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Sunday, September 23, 2018

HOW TO REBUKE EVIL EFFECTIVELY

HOW TO REBUKE EVIL EFFECTIVELY 


"They who have believed God may be careful to maintain good works” Titus 3:8


The alternative reading suggested in the Revised Version, "careful to profess honest occupations," helps us to understand what was in the mind of the Apostle when he wrote these words. The whole chapter reveals the kind of world in the midst of which these Cretan Christians were living. It was characterized by INSUBORDINATION TO AUTHORITY, BY LAZINESS, BY DISAFFECTION AND CONTENTION, AND BY EVERY FORM OF EVIL EXCESS. Moreover, it was intellectually a world of wrangling and disputes over all sorts of things. In the midst of such conditions the Christians stood fundamentally as those who believed God. To believe God is to believe His Word, His revelation of the true order of life. Those who stood on that belief could testify to the power of it in no better way than that of GOOD WORKS, that is, by following a quiet and diligent life of DEVOTION TO DUTY, in CALLINGS which in themselves were HONEST. And that is always so. THERE IS NO MORE POWERFUL FORCE FOR REBUKING ALL EVIL THINGS, WHETHER OF CONDUCT OR OF OPINION, THAN THAT OF THE QUIET, STRONG, PERSISTENT LIFE OF MAN OR WOMAN WHO GOES ON FROM DAY TO DAY DOING THE DUTIES OF THE DAY WELL, CHEERFULLY, AND WITH JOY. It is not easy; and that is recognized in the very verb employed. They are "to be careful"; that is, they are to MAKE IT A STUDY, TO TAKE THOUGHT ABOUT IT. It is not easy, but it is worthwhile as well as effective.

Friday, September 21, 2018

STARVED - HOMELESS - DESPAIRING

STARVED - HOMELESS - DESPAIRING 


"This also is vanity and a striving after wind" Eccles. 2:26


These words occur at the close of a section of the debate, and are a refrain already often repeated. In the first movement, after stating in general terms his conclusion, the Debater elaborated his statement by describing vividly his consciousness of the grind of the material universe (1:4-11). Then he began to mass his evidence in support of his contention that ALL IS VANITY. He first gave his own experience in personal life. He tried KNOWLEDGE, giving himself up to, and a STUDY of “all that is done under heaven”. The result was that he "perceived that this also was a striving after wind" (1:12-18). He gave himself up to PLEASURE, to fun, and found "this also was vanity" (2:1-3). He devoted himself to the AMASSING OF WEALTH and this with conspicuous success, only to look on everything and to discover that "all was vanity and a striving after wind" (2:4-11). He then contemplated life in the light of these disappointments, and came to the material conclusion that "there is nothing better for a man than that he should eat and drink"; and yet he was forced to admit that "This also is vanity, and a striving after wind." This is indeed graphic literature. It shows us a man, richly endowed in himself, living in the midst of marvelous things, of KNOWLEDGE, of FUN, of WEALTH, of LIFE; giving himself to these things with all the powers of his being—and yet finding nothing in them. He is STARVED, HOMELESS, DESPAIRING. There is a side to life which he is not counting on, or considering. It is the side which is SPIRITUAL, the completion of the sphere OVER THE SUN, above the MATERIAL. Forgetting that, everything is vanity. This is as modern as the weariness of every human soul which seeks KNOWLEDGE, LAUGHTER, WEALTH, and LIFE—AND FORGETS GOD.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

SHINING LIGHT TO A DARK WORLD

SHINING LIGHT TO A DARK WORLD 


"Lights in the world, holding forth the word of life" Phil. 2:15, 16


That is a very beautiful figure of thy mission in the world of those who are "blameless and harmless, children of God without blemish." The marginal reading substitutes the word "luminaries” for "lights." I do not think this helps us much, except as we remember that the word "luminaries" refers to the heavenly bodies, and mainly to the sun and moon. The idea is not that of the lamp stand, but of the light itself. The Greek word only occurs twice in the New Testament, here and in Rev. 21:11, where, speaking of the holy city, the seer declared: "Her light was like unto a stone most precious!” There the reference was not to the light the city diffused, except in a secondary sense. It was to the light she received and reflected which is directly after described in the words: "The lamp thereof is the Lamb, and the nations shall walk amidst the light thereof" (vs. 23, 24). What then, the Lamb is to be; in FINAL GLORY, to the City of God, the children of God are to the world today. This function of SHEDDING TRUE LIGHT upon the darkness of the world will be fulfilled as the "Word of life" is held forth in the life. To live by the Word, is to SHINE and REFLECT THE WORD in such a way that those who are in darkness may have GUIDANCE AND HELP. The conception fills us with a sense of our weakness, and that the more, when we ponder the conditions already quoted, viz., that we are to be "blameless and harmless, children of God without blemish." Yet, thank God, these words follow the glorious declaration that it is ours to "work out with fear and trembling" what God works WITHIN of His good pleasure.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

RECOVERY THROUGH JUDGES

RECOVERY THROUGH JUDGES 


"Jehovah raised up judges" Judges 2:16


This brief sentence records THE METHOD OF GOD DURING THIS PERIOD. It was a METHOD MADE NECESSARY by the REPEATED FAILURE OF THE PEOPLE. That should be clearly understood. These men were not judges in our sense of the word. Neither were they appointed to rule in the normal way. The nation was a THEOCRACY, having GOD AS KING. Its life was conditioned by His law, and His will was made known through His worship, and the teaching of the priests. The first sentences of the previous chapter reveal the nation inquiring of Jehovah on a matter of national importance. The answer was direct. It was sought and obtained by the use of Urim and Thummin by the priest (Exod. 28:30). The people had no need of any other administrators in times of obedience. When through DISOBEDIENCE they passed into circumstances of DIFFICULTY AND SUFFERING, GOD RAISED UP JUDGES WHO BECAME THE INSTRUMENTS OF DIVINE DELIVERANCE. The Hebrew word Shophetim is derived from a word meaning TO PUT RIGHT, AND SO TO RULE, and this is exactly what these men did. In the earlier cases, when they had accomplished deliverance they retired again into private life. Gradually they came to retain office. Samuel judged Israel forty years. THE NEED FOR THEM AROSE OUT OF HUMAN FAILURE: THE PROVISION WAS OF DIVINE GRACE. This principle runs through all the history of man. Man persistently fails, but God persistently overcomes man's failure in order to man's well-being. PRIESTS, JUDGES, KINGS, PROPHETS, ARE ALL MEANS BY WHICH GOD STOOPS TO MAN'S LEVEL IN ORDER TO RECOVER HIM.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

