As we have already noticed, the opening chapters of the prophecy illustrate some general principles of judgment, as well as detailing specific reasons for judgment. We have already surveyed the crimes and punishment of Judah and Israel’s neighbours, and this brings us to Judah and Israel themselves. The very fact that they are numbered with the surrounding nations indicates that they had lost their distinctive character. The people who should not have been "reckoned among the nations" Num.23.9, had merged with the world. This has a voice for us today: read Rom.12.1,2. We must now consider:
As in the six preceding cases, Amos draws attention to Judah’s crimes, v.4, and then describes their punishment, v.5.
Their Crimes, v.4
"For three transgressions of Judah, and for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof; because they have despised the law of the Lord [‘rejected the law of the Lord’, R.V.], and have not kept His commandments, and their lies caused them to err, after which their fathers have walked". If Judah "despised the law of the Lord", then the Psalmist should speak for us all in saying, "O how I love Thy law! It is my meditation all the day" Ps.119.97.
It has been observed that "Judah, even with the temple of God in their midst, rejected the law which they professed to keep". The writer (unidentified) then raises the following questions: "Did Judah, as many professing believers today, regard the law as having little or no relevance to their day? Had it become ‘out of date’ and ‘boring’? And if out of date (for ‘times have changed, and we are more enlightened’), why bother to keep commandments that were not revered? They were, in fact, no better than their neighbours". We live in an age when even in so-called ‘Christian circles’ the Word of God is despised and rejected. How often decisions are made at church synods without any reference whatsoever to the Scriptures.
The words, "their lies caused them to err", refer to their false gods. Habakkuk tells us that the "molten image" is "a teacher of lies" Hab.2.18. They had rejected "the law of the Lord" in favour of "lies". They had "changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, Who is blessed for ever. Amen" Rom.1.25. At the end-time, men and women will believe "a lie" (Satan’s masterpiece of deception) because they "believed not the truth" 2Thess.2.8-12. Obedience to the Word of God is a great preservative. Read 2Tim.4.2-4.
Their Punishment, v.5
"I will send a fire upon Judah, and it shall devour the palaces of Jerusalem". This was fulfilled in the fall of the city to the Chaldeans, circa 586 BC. "The Chaldeans burned the king’s house, and the houses of the people, with fire, and brake down the walls of Jerusalem" Jer.39.8.
For the last time in these eight oracles, Amos draws attention to their crimes, vv.6-12, and then describes their punishment, vv.13-16. It has been suggested (R.Catchpole) that this section may be divided as follows:
Israel’s perversity, vv.6-8;
Israel’s privileges, vv.9-12;
Israel’s punishment, vv.13-16.
Israel’s Perversity, vv.6-8
"For three transgressions of Israel, and for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof". We must notice the following:
Their Injustice. They "sold the righteous for silver, and the poor for a pair of shoes" v.6. The words, "they sold the righteous for silver" remind us that the Lord Jesus, "the Holy One and the Just" Acts 3.14, was sold for thirty pieces of silver, Zech.11.12,13; Matt.26.15; 27.9,10.
Both parts of this statement evidently refer to injustice in the legal system. In the first case, those with a righteous cause were condemned by Israel’s judges who had been suitably bribed. This was a direct violation of the law, Deut.16.18,19. In the second case, "a poor man, being helpless and defenceless, had no recourse but to submit himself to injustice" (M.F.Unger). According to Unger, "the verse means either that a bribe as small as a pair of shoes (sandals commonly made of wood) was enough to save a verdict, or that a debt that was small was enough to bring a man before a judge, so covetous had the Lord’s people become."
Assembly elders must not wrest judgment. It is not unknown in assembly life for one standard to be applied to family and friends, and quite another standard in the case of other believers. There must be no favouritism in the assembly, and no partiality when applying Divine truth. Whilst money may not ‘change hands’ amongst believers, it is sadly possible to influence others by flattery and praise. In this way, "a gift doth blind the eyes of the wise, and pervert the words of the righteous."
Their Inhumanity. They "pant after the dust of the earth on the head of the poor, and turn aside the way of the meek" v.7. M.F.Unger suggests that the preferable meaning seems to be "that unscrupulous creditors begrudged the poor oppressed debtor, even to the very dust that he sprinkled on his head as a mourner, thus vividly underscoring their covetousness for real estate." The meek were an easy prey for people bent on promoting their own interests. See Jms.5.6. The Lord required His people to "do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God" Mic.6.8, but these requirements were conspicuously lacking in Israel. This has a clear voice for us today. Read 1Jn.3.16,17. See also Jms.2.15-16. We are to "support the weak" (Acts 20.35; 1Thess.5.14).
Their Immorality. "A man and his father will go in unto the same maid, to profane My holy name" v.7. The "maid" was undoubtedly a temple prostitute. See Hos.4.14. The believers at Corinth were warned against such liaisons. See 1Cor.6.13-20. Immorality is a sin against the holiness of God, and we must never forget the injunction, "For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication" 1Thess.4.3.
Their Indulgence. "They lay themselves down upon clothes laid to pledge by every altar, and they drink the wine of the condemned in the house of their god" v.8. They kept the outer garment taken in pledge as a surety against a loan, even though, it was to be returned before nightfall, since it was the poor man’s only covering. See Ex.22.25-27; Deut.24.10-13. But these heartless people used the clothes of their victims as a groundsheet on which they lay drinking wine confiscated from those they had unjustly condemned. The "wine of the condemned" was evidently either wine taken as fines (according to the N.I.V.), or "wine purchased with money taken from those who had been unjustly fined as the result of crooked legal proceedings" (M.F.Unger).
Their Idolatry. They laid "themselves down … by every altar" and drank "in the house of their god" v.8. 2Kgs.17.9-12 now becomes compulsory reading. It is for good reason that John wrote, "Little children, keep yourselves from idols" 1Jn.5.21.
