It has been well said that "in many ways the situation Amos found himself in was not unlike ours — here was a man of God in a wildly permissive society. That is why we need to study this prophecy ... the Holy Spirit would still speak to us all through this book." In verses 1-7 of this chapter there is a warning to the "notables" — the leaders of the nation. "Woe to them that are at ease in Zion and to those upon the mountain of Samaria who are careless."— "The notable men of the chief of the nations to whom the house of Israel come." (Amplified version). Note, yet again, that it is the whole house of Israel that is addressed. This "woe" is the second of the book; the first was in chap. 5. 18, "Woe to them that desire the day of the Lord." Calneh, Hamath and Gath — cities of Assyria, Syria and Philistia — was Israel any better than they? Israel would be judged as they had been. Careless! and they cared less. Living for today and a tomorrow that would never come; eat, drink and be merry! The heart of man has not changed and it is sad to see in our own day that there are many believers who conveniently overlook the solemn words of Him whom they call "Lord", "Take no thought for the morrow. . . " (Matt. 6. 28-34;). V. 7. of our present chapter is a dire warning, "Therefore you will be the first." As we read this prophecy, do we remember the words that Peter wrote to a dispersed Israel? "For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?" (1 Pet. 4. 17). To Amos it was "Bethel"; to Peter it was "the house of God."
"I WILL ABANDON YOU" or PRIDE BEFORE THE FALL. v. 8
One of the sextuplet of hatred things — hated, that is, by God — listed in Prov. 6. 17; is a "proud look". Here, 'Excellency' is pride. Oh yes, they had the truth but what were they doing with it?
"HUSH! DO NOT CALL UPON GOD. IT IS TOO LATE." v. 9-11.
Pestilence — hence the burning of the bodies — and a prohibition against calling upon God. It is thought that the calling upon the Name of God in the presence of death would defile the Name.
Earthquake follows plague. Is this the earthquake of chap. 1. 11? The great house destroyed; the small house smashed to pieces. There would be no difference between the rich and the poor when judgment fell.
A NATION'S MADNESS. THWARTING GOD? v. 12-14.
The nation was attempting the impossible. As a horse galloping upon rocks; as attempting to plough the sea with oxen; yet you persist in living dangerously and your judgments are bitter; your "righteousness" poison; your rejoicing vain and your idols nothing. You trust in your own strength BUT — and here is one of the most telling 'buts' of the scriptures — and it is God who speaks, "I will . . . ." So ends the fourth discourse. Man cannot fight against God. Israel and Judah were soon to learn the lesson.
THE THREE VISIONS Chap. 7. 1-9;
THE FIRST VISION. Locusts prepared v. 1-3
Notice that Amos was watching the preparation of the locusts, (Cf. 4. 9;) and the time was between the first mowings, that is, the first growth, and the main crop which was the latter growth just as it was showing up. The "King's mowings" were probably for the use of the king's horses and his cattle (Cf. 1 Kin. 18.5;). For 'grass' cf. Gen. 1.11; where the same word is used for grass, inclusive of herbs etc., Amos's own character stands out in this vision — a man tenderhearted and merciful; a true intercessor. He pleads with God for His people as Jacob the name of Israel's weakness. "Who is Jacob that he should stand, for he is small." or, "How can Jacob withstand this?" Amos is yet another who, like so many others who were noble and often anonymous, was prepared to stand in the breach when judgement threatened. The visions needed no interpreter for their meaning was clear. And God "repented as He had done in Gen. 6.5, and other occurences. This is not a change of mind or of purpose, but an expression of His Divine sorrow for His people; those who He had declared were His son, His firstborn. Cf. Gen. 6.6; "It grieved Him at His heart."
THE SECOND VISION. Fire V. 4-6;
For "deep" see Gen. 1.1; 7.11; 8.2; The water sources (Ex. 20. 4;). Are we reminded of the word in Heb. 12. 29; "our God is a consuming fire"? Notice that God not only "prepared", but he "calls." Amos pleads again, but this time he does not say "forgive" but "cease". Amos could "stand no more" as we might say. Amos saw not only the stripping of the harvest, but also the all-consuming fire, and beyond those, the terrible results, as we might see them today in the famines of Ethiopia and the Sudan and the result of a eruption and earthquake. And God repented again.
THE THIRD VISION. The Plumbline. v. 7-9;
Israel is judged by a plumbline in the midst. It has been claimed that a plumbline may be used for demolition as well as for building. God would not "pass by" His people — that is to overlook — the waywardness of His people. They were "out of true." Cf.Jer. 7.16; 11.14; 14.10-12; The door of mercy appears to be shut. The line was set not only for the nation but also for the house of Jeroboam "Who did evil in the sight of the Lord." God had used Jeroboam in recovering lost territories, but Jeroboam went his own way in despising the word of the Lord. Some aver that Amaziah the priest was in fact telling a lie when he made his report to Jeroboam (v. 11.)
AMOS OPPOSED BY THE PRIEST AT BETHEL, v. 10-17;.
Amaziah, priest at Bethel, (3.14; 4.5; 5.6;) appears to have been a toady to the king, telling him of the prophet and orders Amos to "Get out" of Bethel because it was the king's holy place and his palace. A writer has put into the mouth of the priest the words of a proverb — "Eat your pudding, slave, and hold your tongue." Have we heard similar words anywhere? Amos, as Moses and David, was following a true persuasion, but the priest at Bethel was following that which was false and idolatrous and now he hears the word of the Lord judgment. Did Amaziah tremble as he heard the terrible judgment?
A FOURTH VISION. Ripe for judgment. Chap. 8.1-3;
The ripe summer fruit had been collected and in the words of Jeremiah, "the harvest was past: the summer was ended." (Jer. 8.28;) Israel, too, was ready for harvest. But what a harvest was to be theirs!
"The end is come." "The days when I forgive you are finished. The singing of the temple girls (so a translator) will be turned into a howling. Like fallen leaves littering the streets in time of harvest your dead will lie everywhere" And we here again the solemn "Hush" of death, (see 6.10;). Read Is. 5.1-7; John 15.1-2.
