ASSEMBLY TESTIMONY BIBLE CLASS
by J. Riddle
TRAITS OF THE TRIBES
by I. McKee
THE GOD OF JACOB
by P. Steele
THE LAMB IN REVELATION
by W. Banks
COMFORT FOR CHRISTIANS IN A CHANGING WORLD
by R. Reynolds
by J. Riddle (England)
THE FIRST BOOK OF PSALMS
No.46: PSALM 28 (Part 1)
We have noted (Papers 42 and 44) 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 finds his joy and delight there, as opposed to “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 is his refuge in adversity: “For in the time of trouble He shall hide me in His pavilion” v.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. Notice reference to David’s hands, v.2, the enemy’s hands, v.4, and the Lord’s hands, v.5; 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. It should be a place where we find our delight, as opposed to the world’s company; a place which is to us a sanctuary in adversity; and a place where we come with our petitions and intercession.
Turning now to Psalm 28, the only hint of the circumstances in which this Psalm was written lies in v.3: “Draw me not away with the wicked, and with the workers of iniquity”. Behind these words lies the picture of a condemned criminal being dragged away to execution1, and David saw the possibility of the righteous dying with the wicked. Quite obviously, he was in serious trouble. Perhaps he faced defeat in battle. Perhaps an enemy invasion looked successful. Centuries before, Abraham had asked the question, “Wilt Thou also destroy the righteous with the wicked?” Gen.18.23. Surely God would not act indiscriminately? We noticed David’s perplexity over this very issue in Psalm 26: “Gather [take away] not my soul with sinners, nor my life with bloody men” v.9. In fact Psalms 26, 27 and 28 all refer to a time of trouble. According to A.F. Kirkpatrick2, Psalm 28 is “commonly thought to have been written by David during his flight from Absalom, Psalm 28.3 then alludes to the character of the treacherous conspirators, and Psalm 28.5 to their obstinate refusal to recognise the hand of Jehovah in David’s choice and elevation to the throne”.
- 1 Clarke, A.G. “Analytical Studies in the Psalms”. John Ritchie Ltd., Kilmarnock.
- 2 Kirkpatrick, A.F. “The Book of Psalms”. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
But perplexity gives place to praise. There is an unmistakable change of mood in the latter part of the Psalm, and we have no difficulty in noticing its two divisions: first, David cries to the Lord, vv.1-5: “Hear the voice of my supplications” v.2; second, David blesses the Lord, vv.6-9: “He hath heard the voice of my supplications” v.6.
No wonder David wrote in a later Psalm, “The eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous, and His ears are open unto their cry … The righteous cry, and the Lord heareth, and delivereth them out of all their troubles” Ps.34.15-17.
DAVID’S PRAYER – vv.1-5
There is an emphasis on “hands” in this section of the Psalm. As already noted, the Psalm refers to the hands of David: “I lift up my hands toward Thy holy oracle” v.2; the hands of the wicked: “give them after the work of their hands” v.4; and the hands of the Lord: “they regard not the works of the Lord, nor the operation of His hands” v.5.
The Hands of David – vv.1,2
“Unto Thee will I cry, O Lord my rock; be not silent to me: lest, if Thou be silent to me, I become like them that go down into the pit. Hear the voice of my supplications, when I cry unto Thee, when I lift up my hands toward Thy holy oracle.” There are at least four things for emphasis in this section:
David’s Earnestness before God
The Psalmist uses two different words both translated “cry” here. In the first case (“Unto Thee will I cry” v.1) the word (qara) means ‘to call’, and in the second (“Hear the voice of my supplications, when I cry unto Thee” v.2) the word (shava) means ‘to cry aloud’. David uses the stronger word in connection with his “supplications”. There is nothing casual about David here. It is evidently a critical situation. How earnest are our prayers?
David’s Faith in God
“Unto thee will I cry, O Lord my rock” v.1. As J.M. Flanigan3 points out, “The nations had their gods and their high places. They had their lifeless deities of wood and stone, of gold and silver, but David is emphatic, ‘Unto Thee will I cry’”. David was single-minded in prayer, reminding us that we are to “ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea, driven of the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord. A double minded man is unstable in all his ways” Jms.1.6-8. Note the personal touch here: “my rock”, reminding us that Paul spoke out of personal experience in saying, “My God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus” Phil.4.19.
- 3 Flanigan, J.M. “What the Bible Teaches – Psalms”. John Ritchie Ltd., Kilmarnock.
We have already noticed that in all probability David was in considerable danger. The outlook, humanly speaking, looked decidedly uncertain. But God was unchanging and unchangeable: “my rock”. We must listen to David again: “From the end of the earth will I cry unto Thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the Rock that is higher than I” Ps.61.2. Isaiah tells us that “a man shall be as a hiding place from the wind, and a covert from the tempest; as rivers of water in a dry place, as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land” Isa.32.2. It is worth saying at this juncture that the “man” who will be “as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land” is ‘The church’s one foundation’. The Lord Jesus said, “Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” Matt.16.18. “This rock” is certainly not Peter, neither is it Peter’s confession. It is Christ Himself, “the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever” Heb.13.8. In saying, “and uponthis rock I will build My church”, the Lord Jesus was using a Divine title: “He is the Rock, His work is perfect … just and right is He … Jeshurun waxed fat … he forsook God which made him, and lightly esteemed the Rock of his salvation … Of the Rock that begat thee thou art unmindful, and hast forgotten God that formed thee … How should one chase a thousand, and two put ten thousand to flight, except their Rock had sold them, and the Lord had shut them up? For their rock is not as our Rock” Deut.32.4,15,18,30,31. The “God of Israel” was “the Rock of Israel” See 2Sam.23.1-3: “The God of Israel said, the Rock of Israel spake to me. He that ruleth over men must be just …”
David’s Desire for the Voice of God
“Be not silent to me: lest, if Thou be silent to me, I become like them that go down into the pit” v.1. David is saying that he might as well be dead if God does not speak to him. Do we feel like that when we read the Word of God? Is it that important to us? We must hear His voice. The Lord is not like the “dumb idols” at Corinth, 1Cor.12.2. As J.M. Flanigan4 observes, for David, “Life without God was not life”. How glad we are that our God is so different to Baal. Elijah taunted Baal’s devotees: “Cry aloud: for he is a god; either he is talking, or he is pursuing, or he is in a journey, or peradventure he sleepeth, and must be awaked”, but there was “neither voice, nor any to answer, nor any that regarded” 1Kgs.18.27-29.