These things should remind us that we are not beyond making shipwreck of our spiritual lives. But this is not all. The verses that follow blacken the picture even further by referring to Israel’s ingratitude. So:
Israel’s Privileges, vv.9-12
Their behaviour described above was even more culpable in view of the way in which the Lord had blessed them. Their privileges may be summarised as follows:
They had Witnessed God’s Power, v.9. "Yet destroyed I the Amorite [see Gen.14.1] before them, whose height was like the height of the cedars, and he was as strong as the oaks; yet I destroyed his fruit from above, and his roots from beneath." The Amorites were descended from Canaan, the son of Ham, Gen.10.15-20. This appears to be a general designation for the inhabitants of the land, both east and west of Jordan. Rahab knew all about the defeat of the Amorites to the east of Jordan, Josh.2.10. See also Josh.24.8. It is said of Og, "so they smote him, and his sons, and all his people, until there were none left him alive" Num.21.35. Through Israel, the Lord certainly "destroyed his fruit from above, and his roots from beneath". Compare Mal.4.1 where there is no possibility of regrowth (no "root"), and no trace of past growth (no "branch"). The spies described the inhabitants of the land to the west of Jordan as "men of a great stature" Num.13.32. In the words of Amos, they were "like the height of the cedars", but the Lord was higher! They were "as strong as the oaks", but the Lord was stronger!
But in spite of all this, the behaviour of God’s people was deplorable. As the Lord’s people we must "adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things" Titus 2.1, and Paul continues by reminding us that "the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world" Titus 2.11,12.
They had Enjoyed God’s Leadership, v.10. "Also I brought you up from the land of Egypt, and led you forty years through the wilderness, to possess the land of the Amorites." This is a most comprehensive statement, covering events at the beginning of the journey from Egypt to Canaan, events during the journey, and events at the end of the journey. It should be said that we have every reason to identify ourselves with each stage of Israel’s journey from Israel to Canaan. Firstly, "Christ our passover is sacrificed for us" 1Cor.5.7, and we have been "redeemed… with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot" 1Pet.1.19. Secondly, "He hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee" Heb.13.5. Thirdly, we enjoy a marvellous inheritance already, for we have been "blessed … with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ" Eph.1.3, and look forward to possessing the "inheritance" described by Peter: "incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you" 1Pet.1.4. Alas, with all their rich blessings, Israel became a disobedient people, Judg.2.1,2, and nothing had changed in the intervening years. But are we "obedient children?" 1Pet.1.14.
They had Heard God’s Voice, v.11. "And I raised up of your sons for prophets, and of your young men for Nazarites. Is it not even thus, O ye children of Israel? saith the Lord. But ye gave the Nazarites wine to drink; and commanded the prophets, saying, Prophesy not." In short, they despised the voice of God, which they had clearly heard ("Is it not even thus, O ye children of Israel? Saith the Lord", v.11); whether it reached them through the voice of the prophet, or through the life and devotion of the Nazarite, of whom it is said, "All the days of his separation he is holy unto the Lord" Num.6.8. While purity is beautiful, Lam.4.7, sin is ugly. But neither the prophets nor the Nazarites were acceptable in Israel’s society:
The prophets were silenced. Amos himself was told by Amaziah, the priest of Bethel, to "flee … away into the land of Judah, and there eat bread, and prophesy there: but prophesy not again any more at Bethel" 7.12,13. The Word of God was unpopular in Israel then (compare Hos.9.7), but, alas, the message of the Bible has become politically incorrect in our society generally, and even more tragically, it has become politically incorrect in so-called Christian circles. But perhaps the Lord has to say to us, "Despise not prophesyings" 1Thess.5.20. Do we accept "all the counsel of God?" Acts 20.27.
The Nazarites were encouraged to break their vows. See Num.6.3,4. We can almost hear a voice saying, "Surely one little drink will do no harm" or "Oh, come on now, it’s Christmas". Even Christians need to guard against stumbling a fellow-believer: "judge this … that no man put a stumblingblock or an occasion to fall in his brother’s way" Rom.14.13.
Our privileges are no less than Israel’s privileges. We have been delivered from the thraldom of sin; we have enjoyed His gracious ways with us in the wilderness of this world, in spite of our many failures; we have enjoyed the help of His servants whom the Lord has given "for the perfecting of the saints" Eph.4.12.
Israel’s Punishment, vv.13-16
Having confronted Israel with her sins, in the face of all His goodness towards them, the Lord expresses His displeasure: "Behold, I will press upon you, as a cart presseth that is full of sheaves" (J.N.D.). Both translations emphasise the certainty of judgment, and this is described, vv.14-16. The Lord Who had blessed them in the past, vv.9-11, would now burden them with judgment. All human effort and resource would be powerless against it: there would be no escape. "Neither native ability, v.14, nor acquired skill, v.15, nor outstanding qualities, v.16, will avail anything" (J.A.Motyer). They would reap what they had sown. Although not mentioned by name, the Assyrian would come and prove too strong for Israel. He would be an adversary against whom nothing would prevail.
Another piece, and another kind of armour, is now introduced — the shield of faith. It is for defensive warfare. It defends the soul from the assaults of the enemy. The first three parts, as we have seen, relate to the spiritual condition of the Christian's own soul, and to his walk. But a piece of defensive armour is needed to cover these. Each of them is so constantly the aim of Satan's attacks. Hence the need of the shield, that his venomous efforts may be ineffectual. "Above all," or, over all; or, added to all the rest, "taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked."
We have here two things for our meditation.
The exhortation; "above all, taking the shield of faith."
The argument pressing it; "wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked."
What than are we to understand by the shield of faith? Faith in God as unchangeable in His grace and love — a confidence in Him, answering to what He is to us in Christ Jesus. It is the full assurance of the heart in the love of God, according to the revelation which He has given of Himself, God for us, should be emblazoned on the Christian shield. This is more than the faith, observe, that simply receives God's testimony concerning Christ for salvation; though founded on that, of course. It is a deep and blessed work of God's Spirit in the soul, whereby the blessed consciousness that He is for us, and that His favour is unchangeable, is maintained in the heart. This is the invulnerable shield of faith: it covers the whole man, it is over all. While this shield is raised, no arrow of Satan can possibly reach us. They all fall pointless to the ground. What a mercy, O my soul! What a provision of grace, to be shielded from the poisoned shafts of the foe! How dreadful to be stung in the heart, in the conscience, in the ways by the fiend of hell! Blessed Lord! Impress our souls with the importance of these words, "Above all." "Above all, taking the shield of faith." Does the apostle elevate this grace "above all" the other graces, as well as "over all" the others? Enough, however, to mark its unspeakable importance. Still meditate, O my soul, on the character and uses of thy shield, and take a still wider view of what the Spirit has taught us.