—(to be continued)
Messages from Muller
These are notes of addresses given by the late George Muller
When I Die, shall I be Missed?
An Address on Monday evening, February 19, 1866. The first Prayer-meeting Mr. Miller attended after the death of his fellow-labourer, Mr. Henry Craik.
We miss our beloved brother Craik, and it is right that we should miss him. The godly aim of our lives should be that when we die we may be missed. My soul longs for grace so to live, so to walk, so to act, that when my course is finished, I may be missed,—I may be greatly missed. It becomes every one in the body of Christ,—every member in the body of Christ, to aim after this; that when their course is finished they may be missed. If our beloved departed brother were not missed, we should have great cause for weeping, great cause for sorrow; but because he is missed, we have great cause for giving thanks, great cause for praising God for the grace that was given to him so to live, so to walk, so to preach, and so to act, as that now he is gone he is missed. Well, then, let us ask ourselves individually,—Suppose this were my last night on earth, suppose I should not have to stay another day here, would my brethren and sisters in Christ miss me? How deeply important it is that we should so walk, so act, and so pass through this world, that when we are gone we may be missed. If when we are gone, we are not missed by the saints, it is a plain proof that we have not been strengthening their hands in God, it is plain proof that we have not been ministering to their spiritual profit, that we have not been helping them forward in the things of God. If we take our place,—though we may not be preachers, though we may not be pastors, though we may not be holding any public position among the saints,—yet if we take our place as members in the body of Christ, and act according to the place the Lord has given us, and walk graciously according to that place, when we are gone we shall be missed,—we must be missed, After this we all have to aim. Let each one take away with us to-night this godly purpose,—that by the grace of God, from this evening and henceforth, it shall be my earnest prayer, my constant aim, so to live, so to walk, so to carry myself, that when I am gone I shall be missed.
by A. D. THROPAY (California)
Paper No. 6
Chapter 2 can be divided into three sections
REDEMPTION BY GOD — 2.1-10
RECONCILIATION TO GOD — 2.11-19
RESTING PLACE FOR GOD — 2.19-22
I. REDEMPTION BY GOD
A. Walking in trespasses and sins V1, 2
B. Fulfilling selfish desires V3
C. Salvation by grace V4, 5, 6
D. To show the exceeding riches of His grace V7
C. Salvation by grace V8, 9
B. Fulfilling God's desire V10
A. Walking in good works V10
—And: (kai) the conjunction has the force of "and you too" or "you also, as well as Christ." (Expositors) Paul has told us what the Father has done with His Son the Lord Jesus, now he will describe what He has done for the believers.
—you (hath he quickened): These words are supplied from verse 5. The thought started in verse 1 is interrupted in verses 2 and 3. They are continued in verse 4 with the words, "But God." Paul's thought in verse 1 is then given in the words, "hath quickened us."
—who were: (ontas) "being," "when ye were." (Revised Version) The words express the condition that they were in when God's power worked in them.
—dead: That is spiritually dead. The death is a literal fact. Death is separation from mat which has life. In God is life. All those who do not have divine life in them are dead. Spiritual death is far more real than the physical. Physical death is only a picture of the spiritual reality.
—in: (en) denotes the sphere which keeps the person lifeless as well as the cause for the death.
—trespasses: (Paraptoma) literally "a fall beside something," "a falling aside," "falling by the way." (Cp. Kittel, FF Bruce). "It denotes a trespass, a deviation from uprightness and truth." (W. E. Vine) It is used of Adam's sin (Romans 5.15, 17). "It refers directly to the disruption of man's relationship with God through his fault." (Kittel) Hence, "trespasses, or offences." — When man sinned, he fell from the position of harmony, peace, and fellowship with God that God had originally intended. Anything that disrupts that relationship with God or maintains that disruption is a trespass.
—and sins: (hamartia) "A missing the mark." Failure. The picture is that of a person who is aiming at what he thinks is the target. He shoots at what he thinks is the mark only to find that he was way off centre and probably even off the target altogether.
—Wherein: (en eis) in which (referring to trespasses and sins)
—in time past ye walked: (peripateo) Literally, "to walk around," thus, "to order one's behaviour." A person who is spiritually dead (unsaved) orders his life in the sphere of sin. Not one act gets outside of this circle.
—according to: (kata) in accord with, being measured and characterized by.
—the course: (aiona) age, a period of time during which moral and spiritual characteristics are displayed. It is transient and unstable. See Galatians 1.4.
—of this world: (kosmos) Primarily, an arrangement, order. Then the earth. It came to be used for the people on the earth, mankind, and then for the present condition of human affairs apart from God.
—according to (kata) the prince: (archon) "a ruler, commander, chief ruler." (Thayer)
—of the power: (exousia) delegated authority; those with permission and liberty to exercise power. .This would be a group of spirit beings with delegated authority under the head leaders (the principality). In this case the head leader is Satan himself. Satan and his demons must work within limited freedom. They must work within the limitations that God has set. Cp. Job 1.12; 2.6; Matthew 8.31
—of the air: (aer) That sphere where oxygen is breathed and humanity lives. Satan's evil authority is confined to the earth's atmosphere! He claims that this scope of authority was given to him and that he has the prerogative to hand it to whoever he chooses (Luke 4:6). In reality, he has usurped this authority from the Lord Jesus, its rightful Owner, as Absalom did from King David (II Samuel 15-18). As with Absalom, eventually his evil rule will be overthrown. (1 Cor. 15.24).
There is another word translated "air" or "heaven," (oura-nos), which is limited to the earth's atmosphere as is (aer). It is translated "air" in Matthew 6.26; 8.20, 32; Acts 11.6. It is also used of the sphere where God dwells. See Matthew 6.1, 9, 10, 20 etc.
—the: (tou) "of the." The one who is ruler of the power of the air is also ruler of the. . .
—spirit: (Pneuma) the word "spirit" refers to one's way of thinking and acting here like the "spirit of Antichrist."
—that now worketh: (energeo) Means literally, "to work in;" "to be operative in."
