(Reprinted from Assembly Testimony, July/August, 1960)
Like many who read this magazine, I was highly privileged as a child, being brought up by those who knew what it was to be saved by the grace of God. My parents were saved, but when I was in my second year I lost my mother, who had suddenly fallen a victim to typhoid fever. This led to my being reared with my maternal grand-parents in Belfast, where from an early age I attended Sunday School and Gospel meetings, so that I cannot remember a time when I did not know I needed to be saved before I could enter Heaven. In those early years I was impressed by the reality of God's salvation. I noticed the joy that Christians had when they met together and conversed about the Person of Christ and His glories. They were regularly speaking of Him, and of the happiness that was theirs through knowing their sins forgiven by virtue of His atoning death for them. Notwithstanding these facts, I cared little about God's salvation in those tender years. I eagerly pursued the empty bubbles that can so engross any lad, and for the most part I enjoyed my play and fun with other boys. However, thank God, there were times when I was made to think seriously about my soul, and my need of being saved, if, at death, I was to escape Hell and be sure of Heaven.
When I reached my fifteenth year I became more concerned about having my sins forgiven. I would take long walks alone, sometimes after the Gospel meeting, thinking out this problem of how one could know definitely for one's self that one's sins were forgiven. I knew the Scriptures stated, "These things I have written unto you that believe on the Name of the Son of God : that YE MAY KNOW that ye have eternal life" (1 John 5.13). I knew there were people living in this world who had this knowledge for themselves, and their lives proved to me the reality of it. But how was I to KNOW?
Possibly one difficulty was not faced honestly at this point. I would have liked to know I was saved, but would I have wanted anyone else to know? However, it so happened that in January, 1914, dear Francis Logg, of Aberdeen, was having a series of Gospel meetings in Springburn, Glasgow. I was able to attend those meetings. My concern about my soul's salvation deepened. In the past, I had been moved at times as I thought of the certainty that death could claim me unexpectedly. "It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment" (Heb. 9.27). At other times I had been greatly concerned to think of the Lord's coming for His people, and of my being left for judgment. "For the Lord Himself shall descend from Heaven with a shout, ... then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up ... to meet the Lord in the air" (1 Thess. 4. 16,17). But during Mr. Logg's meetings what gave me greatest concern was the fact that "the Lord said, My Spirit shall not always strive with man" (Gen. 6.3). I was afraid that if 1 did not go in earnestly for God's salvation I would miss it. I felt convinced that I must be saved in those meetings, or possibly never again have the opportunity. This led to my desiring above everything else to know my sins forgiven, and to be in possession of eternal life.
Burdened with my sins, and miserable in my soul, on the night of 23rd January, 1914, with God's Word before me, and turning to many well-known Scriptures, my one longing was to know Christ as my Saviour. I cared not what the cost would be, nor what the future might hold, if ONLY I COULD KNOW my sins forgiven. Reading in Isaiah 53, verse 6, "All we like sheep have gone astray ; we have turned every one to his own way ; and the Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all," I saw and knew that I was a sinner by nature through Adam, and that I was guilty before God of personal sins. But I looked at the closing clause of this verse, "the Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all," and then read the words of verse 5 : "He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities ; the chastisement of our peace was upon Him ; and with His stripes we are healed." Thus I became occupied with what Christ had borne, when, on Calary's cross, He "suffered for sins." I saw for the first time that His death there satisfied God for the sinner. I saw for myself that the God against Whom I had sinned, so loved me, that there He gave His Son to answer for me, and resting alone on the precious fact that the death of Christ fully satisfied God on my account, I knew the question of my sins was settled.
Thus, I KNOW FOR MYSELF that I have eternal life ; my sins are forgiven; I am saved. This is only a schoolboy's conversion, but it is mine. After 46 years I can attest that God's salvation is a reality. Its possession brings joy to the soul. Christ is a precious Saviour. What a blessing, I KNOW HE IS MINE! How rich God's grace! May you not rest, unsaved reader, until you like the writer can truthfully sing :
"Oh, mercy surprising! He saved even me! 'Thy portion for ever,' He says, 'will I be,' On His word I am resting—assurance divine I am hoping no longer, I KNOW HE IS MINE."
A Tribute by James G. Hutchinson
When asked to contribute to this memorial issue of the magazine, it stirred many happy memories of my association with the Shanaghan assembly. It is over 50 years since I first went there, accompanying my Father in some of his frequent visits, later in life visiting the assembly to give some help in gospel and ministry. I have vivid recollections of many of the older members of that assembly, amongst them the subject of this paper. His good voice, strong personality and evident ability made an impression on all who visited the assembly.
He was born in Glasgow in 1898, an only child, his mother died when he was in his second year. He was brought up with his maternal grand parents, who were in fellowship in the Old Lodge Road assembly, Belfast. When he was 15 his grandmother died, then friends took him to live with them near to Bally ward in Co. Down. When he was 15 his Father thought it wise to take him to Glasgow, with a view to his being in regular contact with the gospel. His Father was then in fellowship in Springburn assembly, it was in that place under the preaching of Mr. F. Logg he was. saved and later baptised and received into the assembly. In that company he was taught and encouraged by godly overseers whose lives made lasting impressions on the young convert. It was there he first started to take some public part.
At the outbreak of the 1914-18 war he was called up into the army where he found life so different. He at; first found it difficult to kneel at his little bed and amidst the wicked conversation and taunts of companions, pray, but grace was given.
After training he was sent to Europe for active service, many of his companions were killed in action, on one occasion he was one of two, who out of 300, answered their names in a roll call. This experience he seldom talked about, it caused him deep grief. He was wounded and spent some time in hospital. When the war ended he was posted to Palestine, an experience he greatly appreciated and often spoke of walking on a Christmas Day from Jerusalem to Bethlehem.
In 1920 he returned to civilian life and came back to reside with his old friends at Ballyward. Mr. T. Strong, an esteemed elder from Belfast introduced him to the assembly at Shanaghan.
Little did anyone think that this unknown young man would spend 63 years in that assembly and take leadership and activity as he did.
He had much exercise about the gospel and its being made known in that country area and encouraged others to help in it, with the result that many were saved over the years and added to the assembly. Work amongst the young was dear to him and until September 1982 when health gave way, he taught in the Sunday School.
In 1934 he was united in marriage to Miss Lillie Annett, God blessed them with one daughter who is in happy fellowship in Dunmurry assembly and with her husband exercised about the work of the Lord. His home was ever open to the Lord's people and many servants of the Lord shared their hospitality and enjoyed the simplicity of their home life.
