July/August 2022

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by J. Riddle

by I. McKee

by P. Steele

by W. Banks

by R. Reynolds

by P. Kaestner



A Proverb to Ponder — Proverbs 14:34

Consider Him — Psalm 22:6,24

A Proverb to Ponder — Proverbs 14:23

Assembly Testimony Bible Class

by J. Riddle (England)


No.44: PSALM 27 (Part 1)

We have noted that Psalms 26, 27 and 28 bring the Lord’s house before us in three different ways:

In Psalm 26, David says, “Lord, I have loved the habitation of Thy house, and the place where Thine honour dwelleth” v.8; that is, he found his joy and delight there, as opposed to the company of “vain persons … dissemblers … evil doers … the wicked” vv.4,5.

In Psalm 27, David says, “One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to enquire in His temple” v.4; that is, the house of God was his refuge in adversity: “Though a host should encamp against me … For in the time of trouble He shall hide me in His pavilion [meaning ‘booth’ or ‘shelter’]” vv.3,5.In Psalm 28, David says, “Hear the voice of my supplications, when I cry unto Thee, when I lift up my hands toward Thy holy oracle” v.2, referring to the innermost part of the sanctuary, the “Holy of holies”; that is, the Lord’s house is a place of prayer and intercession.

In the New Testament, the local assembly is described as “house of God” 1Tim.3.15. As in the three points above, it should be a place where we can:

  • find our delight, as opposed to the world’s company
  • find a sanctuary in adversity
  • come with our petitions and intercession.

Bearing in mind the opening words, “The Lord is my light and my salvation” v.1, Psalm 27 could be called ‘The blessings of salvation’. In this Psalm they are:

  • Enjoying God’s deliverance – vv.1-3
  • Dwelling in God’s house – vv.4-6
  • Seeking God’s face – vv.7-10
  • Asking for God’s help – vv.11-14

In this Paper we will consider the first of these four blessings:


“The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? When the wicked, even mine enemies and my foes, came upon me to eat up my flesh, they stumbled and fell. Though a host should encamp against me, my heart shall not fear.”We can highlight two words in these opening verses: “salvation” and “strength” v.1. In both cases, the end result was deliverance from fear.

“The Lord is … my salvation.”

“The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?”The Lord was David’s light even in “the valley of the shadow of death” Ps.23.4, and his salvation in seemingly impossible situations. It can almost be said that the New Testament equivalent is, “If God be for us, who can be against us?” Rom.8.31. We can say that the Lord is our “light” and “salvation” in the widest sense, and in a specific sense:

The Lord is our light and salvation in the widest sense.

A thousand years later, Paul wrote to the Ephesians as follows: “For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord” Eph.5.8, having reminded them earlier that the Christian calling demands a complete change of life: “But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints; neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient” vv.3,4. This list is described as “the unfruitful works of darkness” v.11. It follows, therefore, that the words “The Lord is my light” can only genuinely rest on the lips of people whose lives have been transformed.

Darkness and light are frequently contrasted in Scripture. It begins with creation, when God “commanded the light to shine out of darkness” 2Cor.4.6. The Lord Jesus said, “I am the light of the world: he that followeth Me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life” Jn.8.12. He suffered in the darkness that we might have “the light of life”. When the Saviour began His public ministry, “the people which sat in darkness saw great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up” Matt.4.16. In the Word of God, darkness is always associated with death, and light is always associated with life. Christians are people who have been “called … out of darkness into His marvellous light” 1Pet.2.9.

The Lord is our light and salvation in a specific sense.

He is our “light” and “salvation” in danger and uncertainty. He imparts guidance in perplexity and deliverance in danger.“Who is among you that feareth the Lord, that obeyeth the voice of His servant, that walketh in darkness, and hath no light? Let him trust in the name of the Lord, and stay upon his God” Isa.50.10. The Psalmist puts it like this: “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path” Ps.119.105; “The entrance of Thy words giveth light” Ps.119.130. But it is even more than that: the Lord Himself is our “light” and “salvation”. In the words of David, “In Thy light shall we see light” Ps.36.9, with the result that “the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day” Prov.4.18.

We should notice that David enjoyed this personally: “The Lord is my light and my salvation”. He had good reason to speak of the Lord in this way. He seems to have been exposed to danger and death for the greater part of his life. This was evidently the case when he wrote this very Psalm: “Deliver me not over unto the will of mine enemies: for false witnesses are risen up against me, and such as breathe out cruelty” v.12, which serves to remind us that, while there is greater danger than physical harm, the believer can rejoice with Paul in saying that “the Lord shall deliver me from every evil work, and will preserve me unto His heavenly kingdom: to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen” 2Tim.4.18.

“The Lord is the strength of my life.”

“The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?”Deliverance from fear belongs to those whose faith is securely anchored in the Lord Jesus. We must now listen to the apostle Paul: “And He said unto me, ‘My grace is sufficient for thee: for My strength is made perfect in weakness’”, leading him to say, “When I am weak, then am I strong” 2Cor.12.9,10. Our strength is a hindrance to our experiencing His strength; our weakness is the vehicle of His strength. Paul could most certainly say, “The Lord is the strength of my life”: “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” Phil.4.13, or, as this verse is often quoted, ‘I can do all things through Christ who pours His strength into me.’

Here are some of the ways in which the Christian enjoys deliverance from fear: deliverance from the fear of judgment, of death, of men, and of events. We will look at each of these.

Deliverance from the Fear of Judgment

The Lord Jesus taught: “Fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear Him [God] which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” Matt.10.28. This does not refer to Satan, as has been suggested, but to God Himself.“Destroy” (apollumi) does not mean loss of being, but loss of well-being.“Hell” is not hades but gehenna. It is the lake of fire.

How thankful we are for the words of the Lord Jesus, “He that heareth My word, and believeth on Him that sent Me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life” Jn.5.24.

