can detect that disposition in you. Have you anything to hide from God? If you have, then let God search you with His light. If there is sin, confess it, not admit it. Are you willing to obey your Lord and Master, whatever the humiliation to your right to yourself may be?

     Never discard a conviction. If it is important enough for the Spirit of God to have brought it to your mind, it is that thing He is detecting. You were looking for a great thing to give up. God is telling you of some tiny thing; but at the back of it there lies the central citadel of obstinacy: ‘I will not give up my right to myself’—the thing God intends you to give up if ever you are going to be a disciple of Jesus Christ.

My Utmost for His Highest
Shrine at Cape Clear
     the Poetry of RS Thomas

                Shrine at Cape Clear

She is more white than the sea's
  Purest spray, and colder
  To touch. She is nourished
  By salt winds, and the prayers
  Of the drowned break on her. She smiles
  At the stone angels, who have turned
  From the sea's truth to worship
  The mystery of her dumb child.

The bay brings her the tribute
  Of its silences. The ocean has left
  An offering of the small flowers
  Of its springs; but the men read,
  Beyond the harbour on the horizon,
  The fury of its obituaries.

Selected poems, 1946-1968
     The Teacher's Commentary

     Judah existed as a separate kingdom from 931–586 b.c. Like Israel, Judah experienced national ups and downs. Spiritually Judah was blessed with several godly kings. But Judah was also ruled at times by apostates. Queen Athaliah (841–835 b.c.) attempted to bring Baal worship into Judah as Jezebel, her mother, had brought it into Israel. While Baal worship was never established in Judah, and the land knew great revivals under Kings Asa, Jehoshaphat, and Joash, the people were never completely committed to the Lord.

     Hezekiah, one of the most godly of Judah’s kings, guided this nation during the critical period when Israel was invaded and destroyed. Hezekiah instituted drastic reforms to correct the idolatry of his father Ahaz. Under the influence of two great prophets, Isaiah and Micah, he thoroughly cleansed the land.

     Yet Hezekiah’s own son, Manasseh, who ruled for 55 years, was one of Judah’s most evil rulers.

     Despite a later revival under Josiah (640–609 b.c.), religious and moral deterioration continued. Jeremiah and Ezekiel graphically describe the way of life of Judah’s people—a way of life that helps us see clearly why God’s judgment had to fall on Judah too.

     As we look at highlights of Judah’s history, the kings who struggled to lead Judah back to God, and the prophets God sent to warn His own, we learn more of the love of God—and more of that godly way of life that can bring blessing even today to you and to me.

The Teacher's Commentary
Searching For Meaning In Midrash
     Deuteronomy 19:11–12

     BIBLE TEXT / Deuteronomy 19:11–12 / If, however, a person who is the enemy of another lies in wait for him and sets upon him and strikes him a fatal blow and then flees to one of these towns, the elders of his town shall have him brought back from there and shall hand him over to the blood-avenger to be put to death.…

     MIDRASH TEXT / Sifrei Shofetim 187 / If, however, a person who is the enemy of another lies in wait for him and sets upon him.… From here [we learn that] if he transgressed a minor commandment, he will surely transgress a major commandment. If he transgressed “Love your fellow as yourself” (Leviticus 19:18), in the end he will transgress “You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge” (ibid.), and “You shall not hate your kinsfolk [in your heart]” (19:17), and “Let him live by your side” (25:35), until he [eventually] will commit murder. Therefore it was said, “If, however, a person who is the enemy of another lies in wait for him and sets upon him and strikes him a fatal blow.”

     CONTEXT / In ancient Israel, before there was a court system, it was the obligation of a slain person’s relatives to exact “blood vengeance” on the killer. This was common practice in tribal societies and exists in some places until this very day. The Torah came to modify this form of “justice.” A distinction was to be made between murder—an intentional killing—and manslaughter—a death caused by an accident. In other cultures, the relatives were to track down and kill the person responsible for the death of their kinsfolk, regardless of the circumstances. On the other hand, the Torah, as seen in the verses above, introduced a new idea—that an accidental killer should not be put to death. Instead, he was to seek asylum in one of the special “cities of refuge” designated throughout the land. While the kin of the dead person still might want vengeance, they were forbidden to enter a city of refuge and harm anyone living there. But the Torah also had to deal with a potential abuse of the city of refuge: a premeditated murderer who sought asylum there. The Torah rules that such a person may be physically extricated from the refuge and put to death.