He was a man of prayer, his public prayers indicated he was no stranger to the courts of the Lord. He was a careful student of the scriptures and allowed them to regulate every phase of his life. Everything he did was carried out in a most careful and painstaking manner, minute details he carefully attended to. This was seen even as the end was approaching, he carefully wrote out the details of his funeral arrangements, even to the time of the service, so that it would be easy for the responsible brethren to get to their evening meetings without too much rush. All this was carried out as he wished, with Mr. A. McShane and Mr. J. Hawthorne giving suitable messages and Messrs. R. Beattie, A. Aiken, S. McBride, J. Glenville and J. G. Hutchinson taking part in prayer and hymns.
His saintly life and testimony give much cause for thanksgiving, his passing will no doubt promote much prayer that others, wise and godly, will be raised up in the assembly he has left and in the work of the magazine he was so devoted to.
Tribute by J. Kerr Duff
I welcome this opportunity of writing these few lines in appreciation of our dear brother John Hogg, now "at Home" with the Lord whom he loved and served for so many years.
For more than fifty years I knew him, and during all that time, found him a brother beloved, faithful to the Lord, and helpful to his brethren.
When I heard of his Home-call, my feelings were indeed very mixed, thankful that his physical sufferings were now ended, but this was accompanied with a, sense of great loss. I thought of his dear partner in life, Mrs. Hogg, the sharer of his joys and sorrows over many, years, also his beloved daughter, Elizabeth, how he would be missed in the home. Then my thoughts turned to the Assembly at iihanaghan, where he was a true shepherd, feeding the lambs, tending the sheep, and encouraging younger brethren to take responsibility in the meeting. It is gratifying to know that when John went to be "with Christ," the assembly was well supplied with godly and faithful brethren, able to lead the saints in the right ways of the Lord.
Mr. Hogg's work connected with the magazine Assembly Testimony was outstanding, and he will be greatly missed by the Editor and the Committee. It is good to know that his son-in-law, Mr. William Neill gave him great help in his work for the magazine, during his closing years.
I think it was the lovely blend of grace and truth, seen in his character that endeared him to all our hearts. He was indeed valiant for the truth, and at the same time, the meekness and gentleness of Christ were exhibited in his life. May we all have grace given to us to follow the same steps.
WHOSE FAITH FOLLOW (Heb. 13.7) by JOHN GLENVILLE
A lone, bareheaded figure paced the Belfast quayside, patiently awaiting the incoming boat. Tension ran high at that particular tame, and, as I observed him faithfully and punctually meeting me off the vessel I thought at the time how brave he was. Yes, it was my esteemed friend and brother John Hogg. He took me to his home where Mrs. Hogg and their daughter had high tea all ready, then drove me across the Armagh border into Monaghan and on to Drum, where he left me ere he returned to his home that same night. Loyal and true, Mr. Hogg was a man in whom one could place implicit trust.
However, it was by correspondence that we mainly communicated, and month by month he would always, without fail, assure me and mine of daily remembrance over the breakfast table. From his letters something of the spiritual calibre and moral fibre which hallmarked him, may be gathered.
For example, just prior to the homecall of Mr. Willie Bunting, brother Hogg penned these words. "What we would like to secure would be men younger than ourselves, who have been proved to be such as highly value assembly principles as we have practised and taught. Then in the not distant future, if I should suffer incapacity, from these we could count on successors."
Then there was the request for "Assembly Testimony" involvement in a radio broadcast entitled "the Erethren Movement" which our brethren unanimously deplored as an unholy alliance. Nevertheless, it was left to our brother Mr. Hogg to crystallize the sentiments of the brethren in this manner. "The term employed, "the Brethren Movement" is, we submit, unwarranted in the light of Scripture, and tends to bring God's assemblies into the level of Sectarianism. The medium is characterized as being a special instrument of the Adversary in bringing confusion to multitudes. Even if the message proposed should be honest and factual, the channel, is, we judge, corrupt. The testimony of the damsel at Philippi was correct; "these men are the servants of the Most High God, which shew unto us the way of salvation," but it grieved the Apostle, for the source was wrong. (See Acts 16. 17,18). Persecution followed. This may be experienced by the saints in our assemblies yet, as we notice the progress being made by the Ecumenical movement."
Different levels of criticism were made of the magazine. On one such occasion, suggestions were made which were good, sound and truly helpful. Notwithstanding, brother Hogg referred back to myself, merely questioning the wisdom of the pursuit of the matter, as it touched the sensitivity and feelings of others. Who, then, could possibly pursue in the face of such gracious concern?
On the other hand, consider his insight into assembly principles as in a masterly way he deftly handled hostile criticism of the "Swanwick" articles which series came from the able pen of our esteemed Editor. The overseers of the assembly concerned had cancelled their magazine order, identifying one ground for their cancellation thus "Quite a number in our meeting are young believers and several are without assembly background: to put these articles into their hands would be neither helpful nor edifying." As a veritable Master-at-Arms, and Mr. Fearless (as well as Valiant) for the Truth, our brother, in referring to the criticism, then stated "Permit me to remind you graciously that John, in writing to the "Little Children" (I John 2.18-21) assured them "ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know ALL THINGS." Vine states in his Expository Dictionary of N.T. Words that "The passage teaches that the gift of the Holy Spirit is the all-sufficient means of enabling believers to possess a knowledge of the truth." Have you forgotten, dear brother that Paul wrote an Epistle to YOUNG Be-LIEVERS WHO WERE WITHOUT ASSEMBLY BACKGROUND? Since he reached Corinth in A.D. 54 and "he continued there a year and six months" and wrote the first Epistle to the saints at Corinth in 59, I conclude that those believers in the assembly at Corinth were saved only 3£ to 5 years. They could surely be classified as young believers, and they were without any assembly background. You must know that he taught those believers the evil of division, the truth of Headship, the silence of women in the assembly 'comings together,' and also how they were to deal with the covetous, the idolater, railer, drunkard, extortioner and even with the immoral man. He commanded them to purge out the old leaven. He addressed his Epistle to the assembly at Corinth, "with ALL that in EVERY PLACE call upon the Name of Jesus Christ our Lord." He affirmed that what he wrote was for them to acknowledge to be "the commandments of the Lord." I leave you and your brethren free to settle in your minds, was the Apostle's message helpful and edifying to those young believers? For myself, I am satisfied he was rightly guided."
From the foregoing correspondence extracts some added appreciation of the sterling labours of our beloved brother is thus gained.