- 4 Ibid.
David’s Approach to God
“Hear the voice of my supplications, when I cry unto Thee, when I lift up my hands toward Thy holy oracle” v.2. Compare Ps.138.2: “I will worship toward Thy holy temple”. So God heard David’s voice, and saw David’s hands. We cannot escape the connection. The man who can stand in “His holy place” must have “clean hands” Ps.24.3,4, and the brother who leads the assembly in prayer must lift up “holy hands, without wrath and doubting” 1Tim.2.8. In Scripture, “hands” signify work and dealings.
The word “oracle” (debir, meaning ‘speaking place’, although some opt for ‘the hinder part’, that is, the western end of the sanctuary, where the ‘Holy of holies’ was located) was the innermost part of the sanctuary. Solomon “built twenty cubits on the sides of the house, both the floor and the walls with boards of cedar: he even built them for it within, even for the oracle, even for the most holy place … And the oracle he prepared in the house within, to set there the ark of the covenant of the Lord … And within the oracle he made two cherubims of olive tree, each ten cubits high” 1Kgs.6.16,20,23. The New Testament calls it “the holiest of all” Heb.9.8. Our “hands” must be acceptable to the most holy God. We must not forget either that “if I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me” Ps.66.18. Both hands and heart must be acceptable to Him.
The Hands of the Wicked – vv.3-5
“Give them after the work of their hands; render to them their desert” v.4. We should notice at least two things in these verses:
The Inconsistency between Mouth and Heart
“Draw me not away [as a criminal being dragged off to execution] with the wicked, and with the workers of iniquity, which speak peace to their neighbours, but mischief is in their hearts” v.3. Solomon had some very stern things to say about this: “He that hateth dissembleth with his lips, and layeth up deceit within him; when he speaketh fair, believe him not: for there are seven abominations in his heart” Prov.26.24,25. But are we altogether free from such inconsistency? We must listen to the Lord Jesus at this point: “This people draweth nigh unto Me with their mouth, and honoureth Me with their lips; but their heart is far from Me” Matt.15.8.
The Consistency between Sowing and Reaping
This is made very clear indeed in this passage. “Give them according to their deeds, and according to the wickedness of their endeavours: give them after the work of their hands; render to them their desert” v.4. The following verse (v.5) drives the lesson home with even greater force: “Because they regard not the works of the Lord … He shall destroy them, and not build them up.” It is all summarised in the New Testament: “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap” Gal.6.7. Solomon puts it like this: “Whoso diggeth a pit shall fall therein: and he that rolleth a stone, it will return upon him” Prov.26.27.
The Hands of the Lord – v.5
“They regard not the works [‘deeds’ J.N.D.] of the Lord, nor the operation [‘work’ J.N.D.] of His hands.” This verse is cited in Isa.5.12: “And the harp, and the viol, the tabret, and pipe, and wine, are in their feasts: but they regard not the work of the Lord, neither consider the operation of His hands”. The “works of the Lord” and “the operation of His hands” v.5, stand in strong contrast to “their deeds” and “the work of their hands” v.4.
- Those hands were responsible for creation.
- “Thou madest him [Adam] to have dominion over the works of Thy hands” Ps.8.6.
- “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth His handiwork” Ps.19.1.
- Those hands were responsible for deliverance.
- “Remember this day, in which ye came out from Egypt, out of the house of bondage; for by strength of hand the Lord brought you out from this place” Ex.13.3.
- Those hands were responsible for judgment.
- “For all this His anger is not turned away, but His hand is stretched out still” Isa.9.12.
There is so much more, but we must change the approach and think about the hands of the Lord Jesus:
His hands were involved when Peter’s mother-in-law (don’t tell the Pope that the man whom he thinks was the first ‘Pope’ was married!) “lay sick of a fever”. The Lord “came and took her by the hand” Mk.1.30,31. He still brings relief to fevered brows. Do notice what happened next: “she ministered unto them” v.31. Those hands equipped her for service.
His hands were involved in the cleansing of the leper. When the leper came, He “put forth His hand, and touched him” Mk.1.41. He still deals with people who are beyond human aid. Do notice what happened next: “Go thy way, shew thyself to the priest, and offer for thy cleansing those things which Moses commanded, for a testimony unto them” v.44. Those hands enabled the leper to bear witness to God’s power in his life.
His hands were involved in raising Jairus’ daughter: “And He took the damsel by the hand” Mk.5.41. Do notice what happened next: “He … commanded that something should be given her to eat” v.43. The hands that brought her back from death gave her an appetite!
His hands were involved (three times) in connection with the blind man at Bethsaida: “And He took the blind man by the hand … and put His hands upon him … He put His hands again upon his eyes” Mk.8.23-25. The Lord had patient hands!
To be continued (D.V.)
by Ian McKee, N. Ireland
We continue in our consideration of the tribe of Asher.
Asher – in the Kingdom
Although not an overtly warlike tribe, when David was made king in Hebron Asher responded to the muster: “And of Asher, such as went forth to battle, expert in war, forty thousand” 1Chr.12.36.
Of Solomon’s twelve officials responsible for provision and supply, “Baanah the son of Hushai was in Asher and in Aloth” 1Kgs.4.16. These twelve men had responsibility to provide food for the king and his household for one month annually. Asher’s contribution must have been looked forward to with relish: “Out of Asher his bread shall be fat, and he shall yield royal dainties” Gen.49.20. Not only was the supply from Asher wholesome and nutritious, it was also palatable and well presented. There was nothing stodgy or unappetising here!
As an aside, when we gather on the first day of the week to remember our Lord Jesus Christ do our contributions in worship have substance? Are they acceptable and well presented? Surely due care and attention to warmth and detail are necessary for everything presented to the One Who is greater than Solomon, Matt.12.42; Lk.11.31. Fellow believers, who may be considered as representing ‘His household’ in this analogy, are well able to detect what is merely a reheated portion or something ineptly presented. Perhaps the silent contributions of the sisters compensate for all of the deficiencies in the oral presentations of the brothers? May the product of our worship be like that from the bakeries of Asher’s tribe: royal dainties, fit for the King!