     The Rabbis had a sense that there were superfluous words in verse 11. Why was it necessary, they questioned, to add the words “who is the enemy of another,” שׂנֵא לְרֵעֵהוּ/ soneh l’rei-ei-hu? It would have been more concise simply to state “If, however, a person lies in wait.…” While it is human nature to use extra words, the Rabbis believed that the Torah (which to them was divine in origin) used only those words that were absolutely required. Where there appeared to be a superfluous phrase, the Rabbis saw a hint of a message or lesson.

     The two Hebrew words שׂנֵא/soneh (enemy) and לְרֵעֵהוּ/l’rei-ei-hu (of another [neighbor]) triggered an association with the same words in another context: וְאָהַבְתָּ לְרֵעֲךָ כָּמוֹךָ/v’ahavta l’rei-akha kamokha (Love your fellow [neighbor] as yourself) and לֹא תִשְׂנָא אָחִיךָ בִּלְבָבֶךָ/lo tisna et aḥikha bilvavekha (You shall not hate your kinsfolk in your heart) from the nineteenth chapter of Leviticus. There, in verses 17 and 18, we read laws that command us to get along with our fellows. While these are important, they nevertheless do not compare to weightier commandments of an ethical nature (the prohibition against committing murder) or those of a ritual character that are the very basis of the Jewish religion (the Sabbath).

     It was natural for Jews to make a judgment that certain commandments were “major” and thus weightier or more important than others. Rabbi (Yehudah ha-Nasi) addressed this in his statement quoted in Pirkei Avot (2:1):

     Be as careful with a minor commandment as [you would be] with a major one, for you do not know the reward of the commandments.

     Along similar lines, our Midrash makes the point that if he transgressed a minor commandment (not to hate another person, or not to bear a grudge), he will surely be led to transgress a major commandment (by lying in ambush to murder another person). The moral is clear: Little things can lead to big ones very easily.

     What is a מִצְוָה קָלָה/mitzvah kalah, a “minor commandment”? Some might say שַׁעַטְנֵז/sha’atnez: “You shall not wear cloth combining wool and linen” (Deuteronomy 22:11). Or סְפִירָה/sefirah: “And from the day on which you bring the sheaf of elevation offering—the day after the sabbath—you shall count off seven weeks” (Leviticus 23:15).

     What, then, is a מִצְוָה חֲמוּרָה/mitzvah ḥamurah, a “major commandment”? All would agree on “Remember the sabbath day and keep it holy” (Exodus 20:8) and “You shall not murder” (Exodus 20:13).

Searching for Meaning in Midrash: Lessons for Everyday Living
Take Heart
     September 24

     How great is God—beyond our understanding!
Job 36:26.

     Define God? (Preaching Through the Bible) We have called him Creator, Sovereign, Father; then Infinite Creator, Eternal Sovereign, Gracious Father, as if we could build up our word-bricks to heaven and surprise the unknown and the unknowable in his solitude and look on him face-to-face.

     Our words! Words that come and go like unstable fashions. Words that die of age, that cannot be accepted unanimously even by two people in all their suggestions and relations. Into these words we have invited God, and because he cannot come into them but as a devouring fire, we have stood back in offense and unbelief.

     God! God! God! Ever hidden, ever present, ever distant, ever near, making the knees knock in terror, filling all space yet leaving room for all his creatures; a terror, a hope—undefinable, unknowable, irresistible, immeasurable.

     We have chosen the very worst word in our haste, and we have needlessly humbled ourselves in doing so. Instead of unknowable, invisible, and incomprehensible, say superknowable, supervisible, and supercomprehensible. Then the mystery is made luminous.

     From the unknowable I turn away humiliated and discouraged; from the superknowable I return humbled yet inspired. The unknowable says, “Fool, why knock at granite as if it were a door that could be opened?” The superknowable says, “There is something larger than your intelligence; a secret, a force, a beginning, a God!” The difficulty is always in the lame word and not in the solemn truth. We make no progress in religion while we keep to our crippled feet, picking over such stones as unknown, unknowable, invisible, and incomprehensible, and we finish our toilsome journey exactly where we began it.

     In its higher aspects and questionings [religion] is not a road to walk on, it is an open expanse of the heavens to fly in. Enthusiasm sees God. Love sees God. But we have built our prudent religion on the sand. On the sand! So we walk around it and measure it and break it up into propositions and placard it on church walls.