Deliverance from the Fear of Death

“Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, He also Himself likewise took part of the same; that through death He might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; and deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage” Heb.2.14,15. The Christian (who can say with assurance, “The Lord is my light and my salvation”) can say with David, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil” Ps.23.4.

Deliverance from the Fear of Men

The first readers of the Epistle to the Hebrews, who had “endured a great fight of afflictions” Heb.10.32, and were still subject to relentless pressure, were reassured with some wonderful words: “He hath said, ‘I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.’So that we may boldly say, ‘The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me’” Heb.13.5,6.

Deliverance from the Fear of Events

The Lord Jesus described the state of men’s hearts in the end-time as follows: “Men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth” Lk.21.26. These notes were originally compiled less than forty-eight hours before the expiry of the U. N. deadline for the withdrawal of Iraq from Kuwait (15 January 1991), with all the fearful consequences of Iraq’s failure to do so. We know that “the Most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever He will” Dan.4.32.

Freedom from fear rests upon Divine love: our enjoyment of the love of God enables us to say, “Perfect love casteth out fear” 1Jn.4.18.

It should be noted that, having made this great statement, “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?”, David looks back, v.2, and then forward, v.3.

David Looks Back – v.2

“When the wicked, even mine enemies and my foes, came upon me to eat up my flesh, they stumbled and fell.”As David looks back over past deliverance, he recalls the identity, the intention, and the inability of his enemies. As to their identity, they are described as “the wicked”; as to their intention, they purposed to “eat up my flesh”; as to their inability, they “stumbled and fell”.

David Looks Forward – v.3

With past deliverance in mind, David looks forward with confidence, reminding us that

His love in time past, forbids me to think
He’ll leave me at last in ruin to sink.
Each sweet ‘Ebenezer’ I have in review
Confirms His good pleasure to help me quite through.
(John Newton)

He therefore says, “Though a host should encamp against me, my heart shall not fear: though war should rise against me, in this will I be confident.”David refers to the strength of the enemy (it is a “host”, an army) and to the length of their campaign (it is a “war”, not a skirmish)!But his confidence is not even dented!All this reminds us that “greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world” 1Jn.4.4. It also reminds us of the words of Hezekiah, who “spake comfortably” to the people, saying, “Be strong and courageous, be not afraid nor dismayed for the king of Assyria, nor for all the multitude that is with him: for there be more with us than with him: with him is an arm of flesh; but with us is the Lord our God to help us, and to fight our battles.”The people responded with confidence: “And the people rested themselves upon the words of Hezekiah king of Judah” 2Chr.32.6-8.

We might well ask how David’s confidence in this way is sustained, and the answer lies in the next section of the Psalm. His enjoyment of the Lord’s salvation and strength is indissolubly linked with his communion with Him.

To be continued (D. V.)

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Traits of the Tribes

by Ian McKee, N. Ireland

Paper 32

GAD – THE TRIBE (continued)

Gad – in the Kingdom

The tribal progenitor is mentioned, 1Chr.2.2, and further details about the tribe and its chief men are given, 1Chr.5.11-17. Then we have interesting additional information about their warlike aspect and military successes: “The sons of Reuben, and the Gadites, and half the tribe of Manasseh, of valiant men, men able to bear buckler and sword, and to shoot with bow, and skilful in war, were four and forty thousand seven hundred and threescore, that went out to the war. And they made war with the Hagarites, with Jetur, and Nephish, and Nodab. And they were helped against them, and the Hagarites were delivered into their hand, and all that were with them” 1Chr.5.18-20. It was essential that they be so well prepared and accomplished, but the secret to their success was “they cried to God in the battle, and He was intreated of them; because they put their trust in Him… because the war was of God.And they dwelt in their steads until the captivity” 1Chr.5.20-22.

Sadly, the chapter that records their greatest victory also records their eventual downfall: “And they transgressed against the God of their fathers, and went a whoring after the gods of the people of the land, whom God destroyed before them. And the God of Israel stirred up the spirit of Pul king of Assyria, and the spirit of Tilgath-pilneser king of Assyria, and he carried them away …” 1Chr.5.25,26. The triumphs of earlier generations do not guarantee continuing success!

During the reign of King Saul the territory of Gad became a place of safety, with refugees fleeing east from Philistine invasions: “And some of the Hebrews went over Jordan to the land of Gad and Gilead” 1Sam.13.7. Gadites prominent in the army David was gathering at Ziklag during his rejection came in the opposite direction: “And of the Gadites there separated themselves unto David into the hold to the wilderness men of might, and men of war fit for the battle, that could handle shield and buckler, whose faces were like the faces of lions, and were as swift as the roes upon the mountains” 1Chr.12.8. Eleven captains from the “sons of Gad” are then named, each having large regiments. Also, “Bani the Gadite” was one of David’s mighty men, 2Sam.23.36. It was not only their military prowess that impressed; their loyalty was outstanding: “These are they that went over Jordan in the first month, when it had overflown all his banks; and they put to flight all them of the valleys, both toward the east, and toward the west” 1Chr.12.15. Jordan’s flow was not stopped for these warriors of Gad as it had been in Joshua chapter 3 to the benefit of the Gadite vanguard, Josh.4.12,13. Just as Naomi and Ruth were not deterred by Jordan’s flood when determined to get to Bethlehem, Ruth 1.22, neither were these later warriors from Gad, all of whom could have employed the words of Ruth 1.16,17 as their oath of loyalty to David. This generation of Gadites surmounted obstacles unknown by their forebears. We should take encouragement: where there is a heart for the Sovereign, a common purpose and fellowship, ‘it can still be done’!

When David was made king at Hebron a day of review followed, with representatives from the tribes coming to pledge allegiance, including from “the other side of Jordan, of the Reubenites, and the Gadites, and of the half tribe of Manasseh, with all manner of instruments of war for the battle, a hundred and twenty thousand. All these men of war, that could keep rank, came with a perfect heart to Hebron, to make David king over all Israel: and all the rest also of Israel were of one heart to make David king” 1Chr.12.37,38. This was all the more precious because at that very time Abner was engaged in a futile attempt to make Saul’s son Ish-bosheth “king over Gilead” 2Sam.2.9. David triumphed in Gilead during the Absalom rebellion, a time of personal tragedy, yet with grateful recollection of Barzillai the Gileadite and his companions who contributed so many necessary provisions to David in one of his darkest days, 2Sam.17.26-29.