How blessed to find that God is often called in Scripture, the shield of His people. "Fear not," said God to Abram, "I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward," Gen.15.1. "For Thou, Lord," says the Psalmist, "wilt bless the righteous; with favour wilt Thou compass him as with a shield," Ps.5.12. The living God is His people's shield. What rest, what security this gives! Behind His ample shield we have nothing to fear.
2. We now turn, for a moment, to the second thing: "Wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked." The enemy's first and dreadful aim will be to weaken in our hearts this unquestioning confidence in God, to edge in by some means unbelieving thoughts, to insinuate that God is not all love, all goodness. These are his fiery darts, darts of unbelief. Especially when there has been failure; when the heart, by some means, has been turned away from God, will he drive the soul to despair if he can. He will press upon the fallen one the terrible thought that God is against him, that God has abandoned him, that there is no hope. Hence the Lord's prayer for Peter that his faith might not fail him, that he might not be tempted, in consequence of his great sin, to unbelieving thoughts of God. There is no suffering so great as the agony of despair. Those who have witnessed it in others will never forget it. What must it be to pass through it! It partakes of the torments of hell — the forsaken place — the place where hope never enters. Nothing but the shield of faith can quench the fiery darts of unbelief.
The efforts of Satan to seduce, to act upon the desires of the flesh and of the mind, are entirely different to his fiery darts. There is pleasure of a certain kind in gratifying these desires. But there is no pleasure of any kind in yielding to unbelieving thoughts of God. Despair, more or less, is the result. At the same time, his seductions, if yielded to, expose the soul to his further and hotter attacks. If we have opened the door to him in gratifying an evil desire, one may have to sufer terribly from his fiery attacks before we are restored to the confidence and peace of God. But pray, tell me how these dreadful darts may be detected and avoided? They are truly awful to think of. Yes, indeed, my soul, they are truly awful. They are called fiery darts, because they are like a consuming fire in the soul; at least if they bring the soul to the point of despair. His great object is to darken the light of God in the soul and hide from it His love and favour. But few cases reach this point, thank God, where accomplished redemption is known. But here, prevention is better than cure; let us see how these inroads of the enemy may be prevented.
The most effectual way is being at home and happy in the presence of God. The personal knowledge of pardon and acceptance in the Beloved — of being complete in Christ, silences doubts, dispels fears, and quenches the fiery darts of the wicked. But the grand sheet-anchor of the soul is the knowledge of God's unchangeable love as He has made Himself known to us in Christ. We may, alas, for a time, become indifferent, careless, lukewarm — turn aside, fall away; but the door is always left open for our return, and no change can take place either in God's heart, or in His counsels towards us. The heart, in the calm assurance of His love, can say, I change, you change, all change; but He changes not. Circumstances change, friends change, everything around may seem changing; but there is no change in Him. Oh! what a hold this gives the soul of the living God! What peace, what joy, what repose, what happiness, and what irresistible power against the enemy! His arrows cannot reach us here. We are behind the shield of faith. Under the painful sense of failure, the heart is broken by the assurance that His love is the same, and cannot change towards us, though chastening may be necessary. But in place of doubts or dark despair under His chastening hand, there will be the bowings and the meltings of worship.
Ch.1 - Be Sound: Ch.2 - Be Separate: Ch.3 - Be Subject.
Coming specifically to chapter 2 we note the people who are in view: aged men, v.2: aged women, v.3; young women, vv.4,5; young men, v.6; servants, vv.9,10; all saints, vv.11-15. It is a very embracive chapter. We are exhorted with regard to "good works" vv.8,14 and the reasons are: vv.1-8, Because of the Love of God; and vv.9-15, Because of the Truth of God.
The chapter begins and ends with a charge to Titus to speak: v.1, "speak thou the things which become sound doctrine": v.15 "These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority". In between there are further encouragements to verbal teaching as seen in "exhort" v.6; "doctrine" or "teaching", J.N.D., v.7; "sound speech" v.8; "exhort" v.9. We could divide the chapter as Instruction, vv.1-9: Exposition, vv.10-14: Exhortation, v15.
The chapter has to do with BEHAVIOUR:
v.1 - Standard of Behaviour: "sound doctrine";
vv.2-6 - Saints and Behaviour: v.2, aged men; v.3 aged women; vv.4,5 young women; v.6 young men;
vv.7-8 - Servant And Behaviour: "shewing thyself a pattern of good works";
vv.9-10 - Servants And Behaviour: v.9 "exhort servants";
vv.11-14 - Salvation And Behaviour: v.12 "teaching us that denying ...";
v.15 - Speaking And Behaviour: "let no man despise thee".
V.1- STANDARD OF BEHAVIOUR
V.1, "But speak thou the things which become sound doctrine:"
"But" is a conjunction that draws a contrast between what Titus should teach and what those at the end of chapter 1 taught. Of them it was written that "they profess to know God but in works they deny Him" and so were incapable of representing "sound doctrine". The verb "speak" is in the present tense and in the imperative mood, meaning that Paul commanded Titus to keep on constantly speaking the things that befit sound doctrine. It does not necessarily mean teaching in a formal manner as in meetings. Sometimes a kindly, personal, face-to-face yet faithful word will reach the conscience with a force that may be missing in an impersonal word to a large company.
The word "thou" is emphatic indicating that Titus was to do this himself and not to expect others to do it while he stayed hidden in the background. There are those who are good at manufacturing ammunition for others to fire. We should be prepared to be associated with the truth we believe.
