November/December 2008

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Contents

ASSEMBLY TESTIMONY BIBLE CLASS
by J. Riddle

MEDITATIONS IN ISAIAH 9.6
by J. M. Flanigan

CHILDREN'S WORK
by R. Plant

BENAIAH - 1 CHRONICLES 11.10-25
by M. Minnaar

THE RESURRECTION OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST
by J. C. Gibson

THE LEVITES IN THE BOOK OF NUMBERS
by I. Steele

A FOURFOLD INTRODUCTION TO GOD'S SON
by B. E. Avery

GOOD TIDINGS FROM HEAVEN

Quotes


Assembly Testimony Bible Class

by J. Riddle (Cheshunt)

DEUTERONOMY

36) “I have brought the firstfruits of the land”

Read Chapter 26.1-14

In introducing our ‘Deuteronomy’ studies, we suggested that the book can be broadly divided into two main parts:

  1. the RETROSPECTIVE section, chapters 1-11:
  2. the PROSPECTIVE section, chapters 12-34.

The larger part of the latter (chapters 12-26) is devoted to “the statutes and judgments which ye shall observe to do in the land,” 12.1. Previous references to the “statutes and judgments” are general in nature, and emphasise how they were to be kept. A right attitude to divine authority must be established before attention can be given to details. Divine instructions would become a mere chore without obedience flowing out of devotion. See 6.5-6, reminding us of the words of the Lord Jesus, “If ye love Me, keep My commandments”.

Chapters 12-26 conclude as they began: “This day the Lord thy God hath commanded thee to do these statutes and judgments: thou shalt therefore keep and do them with all thine heart, and with all thy soul” v.16. As we have seen in past studies, between these two points (12.1 and 26.16) lies a vast amount of subject matter with important lessons for the believer today. Speaking generally, we have learnt from these chapters that the Word of God touches every part of our lives. Obedience to every part of God’s Word was essential if His people then were to enjoy the land “that floweth with milk and honey” v.15, and it is essential now if we are to enjoy the strength and sweetness of His presence.

Enjoyment of their inheritance, v.15, and a strong testimony in the world, v.19, demanded a right attitude Godward, vv.1-11, manward, vv.12-13, and selfward, v.14. With this in mind, the chapter may be divided as follows:

  1. the Presentation of the firstfruits, vv.1-11;
  2. the Provision for others, vv.12-13;
  3. the Practice of obedience, v.14;
  4. the Promised blessing, vv.15-19.

1) THE PRESENTATION OF THE FIRSTFRUITS, vv.1-11

This was Godward, and involved worship. “Behold, I have brought the firstfruits of the land, which Thou, O Lord hast given me. And thou shalt set it before the Lord thy God, and worship before the Lord thy God” v.10. C.A.Coates points out that this is the only reference to true worship in the book of Deuteronomy: there are certainly other references to idol-worship. These verses are rich in lessons for us and, amongst them, we should notice:

i) The Possession of the Inheritance

“And it shall be, when thou art come into the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee for an inheritance, and possessest it, and dwellest therein, that thou shalt take of all the fruit of the earth, which thou shalt bring of thy land that the Lord thy God giveth thee, and shalt put it in a basket …” vv.1-2. We too have “come into the land”. See Eph.1.3, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenlies in Christ” (JND). The Israelites were to bring to the Lord “of all the fruit of the earth”: we bring of “every spiritual blessing”, and these are immediately identified: “He hath chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world … having predestinated us unto the adoption of children (sons) … made us accepted in the Beloved … in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace …” Eph.3.4-7. We have every reason to approach God with very full baskets! In the words of C.H.Mackintosh, “It is when we are in intelligent and peaceful possession of the place and portion in Christ that true worship can ascend to the throne above …” This was the first thing God’s people were to do once they had “come in unto the land”. Are worship and thanksgiving a priority with us? The Israelite was to “rejoice in every good thing” given to him by the Lord, v.11, and we are to do the same: “Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice” Phil.4.4.

ii) The Place of Offering

God’s people were to “go unto the place which the Lord thy God shall choose to place His name there” v.2. This “place” is dealt with extensively in chapter 12, and in this connection we noted that there is still a place of which it can be said, “His habitation shall thou seek, and thither thou shalt come” 12.5. The ‘place of the name’ today is the local assembly, of which the Lord Jesus said, “where two or three are gathered together in (‘unto’, JND) My name, there am I in the midst of them” Matt.18.20. The assembly is described as “the house of God … the church of the living God” 1Tim.3.15, and “the temple of God” 1Cor.3.16-17. It is a place that “the Lord loveth” Ps.87.2. As Raymond Brown observes, “At this harvest season they deliberately rejoiced that, however much they loved God, He was not restricted to the limited range of their own experience. However deep and genuine its personal reality, worship belongs to the whole community of God’s redeemed people. There is great value in meeting together and not simply as isolated individuals.”

iii) The Priest’s Involvement

“Thou shalt go unto the priest that shall be in those days ... And the priest shall take the basket out of thine hand, and set it down before the altar of the Lord thy God” vv.3-4. Bearing in mind the New Testament teaching that all believers are priests, 1Pet.2.5,9, and that the word priest means ‘one who offers sacrifice and has the charge of things pertaining thereto’ (W.E.Vine), we are all in a position to “offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name” Heb.13.15. However, we should notice that the basket of firstfruits is not placed on the altar. It has no reference to sin or acceptance, but is evidence of the possession and enjoyment of the inheritance (C.A.Coates).

iv) The Profession by the Offerer

Speaking to the priest, he was to say, “I profess this day unto the Lord thy God that I am come unto the country which the Lord sware unto our fathers to give us” v.3. He continues by recounting the faithfulness of God, vv.5-9, and responding in worship, vv.10-11.

a) He recounts God’s faithfulness, vv.5-9. God had honoured His promise to the patriarchs, v.3, by preserving Jacob in adversity, v.5, by delivering Israel from Egypt, vv.6-9, and by bringing His people into Canaan, v.9.