HOSPITALITY OF GOD

HOSPITALITY OF GOD
 

"Worthily of God" 3 John 6

 
If in his second letter John dealt specially with the subject of those to whom NO HOSPITALITY should be extended, but in this he commends HOSPITALITY, and shows what its nature should be. There were those who "for the sake of the Name went forth, taking nothing of the Gentiles." These were to be received and welcomed, and "set forward on their journey worthily of God." Two interpretations have been given of this phrase. One is that these men were to be treated as the VERY MESSENGERS OF GOD, and so worthily of that fact. The other is that those who tendered them hospitality were to do it AS GOD WOULD DO IT, "worthily (commendably) of God." Most prob­ably both views are correct, both ideas being involved. In harmony with the whole spirit of the letter the 2nd is the more obvious. What a PATTERN AND TEST is here of HOSPITALITY! What kind of a host is God? How does He treat His guests? When we have answered those questions, we shall have discov­ered the NATURE of the hospitality we ought to extend to all those who go forth for the sake of the Name. To those who receive the hospitality of God, He gives of His best, He gives lavishly: He gives of pure delight. His concern is forever for the HIGHEST WELL-BEING of His guests. He opens His home to them; He spreads His table before them; He admits them to famil­iar conversation with Himself; He places at their disposal all His knowledge, and all the riches of His grace. If we are to ENTERTAIN "worthily of God" these are the lines upon which our HOSPITALITY must proceed. It is one of the things which CONSTANTLY CHEER AND HELP those who go forth for the sake of the Name.

Monday, September 17, 2018

SORROW CAUSED BY THE ISSUE OF SIN

SORROW CAUSED BY THE ISSUE OF SIN 


"How does the city sit solitary" Lam. 1:1


In this book there are five songs of SORROW. They were doubtless composed by Jeremiah after the fall of Jerusalem. In them the man Jeremiah is wonderfully revealed. That which he had foretold had come to pass. The city of the great King lay in HOPELESS RUINS. The people of God were scattered far and wide. The outlook on circumstances was one of COMPLETE DESOLATION. The prophet indulged in no exultation. He was consumed with SORROW FOR THE CONDITION OF THE CITY AND THE SORROWS OF THE PEOPLE. These five songs in this book constitute the outpouring of his soul. In the first two, he contemplated the situation. In the third, the central one of the collection, HE IDENTIFIED HIMSELF COMPLETELY WITH THE PEOPLE. The last two are concerned with the DESOLATION, and the CONSEQUENT APPEAL TO JEHOVAH. Three of these, the first, the second, and the fourth, that is those of contemplation, begin with the word "How." The word (in the Hebrew, Aichah) gives the title to the book in the Hebrew Bible. This is significant. "How" expresses the whole fact of which the song so begun, attempts a DESCRIPTION. It is EXCLAMATORY, and suggests the impossibility of description. In this first song there are two movements: The first is the language of an onlooker (vs. 1-11); in the second the city personified, speaks herself of her desolation (vs. 12-22). In each, the cause of her sorrow is confessed (compare vs. 8 and 18). When the prophet personified the city he began with an appeal; "Is it nothing to you, all ye that pass by?" He saw that the SORROWS OF THE PEOPLE OF GOD HAD THEIR MESSAGE TO ALL OTHER PEOPLES. This is the true meaning of this probe. When we use it of Christ, let us not forget this. The appeal is not one for PITY but rather that men should know THE ISSUE OF SIN.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

LIFE GIVING RIVERS OF WATER

LIFE GIVING RIVERS OF WATER  


 "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. He that believes on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water." John 7: 37-38


John has recorded incidents in the first year of our Lord's ministry. We now come to a comparatively brief section in which he records happenings in the central and crowded two years. He arrived in Jerusalem at the feast of Tabernacles. His fame had spread, and there was discussion concerning Him there. Having arrived, He taught in the Temple precincts. In doing so He rebuked their attitude, and referred to the miracle wrought on an earlier occasion in the Bethesda porches. On the last day of the feast He stood and made His great utterance concerning the FLOWING OF THE RIVERS, claiming that He was able to satisfy thirst, and, moreover, that those who received such satisfaction from Him SHOULD BECOME CHANNELS through whom the overflowing RIVERS should pass. The religious authorities had sent officers to arrest Him, but owing unquestionably to the wonder of His speech they were unable so to do, for they said when they were asked why they had failed, "Never man so spake." One voice was raised at this point in His defense, the VOICE OF NICODEMUS who listened to His rivers of grace shared with the teacher of Israel. At the close of the day "every man went to his own house."
The greatest Person Who ever walked this earth was actively speaking TRUTH AND WISDOM that men were unable to discover themselves. He was on a mission of sharing Truth (John 7:29, 33). Men were making their hatred for truth through their comments and actions known. He here spoke of the coming ability of men to discover from His words life giving thoughts of Christ that could be SHARED AND PROVIDE BLESSINGS to those that would hear those words. LIFE GIVING RIVERS FLOW from the inner core of a human because of repentance. The plan of God from eternity past was being unfolded before their ears and hearts. All words shared by Him at this point were PURE GRACE. Later He would state to His disciples of His being the Master Teacher and Lord of this earth in John 13:13, the Despot Who has the sole right to declare Truth as His brother declared concerning Him in Jude 4.
Men today either receive His words as grace from above or hate the actual sharing and speaking of His close friends who declare to others what the Holy Spirit has led them to understand and flow from their mouths. They are easy to make righteous judgments concerning their reaction to those words shared from above. Thank God for Jesus opening His mouth while here and having them recorded in the BOOK OF LIFE GIVING RIVERS OF WATER.