Paul commands Titus to ensure that his instruction would "become sound doctrine". The word "become" means that the teaching ought to be fitting or comely. Paul has used this word in the pastoral epistles in 1Tim.2.10, "But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works". See also Matt.3.15; 1Cor.11.13; Eph 5.3; Heb.2.10; 7.26. "Sound doctrine" means healthy teaching and it is this that produces healthy Christians. The teaching of Hymenaeus and Philetus produced nothing healthy, it was gangrenous, 2Tim.2.7.
Some Christians desire light and almost superficial ministry rather than healthy Biblical doctrine. Without a proper grasp of doctrine we really cannot have a proper life for God. It is our conviction that governs our conduct; our deportment is controlled by our doctrine. As with our normal diet, we cannot live on little sweetmeats. Also, to prepare a meal, time is required and it ought to be attractively served. It is dishonouring to the Lord and insulting to the saints for one to think that anything will do for the instruction of the saints. Our preparation must be thorough and it ought not to be presented in a haphazard way.
Vv.2-6 - SAINTS AND BEHAVIOUR
All the saints regardless of age or gender need this teaching. There are no exemptions and no divisions into special groups, in terms of age or gender. All the Word of God is for all the people of God.
V.2, "That the aged men be sober, grave, temperate, sound in faith, in charity, in patience."
To teach those who were older was a big task for Titus, yet it is demanded by Paul and must be necessary. The "aged men" (presbutes) is the masculine of "aged women" v.3. It is the word used in Lk.1.18, " Zacharias said ... for I am an old man…"; Philemon v.9 "such an one as Paul the aged …" These aged men are to be characterised by 6 qualities:
"be sober" (nephaleos) only used elsewhere in 1Tim.3.2 "vigilant" and in v.11 "sober". It means to be free from all that dulls or excites the senses. We may think that such is found only in the inexperience of youth, but not an old man. However, age does not give immunity. Whether it is alcohol or the excitement of watching sport, worldly films, reading unbecoming books or magazines all is outside their remit.
The second characteristic is to be "grave" (semnos), which means venerable, honourable. As above, this word is used in 1Tim.3.2,11 as well as Phil.4.8, where it is translated "honest". These aged men should have a dignified deportment, in both their walk and talk and this would give weight to public witness. They should not be marked by the lightness and thoughtlessness of youth. It does not mean that they cannot smile, but they avoid frivolous behaviour.
Thirdly, they are to be "temperate", meaning they are to be self controlled and act with discretion. In this epistle the word is translated as "sober", 1.8; "discreet", 3.5. It is found as an adverb in 2.12, "soberly" and as a verb in 2.4, "sober".
They are not to be carried away with the world or flesh. It is sad to see some who lose their discretion and self-control when they get older.
Next they are to be "sound". This word has already been considered, meaning ‘be whole’, or ‘be in health’. This sound health is to be seen in a following trio of Christian graces, faith, charity (love) and patience. These are Godward, Manward and Selfward respectively. They are expounded in Hebrews chapter 11, 1Corinthians chapter 13 and James chapter 5, respectively.
Each of the three expressions "in faith, in charity, in patience" has the definite article. William Kelly translates the first as "healthful in their faith". It is the faith of the individual who is looking to the Lord with a singleness of eye. This person is not trusting in any man or any ritual but depending and leaning on Him only. Kelly renders the second as "in their love". That is not becoming hard and critical, but soft and tender to the saints and all that is right according to God’s standard. Kelly gives the third as "in their patience", implying steadfastness and endurance which will not be swerved away from a purpose by even the greatest trials and sufferings.
V.3, "The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things;"
Paul in like manner gives exhortation for the aged women. Their behaviour or demeanour, deportment is that which "becometh holiness" meaning it is befitting or reverent. Thus the R.V. gives "be reverent in demeanour". She is to display a holy character that suits sacred things and so displays the features of a Christian lady.
Due to the tendency among some older women to seek gossip and tittle-tattle, he enjoins that they are not to be "false accusers". The word is diabolos that means slanderers. Aged women who are ladies, will not be spreading stories nor making accusations, even by innuendo. Keeping in mind the intemperate background of the Cretians and the fact that slandering and drinking can go together, Paul tells them to ensure that they are "not given [doulos, enslaved] to much wine". Rather than use their tongues in the work of the devil they should be "teachers of good things"; obviously not in public meetings but privately passing on a timely word relating to "good (beautiful and honourable) things". This demands diplomacy and discretion and should be the character of the Christian lady. Aged women are not usually burdened by household chores and have the opportunity to use their time wisely and for the good of the testimony.
Vv.4,5, "That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the Word of God be not blasphemed."
The order is important. Her character is described in v.2 before there is any exhortation to instruct the younger women. This teaching (J.N.D. ‘admonish’; A.S.V. ‘train’) is not public teaching, but private instruction and training by example. The young women are "to be sober" meaning ‘self-controlled’. That this needs to be taught demonstrates it is not natural and implies that it is all too easy to be carried away with the excesses of youth. The fact that the Spirit of God instructs these young women "to love (phileo) their husbands, to love (phileo) their children" highlights the perverse and unnatural character of the Cretians. It also shows that a stable and loving family life is central to a Christian home.
It is significant that the older women; and not Titus was to instruct the younger women. It seems that Titus was not to have direct contact with these younger women. He was not to be involved in any compromising situation that could lead to unfounded and scurrilous allegations. This is seen in the writings of the old apostle John. In his first epistle he addressed the saints as "beloved" five times and in his third epistle four times. However, he never uses it in the second epistle addressed to the "elect lady". The lesson to show discretion and guard our testimony is pertinent in our day.