  • In His faithfulness to them, God preserved Jacob. He is described as “A Syrian ready to perish”. He is called a “Syrian” since he spent twenty years of his life, Gen.31.41, with “Laban the Syrian”, Gen.25.20; 31.24, at Padan-aram in Syria, and he was “ready to perish” on several occasions (see, for example, Gen.34.30), but principally when famine came to Canaan, Gen.43.1-2. The family that subsequently entered Egypt, “became there a nation, great, mighty, and populous”, v.5. Adversity is so often part of God’s provision for our blessing. See, for example, Gen.50.20.
  • In His faithfulness to them, God answered His people’s prayer: “and the Egyptians evil entreated us, and afflicted us, and laid upon us hard bondage: and when we cried unto the Lord God of our fathers (who had promised on oath that He would give them the land, Gen.13.14-15; 15.18; 17.8), the Lord heard our voice, and looked upon our affliction, and our labour, and our oppression: and the Lord brought us forth out of Egypt with a mighty hand …” vv.6-8. As Raymond Brown observes, “Although ill-treated and humiliated by their Egyptian oppressors, the powerless Hebrews could at least pray.” See Ex.2.23-25; 3.7. Sometimes the last thing we do is to pray!
  • In His faithfulness to them, they now stood on the border of the land that God had promised to them: “And He hath brought us into this place, and hath given us this land, even a land that floweth with milk and honey” v.9. The promise had not been completely fulfilled at that time, but at a later date Joshua was able to say: “not one thing hath failed of all the good things which the Lord your God spake concerning you; all are come to pass unto you, and not one thing hath failed thereof” Josh.23.14. Since “all the promises of God in Him (Christ) are yea, and in Him Amen” 2Cor.1.20, there can be no question of failure, neither now nor ever.

b) He responds in worship, vv.10-11. “And now, behold, I have brought of the firstfruits of the land, which Thou, O Lord, hast given me. And thou shalt set it before the Lord thy God, and worship before the Lord thy God”. Whilst the “firstfruits” here differ from “the sheaf of the firstfruits” Lev.23.10, both speak to us eloquently of the Lord Jesus. The New Testament leaves us in no doubt about the significance of “the sheaf of the firstfruits”: “But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept” 1Cor.15.20. The “firstfruits of the land” remind us of all that God has given us in Christ. How often do we “set it before the Lord … and worship”? In the words of C.H.Mackintosh, worship “is simply telling out, in the presence of God, what He is and what He has done. It is the heart occupied with and delighting in God, and in all His marvellous actings and ways”. Worship leads to rejoicing, v.11.

2) THE PROVISION FOR OTHERS, vv.12-13

This was manward, and involved fellowship. God’s people were to remember that His blessings were to be shared with others. Having reminded them of this in v.11, the instructions move on to what Raymond Brown describes as the ‘triennial tithe’: (see Deut.14.28-29). “When thou hast made an end of tithing all the tithes of thine increase the third year, which is the year of tithing … then thou shalt say before the Lord thy God, I have brought again the hallowed things out of mine house, and also have given them unto the Levite, and unto the stranger, to the fatherless, and to the widow, according to all Thy commandments, which Thou hast commanded me …” C.H.Mackintosh puts it exquisitely in saying, “Nothing can be more beautiful than the moral order of these things. It is precisely similar to what we have in Heb.13.15-16. ‘By Him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name’. Here is the worship. ‘But to do good, and to communicate, forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased’. Here is active benevolence. Putting both together, we have what we may call the upper and nether side of the Christian’s character - praising God and doing good to men. Precious characteristics! May we exhibit them more faithfully. One thing is certain, they will always go together. Show us a man whose heart is full of praise to God, and we will show you one whose heart is open to every form of human need.” There is no need to say more.

3) THE PRACTICE OF OBEDIENCE, v.14

This was selfward, and involved personal restraint. The solemn declaration that nothing which should be devoted to God’s service had been secretly reserved for personal use (“I have not transgressed thy commandments, neither have I forgotten them”, v.13) was accompanied by a further declaration of separation from anything inconsistent with divine holiness: “I have not eaten thereof in my mourning, neither have I taken away ought thereof for the dead, but I have hearkened to the voice of the Lord my God, and have done according to all that Thou hast commanded me”. It has been suggested that the words, “neither have I taken away ought for the dead”, refer to the provision of a coffin or grave-clothes, or possibly to idolatry: see Ps.106.28, “They joined themselves also unto Baal-peor, and ate the sacrifices of the dead”. Whatever the exact meaning here, it remains that we are “to cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God” 2Cor.7.1. We must remember that “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father, is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world” Jms.1.27.

4) THE PROMISED BLESSING, vv.15-19

These verses merit a separate study, and we will address this in our next paper, God willing.

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Meditations in Isaiah 9.6

by James M. Flanigan (N. Ireland)

PAPER 8 - THE PRINCE OF PEACE

The word “peace” here, as in so many other places in our Old Testament, is the lovely Hebrew word Shalom (Strong 7965), occurring more than two hundred times in our Old Testament. Shalom is a very versatile word, used as a greeting, a salutation, a farewell. Although it is generally rendered “peace” yet in its fullest definition it implies prosperity, tranquillity, welfare, health and happiness.

Jehovah is the God of Peace, and is so called five times in the New Testament, Rom.15.33; 16.20; Phil.4.9; 1Thess.5.23; Heb.13.20. Once He is called the Lord of Peace, 2Thess.3.16. Messiah is the King of Peace, Heb.7.2, and here, in Isa.9.6, the Prince of Peace. It is not surprising then that our Gospel should be known as the Gospel of Peace, Rom.10.15; Eph.6.15, and that its heralds should come preaching Peace by Jesus Christ, Acts 10.36, guiding the feet of those who sit in darkness into the way of Peace, Lk.1.79.

Peace has ever been a desirable but elusive thing in the turmoil of a world of war and unrest. Whether internationally, nationally, politically, industrially, domestically, individually, and even religiously, men have striven after peace, and for peace, but having rejected the Prince of Peace they have been left with division and strife. Only those who have come to know the Prince of Peace personally have the sense of peace in their hearts and consciences. He whom they love said, on His last evening with His own, “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” Jn.14.27. They love to quote with great confidence that word of the apostle who wrote, “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” Rom.5.1.

Perhaps in this double reference to peace in our Lord’s word to His disciples, Jn.14.27, there is a suggestion of that dual aspect of peace which all may enjoy. There is peace in the conscience and peace in the circumstances. All believers may quote those words of Rom.5.1. With every sin and every charge against us removed in salvation we do indeed have peace with God. The enmity has gone. We have been reconciled to God by the death of His Son and we sing sincerely

“I have a peace, and its calm as a river,
A peace that the friends of the world never knew.”

                    (S. Cluff)        

There is now therefore no condemnation, neither can this peace be taken from us. The Prince of Peace is our Saviour and Lord.