Gad is specifically mentioned in the account of David’s unwise enumeration of the people, 2Sam.24.5,6. At the end of David’s reign there were still “mighty men of valour at Jazer of Gilead. And his brethren, men of valour, were two thousand and seven hundred chief fathers, whom king David made rulers over … the Gadites … for every matter pertaining to God, and affairs of the king” 1Chr.26.31,32. Of Solomon’s twelve officials responsible for provision and supply, Geber represented Gad, 1Kgs.4.19. These may seem incidental details, but they demonstrate that this tribe on the eastern frontier was still fully a part of the nation.

It was from this territory, after the division of the kingdom, in the days of evil King Ahab and his sinister consort, Jezebel, there erupted onto the scene “Elijah the Tishbite, who was of the inhabitants of Gilead”. He came with his thunderbolt of prophetic declaration to Ahab: “As the Lord God of Israel liveth, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, but according to my word” 1Kgs.17.1. We recall Moses’ blessing of Gad, “he dwelleth as a lion, and teareth the arm with the crown of the head” Deut.33.20. Certainly Ahab and Jezebel were severely mauled! The life and ministry of Elijah are not our subject here but one wonders, when “he went and dwelt by the brook Cherith, that is before Jordan” 1Kgs.17.5; or lodged in a cave on “Horeb the mount of God” 1Kgs.19.8; did he ever reflect on the words of Deut.33.21 that “there, in a portion of the lawgiver, was he seated”?

The idolatry that pervaded the northern kingdom, Israel, resulted in Divine chastisement in the reign of Jehu.“In those days the Lord began to cut Israel short: and Hazael [of Damascus] smote them in all the coasts of Israel; from Jordan eastward, all the land of Gilead, the Gadites … even Gilead and Bashan” 2Kgs.10.32,33. Finally, “in the days of Pekah king of Israel came Tiglath-pileser king of Assyria, and took … Gilead … and carried them captive to Assyria” 2Kgs.15.29.


Amos prophesied about the downfall of the northern kingdom some fifty years before it happened, with graphic reference to Gad’s tribal area: “they have threshed Gilead with threshing instruments of iron” and “they have ripped up the women with child of Gilead” Amos 1.3,13. Jeremiah later lamented, “Hath Israel no sons? Hath he no heir? Why then doth their [Ammonite] king inherit Gad, and his people dwell in his cities?” Jer.49.1.

Gad will contribute to the one hundred and forty-four thousand servants of God who will be sealed, Rev.7.5. Ezekiel sees further, to the Millennial Kingdom, where Gad will have a portion, not now on the eastern border, but in the extreme south, Ezek.48.27,28. The name “Gad” will be on one of the three western gates of the city, Ezek.48.34. Gad will also be named on a gate of the “holy Jerusalem” Rev.21.12.


We shall now consider James’ practical application, examining character traits of the warrior tribe, Gad.

Jacob predicted that “a troop shall overcome” Gad but, irrespective of those reverses, this tribe would eventually overcome, Gen.49.19. Moses’ blessing of the tribe characterised Gad “as a lion” Deut.33.20. This tribe, situated on the eastern frontier, with an array of marauding tribes beyond its borders, was ever on the alert to danger. The risk is that those in a high state of readiness, active in defending all that is precious to them, may begin to see enemies everywhere!

James’ pointed question is, “From whence come wars and fightings among you?  Come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members?” Jms.4.1. Phases of Gadite warlike activity, defending one’s border and territory, can lead to a state of agitation and tension. Hence even in periods of quietness and peace there were unfulfilled desires for battle. Gad had a constant craving for war and its excitement: “Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain” Jms.4.2. Such desires may become detrimentally embedded in their psyche: “ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not” Jms.4.2. Instead of reliance upon God in prayer and faith, they depended upon aggressive self-effort. The contrasting statement is, “Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts” Jms.4.3. While they prayed, they did so with wrong motives and hence were not asking “in faith” Jms.1.6.

As a consequence, they had wrong relations with the world: “Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God?” Jms.4.4. This is spiritual adultery, which will lead to idolatry with its immoral practices. The world of unredeemed humanity is self-centred and antagonistic to God: “whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God” Jms.4.4. Every individual must determine where he or she stands: “friend of God” Jms.2.23, or “enemy of God” Jms.4.4.

The testimony of Scripture however is that the indwelling Holy Spirit in a believer yearns for spiritual affections to be loyal to God: “The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy” Jms.4.5. When affections are in danger of being pulled towards the world “He giveth more grace” Jms.4.6, to draw us to Himself. However, that grace available to us will depend on our own attitude, hence the quotation from the Septuagint, “God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble” Jms.4.6; Prov.3.34. In other words, where there is a proud and arrogant spirit, as sometimes exhibited by Gad, those with it will discover that God will face them in battle array!In contrast, a lowly disposition ensures the continual impartation of supplies of Divine grace.

A military command is therefore appropriate: “Submit yourselves therefore to God” Jms.4.7. Submit to God as your captain; be subordinate to His commands. True Gadite character, however, must be demonstrated in conflict with the arch-enemy: “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” Jms.4.7. Do not lend the devil your consent, do not let him coerce you, do not negotiate with him. Constantly resist: victory is possible with supplies of Divine grace when we actively resist.

Like Gad, we need to guard the frontiers of our spiritual possessions from the flesh, the world and the devil, Jms.4.1,4,7.

To be continued (D. V.)

