Psalms 20 and 21 seem closely related: the former anticipates a battle, and the latter celebrates a victory. Psalm 20 begins with "the day of trouble" v.1. David is confronted by chariots and horses. The cry is, "Save, LORD" v.9. The connections between the two Psalms are quite clear. For example, Psalm 20 concludes with "Let the king hear us when we call" v.9. Psalm 21 commences, "the king shall joy in Thy strength, O LORD" v.1. In Psalm 20, the people say, "The LORD … grant thee according to thine own heart" v.4. In Psalm 21, the king replies, "Thou hast given him his heart’s desire, and hast not withholden the request of his lips. Selah" v.2.
The two Psalms are similar in structure. In Psalm 20, David is addressed in vv.1-5; he responds in vv.6-8; and prayer is made in v.9. In Psalm 21, David speaks in vv.1-7; the people respond in vv.8-12; and the Lord is praised in v.13.
Once again, we are not told the exact circumstances in which this Psalm was written. It probably belongs to the period covered by 2Samuel chapters 8 to 10. We should notice the following: "And David took from him [the king of Zobah] a thousand chariots, and seven hundred horsemen, and twenty thousand footmen: and David houghed [hamstrung: don’t tell the R.S.P.C.A.!] all the chariot horses, but reserved of them for an hundred chariots … and the Syrians fled before Israel; and David slew the men of seven hundred chariots of the Syrians, and forty thousand horsemen" 2Sam.8.3,4; 10.18. For horses and chariots, see Isa.31.1: "Woe to them that go down to Egypt for help; and stay on horses, and trust in chariots, because they are many; and in horsemen, because they are very strong; but they look not unto the Holy One of Israel, neither seek the LORD!"
In the context of Psalm 20, "salvation … saveth … save" vv.5,6,9, refer to victory in battle. We must not forget however that "whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope" Rom.15.4. We have battles too. Not "against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world" Eph.6.12. If Psalm 20 encouraged David before battle, it encourages us too.
There are three paragraphs in the Psalm:
Encouragement for the King – vv.1-5
The Confidence of the King – vv.6-8
Prayer for the King – v.9
ENCOURAGEMENT FOR THE KING – vv.1-5 (Addressed to David)
This section of the Psalm is addressed to David by his people. The singular is used throughout, and he is identified as the Lord’s "anointed" in v.6. However, there is more to it than that. The people identify themselves with David: "we will rejoice in thy salvation" v.5. His victory was their victory. His success was their success. Does not this remind you of 1Cor.12.26, "[If] one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it"?
With the imminence of battle, we might have expected frantic military preparation. Mind you, David’s army was certainly not an undisciplined rabble. See, for example, 1Chr.12.33: "Of Zebulun, such as went forth to battle, expert in war, with all instruments of war, fifty thousand, which could keep rank: they were not of double heart". Please read the whole passage; it really is stirring stuff! However, the military prowess of David’s men does not seem to get a mention in Psalm 20. The lesson is clear: while we must never be slipshod and haphazard in our Christian lives, we must remember that good organisation and slick routines do not guarantee success. We must look in faith to God for victory. This is the message of Psalm 20. Everything depends on God.
The Psalm commences with four couplets and emphasises:
The Strength of God’s Help – v.1
"The LORD hear thee in the day of trouble; the name of the God of Jacob defend thee". The sense of "hear" is really ‘answer’ J.N.D. God is indeed "our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble" Ps.46.1. He does not necessarily promise to deliver us from experiencing trouble: but He does promise to be with us in trouble. "When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee" Isa.43.2. We can be confident of His care and interest. The second part of v.1 is very telling: "the name of the God of Jacob defend [or ‘protect’] thee". Why not simply ‘the God of Jacob’? The Psalm says, "the name of the God of Jacob". See also v.5: "in the name of our God we will set up our banners". See also v.7: "we will remember the name of the LORD our God". Read such verses as Acts 3.6, and the answer should become clear: "In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk". See also Phil.2.9: "Wherefore God also hath highly exalted Him, and given Him a name which is above every name: that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow". The lame man was healed through the power and authority of the Lord Jesus. Every knee will bow in recognition of His power and authority. So there was no doubting the power and authority of the "God of Jacob".
But why "God of Jacob"? Well, Jacob certainly knew the power of God. He built "an altar unto God", Who, he said, "answered me in the day of my distress" Gen.35.3. But the expression "God of Jacob" is an eloquent reminder of God’s grace. You can hardly imagine a more devious character than Jacob, and therefore a more striking example of the grace of God. It has been said that the name "Jacob" emphasises the depths to which the grace of God will go to reach a man, and the name "Israel" emphasises the heights to which the grace of God will take that same man.
The Source of God’s Help – v.2
"Send thee help from the sanctuary, and strengthen thee out of Zion". The reference to Zion arises from the presence of the ark of the covenant in the city. See 2Sam.6.17. Help comes from the presence of God. Notice the margin reading of Ps.121.1,2: "Shall I lift up mine eyes to the hills? Whence should my help come? My help cometh from the LORD, which made heaven and earth". Where do we look for help and strength? If it comes "from the sanctuary", that is where we need to be. "Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need" Heb.4.16. Paul was able to say, "Our sufficiency is of God" 2Cor.3.5; "Notwithstanding the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me" 2Tim.4.17.
The Sacrifice Which Secures God’s Help – v.3
"Remember all thy offerings, and accept thy burnt sacrifice: Selah". The word rendered "offerings" refers to the meal offering, and our attention is therefore drawn to two Old Testament sacrifices which describe the perfection of the Lord Jesus in life and death. The desired protection, help, and strength were available on the basis of these two sweet-savour offerings. See Eph.5.2: "Walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given Himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour". He "hath made us accepted in the beloved" Eph.1.6. It is most significant that when Israel was threatened by the Philistines, "Samuel took a sucking lamb, and offered it for a burnt offering wholly unto the LORD: and Samuel cried unto the LORD for Israel; and the LORD heard him" 1Sam.7.9. Notice Ezra 3.3 in this connection: "And they set the altar upon his bases; for fear was upon them because of the people of those countries: and they offered burnt offerings thereon unto the LORD". Peter puts it so beautifully: "To you therefore who believe [is] the preciousness" 1Pet.2.7, J.N.D. The A.V. has "Unto you therefore which believe He is precious" which is, of course, absolutely true: isn’t it? We are accepted in all the virtue of Christ Himself.