They are "to be discreet" which means ‘self controlled’. Also they are to be "chaste" or pure, free from carnality, modest. How up to date for our present society and the instruction involves thought, act, deportment and dress. The expression "keepers at home" can mean ‘being on guard’. In the original language there is very little difference between the two words for "keepers" and "workers". Thus the R.V. and W. Kelly give "workers at home" while J.N.D. reads, "diligent in home work". The home is their sphere of labour and there they ought to be diligent workers, keeping the home clean and tidy, laundry done and meals prepared. Being a good house manager would counteract the tendency for gossiping and idleness. This makes a "good" wife. She will be kind and agreeable. To her the housework is not a drudgery that bores her and sours her spirit and leads her to nag when her husband and children come home. There will be a loving Christian atmosphere spread around the home.
Obedience to their own husbands is required. Obedience is a military term meaning ‘to arrange as commanded by the leader’. In the epistle the word is also employed in 2.9 and 3.1. It does not imply a hard dictatorial rule, which makes unreasonable demands, but she will be subject to him, consult him, and conform to his judgment on matters, thus recognising the authority of headship. She does this to her own husband. She will not reproach her husband by referring to what other men do, what other homes have, but she will be content with her own husband. The reason for this submission has a higher motive than rightly giving her husband his Scriptural place; it is that "the Word of God be not blasphemed". The word "blasphemed" means ‘to be reproachful’, ‘to rail’ or ‘revile’ and is translated as "speak evil" in 3.2. It shows that our behaviour in home life can affect the testimony because the world expects a high standard from a Christian marriage.
More is said to the young women than to any other group, which may indicate that they are the most vulnerable and their behaviour can have a serious affect on the testimony of the assembly. Sometimes more emphasis is placed on the young men, but how vitally important is the role of the sisters who are often the spiritual backbone of the assembly.
V.6, "Young men likewise exhort to be sober minded."
Titus is also commanded to instruct the young men. The thought in the word "exhort" (parakaleo) is ‘to call to one's side’. He is to be accessible to young men, not standing aloof and being unapproachable; not being afraid of their questions, but giving all the help he could for their spiritual good and development. The young men are "to be sober minded". This sobriety will produce self-control in every aspect of life - emotionally, socially and professionally. He will not be carried away with flattery or promises of power and promotion, but maintain a balanced outlook. The word is used of the demoniac in Mk.5.15, "him that ... and had the legion, sitting, and clothed, and in his right mind". This sobriety of mind was reflected in his company, "at the feet of Jesus" and his clothing, "clothed". Spiritual young men in the present day will also be seen in spiritual company and no longer dressed as the world.
All three offerings in 1.1-3,17 - the burnt, meal and peace offerings - created "a soothing aroma to the Lord." The burnt offering is translated in the Septuagint version by the Greek word for "holocaust," because it was totally consumed on the altar; all of its aroma was for God. No part of the offering was retained for human consumption; in its completeness it ascended to the Divine nostrils. Ashes were all that remained at the end. In Deut.33.10 and Ps.51.19, we find two apparently-similar expressions "burnt offering" and "whole burnt offering." The first expression is the usual word for the burnt offering in Leviticus chapter 1 and elsewhere, the second (Strong 3632) probably describes the sacrifice completely consumed, leaving only the ashes. The burnt offering was wholly for God’s pleasure. To the more thoughtful in Israel, its particular importance would be related to the burnt offering being peculiarly God’s portion, so the brazen altar was to them the altar of burnt offering, and, not surprisingly, the burnt offering heads the list of the five principal offerings.
The Christian reading Leviticus chapter 1 recalls the Man Whose life was lived wholly for God, though His grace flowed freely to mankind in all its need. The death He died has brought eternal blessing to countless millions, but He held nothing back; all that marked that death was "a savour of rest" to His God, Gen.8.31.
More than any nation, Israel knew the weight of obedience set out in the 613 laws, which they had promised to keep. Even in Egypt, they had known that the Passover instructions were not optional, if they were to escape the judgment that was to fall on Egyptian homes from the palace to the humble home of the maid behind the mill, Ex.11.5. They were also to learn that the Day of Atonement was an everlasting statute for their nation, when the nation’s sins would be atoned for, Lev.16.34. But, as they heard the language relating to the three sweet savour offerings, Jehovah was speaking to individuals about the opportunity to make a voluntary offering: "If any man of you bring an offering …" 1.2; "If any will offer …" 2.1.
Both verses introduce instruction dealing with types of offerings. Other voluntary offerings are highlighted at Lev.22.18,21,23; Num.15.3 et al. Israel was learning that God values the giving of a willing heart.
No matter which of the offerings was brought, the purpose before the offerer would be acceptance and atonement. No remembrance of sins committed is mentioned, but underlying the offerer’s approach is the nature of sin, so death and blood-shed are involved. It may be difficult to estimate how deeply the worshipper of Moses’ day grasped the lessons of the burnt offering, but in New Testament days, every child of God should understand that the work of the One Who in life and death was wholly devoted to God, has given him acceptance before God, and satisfied Divine claims. In both Testaments, God found, and is finding, pleasure in those He esteems as "saints … the excellent", in whom He finds delight, Ps.16.3.
When Noah offered burnt offerings, the animals taken were of every clean beast and of every clean fowl, Gen.8.20. The Genesis record does not record how Noah differentiated between clean and unclean, a distinction he had to make before the Flood, for the clean animals were to be taken in sevens, not two by two, Gen.7.11. The instructions now given require animals to be selected from herds and flocks, so the choice is restricted to bullocks, oxen, sheep and goats. It was not enough that the animal was approved by Israel’s dietary laws: they could eat the deer, the wild goat and the wild oxen, but they were not to be placed on the altar, Deut.14.4,5. The sheep became the most common burnt offering, which may be the reason that one of Jerusalem’s gates was named the Sheep Gate. The birds must be turtledoves or young pigeons. Again, it is assumed that the worshipper would be able to identify those "without blemish" 1.3,10; 3.2,6; 4.3,23,28,32; 5.15,18; 6.6. The word indicates that he dare not bring an animal with a damaged eye or leg; the blind and the lame were not fit for the altar; see Mal.1.8,13. This requirement is restated explicitly: "…it shall be perfect to be accepted; there shall be no blemish therein" Lev.22.21. In New Testament days, the youngest child of God can say of his Saviour:
There was none other good enough
To bear away our sins.