Saturday, September 15, 2018

THE SAVIOR IS ALSO THE JUDGE

THE SAVIOR IS ALSO THE JUDGE 


"God shall judge the secrets of men, according to my Gospel, by Jesus Christ" Rom. 2:16


In this declaration the phrase "according to my Gospel" is a parenthetical qualification. The statement is that "God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ.” This fact Paul declares to be part of the Gospel. Here we have a wonderful instance of the merging of the elements of the GRACE AND SEVERITY OF GOD IN THE GOSPEL. The Gospel is the good news that God has made RIGHTEOUSNESS AVAILABLE TO SINFUL MEN through Christ. But the Gospel is also the declaration of the fact that MEN WILL BE JUDGED BY THE ONE THROUGH WHOM THAT GRACE HAS BEEN MADE AVAILABLE. There we see the FINALITY of the Gospel message. THE SAVIOR IS TO BE THE JUDGE. Let us put that in another way. THE JUDGE IS THE SAVIOR. He Whose eternal right it is, to sit as JUDGE of men has in His Son provided perfect REDEMPTION for men. By so doing He HAS NOT RELINQUISHED HIS RIGHT AS JUDGE, but has ESTABLISHED IT. If men refuse His salvation, the justice of His sentence against them cannot be called in question. ALL MEN MUST MEET HIM AS JUDGE, but before they do so He comes to meet them with a righteous and just way of saving them from their sins. IF THEY REFUSE THAT SALVATION, THE GOSPEL DECLARES THAT BY SO DOING THEY HAVE NOT ESCAPED HIM AS JUDGE. The Gospel never lowers the standards of Divine requirements. It makes them possible of realization. IF IT BE REFUSED, THEN THE SAVIOR AS JUDGE CONDEMNS AND PUNISHES.

Friday, September 14, 2018

THE GOOD OLD DAYS

THE GOOD OLD DAYS 


"Be ye not as your fathers......" Zech. 1:4


This book has been aptly described as the Apocalypse of the Old Testament, on account of its visual representation of the history of Israel up to the time when it is completely restored. Zechariah was contemporary with Haggai, and helped him in his particular work. His first message (1:1-6) was delivered about a month after. Haggai's second message; his second, consisting of visions (1:7-6:15), two months after Haggai's latest; his third, consisting of voices (7-8), nearly two years later; whilst his last concerning the king (9-14) was delivered after the temple was completed, at least four years after Haggai. These words are taken from the first message. The people were looking back, and lamenting the past greatness of the glory of the Temple. Haggai had told them that the glory of the latter house should exceed that of the former. Zechariah reinforced the appeal of Haggai from another standpoint. He charged them to learn the true lesson of the backward look, that of how THE GLORY WAS LOST THROUGH THE DISOBEDIENCE OF THE FATHERS TO THE WORD OF GOD. That was, and is, a beneficial word. It is a persistent habit, this of talking of "the good old days," and so weakening our powers to serve our own age. It is healthy that we be reminded that in many ways THEY WERE BAD OLD DAYS; and that we take warning from the FAILURES OF THE PAST, and so MAKE OUR WORK OF A MORE ABIDING NATURE.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

GOD’S FORGIVENESS ALSO COMFORTS

GOD’S FORGIVENESS ALSO COMFORTS


"Lest by any means such a one should be swallowed up with his overmuch sorrow" 2 Cor. 2:7


It is generally agreed that here Paul was referring to the man whom he had charged the Corinthian church in his former letter to exclude from its fellowship, in order that his SPIRIT MIGHT BE SAVED. It would seem that they had acted in accordance with his directions, and that the punishment had produced in him A TRUE SENSE OF HIS SIN, AND GENUINE SORROW FOR THE SAME. In such an hour as this, that man was open to a new and strange device of Satan, that of the suggestion that for such as he THERE COULD BE NO MERCY. Therefore the duty of the church was clear. They were to FORGIVE HIM, and COMFORT HIM. If discipline is largely lacking in the Church of today, so also is the grace of FORGIVING and COMFORTING those who, having done wrong, are truly REPENTANT. Way too often, unfortunately! Souls have been indeed swallowed up with disproportionate sorrow because of the harshness and suspicion of Christian people toward them in view of some wrong which they have done. It is true that there should be no toleration of evil out of a false charity; but it is equally true that there should be no reluctant giving and delights in forgiveness. LOVE NEVER SLIGHTS HOLINESS; but HOLINESS NEVER ELIMINATES LOVE. Notice, moreover, Paul charged them NOT TO FORGIVE ONLY, BUT ALSO TO COMFORT. There may be a judicial FORGIVENESS which is hard, and leaves the soul always conscious of the past. COMFORT takes the soul to the heart, and FORGETS. THAT IS HOW GOD FORGIVES, and so should we who are His children.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