The Satisfaction Brought by God’s Help – v.4
"Grant thee according to thine own heart, and fulfil all thy counsel" or "May he grant you your heart’s desire, and fulfil all your plans" R.S.V. Well, what was David’s ‘heart’s desire’, and what were his ‘plans’? Can we approach God with our ‘heart’s desire’ and our ‘plans’, and invoke His blessing? Let us be very clear about this: we can only expect God’s blessing on our ‘heart’s desire’ and on our ‘plans’ if they coincide with His will. It is certainly the will of God that we should defeat our enemies. Is our ‘heart’s desire’ to be victorious over sin and temptation? Is our ‘heart’s desire’ to be victorious over indolence and lethargy? Is our ‘heart’s desire’ to storm enemy strongholds and win souls for Christ? Does our plan for life say something like this: "He must increase, but I must decrease" Jn.3.30? Or, "For to me to live is Christ" Phil.1.21? If so, then we can happily say, "The LORD … grant thee according to thine own heart, and fulfil all thy counsel".
But notice a fifth aspect of this subject:
The Sharing in God’s Help – v.5
"We will rejoice in thy salvation, and in the name of our God we will set up our banners: the LORD fulfil all thy petitions". The people had a vested interest in David’s victory, which reminds us of the personal concern and interest that should mark us as we pray for each other. Defeat for David would have brought depression and grief to the whole nation. Paul was so closely identified with the welfare of the Thessalonians that he wrote, "For now we live, if ye stand fast in the Lord" 1Thess.3.8.
Notice that the Psalm does not say, ‘In the name of David we will set up our banners’, but "in the name of our God we will set up our banners". Victory is accomplished through Him. He is to be praised and acknowledged. For the "banners", see S of S.6.4,10, where the expression "terrible [or ‘awe-inspiring’] as an army with banners" occurs. It is an army marching with confidence of victory.
Notice too, the expression at the end of v.5: "the LORD fulfil all thy petitions". This just shows us that David was a man of prayer.
THE CONFIDENCE OF THE KING – vv.6-8 (Addressed to the People)
David now responds to the prayerful concern of his people. The confidence of the people prompted confidence within him. "Now know I that the LORD saveth His anointed" v.6. We should notice at least three things here:
His Anointed – v.6
This, of course, recalls, 1Sam.16.12: "And the LORD said, ‘Arise, anoint him: for this is he.’" We are immediately reminded of ‘great David’s greater Son’. "The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD, and against His anointed" Ps.2.2. The same Psalm continues: "Yet have I set My king upon My holy hill of Zion" v.6. The anointing signified Divine choice and power to fulfil Divine purpose. Notice, again, 1Sam.16.13: "and the Spirit of the LORD came upon David from that day forward". We too have been anointed. See 2Cor.1.21,22: "Now He which stablisheth us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us, is God; Who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts"; and 1Jn.2.27: "But the anointing which ye have received of Him abideth in you".
His Holy Heaven – v.6
"He will hear him from His holy heaven". The word for "sanctuary" in v.2 is, literally, ‘holiness’. While v.2 refers to the place where God dwelt amongst His people, the ultimate dwelling-place of God is heaven itself. The Tabernacle was a picture of heaven. How wonderful to know that "He will hear … from His holy heaven" the earthly petitions of His people. See 2Chr.30.27, referring to Hezekiah’s passover: "Their voice was heard, and their prayer came up to His holy dwelling place, even unto heaven". However, notice where He is: not simply "heaven", but "His holy heaven".
His Right Hand – v.6
"He will hear him from His holy heaven, with the saving strength of His right hand". We have noticed the significance of the "right hand" in previous studies. See Ps.17.7: "Shew thy marvellous lovingkindness, O Thou that savest by Thy right hand them which put their trust in Thee"; Ex.15.6: "Thy right hand, O LORD, is become glorious in power: Thy right hand, O LORD, hath dashed in pieces the enemy".
The opposition certainly looked formidable: "Some trust in chariots, and some in horses" v.7. It was Asa who cried, "Help us, O LORD our God; for we rest on Thee, and in Thy name we go against this multitude" 2Chr.14.11. It was Jehoshaphat who prayed, "We have no might against this great company that cometh against us; neither know we what to do: but our eyes are upon Thee" 2Chr.20.12. We can say, "For whatsovever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith" 1Jn.5.4.
PRAYER FOR THE KING – v.9 (Addressed to God)
The final verse of the Psalm is not addressed to David, as in vv.1-5, or to the people, as in vv.6-8, but to God Himself: "Save, LORD: let the king hear [‘answer’ J.N.D.] us when we call". The sense of this is probably, ‘Give victory to the king, O LORD; answer us when we call’.
Was the prayer answered? We will find out in Psalm 21.
Having considered ‘Judah – the man’ and Jacob’s prophecy about this tribe, we shall now consider the tribal history.
Judah – In The Wilderness
The children of Judah "from twenty years old and upward" at the commencement of the wilderness journey numbered 74,600 and they constituted the largest tribe, Num.1.1-3,26,27. When again censused on the borders of the land almost forty years later Judah was still the largest tribe, although their numbers had only increased by some 2.5 percent, to 76,500, Num.26.19-22.
The first mention of someone of note from the tribe of Judah in relation to the wilderness journey is "Bezaleel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah" Ex.31.2. Bezaleel is a person of interest for a number of reasons: he was particularly "called" by God to do a special work; he was the first person in Scripture to be "filled … with the Spirit of God"; and he was gifted "in wisdom, and in understanding, and in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship, to devise cunning works, to work in gold, and in silver, and in brass, and in cutting of stones, to set them, and in carving of timber, to work in all manner of workmanship" Ex.31.3-5; compare Ex.35.30-33.