(Cecil F. Alexander)
Although the offerer should have a level of understanding in respect of animals fit for the altar, detailed instruction is provided in vv.4,5 about the basic acts to be performed. In 1.4-9, ten acts are delineated, seven of them sacrificial acts; again in 3.1-17 a similar degree of prescription is required. There is clarity about the respective roles of offerer and priest: for example, the offerer brings the animal, kills it, skins it and divides the offering; the priest deals with the blood and the altar. There is also clarity in respect of the choreography: for example, the worshipper and his offering would proceed to "the door of the tabernacle of the congregation" and kill the animal on the north side of the brazen altar, although where the animal was divided and its legs washed is not stated. The details in respect of a bird being offered are equally specific. Clearly, that generation to whom Moses delivered these commandments had recently seen offerings made when Aaron and his sons were ordained priests, Exodus chapter 29. Nonetheless, the record of Leviticus chapters 1-7 would be required by subsequent generations, so, after Christ’s exaltation, the Holy Spirit took up holy men to set out the doctrine of Christ’s death from which saints of every generation since then have learned its efficacy.
Male animals, whether from the herd or the flock were to be offered as burnt offerings. It has been suggested that the male animals were more expensive, when one notes that a ruler was to bring a male sacrifice, a commoner a female, when he had sinned, 4.22-31. God was demanding the best, but the strength factor may be the differentiating factor. In the burnt offering, the principal offering of the five, the ability to take up this great work is evidently important. The perfect male animal could come from the herd or the flock – a bullock, an ox, a ram or a he goat. Whereas the pedigree and condition of a wild animal would not be known, these key factors would be known by those who tended them. The perfections of Christ are well documented to assure every seeking soul of His fitness to offer Himself without spot to God, Heb 9.14.
The Israelite would also note the three categories of offerings were those Abram was instructed to offer, when Jehovah entered into covenant with Him, Gen.15.9. From the herd, the largest of the clean beasts would have been the bullock that the rich might bring. From the flock, the young ram would be taken by many in Israel. The poor might bring the readily available fowl. There was legislative provision for the individual willing heart to respond to God, but together the three categories of offerings present to us a fuller picture of Christ’s "one sacrifice" than any one offering could, Heb.10.12,14. We glory in Scriptures that present Christ in all His glories.
The Newberry margin notes that the young bullock is literally "the son of the herd" at v.5, an animal of distinction, yet it is delivered up for the blessing of its owner. On the head of that strong, young animal, the offerer would lean hard, 1.4. The saint remembers how God’s "own Son [was] delivered … up for us all", Rom.8.32. When the young ram is considered, the place where it stood to be slain is considered, its place of sacrifice rather than its pre-eminence. It was exposed to more severe judgment that Jeremiah associated with the north, Jer.1.14. Both the bullock and the ram were treated similarly by both the offerer and the priest. The offerer had the responsibility of slaying the animal, reinforcing again how his life had been forfeited on account of sin and for his acceptance another died. He had to skin the animal that told so forcibly of its health and wholesomeness, before dividing the animal into pieces.
The priests were charged with laying the pieces in order on the altar. Stressed are the head and the fat, vv.8,12; the legs and the inwards, vv.9,13. All mattered to God as pointers to the intelligence, the excellence and energy of Christ on the one hand; and, on the other hand, to what was outward and visible together with what was inward and known only to God. Faint pointers to the infinite virtues of Christ!
The offering of fowls would most likely be the poor man’s offering, yet it alone is prepared for the altar solely by a priest. Both offerer and priests had a role in the sacrifice of the bullock and the ram, but only the priest would deal with the bird. The animals remind us of One Who was among men and stood out from them as distinctive and able to take up the great work of atonement, the pigeon and the dove of One from above Who was amongst men to the glory of God. How few are able to grasp His uniqueness and speak to God about Him.
Great care was needed in preparing the animals for the altar. The animal had to be skinned and then washed to remove any contamination that may have adhered to it. The bird required the crop of undigested food to be removed and its feathers. In respect of Christ, impeccable humanity marked Him and the life He lived was by every word that proceeded out of the mouth of God. All that marked Him was acceptable to His God.
Our God still delights in the one who wills to offer what has cost him much to give in appreciation of Christ and all that He has accomplished.
This is an expression very frequently heard at the present time; but often used, alas! with a painful lack of divine intelligence. Some will tell us that they have recently experienced it as a kind of second blessing; others are crying to God constantly, both individually and collectively, for it, both for themselves and for the church at large. But what saith the scripture? The baptism in the Spirit is first mentioned by John the Baptist in Matt.3.11,12. "I indeed baptise you with water unto repentance: but He that cometh after me is mightier than I, Whose shoes I am not worthy to bear, He shall baptise you with (in) the Holy Ghost and with fire: Whose fan is in His hand and He will thoroughly purge His floor and gather His wheat into the garner; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire." John's work was of a highly important character. He was Jehovah's messenger, sent before His face (for it was no less a person than Jehovah Who was coming into the world) to prepare His ways. He declaimed sternly against the moral state of Israel and called for repentance and submission. Israel was not in a fit condition to receive the One that was coming. Though their national hopes were centred in Him, they were not ready for Him, and in spite of the Baptist's testimony, they discerned Him not, but refused Him and cast Him out to their own ruin. Therefore God is doing a work of another character in the world. The kingdom stands over, awaiting Israel's repentance and acknowledgement of Messiah; and God is gathering out those who are to be the heavenly joint-heirs with Jesus, baptising them by one Spirit into one body, as the apostle speaks.
In John's Gospel the Baptist speaks of the twofold work of the Lord Jesus; He is the Lamb of God, the Taker-Away of the sin of the world, and the Baptiser in the Holy Ghost. As to the first, he said, "Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world", Jn.1.29. It is not that He was doing it when John spoke: the word is characteristic - He is the Taker-Away. The work in virtue of which sin shall be entirely removed was accomplished at Calvary; but sin still remains in the world, consequently the verse in its full application looks onward to the new heavens and the new earth, wherein righteousness will dwell. But the second work of the Lord Jesus is especially before us just now. "John bare record, saying, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove and it abode upon Him. And I knew Him not: but He that sent me to baptise with (in) water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending and remaining on Him, the same is He which baptiseth with (in) the Holy Ghost", Jn.1.32,33. The Lord Jesus was Himself sealed with the Spirit as man below; risen and in glory He is the Baptiser in the Holy Ghost.