     My soul, amid all unknowableness, hold fast to the faith that you can know God. You cannot know about him by intellectual art or theological craft. By love and pureness, know him.
--- Joseph Parker

Take Heart: Daily Devotions with the Church's Great Preachers
On This Day
     Off Course

     Sometimes our plans don’t work out as hoped because God detours us, leading us elsewhere in his overruling providence. Thomas Coke, a sophisticated Oxford-educated Welshman, left his ministry in the Anglican Church in 1777 to become John Wesley’s chief assistant in the new and quickly growing Methodist movement. On September 24, 1785 he packed his books and bags and sailed out of England, down the channel, and into the Atlantic, leaving for Nova Scotia where he wanted to establish the missionaries who accompanied him. But the voyage was ill-fated and grew more perilous by the day, the ship being caught in mountainous waves and mast-splitting winds. The ship’s captain, determining that Coke and his missionaries were bringing misfortune on his ship like Jonah, considered throwing them overboard. He actually gathered some of Coke’s papers and tossed them into the ocean. The voyage took three months rather than the expected one, and instead of landing in Nova Scotia, the damaged ship ended up in the Caribbean, limping into St. John’s harbor on the island of Antigua on Christmas Day.

     Coke knew that at least one Methodist lived somewhere on Antigua, a missionary named John Baxter. Hoping to find him, Coke and his three missionaries asked to be rowed ashore from their shattered ship in the predawn Morning. They started down the street in St. John’s and stopped the first person they found, a fellow swinging a lantern in his hand, to inquire of Baxter.

     It was John Baxter himself. He was on his way to special Christmas Morning services he had planned for the island, and the sudden appearance of Coke and his missionaries out of the darkness—out of nowhere—seemed too good to be true. It took three services that day to accommodate the crowds. After it was over, Coke and his associates abandoned any idea of going to Nova Scotia. Instead, they planted the missionary team on Antigua and on neighboring islands; and by the time of Coke’s death in 1814 there were over 17,000 believers in the Methodist churches there.

I am the LORD, your holy God, Israel’s Creator and King.
     I am the one who cut a path through the mighty ocean.
     I invite the whole world to turn to me and be saved.
     I alone am God! No others are real.
     I have made a solemn promise, one that won’t be broken:
     Everyone will bow down and worship me.
     --- Isaiah 43:15,16;45:22,23.

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

          Morning - September 24

     "For I was ashamed to require of the king a band of soldiers and horsemen to help us against the enemy in the way: because we had spoken unto the king, saying, The hand of our God is upon all them for good that seek him; but his power and his wrath is against all them that forsake him." --- Ezra 8:22.

     A convoy on many accounts would have been desirable for the pilgrim band, but a holy shame-facedness would not allow Ezra to seek one. He feared lest the heathen king should think his professions of faith in God to be mere hypocrisy, or imagine that the God of Israel was not able to preserve his own worshippers. He could not bring his mind to lean on an arm of flesh in a matter so evidently of the Lord, and therefore the caravan set out with no visible protection, guarded by him who is the sword and shield of his people. It is to be feared that few believers feel this holy jealousy for God; even those who in a measure walk by faith, occasionally mar the lustre of their life by craving aid from man. It is a most blessed thing to have no props and no buttresses, but to stand upright on the Rock of Ages, upheld by the Lord alone. Would any believers seek state endowments for their Church, if they remembered that the Lord is dishonoured by their asking Caesar’s aid? as if the Lord could not supply the needs of his own cause! Should we run so hastily to friends and relations for assistance, if we remembered that the Lord is magnified by our implicit reliance upon his solitary arm? My soul, wait thou only upon God. “But,” says one, “are not means to be used?” Assuredly they are; but our fault seldom lies in their neglect: far more frequently it springs out of foolishly believing in them instead of believing in God. Few run too far in neglecting the creature’s arm; but very many sin greatly in making too much of it. Learn, dear reader, to glorify the Lord by leaving means untried, if by using them thou wouldst dishonour the name of the Lord.

          Evening - September 24

     “I sleep, but my heart waketh.” --- Song of Solomon 5:2.