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The God of Jacob

by Peter Steele (N. Ireland)

Paper 7


(Genesis Chapter 48)

Characters in Scripture like Adam, Saul, Solomon, Uzziah and Demas had a good start but a bad end. Jacob had a bad start but a good end. C. H. Mackintosh says, “The close of Jacob’s career stands in most pleasing contrast with all the previous scenes of his eventful history. It reminds one of a serene evening, after a tempestuous day … The supplanting, the bargain-making, the cunning, the management, the shifting, the shuffling, the unbelieving selfish fears – all those dark clouds of nature and of earth seem to have passed away, and he comes forth, in all the calm elevation of faith, to bestow blessings, and impart dignities, in that holy skilfulness, which communion with God can alone impart.”1 “By faith Jacob, when he was a dying, blessed both the sons of Joseph” Heb.11.21. This high point is in Genesis chapter 48, during which Jacob reflects on the kind and wise ways of God with him throughout his chequered life.

1 Mackintosh, C. H. “Notes on the Book of Genesis”. G. Morrish, London.


“God Almighty appeared unto me at Luz in the land of Canaan, and blessed me” v.3.

Jacob’s first memory is of the night at Bethel when he saw the ladder and was changed forever. No matter how long or short our journey may have been, the first and greatest memory in our reflections should be the day when the all-sufficient God reached down and saved us. The memory of the day when, as sinners, we came to the cross, and the One Who died there, the ladder between heaven and earth, and all was changed for eternity. I hope we tell others of that great day in our experience.

Oh, safe and happy shelter,
Oh, refuge tried and sweet;
Oh, trysting-place where heaven’s love
And heaven’s justice meet.
As to the pilgrim patriarch
That wondrous dream was given,
So seems my Saviour’s cross to me
A ladder up to heaven.
(Elizabeth Clephane)


“As for me, when I came from Padan, Rachel died by me in the land of Canaan in the way, when yet there was but a little way to come unto Ephrath: and I buried her there in the way of Ephrath; the same is Bethlehem” v.7.

From reflecting on the greatest memory of his life, Jacob now reflects on one of the saddest: the death of Rachel. Yet now Jacob is looking at two grandchildren of Rachel, and one bears the name of the place where Rachel was buried.2 At this place, Benjamin (meaning ‘son of my right hand’) was born and near this place David was born. And all these pointed forward to the Son of God’s right hand, David’s greater Son, Who would be born in Bethlehem Ephratah, Mic.5.2. Like Benjamin, His birth was also associated with the sorrow of Rachel, when the children of Bethlehem were murdered by Herod, Matt.2.18. In these things we see the wisdom of God in the time and place He chose to take Rachel from Jacob; perhaps we can see it more clearly than Jacob could because we have all the Scriptures mentioned above to shed light upon it. Many saints can look back to sorrowful days in life as well as glad days. Like Jacob, they can see the wisdom of God partially but not fully in it all. Let us trust His mind where we can not trace His hand; bow to the wisdom of God, even where we cannot see it.

    2 Ephraim is a dual form of Ephrath.

His rich designs most carefully are woven,
There are with Him no loose or broken ends.
(Winifred A. Iverson)


“I had not thought to see thy face: and, lo, God hath shewed me also thy seed” v.11.

Jacob is amazed that a son who was dead in his mind was actually alive and that he was not only spared to see his son but his grandsons as well. Jacob was blessed more than he could have imagined. It did not seem that way when Joseph was absent, but now he realises how good God has been. May we never forget that our God is the God of resurrection; the God of the impossible; and in situations that seem hopeless – unsaved family, or backslidden friends, or assembly problems or work anxieties – God can not only answer our prayers but go far beyond what we imagined. He “is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think” Eph.3.20.


“God, before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac did walk” v.15.

Abraham was commanded to walk before God in Gen.17.1. I think Jacob somewhat coveted the consistent walk of Abraham and Isaac and yet the God before Whom they walked was the God before Whom he walked and Whom he could commend to a fifth generation, his grandchildren. We can do the same.“Lord, Thou hast been our dwelling place in all generations” Ps.90.1. God never changes.

God of our fathers, be the God
Of their succeeding race.
 (Philip Doddridge)


“The God which fed [‘shepherded’ J. N. D.] me all my life long unto this day, the Angel which redeemed me from all evil, bless the lads” vv.15,16.

In this text, God is a shepherd and a redeemer. In the Old Testament Boaz was the great redeemer and David was the great shepherd. Both were pictures of the Lord Jesus, Who would combine these two offices. In 1Pet.1.18-21 Christ is the Redeemer; in 1Pet.2.25 Christ is the Shepherd. Gen.48.16 is the first mention of redeeming in our Bible. In the last mention of redeeming (Rev.14.4)3 the themes of shepherd and redeemer are brought together again, in relation to the Lord Jesus: “These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever He goeth [the Shepherd]. These were redeemed from among men [the Redeemer].”

    3 The last reference is actually Rev.18.11 (“buyeth”) but there it is speaking of men buying merchandise; not ofGod redeeming. The last mention of God redeeming in Scripture is Rev.14.4.

What were these evils out of which Jacob was redeemed? I do not think it was protection from physical, everyday dangers. The word “redeemed” suggests he was surrounded by evils and was delivered out of them. I make three suggestions as to what these evils were:

First, the bondage of Laban. Jacob was delivered out of that captivity, with a family and a herd which he did not have when he entered it. This is a picture of the bondage of Egypt which his family would be redeemed out of many centuries later. They also would leave with a bigger family and more possessions and herds than they had when they entered their bondage.

Second, the sorrow of losing Joseph. This was a great evil in Jacob’s life.“And the one [Joseph] went out from me, and I said, Surely he is torn in pieces; and I saw him not since: and if ye take this [Benjamin] also from me, and mischief befall him, ye shall bring down my gray hairs with sorrow [‘evil’: the same word as in Gen.48.16] to the grave” Gen.44.28,29. Seeing Joseph again restored Jacob’s hope and for him it was a redemption from the evil of bereavement.

Third, the evil of Jacob. He had a bad start. He was full of crookedness and deceit in early days but God redeemed him from this evil and made him a submissive, God-fearing, worshipful patriarch. Only redemption could have accomplished this.