I picture him still, pacing Donegall Quay, Faithfully, patiently, waiting for me : But now he is joyfully waiting above, "Whose faith follow" truly, in faith and in love.
AN APPRECIATION by the Editor
In the homecall of our dear brother John Hogg the assemblies of Northern Ireland have lost one of their noblest men. A man of God, deeply loved and respected by all who knew him. He was a man of unswerving loyalty to the Lord, His word and to the assemblies of the province. Through correspondence, much of which was associated with Assembly Testimony magazine, he had an influence throughout the world, with those who had emigrated from Ireland, Missionaries and all who were readers of the truths the magazine sought to spread. All who knew him loved him and appreciated the kindly counsel that he so prayerfully and freely gave. As editor of the magazine I greatly appreciated his help, for, knowing that I was constantly busy with the Lord's work he undertook to deal with the majority of the correspondence, thus lifting a heavy burden from my shoulders.
His counsel and advice was always sound and well balanced and in matters relative to my review of the Swan-wick conference he agreed with my attitude entirely, and vigorously defended me with his pen against the few (very few) who wrote to oppose the truths for which, by God's grace, we were seeking to stand.
Mr. Hogg was one of those worthy men found in so many local assemblies in Northern Ireland, who are not what Irish assemblies term 'preachers' and therefore are not, perhaps, given the prominence they deserve, but they are. the, real pillars of strong testimonies that exist for the glory of. God, — Godly, balanced, soberminded, wise with the experience of years and possessed of a real, deep love for the. saints. How such men are missed when the Lord sees fit to call them home. Our brother John Hogg was a giant among these and will be missed in a very wide area.
His voice was seldom heard at such large gatherings as the Lurgan conference, but I remember that on one occasion when some rather extreme views were being pressed by certain dear brethren, it Was John Hogg's voice that calmed the company. Speaking in his quiet, unruffled way he drew attention to the attitude of three outstanding servants of God to the problems of the Corinthian assembly, pointing out that Timothy appeared to be willing to go to Corinth almost immediately, Paul would go after he had' passed through Macedonia, but Apollos was not at all minded to visit them at this time. Thus, these three brethren had each a different response to the immediate circumstances and would each act as they felt led by the Spirit of God and as they felt they could most profitably help the situation. His words were impressive and timely and the respect with which he was held by all the saints in Northern Ireland caused his words to have due effect on all our hearts and we left quietly with a sense that God had spoken. (See 1 Corinthians 16.3-12).
Only the judgment seat of Christ can review the colossal amount of work that was put in by our brother Hogg and his wife and family in order that the magazine might be distributed over tihese many years. The magazine was first published during 1952. Mr. Hogg and Mr. C. H. McCallister became Joint Treasurers in September 1959. In 1963 when Mr. Hogg retired from the Civil Service he consented to give more time to the clerical work connected with the magazine, thereby enabling Mr. Duff and Mr. Johnston to devote more time to preaching the Gospel. From 1974 onwards Mr. Hogg undertook the despatch of the magazine, which involves a lot of work. The terrific amount of office work, the packing, etc. was an enormous job, often done with very little help. The saints who have benefitted by the magazine owe our dear brother a great debt. (We commend to the prayers of saints his son-in-law, Mr. Wm. Neill, who will be carrying on this side of the work).
The Committee, (some of whom have been associated with the magazine for many years) have known our brother closely for a long while, and wish to be associated with this heart-felt tribute to the memory of a Man of God who they esteemed highly in the Lord.
We commend to the prayers of the saints Mrs. Hogg and their daughter in their deep sorrow. May God bless and comfort them both.
A. M. SALWAY GOODING.
Notes on Revelation
by JIM FLANIGAN, NORTHERN IRELAND
We have already seen that the judgment of Babylon is a two-fold, two-stage judgment. The doom of Babylon religiously is portrayed in chapter 17. Babylon commercially is destroyed in chapter 18. It is well known that the tentacles of religious Babylon penetrate and intertwine almost every department of commercial life.
But first, perhaps, we should identify and define Babylon, and we must not fall into the common error of equating Babylon with Rome. No doubt if we want to see Babylon to advantage today, it is to Rome that we look. Here she is best and most easily seen. However, Babylon is bigger, and greater, and older by far, than the Papacy or the Papal system.
We must, in fact, go back as far as Genesis 10, to Babel, and to Nimrod, a great grandson of Noah. Nimrod's wife (not mentioned in Scripture) has been called "The first High Priestess of Idolatry." Babel was apparently intended to be "Bab-el," which means "The Gate of God," but God blew upon it and it became "Babel," i.e. "Confusion." Here Babylonish mysteries had their origin. Here is the fountain head of every idolatrous and pagan system which has corrupted the world and plagued Israel.
From Babylon the mystery religion spread among the surrounding nations. The wife of Nimrod was "The Queen of Heaven." Her son Tammuz, who, she claimed, was virgin born, was hailed as the promised Redeemer. The cult of Mother and Child was everywhere associated with mystic rites and ceremonies, and with secrets known only to the initiated. Babylon is the birth-place of priestcraft, purgatory, temple prostitution, and countless sacraments and festivals. Within one thousand years Babylonianism was a world religion. It was from this corruption that the divine call separated Abram. Centuries later Jezebel brought it to Israel. The Nation was polluted with it, until, ironically, God took them into Babylon to cleanse them from Babylonianism. Today, Christendom and the Nations are heavily influenced by Jezebel (Rev. 2.20). Papal and clerical titles and dress are Babylonish, as are so many of the associated practices and festivals. The mysticism will reach its zenith after the Rapture, until, at last, it will be destroyed. This destruction we are now seeing in these chapters.
At this point in the Revelation John's location is changed again, and, appropriately, he is taken to the wilderness. Where better, than in wilderness conditions, to see the doom of that which for centuries has counterfeited the Truth. John is shown the Woman, the great Harlot, sitting upon many waters. The many waters are peoples (v. 15); the nations universally have been intoxicated with the fleshly appeal of Babylon. She sits upon the Eeast. Gentile world powers have always carried her, and nurtured her. She is arrayed gorgeously in the scarlet and purple so rightly associated with the Papacy and the Vatican. She is gilded with worldly treasures. She has gold, silver, gems, pearls. Her Name is emblazoned wantonly upon her forehead, "Mystery, Babylon the Great, the Mother of Harlots and Abominations of the Earth." The designation "Mother," makes her the progenitor and origin of abominations. She is the source of all idolatries. All corrupt worship has been mothered by her who dates back to Genesis 10. As she has made others drunk, she is drunken herself with the blood of saints and martyrs.