DIVINELY ARRANGED SUFFERING

DIVINELY ARRANGED SUFFERING 


"Hereunto we are appointed" 1 Thess. 3:3


The "hereunto" refers to "afflictions." These Thessalonian Christians were in circumstances of actual suffering, resulting from persecution by their own countrymen. Through these trials they had stood fast. Paul was full of joy because this was so, but desired to encourage and strengthen them in their loyalty. This he did, first, by reminding them that the churches in Judea had suffered in the same way at the hands of their kinsmen. Then he made this declaration; "Hereunto we are appointed." Surveying the whole Christian movement, he saw SUFFERING EVERYWHERE AS THE RESULT OF LOYALTY TO THE FAITH; and he did not conceive of it merely as something to be endured. He saw GOD RULING OVER ALL, and knew that this pathway of pain was a DIVINELY-ARRANGED ONE. Therefore he realized that the sufferings of all Christian souls were not only WITHIN HIS KNOWLEDGE; THEY WERE IN HIS PLAN FOR HIS PEOPLE. All thought out in a divine plan before the foundation of the world (2 Tim. 1:9; 2 Thess. 2:13). They were appointed to affliction. The word "appointed" here is the emphatic word. In affliction the saints are where God has put them, and they are there for purposes within THE COUNSEL OF HIS WILL (Eph. 1:11). It is obvious that Paul was thinking in the realm of the Cross. As the sufferings of Christ were all by the DETERMINATE COUNSEL AND FOREKNOWLEDGE OF GOD (Eph. 1:5), and that in order to the ACCOMPLISHMENT OF HIS REDEMPTIVE PURPOSE (Col. 1:22), so all the affliction of those who followed Christ were of the SAME FELLOWSHIP, and those enduring them were WORKERS TOGETHER WITH GOD (2 Cor. 6:1).

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

BORN AGAIN OF WATER AND SPIRIT

BORN AGAIN OF WATER AND SPIRIT 


"Your goodness is as a morning cloud, and as the dew that goes early away" Hosea 6:4


With this 4th verse of the chapter, the second section of the prophetic messages commences. It runs on to the 15th, verse of chapter 10, and is principally concerned with the PUNISHMENT which must fall upon the POLLUTED NATION. In the first movement (verses 4 to 11 of this chapter), the whole case was stated briefly. The Divine desire was that of finding a way to bring the people to a deep repentance, and to the activity of mercy, and the knowledge of God and that will happen after great tribulation. The human response was that of transgression, treachery, and the consequent ways of wickedness. Both Ephraim and Judah had their moments and moods of goodness, but they were fleeting, they did not last, they produced no permanent results. These manifestations of goodness were like a cloud in the morning, mist coming up from the sea, too feeble to produce a harvest, being quickly dissipated by the blazing heat of the sun. What an arresting figure of such this is, and how conscious we are at it accurately describes our goodness. In times of our wandering and disloyalty, we also have moments and moods of goodness. We realize the better way, we return to it, but we fail again and yet again. We need something far more than, OUR OWN GOODNESS to produce a life FRUITFUL in HOLINESS. Such FRUIT only comes from "a tree planted by the streams of water." That tree "brings forth its fruit in its season," and its "leaf also doth not wither." (Psa. 1:3) Human admiration of goodness and aspiration after it, do not result in realization. It is only as our human life is SUPPLIED by the DIVINE STREAMS preached by John the Baptist that its goodness is abiding and that comes by way of REPENTANCE (John 3:5).

Monday, September 10, 2018

A SECOND COMING ANNOUNCED

A SECOND COMING ANNOUNCED 


"I will, go and return to my place, till . . ." Hosea 5:1


The word till, with which we end the quotation, is an arresting and illuminating word. In this chapter we have the prophet's special message to the priests, to the people, and to the king, concerning the national pollution, and the Divine judgments consequent thereupon. These latter are described in their progressive nature. First there was the JUDGMENT OF THE MOTH AND ROTTENNESS. This was already upon them; they were sick and feeble, who should have been strong. Then there would be the JUDGMENT OF CALAMITY FROM WITHOUT, suggested under the figure of the lion and the young lion, both hunters of the prey. The final form was the JUDGMENT OF THE DIVINE WITHDRAWAL. Jehovah declared that He would go and return to His place. This was the direst calamity necessarily which could befall this people. It will be remembered that much later, Ezekiel saw in visions this very thing happen in the case of Judah. It was in connection with this FINAL PHASE OF JUDGMENT that the prophet used this word till. The DIVINE WITHDRAWAL WAS NOT TO BE FINAL; it was a method intended to produce a result, which would make HIS RETURN POSSIBLE and that at His Second Coming. "In their affliction they will seek Me earnestly," and when that is so, He returns. The ultimate glory of Ezekiel's vision was that he saw the RETURN OF JEHOVAH TO HIS HOUSE AND SO TO HIS PEOPLE. That note is forever to be found in the words which speak of the judgments of Jehovah upon His people. When, long after these things, the Messiah had to pronounce a DOOM UPON THE CITY, and prolong the period of the desolation because He was rejected, we still find the word till; "Behold, your house is left unto you desolate; for I say unto you, Ye shall not see Me henceforth TILL ye shall say, Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord." (Matt 23:38; Luke 13:35) And He will return again as Hosea made known in this chapter.

Sunday, September 9, 2018

FUNDAMENTAL THINGS OF THE CHRISTIAN LIFE

FUNDAMENTAL THINGS OF THE CHRISTIAN LIFE 


"Ye turned . . . to serve . . . and to wait" 1 Thess. 1:9, 10


This letter is full of interest because it is certainly among the first of those which have been preserved for us from the pen of Paul. It was the first he wrote to EUROPEAN CHRISTIANS, and in it the FUNDAMENTAL THINGS OF THE CHRISTIAN LIFE are very clearly set forth. The words we have taken necessarily need their context for full interpretation, but taken out in this way they help us to see, in sharp outline, WHAT IT MEANS TO BE A CHRISTIAN. This is especially so if they are read in connection with an earlier description, that in which the Apostle spoke of their "work of faith, and labor of love, and patience of hope." The 1st thing in Christian life is that of TURNING TO GOD: that is the "work of faith." The WHOLE COURSE OF THAT LIFE is that of SERVING THE LIVING GOD: that is "the labor of love." The persistent attitude of those who, thus TURNED TO GOD, are SERVING HIM is that of WAITING FOR HIS SON: that is “the patience of hope." It follows that here we have standards by which we may test ourselves constantly, to turn back to idols, such for instance as "covetousness which is idolatry," is to turn from God. To do that, is inevitably to SLACKEN IN SERVICE therefore slackness in service should ever give us serious concern. To CEASE TO WAIT FOR THE SON IS TO LOSE THE MOST POWERFUL INSPIRATION TO LOYALTY, and the most urgent reason for SERVICE. Notice that the true expression of our HAVING TURNED TO GOD is that of our SERVING HIM; and so also is SERVICE the true way in which TO WAIT FOR THE SON FROM HEAVEN.