     Paradoxes abound in Christian experience, and here is one—the spouse was asleep, and yet she was awake. He only can read the believer’s riddle who has ploughed with the heifer of his experience. The two points in this Evening’s text are—a mournful sleepiness and a hopeful wakefulness. I sleep. Through sin that dwelleth in us we may become lax in holy duties, slothful in religious exercises, dull in spiritual joys, and altogether supine and careless. This is a shameful state for one in whom the quickening Spirit dwells; and it is dangerous to the highest degree. Even wise virgins sometimes slumber, but it is high time for all to shake off the bands of sloth. It is to be feared that many believers lose their strength as Samson lost his locks, while sleeping on the lap of carnal security. With a perishing world around us, to sleep is cruel; with eternity so near at hand, it is madness. Yet we are none of us so much awake as we should be; a few thunder-claps would do us all good, and it may be, unless we soon bestir ourselves, we shall have them in the form of war, or pestilence, or personal bereavements and losses. O that we may leave for ever the couch of fleshly ease, and go forth with flaming torches to meet the coming Bridegroom! My heart waketh. This is a happy sign. Life is not extinct, though sadly smothered. When our renewed heart struggles against our natural heaviness, we should be grateful to sovereign grace for keeping a little vitality within the body of this death. Jesus will hear our hearts, will help our hearts, will visit our hearts; for the voice of the wakeful heart is really the voice of our Beloved, saying, “Open to me.” Holy zeal will surely unbar the door.

     “Oh lovely attitude! He stands
     With melting heart and laden hands;
     My soul forsakes her every sin;
     And lets the heavenly stranger in.”

Morning and Evening
Amazing Grace
     September 24


     John Keble, 1792–1866

     In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength. (Isaiah 30:15)

     John Wesley, the flaming evangelist of the 18th century, once stated that Christians must “learn to live with a slack rein.” If that were true then, it is even more necessary in the hectic pace lived today. We all need times of relaxation, rest, and renewal. Even Christian workers can experience “burn-out” while engaged in worthwhile activities for God.

     Resting in Jesus is an important development in our Christian maturity. It is something we must learn to practice daily regardless of life’s pressures and circumstances. It must be in the present tense, not a nostalgic memory from the past. Although this principle is easier stated than practiced, we must consciously learn to relax and enjoy God’s presence; to allow God to absorb our inward worries and conflicts; to allow Him to energize us with His love and power.

     The author of this thoughtful text, Jean Sophia Pigott, was born and lived in Ireland. She wrote this text in 1876. The composer, James Mountain, was an English Baptist minister, writer, and musician. He is best remembered today for several of his surviving hymn tunes.

     The story is told of Hudson Taylor, missionary statesman to China, in the terrible days of the Boxer uprising there. As one report followed another of mission stations being destroyed and missionaries massacred, Taylor remained quietly at his desk, singing softly these words that he loved so dearly:

     Jesus, I am resting, resting in the joy of what Thou art; I am finding out the greatness of Thy loving heart. Thou hast bid me gaze upon Thee, and Thy beauty fills my soul, for by Thy transforming power Thou hast made me whole.
     Simply trusting Thee, Lord Jesus, I behold Thee as Thou art, and Thy love, so pure, so changeless, satisfies my heart—Satisfies its deepest longings, meets, supplies its ev’ry need, compasseth me round with blessings. This is love indeed!
     Ever lift Thy face upon me as I work and wait for Thee. Resting ’neath Thy smile, Lord Jesus, earth’s dark shadows flee. Brightness of my Father’s glory, sunshine of my Father’s face, keep me ever trusting, resting; fill me with Thy grace.

     For Today: Isaiah 23:3, 4; 32:17; Matthew 11:28; 2 Timothy 2:2; Hebrews 4:9

     Determine to spend some time each day in refreshment and renewal of your body, mind and spirit. Sing this musical truth as you go ---

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


     2. But God accommodates himself in the Scripture to our weak capacity. God hath no more of a proper repentance, than he hath of a real body; though he, in accommodation to our weakness, ascribes to himself the members of our bodies to set out to our understanding the greatness of his perfections, we must not conclude him a body like us; so, because he is said to have anger and repentance, we must not conclude him to have passions like us. When we cannot fully comprehend him as he is, he clothes himself with our nature in his expressions that we may apprehend him as we are able, and by an inspection into ourselves, learn something of the nature of God; yet those human ways of speaking ought to be understood in a manner agreeable to the infinite excellency and majesty of God, and are only designed to mark out something in God which hath a resemblance with something in us; as we cannot speak to God as gods, but as men, so we cannot understand him speaking to us as a God, unless he condescend to speak to us like a man. God therefore frames his language to our dulness, not to his own state, and informs us by our own phrases, what he would have us learn of his nature, as nurses talk broken language to young children. In all such expressions, therefore, we must ascribe the perfection we conceive in them to God, and lay the imperfection at the door of the creature.