—in the children: (huios) A Hebrew idiom, describes one with a certain behaviour.
—of disobedience: (apeithes) Not able to be persuaded, obstinate, not compliant.
—among whom: (en ois) Literally, "In whom," that is, numbered among whom, or numbered with whom.
—also we all had our conversation: (anastrepho) one's conduct, manner of life, behaviour. Paul excludes none from this condemnation. All of us have had our experiences in Satan's camp among the unconverted, acting like them.
—in times past: i.e., before we were saved.
—in the lusts: (epithumia) a strong desire, a craving of any kind.
—of our flesh: (sarx) This word is used to refer to the totally depraved nature in the unsaved.
—fulfilling: (poieo) to do, perform, accomplish (with imagination and creativity). (Eng. "poem").
—the desires: (thelema) a thing willed; an inclination.
—of the flesh (sarx) and of the mind: (dianoion) Literally, "To think through." It refers to thoughts and meditations of a person.
—and were by nature: (phusis) "What is innate, implanted in one by nature, especially their constitution." W. E. Vine
—the children (teknon) of wrath: A Hebraism as verse 2. By nature we were exposed to the wrath of God and essentially connected with it.
—even as others: (hos kai ho loiroi) "as even the rest." i.e., none are excluded.
—But God: Paul now returns to the statement which was interrupted at verse 2. The word translated "But" is used to distinguish one thought from another. In this case, the distinction is between the fact that "you were dead" in verse one and what will be related now. The word "God" has the article preceding it. This indicates that God is the object which is to be before our minds at this time. "The God of our Lord Jesus Christ," (1.17) who exhibited so much power regarding His Son in resurrection.
—who is: (on) "being,"
—rich: (plousios) wealthy, abounding in resources, having an exhaustless supply.
—in: (en) denoting the sphere in which God's riches and wealth is found.
—mercy: (eleos) "the outward manifestation of pity. . . God's attitude towards those who are in distress." (W. E. Vine)
—for: (dia) on account of, because of, through. This word indicates the basis or means by which something is accomplished.
—His great: (polus) This word means "strong, intense, large, great," when associated with a noun of emotion as it is here.
—love: (agape) A sacrificial attachment bases on reason, selection, and choice. The one who loves sees in that person a need for love. This person loves the unattractive in spite of, not because of. He loves regardless of what is done or not done. The recipients God's love are mentioned in verses 2-3 of this chapter.
—wherewith He loved: (agapao) This phrase expresses the deep, constant, affection and interest of God in totally depraved and unworthy subjects, namely,
—us: We are the objects of God's love. We can make no claim to His love based on our own value or worth. The source of love is all in God.
—even when we: emphasizing the state we were in when His mercy was bestowed on us.
—were dead: (nekrous) This is literal death. The death of the unsaved is literal, actual, spiritual, death. Physical death is only a dim picture of the true death which is spiritual.
—in sins: (tois paraptoma) "trespasses," as verse 1. It means, "a fall beside something," "a falling aside," "falling by the way." (Cp. Kittel, FF Bruce). "It denotes a trespass, a deviation from uprightness and truth." (W. E. Vine) — Notice the article. We were dead to the trespasses. That is, we were totally oblivious and insensitive to the fact that we were deviating from the straight path of truth, having fallen aside, away from God.
—hath quickened us together with: (sunzoopoieo) "To cause to live together with another." (As Colossians 2.13
—Christ: We have been given the life of the One in whom is life. "In Him was life." John 1.4 his life is spiritual, literal, real, genuine, and actual. We have been made sharers with Him in His life.
—by grace: (charis) as 1.2 The unlimited (Romans 11.6), unmerited (Ephesians 2.8), unselfish (II Corinthians 8.9), loving favour of God to the sinner which produces "leaping for joy" and thankfulness."
—ye are: the present tense indicates an action which persists through the present time.
—saved: (sozo) To save, deliver from, rescue, preserve safe and unharmed. The word is a perfect participle. This denotes an action which took place and was completed in past time having results existent in the present time. "The idea is that they were saved and continued to be so." (Expositors)
The context shows that the salvation is from everything mentioned in verses 1-3. That would include salvation from spiritual death, sins, trespasses, as well as being controlled and dominated by the world, the devil, and the flesh.
—And hath raised us up together: (sunegeiro. From sun = together; and egeiro = to raise up.) This is a literal, actual, real, genuine spiritual resurrection. It is as real as the death was prior to salvation, and the life that we have after conversion. The aorist tense points to a definite time when this occurred. The actual occurrence was when we by faith believed in Him.
The grammar allows this word to refer to (a) union with the Lord, "raised together with Him." or (b) union with other believers, "raised together with other believers. I believe that the context indicates that this and the following word refers to the Lord Jesus Christ.
—and made us sit together: (sunkathizo. From sun = together; and kathizo = to cause to sit down, make to sit down, as 1.20). Hence, it means "to cause to sit together with another." This word is also in the aorist tense. It too refers to an accomplished fact that occurred when we placed faith in the Lord Jesus. We are seated together with Him. . . .
—in: (en) indicating the sphere in which we are seated.
—heavenly places: (as 1.20) (epouraniois) the upper heavenlies; i.e., the upper heavenly regions. The abode of God.
The power that God used to raise the Lord Jesus Christ from physical death, and exalt Him to a sphere in the Heavenlies was described in 1.19-23. God has used that very same power to accomplish the same thing in believers. The place to which the Lord Jesus has been exalted, Heaven, is the very same place that believers have been placed at conversion.
Again, this is no less literal than the spiritual death, life, and resurrection already mentioned. If we are already sitting in Heaven, it is impossible for us to ever lose our salvation.
—in: (en) showing the sphere in which all this has taken place.
—Christ Jesus: At conversion, we were placed in Christ. In Him we are able to share in all that has been done for Him. We are literally, "In Christ." When we are saved, being "in Him" takes on new meaning. His Spirit now permeates our own spirit so that the two become united as one. His life becomes our life, His will our will, what is true of Him becomes true of us. His sphere of rule is as endless as His Person. The entire vastness of His dominion is called "the Heavenlies." We are there because we are in Him. We can not see this sphere with these physical eyes and bodies. They are like tents obstructing the view. One day these tents shall be removed and we will look out on the vast plains of Heaven that we have been in since salvation.