Saturday, September 8, 2018

APPREHENSION OF SIN OF JUDGMENT OF LOVE

APPREHENSION OF SIN OF JUDGMENT OF LOVE 


"Go again, love a woman beloved of her friend, and an adulteress, even as Jehovah loves the children of Israel" Hosea 3:1


The prophet's experiences had interpreted the sin of Israel, had vindicated the justice of her punishment. In communion he had learned the Divine purpose in that punishment; but he had taken no action with regard to GOMER. Now the word of Jehovah came to him as a command in these words. IF HOSEA LEARNED THE NATURE OF ISRAEL'S SIN FROM GOMER'S, AND SO, THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF THE DIVINE REJECTION OF ISRAEL, HE WAS NOW TAUGHT THE NATURE OF LOVE IN THIS COMMAND OF JEHOVAH. The CLOSENESS OF HIS FELLOWSHIP WITH GOD is seen in his immediate obedience in regard to GOMER (Don't divorce her). How low she had sunk is revealed in the price he paid for her; and, indeed, in that he had to BUY HER. The price in money and kind amounted to about thirty shekels (Judas), the price of a slave, which in all probability she had, literally become. Observe that the command of Jehovah was not to REDEEM her, but to LOVE HER; but her redemption was the necessary issue. Thus Hosea, through tragic experiences in his own life, was BROUGHT INTO CLOSEST FELLOWSHIP WITH GOD, and prepared for his ministry to Israel. All through his messages the great notes are sounding, which tell of his understanding, of the appalling nature of sin; of the righteousness of the Divine judgment; and ultimately, of THE UNCONQUERABLE MIGHT OF THE DIVINE LOVE. It is indeed the love of God which "alters not when it alternation finds"; His is the love that "never fails." All SUFFERING (divorce attempts to discard that experience but fails) on the part of His messengers is worthwhile, which brings them to such APPREHENSION OF SIN, OF JUDGMENT, and OF LOVE. And God gives one the chance to fellowship and learn through pain).

Friday, September 7, 2018

HOSEA FEELS THE INFIDELITY FELT BY GOD

HOSEA FEELS THE INFIDELITY FELT BY GOD 


"When Jehovah spoke at the first by Hosea, Jehovah said unto Hosea . . ." Hosea 1:2


These words are important, and must be rightly interpreted if we are to understand their significance. I think we are helped by adopting Ewald's rendering, "At the first; when Jehovah spoke with Hosea." The word with” is unquestionably preferable to by”. The reference is not to a message which Jehovah delivered through His servant; but to something which He spoke in COMMUNION with him. Again, the phrase at the first is important, as showing us that when this was written, the writer was looking back, and interpreting events in the light of the experience which those events produced. In these first three chapters we have an account of the TRAGEDY which came to Hosea in his domestic life; of how through it all he lived in COMMUNION with God; and of how through that TRAGEDY AND THAT COMMUNION he was brought to a new understanding of the SIN OF ISRAEL as it was felt by Jehovah Himself. In this chapter the TRAGEDY itself does not appear, except as it is referred to in these opening sentences. Hosea was married to Gomer, and children were born; and as they came, they were named in such a way as to show the prophet's sense of the NATIONAL OUTLOOK. There is no reason to think that Gomer had fallen into sin before marriage, nor in the early days of marriage. Hosea did not know that she was capable of infidelity. But God did, and He permitted His servant to pass through the suffering that he might understand the Divine heart. And the whole story proves how well worth while it was, for at last even Gomer was RESTORED, as we shall see. How constantly the backward look reveals Divine guidance where it seemed most unlikely.

Thursday, September 6, 2018

NEMESIS AND PROPER FEAR

NEMESIS AND PROPER FEAR 


"There were they in great fear, where no fear was" Psa. 53:5


We have found this song already in Book I (Psa. 14). Its repetition here is of great interest in the light throws upon the editing of the collection. A comparison of the two will show how in this case ELOHIM has been substituted for JEHOVAH in harmony with the general usage in this second Book. The main theme of the songs is identical. Some slight alterations show how a great song may be adapted to meet the need of some special application of its truth. The words we have emphasized give us an illustration of this. In Psa. 14, the words are: "There were they in great fear." Here the addition of the words, "where no fear was," is explained, at once if we see in this form of the song an application to the departure of Sennacherib's army (Isa. 37:7) and its ultimate annihilation (Isa. 37:26). There indeed were men filled with FEAR, where there was no natural cause for FEAR. The words are very suggestive. The FEAR OF GOD is often thrust upon men suddenly and terrifically when they have no apparent cause for FEAR. Such FEAR is NEMESIS, and is destructive. There is only one way in which man can be delivered from this FEAR. It is that of beginning with the FEAR OF JEHOVAH, and ordering all conduct in the guidance thereof. The FEAR OF GOD is either an impelling motive, leading in the ways of life; or it becomes a compelling terror, issuing in destruction. To FEAR GOD, is to be rightly related to the ultimate fact of the universe. To say in the heart, "There is no God," is to neglect that fact, and sooner or later to discover it in a DESTRUCTIVE FEAR, the wrong kind.