That this was not accomplished until He was glorified is plain from Acts 1.5, Acts 11.16. In the risen state, alluding to John's words, He said, "Ye shall be baptised with (in) the Holy Ghost not many days hence", Acts 1.5. John added, "and with (in) fire," but this the Lord omits, as having no fulfilment yet. Fire is an emblem of Divine judgment, as the forerunner himself explained; and Christ is the divinely appointed administrator of it. Israel is "His floor" and at His return He will purge it, dealing with the apostate mass of the nation - the chaff to be burnt with unquenchable fire, and blessing the remnant - the wheat for the garner. It is a serious mistake that the baptism of fire is in any way going on now. It is judgment pure and ample, but this is the day of grace. It has often been observed that when the Lord read in the synagogue, Isa.61, He broke off in the middle of the second verse "the acceptable year of the Lord," leaving the words "and the day of vengeance of our God," for a day yet to come, Lk.4.18-19. Some may have found difficulty in the fact that the Spirit's descent was accompanied by tongues of fire. There is a great contrast between the form of a dove as in the case of the Lord Jesus, and tongues of fire resting upon the disciples. The form was suited to the character of the recipients and to the character of the testimony they were to bear. The Lord's testimony was marked by grace. He came not to condemn the world, did not cry out and shout, nor break the bruised reed or quench the smoking flax. Of such unassuming patient grace the dove was the suited emblem. The work of the disciples was of a very solemn, though blessed character. They charged sin home upon men, the Word of God by their means, judging everything before it, while conveying eternal blessing to every soul who believed the gospel. They were to be witnesses - hence "tongues"; the testimony was to branch out to the Gentiles - therefore "cloven"; they were of "fire" for the reason stated. But this was in no way the baptism of fire as careful investigation of the passages will show.
The baptism in the Spirit was accomplished on the day of Pentecost. According to the promise of the Lord Jesus He came from the Father to abide in and with the saints for ever. He came to form a new thing in the earth - the church, the body of Christ. There was no such thing until the Lord took His seat on high and the Spirit descended. An earthly people were called and blessed temporally, but union with Christ in glory was quite unknown. By the Spirit's descent the waiting disciples became what they were not before. Previously they were believers with Jewish hopes, after His coming, they were members of Christ's body, made one with Him, the glorified Head, by the baptism in the Holy Ghost. I do not say that they understood it all at first; indeed it is plain they did not. The truth of the one body - the mystery - was not declared until Paul was raised up; but the body existed from the day of Pentecost. It was for Paul to write, "For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body? being many, are one body: so also is Christ. For by one Spirit are we all baptised into one body, whether Jews or Gentiles, whether bond or free; and have all been made to drink one Spirit", 1Cor.12.12,13. What a place for the Christian! Accepted in His acceptance, loved with the love wherewith the Father loves Him, blessed with His blessings. The saints were baptised in the Holy Ghost from the first and thus became the church, the body of Christ; and this is never repeated. Every fresh believer is brought to share in the blessing by the reception of the Spirit consequent on faith in the gospel. Baptism in water introduces into the outward place of profession (true or false); the baptism in the Spirit brings the believer into the unity of Christ's body, with all its privileges and blessings. How deplorably has all this been overlooked. The church has forgotten her true relationship with Christ and has lapsed into the world. True, the Lord in His mercy has drawn attention in these last days to precious truths long buried and ignored; but how many, even now, are in the dark as to it all, and cry to Him for what He has already given - the Spirit from above!
That the church needs afresh to avail herself of the Spirit's presence and power we fully believe; but that the church needs a fresh baptism in the Spirit, as many say, is darkness and error as to one of the most vital truths of the present dispensation.
No part of our Christianity is more misunderstood and least desired than that which entails suffering. Paul had it intimated to him at conversion, "For I will shew him what great things he must suffer for My name's sake" Acts 9.16. So Paul passes the same on to the Philippians in 1.29, "For unto you: it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only: to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake." So the path of the Christian is dual in its prospect: suffering presently, glory in the future. It is illustrated by the path Jonathan went in 1Sam.14.4, "A rock on the one side, Bozez, which means shining; and on the other side: Seneh, meaning thornbush." Again, in the Song of Songs 4.16, the bride calls upon the north wind (adversity), and the south wind (pleasantness) to blow upon her garden. Both were necessary to produce the spices for her beloved. In 2Cor.9.23-33, Paul passes through the thornbush and adversity, but in 2Cor.12 he passes through singing and pleasantness. Paul is let down by man, 2Cor.11.33, only to be taken up by God, 2Cor.12.2.
The Psalmist uses four expressions regarding affliction in Ps.119. In v.67 we have correction, v.71 education, v.75 faithfulness, v.92 sustenance. In Heb.12.6, it is because He loves me. It is also a proof, that I am one of the family, and that I might become more like Him morally. The cause of affliction may be for faithfulness, as in Job, or unfaithfulness, as in Naomi. Its channel may be Satan, 2Cor.12.7; the world, Jn.15.19; one’s own household, Matt.10.26. Its nature may be material, relative, or personal and Job experienced all three. Its object, Jn.11.4, is the glory of God and the Son; Jn.15.2 it is more fruit; Heb.12.10 it is that we might be partakers of His holiness; in 2Cor.12.9, that the power of Christ might rest upon me; 2Cor.1.4, so that we can comfort others.