The calling, filling and gifting of Bezaleel was a sovereign act of God. This member of the tribe of Judah was specifically filled with the Spirit of God to enable the construction of the Tabernacle, its furniture, instruments, etc. His head and hands, his mental capacity and practical skills, were all under the control and guidance of the Holy Spirit. His consecrated energy was vital to the building of the most valuable and significant portable structure the world has ever known; that which became the very dwelling place of God among His earthly people! Yet Bezaleel’s input had to be strictly according to the pattern shown to Moses in Mount Sinai: human imagination and personal preferences have no part whatever in that which is to be for God’s pleasure and purpose.
Although we live in a different dispensation, nevertheless it is imperative that our spiritual service is similarly guided by the Word of God and is performed in the enabling power of the Holy Spirit. The apostle Paul could say, "According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon" 1Cor.3.10. He then categorises subsequent teaching ministry as building into the assembly either:
"gold, silver, precious stones" (which, although seemingly of small volume, require time and energy to find; and are also valuable and durable); or
"wood, hay, stubble" (which evidently are of much larger volume and, while they may initially appear impressive, are easily obtained and are of lesser worth and combustible), 1Cor.3.11-15.
Now, as then, God distributes gifts and tasks according to His Divine will. It would have been disastrous had someone else attempted to perform Bezaleel’s tasks and responsibilities unchosen and unempowered. Equally, it would have been disastrous had Bezaleel left his God-given service to focus on something else. The same principle continues to apply today: "And He gave some, apostles; and some, prophets [both foundational gifts]; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ" Eph.4.11,12. There would be demonstrable benefit to the assembly if all would recognise their own spiritual gift and exercise it to profit, rather than coveting that of another. To quote our late brother David Kane (Belfast), "It is not lack of gift that is our problem; it is the lack of exercise of gift."
Would that we should receive a commendation similar to that given to Bezaleel: "And Bezaleel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, made all that the LORD commanded Moses" Ex.38.22. An economy of words is used to commend his concentrated input of consecrated service; a work completed within a constrained timescale; but could an effusion of praise add anything to the service Bezaleel rendered when the outcome of what God enabled him to do was there for all to see? More pertinently, the Divine presence was pleased to dwell within. True spiritual service today affords opportunity to receive the equivalent of "Well done, good and faithful servant" Matt.25.23.
The tribe of Judah encamped on the east side of the Tabernacle, with the tribes of Issachar and Zebulun, a combined host of 186,400 under the standard of Judah, Num.2.3-9. It was "Nahshon the son of Amminadab, of the tribe of Judah" who had the honour of offering on the first day "for the dedicating of the altar" Num.7.11,12. Judah therefore led the way in offering and, also, when on the march. When the camp moved, the three tribes under Judah’s immediate leadership led the way, staying closest to the pillar cloud, with all other tribes and groupings keeping in line. As long as everyone aligned with the standard of Judah, Num.10.11-14, and beyond that the cloud, then all were progressing well. This reminds us of the words of the apostle Paul, "Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ" 1Cor.11.1.
The next notable character from the tribe of Judah is introduced to us in Num.13.6, "Caleb the son of Jephunneh", a man who could be relied upon to give a true report and neither depress nor distress the children of Israel. If Bezaleel was marked by the calling, filling and gifting by the Spirit of God, Caleb was a man of steadfast faith of long duration, but we shall not consider more of this presently. Sufficient to note at this stage that Caleb, Judah’s trusted surveyor of the land of Canaan in Numbers chapter 13, becomes Judah’s representative, delegated by the Lord, to divide the land of Canaan by inheritance, Num.34.16-19.
Moses foretold that the tribe of Judah, with Simeon, Levi, Issachar, Joseph and Benjamin, would stand on verdant Mount Gerizim to hear and pronounce the blessings of the Law, Deut.27.12; compare Josh.8.33-35.
Judah – Moses’ Prophetic Blessing
Moses’ prophetic benediction of Judah is contained in a single verse: "And this is the blessing of Judah: and he said, ‘Hear, LORD, the voice of Judah, And bring him unto his people: Let his hands be sufficient for him; And be Thou an help to him from his enemies’" Deut.33.7.
It is interesting that Judah’s blessing comes immediately after that given to Reuben, the firstborn. This suggests that now, by the end of the wilderness journey, Judah is moving forward in evident leadership potential, soon to eclipse Reuben.
Judah must, however, lead in dependence upon God and Divine resources. Moses fully understood this from his own forty years experience of leadership, with all its perplexities and discouragements. If Judah is soon to lead the nation in the successful conquest of Canaan, Moses’ yearning for this tribe is "Hear, LORD, the voice of Judah". That desire that the Lord will ever and always hear the voice of Judah is not, however, an automatic guarantee of immediate blessing. There must be a true realisation of need with a disposition of dependence and obedience. Judah’s voice may refer to praise, in keeping with the meaning of Judah’s name, or to prayer. Possibly a joint idea is involved, such as, "Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving" Col.4.2.
Effective leadership involves more than giving commands and directions. It should involve the communication of spiritual and Scriptural aspirations and objectives. Maintaining commitment in service also requires realism based on Divine promise and purpose (and certainly not morbid pessimism nor self-opinionated bluster!). Having spiritual joy and expressing this corporately in thanksgiving and praise can be a vital component in maintaining fellowship and focus. Judah as a tribe is expected to lead in such a way that other tribes will be encouraged to follow.
The desire that Judah would be brought "unto his people" may carry a number of related thoughts. Certainly a closer fellowship is engendered among those who share prayerful exercise and are similarly grateful to God and are expressive of that. However, it may also be a desire that those who lead in the warfare may return safely after the battle. It is always a tragedy when any believer becomes a casualty on life’s spiritual battlefield, but should leaders fall, the ramifications go much wider, with all the followers placed in greater danger. Do we remember to pray specifically for those who rightly take the place of leadership among the Lord’s people? The apostle Paul clearly felt the need for it when he said "Brethren, pray for us" 1Thess.5.25.
In every age, those who engage in spiritual warfare need victories. So Moses requests "Let his hands be sufficient for him" as Judah will fight the ‘good fight’ on behalf of the children of Israel. And in that conflict Judah will need to experience Divine help in the struggle against all oppressors, hence "and be Thou an help to him from his enemies".