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

RICH AND POOR

RICH AND POOR 


"There is that makes himself rich, yet hath nothing: there is that makes himself poor, yet hath great wealth" Prov. 13:7


How self-evident a truth this is on the most ordinary level of experience and observation; and yet how slow men are to act upon it! Our own age abounds with men who have made themselves RICH, and yet have nothing. They have amassed great wealth, and yet it has NO PURCHASING POWER in the true things of life. It cannot insure HEALTH, it brings no HAPPINESS, and it often destroys PEACE. On the other hand, there are those who have IMPOVERISHED themselves, and have by so doing become WEALTHY in all the highest senses of the word. How is this to be explained? Is not the solution found by laying the emphasis in each of the CONTRASTIVE declarations, upon the word SELF? To make SELF-RICH, is to destroy the capacity for life. To make SELF-POOR, by enriching others, is to LIVE. It is impossible to consider this saying of Hebrew wisdom, without thinking of the One Who was incarnate Wisdom. He for our sake became poor, and thereby He gains the ultimate WEALTH, more dear to His heart and the heart of God than all beside, that of redeemed humanity. Thus the ancient word becomes for us living, powerful, prevailing in and through Him. To follow Him is to EMPTY SELF, to make ourselves POOR by the outpouring of all for the sake of others; and that is to have great WEALTH. Let this word be kept in the realm of the material, and then its final interpretation or appeal is contained in the words of Jesus: "Make to yourselves friends by means of the mammon of unrighteousness, that when it shall fail, they may receive you into the eternal tabernacles." (Luke 16:9).

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

WORDS STRONGER THAN THE LAW

WORDS STRONGER THAN THE LAW 


"Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things that were heard, lest haply we drift away" Heb. 2:1


The "therefore" of these words carries us back to the arguments of the previous chapter, and on to those of this chapter. The Hebrew people maintained, and rightly, that their whole religious and national economy had been ministered by ANGELS. The writer agreed, but proceeded to show the superiority of the SON OF GOD to the ANGELS, and the consequently greater authority of the speech of the Son, to that of the word spoken by ANGELS. That superiority being granted, it follows irresistibly that we should give the more earnest heed to what He has to say. The conclusion is so self-evident that we are almost inclined to wonder that there was any need for so solemn a warning. We shall find an answer to that wonder in the writer's description of the peril, and in the contrast which he makes between the word of ANGELS and the message of the SON. Note this contrast first. The word spoken by ANGELS was STEADFAST, and disobedience brought a just recompense. The word of ANGELS was the word of law, stern, inflexible. The message of the SON is that which can be summarized in one word, "Salvation." It is the word of GRACE, compassionate, unfailing. That in itself is one reason why the foolish heart of men may fail to give earnest heed to it. Then again the peril is that of DRIFTING. The figure is that of a boat which, caught by unseen currents, may be carried out of its course. This is so easy a thing to do. But it ought not to be. The message of Salvation, spoken by the SON, should make an even STRONGER APPEAL THAN THAT OF LAW, uttered by ANGELS.

Monday, September 3, 2018

WELL BUILT HOMES AND CITIES

WELL BUILT HOMES AND CITIES  


"Except Jehovah build the house, they labor in vain that build it. Except Jehovah keep the city the watchman wakes but in vain" Psa. 127:1


To this Singer, HOUSE WAS HOME; and the CITY the place of such HOMES. One can discover his ideal through his song. It is that of a prosperous CITY, its enemies kept outside its gates; and that of the secret of its prosperity as being the HOUSE WELL-BUILT, in the spiritual and moral sense, and the families dwelling within such HOUSES as able to deal with its enemies in the gate. Whereas the picture has all the coloring of the East, and conditions which in their detail are not those of our region or time are described, yet the principles of civic well-being are the same. That CITY is truly strong which is a CITY OF WELL-BUILT HOMES, well-built in every sense, spiritually, morally, and materially. All that has to do with the general conceptions which the song assumes. Its message is contained in these opening words. No HOUSE-BUILDING is successful which leaves God out of account. How have we seen men build their HOUSES, with care and at great cost, only to see them crumble to pieces because God was forgotten! There is no safety for, a CITY except in the keeping of God. How often have men attempted to gain security for their CITIES by guarding them against enemies outside, and then the dwellers within, children reared in HOUSES in the building of which God was forgotten, have brought about their destruction! These would be splendid words to cut into granite over the entrance to all our HOMES, and to emblazon in gold in all the meeting places of those in civic authority. But better still let them be written in the heart of those who make HOMES, and guard and govern CITIES.

Sunday, September 2, 2018

CITY TEMPLE HOUSE

CITY TEMPLE HOUSE 


"I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go unto the House of Jehovah" Psa. 122:1


This is the song of the singer, no longer distanced from the CITY AND TEMPLE, but having arrived therein. It is the song of first impressions. These were concerned with the CITY as the place of the TEMPLE. Observe that in this opening stanza, and also in the last, the reference is to the HOUSE OF JEHOVAH. First there is the record of the gladness which came when the invitation, and so the opportunity, came to go to the HOUSE OF JEHOVAH. Finally there is the expression of determination to seek the good of the CITY for the sake of this HOUSE. Approaching the HOUSE, the singer was impressed with the CITY; in its compactness, as the center for the gathering of the tribes; and as the SEAT OF THE GOVERNMENT. He then prayed for, and spoke of, the peace and prosperity of the CITY. The song reveals the singer's understanding of the true facts of national life. That CITY was to him the center of that life. The HOUSE OF GOD was the center of that CITY. That HOUSE was highest in importance because it was the HOUSE OF JEHOVAH. Jehovah, the God of Grace, is the One around Whom the people gather. The TEMPLE is the means of grace, the Tent of meeting between man and God. The CITY is the embodiment of the ideals of God for His people, the realization on their part of the order of peace and prosperity which is His Will for them. Whenever the song was written, it was idealistic, for never yet in its history has the CITY OF GOD realized this conception. But that is the glory of the life of faith. Spiritually it enters into the experience of the high purposes of God, even when actual conditions fall far short of those purposes. Moreover, it is by such high confidence that men move forward towards realization actually and materially of what they already apprehend spiritually.