There is however, another aspect of peace which, sadly, we may not always enjoy. It is the peace of God, Phil.4.7; Col.3.15. This is the peace of one who lives in fellowship with God, resigned to His good will at all times and able to say, whatever the circumstances, “Thy will be done.” Such was the Saviour’s language in the sorrows of Gethsemane. Is this what He means when He speaks of “My peace”? Here is the peace of a Man completely at rest in the will of God even when His soul is “exceeding sorrowful” Matt.26.38; Mk.14.34. He desires the same peace in circumstances for His people.

It seems as though our Lord has ever been associated with peace, when He came, while He was here, and as He departed. When He came the angels announced, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men” Lk.2.14. The Prince of Peace had come, bringing peace to earth and glory to God.

While He was here He dispensed peace on every hand. To a poor woman who for twelve miserable years had in vain sought the help of so many physicians, and who tremblingly touched the hem of His garment for healing, He graciously said, “Daughter, thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace” Mk.5.34; Lk.8.48. And to another, a woman of ill repute despised by those around her, He could say with compassion, “Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace” Lk.7.50.

As He was preparing to leave the world He left that lovely benediction with His disciples in the Upper Room and, as has already been quoted, He said, “Peace I leave with you” Jn.14.27.

There can be little doubt however, that in the context of Isa.9.6, the ultimate glory of the Prince of Peace will be seen when He returns to earth in power. The title “Prince” (Heb sar; Strong 8269) is full of majesty. It means “Captain; Governor; Ruler; Keeper; Leader.” All this He will be when He comes to reign. He will be the Prince of the Kings of the earth, Rev.1.5. He will be Sar Shalom. A multitude of heavenly voices will proclaim, “The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of His Christ; and He shall reign for ever and ever” Rev.11.15.

Many Messianic prophecies will be fulfilled in that day. The Prince of Peace will be proclaimed the King of Glory, Ps.24.7-10. He will return to reign in the City that rejected Him so long ago. Its gates will open to Him and “He shall have dominion also from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth” Ps.72.8; Zech.9.10. Then, in that glorious reign of Messiah, the full meaning of Shalom will be realised for peace will pervade all the land and, as David writes, the whole earth will be filled with His glory, Ps.72.19. “And they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks; nation shall not lift up a sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more” Isa.2.4; Micah 4.3. “The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, and the lion shall eat straw like the bullock …They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain, saith the LORD” Isa.65.25. How rightly it has been remarked that men today measure the strength of their kingdoms by the extent of their stockpiles of weaponry and armaments, but the strength of the kingdom of Christ will be measured by the safety of boys and girls playing in the streets! “And the streets of the city shall be full of boys and girls playing in the streets thereof” Zech.8.5.

Then it will be true that “righteousness and peace have kissed each other” Ps.85.10. Righteousness will reign and peace will dwell and not since Eden will earth have known such bliss, prosperity and beauty. But the cost of such peace must never be forgotten, nor will it be. It cost the suffering and death of the Prince of Peace who “made peace through the blood of His cross” (Col 1.20), but the God of Peace brought Him again from the dead, Heb.13.20, and now, exalted, He waits expectantly for that day of His manifestation in power and glory. How we too should look forward as those who love His appearing, 2Tim.4.8.

“Thou art coming! Thou art coming!
Jesus our beloved Lord!
O the joy to see Thee reigning,
Worshipped, glorified, adored!”

  (F. R. Havergal)

—concluded 

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Children's Work

By R. Plant (England)

Paper 5 — Materials that can be used in Children’s Meetings and Sunday schools

Without going overboard on the presentation of materials, good quality and useful items that will enhance the message of the gospel and give the children something eye catching to observe during the presentation of the message, can be made quite easily on a computer. Further good quality products are available from various sources for the believer with the zeal, interest, enthusiasm and exercise to seek them out. Of course, all of this takes time, effort and resources but the rewards gained by instructing the sin-blinded youngsters of today in the way of salvation, are enormous. Who can put a value on the preciousness of a soul? Who can place a value on the usefulness of a young person soundly saved and making progress in the things of the Lord in the local assembly? Above all else, as we have sought to point out previously, the Bible must be central to the message we seek to bring the children. If this most precious book is neglected in favour of hi-tech visuals and colourful presentations the whole work will be in vain and of no use either to God or the local assembly.

One thing that should always be borne in mind is that anything we do for the Lord should be the very best. We need to be professional in the way we conduct ourselves and in the materials that we use. This includes the way we dress and behave in front of the children. All too often there are young men in tee shirts and jeans or open neck shirts taking part in children’s meetings and Sunday schools. Children actually respect and need, authority and a scruffy individual conducting a meeting will lead to a lack of respect and poor behaviour. Similarly if we use poor quality or hastily put together visuals with little preparation the children will see through our sham and lose interest in what we are trying to accomplish.

So what visuals can we use in instructing the young? Lord willing, in a future paper we hope to give some guidance as to where good materials can be acquired, what to look for and what to avoid. In this paper our aim is to give some ideas as to how to use visuals in a sensible and God honouring way.

Quizzes

All children like a quiz involving a competition such as one side against the other or boys against girls, etc. In order to make the quiz both interesting and educational much thought, planning and preparation should be made prior to its use. This is where a good imagination is most useful in developing an idea into sometime that can teach as well as be interesting for the children. A visit to your town toyshop can be most rewarding. Look at the variety of board games and other quizzes that are available and think of a way you can turn that idea into a Bible based game. Purchase the game if necessary to have a closer look at it. A reasonable knowledge of computers and a good clip art package will also be most useful. As stated in a previous paper, card games all based on various aspects of the Bible, are most useful. For instance “My favourite things” is a set of twenty cards based on things associated with different people in the Bible; for example, David’s sling, Solomon’s temple, and Samson’s strength. As each card is turned over a score is shown depending upon whether it is a good or bad item plus points for good and minus points for bad. In this game David’s sling might be plus 25 and Saul’s javelin minus 75, etc. As each card is turned over a brief, fifteen to thirty second, word picture can be given about that particular item. Other quizzes of this type that may be used are “Animal Antics” based on Bible Animals; “Kings of Judah” based on the good and bad kings; “Walls of Jericho” based on things God says should be destroyed and things He said should be built up; “Thunder and Lightning” based on various stories to do with fire, flood, wind, rain and the weather in the Bible. There are plenty of ideas in the Bible that can be utilised.