In the days of Ahab, “the word of the Lord came” to Elijah by the brook Cherith: “Arise, get thee to Zarephath, which belongeth to Zidon, and dwell there: behold, I have commanded a widow woman there to sustain thee” 1Kgs.17.8,9. As Elijah traversed the territory of Asher towards Zarephath, the effects of drought, dearth and famine were abundantly evident. Yet there in one home the blessings of Asher were extended to Elijah, to the widow and to her son: “And the barrel of meal wasted not, neither did the cruse of oil fail, according to the word of the Lord, which He spake by Elijah” 1Kgs.17.16. Elijah surely welcomed these “royal dainties” from the daily replenished Divine supply. The Lord Himself endorsed the widow’s ministry, Lk.4.25,26. When we give in faith and give sacrificially to the Lord from what little we have, we may be assured that the vastness of His resources is open to us: “Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in Mine house, and prove Me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it” Mal.3.10.
During Hezekiah’s revival and reinstatement of the Passover, an invitation went out throughout the whole land: “So the posts passed from city to city through the country of Ephraim and Manasseh even unto Zebulun: but they laughed them to scorn, and mocked them. Nevertheless divers of Asher and Manasseh and of Zebulun humbled themselves, and came to Jerusalem” 2Chr.30.10,11. This action by some of Asher to arise from ease, to humble themselves and come to Jerusalem to evidence loyalty to Jehovah had blessing for those involved at that time. It also entailed blessing in years long subsequent, as we shall see later.
Too often our spiritual vision can be short-sighted, related only to our immediate circumstances. However, we should avoid that myopic tendency and realise that our present spiritual exercise, or lack thereof, will have downstream consequences for succeeding generations.
Asher – in Prophecy
Asher will contribute twelve thousand to the one hundred and forty-four thousand servants of God who will be sealed, Rev.7.6. Ezekiel prophesies that Asher will have a portion in the north of the land in the Millennial Kingdom, Ezek.48.2,3; and that the name “Asher” will be on one of the three gates on the western side of the city, Ezek.48.34. We marvel at God’s faithfulness in preserving the tribes, prominent or otherwise, down the ages. Truly, “He abideth faithful: He cannot deny Himself” 2Tim.2.13.
Asher – in the New Testament
The events in Hezekiah’s day, with some from Asher coming to Jerusalem for the reinstated Passover, had a happy sequel in the days following the Saviour’s birth.
When a king, or other dignitary, comes to a city it is customary for him to be met by a reception party, usually comprised of representatives of ‘the great and good’ of that city, and by specially selected children. Such a welcome was denied to the One Who was born King of the Jews. Nevertheless, two noble individuals were waiting to receive the Saviour when He was brought to the Jerusalem Temple by Joseph and Mary. Waiting for the Child of prophecy and promise, the incarnate Son of God, were two faithful believers: Simeon, most likely of the tribe of Judah; and Anna, “a prophetess … of the tribe of Aser [Asher]”, representing the northern tribes, Lk.2.25-38.
Anna was “a widow of about fourscore and four years, which departed not from the temple, but served God, with fastings and prayers night and day. And she coming in that instant gave thanks likewise unto the Lord, and spake of Him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem” Lk.2.37,38. Surely this was Asher’s finest hour?!
As stated in Moses’ benediction to this tribe, Anna exemplified, “And as thy days, so shall thy strength be” Deut.33.25. The world places a premium upon youth, beauty and power. God’s assessment of worth honoured two believers who had been faithful for decades and who were waiting for His Son. Some older believers may judge that their days of more active service are long past and, as a consequence, may feel themselves to be of less worth. Such should take encouragement: “Those that be planted in the house of the Lord shall flourish in the courts of our God. They shall still bring forth fruit in old age; they shall be fat and flourishing” Ps.92.13,14.
Faithful longevity is so valued by God that He rewarded these two stalwart individuals with a unique view, to be eternally remembered, of the incarnate Christ. In addition, Anna is the only named person in the New Testament who is identified as belonging to one of the northern tribes. She is also the last named prophetess in Scripture. Honours indeed! Faithfulness will always be acknowledged and rewarded by God.
ASHER – THE NEW TESTAMENT APPLICATION
We now turn to James’ writing for first generation Jewish Christians to see if there is anything relating to the tribe of Asher. Well, for a tribe of bakers there is certainly one verse that stands out: “Draw nigh to God, and He will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded” Jms.4.8.
True worth can only be measured in God’s presence; and closeness in communion depends on moral requirements being met. Drawing near to God requires a sound basis to promote intimacy. Sincerity is required on our part, with holy living and submission to God’s Word. Only then can we, with all due humility and reverence, expect God to draw near to us.
Removal of defilement and personal cleansing are essential; our hands must be clean. How easily we become polluted, even unintentionally. Profanity and derision of all that is Biblical exists all around us, in the conversations of the ungodly, in the news media, general advertising, etc. The injunction in Jms.4.8 evokes the language of ceremonial cleansing before priestly approach to God. We should, rightly, expect a baker to have clean hands and habits. However, should we be any less particular about how we live our lives and how we present our praise to God? “Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God” 2Cor.7.1.
The Psalmist could ask and answer: “Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord? Or who shall stand in His holy place? He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully. He shall receive the blessing from the Lord, and righteousness from the God of his salvation” Ps.24.3-5. A contrasting position is also outlined in Scripture: “And when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide Mine eyes from you: yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear” Isa.1.15. Surely we want greater intimacy with God, and to have our prayers answered in accordance with His will?
James goes on to say, “Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He shall lift you up” Jms.4.9,10. We recall that this was true in Asher’s history. There were those from Asher who experienced the laughter, scorn and mockery of other northern tribes when invited by Hezekiah to the reinstated Passover at Jerusalem. “Nevertheless divers of Asher … humbled themselves, and came to Jerusalem” 2Chr.30.11. They felt the need for self-abasement and were brought into conformity to that repentant and thankful condition of soul which the Passover calls to remembrance. So blessing results from a clean life and a humble attitude in the sight of God.
Anna the prophetess from Asher had experienced bereavement and many long years of widowhood. Yet she did not live her life with painful retrospect, but in the expectation of Messianic hope. Therefore, she “departed not from the temple, but served God, with fastings and prayers night and day” Lk.2.37. Her constancy and self-denial might have been misunderstood by many, but her disposition of soul was in accord with that of the Psalmist: “Lord, I have loved the habitation of Thy house, and the place where Thine honour dwelleth” Ps.26.8. Interestingly, in that same Psalm, David said, “I will wash mine hands in innocency: so will I compass Thine altar, O Lord” Ps.26.6.