Babylon after the Rapture will likely be an amalgamation, or conglomeration, of every "-ISM" under the sun in one world Church. Indeed, many of these "-ISMS" already attend as observers at meetings of the World Council of Churches (W.C.C.).
John is now directed, in his wonder, to the Beast, and here it is important to notice a slight change of emphasis regarding the relationship of the Woman and the Beast. In verse 3 of chapter 17 the Woman sits upon the Beast. It has been taught from this that she is dominating, controlling, directing, the Beast. Not so. It may seem like this at first glance, and indeed, even the Woman herself may think it is so. But in verse 7 the language is different. The Beast carries the Woman. It is not the same thing. The Beast is not being dominated by the Woman at all, but is cunningly carrying her for his own ends. Let her think she is in control. While she is harnessing the religious instincts of men, and organizing world religion, the Beast will carry her. But we shall see that once she has finally created a World Church, and has united earth-dwellers in a common worship, the Beast has no further need of her. This universal worship will now be directed to Him as he sits as God, and ecclesiastical Babylon can now be disposed of.
We 'have earlier noticed the seven heads of the Beast. They are a double symbol, representing mountains, and kings. There may indeed, be an allusion to Rome, City of the seven Hills, but it is more than this. Here are seven regal mountains, seven Empires, seven Kingdoms. They have this in common, that they have all nurtured Babylonianism. It is too weak to understand these heads as being seven successive forms of Roman Government (as some suggest). "Five are fallen." Surely a change in a form of government from Consuls to Decemvirs, to Military Tribunes, or whatever, could hardly be described as a "fall." This is the same word as "Babylon is fallen, is fallen" (ch. 18.2). It is the fall of an Empire; it is too strong a word for a mere political or governmental change.
What we are looking for here is a series of Empires, Regal Mountains as it were, that have carried Babylon. Five of these, in John's day, were already fallen; one existed then; the other two belonged to the then future. What else, who else, can they be but Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Persia, and Greece. These five had come and gone when Revelation was being written. The sixth, Rome, was then dominant, and this is the Head which has been sorely wounded, as it were to death. But the world will wonder, when, under the ten kings of verse 12, this Roman Empire will be resuscitated. The "eighth" referred to in verse 11 is that same Empire in its final form, i.e. under the personal control of the Supreme Dictator, and not under the ten kings as earlier. These will yield their power to him. The "eighth" is the "seventh" in its last form and phase.
After 2.5 years of subtlety, deceit, and guile, the Beast will assume Deity and claim Divine Honours (2 Thess. 2.4). The Caesars had done this before him. He will become the object of universal worship. Satan enters into him, and energizes him, as he did with another Son of Perdition (John 13.27 and 17.12). The authority of the ten kings is now invested in him and there is total opposition to the Lamb. But the ultimate triumph of the Lamb and His elect is assured, for He is Lord of Lords and King of Kings.
The ten horns now destroy ecclesiastical Babylon. There is no further need of her, and in fearful irony this inveterate enemy of God and His truth is destroyed by those Kings who oppose the King of Kings. Here is Sovereignty indeed, when God puts into their hearts to fulfil His will. They accomplish His Divine will by effecting the desolation of the Harlot. She is burned in her naked shame and consumed, and God's Word and Will are fulfilled.
However, there remains another side of Babylon. This is that corrupt commercial side of her, which has ever been so closely linked with the ecclesiastical. This too will be judged. But that is another story, which brings us to ch. 18, and prepares us for the Advent of the King in His Glory.
A PLEA FOR THE USE OF "THOU"
by HAROLD BUTCHER, Mitcham Junction
It may be argued that if we do not use a Bible translation in modern speech and if our public prayers are not in modern speech, we shall give the impression to the unconverted that we are dealing with that which is unreal or outdated. In addressing persons the word "thou" was used in every-day speech to denote the singular and "ye" to
denote the plural. Many years ago this practice ceased and "you" was adopted whether one person or more was being addressed. Some would contend that there is no reason for employing "old-fashioned language" in a Bible translation or in addressing God and that the use today of the word "you" would be consistent with the use in a former day of the word "thou."
The Authorised Version and certain other translations have preserved by the use of "thou" and "ye" the distinction made in the original languages between singular and plural. It is true, of course, that the pronoun used in addressing God was the same as that used in addressing any one person. A modern translation abandoning the use of "thou" may rob us of significant differences between singular and plural forms. For example, the Lord Jesus said, "Have I been so long time with you ('the disciples), and yet hast thou (Philip) not known Me?" (John 14.9). Again the Lord said, "Satan hath desired to have you (the disciples) . . . but I have prayed for thee (Simon)." (Luke 22.31, 32). For private study other good translations also have their value, but for public reading at gospel meetings we cannot do better than use the Authorised Version. An explanatory comment may be made where necessary. For example, in reading I Thess. 4.15 we would perhaps explain that "prevent" means "precede." In the course of the years a few words in the Authorised Version have changed their meaning so far as popular usage is concerned, and a few words have dropped out of everyday speech. These facts do not justify us in regarding the general language of the Authorised Version as old-fashioned or archaic.
In a modern translation (the N.E.B.) it is recognised that the word "thou" is still intelligible and is more appropriate than "you" in addressing God, for in John 17, for example, the word "thou" is used in addressing the Father. The same form of address should have been employed in this translation in respect of the Lord Jesus, for "all should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father. He that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father which hath sent Him." (John 5.23).
Let us take advantage of the fact that in the word "thou" we have in English an intelligible word that by very reason of its uncommon usage has peculiar dignity. Take for example the words of I Chronicles 29, vv. 10 and 11, "Blessed be Thou, LORD God of Israel our father, for ever and ever. Thine, O LORD, is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty: for all that is in the heaven and in the earth is Thine; Thine is the kingdom, O LORD, and Thou art exalted as Head above all." What dignified, reverent and awe-inspiring language is this! Read the same passage but substitute for "Thou" and "Thine" "You" and "Yours" and the passage is belittled. Something of grandeur, dignity and reverence is lost. Those who have been born again are God's children and have the right to address Him as Father, but they should do so with reverence and humility. Language appropriate between equals or between fellow-humans is not appropriate in our addressing God. Let us, by the enabling of the Holy Spirit, select the most reverent words available to us. May we summarise by saying :
Let us take advantage of the fact that in "Thou" we have today an intelligible word appropriate in dignity for addressing God. (In a former day the word was so commonly used that the same dignity was not attached to it).