If you have a little experience in woodworking, good and attractive quizzes can be produced fairly easily. I have two quizzes (with a third one in progress) that can be used to teach additional Bible verses. A well and a tower have been made, called “The Wells of Salvation” and “The Tower of Salvation”. When the correct answer to a question is given a ping pong ball is dropped into the well or tower that moves around inside the structure through a maze of panel pins to fall out through a numbered window. The children love this quiz as there is animation with it but the value of it is that they are being taught a Bible verse at the same time. Each time they choose a tower or well in the quiz I repeat a corresponding text to go with it. For instance for the “Well of Life” each time it is chosen I say something like, “The well of life that reminds us the Bible says the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord”. It is amazing how much the children can learn from simple repetition of the Word of God.

Stories

There are several places where Bible story illustrations can be purchased of varying quality and usefulness. Once a source has been identified, it is good to stick with it so as to provide continuity for the children. Some Bible stories come in large format flick book form in which when a new page is turned a different picture is shown as the story progresses. Some come in large scale A3 picture card form where the cards can be changed as you continue telling the story. Another useful aid is the old-fashioned flannel graph of which there are a couple of excellent ones that can be obtained of various sizes. These need a lot of practice for them to be effective and not detract from your message. Those with good computer skills could make up their own unique illustrations and print them out in colour, which produces very acceptable material. To make use of this means one may find an investment in a large format A3 or even better A2 printer of benefit. A last thought is to draw any illustrations personally. If you have any ability in art at all there really is nothing like a good hand drawn picture, that is totally unique, to keep the children’s interest.

Choruses

It is my firm belief that the old fashioned way of writing up the choruses onto a flip chart by hand have now long since departed. In many assemblies these have been replaced by the overhead projector and even that is being outdated by the use of data projectors. One thing we need to understand (and something that we are very slow to appreciate) is that times are changing. Like most, I am wary of bring in a “new cart”, however, I do see real benefits of using modern technology in our children’s work as long as it is done wisely, in moderation and with the agreement of all in the assembly. The beauty of this technology is the production of good quality large-scale images. It must be appreciated that children expect all teaching to be similar to what they experience in school, where there are interactive whiteboards that can be linked up to the Internet or the teacher’s laptop computers. If we fail to compete successfully with what the children are used to in normal life then the children will not come to us and we will not be able to present to them the gospel message. Overhead projectors and data projectors can also be used effectively in the presentation of your gospel message as well as in the teaching of the memory verses.

Memory Verses

Again, these can be printed out clearly with the aid of a computer, although always bare in mind, that many smaller children can only read lower case so the use of all capital letters should be discouraged. Also use a plain simple font to make it easier for the children to read. ‘Ariel’ for example would be fine. Also ensure that the text is big enough to be seen by all who will need to read it. This may require the text printing out over several sheets of paper or thin card. The use of overhead or data projectors can be used well for this application. The data projector can be set to drop or remove words as the children learn the text.

—to be continued (D.V.) 

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Benaiah - 1Chron.11.10-25

by Marius Minnaar (New Zealand)

Paper 3

In this consideration of Benaiah it was suggested that we ponder:

  1. The man who conquered Lions and Giants.
  2. The Lions of Moab.
  3. The Lion (giant) of Egypt.
  4. The Lion in the pit.

We have thought of his Father, his King and his Faithfulness and now —

His Foes

Let us focus on the lions conquered by this remarkable man: The lions of Moab; The lion of Egypt; The lion in the pit. In the era in which Benaiah lived men had a healthy fear of the lion. A man could become very famous by just the slaying of a lion: a fame that would live on through countless generations. Victories over lions gave both David and Benaiah quite a reputation. To our knowledge no one had known that the young shepherd boy called David had slain both a lion and a bear that dared to take one of his lambs. He told Saul about it to convince the king that he was able to fight Goliath in the Name of the Lord, and not long after that the whole nation knew about his feats. It would appear that Benaiah’s encounter with a lion was talked about for at least thirty years. At the beginning of his reign over all Israel, David remembered Benaiah’s slaying of a lion in a pit on a snowy day, and then at the end of his long reign, he again remembers Benaiah’s achievement.

1Chron.11.22-25 gives us the account of Benaiah, the overcomer on three occasions. It says that he slew a lion on a snowy day: he killed a giant, an Egyptian: and then there were the two Moabites. The AV refers to them as two lion-like men of Moab. Benaiah met two of them and single-handedly slew them. Benaiah overcame all three, but it wasn’t easy. Three heroic achievements are mentioned here. As we consider our spiritual warfare, these three acts speak very clearly of the believer’s struggle against the world, the flesh and the devil.

The lions of Moab (2 giants)

These were two of Moab’s best men. The Moabites were physically related to Israel through the daughters of Lot, and yet they were enemies. As closely related yet enemies of Israel, they seem to portray “the flesh” in the believer’s life. While “the flesh” is closely related to every one of us, it is our deadly enemy and must be overcome if we are to become mighty men and women for God. Moab, consistently seems to be a picture of the flesh throughout Scripture. By “the flesh” we mean the sinful, fallen human nature that is within every person, saved and unsaved, young and old, the experienced believer and the newly saved. It is that part of us of that moves against the Spirit and causes us to behave in a manner of which we are often ashamed. This was the kind of enemy Benaiah faced but he overcame and conquered.

Not only were the Moabites enemies of Israel, but also they became a constant enemy of God’s earthly people. We have noted that they speak of “the flesh” that is found in every believer — an enemy living within us, to which we are related and which we cannot remove. If we cannot rid ourselves of it, how do we deal with it? The Moabites represent the flesh when it is not under control. This nation came from that unholy relationship between Lot and one of his daughters — the flesh was not under control! However, Benaiah found a way to overcome this enemy. How did he do it? Benaiah showed no mercy to the Moabites and slew them. We must show no mercy in overcoming “the flesh”. It must be put to death, “Put to death therefore your members which are upon the earth, fornication, uncleanness, vile passions, evil lust, and unbridled desire, which is idolatry” Col.3.5, (JND).

The lion of Egypt (a giant)

The next enemy which Benaiah faced was an Egyptian who was five cubits high. That means he was like the giant Goliath whom David fought. Not only was he a big man, but he also had a spear that was as large as a weaver’s beam. But somehow the very courageous Benaiah was able to take his spear away from him and slay him with his own weapon. Doesn’t that remind us of the way David dealt with Goliath? It is likely that this great warrior was influenced and inspired by his king’s achievements and exploits. The question that comes to mind is: From whence do we get our inspiration? Whose example do we follow?