That day when Anna saw the infant Christ carried into the Temple in the arms of either Mary or Joseph she experienced in reality the fact that “He shall lift you up” Jms.4.10, because “she coming in that instant gave thanks likewise unto the Lord, and spake of Him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem” Lk.2.38. Anna, with clean hands and a humble, yet now supremely joyful, spirit is engaged in the most elevated exercise; that is, to speak well of Christ to others.
Oh to be like Anna and have the inestimable privilege of presenting “royal dainties” in appreciation of our blessed Lord Jesus Christ!
To be continued (D.V.)
by Peter Steele (N. Ireland)
THE GOD OF COVENANT
In May 1948, a few days before the end of the British Mandate for Palestine, David Ben-Gurion, the prime minister of the soon-to-be-established Jewish state, and his cabinet-in-waiting debated what this new state should be called. Names were suggested such as ‘Zion’, ‘Judea’ and ‘Ever’ (from Ivri, meaning ‘Hebrew’), but these were all dismissed. Then the name ‘Israel’ was suggested and it was chosen by a majority vote. So the name of the state is ‘Israel’ to this day. If I had been there, I might have said, “Mr Ben-Gurion, may I suggest another name? It should be called the ‘State of Jacob’”. I am sure it also would have been dismissed, but perhaps it would have been more Scriptural. “Jacob” was the man in the flesh; “Israel” was the converted man after dealings with God. And while the Jews in the Land remain in unbelief, God will still see them as ‘Jacobs’ rather than ‘Israels’. In this article I would like to show that the Jews in unbelief today are like their father Jacob, that the Jews in the Millennium will be like their father Israel and that God’s dealings with Jacob at Jabbok that turned him from Jacob to Israel are a picture of the conversion of the nation.
THE NATION TODAY LIKE JACOB
Jacob was shrewd, as the meaning of his name suggests. Through opportunism and intrigue he got the birthright and blessing from Esau and ran away before any harm befell him. Through similar brilliance he acquired much cattle from Laban. His sending of presents ahead to Esau before crossing the Jabbok also shows his pragmatism. He was a brilliant and intelligent schemer. This reminds me of the Jews today. The Jews are an intelligent people. Since 1901, over 20 percent of Nobel prize-winners have been Jews: an amazing fact considering they only make up 0.2 percent of the world’s population! The nation of Israel is also shrewd and capable in its military might. It has worked hard for decades to keep America on its side to supply arms and political support. On the morning of 5th June 1967, the beginning of the Six-Day War, Israel sent a preemptive air strike into Egypt and destroyed some 180 Egyptian planes still on the runways; one third of their airforce! By the end of that day they had destroyed four hundred enemy planes. This, along with heroic and well-organised advancements on land, achieved for them an enormous victory in only six days. By the time fighting ceased, on 10th June, the army occupied an area of land three times the size of the prewar state, including the Sinai Peninsula, the Golan Heights and the city of Jerusalem.1 On 4th July 1976 the IDF (the “Israel Defence Forces”) sent an elite group of their soldiers to Entebbe Airport in Uganda, where 106 people, mostly Jewish, were being held hostage.2 They flew in secretly, killed the captors and flew the hostages back to Israel. This is only a sample of their great achievements, and if we add to this their fame for intelligence, spy networking and modern defence technology, we must agree that they are a shrewd people. Like their father Jacob, sometimes their actions have been questionable, but they are nonetheless brilliant and pragmatic.
- 1 Rabin, Y. “The Rabin Memoirs”. University of California Press, 1996.
2 Netanyahu, I. “Yoni’s Last Battle”. Gefen Publishing House, 2013.
Jacob was not only shrewd; he was hardworking and enduring. He made the long journey from Beersheba to Padan-aram on his own and worked for twenty years under an unjust master, Gen.31.7. He was a capable and diligent farmer, Gen.31.38-40. When he left Padan-aram, he had a large family and many flocks and cattle. This also reminds me of the nation today. In 1948 there were just over seven hundred thousand Jews in the land; today there are almost seven million. They began in little communities called kibbutzim where they shared everything because they were so poor (some even Holocaust survivors). They worked hard and they endured many difficulties. Today Israel is a successful and wealthy country. As would be expected from sons of Jacob, agriculture is their fourth biggest industry, even higher than tourism. In 2018 the country was able to produce ninety-five percent of its food requirement.3 And likely many readers have enjoyed eating fruit and vegetables that were grown in Israel. They are hardworking and prosperous, like their father Jacob.
- 3 worldatlas.com
Jacob made some enemies throughout his life. He made an enemy in Syria (Laban), he made an enemy who would settle on the east of Jordan (Esau) and, though outside the scope of our study, he made some enemies in the area now known as the West Bank (because of the massacre at Shechem, Gen.34.30). This is the same with the nation today: they have enemies in Syria, in Trans-Jordan and in the West Bank, but, as God preserved Jacob from being destroyed by these enemies, so He preserves the sons of Jacob today from being crushed by their enemies, though they may not appreciate it. It is said that, when Frederick the Great asked his physician, “Can you name me a single proof of the existence of God?” Dr. Zimmermann replied, “The Jews, your Majesty!”4 And the existence and success of the nation today against all odds is a living proof that there is a God in heaven.
- 4 en.m.wikiquote.org
Sadly, with all Jacob’s achievements and brilliance, in his early days, he had not had dealings with God and was not depending on Him, but trying to succeed through his own pragmatism and efforts. And, sadly, the people of that nation today, with all their brilliance, have not had dealings with God and are not depending on God. Much atheism abounds in the land, along with moral wickedness. Where there is religion, it is external and traditional, dressing in black, wailing at the Western Wall for their Temple, observing the feasts and the sabbath: but no Christ! They rejected Him then; they reject Him still. So, I suggest that the Jewish homeland today could well have been called the state of ‘Jacob’ rather than ‘Israel’, because that is whom they are more like.
THE NATION IN THE MILLENNIUM LIKE ISRAEL
Nathanael in John chapter 1 is a picture of Israel going into the Millennium. He sits under the fig tree; see Zech.3.10. At first he is sceptical but soon he confesses that the Man from lowly Nazareth is the Son of God, the King of Israel, and he is told that he will “see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man” Jn.1.51. When he first comes to the Lord, the Lord says, “Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile!” Jn.1.47. The guile reminds us of Jacob, but Nathanael has left the guile of Jacob behind and is now a true son of Israel. Likewise, the sceptical nation will one day see the Man of lowly Nazareth; their unbelief will be dispelled; they will confess Him as the Son of God, the King of Israel; the guile of Jacob will be removed, Zech.3.9, and they will become Israel in truth. They will then enjoy the Kingdom, when heaven will be opened and earth will be administered from heaven.