— Its Prospects and Its Perils
by D. E. West, (Leicester)
Readings :— Leviticus 10.8-9; 1 Samuel 2.30; Job 32.21-22; Eccless. 12.12; Daniel 1.3-5,8; 1 Tim. 5.22, 6.20-21.
Firstly, a word to Christian parents — what are your desires and aspirations for your children? The Lord alone can read the heart. Are you concerned foremost for their spiritual progress and prosperity?
Could it be that you are more interested in them gaining 8 or 10 G.C.S.E.'s at the first attempt than in seeing them saved? Would you rather be present on the occasion of their Degree Ceremony than to witness their baptism as believers in obedience to the Word of God? Are your aspirations set more upon them sitting on a Board of Directors than upon them taking their place in the fellowship of the local assembly and partaking of the Lord's Supper?
We sometimes pray that God will give us men who will be useful for Him, but He does not give us men, He gives us children. It is our responsibility to make them men and women that God can use. "Train up a child in the way he should go:' says Solomon, "and when he is old, he will not depart from it" (Proverbs 22.6) and how we train our children in their early years may well determine their ultimate usefulness for God.
Of course, God gives them new life when He saves them, but we begin to build character into them from the day they are born.
And now to the younger believers — At about the age of 16 years, a decision has to be made whether at that stage to seek employment or to continue with further study, with a view, at 18 years of age (normally), to entering higher education. It is more of a milestone in life's experience than many would be prepared to acknowledge.
Some thought must be given as to which combination of subjects should be studied and Advanced Level (or Higher Level) — since this may have a direct influence upon one's future career (a poor choice might be a combination of Chemistry, English and Art!) The decision must finally be made by the individual, although, of course, help will be sought from elsewhere, e.g. advice from parents, counsel from godly elders.
We need to bear in mind that the Lord has planned for His people to be found in all walks of life in order that the divine character may be manifested in all spheres. Each will be equally valuable in His sight and essential for the fulfilment of His purpose, but it is the individual's responsibility to make the right choice.
Remember that manual employment can be just as God-honouring as a professional career. There is nothing to be ashamed of in manual labour. Says Paul, "and that ye study (i.e. make it your aim)... to be quiet and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands" (1 Thess. 4.11). To the Ephesian elders he says, "these hands have ministered unto my necessities, and to them that were with me (Acts 20.34). Thus Paul's own example was in complete harmony with his own teaching.
When writing to the Corinthian saints, Paul says, "For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called" (1 Cor. 1.26). Note that it is not "not any" but "not many"; thus we read of (i) Saul of Tarsus, an educated man, "brought up ... at the feet of Gamaliel (Acts 22.3); (ii) "Luke, the beloved physician" (Cor. 4.14).
As the time approaches for you to complete your secondary education, a final decision will have to be made as to whether to move on to higher education.
The question arises, What am I to study? N.B. The present writer would not sit in judgment upon any who chose to take a degree in one of the following subjects, but certain factors need to be borne in mind:—
English—under some syllabi students are requested to read literature which is morally corrupting;
Modern Languages—as part of most Degree Courses, it is necessary for the student to spend a year in e.g. France, Germany or Spain—if this is the case, careful consideration ought to be given to the matter of assembly fellowship in the foreign location;
Religious Education—the study of comparative religion can be a great stumblingblock to a young believer;
Geology—do we believe that "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth" (Gen. 1.1)?; in all probability this planet is not more than 6000 years old;
Philosophy and Politics—do not become involved in the politics of this world; remember "our conversation (or politics) is in heaven" (Phil. 3.20).
Where am I to stay? Divine guidance is necessary in this matter. In order to ascertain the will of God, we must be sincere in our praying; if we have already made up our minds beforehand, it is hypocritical to ask His will.
We need to take into account certain principles of divine guidance:—
(i) there must be a definite conviction in our hearts that God desires us to follow a certain course or to do a certain thing;
(ii) the path He would have us to take will be indicated by outward circumstances which make it humanly possible, or expedient, that we should take it;
(iii) after definite waiting upon God for it, there will come some special word from the scriptures which is suited to our need and which, by the Spirit bringing it to our notice, is plainly a message from God to our individual heart.
So, where am I to study? N.B. Academic considerations must not be the chief criteria for making such a decision. As to location, I must ask myself the question, Is the college or university near to an assembly of the Lord's people? If so, seek to find out something about the character of the assembly—is it going to be a real help to me spiritually?
There may be a certain apprehensiveness on the part of parents in allowing their offspring to leave home. For the most part, children of believers will have lived somewhat sheltered lives. It might well be advisable not to encourage a son or daughter to move away from home if he or she has not yet been converted and made a bold stand for Christ.
However, there comes a time when children have to "stand on their own two feet" spiritually; there is a great need for youngsters to form their own personal convictions and not simply to fall back upon the convictions of their parents.
—(to be continued)
THE ATONEMENT (2)
by William Blane
When God the Earth's foundations laid,
And at their bounds the proud waves stay'd,
With angels' shout the heavens rang,
The morning stars together sang.
And why such joy? Did He not know
It yet would be a scene of woe,
Of misery, and grief, and pain,
Where sin e'en unto death would reign?
Yes! From the first He knew the last;
With Him the future, present, past
Is all one vast, eternal now.
Who dares to say, "He knew not how
Sin would His fair creation mar,
And from His presence man debar?"
Then how could He the secret keep
Which would have made those angels weep
Instead of sing? Would He thus show
His power alone, and make them know
The vengeance of His dreadful ire,
To punish with eternal fire
Rebellious creatures? No! They knew
That He with whom they had to do
Was the Almighty, and that He
Sin in His presence could not see.
When Satan and his host rebell'd,
His awful wrath they had beheld,
As o'er the battlements of heaven
They from their ancient seat were driven,
To prove the vengeance they had dar'd,
Where Justice had their place prepar'd.