The final mention of Judah before the children of Israel leave the wilderness is of Moses contemplating "all the land of Judah, unto the utmost sea" Deut.34.2, from the top of Mount Pisgah before he died. With Elijah, he would finally enter the land on that memorable day some 1,450 years later when they communed with the Lord Jesus Christ on the Mount of Transfiguration! The "land of Judah" lies ahead, so we must next consider ‘Judah – in the land’.
After a short greeting the apostle opens his letter by seeking to encourage the Colossians. Though he had never met them he had heard about them from Epaphras, 1.7,8. What he had heard was good. They had been saved and immediately had begun to demonstrate the reality of their "faith" by their "love" for fellow Christians. Their faith and love were linked to "hope". Hope is the confident anticipation that one day they would be with the Lord in heaven. Paul places the work in Colossae in a larger context and rejoices in the progress of the gospel all over the world, compare v.23. The "world" he refers to is the world he knew. The world outside the Roman Empire and the countries around the Mediterranean were unknown or unpopulated.
THE PROGRESS OF SALVATION – vv.9-11
One of the features of the Prison Epistles is that they open with prayer and the giving of thanks, Eph.1.3; Phil.1.3. Prayers are usually spoken. This prayer is in writing. While we do not usually read prayers, Paul often put his prayers into writing. While the Lord Jesus warned His disciples not to make a public show of their prayers, Matt.6.5, there is nothing wrong in telling people that we pray for them! Although our prayers are usually about specific people and their needs this is a very general prayer. He prays that they might know God’s will, that their lives would be pleasing to God and that they would be enabled by God’s power to be patient in suffering and joyful in spirit. Listening to the prayer and worship of godly men is instructive. This prayer emphasises the need to know God’s will and not to be marked by spiritual weakness.
THE PRIVILEGES OF SALVATION – vv.12-14
Like Ephesians, Colossians contains tremendous teaching about the blessings of salvation. Paul borrows from the Old Testament and shows that the physical blessings that the nation of Israel enjoyed are paralleled by the spiritual blessings given to the Church. Israel was given an earthly inheritance in the form of a land in which the twelve tribes could live. The Church has been given a spiritual inheritance. Israel was a kingdom ruled over by David’s dynasty. The Church is part of a kingdom ruled by Christ. Israel was redeemed from Egypt by the blood of the Passover lamb. The Church has been redeemed from the bondage of sin by the death of Christ.
THE PROVIDER OF SALVATION – vv.15-20
The apostle then focuses on the Lord Jesus. It may be that he felt the Colossians needed to understand that the Lord Jesus was not a lesser being than God. He may have thought that they needed to understand what His relationship was to the mighty angels they had heard about. He sets before them the greatness of the One Who shed His blood on the cross, vv.14,20, so that they might truly honour Him, v.18. First, the Lord Jesus "is the image of the invisible God". We cannot see God the Father, but through incarnation the Son of God took on flesh and became the Son of man. In His person He expressed all that God the Father was. He was the "image" or manifestation of God. Second, He was the "firstborn of every creature". As v.16 shows, this does not mean He was the first creature to be created. "Firstborn" is sometimes used in Scripture in its secondary sense to refer to someone who is first in rank and dignity, see for example Ps.89.27. He is firstborn in rank because He created all things. Paul is anxious to draw attention to the fact that this means He created the angels. No doubt he is anticipating an issue referred to later in the letter where he stresses His superiority to the "principalities and powers" 2.10,15, so that the Colossians are not led into superstitious veneration of angels. Third, he teaches His eternal existence, v.17. While it is true He is "before" all things in rank, the succeeding phrase suggests that Paul is thinking of the fact that the Son of God first created and then sustained all things. Fourth, as noted, He maintains all things. Without Him the universe would implode. Fifth, He is also supreme in the spiritual sphere. Paul’s first four points relate to His priority in relation to the material creation, but now he sets out His priority in relation to the new creation. Here He is the Head of the Church. Sixth, He is the first to rise from the dead and ascend in glory to heaven. Seventh, He is the One through Whom God will subjugate everything to Himself. This anticipates a future reconciliation when all enemies have been removed and God rules without hindrance in the new creation. This is brought about by the Lord’s conquest at the end of the Millennium and His judicial disposal of all who have rebelled, at the Great White Throne.
THE PEACE OF SALVATION – vv.21,22
In contrast to the future reconciliation of all things, Christians are reconciled in the present. Usually when the New Testament speaks of the sacrifice it refers to blood. Here, by contrast, the body of the Lord is emphasised. The eternal Son of God was a spirit and was not liable to death. After incarnation He became the Son of man Who was the subject of prophecy and took a body that could die. The effect of His body being offered in sacrifice was to enable the sanctification of the believer. The emphasis here is not so much on practical sanctification but the ultimate sanctification of the believer when the Church is presented to Christ, v.22.
THE PROCLAMATION OF SALVATION – vv.23-25
Paul then speaks of the sufferings he has suffered because of his proclamation of the gospel, v.23,24. Since he was in prison when he wrote this letter he may have had this form of suffering in mind. He describes them as Christ’s sufferings, not his sufferings. This does not mean that he had any part in the substitutionary sufferings of Christ on the cross, since these were completed when the Lord cried "finished". Instead he speaks of the sufferings that God has decreed His people should pass through. These are the sufferings of Christ’s spiritual body, the Church. It must suffer before it is glorified. Paul’s sufferings are a consequence of being identified with a rejected Christ. He describes himself as a minister or servant, first of the gospel, v.23, and then of the Church, v.25. His service consisted in proclaiming the gospel and serving the Lord’s people. As a servant he humbly accepts the hardships his ministry brings.
THE PRE-EMINENCE OF SALVATION – vv.26-29
There are many differences between Israel under Law and the Church under grace. One of the major differences of emphasis is that God’s blessing under Law was largely, though not exclusively, focussed on Israel. By contrast, under grace God’s blessing was for all people everywhere. Paul staggered at this change. All his years of training and study prior to salvation had taught him that Israel enjoyed privileged status. There are many issues that are touched on in the Old Testament and developed in the New Testament, but the union of Jew and Gentile is not one of them. Paul describes the idea that God may conceal something and then reveal it as a "mystery". Paul asserts that his role is to proclaim the "mystery among the Gentiles" v.27, that is the inclusion of all peoples in God’s blessing notwithstanding the absence of any word from God to that effect in the Old Testament. The gospel message was a wonder to Paul because it entitled him to preach to "every man" v.28. He was energised by the thought that through his efforts he could "present" those who once had been outsiders to Christ as a form of tribute. The message of salvation eclipses any other message that might be preached.