Isa.40.4 says that in the Millennium, “the crooked [from the same Hebrew root as “Jacob”] shall be made straight, and the rough places plain”. All that is selfish and deceitful about the nation will then be “made straight” and they will be given a new heart, Ezek.36.26.
The first thing that happened after Jacob crossed the Jabbok with his new name, Israel, was that he was reconciled with his brother, Esau, who before was his enemy, Genesis chapter 33. This will be the same with the nation of Israel when they enter into the Millennium: enmity with other nations will cease; instead other nations will come to the land to worship and learn, Isa.2.3,4; Zech.14.16. Jacob even blesses the king of Egypt in Gen.47.10 and, likewise, in the Millennium there will be a special blessing for Egypt through Israel, Isa.19.18-25; yea the promise to Abraham will be fulfilled that “in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed” Gen.12.3.
Another characteristic of the patriarch with his new name is faith in the once-rejected Joseph. When he saw the provision of Joseph, “Israel said, ‘It is enough; Joseph my son is yet alive’” Gen.45.28. Likewise, the nation of Israel in the Millennium will appreciate that the once-rejected Jesus is alive and they will believe in Him, Isa.53.2-6; Zech.12.10.
“Israel bowed himself upon the bed’s head” Gen.47.31. As we have noted in previous articles, there is a Godliness about Jacob at the end of His days that was unknown in earlier days. We can see this in his desire to be buried in the Promised Land, Gen.47.30, in the blessings of chapter 48, and in the prophetic utterances of chapter 49. It reminds me of the nation of Israel after their conversion. They will then be a Godly people, from whom daily praise will ascend to the Lord Jesus, Ps.72.15. They will be God’s prophets in truth, Ps.105.15, and holiness will pervade the land, Zech.14.20,21. So we can see that the nation, during the reign of the Lord Jesus, will be Israel-like, as God intended them to be.
JACOB’S EXPERIENCE AT JABBOK LIKE THE CONVERSION OF THE NATION
What changed Jacob to Israel was the experience at the brook of Genesis chapter 32. This is a picture of the future conversion experience that the nation will have that will turn them from being Jacob-like to being Israel-like. This parallel was brought to my mind four years ago when a Jewish guide in Jaffa pointed our tour group to a monument of Jacob wrestling with an ‘angel’. He said, “We Jews are just like our father Ya’aqov struggling with this angel: we are always struggling. Our existence is a struggle amidst hostile Arab nations. We watch our sons leave home at 18 years of age with an army uniform and a gun under the shoulder, and it is a struggle.”
The parallel goes much further than the tour guide ever understood. The sons of Jacob are struggling against God! And they will continue to wrestle against Him and resist Him until He ‘touches the hollow of their thigh’ and ‘cripples’ them. This will be in Tribulation days, when the solemn hand of God will be so heavy on them that they will have no other recourse but, like Jacob, to stop fighting against God and start clinging to Him. Genocide, Dan.11.44, J.N.D.; Satanic persecution, Rev.12.13; and siege, Zech.14.2, will cause that proud, independent people to be broken and look alone for refuge to the One Whom they cast out and pierced at Golgotha so many centuries before, Zech.12.10. At the Jabbok, Jacob confessed his name was Jacob and then God gave him a new princely name, Israel, Gen.32.27,28. Likewise, in that day the nation will confess their Jacob-like iniquities but understand that they were borne by another, Isa.53.6. They will then be called Israel, a princely people, for “a King shall reign in righteousness, and princes shall rule in judgment” Isa.32.1. “And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, ‘There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob’” Rom.11.26.
As Jacob left that never-to-be-forgotten experience and entered into the land, “the sun rose upon him” Gen.32.31. The sun had set when he left the land, Gen.28.11, but now he is back. When redeemed and restored Israel enter “the glory of all lands” Ezek.20.6, to enjoy one thousand years of unparalleled peace and glory, it will be the dawning of a new day, for “the Sun of righteousness [shall] arise with healing in His wings” Mal.4.2.
While the contrast is not watertight, I trust the point is clear. The patience that God had with Jacob to deal with him and turn him into a new man: Israel, is the very same patience that will deal with the sons of Jacob and transform them into a new nation with a new heart: the nation of Israel. This is the God Who will never forget His covenant with that favoured people, even though they are so wayward today. He is the God of Covenant, the God of Jacob.
- Such is Thy love to Judah’s race,
- A deep unchanging tide of grace.
- Though scattered now at Thy command
- They pine away in every land,
- With trembling heart and failing eyes –
- And deep the veil on Israel lies –
- Yet still Thy word Thou canst not break,
- “Beloved for their fathers’ sake.”
- (Robert Murray McCheyne)
by Roy Reynolds (N. Ireland)
“And when they were come to the place, which is called Calvary, there they crucified Him …” Luke 23.33
“Ah, what a place is this!” wrote John Bunyan in Pilgrim’s Progress. Albert Midlane, the renowned hymnwriter, penned these words: “Still at the cross I love to be, Its glories ne’er grow dim.” It is a place every Christian visits in thought every day but it is the Person Who has made Calvary, Calvary.
He made Bethlehem, Bethlehem and He made Nazareth, Nazareth. Wherever He went He left a fragrance rare: the Monarch in the manger, the Teacher in the Temple though but a boy, the Weary Stranger Who sat on Sychar’s Well, the Christ of the Cross. Can we ever forget the shame, the sorrow and the sufferings?
He has engraved in our hearts an enduring sense of indebtedness for all He accomplished there and has stamped indelibly on our minds the wonder of His selfless love. Because of Christ and because of Calvary we discovered our vile sins could be forgiven and hope filled our soul as we grasped the fact of His finished work that has forever satisfied God.
- O Calvary! Dark Calvary!
- Where Jesus shed His blood for me,
- O Calvary! Blest Calvary!
- ’Twas there my Saviour died for me.
“… to be present [at home] with the Lord” 2Corinthians 5.8
There are few words sweeter to the ear than ‘home’; it exudes warmth and welcome and evokes memories of a place and people who were and are most dear to us. It glows with love and reminds us of happy days uniquely precious. No matter where we travelled it was always good to go back home; it was a welcome sight at the end of a weary day of toil.