     3. Therefore, repentance in God is only a change of his outward conduct, according to his infallible foresight and immutable will. He changes the way of his providential proceeding according to the carriage of the creature, without changing his will, which is the rule of his providence. When God speaks of his repenting “that he had made man” (Gen. 6:6), it is only his changing his conduct from a way of kindness to a way of severity, and is a word suited to our capacities to signify his detestation of sin, and his resolution to punish it, after man had made himself quite another thing, than God had made him; “it repents me,” that is, I am purposed to destroy the world, as he that repents of his work throws it away; as if a potter cast away the vessel he had framed, it were a testimony that he repented that ever he took pains about it, so the destruction of them seems to be a repentance in God that ever he made them; it is a change of events, not of counsels. Repentance in us is a grief for a former fact, and a changing of our course in it; grief is not in God,  but his repentance is a willing a thing should not be as it was, which will was fixed from eternity; for God, foreseeing man would fall, and decreeing to permit it, he could not be said to repent in time of what he did not repent from eternity; and therefore, if there were no repentance in God from eternity, there could be none in time. But God is said to repent when he changes the disposition of affairs without himself; as men, when they repent, alter the course of their actions, so God alters things, extra sc, or without himself, but changes nothing of his own purpose within himself. It rather notes the action he is about to do, than anything in his own nature, or any change in his eternal purpose.

     God’s repenting of his kindness is nothing but an inflicting of punishment, which the creature by the change of his carriage hath merited: as his repenting of the evil threatened is the withholding the punishment denounced, when the creature hath humbly submitted to his authority, and acknowledged his crime. Or else we may understand those expressions of joy, and grief, and repentance, to signify thus much, that the things declared to be the objects of joy, and grief, and repentance, are of that nature, that if God were capable of our passions, he would discover himself in such cases as we do; as when the prophets mention the joys and applaudings of heaven, earth, and the sea, they only signify that the things they speak of are so good, that if the heavens and the sea had natures capable of joy, they would express it upon that occasion in such a manner as we do; so would God have joy at the obedience of men, and grief at the unworthy carriage of men, and repent of his kindness when men abuse it, and repent of his punishment when men reform under his rod, were the majesty of his nature capable of such affections.

     Prop. IV. The not fulfilling of some predictions in Scripture, which seem to imply a changeableness of the Divine will, do not argue any change in it. As when he reprieved Hezekiah from death, after a message sent by the prophet Isaiah, that he should die (2 Kings 20:1–5; Isa. 38:1–5), and when he made an arrest of that judgment he had threatened by Jonah against Nineveh (Jon. 3:4–10). There is not, indeed, the same reason of promises and threatenings altogether; for in promising, the obligation lies upon God, and the right to demand is in the party that performsthe condition of the promise: but in threatenings, the obligation lies upon the sinner, and God’s right to punish is declared thereby; so that through God doth not punish, his will is not changed, because his will was to declare the demerit of sin, and his right to punish upon the commission of it; though he may not punish according to the strict letter of the threatening the person sinning, but relax his own law for the honor of his attributes, and transfer the punishment from the offender to a person substituted in his room: this was the case in the first threatening against man, and the substituting a Surety in the place of the malefactor. But the answer to these cases is this, that where we find predictions in Scripture declared, and yet not executed, we must consider them, not as absolute but conditional, or as the civil law calls it, an interlocutory sentence. God declared what would follow by natural causes, or by the demerit of man, not what he would absolutely himself do: and in many of those predictions, though the condition be not expressed, yet it is to be understood; so the promises of God are to be understood, with the condition of perseverance in well doing; and threatenings, with a clause of revocation annexed to them, provided that men repent: and this God lays down as a general case, alway to be remembered as a rule for the interpreting his threatenings against a nation, and the same reason will hold in threatenings against a particular person. (Jer. 18:7–10) “At what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to pluck up, and to pull down, and destroy it; if that nation, against whom I have pronounced, turn from their evil, I will repent of the evil that I thought to do unto them;” and so when he speaks of planting a nation, if they do evil, he will repent of the good, &c. It is a universal rule by which all particular cases of this nature are to be tried; so that when man’s repentance arrives, God remains firm in his first will, always equal to himself; and it is not he that changes, but man. For since the interposition of the Mediator, with an eye to whom God governed the world after the fall, the right of punishing was taken off if men repented, and mercy was to flow out, if by a conversion men returned to their duty (Ezek. 18:20, 21). This, I say, is grounded upon God’s entertaining the Mediator; for the covenant of works discovered no such thing as repentance or pardon.