This world has seen more than its share of tyrannical despots, greedy for power and grasping after greatness. They have ruled by fear, meting out death indiscriminately at a whim; disposing of all who dared to question their authority or resist them.
How unlike them is the Lord; He is truly great; He never had to aspire to greatness but His majesty has been blended with goodness and mercy and the Scriptures remind us that "God is love" 1Jn.4.8.
We have been the favoured recipients of numberless blessings and daily His mercies are renewed. He has been this world’s greatest Benefactor for He gave the greatest gift of all to humanity, His beloved Son to be our Saviour and many of us daily thank God, as did the apostle Paul, "for His unspeakable gift" 2Cor.9.15.
His goodness is extended to all without exception, "The LORD is good to all: and His tender mercies are over all His works" Ps.145.9.
How good is the God we adore;
Our faithful, unchangeable Friend;
His love is as great as His power,
And knows neither measure nor end.
"I know their sorrows." Exodus 3.7
You feel lonely, isolated; few come to visit you and it seems as if no one cares. Everyone else has too many of his/her own problems to show any real interest in your troubles. You shed tears when no one is watching and you are left to carry your own burdens.
That is how it must have appeared to the Hebrew slaves in Egypt; they were surrounded by enemies and even their friends were of little comfort for they were in the same position, often enduring the taskmasters’ whip and groaning under the burden of their daily toil.
They had prayed, they had wept but no one seemed to hear or see. Little did they realise that God was taking note of their plight and He was about to effect their deliverance from bondage and slavery.
Said God to Moses, "I have surely seen the affliction of My people … and have heard their cry … and I am come down to deliver them …" Dear child of God, look up; He knows, He hears, He sees and He cares and He is able to deliver.
These notes were written to accompany a series taught in the assembly Bible Class at Uxbridge, England. The series was shared by three brethren, which is reflected in the individual styles of writing of the notes.
PRAYING BEFORE CHOOSING THE DISCIPLES – Luke 6.12
The disciples were clearly very precious to the Lord Jesus Christ and their selection is recorded in all of the ‘Synoptic Gospels’. As He prepared to choose the Twelve, Luke records that the Lord Jesus Christ prayed.
THE CIRCUMSTANCES OF HIS PRAYER – Lk.6.1-11
Luke records a four-fold set of circumstances that prevailed. We see these were:
1. Days of Necessity – v.1
The disciples plucked ears of corn as they walked with the Saviour for they were hungry (see Matt.12.1). Being a disciple meant that they had to endure hardships and privations. Paul expected the same of Timothy, 2Tim.2.3.
2. Days of Criticism – v.2
The Pharisees were quick to criticise but slow to offer hospitality! The Saviour was surrounded by those who would find fault with everything He did. We cannot expect the ungodly to behave any differently today.
3. Days of Hypocrisy – vv.6,7
The scribes and Pharisees cared not at all about the needs and struggles of the crippled man: all they wanted was to use the occasion to entrap the Saviour. Man’s compassion can so often be a veneer over a personal agenda. The Saviour was utterly sincere in His care and compassion.
4. Days of Hatred – v.11
Their hatred was irrational ("filled with madness") but it was very real and venomous in its character. The world has not changed, and especially the religious world.
THE LOCATION OF HIS PRAYER – "He went out into a mountain"
The language suggests that this was:
1. A Chosen Place
He went out: there was deliberateness about this. The Saviour sought the location, along with its solitude. He sought the occasion for prayer. This indicates that there was nothing casual about His prayers.
2. A Favoured Place
Literally this is "the mountain". He will pray on a mountain after the feeding of the five thousand, Matt.14.23, and at the Transfiguration, Lk.9.28. It may well suggest the habit of private, personal prayer that marked the Saviour.
3. An Elevated Place
We could take the application: that prayer lifts us to communion with a far higher place. When we pray we are stood in the courts of heaven, the very sanctuary of God. We tread higher ground.
THE DURATION OF HIS PRAYER – "and continued all night"
Perhaps we should hang our heads in shame. It teaches us:
1. His Evaluation of Prayer
We will study for hours; we will "put the hours in" in the Lord’s service in a variety of different ways, all of which are no doubt good. Do we place the right evaluation on prayer?
2. His Commitment to Prayer – "all night"
If we ponder that, we will never begrudge the one hour a week of the assembly prayer meeting.
THE CHARACTER OF HIS PRAYER – "in prayer to God"
This is the only time the Saviour’s prayers are thus called. Elsewhere it is prayer to the Father. We can learn:
1. The Prayer Expressed His Dependence
This is the dependent Man calling upon His God. It is the recognition that help is needed and where help can be found.
2. The Prayer Expressed His Earnestness
This is a Hebraism, literally "the prayer of God" (compare "the mountain of God" and "the cedars of God"), to denote grandeur and glory. His praying was in a manner worthy of God. May we pray in the same spirit.
THE REASON FOR HIS PRAYER
We are not told explicitly, but we can presume that the events of v.13 are linked ("And when it was day ..."). The choice of the twelve disciples from the multitude of His followers was a matter of seriousness to the Saviour. We can see this in the light of:
1. The Circumstances in Which They Were Called
The character of the days of vv.1-11 would surround them. The Lord’s servants would face the same privations, difficulties and hostilities as He did.
2. The People That They Were
The Saviour knew the Twelve intimately. He knew how to pair them up. The apostle Paul desired the prayers of the saints for him, 1Thess.5.25, as did the writer to the Hebrews, Heb.13.18.
3. The Service upon Which They Would Embark
This principle is through the book of Acts: they prayed as they appointed men to specific service, Acts 6.6; 13.3; 14.23. We should recognise this too.