If Moab speaks to us of the “flesh”, Egypt is a picture of the world. It was the greatest power in the world at the time, with the greatest military power, the greatest libraries and greatest thinkers and philosophers. It speaks of the world and all its prestige, its pomp and circumstance, its power, thinking, its attitude to all things spiritual, as well as all of its ungodliness. God redeemed His people out of Egypt, so God has redeemed us out of this world. It should be of interest to us that after the Exodus Israel was still attracted to Egypt. They thought about Egypt, remembered Egypt, occupied their minds with the things of Egypt, and it comes as no surprise that they craved many of the things of Egypt. Sometimes they even wanted to go back to Egypt! We cannot deny that the world sometimes attracts us, just as thoughts of Egypt attracted the Israelites in the wilderness. However, it doesn’t help when we occupy our hearts and minds with the things of this world.

Let us always keep in mind that this world at large is opposed to God and biblical values, and we cannot allow its thinking and lifestyles to influence our thinking and actions as Christians — they are enemies of the child of God!

When our Lord Jesus Christ was tempted by Satan in the wilderness, He was taken up on a high mountain and shown all the kingdoms of the earth, with all their power and glory. That is what the world is occupied with and what it has to offer: power and glory that are in contrast to everything spiritual. Many of the Israelites longed to return to Egypt. They had forgotten the bondage, rejection, slavery, cruelty, tears and heartache of Egypt. All they could think of were its comforts, conveniences, the leeks and onions and garlic and melons of Egypt. What a picture Egypt is of the world and its ways — its philosophies, its pursuit of pomp and prestige and pride and status! Here is a man who overcame the “flesh” as well as the “world”. Who among us has not been confronted by these two enemies? We have experienced the struggle and fight with, and the attacks of the flesh. We have also experienced at times, that strong pull of the world. Benaiah overcame an enemy that we find today in the “world”. It is an enemy that stands in complete opposition to God and all that God wants for us. This could only have been done by the overcoming power of God against the power of the world. We remember the words of the Saviour, “In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world” Jn.16.33.

—to be continued (D.V.) 

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The Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ

By J. C. Gibson (England)

Paper 2 — The First and Second Post-resurrection Appearances: Mary and the Women

INTRODUCTION

The exact chronology of Christ’s post-resurrection appearances is difficult to unravel, and the first two are no exception, (see Table 1). Mary Magdalene was the first to see Christ after His resurrection, Mk.16.9, quickly followed by the remaining women. Neither the Lord’s mother nor Mary of Bethany, who in anticipation of the resurrection had already anointed His body, was present. The atmosphere was full of urgency and confusion, despair and optimism; hence the good deal of running to and from the sepulchre. And yet these speedy movements were balanced by Peter’s thoughtful reflections, Lk.24.12, and Mary’s grief stricken lingering at the tomb, Jn.20.11. In much the same way a Christian’s life should have a healthy mix of eager enthusiasm and quiet contemplation.

Table 1: Suggested order of events surrounding the first two post-resurrection appearances

CHRIST AND THE ANGELS
Significant Events Biblical References
Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, Joanna, Salome and the other women came to the sepulchre Matt.28.1; Mk.16.1-4; Lk.23.55-24.1-3; Jn.20.1
Mary hurriedly ran to tell Peter and John of the empty tomb Jn.20.2
Angels, who rolled away the stone, appeared to the remaining women who subsequently fled Matt.28.5-8; Mk.16.5-8; Lk.24.4-8
Peter and John returned home after encountering the angels Lk.24.12; Jn.20.3-9
Peter and John returned home after encountering the angels Jn.20.10
Mary remained at the sepulchre and met Christ Mk.16.9; Jn.20.11-17
The other women met the Lord. They, with Mary, reported to the disciples Matt.28.9,10; Mk.16.10,11; Lk.24.9-11; Jn.20.18

The sinless Christ rose from the dead as soon as the third day began, not just validating His own predictions, Matt.28.6; Lk.24.8, but also proving that death had no claim on Him, Act.2.24. In fact, He had already risen “as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week” Matt.28.1. The time reference, “in the end of the Sabbath” Matt.28.1, indicated that the Sabbath, an integral component of the Old Testament economy, had actually been abolished through the Lord’s death and resurrection, Col.2.14-17.

Angels play a key role in God's overall plans. They heralded Christ's birth, Lk.2.8-15, will yet accompany His glorious return, Matt.24.30,31, and even declared His resurrection: “He is not here: for He is risen, as He said” Matt.28.6. They are endued with enormous power. The “very great” stone at the sepulchre's mouth, Mk.16.4, weighing possibly two tonnes and once in place requiring twenty men to move, was easily “rolled back” by the angel, Matt.28.2. The guard, charged with making the tomb as secure as possible, Matt.27.65, was no match for these heavenly visitors: “for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men” Matt.28.4. And yet, despite their great powers, these mighty creatures readily took the servant’s place and acknowledged Christ as “the Lord” Matt.28.6. They do not age. Centuries of time had not jaded their youthful appearance, Mk.16.5, nor diminished their dazzling brilliance: “His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow” Matt.28.3. They comforted the women, “fear not ye”; assured them that God knew their intentions, “I know that ye seek Jesus”, Matt.28.5; sent them quickly to the disciples with the good news of Christ’s resurrection and their imminent reunion with Him in Galilee, Matt.28.7. Fallen Peter was especially singled out, Mk.16.7, no doubt to encourage him.

MARY AND THE WOMEN

Christian progress depends, amongst other things, on a sensible balance between fellowship with others, and quiet times alone with the Lord. The experiences of Mary and these devout women, who had already witnessed Christ’s death and burial, Matt.27.56,61, reflect this. Let us learn from them. Having carefully prepared their spices, Mk.16.1; Lk.23.56; Lk.24.1, and obediently rested on the Sabbath, Lk.23.56, this small group of women, as soon as possible — even before first light, Matt.28.1 — hurriedly made their way to the sepulchre with the joint objective of anointing Christ’s body. Their conscientious preparation should warn us against ever belittling careful spiritual preparation in favour of unnecessary, and often sloppy, spontaneity. The submission of this small group of women to Sabbath legislation, because they were still under the tail-end of the dispensation of Law, reminds us that obedience to God’s Word is the true measure of spiritual success. Joshua, to give another example, “left nothing undone of all that the LORD commanded” Josh.11.15. The zeal and unity of these godly sisters should characterize every local assembly. So intent on their purpose, the practical difficulty of rolling away the stone had not entered their reckoning, Mk.16.3. This was a wonderful approach to the things of God that is worth imitating. Never allow impossibilities to cloud your vision. After all, there is nothing too hard for the Lord, Jer.32.17. Times of crisis often fill believers with a bewildering array of emotions. This was what the angel’s appearance did for these women. They were simultaneously afraid, Matt.28.9; Mk.16.8; Lk.24.5, joyful, Matt.28.8, perplexed, Lk.24.4, and amazed, Mk.16.5,6,8. At the angel’s behest they fled the tomb, saw Christ and humbly worshipped at His nail pierced feet, Matt.28.9,10. May we similarly bow in worship at the feet of our glorious Lord.