Since God has saved us we have come to recognise heaven as home. Once it seemed so far away, once we had no interest in it but by grace desires have been implanted in our souls to be in that celestial abode.
Once there, we will never have to leave it; we will never have to part with loved ones who will be there. No sickness or sorrow will ever enter its portals and tears will never again be shed. No obituaries will have to be written and best of all Christ will be there. On our arrival there we will instantly feel “at home”.
- There no stranger God shall meet thee;
- Stranger thou in courts above!
- He who to His rest shall greet thee
- Greets thee with a well-known love.
By William M. Banks, Scotland
THE WRATH OF THE LAMB – Rev.6.12-17 (Part 1)
The closing paragraph of Revelation chapter 6 is the climax of the seal judgments. The Lamb begins to open the seals in verse 1 of this chapter (the first seal), then a total of five more in turn. These are an unveiling of the judgments to be poured out on the world after the Rapture of the Church. They begin with the unveiling of the Antichrist (the first seal) leading to war (the second seal) and famine (the third seal). Not surprisingly all this results in death (the fourth seal) with twenty-five percent of the population being affected. It is perhaps not surprising that in circumstances where the Antichrist is to the fore there is martyrdom for the Godly, unveiled under the fifth seal. John sees “under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held” v.9. It is worthy of note that “souls” can speak, and see, and be clothed, vv.10,11. The climax of the seal judgments comes with the sixth seal of vv.12-17 when “the wrath of the Lamb” is poured out with devastating effect. It is accompanied by unprecedented apocalyptic scenes of judgment. The catastrophic effects in the cosmos lead to an unparalleled appeal for death.
OUTLINE OF THE SIXTH SEAL UNVEILING “THE WRATH OF THE LAMB”
- The wonder indicated – v.12a: “I beheld … and, lo”
- The cosmos devastated – v.12b: “a great earthquake”
- The effect produced – vv.12c-14: note the copulative effect of the fivefold repetition of “and”
- The persons affected – v.15a-g: seven distinct groups are mentioned
- The hiding attempted – v.15h: “hid themselves in … dens and … the rocks …”
- The cry articulated – v.16: “Fall on us, and hide us … from the wrath of the Lamb”
- The reason adduced – v.17: “for the great day of His wrath is come”
In this Paper, we will consider vv.12-14, and move on to vv.15-17 in the following Paper, God Willing.
The Wonder Indicated – v.12a: “I beheld … and, lo”
The above phrase is similar to what has already been stated in vv.2,5,8, albeit translated slightly differently in each case; for example it is translated as “I saw, and behold …” in v.2. It is thus used four times in the chapter, associated with the first, third, fourth and sixth seals. John cannot restrain his wonder at the realities unfolding before him: the Antichrist’s reigning and warring, leading to famine and death, and now cosmic conflagration!
The reason for the absence of an outright expression of wonder in the case of the opening of the second and fifth seals is not immediately clear. It might be that in the case of the second seal being opened John is not really too surprised that with the Antichrist on the throne peace is taken “from the earth” v.4. Similarly, with an antichristian world system holding sway it is equally unsurprising that the Godly are martyred, v.9.
The Cosmos Devastated – v.12b: “a great earthquake”
There are five references to a “great earthquake” in the New Testament. The first is associated with the resurrection in Matt.28.2. While “great”, it was evidently selective, with its greatness being linked to the miraculous and to the victory of Christ. The second reference is in Acts 16.26, where again a particular purpose is evident: “so that the foundations of the prison were shaken: and immediately all the doors were opened, and every one’s bands were loosed”. It would not be normal for an earthquake simply to open doors and loose bands! Its greatness was in the salvation effected in the case of a jailor and his family!
The three other references are in the Book of Revelation. The fourth reference in the New Testament is in Rev.11.13, at the conclusion of the sixth trumpet (which is the second “woe” 11.14); the last three trumpets are all “woes” 8.13. In this case the earthquake is having more widespread effects, in vindication of “the two witnesses”, who had prophesied fearlessly for 1,260 days, 11.3, in spite of severe opposition, which resulted in their death, 11.7. The earthquake followed in “the same hour” in which they were publicly resurrected and called up to heaven, 11.12. The fifth reference is at the beginning of the outpouring of the seventh vial (bowl), 16.18,19. It is God’s final devastating expression of judgment. Jerusalem is divided into three and “the cities of the nations” fall: Babylon, London, New York …
The third reference to a “great earthquake” is the one here at the opening of the sixth seal, v.12a. This one and the one in 16.18 seem to be on a global scale, with “large sections of the earth’s crust colliding with each other”.1 The devastating effects seem to be universal in their nature: none are excluded. There is no merely local effect now. The purpose of Divine intervention is now to affect the whole “earth” v.15. The number of earthquakes is increasing significantly in the world. “It is estimated that there are five hundred thousand detectable earthquakes in the world each year. One hundred thousand of those can be felt, and one hundred of them cause damage”.2 This one is unprecedented; perhaps it will not be too long before it is experienced!
- 1 Allen, J. “What the Bible Teaches – Revelation”. John Ritchie Ltd., 1997.
2 “USGS Earthquake Hazards Programme”, 2018.
The Effect Produced in the Cosmos – vv.12c-14
The detailed effects produced in the cosmos catalogued here are consistent with Old Testament prophecy; for example Joel 2.31; Hag.2.6. See also Matt.24.7.
The repetition of “and” (five times) should be noted: “and” can either be ‘copulative’ or ‘cumulative’. It seems to be the former here, emphasising the overall combined effect with continuing and increasing intensity rather than just an accumulation of additive facts. The details are consistent with the effect of an ‘asteroid’ hitting the earth: “… An impact would release as much energy as … almost 2 million Hiroshima-sized atomic bombs … If it hit land, the explosion would destroy everything within thousands of square miles – and more seriously – throw enough dust into the atmosphere to blot out the sun and trigger a cosmic winter worldwide”.3 The details are as follows:
- The volcanic eruption (or asteroid collision, of course under the hand of God), v.12c: “and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair”;
- The reflected effect in atmospheric disturbance, v.12d: “and the moon became as blood”;
- The meteoric displacements, v.13: “and the stars of heaven fell unto the earth …” Are these comet movements in the atmosphere?