But in His heart there reigned a love
That reached beyond the realms above,
And thus He did this world destine
To be the scene where it should shine
In all its rich and full display,
For which the curse but paved the way.
Though all th' infernal host combin'd,
And sin and death were with them join'd,
To do their worst, in hellish hate,
God's will and purpose to frustrate,
Their efforts, though they wist it not,
That very will and purpose wrought.
A world which nought but sin did yield
Alone could be a fitting field
On whose dark scene to demonstrate
The love so rich, so free, so great,
That filled His heart—a love that would
Reach far beyond the just and good,
And with its circle circumscribe
Each nation, kindred, tongue, and tribe,
And, for His boundless mercy's sake,
For all their sins atonement make—
Provide salvation for the lost,
Free, yet at an infinite cost ;
Yea, overcome the sinner's heart,
And love, where hatred reigned, impart,
And people heaven with a throng
Of pardoned rebels, to prolong
To all eternity the lays
Of their Redeemer's glorious praise.
(to be continued)
The Wisdom of Solomon
(From the Book of Proverbs) by David G. Whiteley
These notes have been prepared, not as an exposition of the scriptures, but rather as presenting the teaching of the book of Proverbs in a way whereby we can see the individual verses as part of an integral whole.
To follow the notes it is essential to have your Bible open at that book, and read each reference prayerfully and meditatively (chewing the cud) as it were (Leviticus 11.3). You will find that what is taught here is not the natural behaviour of men and women but rather it cuts across the grain to produce a pattern of true godliness.
(1) Mercy and Truth.
These are integral parts of the godly life 14.22,31. They are God's principal way of handling iniquity 16.6, and amongst His rulers their absence would overthrow the throne 20.28. So we should meditate therein 3.3, and practice them even with our beasts 12.10! It will do good to our own soul 11.17.
The secret of this is to turn away from one's own understanding, and like all the true examples of faith from Abraham on, to trust in the Lord with all the heart 3.5-7, and fear Him 14.26. In that state we may have practical means to help us in life's warfare 21.31, but our trust should only be in Him 18.10, compare v. 11.
Such is the Lord's concern over pride that He opposes it, or rather, "him" — the proud man 3.34, compare 15.25. It brings a man to shame 11.2, and with it comes contention, 13.10, destruction, and a fall 16.18; 29.23. It is the peril of riches 28.11, and we are exhorted against conceit 3.7. It is an "abomination" (exceedingly hateful) 6.16-17; 16.5. It results, in wicked acts against men to secure spoils! Better to be poor! 16.19.
On the contrary, lowliness is associated with wisdom (e.g. Joseph and Daniel) honour 15.33; 18.12, riches and life 22.4. God will help and set forward such 3.34; 29.23.
(4) The Heart.
This is the great citadel of life 4.23. Out of it proceed the issues of life, speech, walk etc., 10.20; 14.30; 15.14 and hence is the place to consider commandments 6.20-23.
We must soon learn that discipline is one of God's tools to produce obedient sons 3.11-12.
We may also learn His guidance as we look for and acknowledge Him in our ways 3.6. In this we are not taught always to look for God's intervention but to exercise His integrity 11.3 and prudence 14.15.
(1) Diligence and Sloth.
These are seen mainly in the context of providing for oneself and one's desires and appetite, 12.11,27; 16.26. Some examples are given to aid the memory:—
a) The ant 3.25; 6.6-11 compare 10.4-5. It has no guide, overseer or ruler.
b) Vinegar to teeth and smoke to the eyes 10.26. A slothful servant is usually a "talker" 14.23.
c) Hedge of thorns 15.19. This man can't find a way to do it! (Compare 20.4).
d) The result of diligence.
He shall bear rule 12.24, cp. Joseph. He shall enjoy plenteousness 21.5. He shall be in the presence of kings 22.29. The result of sloth. He is conceited 26.16. He is a destroyer 18.9, cp. 24.30-34. He shall die 21.25.
Here we are told of its devastating effects on one's life 20.1; 23.29-32, particularly in bringing poverty 21.17; 23.20-21. It has no place in the life of the ruler 31.4.
Anger and foolishness go together 14.17, as do slowness to wrath and understanding 14.29. Such a one is better than a mighty man 16.32. Anger in others is to be met by a soft answer 15. 1 — but keep away from the angry man 22. 24, for fear of learning his ways v.25.
(4) The Tongue.
Death and life are in the power of the tongue! 18.21. Many of the references are to do with the evil of it 4.24; 6.12; 14, 17, 19, and particularly sowing discord. What pain this causes 18.8; 26.22. Without the talebearer strife would cease as would a fire without wood 26.20. To drive away a backbiting tongue an angry countenance is required 25.23.
Another point of wickedness in speech is too much of it 10.19. Lies are an abomination 12.22.
Abounding in the Proverbs are pictures of the tongue of the righteous. "A well of life" 10.11, "Choice silver" 10.20, they "feed many" 10.21, give "health" 12.18, 13.17, are a "tree of life" 15.4, as a "honeycomb," sweet to the soul and health to the bones 16.24. "Apples of gold in pictures of silver" 25.11.
So the righteous studieth to answer 15.28, and is a man of few words 17.27-28.
The effect of his words? The lip of truth (not grace!) is established forever 12.19. The sweetness of the lips increaseth learning 16.21.
A most hateful wickedness to the Lord 6.19. It starts as something small 6.14; 17.14, becoming a fire. It is the activity of worthless persons 6.14, and froward (i.e. foolish, perverse, deceitful 16.28, and whispers. If it wasn't for the talebearer this fire would go out 26.20. Pride 28.25, and anger 29.22; 30.33, are triggering mechanisms.
In Proverbs — to do with weights and measures. False ones are an abomination 11.1, 16.11; 20.10; 17,23. (Note — the "weighing up" spiritually applies here).
Two things are said to affect the ruler in his work — one positive, the other negative. (1) The Lord guides the King's heart 21.1. (2) Drink perverts judgment — it is not for kings 31.4-7.