One sign of true conversion is a transformed life: “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” 2Cor.5.17. Mary, the ex-demoniac, was such a woman, Mk.16.9; Lk.8.2. Having been possessed of seven demons, she was now so focused on Christ that even the appearance of angels failed to impress her, Jn.20.11-13; everything falls into proper perspective when Christ fills our thoughts. The Psalmist’s words could readily be applied to Mary: “Whom have I in heaven but Thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside Thee” Ps.73.25. And yet even Mary, with her unmistakable love for Christ, failed to recognise Him, “supposing Him to be the gardener” Jn.20.14,15. John the Baptist, the greatest of all prophets, Lk.7.28, also had to confess at the beginning of Christ’s ministry that he “knew Him not” Jn.1.31,33, for divine revelation is needed for anyone to know Christ. Mary finally recognised Him when the Good Shepherd spoke her name, Jn.10.3; Jn.20.16. However, everything had now changed. With the words, “touch [haptomai, ‘to attach oneself to’3] Me not” Jn.20.17, the Lord Jesus intimated that the tangible relationship Mary and the other disciples had enjoyed up to this point — including the senses of hearing, sight and touch with no impropriety, 1Jn.1.1, — ended with His death and resurrection. ‘He was a different person with an immortal body whose proper residence was in heaven at the right hand of God. From the divine perspective, moving from the tomb to the throne was one giant step. Jesus’ resurrection appearances and ministry were only a temporary ‘stop-off’ on His way to His rightful glorification.’4 From now on their relationship would have a purely spiritual basis. When He said, “go to My brethren and say unto them, I ascend unto My Father and your Father; and to My God and your God” the Saviour was graciously linking His disciples with Himself, Heb.2.11; Rom.8.29; Ps.22.22, while maintaining His own distinct and unique relationship with God the Father.

PETER AND THE APOSTLES

Peter and John, in response to Mary’s excited report of an empty tomb, Jn.20.2, ran to the Sepulchre. Even though John outran Peter, Lk.24.12; Jn.20.3,4, he waited patiently and thoughtfully for his friend. They both stooped and entered, Lk.24.12; Jn.20.5. They saw details. They noticed “the linen clothes lie, and the napkin, that was about his head, not lying with the linen clothes, but wrapped together [entulizzo, ‘to entwine, i.e. wind up in’4], in a place by itself” Jn.20.6,7, because the Lord Jesus did not even disturb the grave clothes when He rose from the dead. John believed, Jn.20.8, and Peter wondered, Lk.24.12. They returned to their own home, Jn.20.10, where, very likely, they relayed everything to Mary, the Lord’s mother, Jn.19.27. If this same enthusiasm, courtesy, willingness to stoop, meticulous attention to detail, faith and deliberate pondering of the things of God was found in us, our spiritual experience would be greatly invigorated.

And yet even Peter and John failed to grasp significant Old Testament predictions of Christ’s resurrection, Jn.20.9, reminding us that a proper understanding of the Scriptures needs divine revelation, Lk.24.45; Jn.16.13. And even they, in conjunction with the remaining disciples, rejected as “idle tales [leros, ‘the wild talk of those in delirium’5]” Mary’s later testimony, and that of the other women who had seen the Lord, Mk.16.10,11; Lk.20.10,11; Jn.20.18. The unbelief of this highly privileged group alerts us to the possibility of the most privileged saint succumbing to brief periods of scepticism.

—to be continued (D.V.)

 

3 Strong J. A Concise Dictionary of the Words in the Greek Testament; with their Renderings in the Authorized English Version. (Massachusetts: Hendrickson), p. 15.
4 Witmer JA. Understanding Christian Theology (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2003), p. 354.
5
Robertson’s Word Pictures, cited on e-sword.

 

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The Levites in the Book of Numbers

by Ian Steele (Scotland)

INTRODUCTION

The Book of Numbers is that of the wilderness. It describes the wilderness experience of God’s earthly people, Israel, from the wilderness of Sinai, 1.1, to the plains of Moab by Jordan near Jericho, 33.50, 36.13. It begins in the second year after their redemption from Egypt and after the tabernacle has been built and brings before us many salutary lessons.

In this book Divinely instituted things are under attack:

Ch.11 Divine Provision in the manna
Ch.12 Divine Leadership in Moses
Ch.13 – 14 Divine Promise in respect of the Land
Ch.16 - 17 Divine Priesthood invested in Aaron and his sons

It is a sad reflection on the rebellion and murmuring of God’s people that a whole generation of them perish in the wilderness and delay the enjoyment of their inheritance for some 40 years! 14.29.

However it is also in this Book that the service of the Levites is addressed more than in other Books and it is this subject that we wish to consider.

  1. Their Place in relation to the Tabernacle, ch.1 — Their Calling
  2. Their Purpose and the period of Service, chs.3-4 — Their Charges and Burdens
  3. Their Purification, ch.8 — Their Cleansing
  4. Their Provision, ch.18 — Their Compensation

1. THEIR PLACE IN RELATION TO THE TABERNACLE

Levi means “joined”. Levi was joined with Simeon in an unholy relationship to commit a cruel and violent act, “Instruments of cruelty are in their habitations. O my soul, come not thou into their secret unto their assembly mine honour be not thou united; for in their anger they slew a man and in their self-will they digged down a wall” Gen.49.5,6.

However, in Ex.32 they joined themselves with Moses in the incident of the golden calf. In a day of idolatry and rebellion against God they among the tribes, responded to Moses' call, “Who is on the Lord’s side? Let him come unto me. And all the sons of Levi gathered themselves together unto him” v.26.