The word ga-al is used here for “redeemed”, which is the kinsman-redeemer word. Why is this word used, as opposed to a simpler word for deliverance? The answer is that in Genesis chapter 28, God came down the ladder to stand beside Jacob (“the Lord stood beside him” Gen.28.13, R. V. margin) and promise him His help. Jacob never forgot the lesson from that day, that God was not a distant observer of his life; God was a deliverer Who came right to where Jacob was to deliver him; a deliverer Who was close; a kinsman-redeemer. Long before Leviticus or Ruth or Galatians or 1Peter were written, this insightful worshipper appreciated something of God being a kinsman-redeemer; a God Who steps down to men to redeem them.

These reflections on five characteristics of God in Jacob’s life caused the patriarch to be more confident in God than ever: confident of the blessing and prosperity of his grandchildren, vv.16,19,20; confident of the presence of God with Joseph, v.21; confident of the return of his family to Canaan, v.21; confident of victory in future conquests not yet won but as sure as already won, v.22.4 Let us all take a look back on our experience, and let us see in it God’s provision, perfect ways, providence, permanence and preservation; let us count our blessings. May it inspire in us further confidence to trust God more for days ahead and commend Him to those coming after us. This is the God of commitment to faithful care and guidance for us all the days of our lives; this is the God of Jacob.

We’ll praise Him for all that is past,
And trust Him for all that’s to come.
(Joseph Hart)

To be continued (D. V.)

     4 We have no reference of Jacob fighting for land through his life; he may have, but I suggest v.22 has the future conquest of Caanan in view and in Jacob’s mind the land was so sure of being taken that the victory is spoken of in the perfect tense.

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Comfort for Christians in a Changing World

by Roy Reynolds (N. Ireland)

“… Because he believed in his God” Daniel 6.23

The dungeon might be darker than midnight; the lions might roar menacingly; a stone might be laid upon the mouth of the den and all hope of escape seem to be extinguished but, “Thy God whom thou servest continually, He will deliver thee” Dan.6.16.

Most reluctantly King Darius was forced to comply with the advice given by his “presidents and princes” and afterwards he spent a sleepless night as he pondered the plight of poor Daniel. Little did he know that all was well; Daniel was having a more comfortable night than the king “and no manner of hurt was found upon him, because he believed in his God” v.23.

Perhaps there is a dear believer reading this right now and you are facing a daunting crisis in life; Daniel’s God is still alive; trust Him!He Who brought Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego through the fiery furnace and closed the mouths of the lions; think you not that He can do the same for you? He cannot and will not betray the trust of those who confide in Him.

But God hath promised strength for the day,
Rest for the labour, light for the way;
Grace for the trials, help from above,
Unfailing sympathy, undying love.

“I have surely seen the affliction of My people … I have heard their cry … for I know their sorrows; and I am come down to deliver them” Exodus 3.7,8

It is evident that all the while the eye of God had been upon His people in their harsh bondage, not as a disinterested and dispassionate onlooker but as One Who was moved by the plight and pain of His oppressed people. He had witnessed every act of cruelty done to them; He had heard every groan, had seen every falling tear and had read the meaning of every sigh. Now He would act to end their misery and release them from the grinding slavery to which they had been so unjustly subjected. God would not pass by on the other side, He would not ignore their pleas for help and soon, in mighty power, He would deliver His people from Egypt.

Dear brother, dear sister, you may wonder betimes if God has forgotten you, you may feel that you have suffered far longer than you had ever desired but fear not; His eye has been upon you, His ears have been open to your cries and in His own good time He will bring the deliverance you are longing for.

Faint not, Christian! Though the road
Leading to thy blest abode
Darksome be, and dangerous too,
Christ, thy Guide, will bring thee through.
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The Lamb in Revelation

By William M. Banks, Scotland


THE WORTH OF THE LAMB – Rev.5.1-14 (Part 1)


“The book” is mentioned eight times in chapter 5 (vv.1,2,3,4,5,7,8,9) and is evidently the theme, just as “the throne” was in chapter 4 (mentioned there twelve times; also translated twice as “seats” in v.4). There is a definite link between the two chapters. They are really one whole with the Throne Sitter of chapter 4 passing on the responsibility for the administration of the universe to the One Who could “open the book [which was upon His right hand] and … loose the seals thereof” 5.2. The throne and the Throne Sitter and the book are all mentioned in v.1. The “Lamb” alone is found worthy to open the book and to take the title deeds of the purchased possession (the earth), and to implement the prophetic programme contained within it, leading to the final destiny of the universe. Administrative power is thus transferred to Him.


Verses 1-4 The sealed book The weeping of John
Verses 5-7 The prevailing Lamb The worth of the Lamb
Verses 8-14 The universal adoration The worship ofthe universe

This Paper will cover verses 1 to 7, and the following Paper will cover verses 8 to 14, Lord Willing.


This book is of outstanding significance. It really contains the details of the judgments unfolded in the subsequent chapters of Revelation. It is therefore necessary that the person who opens the book is outstandingly qualified to implement its details. The search is therefore made to find One “Who is worthy” to open the book.

The Vision Seen – v.1

John saw that the book was upon the right hand of the Throne Sitter, v.1a, the place of power, and indicating that authoritative administration belonged to Him. The book contained writing within and on the backside, v.1b; nothing could be added; it was already comprehensively authoritative and complete; see 22.18,19. The reason the book required someone “worthy” v.1c, was because it was sealed with seven seals and contained unparalleled judgments to be implemented by the One Who was worthy to open it.

The Voice Heard – vv.2-4

The two adjectives used in this verse are interesting: it was not only an angel but a mighty (“strong”) angel, v.2a; compare 10.1; 18.21. It is clear from other Scriptures that there are distinctions in angelic hierarchy, for example Eph.1.21; Col.1.16, but while this angel was “mighty” he was not “worthy”. He did however have a “loud voice” v.2b; none could miss it: the opportunity he offered must be given to all. The question asked, v.2c, was unambiguous: “Who is worthy?”Naked power was not sufficient; there must be inherent worth!