Numerous principles of action are mentioned. The throne is established by righteousness 16.12, 25.5. Respect of persons has no place here 24.23, but rather a wise king will root out evil persons 20.26. Mercy and truth are great watchwords 20.28. The true king will not answer a matter before he hears it 18.13.
The effects of this are shown 19.12; 20.2,8. Failure in judgment is abomination to the Lord 17.15, but its success establishes the land. Bribery overthrows it 29.4,14. The people can rejoice over righteous rule 29.2. The king is honoured in a multitude 14.28.
Note:— better not to exalt oneself in the king's presence — wait an invitation 25.6-7. He is a friend to a person of purity and gracious lips(22.11. His heart is unsearchable, he searches out what God conceals 25.2-3.
We are to show patience, restraint, and seeking the enemy's good, rather than his downfall. So 20.22; 24.17-18. So accordingly we must give the enemy bread, provide his needs, heap coals of fire on his head, and the Lord will reward 25.21-22).
This is the province of the righteous, not the slothful 21.26. It is an area where God is particularly caring to the poor and needy and is watching the actions of those who can supply needs. To them are promises of help as well as commands to give. So see 3.9,27-28; 11.24-26; 28.27.
We are advised not to reprove a scorner, but a wise man (who wants advancement) will appreciate what you do 9.7-8. It will advance a man of understanding in knowledge 19.25. So a wise reprover is very valuable 25.12 and the wounds of a friend are faithful 27.6. Afterwards such will find more favour that a flatterer 28.23.
So it is prudent to regard it 15.5, and to listen is to be wise 15.31-32. It is refused by those who forsake the way 15.10,12. It is more effective to the wise than 100 stripes to the fool 17.10. To be often reproved and harden the neck (be stubborn) reaps sudden, remedial destruction 29.1.
(11) Correction of children.
This is required 22.15. There is an unreasonable fear of correction 23.13. To spare the rod is to hate one's son 13.24. So a loving father seeks ways of correction. It must be performed early on 19.18, while there is hope, it being a cruel kindness that withholds seasonable correction 22.6. He must be trained up, i.e. hedged in, as cattle are guided, in the way he should go "at the mouth of his way," i.e. the opening, or beginning of his way. The end of the verse shows the happy result — compare 29.15,17.
(12) The Virtuous Woman.
The Hebrew word is "strong in all moral qualities" and is applied only to Ruth in chapter 3.11 of the book that bears her name. Such a woman is described as a Crown" to her husband, someone he can look upon with pride, love and joy 12.4.
31.10-31 is an acrostic of the 22 Hebrew letters, outlining the qualities of such an one. The main thrust of her character is persistent industry. She is a worker rising early, and staying up late v. 15, 18 feeding and clothing her household and being generous to the poor. She knows how to guide the house, being characterised also by wisdom of speech v. 26. She is watching their ways v. 27 and is honoured by them v. 28. She receives suitable reward v. 31.
Christ in the Apocalypse by John b. d. Page
This book is based on a series of articles which were published in Assembly Testimony during the period from May/June, 1984 to March/April 1989. These articles have been revised and expanded to form the book.
There are many books dealing with the Revelation from a purely prophetic aspect but few which seek to highlight the person of the Lord Jesus Christ as He is presented in the book. From this aspect, brother Page's book fills a gap. He deals essentially with the Names and Titles of the Lord Jesus in the Revelation and seeks to understand their meaning in relation to ihe context in which they are found. His exposition is sound regarding the eternal Sonship, absolute Deity, true and impeccable Humanity, atoning death, physical resuurrection, bodily ascension, High Priestly ministry, pre tribulation rapture of the saints and the ensuing millennial kingdom of the Lord Jesus.
The exposition, in a contextual manner, deals with many quotations from the Old Testament. This displays our brothers familiarity with the Old Testament Scripture and its typology. The wide ranging Bibliography indicates the amount of background reading and research which has been carried out.
The book is well presented by Gospel Tract Publications and at £3.60 (plus 60p. postage) for more than 200 Christ exalting pages is excellent value.
WORSHIP AND MINISTRY
by D. M. CLARK, Stoney Creek
The ground of all worship is the work of Christ, Our only approach to God is through Christ who suits us for His presence. We are told to "worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness," Ps. 96.9. If we attempt to worship Him in any other way than in accordance with His holiness we are neglecting the fact that it is sin that alienates from God. Ps. 66.18, "If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me." Of paramount importance in the exercise of ministry of any kind, or participation in worship, is the need to have a sense of the presence of the Holy Spirit and His guidance. In John 14.16,17, we read: "And I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter, that He may abide with you forever; even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth Him not, neither knoweth Him: but ye know Him; for He dwelleth with you and shall be in you." Do we "know Him"? To know Him means that by being in communion and fellowship with Him we will have nothing in our lives that grieves Him; only in this way can He use us to effectively glorify God.
Further, those participating should recognize that they are the mouth-piece for the assembly. In worship they address God on behalf of the assembly; in ministry they address the assembly on behalf of God. When they speak on behalf of the assembly it is not as an individual but as one giving expression to the voice of the assembly, for it is as an assembly that we gather to worship the Lord.
True worship is a grateful and joyous response of the heart to God, when filled with a deep sense of the blessings poured upon us. It presupposes a relationship with God; it recognizes His nature and attributes and what He has done for us through the. death of Christ. Although we can worship as individuals there is a fuller expression found when the Holy Spirit has liberty in drawing worship from a company of believers.
It is as priests that we worship. If our worship is to be approved of God it must be "in Spirit" John 4.24, "God is a Spirit: and they that worship Him must worship Him in Spirit and in truth." To worship in Spirit is to do so according to the true nature of God in communion with the Holy Spirit. Believers have been suited to worship for we have been made the righteousness of God in Christ — 2 Cor. 5.21 — and have the Holy Spirit dwelling in us. However, our spiritual slate must agree with our standing in Christ and the Spirit be ungrieved if the "sacrifice of praise, that is the fruit of our lips" (Heb. 13.15), is to be acceptable to God.