Here, in the Book of Numbers, they are going to be joined to the service of the tabernacle as God takes them to Himself instead of the firstborn in the nation. “And thy brethren also of the tribe of Levi, the tribe of thy father, bring thou with thee, that they may be joined unto thee and minister unto thee” 18.2; “they shall be joined unto thee, and keep the charge of the tabernacle of the congregation, for all the service of the tabernacle” 18.4. It is a solemn and holy matter to join oneself with a company of God’s people today in assembly fellowship as Acts 5.13 underlines “of the rest durst no man join himself unto them and the people magnified them”. Would that we had such a sensitive spirit in relation to the sanctity of the Divine Presence amongst His people today!

It is interesting to note in ch.1 that the Levites were NOT numbered among the people as Moses numbered all those from 20 years old and upward; all that are able to go forth to war in Israel, “But the Levites after the tribe of their fathers were not numbered among them” 1.47. They are not numbered as soldiers but they are numbered for sanctuary service in chs. 3 and 4. This sets out the two sides of responsibility for the people of God. Are we numbered among those who serve towards men, earnestly contending for the faith and also counted among those who serve in holy things towards God?

In 1.47-54, their service is dealt with generally in relation to the tabernacle and in chs. 3 and 4 their service is outlined more specifically.
Three matters may be considered in ch.1 as we view the Levites in relation to the Tabernacle.

Their Supervision of it, 1.50. The repetition of “over” should be noted:

“over the tabernacle of testimony”,
“over all the vessels thereof”
“over all things that belong to it”

Precious was their responsibility and there was nothing about that tabernacle with which they were not concerned!

Their Service to it, vv.50, 51.

“they shall bear the tabernacle and all the vessels thereof” — Felt its weight!
“they shall minister unto it” — Functioned in its work
“the Levites shall take it down … the Levites shall set it up” — Furthered its way.

Their Settlement around it, v.50 “and shall encamp round about the tabernacle”.

Kohath in the south, Gershon on the west and Merari to the North, with Moses, Aaron and the priestly family on the East.
Note their proximity to it and its centrality to them! The tabernacle regulated their lives. What about us today? Does the assembly get the leftovers when we have attended to our own things or is it really the major influence in all of our lives?

Note the Privilege this was for them; the Prohibition for the stranger, v.51; the Preservation of the testimony, v.53 “that there be no wrath upon the congregation”. This is Divine Order and our response should only be one of obedience, v.54.

2. THEIR PURPOSE AND THE PERIOD OF SERVICE

What they did was according to Divine choice and arrangement!

The Purpose of Service

Their nearness, “bring the tribe of Levi near” 3.6. God ever wants His people living in nearness to Him. Where are we in our souls' experience today? Are we following afar off or leaning on the bosom of the Saviour?

Their Fitness, “present them before Aaron the priest” 3.6. The idea in ‘present’ is ‘to make them stand’. We stand in our service first and foremost in relation to Christ and what a difference it would be if all service truly emanated from His Divine Presence. Aaron was the focal point and in control of all service rendered.

Their Usefulness, “that they may minister unto him” 3.6; “they shall keep his charges” 3.7.

What were their specific charges? Each family had their own responsibility:

  • Gershon, 3.25, 26. The tabernacle, tent coverings, hanging for the door, hanging for the court, curtain and the cords of it
  • Kohath, 3.31. The ark, table, candlestick, altars, vessels of the sanctuary and the hanging.
  • Merari, 3.36,37, The boards, bars, pillars, sockets and the vessels thereof, pillars of the court, their sockets, pins and cords.

A charge is “a thing to be watched over” in the sense of cared for and guarded. Thus today, as these things speak of the things of Christ, we ought to keep a watchful eye to preserve His glory and maintain His honour in association with the testimony of the assembly. In ch.4 the emphasis is on the “burden” of these things to each of the families, “these things are the burden of the sons of Kohath” and so on, vv.15,27,31. Here the idea is of a load to bear or a thing to be lifted up! They were to feel the weight of their service for the Lord!

Note in relation to Kohath, “they shall not touch any holy thing lest they die” v.15 and “they shall not go in to see when the holy things are covered lest they die” v.20. Therefore no casual approach or curious observations were permitted in the handling of holy things!

What is the lesson for us? Do we feel the weight of holy things upon us? Are we lifting up those tasks that God has appointed us to in the assembly of his people or leaving the burden to only a few? “Let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone and not in another. For every man shall bear his own burden” Gal.6.4-5.

The Period of Service.

Note that in the numbering of the Levites in ch.3 it was from one month old and upward. However the numbering in 4.34-49 was from 30 years old to 50. Then again in ch.8 they are named from 25 years of age in view of tabernacle service.

Ch.3 is from the point of view of their potential for service. In ch.8 those 5 years from 25 to 30 were years of probation whereas ch.4 has in view the period of responsible service from 30 years to 50. In many ways these were the best years of their lives that were to be given wholly to God.

Note that 8.25,26 envisages the end of their service, “And from the age of 50 they shall cease waiting upon the service thereof and shall serve no more. But shall minister with their brethren in the tabernacle of the congregation to keep the charge …”

3. THEIR PURIFICATION

“take the Levites from among the children of Israel and cleanse them” 8.5.  How were they cleansed?

  • “Sprinkle of the water of purifying upon them”, v7. This typifies the application of the Word of God to us. For example “now ye are clean through the word that I have spoken unto you” Jn.15.3.
  • “let them shave all their flesh”, v.7. What comes from the flesh within has to be dealt with ruthlessly. Paul exclaimed “I know that in me, (that is, in my flesh) dwelleth no good thing” Rom.7.18. In Rom.13.14 he instructs us “make not provision for the flesh”. Let us pause in the presence of God and search our hearts are we allowing things that will affect our purity before God? The Levite had to take the razor over ALL his flesh!
  • “Let them wash their clothes”, v.7. This deals with defilement from without. We live in a polluted world and can so easily be affected by what we hear or see or touch. Let us obey Paul’s charge to Timothy “keep thyself pure” 1Tim.5.22.

This was all based upon the judicial aspect of their cleansing as seen in the two bullocks that were taken, one for a burnt offering and the other for a sin offering. All the devotion and acceptability of Christ is transferred to the offerer and all the value of His sin bearing sacrifice avails for eternity in the presence of God. We rest on this as depicted in the Levites who “laid their hands upon the heads of the bullocks” v.12.

Hence v.21 reads “and the Levites were purified” and v.22 “and after that went the Levites in to do their service …”.

Only clean and consecrated people can serve a Holy God!