One of the most beautiful Old Testament types of our Lord Jesus is that of the Passover lamb of Exodus chapter 12, the sacrifice that was needed in Egypt to save the firstborn sons of Israel, and which would facilitate the deliverance of the children of Israel from their Egyptian bondage. The three most prominent New Testament apostolic writers, John, Paul and Peter, all reference the Lord Jesus and His sacrifice at Calvary as the fulfilment of the Passover lamb. We shall consider the truth of "Christ our Passover" 1Cor.5.7, specifically from those New Testament apostolic references.
THE SCRUTINY OF THE PASSOVER LAMB
In John chapter 1, the forerunner, John the Baptist, points out the Lord Jesus, walking on the banks of the river Jordan, and momentously invites all to behold Him as the fulfilment of the Passover lamb: "Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world" Jn.1.29. This invitation to behold the Lord Jesus was made right at the commencement of the three-and-a-half years of His public service. In Exodus chapter 12, the Passover lamb was to be kept from the tenth to the fourteenth day of the month Nisan, during which time it would be carefully scrutinised to confirm that it was a suitable sacrifice, which was "without blemish" Ex.12.5.
We think of the intense scrutiny that was directed upon the Lord Jesus, the Lamb of God, in His years of public service, and how unbelieving men sought to find some fault or failure, but there was never any such failure to be found in Him. The gaze of His enemies was always upon Him, but He could look them straight back, and say, "Which of you convinceth Me of sin?" Jn.8.46, and no accusations could be brought against Him. The devil would seek constantly to find some fault, defect, failure or weakness in God’s Son, but He could say, "The prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in Me" Jn.14.30. The Roman governor Pilate would have been glad to find a reason for Him to be put to death, but for all his enquiry and investigation, three times he had to declare, "I find no fault in Him" Jn.18.38; 19.4,6. Judas would have to confess, "I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood" Matt.27.4. He was intensely scrutinised by wicked men, and always was found to be without defect, without flaw, truly "without blemish", impeccably sinless and pure.
The apostle Peter declares the unblemished and spotless purity of Christ as the sacrificial Passover Lamb; "as of a lamb without blemish and without spot" 1Pet.1.19. In keeping with that spotless purity, when the Lord Jesus moved here in this world as a Man, His body was impervious to all disease. There were diseases that so badly afflicted the bodies of sinful men, such as leprosy, but He could stretch forth His hand and touch the leper, and be uncontaminated by it, because His sinless body was impervious to disease. Likewise, death would make its unrelenting claim upon the bodies of sinful men, but death could make no such claim upon the sinless body of Christ. He had power to lay down His life, and He had power to take it up again, but death had no authority over the pure, spotless Lamb of God.
Not only was the Lord Jesus scrutinised by His enemies, but He was also scrutinised approvingly by God the Father, as the eye of the Father was always upon Him as He moved in service for His Father. He would grow up before the LORD His God as the "tender plant" Isa.53.2, and the Father was ever delighting in the One Who did always those things that pleased Him. At the commencement of His public service, the Father declared from heaven the delight and pleasure He was finding in His own beloved Son: "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased" Matt.3.17. This expression of the Father’s continual delight in His Son was repeated close to the end of His life of service on the holy mount, 2Pet.1.17,18. As believers in the Lord Jesus, we behold Him as the fulfilment of the Passover lamb in the pages of Scripture, and we too would find all our delight in Him, and acknowledge that He is the altogether lovely One.
THE SUFFICIENCY OF THE PASSOVER LAMB
In Exodus chapter 12, it could have been that the household would be too little for the lamb, but it could never have been that the lamb would be too little for any household: the Passover lamb would always be sufficient for their deliverance from Egyptian bondage. As we think of our Lord Jesus as the Passover Lamb, we can appreciate the all-sufficiency of His sacrifice. We know as believers in Him that in His Person and work there is that which far exceeds our needs and expectations; the apostle Paul says that He "is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption" 1Cor.1.30.
John the Baptist captures the truth of the all-sufficiency of Christ as the Passover Lamb, when He speaks of Him as "the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world" Jn.1.29. His sacrifice is sufficient for all of humanity: "He is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world" 1Jn.2.2. John the Baptist is particularly appreciating that ultimately Christ’s sacrifice will be the basis for sin to be altogether put away from this universe; Heb.9.26 says that "once in the end of the world hath He appeared, to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself".
It is good for us to appreciate the large global significance of the death of Christ. John could have spoken of the Lord Jesus in a more personal way as ‘the Lamb of God, which taketh away my sins’; he surely believed that, and so it would have been a right thing to say. But John was thinking far beyond himself alone, and was expressing his large apprehension of the value of Calvary. He recognised the global and universal aspect of it, and grasped the magnitude and infinite, eternal significance of Christ’s sacrifice, which deals with the root problem of "the sin of the world". We must not be constrained in our thinking about the death and sacrifice of Christ, although we would appreciate that even the eternal ages will never exhaust the unfolding of all that has been wrought by the sacrifice of "Christ our Passover".
But we think also of the sufficiency that God the Father ever finds in His Son. We have already noted how the Father declared from heaven, not just a measure of delight and pleasure, but He found in His own dear Son all His delight and pleasure. He was the Son Who was ever well-pleasing to His Father, and never more so than when He was giving Himself in sacrifice at Calvary. We read in Heb.10.6-10 that the God Who "had no pleasure" in the Old Testament sacrifices prepared His Son a body in which He would do all the Father’s will and please him fully, by the offering of that body "once for all". Centuries before, Isaiah wrote: "Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise Him" Isa.53.10, and the same verse declares that in a future day "the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in His hand".
We think of the sufficiency of the glory that the Father found in His Son; He was the One Who glorified His Father on the earth, Jn.17.4, and, again, it was not just a measure of glory, but He was the One Who infinitely and eternally glorified His Father by the laying down of His life, and the sacrifice He accomplished at Calvary. At the time of the Saviour entering Jerusalem a few days before His death, He would say, "Father, glorify Thy Name" Jn.12.28, and there was an immediate and confident response from heaven: the voice of the Father thundered in reply, "I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again", confirming the infinite and eternal glory and satisfaction that the Father found in His Son, and would find in His soon-to-be-accomplished sacrifice as the fulfilment of the Passover.