A commendable feature in a Bible translation, apart from other important considerations, is the use of "thou" for distinguishing between singular and, plural and for guiding us in our use of appropriate language in addressing God.
2nd Epistle to the THESSALONIANS
by J. HEADING, Aberystwyth
(10) THE THESSALONIANS' PROBLEM, 3. 9-18.
VERSE 9. Should the Lord's servants have employment or not? Paul stated that he had the authority not to work. When the Corinthians examined him about this matter, he implied that he had the authority to serve the Lord but not have daily employment, (1 Cor. 9.3-4). Nevertheless he would not use (his liberty (neither would he take the liberty to marry (oh. 7), nor the liberty to eat meats, (ch. 8). Rather, his employment was a pattern for imitation; he made himself an example. All believers should take heed: their lives, work, fellowship and service all form a pattern and an example. Even if others around us do not want to follow a godly example, we should nevertheless still manifest it— and this applies particularly in secular employment. Even if we cannot see the way in which the Lord will lead, we should still be an example of faith. We may quote, "ye were ensamples to all that believe," (1 Thess. 1.7); "be thou an example of the believers," (1 Tim. 4.12); "In all things showing thyself a pattern of good works," (Titus 2.7); "elders . . . being ensamples to the flock," (1 Pet. 5.3).
VERSE 10. With this matter now clear, Paul proceeded to exhort and correct the Thessalonians. Not that this was new teaching: he had told them the same things when first with them. He had taught them prophetical things, (1 Thess. 3.4; 2 Thess. 2.5), and practical things—even regarding the fundamentals of responsibility towards employment (and if the majority today sometimes appear to know nothing about this, then believers should know exactly their position before man and before God). What Paul means is, "If any one does not wish to work, neither let him eat." He had exhorted them to work with their own hands, (1 Thess. 4.11). But now Paul found that there was a deliberate refusal to work, and there could be no legitimate reason for it. (Note, Paul was not writing about unemployment, quite outside the employee's control). Rather, it was a deliberate choice not to work, meaning that such men had to live upon the proceeds of others' employment. (In the wilderness, there could not be gainful work, so God proided the manna; this ceased, however, upon entry into the land, when the children of Israel should grow their own crops).
VERSE 11. At last Paul arrived at the point—late in the Epistle (unlike Galatians 1.6—early in the Epistle). Paul had heard news (no doubt from Timothy on his return) that "some.;. . . walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies." In loving grace, Paul had dealt with his own example and exhortation before mentioning this weakness. The conduct of these men in walking disorderly was the opposite to that described in verses 7 and 9. Contrast this with the lovely orderly walk of the Lord Jesus at all times, even though He knew that the death of the cross was before Him. We believe that these men amongst the Thessa-lonians had ceased employment on account of believing that the coming of the Lord was near, so that there was no need to work during the intervening period.
In reading the word "busybodies," it is not obvious that there is a play on words with the same sound in the original Greek. The words for "working" and "are busybodies" are both present participles. The first word is ergazamenous (from which derive our words erg — a unit of work, and ergonomics—man in relation to work). The second word is peri-ergazomenous—walking around meddling with others One writer has paraphrased this play on words as "some are not busied in their own business, but are overbusied in the business of others." Elsewhere, Paul wrote of "tattlers also and busybodies," wandering from house to house, speaking things that they ought not, (1 Tim. 5.13). Peter used a distinct word, when he wrote that a Christian should not have to suffer as "a busybody in other men's matters" (being a different Greek word, an overlooker of other people's matters). Idle Christian hands and lives, deriving from false motives and understanding, are quickly filled with unsuitable activity. One should buy up the time, for this is short.
VERSE 12. The Name of the Person of Christ is brought into the charge or command for a better and more consistent life. Daily employment must be with "quietness." Sometimes this word has a literal meaning, as when women should "learn in silence" in the church, (1 Tim. 2.11,12), and when the Jews "kept the more silence" when listening to Paul, (Acts 22.2). Thus, as in our verse, it also carries a moral and spiritual meaning, as "a quiet and peaceable life," (1 Tim. 2.2), and "a meek and quiet spirit," (1 Pet. 3.4). In other words, here is life and work that refrain from outward disordered show. It is in this spirit that one should eat one's own bread—not relying falsely on others, but paying for it properly by oneself. This is the opposite to verse 10, "if any would not work, neither should he eat;" rather, "they work, and eat their own bread." Thus the Lord would not make bread artificially for Himself, (Luke 4.2-4), but He would provide for others when He fed the 5,000 and the 4,000. Spiritually, He is the Living Bread for
His people, yet we should labour by faith "for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life," (John 6.27). But on a physical level, we work for bread, with the motive, "whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord," (Col. 3.23).
VERSE 13. But further: it is not only a question of working so as to feed oneself and one's dependants, but also for the wellbeing of others. For N.T. examples, we may quote the relief of famine in Jerusalem, (Acts 11.27-30); the care of widows (1 Tim. 5.3-16); Paul's provision of others with him, (Acts 20.33-35); the churches' collection for the poor in Jerusalem, (Rom. 15.26); and quite generally, (Gal. 6.10).
(To be concluded).
FOCUS ON FUNDAMENTALS
by J. B. HEWITT, Chesterfield
THE RESURRECTION OF CHRIST
(C) ITS SUFFICIENCY
The Lord Jesus spoke of His own resurrection quite plainly and whenever He mentioned His death He added— "must be raised the third day." Find the twelve references in the Gospels.
THE TRIUMPH. His resurrection is not to be regarded as an isolated event, a fact in the history of Christ separated from all else. The estimate of His character, the fact of the empty grave and the disappearance of the body. His friends could not have taken His body in the face of the stone, the seal, and the guard.
"The silence of the Jews is as significant as the speech of Christians." Fairbairn. The Lord Jesus rose in triumph over death and every power in earth or hell. He is alive for evermore, and able to save to the uttermost of time, of eternity, and the uttermost of experience and need. This is one of the central and fundamental affirmations of the Christian Gospel. He has abolished death, (2 Tim. 1.10); that is, cancelled it out as a tyrannical force and power over human life and experience. Christ is risen! is the victorious cry of the gospel, it is invincible.
THE TRANSFORMATION of the disciples is another proof that death has been conquered. It is the most authentic and best attested event in the history of salvation. At the crucifixion they were hopeless; on the first day of the week their hearts glowed witsh certainty and hope, "I am alive for evermore" (Rev. 1.18).