4. THEIR PROVISION

In 18.21-24, God makes provision for the Levites. The tithes that the people gave were to become the possession of the Levites, “And behold I have given the children of Levi all the tenth in Israel for an inheritance.”

They were in turn responsible to give the tenth part or the tithe as a heave offering to the Lord and that along with the best of the offerings became the portion of the priests. In ch.35 God gave them 48 cities to dwell in, including 6 cities of refuge. Thus God made more than ample provision for those who served in the service of the Tabernacle. However, in Deut.10.9 God says, “Wherefore Levi hath no part nor inheritance with his brethren; The Lord is his inheritance, according as the Lord his God promised Him.” Truly the Lord is no man’s debtor and what is given to Him is never lost.

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A Fourfold Introduction to God's Son

By B. E. Avery (England)

With respect to His humanity, the Lord Jesus is introduced to us in four different ways by the writers of the four gospels. We will consider them in chronological order.

  1. Luke introduces Him as a new-born babe lying in a manger, 2.7, thus emphasising His Poverty.
  2. Matthew brings Him before us as a young child in the house, 2.11, and His Person is emphasised here.
  3. John speaks concerning the Lord as a Man, approaching John the Baptist and speaks of the Purpose of His coming, 1.29.
  4. Mark refers to the occasion of God’s voice speaking from heaven as His Son emerged from His baptism, emphasising His Perfection. 1.11.

In the above order we can see both growth and also increasing appreciation of Him by those mentioned in connection with each occasion.

  1. As a new-born it was humble shepherds who came to see the Saviour in view of the angelic message they had received. Can we not look back as believers to that wonderful day when we first appreciated Him as our own Saviour too?
  2. He is here probably what we could call “a toddler” aged around a year or more (note 2.16). There is a lot of difference between a new-born child and one of maybe a year old. There was a big difference too between His visitors. Humble shepherds in the first case, Wise men from the east here! They bring their gifts, too, appreciating they were coming to one born King of the Jews. His Person is thus brought before us and their gifts, including the gold — to be so useful in view of their imminent flight to Egypt. He is our Saviour, are we prepared to give our gifts to Him? Of our time, talents and treasure too?
  3. In John’s introduction the Lord Jesus is a mature man. He is about thirty years of age, Lk.3.23, a young man, in His prime as far as years would be considered. Physical growth indeed, but note who meets Him here! The greatest prophet who ever lived! Lk.7.8, and he emphasises the purpose for which the Lord had come. And John,“bare record”. Do we also delight to speak of Him to others, to “show Him forth” as it were? Now how much further “progress” can there be? Who could be greater than the greatest prophet who ever lived? Why, God Himself, and now —
  4. God’s voice is heard, and what do we hear? Why, His Father in heaven is satisfied (well pleased) with His Son! How much satisfaction have we experienced in our increasing exercises and knowledge concerning Him?

Thus these introductions display “Progress” indeed — and may we too increase in our knowledge of, work for, witness to an appreciation of the One who saved us and Whom we are called to serve, Acts 27.23.

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Good Tidings from Heaven

YOU'RE NO DIFFERENT

It has long been the desire of politicians to create a classless society where there will be real social integration and inclusivity. No one is to feel different because of their colour, age, gender, race, religion, disabilities or any of the other reasons that cause some to feel marginalised or excluded. The days of apartheid are over and racialism is now an offence. Legislation has been passed so that disabled people are no longer disadvantaged or discriminated against, so no one need feel different. On every hand attempts are being made to gradually blur the distinctions which were once so accentuated and of which so many were embarrassingly and acutely aware.

Although for many these are fairly recent developments, the Bible has stated for centuries, in Romans 3.22,23 that “there is no difference: For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” In this sense all men are equal and stand on the same platform. Regardless of their social status, background, privileges, religion or achievements, all are sinners and all in need of salvation. According to Romans 3.19 God has concluded “all the world” guilty before Him. Whether you have been brought up in a Christian home or are an atheist, there is no difference. We must all stand beneath the one umbrella, convinced and convicted of our sinnership before God. It is true of every one of us as is written in Psalm 51.5, “Behold I was shapen in iniquity; And in sin did my mother conceive me.”
In chapter 18 of the Gospel by Luke we read of a man who was unwilling to accept this universal truth. The unnamed Pharisee visited the temple as no doubt he was accustomed to do and prayed thus with himself, “God, I thank Thee that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.” His visit to the temple was to no profit; he returned exactly as he came, unblessed and still ignorant of his sad condition before God.

Although not pleasant or palatable, it will be to our benefit to accept God’s verdict concerning us, because He does want to make a radical difference in our lives and save us from our wretched and sinful condition. As we are, we cannot ever hope to be in heaven, a change is vital and necessary and in John 3.3 we learn from the Lord Jesus Christ Himself, “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” These words were addressed to a man who would have considered himself to be very different from the masses of humanity - his name was Nicodemus, he was a chief Rabbi, strictly adhering to the religion of his fathers but to him the Lord Jesus said, “Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again” John 3.7

Dear reader, have you experienced this change that is referred to as being born again or are you still in that condition which is true of every human being prior to conversion? Deliverance can only be experienced by trusting God’s Son who came “to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself” Hebrews 9.26. He was different from all in that He was absolutely sinless, but He willingly “bare our sins in His own body on the tree” 1Peter 2.24. Trust Him today and experience the great difference that only He can effect and without which you can never be in heaven.

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Quotes

11 WAYS TO BE HAPPY

Happy is the man whom God correcteth, Job 5.17;
Happy is he that hath the God of Jacob for his help, Psa.146.5;
Happy is the man that findeth wisdom, and … understanding, Prov.3.13;
He that hath mercy on the poor, happy is he, Prov.14.21;
Whosoever trusteth in the LORD, happy is he, Prov.16.20;
Happy is the man that feareth always, Prov.28.14;
He that keepeth the law, happy is he, Prov.29.18;
If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them, Jn.13.17;
Happy is he that condemneth not himself, Rom.14.22;
If ye suffer for righteousness' sake, happy are ye, 1Pet.3.14;
If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye, 1Pet.4.14.

                  by H. A. Barnes (England)


Jesus answered and said unto him, What I do thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter.  -John 13.7

O Lord, my life's a mystery
 I do not understand;
The end of all Thy ways with me
I do not know; I scarce can see
 At times Thy guiding hand.
 
Great Shepherd! firmly grasp my hand
 And lead me while I go,
For Thou hast said Thy purpose grand,
Which yet I do not understand,
 Hereafter I shall know.