The Book of Psalms is divided into five sections, or books. Psalm 84 is in the third section. This section fully justifies the suggestion that these five sections correspond to the first five books of the Bible. The third section, which corresponds to the Book of Leviticus, has seventeen Psalms in it, Psalms 73-89. Levi had three sons, Gershon, Kohath and Merari. The priests and Levites were from the tribe of Levi. Priesthood was given to the family of Aaron, who was a Kohathite. The priests had the responsibility of the service in the Tabernacle. The Levites (from the rest of the families in the tribe of Levi) were helpers of the priests, having varied responsibilities in relation to the Tabernacle, according to their families; see Numbers chapter 3 and 1Chronicles chapter 6. In the third section of the Book of Psalms, all except one were written either by a Levite or for Levites, Psalm 86 being the exception: eleven Psalms, Psalms 73-83, are written by Asaph, a Gershonite; Heman, a Kohathite, wrote Psalm 88 and Ethan, a Merarite, wrote Psalm 89. Psalms 84, 85 and 87 were written by unknown psalmists for the sons of Korah, who also was a Kohathite.
We do not know the name of the psalmist as he, for some unknown reason, withheld his name. It is quite possible that he was a priest because he says, "How amiable [or ‘lovely’] are Thy tabernacles, O LORD of hosts!" The beauty of the Tabernacle was inside. The outward covering of the Tabernacle was not at all attractive, as it was of badgers’ skins. No one, not even ordinary Levites, could ever get inside the Tabernacle. Only priests had the privilege to go inside and see the beautiful handiwork of the multi-colored Tabernacle curtains, in the light of the golden lampstand; its rays reflected from gold-covered wooden walls.
Reading and understanding the instructions given to Moses in relation to the Tabernacle was another way of knowing and enjoying what it was from inside. If the writer was not a priest then he was an extremely spiritual person who not only read the details but was content with the making of the Tabernacle and could enjoy every detail given by God in relation to His dwelling-place. It was God’s design, according to God’s will and instructions, and the psalmist was happy with it, but are we happy with what God has designed as His dwelling-place in our day? At a time when God-given details of His present dwelling-place are considered outdated and inadequate, this is a valuable lesson to learn.
The Psalm was written "for the sons of Korah". The names of the sons of Korah were Assir, Elkanah and Abiasaph, Ex.6.24, 1Chr.6.22,23. Korah, their father, died tragically at the hand of God because of his rebellion. The sons of Korah were a witness to God’s:
goodness, in that He spared their lives, Num.26.11
faithfulness, as He kept His own word of children not perishing for their father’s sin, Ezek.18.20
grace, as He allowed them to be appointed as porters in the temple, 1Chr.9.19.
Paul says every ministry of God’s Word should be for edification, or exhortation or comfort. Someone has said, "Edification means to build up, exhortation to stir up and comfort to cheer up". Edification takes place by education, exhortation by motivation and comfort by pacification. The death of Korah brought great fear among Israelites, not to mention his children. "And the children of Israel spake unto Moses, saying, ‘Behold, we die, we perish, we all perish. Whosoever cometh any thing near unto the tabernacle of the LORD shall die: shall we be consumed with dying?’" Num.17.12,13. Someone had to speak to the sons of Korah so that they might be willing to take up their responsibility in relation to the Tabernacle, which was to carry the vessels of the house of God on their shoulders. The psalmist does it in poetical form and hands it over to the sons of Korah and this becomes their song.
The Psalm divides itself into three stanzas of four verses each. The word Selah, which may mean ‘pause and think’, marks the division. In vv.1-4 we have the words of edification, or education. In these verses, it is the house of God that is the focus of the psalmist. In vv.5-8, we have the words of exhortation, or motivation. The psalmist here concentrates on the power of God. In vv.9-12, we have the words of comfort, or pacification. Here the psalmist dwells upon the faithfulness of God.
In each of these sections, there is a beatitude. In the first section, it is the blessedness of dwelling in God’s house. Provision of the Tabernacle shows God’s desire, not need, to keep His people close to Him. It was never meant to drive people away. However, the judgment on Korah and his company brought great fear in the hearts of the people. Therefore, the psalmist speaks and says that it is not a curse but a blessing to dwell in God’s house. Nevertheless, there are certain requisites that are necessary before we approach it. Hence the psalmist pictures himself as a priest and educates the sons of Korah on those necessary qualifications. In the second section, we see the psalmist as a pilgrim who is passing through the dark valley of weeping even as the sons of Korah were, and it is the blessedness of depending on God’s strength about which the psalmist speaks. In the third section the psalmist speaks about the blessedness of trusting in God. He pictures himself as a porter having the heavy burden of responsibility in the house of God.
THE PRIEST: EDUCATION ON NECESSARY REQUISITES – vv.1-4
Appreciation of the Tabernacle, or Perfection of the Tent – v.1
"How amiable are Thy tabernacles, O LORD of hosts!"
God planned the structure of the Tabernacle and its services. Neither Moses nor any other person had any right to make any change in the pattern given by God. No one could change the material or the size and form of any instrument. No man had the right to decide who should engage in its service. Everything was determined by and dictated by God because it was His dwelling-place. But Korah was not satisfied with the responsibilities entrusted to Him. He was envious of his kinsman Aaron and the privileges given to him. Korah had no appreciation of the God-planned Tabernacle. Therefore he "rose up before Moses, with certain of the children of Israel, two hundred and fifty princes of the assembly, famous in the congregation, men of renown: And they gathered themselves together against Moses and against Aaron" Num.16.2,3. As a result, he perished.
People have brought in so many changes that are contrary to the New Testament pattern for the church. They copy the methods and entertainments of the world and say, "God has not forbidden it." But the question should be, "Has He given the permission for it?" If God has not given us direction for it in the Scriptures, either in direct commandments or in apostolic examples, how can we assume as being acceptable and introduce activities that directly or indirectly contradict the clear teachings of the New Testament? It is possible to engage in various activities in the Lord’s name which He will not own at the judgment seat, simply because they were not in accordance with the abiding principles of His eternal Word. We should heed the Lord’s words in Matt.7.22-24, which show that what counts is not what men claim, but that which is done in accordance with His words. The safety of all who approach the house of God is in appreciating and accepting the God given instructions of His house.