Solomon, in Eccl.7.2, tells us "It is better to go to the house of mourning, than to go to the house of feasting." John, in his Gospel, introduces us to both. In chapter 2 we are in the house of feasting, but in chapter 11 we are in the house of mourning. Both are occasions for His glory, but in the one He turns water into wine, but in the other He turns death into life. In John chapter 10 we have His death; in chapter 11 His care and in chapter 12 His glory. In John chapter 10 the shepherd dies, in chapter 11 a sheep dies. It is wonderful that before I am called to go through the valley of the shadow of death, He who is my Shepherd in Ps.23, has passed through the reality of death in Ps.22. Jn.10. 40, the Lord Jesus goes beyond Jordan (death). In John chapter 11 they say, "Lord, if Thou hadst been here" vv.21,32.
Let us look at the bitterness of the house of mourning. In Jn.11.6 there is His patience, v.28 it is His presence, v.35 His pity and v.41 His power. Look at the patience of Mary in contrast to the restlessness of Martha. V.32 Mary falls at His feet, no new place for her in Luke chapter 11. She is there as a disciple to learn, in John 11 she is there as a mourner to be comforted. Martha could say, "It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn Thy statutes" Ps.119.71. Mary could say, "Unless thy law had been my delights, I should then have perished in mine affliction" Ps.119.92. She learned in John chapter 11 that "weeping may endure for a night" but in chapter 12 that "joy cometh in the morning".
(This article was submitted and is from a Believer's Magazine dated 1929)
In 2 Kings chapter 23 we find references to two kings. One is of Israel and the other of Judah. With reference to Jeroboam the first king of Israel (as part of the divided kingdom of Israel and Judah) he is referred to in v.15 as "He who made Israel to sin". This is the last of nineteen times he is described in such a manner. It is notable that Israel had a total of nineteen kings, each one took after him, so to speak. Each one leaving an evil record from the start; see the first reference in 1Kgs.14.16. What a sad and dreadful record! We should always remember that in our more mundane circumstances we have an influence on those with whom we come into contact. Is it for good, or evil? As professing Christians we should seek to be a good influence on others. With our knowledge of God’s Word and our experience of His provision, what a privilege to be able to witness to our God’s saving grace and keeping power.
What a contrast in v.25 wHere we are directed from Israel’s first king who "made Israel to sin" to the last good king of Judah, described as, "turning to the Lord with all his heart, soul and might". There was no king like him before, or any to rise up after him of like kind. Jeroboam’s influence was so great and long lasting that each of the nineteen successors in Israel were evil kings. Judah, by comparison, did have a few good kings, but many evil ones too. (Nineteen again, at least seven of whom were good.)
We turn our attention to King Josiah and the record of his acts given to us during his reign over Judah. Details are recorded from 21.24 - 23.28.
Among his reforms:
He encouraged the repair of the house of the Lord
He responded to the reading of the words of the Lord
He removed those things associated with evil practices (destroying them by burning them and carrying away the ashes)
Idolatrous priests were put down
Idols were ground to powder and scattered
Sodomites' houses were destroyed
Spiritists were dealt with
He kept the Passover.
This is only the fifth of the seven times it is recorded that the Passover was kept. This was a Passover that was outstanding above those kept from the days of the Judges until this king’s eighteenth year. He was only eight years old when he began to reign and by the age of sixteen he was seeking after God. By the time he was twenty years old he was active in purging evil from the nation.
What a contrast in the lives and influence of these two kings whose activities are brought into close proximity in this one chapter! Can we not appreciate that this reminds us of the importance of our influence today as the Lord’s people, left here to serve the same God in our generation? Is our influence for good or evil?
One cannot fail to have noticed the changes that are taking place globally with alarming rapidity and frequency. On an unprecedented scale in the history of our world, geographically, climatically, financially, socially and morally; changes of seismic proportion are taking place. The debt crisis in the Eurozone is becoming frightening, engulfing more and more countries, threatening the economy of the entire world; the instability in Africa and the Middle East and the popular uprisings that have already toppled leaders who seemed to be invincible and held power with an iron grip, are spreading at a worrying pace. The preoccupation of many countries with climate change and the alleged far-reaching consequences highlighted by scientists, have left millions with almost paralysing fear and a sense of despair and hopelessness. Wars; famines; violence; the dark spectre of terrorism; tsunamis; earthquakes; floods: we begin to wonder, "What next?"
Many fear that the world is careering out of control towards destruction and there is no one who appears to have the power to stop the downwards spiral. It seems that each passing day but adds its quota of gloom to the preceding day and hope is in short supply.
What has happened to all the predictions that we are improving and man is edging his way inexorably towards Utopia? Science has made us free; it will provide us with all the answers and we can confidently reject out of hand, the authority of the Almighty. Or can we? No matter how much men try to pretend that there is no God, doubts creep into the minds of many that perhaps we have gone in the wrong direction and we would need to reappraise our present position. Is there anywhere or anyone to whom we can turn for answers or must we bravely sail on in the dense mists of ignorance and rebellion towards an uncertain future?
The Holy Bible, the inspired Word of God, containing timeless truth from the Creator Himself, sheds light on the future of this world and the destiny of every human being on this revolving globe. It clearly reminds us that the next great, momentous event is the return of the Lord Jesus. He has been here before: it is an historically attested fact beyond all doubt that Jesus, the Nazarene, as they contemptuously referred to Him, lived in this very world for over thirty-three years and died outside Jerusalem at a place called Calvary. He had come for one specific reason: to provide salvation for all mankind; to provide a way of escape from the inevitable judgment our sins will incur if not forgiven.
This could be accomplished only by His death as He assumed responsibility for our sins and bore the penalty we deserved. "Who His own self bare our sins in His own body on the tree …" 1Peter 2.24. "Christ died for our sins …" 1Corinthians 15.3. God has been satisfied by the death of the Lord Jesus and it but remains for us to trust Him as our personal Saviour and depend alone upon His sacrifice to gain acceptance with God.
All the events taking place presently are a wake-up call from God Himself that the return of Christ is imminent and in a moment, millions will be caught away from this world These events are not merely coincidental happenings that can be easily explained. You must prepare for this great event with all urgency. Many are unaware of what’s next and dread what is going to happen because of ignorance and uncertainty but you have no such excuse. "Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh." Matthew 24.44