- The movements in the heavens and heavenly bodies, v.14a: “And the heaven departed as a scroll …” This is not their final movements as described in 2Pet.3.10 and Rev.20.11, but is a precursor of those coming days;
- The universality of the effect, v.14b: “and every mountain and island were moved …” God is now intervening dramatically in human affairs and humanity is aware of unparalleled developments; compare Isa.24.20. It is a prelude to Matt.24.29 and Rev.16.18.
It is no surprise to learn that no strata of humanity are left unaffected. God decides the timing and regulates the response.
- 3 “The Financial Times”, 13 March 1998.
To be continued (D.V.)
By Jack Hay (Scotland)
Paper 2 – A TEAM OF TEACHERS
Jehoshaphat’s initial enthusiasm for the things of God was maintained; “his heart was lifted up in the ways of the Lord” 2Chr.17.6. Normally we worry when we read of someone’s heart being “lifted up”! Generally, that statement sets the stage for some spiritual disaster, as when Uzziah’s “heart was lifted up to his destruction” 2Chr.26.16. God had allowed Uzziah military supremacy in the region, and his fame had spread, but ensuing pride moved him to covet the role of king-priest. His presumption was serious, because God had reserved that honour for His Son.
Hezekiah was another whose “heart was lifted up” 2Chr.32.25. God had preserved him when Assyrian aggressors had belittled him, and intimidated him with a threatening letter. Further, the Almighty had intervened when a lethal boil threatened his life. Sadly, “Hezekiah rendered not again according to the benefit done unto him”, and that ingratitude contributed to Judah being exiled to Babylon although “the wrath of the Lord came not upon them in the days of Hezekiah” 2Chr.32.26.
Uniquely in the Chronicles then, Jehoshaphat’s heart was lifted up in a positive way, rather than with the conceit that marked the others. The phrase encapsulates the ambition that motivated him to choose “the ways of the Lord”, and the zeal that moved him to eradicate idolatry, 2Chr.17.6. Most often, “high places and groves” were centres of pagan worship and he was determined that Jehovah would be unrivalled. There was another side to the “high places”. Sometimes, rather than worshipping at the Divinely-ordained gathering centre at Jerusalem, the people of Judah worshipped the true God at these unauthorised venues. Even in his early days, Jehoshaphat was determined that things be done Scripturally. Thus, two lessons emerge. First, let our hearts be lifted up with spiritual ambition to deal ruthlessly with anything that would compete with the pre-eminent place that the Lord Jesus should have in our lives. Second, never settle for any deviation from the pattern that the New Testament prescribes for our form of worship and service. Have settled convictions about each of these matters; rectify any issues that could be seen as modern equivalents of the high places.
It is a pity that at a later date worship at the high places was reinstated “because the people had not prepared their hearts unto the God of their fathers” 2Chr.20.33. It appears that although Jehoshaphat’s “heart was lifted up” to deal with the issue, the people generally had not prepared their hearts, and hence they reverted to their old ways. Leaders can encourage their people and, by example, show the way but if there is no heart to submit and comply, there will be drift. Paul besought the Thessalonians “to know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you; and to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake” 1Thess.5.12,13.
Three years into his reign, Jehoshaphat embarked on another vital project, teaching his people the Word of God, 2Chr.17.7. Five princes, nine Levites and two priests were commissioned with the task, v.8. They went armed with “the book of the law of the Lord” v.9, so that everything taught was firmly based on the Word of God, ‘chapter and verse’ backing up all that they imparted to the people. Generally, there are dangers in trying to teach New Testament practices from Old Testament history, but the parallels between what happened here and the mode of teaching in New Testament assemblies is striking.
Sixteen men were involved, so the responsibility for the teaching did not rest with one individual. Thus it was in New Testament assemblies. At Antioch, five men taught the Word, Acts 13.1; two were removed for service elsewhere, but when they returned and were serving at Antioch again, they were “teaching and preaching the word of the Lord, with many others also” Acts 15.35. The appointment of one person to have sole responsibility for preaching to a congregation is clearly unbiblical.
However, notice that the sixteen men were all named. Thus it was in the assembly at Antioch. The five men already referred to were all named, an indication that they and they alone were the teachers in the assembly at that stage. While the responsibility for teaching in the assembly rests with the males exclusively, 1Tim.2.12, there is no suggestion in Scripture that every man should be a Gospel preacher, an exhorter, or a Bible teacher. Clearly, anyone filling these public roles has to be suitably gifted, Eph.4.11. Thus, while a ‘one-man ministry’ is unscriptural, so is an ‘any-man ministry’, and it has to be admitted that the latter is more prevalent in assembly life today than the former. It damages the credibility of claims to be functioning Scripturally. If the gospel preaching and Bible teaching are inarticulate and dry, it does nothing to attract believers who are seeking a spiritual home, and it robs assembly members of the edifying, encouraging and enlightening discourses that would be given if appropriately gifted men were preaching.
Observe the three groups involved in the teaching. First, there were five princes who spearheaded the project, 2Chr.17.7. Again, the New Testament connection seems obvious. Assembly elders have a huge responsibility to ensure that there is a constant stream of Bible teaching, ensuring the spiritual nourishment and health of the flock. Every elder must be “apt to teach” 1Tim.3.2. That does not imply that they will all be lucid expositors of the Word of God in a public arena. It is perhaps significant that the expression follows hard on the qualification “given to hospitality”, so possibly the inference is that in their own homes they will answer questions, and impart instruction to any guests who are present. However, there are elders who are gifted to teach the gathered company, “they who labour in the word and doctrine [teaching]”, whom Paul describes as being among those who “rule well” 1Tim.5.17.
The group of Levites was the second component of that band of teachers. Levites were the burden bearers when the Tabernacle was on the move, but in the Temple era a range of new activities occupied them, 1Chronicles chapter 23, summarised by the phrase “… that did the work for the service of the house of the Lord” v.24. The Levites were the workers, but men who had toiled energetically were now involved in communicating God’s truth. Those involved in teaching the Word of God must have a personal involvement with others in the work of God. The ministry of Haggai and Zechariah was to stimulate interest in rebuilding the house of God after the work had lapsed. Zerubbabel and Jeshua took up the challenge and initiated the endeavour, but “with them were the prophets of God helping them” Ezra 5.1,2. The preachers were not afraid to be involved in the hard work.