The universal search was made, v.3a, in the celestial, terrestrial and infernal spheres. The sad result is stated in vv.3b,4: no man is worthy to open or to read or to look thereon, v.3b. The infernal sphere has been scanned but the devil is powerless: he is going to be among those experiencing the judgment, 20.10!The vain search results in the weeping of John, v.4: ‘I wept and wept …’ is the idea in the words (and John was in heaven! 4.2), emphasising his sadness and extreme sensitivity.


In this section of the chapter John is going to learn that there is One Who is worthy. He has all the characteristics necessary. However, John is going to receive a surprise: “the Lion” is “a Lamb”!

The Communicating Elder – v.5

There is a kindly word, v.5a, from one of the “elders”: “Weep not”; compare Jn.20.13,15. He has found the answer and gives the description of the prevailing Conqueror, v.5b,c. He is “the Lion of the tribe of Juda” v.5b, the kingly tribe, Gen.49.8-12. An examination of these verses indicates three important details about this Lion. He is:

A Lion’s whelp, Gen.49.9a: “from the prey … thou art gone up”, that is, a young Lion; agile, active and energetic, enjoying the spoils of victory; compare Eph.4.8.

A middle aged Lion, Gen.49.9b: “he stooped down, he couched as a lion”; fearless and strong to meet the foe. This is seen in the Lord’s words in Jn.13.27: “That thou doest, do quickly…”; He had no fear in meeting His foe, Heb.2.14; He was in complete control, with the knowledge that glory was to follow, Jn.13.31,32; Col.2.15.

An old Lion, Gen.49.9c: “… as an old lion (female); who shall rouse him up?”; resting, satisfied and protecting the young and vulnerable; compare Zeph.3.17: “He will refresh your life with His love” C. E. V., and Rev.7.15b: “He who sits on the throne will shelter them with His presence” E. S. V.

However, He is not only “the Lion of the tribe of Juda” but also “the Root of David” v.5c. This indicates that He precedes David (some take the phrase “the Root of David” to refer to Judah, the head of David’s tribe, but I believe “the Root of David” is Christ, not Judah). It also concurs with the later title given to the Lord as “the Root and the Offspring of David” 22.16, although there the additional title is added, that is, He precedes and succeeds David!It is an affirmation of His eternality; compare Jn.1.15; 8.58.

His double title and inherent qualities leave no doubt as to the outcome. The worth is assured and unequivocally asserted, v.5d: He “… hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven [the numeral indicating the universality and finality of the judgment] seals thereof”. He is now to implement the spoils of Calvary’s triumph over His enemies; compare Col.2.15.

The Vision of the Lamb – vv.6,7

John’s wonder is indicated in the expression used, “lo” v.6a. The Lion is a Lamb!Compare 21.9,10 for a similar interesting and somewhat surprising revelation: “the bride, the Lamb’s wife” is “the holy city Jerusalem” R. V. Here the location of the Lamb, v.6b-d, is seen to be “in the midst”; compare Lk.2.46; Jn.19.18; 20.19,26; Rev.1.13; Matt.18.20, indicating authority in a threefold sphere:

  1. In the midst of the throne, v.6b, emphasising royalty and kingly features; compare 19.12: “many diadems” J. N. D.;
  2. In the midst of the four beasts (‘living creatures’), cherubim, v.6c, emphasising His superiority and majesty as the object of their holy worship; compare 4.8; Isa.6.3;
  3. In the midst of the elders, v.6d, emphasising His authority and administrative potential.

The detailed description of the Lamb follows in v.6e-f. It begins by emphasising the dignity of His position: He was standing: “stood a Lamb” v.6e, in resurrection power. The basis of His authority was Calvary’s victory: “as it had been slain” v.6f: the purchase price had been paid; the universe was His purchased possession; He was the Kinsman Redeemer, v.9.

This Lamb is imbued with Divine attributes, v.6g-i, evidenced in a threefold plenitude of perfection and power (note the repetition of “seven”):

  • Omnipotence, v.6g: “having seven horns”; contrast 13.1; 17.3;
  • Omniscience, v.6h: having “seven eyes”; compare Zech.4.10 and John’s Gospel;
  • Omnipresence, v.6i: having “the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth”; compare Isa.11.2: “The Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon Him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord”.

There follows in v.7 one of the most climactic events in the Book of Revelation. It indicates the abiding authority and supreme administrative rights of the Lamb.“He came and took the book out of the right hand of Him that sat upon the throne”. The tense of the verb “took” is the ‘dramatic perfect’,1 emphasising that He not only took it but now has it; to implement fully and exhaustively all the details contained within it. It is the transfer of administrative power from “Him that sat on the throne” v.1, to the only One in the universe, in “heaven” or “earth” or “under the earth” (see v.3) Who is capable of opening “the book” and looking “thereon” and implementing its content. The balance of the Book of Revelation will unveil progressively the judgments contained within it in the form of the “seven seals”, which of course contain within their compass (in telescopic fashion) the “seven trumpets” and the “seven vials”.

To be continued (D. V.)

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“My Times are in Thy Hand”

Psalm 31.15

By Peter Kaestner (N. Ireland)

With mercy and with judgment
My web of time He wove,
And aye the dews of sorrow
Were lustred with His love;
I’ll bless the hand that guided,
I’ll bless the heart that planned,
When throned where glory dwelleth
In Immanuel’s land.


What deep and turbulent waters David passed through! He knew isolation and loneliness: “I am forgotten as a dead man out of mind” v.12. He experienced inner turmoil, anxiety and grief: “Mine eye is consumed with grief, yea, my soul and my belly. For my life is spent with grief, and my years with sighing” vv.9,10. Fear, uncertainty and danger surrounded him: “Fear was on every side” v.13. But in the midst of his distressing circumstances he lifted his heart heavenward and said, “Thou art my God” v.14.