     Now these general rules are to be the interpreters of particular cases: so that predictions of good are not to be counted absolute, if men return to evil; nor predictions of evil, if men be thereby reduced to a repentance of their crimes. So Nineveh shall be destroyed, that is, according to the general rule, unless the inhabitants repent, which they did; they manifested a belief of the threatening, and gave glory to God by giving credit to the prophet: and they had a notion of this rule God lays down in the other prophets; for they had an apprehension that, upon their humbling themselves, they might escape the threatened vengeance, and stop the shooting those arrows that were ready in the bow. Though Jonah proclaimed destruction without declaring any hopes of an arrest of judgment, yet their natural notion of God afforded some natural hopes of relief if they did their duty, and spurned not against the prophet’s message; and therefore, saith one, God did not always express this condition, because it was needless; his own rule revealed in Scripture was sufficient to some; and the natural notion all men had of God’s goodness upon their repentance, made it not absolutely necessary to declare it. And besides, saith he, it is bootless; the expressing it can do but little good; secure ones will repent never the sooner, but rather presume upon their hopes of God’s forbearance, and linger out their repentance till it be too late. And to work men to repentance, whom he hath purposed to spare, he threatens them with terrible judgments; which by how much the more terrible and peremptory they are, are likely to be more effectual for that end God in his purpose designs them; viz. to humble them under a sense of their demerit, and an acknowledgment of his righteous justice; and, therefore, though they be absolutely denounced, yet they are to be conditionally interpreted with a reservation of repentance. As for that answer which one gives, that by forty days was not meant forty natural days, but forty prophetical days, that is years, a day for a year; and that the city was destroyed forty years after by the Medes; the expression of God’s repenting upon their humiliation puts a bar to that interpretation; God repented, that is, he did not bring the punishment upon them according to those days the prophet had expressed; and, therefore, forty natural days are to be understood; and if it were meant forty years, and they were destroyed at the end of that term, how could God be said to repent, since according to that, the punishment threatened was, according to the time fixed, brought upon them? and the destruction of it forty years after will not be easily evinced, if Jonah lived in the time of Jeroboam, the second king of Israel, as he did (2 Kings 14:25); and Nineveh was destroyed in the time of Josiah, king of Judah. But the other answer is plain. God did not fulfil what he had threatened, because they reformed what they had committed: when the threatening was made, they were a fit object for justice; but when they repented, they were a fit object for a merciful respite. To threaten when sins are high, is a part of God’s justice; not to execute when sins are revoked by repentance, is a part of God’s goodness. And in the case of Hezekiah (2 Kings 20:1, 5), Isaiah comes with a message from God, that he should “set his house in order,” for he shall die; that is, the disease was mortal, and no outward applications could in their own nature resist the distemper: “Behold, I will add to thy days fifteen years; I will heal thee” (Isa. 38:1, 5). It seems to me to be one entire message, because the latter part of it was so suddenly after the other committed to Isaiah, to be delivered to Hezekiah; for he was not gone out of the king’s house, before he was ordered to return with the news of his health, by an extraordinary indulgence of God against the power of nature and force of the disease, “Behold, I will add to thy life;” noting it as an extraordinary thing; he was in the second court of the king’s house when this word came to him (2 Kings 20:4); the king’s house having three courts, so that he was not gone above half-way out of the palace. God might send this message of death, to prevent the pride Hezekiah might swell with for his deliverance from Sennacherib: as Paul had a messenger of Satan to buffet him to prevent his lifting up (2 Cor. 12:7); and this good man was subject to this sin, as we find afterwards in the case of the Babylonish ambassadors; and God delayed this other part of the message to humble him, and draw out his prayer: and as soon as ever he found Hezekiah in this temper, he sent Isaiah with a comfortable message of recovery; so that the will of God was to signify to him the mortality of his distemper, and afterwards to relieve him by a message of an extraordinary recovery.