To worship "in truth" is to do so according to the revelation that God has given to us of Himself. The glorious attributes of God have been revealed to us in various ways but never more clearly than at the cross of Christ our Saviour. There we apprehend God's holiness, righteousness, wrath, grace, mercy, and love.
His holiness is revealed in the fact that "He is of purer eyes than to behold evil" and so for three hours, while the Lord Jesus bore our sins, all was covered in darkness. His righteousness is demonstrated by the fact that He could not pass over sin but must judge it in the person of the Lord Jesus. His wrath is revealed in the magnitude of the punishment that the Lord Jesus endured to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself, "My God, my God why has Thou forsaken me?" J. I. Packer has written that "wrath is righteousness in judicial action." How solemn the judgment then that was borne by our Saviour. Our sins deserved that we should have been cast from God's presence into the lake of fire, but in mercy God spared us and gave us life in Christ, which we did not deserve. His love was clearly shown in that He went to such extreme lengths to open the way to receive us as He received His own Beloved Son. In the recognition of these attributes our hearts are drawn out in worship, praise and thanksgiving. This in turn will ascend as a sweet odour to God, by Christ Jesus, which is what God is seeking.
We also know that the Holy Spirit inspired the writers of the New Testament to give instructions to guide us as to how, when and who takes part in assembly meetings. Will He lead us contrary to His own instructions? The answer is a resounding "NO" for God is not the author of confusion. Some of these instructions are found in 1 Cor. 14.26-35; and 1 Pet. 4.10,11.
Gift is not required to.-give out a hymn, to read a scripture nor to pray. The one participating, however, must be led of the Spirit and be sensitive to the spiritual tenor of the meeting. There should be an even tone to the spirit of the meeting so that all will coalesce about the theme that the Holy Spirit develops. We do not give out our "favourite" hymn or scripture but what the Spirit raises in our hearts. What is given forth must be that which expresses the sentiments of the assembly. For the Spirit to raise such we must be familiar with the hymns and scriptures. We should not be thumbing through our bibles and hymn books looking for a "suitable" portion.
More than knowledge of the Word is required too. There must be personal application and appropriation of the truth by which we have gained wisdom and understanding. The assembly can readily distinguish what is ministered from the heart and lhat which is acquired by the intellect alone. "Let all things be done unto edififying." 1 Cor. 14.26b.
It is equally important to note that the spiritual state of the assembly is affected by the spiritual state of each member of the body, brothers and sisters alike. Our dear sisters, who usually outnumber the brothers, have a very great impact here. Their spiritual state must be such that it has God's approval, else it too may have a detrimental effect on the whole, for a little leaven leavens the whole lump!
Gathering as we do, without a stated ministry, provides opportunity for the flesh to act and therein lies our difficulty. We need spiritual discernment to distinguish between the flesh and the Spirit. From whence flows the part we take in the meetings of the assembly? Our qualification must go beyond the fact that we can read! The assembly will be the final judge as to what is of the Spirit or not, for in 1 John 4: 1 we are told to: "try the spirits whether they are of God." Silence should not be a cause for "filling in the gap". Indeed silence provides opportunity to meditate on what has been before us and can be an important spiritual benefit.
Gift is a factor in ministry. The one ministering should recognize the gift(s) God has given to him and when he speaks "Let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it
as of the ability which God giveth; that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ", 1 Pet. 4:11. Again, it should not just be something we have enjoyed ourselves but that which the Holy Spirit raises from the heart in communion with Him. Such ministry should be within the scope of what we have personally apprehended and made our own and be beyond our own spiritual experience.
All the gifts that God has given are for the benefit of the whole body. The exercise of gift parallels the work of the Levites in the Old Testament for it is to be used as a ministry from the Lord, by His Spirit, to His people.
For ministry to be approved of God and glorify Him it must be in keeping with the injunction in 1 Pet. 4.10, "As each man has received a gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God." Every believer has been given a gift and should be prayerfully before the Lord that it be used to fulfill His purposes. We are accountable! CONCLUSION
The purpose in writing the foregoing is not to lay down a set of rules for assembly participation but to encourage the hearts of the Lord's people to render the worship He seeks, and to use their gifts to edify the saints. The Holy Spirit will then have greater liberty in fulfilling God's purposes in our lives. His purposes include "Showing forth the praises of Him who hath called us," 1 Pet. 2.9 and "that we might be to the praise of His glory." Eph. 1.12.
by the Late W. W. FEREDAY
It is very touching the way the Lord rebukes the insensibility of the disciples in Mark 8.14-21. The Pharisees had just distressed Him by their perverse demand for a sign from Heaven (after all His works of power wrought in their midst), and the Lord warned His disciples to "beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod."
They at once reasoned among themselves, saying, "It is because we have no bread." They should have understood that His reference was to
The Evil Principles and Doctrines
of these parties. Bread was a small matter in His eyes. The lack of loaves was surely a trifle with One Who had recently fed two vast companies of famishing men.
He meant something far more serious than food for the body when He warned His own against the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod. He had before His mind those deadly teachings which can never nourish the soul, but which may easily impoverish and poison it.
The Lord's remonstrance with His disciples for their spiritual dullness may well appeal to us all. "Perceive ye not yet, neither understand? Have ye your heart yet hardened? Having eyes, see ye not? And having ears, hear ye not? And do ye not remember?" (Mark 8.17,18). The language is striking, because it is so like that in Matthew 13.15, where the Lord is describing the unbelieving mass: "This people's heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed"
The mass in Israel were thus deaf and blind, being under The Pall of Satanic Unbelief.
But the disciples were men born of the spirit, and they have been Divinely granted ears to hear, eyes to see, and hearts to understand. "Blessed are your eyes, for they see; and your ears, for they hear." Yet the Lord had to remonstrate with them as in
Mark 8! "Perceive ye not? See ye not? Hear ye not?" We thus learn the solemn lesson that even Divinely-given sensibilities can be so deadened that they become practically inoperative. 2 Peter 1.9 gives us an extreme example of this, where the apostle speaks of the non-progressive soul as "blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins."