Attraction of the Tabernacle, or the Person of the Lord – v.2
It was the presence of the Lord that gave value to the material structure that was made. If He did not own it and His presence was not in it, it would hold no attraction to those who loved God. What should attract us to God’s house, the assembly, should not be the buildings it owns or the kind of people that gather or the position we might have in it but the presence of the Lord. How we treat His house will prove how much we love the Lord. Unto Him shall the gathering of the people be!
Condition of its Dwellers, or Humility – v.3
The psalmist compares himself to the smallest and cheapest of all the clean birds. That is humility. Korah was not marked by humility. Pride was the cause of all the problems in the Corinthian assembly. God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble, 1Pet.5.5. "Let this mind be in you" says Paul, Phil.2.5.
Conclusion, or Consistency – v.4
God’s house is a place to dwell, not a club or hotel to visit. The psalmist speaks of "altars". There were two altars in the Tabernacle. Firstly, the altar of burnt offering, and secondly, the altar of incense. Two times a day priests were to attend to it. These two correspond to the praises and prayers of God’s people. Blessed is everyone who continues in both.
THE PILGRIM: EXHORTATION FOR PROGRESS – vv.5-8
Both Old and New Testament believers are spoken of as strangers and pilgrims, Heb.11.13; 1Pet.2.11. A stranger is one who lives in a country not his own. A pilgrim is a person who is on a spiritual, sacred journey to a holy place. We learn four things about the pilgrim:
His path of abstention: "in whose heart are the ways" v.5
Before they took their journey from Egypt on that Passover night the Israelites were instructed to remove all kinds of leaven. Even so, Peter too enjoins the New Testament pilgrim to "abstain from fleshly lusts" 1Pet.2.11.
His passage through afflictions: "Who passing through the valley of Baca" v.6
The Israelites’ passage to Zion was through terrible wilderness. And to the Korahites it was mingled with tears of bereavement. Paul exhorted believers to continue in the faith despite persecution, Acts 14.22; 1Thess.3.3.
His privilege, to become a blessing: "make it a well" v.6
The afflictions on the way and the lessons learned make one more able to help others who pass through the same afflictions, 2Cor.1.4-7.
His progress in virtues: "they go from strength to strength" v.7
The afflictions of the present time produce invaluable virtues, say James and Peter, Jms.1.2-4; 1Pet.1.6,7; 2Pet.1:5-8.
THE PORTER: PACIFICATION ON WORK – vv.9-12
Carrying the vessels of the Tabernacle on one’s shoulders was a great privilege and responsibility. However, Korah somehow was not happy with the burden he was appointed to bear. He wanted what may have seemed to him the light labour of Aaron and the honour that was bestowed on the high priest. He rebelled against God’s appointed place and anointed men. Humanly speaking, no one would have appointed such a person’s children to be porters or doorkeepers of the Temple, because porters were responsible for everyone who came in and everything that went out, including the precious vessels. The responsibility and accountability were great. The psalmist here portrays before the sons of Korah the blessedness of taking up the responsibility the Lord gave them. Indirectly the psalmist assures the sons of Korah, and all who are concerned with such issues, of:
Communion, v.9. His desire for God’s blessed face to shine upon him
Contentment, v.10. His determination to do the work the Lord has given him
Certainty, v.11. His consolation in the Lord’s help
Confidence, v.12. His satisfaction in trusting the Lord.
Each believer has a specific place in the house of the Lord. Nobody else can ever take that place. Those who are willing to take up the responsibilities the Lord has given them and serve the saints according to the measure of gift given to them will be and should be able to have communion with the Lord, for without that they will not be able to continue. Each one who desires to serve the Lord should be content with the ability and work the Lord has entrusted to them. Such people can fully count on God for sustaining grace, strength and provisions for the work. And they can be fully assured of the eternal weight of glory that awaits them. Truly "Blessed is the man that trusteth in Thee".
Recently I read about three places with the word ‘Disappointment’ in their names. The reasons for the names are interesting. In 1788, a fur trader, John Meares, sailed southwards to the area of a headland in what is now Washington State, USA, hoping to find the Columbia River, and hence opportunities for trade. He turned his boat round just north of the promontory, and thus failed to find the river, which was to its south. He expressed his frustration in the name he gave to the headland: Cape Disappointment. In 1897, Frank Hann, travelling in the west of Australia, noticed many streams of water, flowing inland, which he expected would lead to a large freshwater lake. What he found was a huge, dry, ‘lake’ of salt, which, he recorded, was "the largest thing in lakes I ever saw ... I shall call the lake Lake Disappointment as I was disappointed in not finding water in it". Also in Australia is Mount Disappointment. Two explorers, Hume and Hovell, climbed this mountain in 1824, anticipating a good view of a distant bay. They were denied this vista by the many trees that grew on the mountain; hence the name.
Cape Disappointment was named by a man who failed to find the right way to where he wanted to go. It reminds me of the place people want to reach when life is over: Heaven. Sadly, however, many miss the way. King Solomon wrote, "There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death" Proverbs 16.25. We are lost in our sins, and we cannot find the way to Heaven ourselves. All who try to will end up disappointed, when they find out that they have missed the way, and end up in the Lake of Fire. The only way to Heaven is the Lord Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, Who came to earth, shed His blood and died for our sins upon the cross, then rose again. He said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by Me" John 14.6.
Lake Disappointment owes its name to its failure to provide water to a thirsty man. His disappointment pictures many people, who look for satisfaction in the things of this world; the things that will not last, and will never quench the thirsty soul. One day, Jesus Christ stood and cried, "If any man thirst, let him come unto Me, and drink" John 7.37. He was speaking, not of physical water, which temporarily satisfies a thirsty person, but of eternal life, which He gives to all who repent of their sins, and place their faith in Him. In the last chapter of the Bible we read this appeal: "Whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely" Revelation 22.17.
Mount Disappointment is testimony to the fact that, despite much effort, two men never saw the place they hoped to see. Are you hoping, by your own works, to see Heaven? The Lord Jesus told Nicodemus: "Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God" John 3.3. Do not try to get there by your own efforts. It is not possible, and all the work has already been done, by the Lord Jesus Christ Who, at the close of His sufferings on the cross, cried, "It is finished" John 19.30. Trust, now, in Him Who has provided salvation freely for you.