May we too, in the difficult days of life, when oppressed by doubts and fears, be like the Psalmist and cast ourselves wholly upon the Lord.


David later recognised he had spoken with haste when he said, “I am cut off from before Thine eyes” v.22, for afterwards he confessed that “the Lord preserveth the faithful” v.23. How often we ourselves overreact in the highs and lows of life and fail to wait upon the Lord. Of our blessed Lord alone could those precious prophetic words be spoken, “I have set the Lord always before Me” Ps.16.8.

I have been thinking of each word in this memorable text, “My times are in Thy hand”, as to the care we receive.

“My” – the Individuality of His Care

How precious it is to know the individual care and attention of the Lord Himself in life!David could say, “The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want” Ps.23.1; “He calleth His own sheep by name” Jn.10.3; “Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to Him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator” 1Pet.4.19.

My times are in Thy hand;
My God, I wish them there;
My life, my soul, my all I leave
Entirely to Thy care.

“Times” – the Instrumentality of His Care

The swinging pendulum of life’s experiences is used by God in His providence for our ultimate blessing. Events in life have a peculiar ability to expose the true temperature of our love, the strength of our resolve, the measure of our dependence and the extent of our obedience to the Lord.

It is true that events affect people differently, and even the same person may at different times react differently to the same type of event. But God allows them for a purpose:

  • To prove us by revealing what is in our hearts;
  • To polish us by removing the roughness and the abrasiveness in our personality;
  • To produce in us the fragrance and features of His Son;
  • To perfect us by developing spiritual maturity, a well-rounded character, a stability in the face of stiff opposition, and a deep-rooted confidence in God.
God moves in a mysterious way,
His wonders to perform;
He plants His footsteps in the sea,
And rides upon the storm.

“Are” – the Invariability of His Care

Yes, all our times are in His hand and His care never varies or wanes. Days of prosperity and those of adversity, times of gladness and those of grief inconsolable, years of vibrant health and those of poor health with bouts of depression, opportunities that are beckoning and doors inexplicably closed, etc. Every vicissitude of life is of interest to Him, whether health, family, assembly matters, education, marriage, employment, finance or retirement. They are all in His hand and His love is ever the same and His care never fluctuates.“For He hath said, ‘I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.’So that we may boldly say, ‘The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me’” Heb.13.5,6.

“In” – the Inscrutability of His Care

If I am in His hand, why has this happened to me? Why does God allow suffering? Truly, this is one of life’s deep mysteries!Sometimes, the passage of time is all that is needed for us to look back on a trial in a light not previously granted and appreciate God’s gracious and wonderful dealings. There are some trials which are too perplexing and inscrutable. Such dark experiences, if approached from a human level, will only cause us to spiral into an abyss of doubt and despair, but if approached from the overarching reality of God’s love for us, we can cling and trust even when we cannot see the way or understand the reason why. Samuel Rutherford wrote, “Ere it be long, we shall see the white side of God’s providence.”

My life is but a weaving,
Between my Lord and me.
I cannot choose the colours
He worketh steadily.
Ofttimes He weaveth sorrow;
And I, in foolish pride,
Forget He sees the upper,
And I the underside.

“Thy” – the Infallibility of His Care

The Psalmist prayed, “[Thou] hast not shut me up into the hand of the enemy” v.8, and, “deliver me from the hand of mine enemies” v.15. Joseph could say to his brethren, “Ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good” Gen.50.20.“The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations” 2Pet.2.9. Oh, to be in His hand!His perfect love, infinite wisdom and copious mercy bring comfort, peace, strength and assurance to every believing heart.“I am my Beloved’s, and my Beloved is mine” S of S.6.3.

My times are in Thy hand,
Why should I doubt or fear?
My Father’s hand will never cause
His child a needless tear.
The dark threads are as needful
In the Weaver’s skilful hand,
As the threads of gold and silver
In the pattern He has planned.

“Being predestinated according to the purpose of Him who worketh all things after the counsel of His own will: that we should be to the praise of His glory, who first trusted in Christ” Eph.1.11,12. Whether we think of God’s great eternal purpose or our individual times, how blessed to trace His hand.

Deep in unsearchable mines
Of never failing skill,
He treasures up His bright designs,
And works His sovereign will.

“Hand” – The Invincibility of His Care

The Lord through the prophet Nathan traced for David His hand of providence in the varied stages of his life.“Thus saith the Lord of hosts, I took thee from the sheepcote, from following the sheep, to be ruler over My people, over Israel: and I was with thee withersoever thou wentest, and have cut off all thine enemies out of thy sight, and have made thee a great name, like unto the name of the great men that are in the earth … And thine house and thy kingdom shall be established for ever before thee: thy throne shall be established for ever” 2Sam.7.8,9,16.

The three Hebrew captives in the severity of their trial had the fortitude to say, “If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us … But if not…” Dan.3.17,18. Later Nebuchadnezzar himself could say, “He doeth according to His will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay His hand, or say unto Him, ‘What doest Thou?’” Dan.4.35.

“When the Lord turned again the captivity of Zion, we were like them that dream” Ps.126.1. How often we have taken their words upon our lips in praise, “The Lord hath done great things for us; whereof we are glad.” Ps.126.3.

There are many aspects of His hand that we can meditate on, but may we appreciate all the more David’s confidence when he said, “My times are in Thy hand”.

Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take,
The clouds you so much dread
Are big with mercy, and shall break
In blessings on your head.


From this Psalm came the last words of the Saviour as He hung upon Golgotha’s tree. The suffering David endured and the confidence he expressed are a foreshadowing of sufferings, immeasurable in loneliness unfathomable and with trust unparalleled, endured by David’s greater Son.“Father, into Thy hands I commend My spirit” Lk.23.46. While the multitude waits for His death the Father waits to receive His spirit. And, with Scripture fulfilled and the mighty deed done, the Saviour commends His spirit into the caring hands of His Father and bows His head in death.“Who for the joy that was set before Him, endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God” Heb.12.2.