Mary knew the tenderness of the Lord (John 20.16). The women, the thoughtfulness of the Lord (Matt. 28.9,10). Peter the forgiveness of the Lord (Luke 24.34; John 21.15). The two disciples enjoyed fellowship with the Lord (Luke 24.31,32). Those in the upper room experienced His peace (John 20.19,21). Thomas the grace of the Lord (John 20.27). The fishermen knew His power and provision (John 21. 6,12). James the love and sympathy of the Lord (1 Cor. 15.7); and Paul the supremacy of the Lord (Acts 9.5,6).
The Apostolic Church is the result of a belief in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. In reality there was nothing vague or intangible about the testimony borne by the Apostles and other members of the Church. All Gospel preachers need to study the messages recorded in the Acts and feel the throb-bings of eternal life. To listen to some preachers today and look at their faces you would get the impression that they still believe that Jesus is dead.
The faith of the Apostles was re-established by the bodily resurrection of the Lord and His subsequent appearances as the Risen One (1 Pet. 1.21).
Paul offers four proofs of the resurrection of Christians, and adduces Christ's resurrection as his greatest proof.
The proof of experience. The Corinthians were saved through believing the message that Christ was risen (1 Cor. 15.3,4);
The proof from Scripture (1 Cor. 15.3,4);
The proof of witnesses, over five hundred had personally seen the Lord after His resurrection (1 Cor. 15. 5-12);
The proof of the saving effects of redemption (1 Cor. 15.13-19).
THE TEACHING. Indissolubility belongs to Christ. He is our High Priest "after the power of an endless life" (Heb. 7.16). It signifies the life is incapable of being loosed down by any power, death or otherwise. Livingness characterises Christ. "He is alive" (Luke 24.23); "He shewed Himself alive" (Acts 1.3). Paul "affirmed He was alive" (Acts 25.19). John was assured by the Lord, "I am alive" (Rev. 1.18; 2.8).
Godward, it was the display of God's power (Eph. 1.19,20). Christward it demonstrates His Sonship (Rom. 1.4); His Lordship (Rom. 14.9); His Headship to the Church (Eph. 1. 22,23). Satanward it was defeat in his own realm. (Heb. 2.14; Rev. 1.18). The resurrection is the seal of His Kingship (Acts 13.34); He is the universal Judge (Acts 17.31); the acknowledged Priest (Heb. 4.14; 5.5,6; 7.24-26). He is the Exalted Mediator and Surety (Heb. 8.6; 7.22), who makes salvation available to us. Paul's teaching in the Church Epistles centres in the expression "in Christ" found over 100 times, requires a Risen Saviour (Rom. 8.29; Col. 1.18; 3.1). We are justified in Christ (Gal. 2.16,17); made alive in Him (Eph. 2.5); seated in Christ (Eph. 2.6); unified in Him (2.19-22). He was "justified in the Spirit and received up into glory" (1 Tim. 3.16). The Resurrection of the Lord Jesus is the guarantee of our resurrection (Rom. 8.11; 1 Cor. 15. 55-57; 1 Thess. 4.14-17).
The Millenial Kingdom is based entirely on the resurrection and exaltation of the Lord Jesus (Psalm 110.1; Acts 13.34; Ps. 72; Is. 11; 2.3,4; Zech. 6.13).
DIVORCE AND THE ASSEMBLY
by J. CAMPBELL (Larkhall)
The incidence of divorce among the unsaved, now reckoned at 1 in 3, is such as to cause concern in the matter of reception to the Local Church. Some good Brethren, whose ministry has been appreciated, have now been teaching, what they appear to have held privately; but for various reasons, kept a. discreet silence: that, since all our sins were future when Christ died for them, it follows that the sin leading to divorce was likewise forgiven. They assert on this basis alone, we cannot withold Assembly fellowship from one otherwise found suitable. This may be good logic; but it certainly is wrong doctrine.
We are allowed Old Testament illustrations. The Lord was skilful here. Naaman is a case in point. Immediately after Ms cleansing, his conscience is active. He remembers his duty to his master takes him into the house of Rimmon, where he has to bow to a god he now knows is only a heathen idol, since he has witnessed the power of the True God of Israel in his own cleansing. His first outburst is "The Lord pardon me in this" (2 Kings 5.18). In the New Testament, Zacchaeus, having found Christ declares, "Lord, If I have taken any thing from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold" (Luke 19.8). If all is forgiven, why this rush for restitution? Why this delicate conscience about bowing to another god! And why so little desire on the part of the divorcee to return, where this is possible?
There are sins we commit in our unsaved days, all of which the blood of Christ cleanses, and His grace forgives; but the consequences of these self-same sins remain with us throughout our lives
For one act of disobedience, Adam was thrust out of Eden. For one act of impatience, Saul lost a Kingdom. For one act of temper, Moses was denied the land. For one act of immorality, David lost a son.
David and Moses were forgiven, both lived to pay a terrible price for their indiscretions. You cannot play with sin!
The Alcoholic has his sins forgiven, his craving for drink removed, but left with a ruined mind and body. So with the drug addict. And the immoral person. All sins forgiven, the consequences remain. The murderer is forgiven. He cannot bring back the life he has taken. To assert that all our sins were future when Christ died for them, is a general statement, and like most general statements the implications are generally wrong. Beware of all such. Take time to examine them.
If the statement is true, then the person who is a forni-cator, covetous, idolater, railer, drunkard, or extortioner; with whom the Church has not to fellowship, then Paul was wrong to lay down restrictions (according to 1 Cor. 5.13) in limiting membership to those clear of the aforementioned sinful practices, since they were all future when Christ died.
Why the incessant appeal for holiness of living? Paul to the Thessalonians, possess your vessels in sanctification and honour (Col. 3.9). Lie not one to another (Eph. 4.28). Let him that stole, steal no more, again (Col. 3.8), filthy, communication. Why, when all our sins were forgiven at the Cross? This is dangerous. Its logical end is the abandonment of restraint in talk, walk, and movement, culminating in lawlessness, every man doing that which is right in his own eyes.
If we accept in total this general statement, then we destroy the principle of responsibility. One is startled to read in 1 Peter 4.1.8. "If the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?" God, in His forbearance, in Old Testament times, passed by, but did not bring into judgement the sins of His Saints, for Calvary was yet future (Rom. 3.25).