We do well to search our hearts as to this.
are kept keen and alert by exercise, as the apostle reminds his dull Hebrew readers in chapter 5.11-14 of that Epistle. But what do we know of exercise!
We are living in a day of lightness and superficiality, and the spirit that is all around us in the world may easily affect those who, although in the world, are not of it. To be pointed. When we read, do we ponder what we read? Do we concern ourselves to grasp its meaning? Do we ask ourselves what is the lesson to be learned? Also, when we listen (and these are days of many meetings) do we revolve again and again in our minds what is set before us, that we may make it really our own in faith? Or is a conference (for example) a mere passing pleasure, leaving no permanent mark upon our souls?
were to fail us, we should be alarmed. Eyes, ears, heart! We should quickly inquire for specialists in these, and seek to get the weakness corrected, if possible. Is the soul really of less importance than the body?
In Isaiah 42.18-20, 43.8, Jehovah rebukes His unfaithful people Israel for being both blind and deaf. Their position was that of witnesses in the midst of the idolatrous nations, but what is the value of witnesses and messengers who lack both hearing and vision for themselves?
Coming back to our Lord's remonstrance in Mark 8, we learn that it is possible to have eyes that see not, ears that hear not, and hearts that do not understand. To this may be appended the words of Hebrews 3.13: "Hardened through the deceitfulness of sin." The Lord have mercy upon us all, and grant us to be spiritually awake and Divinely intelligent concerning His will.
MY CONVERSION AND CALL (17)
by H. M. Wilson (Brazil)
I was born and brought up in Co. Armagh, N. Ireland. Although I attended Sunday School and other services in the local Presbyterian meeting-house I do not remember hearing that I was a sinner in need of salvation. However, while still a boy gospel meetings were held in a house not far from our home. As I listened to the preaching I thought that they had a few texts of scripture upon which they based their beliefs, but that we had far more of the Bible to support us. In due time I learned that it was not something found in a few isolated portions, but that all Scripture taught that man is a sinner by nature and practice, in danger of perishing and needing to be saved. I heard some tell of the change in their lives when they got saved and sometimes I thought that they needed it, but a person who had never been in the evil sins of the world would get saved without any big experience. One night I heard an old preacher say that no one could get saved without knowing it, and in that meeting I was convinced that I not only needed to be saved but it was something which did not happen gradually but at a definite moment when the sinner passed from death unto life, and from the power of Satan unto God. Very few people in our countryside claimed to be saved and I did not want to be different, and so the years passed by. From time to time I heard the gospel and had serious thoughts, and I can still recall certain meetings.
Early in the year 1945 a series of gospel meetings commenced in Lisnafeedy Orange Hall. By this time I was really seeking salvation but could not understand how I could be sure I was saved. I clearly understood what I heard concerning my guilt and danger, but how to believe and be saved was a mystery. I never had the courage to ask anyone for help and no one ever spoke to me personally about my soul. At the close of the meeting on the 1st March, 1945 I was still in the dark, although I had tried to listen and understand. I said to myself "If I die as I am I will be in hell, but if there is salvation for me it's in Christ," and as I sat on the seat, as best I knew how, I trusted in the Lord Jesus Christ for my soul's salvation. I told no one, but the great transaction took place which changed the life of a lad who would have been looked upon as a good Christian in the district. That week I bought a new Bible and began taking it to the meetings. It was three weeks later when asked if I was saved that I replied in the affirmative.
I resolved to keep a good distance from gospel halls and their meetings. Mr. Stanley Wishart of Armagh, whom I had known and heard preaching for a number of years, sought to help me. He asked me about salvation and spoke to me of God's path for His people, also told me something of his own experience. I began to learn from the Holy Scriptures, and after reading the late Mr. Wm. Rodger's "Notes on 1st Corinthians" I was fully convinced that the word of God gave no support for any religious denomination.
It was not easy to break with family, friends and traditions, but the happy day came when I sat behind for the first time in the Battleford Bridge Gospel Hall while the saints met to remember the Lord in the Breaking of Bread, as the Lord Himself requested. What I saw confirmed to me that here were believers following the pattern which we have in the New Testament. They were few in number and mostly elderly, with no young people, but I was truly happy to be with them. A few weeks later I was baptized and received into the fellowship. A Presbyterian elder came to our home to warn me of the "error" into which I was falling and let me know what he had seen amongst such people. He came too late. I was fully persuaded from the word of God of the unscriptural basis of every sect, denomination and mission of men, and of the principles and pattern of the local church as we have it in the New Testament.
Now enjoying God's salvation and our blessings in Christ in a fuller measure, I began to take a little part in the various meetings and the desire arose within my heart, "Lord what wilt Thou have me to do?" I felt that life was too short and the message we have, too urgent and important to spend my days occupied merely with material and earthly interests. Mr. Wishart encouraged me to think on the "Regions beyond." I did "Look on the fields" and sought the Lord's guidance. After reading "Adventures with the Bible in Brazil" by F. C. Glass I was much impressed with the need and opportunities to spread the gospel in that vast land. I went to work in Strabane, Co. Tyrone, and during that time had some correspondence with Mr. and Mrs. McCann who had recently gone to serve the Lord in Brazil. After three years in Strabane, "assuredly gathering" that it was the Lord's will, and with the hearty fellowship of the assemblies in Strabane, Sion Mills, Newtownstewart and Battleford Bridge, I left Belfast on the 13th February, 1952, on the first stage of the journey to Brazil, where I joined Mr. and Mrs. J. McCann in the State of Rio Grande do Sul. Six years later while on furlough I was married. Over the years with them and others it has been our privilege to sow the Precious Seed and from time to time see some fruit. Never have I regretted, but continually thank God for the steps taken, and "having obtained help of God I continue unto this day witnessing," with the desire to "finish my course with joy and the ministry which I have received from the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God."
Lines written for the encouragement and comfort of a coloured brother, grieved by the attitudes of certain white brethren towards him.
Brother beloved, our hearts are knit as one;
The great divides of men have come to naught.
In Christ the bars of colour, caste and tongue,
Are gone, and with one blood we've both been bought.