     Prop. V. God is not changed, when of loving to any creatures he becomes angry with them, or of angry he becomes appeased. The change in these cases is in the creature; according to the alteration in the creature, it stands in a various relation to God: an innocent creature is the object of his kindness, an offending creature is the object of his anger; there is a change in the dispensations of God, as there is a change in the creature making himself capable of such dispensations. God always acts according to the immutable nature of his holiness, and can no more change in his affections to good and evil, than he can in his essence. When the devils, now fallen, stood as glorious angels, they were the objects of God’s love, because holy; when they fell, they were the objects of God’s hatred, because impure; the same reason which made him love them while they were pure, made him hate them when they were criminal. The reason of his various dispensations to them was the same in both, as considered in God, his immutable holiness; but as respecting the creature, different; the nature of the creature was changed, but the Divine holy nature of God remained the same: “With the pure thou wilt show thyself pure, and with the froward, thou wilt show thyself froward” (Psalm 18:26): he is a refreshing light to those that obey him, and a consuming fire to those that resist him. Though the same angels were not always loved, yet the same reason that moved him to love them, moved him to hate them. It had argued a change in God if he had loved them alway, in whatsoever posture they were towards him; it could not be counted love, but a weakness and impotent fondness; the change is in the object, not in the affection of God; for the object loved before is not beloved now, because that which was the motive of love, is not now in it; so that the creature having a different state from what it had, falls under a different affection or dispensation. It had been a mutable affection in God to love that which was not worthy of love with the same love wherewith be loved that which had the greatest resemblance to himself; had God loved the fallen angels in that state and for that state, he had hated himself, because he had loved that which was contrary to himself and the image of his own holiness, which made them appear before, good in his sight. The will of God is unchangeably set to love righteousness and hate iniquity, and from this hatred to punish it; and if a righteous creature contracts the wrath of God, or a sinful creature hath the communications of God’s love, it must be by a change in themselves. Is the sun changed when it hardens one thing and softens another, according to the disposition of the several subjects? Or when the sun makes a flower more fragrant, and a dead carcass more noisome? There are divers effects, but the reason of that diversity is not in the sun, but in the subject; the sun is the same, and produceth those different effects by the same quality of heat; so if an unholy soul approach to God, God looks angrily upon him; if a holy soul come before him, the same immutable perfection in God draws out his kindness towards him: as some think, the sun would rather refresh than scorch us, if our bodies were of the same nature and substance with that luminary. As the will of God for creating the world was no new, but an eternal will, though it manifested itself in time, so the will of God for the punishment of sin, or the reconciliation of the sinner, was no new will: though his wrath in time break out in the effects of it upon sinners, and his love flows out in the effects of it upon penitents. Christ by his death reconciling God to man, did not alter the will of God, but did what was consonant to his eternal will; he came not to change his will, but to execute his will: “Lo, I come to do thy will, O God” (Heb. 10:7). And the grace of God in Christ was not a new grace, but an old grace in a new appearance; “the grace of God hath appeared” (Tit. 1:11).

     Prop. VI. A change of laws by God argues no change in God, when God abrogates some laws which he had settled in the church, and enacts others. I spake of this something the last day; I shall only add this: God commanded one thing to the Jews, when the church was in an infant state; and removed those laws, when the church came to some growth. The elements of the world were suited to the state of children (Gal. 4:3). A mother feeds not the infant with the same diet as she doth when it is grown up. Our Saviour acquainted not his disciples with some things at one time which he did at another, because they were not able to bear them: where was the change; in Christ’s will, or in their growth from a state of weakness to that of strength? A physician prescribes not the same thing to a person in health, as he doth to one conflicting with a distemper; nor the same thing in the beginning as he doth in the state or declination of the disease. The physician’s will and skill are the same, but the capacity and necessity of the patient for this or that medicine, or method of proceeding, are not the same. When God changed the ceremonial law, there was no change in the Divine will, but an execution of his will; for when God commanded the observance of the law he intended not the perpetuity of it; nay, in the prophets he declares the cessation of it; he decreed to command it, but he decreed to command it only for such a time; so that the abrogation of it was no less an execution of his decree, than the establishment of it for a season was; the commanding of it was pursuant to his decree for the appointing of it, and the nulling of it was pursuant to his decree of continuing it only for such a season; so that in all this there was no change in the will of God. The counsel of God stands sure; what changes soever there are in the world, are not in God or his will, but in the events of things, and the different relations of things to God: it is in the creature, not in the Creator. The sun alway remains of the same hue, and is not discolored in itself, because it shines green through a green glass, and blue through a blue glass; the different colors come from the glass, not from the sun; the change is alway in the disposition of the creature, and not in the nature of God or his will.

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