Saturday, September 1, 2018

STARTING ON THE RIGHT PATH

STARTING ON THE RIGHT PATH 


"The fear of Jehovah is the begin­ning of wisdom" Prov. 9:10


This is the last of the addresses of this father to his son. Once more he employs the method of contrast. In the first part, WISDOM is personified; in the second, FOOLISHNESS, in the guise of an evil woman. They are both revealed as appealing to men. The contrast is vivid and full of literary balance, as an examination will show. The words we have emphasized occur in the course of the call of Wisdom. We referred to them in our first note (see 1:7). In this case the Hebrew word is accurately represented by the word "beginning." Whereas at first the declaration was wider (namely, that the chief part, the PRINCIPAL ELEMENT IN WISDOM, is the FEAR OF JEHOVAH), here the whole subject is brought down to the starting-point, as it declares that the first matter, in reference to time and order, in wisdom, is the fear of Jehovah. To remember this, and to act in accordance with it, is to he enabled to live in right RELATIONSHIP with that fear perpetually. We are always beginning; every morning we start afresh; every task we take up is a NEW START; every venture, in joy or in effort, must have its commencement. Then let every beginning be in the fear of Jehovah. That is Wisdom, and it leads in the way of WISDOM. There is an old saying which runs, "Well begun is half done." This is true indeed when the beginning is inspired and conditioned by the fear of Jehovah. That is to walk in the LIGHT; that is to abound in LIFE; that is to be upheld by LOVE. And its end is perfection (Jude 24).

Friday, August 31, 2018

INCOMPREHENSIBLE MADE CLEAR

INCOMPREHENSIBLE MADE CLEAR 


"God, having . . . spoken ... hath . . . spoken" Heb. 1:1, 2


From the introductory sentences of this great writing, we have taken out the principal words. They need, of course, all the qualifying words by which they are surrounded in order to the full understanding of their meaning, but in themselves they reveal the fundamental truths with which the writing deals. The 1st fact is GOD. Without definition, or argument, or apology of any kind, the writer names God. The fact that the writing was for Hebrews shows that he accepted the Hebrew conception of God. All that had been revealed by the names and titles, the Law, the Prophets, and the history, was included. The 2nd fact is that GOD DOES REVEAL HIMSELF. He speaks to men; He makes known His will. These are the foundation truths of our religion. If we are not sure of these, we are sure of nothing. In the process of His dealings with men, He has proved Himself, by REVEALING HIMSELF; and the nature of the revelation has proved it to be of God. Then the statement shows us the INTERRELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE PAST AND THE PRESENT. He did speak in the past, particularly, progressively, in diverse portions and manners, as men were prepared to receive. He has now SPOKEN FULLY, FINALLY, IN HIS SON; and men will progressively apprehend the meaning of this final speech, but they will never exhaust it. Moreover, the interrelation is part of one whole. Having spoken as He did in the past, it was necessary and possible for Him to speak in His Son. It was necessary, for all that He had said was incom­plete. It was possible, and APART FROM THE FIRST PARTIAL MESSAGES; THE FULL AND FINAL MESSAGE WOULD HAVE BEEN INCOM­PREHENSIBLE. Thus we see the wisdom and perfection of the Divine Revelation.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

DENIAL OF GOD’S WRATH TO COME REVEALS GODLESSNESS


DENIAL OF GOD’S WRATH TO COME REVEALS GODLESSNESS 

"I will utterly consume" Zeph. 1:2


Zephaniah exercised his ministry in the days of Josiah. This is an interesting fact, because in his days there was a great reformation, and yet the prophet makes no reference to it. An examination of the history of that reform will show that, so far as the nation was concerned, it was SUPERFICIAL. The king was loyal to God, and sincere. He was also popular with the people, and they followed him in his reforming work, as to external things. But there was NO TRUE REPENTANCE. Therefore Zephaniah did not recognize the reform; and indeed, in all probability the INSINCERITY of it gave greater vehemence to his denunciation of the sin of the people. Taken as a whole this prophecy sets forth the SEVERITY AND GOODNESS of God with overwhelming force; and shows how these apparently contradictory elements of His government move to the same end. The words emphasized give the key note to the prophet's message as to the action of God, consequent upon the sins of the people. This chapter is wholly taken up with THE DAY OF DIVINE WRATH. The outlook was wider than Judah. It began with the declaration that the whole creation, so far as it was polluted, should be destroyed, therefore a need of a new heavens and a new earth (Rev. 21:1). It then dealt with the nation itself, denouncing its sins, and announcing the consuming wrath of God as proceeding against princes, extortioners, the city, the merchantmen, and the luxurious. It is a terrible setting forth of the severity of God against apostasy. There was no hedging, no uncertainty, and no hesitancy, in the prophet's words. They abide for all time, a revelation of the fact that GOD NOT ONLY WILL MAKE NO TERMS WITH SIN, BUT THAT (HE WILL PROCEED AGAINST IT IN FIERY INDIGNATION THAT IT MAY BE UTTERLY CONSUMED. Too many today deny not only God but His indignation.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

THE REFILLED CUP

THE REFILLED CUP 


"I will take the cup of salvation, and call upon the Name of Jehovah" Psa. 116:13