Hebrews 10.26 clearly states there is no longer a sacrifice left for wilful sin, after conversion; but the expectation of some terrible judgment. How can this scripture be interpreted in the light of the general assertion of all future sins forgiven by the death of Christ? This cannot be exclusively Jewish in character, as the writer links himself with them in the "we" of the verse. Until the moment a soul places trust in Christ for salvation, that soul is in the kingdom of Satan, held captive by him, in bondage to him. The moment he or she trusts Christ, by faith owns Him as Lord and believes in the heart, they are set free, given a new life, power over sin, and every sin committed, pardoned. Sins committed after conversion will be forgiven after confession and forsaken, but loss suffered at the Judgment Seat of Christ (1 John 1.9) makes provision for this lapse, as also does 1 John 2.1 where we have the advocacy of Christ mentioned.
The Church locally rightly examines every applicant for fellowship in matters moral, doctrinal and spiritual. Care exercised at this point forestalls many a problem later. And the Scriptures are our sole guide. The laws of the land provide no basis for Christian relationships, be they social, business or matrimonial. What may be judged as fitting to the unregenerate, could be indecorous or even sinful for the born again believer, who has renounced the hidden things of darkness, and is walking after the power of a new life in Christ. As to the married state, the Scriptures are the Christian's only text book. In the Bible, he learns marriage is an institution from God, not a sacrament; whereby two, one male, one female become one flesh. We never read of a divorced believer. The possibility of this happening, as we know it in the world today, is not provided for in the Word of God. This truth should be taught clearly, emphasised firmly and insisted on all who, from the divorce world, seek fellowship with the Local Church. The problem lies with the applicant to resolve in the light of Scripture. The
Overseers and the Church should give guidance, counsel, sympathy and compassion in a circumstance they did not create and cannot resolve; but where the dignity of the fellowship of the Church of God locally could be tarnished in the matter of Reception, they must act wisely. Two essential features must mark all who are received to and constitute the Local Church, in addition to being saved and scripturally baptised. It is imperative they be sound in the faith; clear on the fundamental doctrines of Scripture, without being theologians; and they must be godly in life. That is why the divorce question must be faced initially. If divorce matters cannot be adjusted when fellowship is sought, the applicant should be encouraged to attend all the gatherings of the Saints, until such a time as circumstances in the applicants life are so adjusted, through reconciliation or the death of the former partner, make it possible for the Church to receive him or her without restraint. One thing is certain, the applicant cannot stipulate their conditions for fellowship with the Church.
THE TENDER PLANT AND THE CORN OF WHEAT —A MEDITATION
Isaiah 53 and John 12 v. 24.
by F. L. SIMPSON
In the first chapter of Ephesians we are told about the mystery of the will of God and how according to that will everything is to be headed up, accomplished or centred in the Christ, the one anointed to fulfil and bring about the blessing of mankind and secure the pleasure of God eternally. The old testament scriptures are full of prophetic references to the wonder of the incarnation, the life of Jesus, His death and resurrection.
We read in Isaiah 53 "He shall grow up before Him as a tender plant," and as we think of the first thirty years of the life of the Lord Jesus we have just a brief reference to Him when He was twelve years of age and we are told that He was subject to His parents and grew in favour with God and men. When He was about thirty years of age He commenced His public service and ministry. That tender plant, to use the prophet's typical reference, having grown up into the perfection of manhood and like an opening flower its beauty is acclaimed by God at the time of His baptism "This is my beloved Son in whom I have found my delight." So He moved out in service "a man of sorrows acquainted with grief . . . ," His footsteps ever onward to the cross and the time when He would be "led as a lamb to the slaughter" and be crucified so that the great plan of salvation for mankind should be brought to pass by the shedding of His own precious blood as an atonement for sin for all who will believe and trust in that perfect finished work.
In John 12 verse 24 Jesus Himself told us about the corn of wheat that went into the ground and died that it might bring forth much fruit. Isaiah tells us in the chapter referred to "He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in His hand." Let us now look at an illustration of the plant, and the seed, and the fruit. In the process of botanical development everything in a plant is directed toward the production of seed, it is like an objective, climax or focal point, the seed is where expansion takes place, leading on to abundance of fruit, unlimited and repetitive. How wonderful then to think of the cross as the mighty climax or focal point in the history of time, and indeed of eternity for it is so tremendously great, everything for God looking on to it and the vast abundance of fruit flowing out of it.
"He is risen, Oh how precious was that lowly Corn of Wheat. Once in death but now in glory, Thousands like Him for Him meet."
We think of the pleasure of God prospering in the hand of a risen and glorified Saviour who has met every righteous requirement of a holy God and thus made it possible for vast myriads of the redeemed to be brought in the nearness of sonship to the Father, worshippers in spirit and in truth for the pleasure of God eternally.
So we would think of the mighty harvest of the ages of time when every believer in the Lord Jesus Christ will in a moment of time be taken up to be with the Lord for ever. Will you be there? The scripture says "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved." (Acts 16.31).
A PECULIAR PEOPLE
by P. SQUIRES (Plymouth)
Certain words have changed their meaning over the years, one such word being 'peculiar;' it once meant 'special' as shall foe seen, but its present meaning is 'strange.'
In the A.V., the adjective 'peculiar' appears seven times (Exod. 19.5; Deut. 14.2; 26.18; Psa. 135.4; Eccl. 2.8; Tit. 2.14; 1 Pet. 2.9).
In Exod. 19. 4-6 we read that which Jehovah commanded Moses to tell "the house of Jacob and the children of Israel." Exod. 19.5 is the verse upon my mind: "if ye will obey My voice indeed, and keep My covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto Me ("My own possession" J.N.D.) above all people: for all the earth is Mine." The two requirements for Israel to be Jehovah's "peculiar treasure," "a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation" were obedience to His voice and the keeping of His covenant.
The language of Deut. 14.2 is "thou art an holy people unto Jehovah thy God, and Jehovah hath chosen thee to be a peculiar people ("a people of possession" J.N.D.) unto Himself, above all the nations that are upon the earth." In Deut. 26.17 we read Who and what Israel avouched (i.e. accepted), in verse 18 who and what Jehovah avouched: "Jehovah hath avouched thee this day to be His peculiar people ("a people of possession to Him" J.N.D.), as He hath promised thee, and that thou shouldest keep all His commandments" (see also verse 19).
The fourth appearance of 'peculiar' is in Psa. 135.4: "Jah hath chosen Jacob unto Himself, and Israel for His peculiar treasure" (His own possession" J.N.D.). The final appearance of the word in the O.T. is in Eccl. 2.8.