There is no scene so profound, or where we see love so amazing, suffering so immense, trust so implicit and God so highly glorified as the cross of Christ. There are depths we cannot plumb, heights we cannot scale, things inscrutable to the human intellect, but we bow in wonder and worship, and say, “My Lord and my God” Jn.20.28.

’Neath Thy cross I stand and worship,
Suffering Man, yet conquering God!
Resting on Thy death-atonement,
Weary, I lay down my load.

Those hands that were pierced for us at Calvary will provide and protect us our pilgrim pathway through!“He shewed unto them His hands and His side. Then were the disciples glad, when they saw the Lord” Jn.20.20.

“Be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart, all ye that hope in the Lord” Ps.31.24.

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Good Tidings from Heaven

Reunited through a PCR Test

During the Covid-19 pandemic, there have been countless sad accounts, of sickness, suffering and death. So it was pleasant recently to read a rare Covid-19 ‘good news’ story, concerning a father and son in China, who had a strong disagreement, which resulted in the son walking out of the home and disappearing without trace. The distraught father spent eight years searching everywhere he could for his lost son, but in vain, until a few weeks ago, when a city one hundred miles away from their home conducted a mass PCR testing of its population, in order to trace asymptomatic Covid-19 patients. A relative found the son’s name and test result on a mobile app. Hence, helped by the police, the father tracked him down and went to his flat, where, to his delight, his son welcomed him, and a happy reconciliation and reunion took place.

In Acts 17.24-29, all people are described as God’s “offspring”: He made us (“He … hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth”), looks after us (“in Him we live, and move, and have our being”), and supplies all that we need (“He giveth to all life, and breath, and all things”). However, we are “lost”: far away from Him, alienated by sin. In the story from China, the father admitted partial responsibility for the rift (he had nagged his son, and said unwise things to him). However, in the case of our separation from God, the fault is entirely ours. We are like those to whom Isaiah wrote, “Your iniquities have separated between you and your God” Isaiah 59.2.

The man in the story was an imperfect father, yet in other ways his attitude and actions were like God’s: he loved his wayward boy, was sad that he had gone away, and went to great lengths to seek him out and bring about reconciliation. Our separation from God has even sadder and longer-lasting consequences than the breach between that father and son, for to remain in one’s sins results in eternal separation from God: “cast into the lake of fire” Revelation 20.15. God’s love for us is so great that He did a great work, that we might be reconciled to Him: He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, Who came to earth, died for us all, and rose again.“For He [God] hath made Him [Christ] to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we [sinners] might be made the righteousness of God in Him [Christ]” 2Corinthians 5.21. This wonderful verse states that, on the cross, the sinless Lord Jesus Christ bore God’s judgment against sin, for us, the sinners. The only righteous One suffered for us, who are unrighteous, that we might be righteous in God’s sight, and thus be freed from the judgment and punishment that we all deserve for our sins.

In the same passage, Paul writes of “the word of reconciliation” that God committed to him, and summarises the appeal he made to sinners: “Be ye reconciled to God” 2Corinthians 5.19,20. The same plea goes to you today, to turn from your sins, and trust in Christ, Who died for you, that you might be united forever with the God Who loves you and wants you to be with Him, in His home, Heaven. It would have been sad if the son had refused the father who had sought him, expending so much time and shedding so many tears, and had chosen to remain estranged from him. Happily, the son responded positively to his father’s offer of reconciliation. The mutual joy of their reunion is a very faint shadow of the joy shared by God and the repentant, returned, reconciled sinner, illustrated in the words of the father of the ‘prodigal son’: “This my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found” Luke 15.24.

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A Proverb to Ponder

“Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people” Proverbs 14.34
This is clearly illustrated in the history of Israel recorded in the Scriptures. The nation prospered and was exalted when rulers were righteous, righteous laws were passed, administration was done according to righteous standards, and the people lived righteously; but failure in these things brought reproach and shame. How vividly we see the reality of this in the nations today, when even many unbelievers lament the lack of morality and decency, in leaders, and in society at large. However, for us, believers, as we mourn these things, let us never forget that the principle is true of “any people”. All through our lives, we have to make choices, between “righteousness” and “sin”. The right choice will bring honour; the wrong one will cause us shame, before both God and men.

Consider Him

“But I am a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised of the people … For He hath not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted; neither hath He hid His face from Him; but when He cried unto Him, He heard” Psalm 22.6,24
One of the many contrasts between the two parts (vv.1-21 and vv.22-31) of this precious Psalm involves the two occurrences of the word “despised”, quoted above. The first shows the total contempt in which the Lord Jesus was held by men: they considered Him unfit to be accorded the dignity of a human being, but rather treated Him as one of the very lowest of the animal orders. The second shows that God’s assessment of Him was the polar opposite: “He hath not despised” Him Who was “despised of the people”. He did not turn His face from Him, but inclined His ear to Him, heard His cry, delivered Him out of death, and exalted Him to the highest place of all. Today, men still despise and abhor Him; but we happily take our stand with God, and heartily assent to His view of His Son.

To Him whom men despise and slight,
To Him be glory given;
The crown is His, and His by right,
The highest place in heaven.
(Thomas Kelly)

A Proverb to Ponder

“In all labour there is profit: but the talk of the lips tendeth only to penury” Proverbs 14.23
It is easy to talk about what we intend to do in the future, or boast about the present, or reminisce about what we did in the past, but this does not produce anything of benefit: to ourselves, to fellow-believers, or to the lost. What is needed is “labour”; toil; diligent effort; and there are many opportunities for it: Paul writes of labouring in the gospel, Phil.4.3; labouring for the building up of the assembly, 1Cor.3.8,9; labouring in the Word and doctrine, 1Tim.5.17; labouring with the hands, Eph.4.28; and labouring in prayer, Col.4.12. The last of these is a vital work, done by many who are confined to their homes. There is, truly, “labour for all”, and in it “there is profit”. Well could Paul exhort, “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord” 1Cor.15.58.
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