Two priests made up the complement of this team of Bible teachers, and they would have brought a spirit of tenderness to the proceedings, for priestly sensibility must be an ingredient of the teaching of the Word. Priests were to “have compassion on the ignorant, and on them that are out of the way” Heb.5.2. I feel that the gifts of the pastor and teacher are separate gifts, Eph.4.11, but at the same time, I am convinced that teaching should be undertaken with a shepherd heart. Even when Paul had to faithfully censure Corinthian misbehaviour, it was “out of much affliction and anguish of heart” that he wrote to them, “with many tears” 2Cor.2.4. Teaching that is cold and insensitive is a far cry from the spirit of the man who spent three years at Ephesus “[warning] every one night and day with tears” Acts 20.31. Let the authority of the princes, the industry of the Levites and the sensitivity of the priests feature in the teaching ministry among assemblies today.
An allusion has already been made to the fact that these teachers “had the book of the law of the Lord with them” 2Chr.17.9. Everything they taught had to be authenticated from these ancient Scriptures. Thus it should be today. It is only as believers “let the word of Christ dwell in [them] richly” that they will be in a position to teach and admonish one another, Col.3.16. We dare not try to impose our personal preferences on others if it amounts to ‘adding to’ the Word of God, but teachers do have a responsibility to teach “all the counsel of God” Acts 20.27. Those who hear it taught in fulness have a responsibility to be like Zacharias and Elisabeth and be “walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless” Lk.1.6, rather than selecting which parts of the Word to believe and obey.
A final observation is that Jehoshaphat’s teachers “went about throughout all the cities of Judah” 2Chr.17.9. If everything taught was based on the book that they carried, then the message in every location would be exactly the same. Paul had that outlook; he spoke of “my ways which be in Christ, as I teach every where in every church” 1Cor.4.17. There would be uniformity about moral conduct, family life, business ethics, and congregational activity if believers everywhere were basing the various aspects of their lives on the teaching of the Word.
To be continued (D.V.)
The Last Day and the Last Invitation
You are reading the last page of the last issue of “Assembly Testimony” of 2022! How quickly this year has passed by! At this time of the year my mind usually turns to “last” things in the Scriptures, and I have been thinking of a couple of verses. The first is John chapter 7 verse 37: “In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, ‘If any man thirst, let him come unto Me, and drink.’” The “feast” was the Jews’ Feast of Tabernacles, which took place every year. Huge numbers were there, for a whole week, in which both ‘religious’ and ‘social’ activities took place. It was a happy time, with much celebration.
However, the Lord Jesus knew that religion and the social activities people enjoy do not satisfy people’s spiritual need, and so, when the week was drawing to a close, He issued this appeal: “If any man thirst, let him come unto Me, and drink.” He was not speaking of drinking physical water, but of the eternal life that He offers to us all, who are “dead in trespasses and sins” Ephesians 2.1. Without physical water we would die, and in the spiritual realm, the only way we can escape eternal death is to receive the eternal life that the Lord Jesus offers. He said, “Come unto Me, and drink”, because only He can give us eternal life.
That takes me to the other “last” verse that is on my mind: the Bible’s last invitation to mankind: “Whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely” Revelation 22.17. The word “whosoever” shows that this eternal life is freely available to all, but, as with the verse in John chapter 7, “If any man thirst”, the words “whosoever will” show that it is only received by those who want it. Do you want it? Do you want to be saved from your sins, and to know that you will never be in Hell, but will be forever in Heaven? Do you “thirst” to know peace and joy and satisfaction, which the things of this world can never give? If so, there is good news for you. Not only can you have it, but the Lord is offering it to you. And it is “freely”. You do not have to pay anything, or do any work, or any religious observance. Why not? Because the Lord Jesus Christ has paid the price, in full, in His precious blood, when He suffered and died upon the cross, and hence you can receive it freely, by trusting in Him. Please give heed to His own words: “I lay down My life, that I might take it again” John 10.17. “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life” John 3.16. “Verily, verily, I say unto you, 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” John 5.24.
A person may know that he needs water, and he may thirst for it, but it will not benefit him unless he actually drinks it. It is so as far as eternal life is concerned, as both our verses show: “Come unto Me, and drink”; “Let him take the water of life”. It would be the best possible end to 2022 for you, if you were to come to the Lord Jesus Christ, in all your need as a sinner, and take the gift of eternal life, which He offers freely to you today. His words are true: “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly” John 10.10.
- Burdened one, why will you longer bear sorrows from which He releases?
- Open your heart, and rejoicing share life more abundant in Jesus.
- Life! Life! Eternal life! Jesus alone is the Giver!
- Life! Life! Abundant life! Glory to Jesus for ever!
- “The words of a talebearer are as wounds, and they go down into the innermost parts of the belly” Proverbs 18.8
- The word translated “wounds” is interesting. According to Strong, it is “a primitive root; properly, to burn in, i.e. (figuratively) to rankle – wound.” Hence the translation “wounds” in the Authorised Version. Others, such as Brown-Driver-Briggs, give the meaning as ‘swallow greedily’. ‘Swallow greedily’ indicates the attractiveness of the words of a gossip, while “wounds” shows their harmfulness. However we take it, both thoughts are true: we may find the talk of a talebearer like “dainty morsels” J.N.D., and eagerly ‘swallow’ them. However, despite their apparent palatability, they are highly damaging, becoming assimilated into our very being, where they are retained, to be recalled, and then relayed to others, to the wounding of all who are involved.
- “The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven” 1Corinthians 15.47
- In 1Cor.15.45-49, Paul draws at least three blessed contrasts between “the first man Adam” and “the second man”, our Lord Jesus Christ. Firstly, Adam was “natural” (‘soulish’), having been made a “living soul”, whereas Christ is “spiritual”, “a quickening spirit”. Secondly, Adam was “living” (he received life), but Christ is “quickening” (He gives life). Thirdly, Adam was “of the earth, earthy” (formed from the dust of the ground, and thus earthy in character), whilst Christ is no less than “the Lord from heaven … the heavenly”.
- We, the descendants of Adam, take character from him: “As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy”. How vastly different we, presently, are from Him Who is heavenly! However, what unspeakable joy it is to read this precious “as … also …” statement: “And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly”. Just as surely as we bear the image of the first man, Adam, we shall bear the image of the second man, the Lord from heaven. What a glorious prospect!
- And is it so? We shall be like Thy Son,
- Is this the grace which He for us has won?
- (John Nelson Darby)
“I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love His appearing” 2Timothy 4.7,8
No reserves … No retreats … No regrets
Unknown; attributed to William Borden