When we come to the N.T., we find its appearance twice (Tit. 2.14; 1 Pet. 2.9). It has well been said, 'what is true for Israel is true for us.' We have seen how Israel were called Jehovah's "own possession" and we who are living in this age of grace are now His possession. It is incorrect to say that at this time Israel are His own possession since in this age they have been what is termed set aside as a nation (Hos. 1.9). Thank God there are those of His ancient people who individually have put their trust in the Lord Jesus Christ and therefore are found among His people today. In a future dispensation, when the Church has been called Home, Israel will again take up their position as Jehovah's own possession.
Our Lord's giving Himself is before us in Gal. 1.4; 2.20; Eph. 5.2; 5.25; 1 Tim. 2.6; Tit. 2.14. According to Tit. 2.14 He "gave Himself for us" for a two-fold purpose:
"that He might redeem us from all iniquity" and
"that He might . . . purify unto Himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works."
The order is redemptive then purification.
How often we think of what Christ is to us (and this is good) but how about our thinking of what we are to Christ? We are His special ones; bought by Him at great cost (1 Cor. 6.20).
The purifying of Tit. 2.14 must be linked with Eph. 5.26.
In Eph. 5.25 we have the Past.
In Eph. 5.26 we have the Present.
In Eph. 5.27 we have the Future.
Christ is now purifying unto Himself (Tit. 2.14); soon He will "present ... to Himself" that which He has purified, namely "a peculiar people." The Church is going to be presented "to Himself glorious, having no spot (no defilement), or wrinkle (no disfigurement), or any of such things" (J.N.D.) — "it should be holy and without blemish (no deficiency)" (Eph. 5.27).
1 Pet. 2.9 reads "ye (are) a chosen race, a kingly priesthood, a holy nation, a people for a possession, that ye might set forth the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness to His wonderful light" (J.N.D.).
How worthy is the Lord! how unworthy are we! Wonder of wonders, we have been brought to know Him and have become, through grace alone, His special ones; "accepted ("highly favoured"—same Greek word as in Luke 1.28) in the Beloved" (Eph. 1.6).
HYMNS AND THEIR WRITERS (16)
by Jack Strahan, Enniskillen.
"IT IS WELL WITH MY SOUL"
HORATIO G. SPAFFORD (1828-1888)
Interesting circumstances surround the writing of this well-loved hymn, "It is well with my soul." Its author, H. G. Spafford, a well-to-do Christian lawyer in Chicago had but a short time previously undergone some severe trials in life. Not long after the loss of his only son, the great fire in Chicago city swept away his heavy investments on the shore of lake Michigan. He then decided to have a break, and planned a European tour for himself, his wife, and their four daughters. This was in the fall of 1873. Last minute business matters detained him' from accompanying his wife and girls on board the 'Ville de Havre,' but he intended to follow them a few days later. The 'Ville de Havre,' the largest ship afloat at that time was about two-thirds of the way across the Atlantic when at two o'clock on the morning of November 22nd, 1873, she collided with an English sailing vessel. The 'Ville de Havre' foundered rapidly, going down inside half an hour. But before it did so, Mrs. Spafford knelt in prayer with her four children asking God that they might be saved or made ready to die, if it were His will. The four children perished but Mrs. Spafford was among the 28 survivors picked up by another sailing ship. Nine days later, she landed in Cardiff, and immediately cabled to her husband, "SAVED ALONE," a meaningful message which he later had framed and hung in his office. Mr. Spafford took the first available boat to join his bereaved wife in England. In deep heart sorrow he crossed the Atlantic, and as he imagined himself passing over the children's watery grave, he wrote the words of the hymn,
"When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows, like sea-billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught -me to know
It is well, it is well with my soul."
At that time, D. L. Moody and Ira D. Sankey were holding meetings in Edinburgh. When they received the news, they made their way south to meet with the sorrowing parents and try to offer them some comfort. They found Mr. & Mrs. Spafford completely at peace, sustained by God HimseJf and able to say, "It is well, God's will be done." It was back in the Spafford home in Chicago some months later that Mr. Sankey first saw the verses of this hymn and remarked, "These words are inspired. It is a hymn that millions will be singing for their inspiration and comfort." God later gave to the Spaffords three other children—a boy who died when three years old, and two girls, Bertha and Grace. In 1881, along with the two girls, Mr. and Mrs. Stafford moved to Jerusalem and with some Christian friends, set up the American colony for the care of the sick and the destitute.
One of the first boys to be received into that home was Jacob Eliahu, a 12 year-old Spanish Jew. Jacob was an orphan. Some time later, he was adopted into the Spafford home and given the name of Jacob Spafford. Two years prior to his coming to the Spafford home, Jacob had made an interesting discovery. While playing at the pool of Siloam in Old Jerusalem, he and another boy dared each other to go into the dark tunnel through which the water entered the pool. As they advanced further and further along the dark underground channel, they were suddenly startled by the noise of gushing water. Thus frightened, they turned back and made for the entrance. In doing so, Jacob slipped, and in trying to regain his poise discovered with the palm of his outstretched hand an inscribed stone slab in the wall of the underground channel. This stone was the now-famous Siloam inscription telling of the excavation of the famous underground water channel by King Hazekiah in 700 B.C. It is the oldest piece of Hebrew writing known today.
At that time, the city of Jerusalem was about to be beseiged by King Sennacherib, the ruthless Assyrian; and the only water supply to the city, the Gihon spring, was outside the city wall. In order to bring the waters of the Gihon spring inside the besieged city, King Hezekiah engineered the excavation of this underground tunnel. The quarry men, working with all haste from both ends, hewed their way through the solid rock until they met in the middle, and water flowed inside the city. The Siloam inscription stone found by our young friend Jacob two thousand, five hundred years later told the story of the hewing of the water channel and in particular of the dramatic meeting of the quarry men working from both ends.
Jacob's interesting discovery in the year 1880 speaks to us of a city under siege. Without, the enemy, may batter at her gates or pour scorn and taunts upon her inhabitants, yet within, "all is well." In like manner, H. G. Spafford (Jacob's father by adoption) in his hymn pictures the soul of the believer under siege. Though the storm be ever so fierce and the assault of the enemy ever so furious, yet within faith sits serene and calm— the contemplation of Calvary's full redemption and its glorious consummation at the rapture enabling her to sing, "It is well, it is well with my soul."
"When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows, like sea-billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught ime to know
It is well, it is well with my soul."
It is well with my soul,
It is well, it is well with my soul.
Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,