This song stands distinguished from the previous one by the persistent personal note which runs through it. It is a song of praise for deliverance from great and almost overwhelming griefs. Thus, in the series constituting the Hanel, it is the song of the DELIVERED rather than that in any sense of the DELIVERER. In other words, it can hardly be called Messianic, except as it EXPRESSES THE PRAISE OF ONE EMANCIPATED by Messiah's work. DELIVERED FROM DEATH, FROM TEARS, FROM WEAKNESS, the soul asks: "What shall I render unto Jehovah, for all His benefits toward me?" Here is the answer. The cup of salvation is the CUP OF BLESSING, which is given to the soul. Let the soul take it and drink it, but let him remember that the very partaking is in itself of the nature of a PLEDGE OF LOYALTY; it is the OATH OF ALLEGIANCE in which he calls upon the Name of Jehovah. When the disciples joined in this song, their Lord had already taken a cup from the Passover Board, and given it to them to drink, declaring it to be "My blood of the Covenant, which is poured out for many unto remission of sins." If He, joined them in that song, and it is most probable that He would do so, He sang as the One Who, by entering into all the experience of their desolation, Himself being sinless, was able to FILL THE CUP WITH BLESSING for them. Within a very little while after this singing, He, in Gethsemane, spoke of a cup and, in complete surrender to His Father's will, consented to drink it. That was the cup of sor­rows, of bitterness, of cursing. Having emptied it, HE FILLED IT WITH JOY, WITH SWEETNESS, WITH BLESSING. When we take that cup let us never forget the cost at which He so filled it for us.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

ISRAEL CALLED TO BLESS


ISRAEL CALLED TO BLESS  

"I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and be thou a blessing" Gen. 12:2


In this chapter we have the beginning of the history of the people through whom God has acted in human history, IN ORDER TO THE REDEMPTION OF THE RACE AND THE RESTORATION OF THE DIVINE ORDER. From this point the Biblical literature is concerned with that people Israel, until of its stock the Deliverer appeared. Then it is concerned with HIM AND THE ELECT RACE resulting from HIS WORK. While this is so, we must never imagine that the nations or the world are excluded from the Divine thought and purpose. The nation ISRAEL is now to be called into being; the One Who, after the flesh, would be of that nation; and the new race created by His work all in the purpose of God, are called into co-operation with Him on BEHALF OF THE WORLD AND OF ALL THE NATIONS, and look at how THEY ALL FIGHT this work of God. The recognition of this fact is fundamental to any correct interpretation of the Biblical Revelation. This is the vital matter in these words spoken to Abram. The last words, "Be thou a blessing," give the reason of the former, "I will make of thee a great nation and I will bless thee, and make thy name great." IN CALLING ABRAM, God did not reject other men; IN MAKING HIS NAME GREAT, He did not degrade other names; IN BLESSING HIM, He did not hand others over to a curse. When at last this nation have for a season been cast out from privilege and responsibility it was because it had become SELF-CENTERED, and forgotten its high responsibility for the nations of the world. When Israel is RESTORED to its true place, it will be to fulfill that office. The truth abides. The Church also exists in order to be a blessing. For that, she is blessed of God. To forget this, is to fail utterly, and to be cast away as Israel has for a time, but soon to be restored and that through great tribulation.

Monday, August 27, 2018

FEAR THAT KNOWS THE LOVE OF GOD

FEAR THAT KNOWS THE LOVE OF GOD 


"The fear of Jehovah is the beginning of knowledge" Prov. 1:7


In these words we have a declaration of the fundamental principle of Hebrew wisdom that is PHILOSOPHY. This book is one of the three Wisdom books in the Old Testament. The others are Job and Ecclesiastes. The first six verses of this chapter reveal the purpose of the book. It was written to TEACH WISDOM and that rather in its APPLICATION TO LIFE, than in theory. It consists of—
(1) A series of addresses on wisdom delivered by a father to his son;
(2) Two collections of Proverbs; and
(3) Two discourses in the realm of Wisdom, one by Agur, the other by Lemuel.
Throughout, the purpose is PRACTICAL, rather than THEORETICAL. Here, after the introduction or preface, and before the series of addresses, the THEORY is stated in one inclusive definition. It is of importance to any studies of this book that this fundamental and inclusive definition should be rightly apprehended; and in order to that, we halt with the word rendered BEGINNING. In the King James Version we find a Marginal alternative suggested, viz., "the principal part," and the English and American revisers marginally suggest "the chief part." Why this reading was relegated to the margin remains a mystery, for there is no doubt that this is the real meaning of the Hebrew word. The other truth emerges later (9:10). The fundamental fact, then, is that in all KNOWLEDGE, all UNDERSTANDING OF LIFE, all INTERPRETATION thereof the fear of Jehovah is the principal thing, the chief part, the central light, apart from which, the mind of man gropes in darkness, and misses the way. Whether in prosperity or adversity, in light or in darkness, in life or in death, in order to intelligent apprehension, and true conduct, there must be THE FEAR OF JEHOVAH, and that fear must be the proper kind of fear (See article FEAR IN THE UNKNOWN GOD-Eccl. 5:7). See also later article on Prov. 9:10. Proper fear knows the love of God (Rom. 5:5). That is the sum total of WISDOM.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

FURTHER MEANING OF THE BURIAL AND RESURRECTION

FURTHER MEANING OF THE BURIAL AND RESURRECTION 


"He that is hanged is accursed of God" Deut. 21:23


The reference was to a man who for sin had been put to death, and whose body had been IMPALED (pierced) on a tree or a stake, and thus exposed as a warning to other evil-doers. The command was that such exposure was not to outlast the day. By night the body must be BURIED, and so the whole fact of his sin, now EXPIATED (compensated-atoned) as to human society, put completely away. This parenthetical statement—for such it is—gives the reason for the BURIAL. The man was not accursed of God because he was hanged on a tree. He was hanged on the tree because he was accursed of God. The HANGING was the outward sign of the CURSE upon him, the CURSE OF DEATH FOR SIN. When that curse was accomplished and witnessed, the sign was to cease; then let the man be BURIED, and that BURIAL was the sign that the curse was SUFFICIENT. The understanding of this helps us when the mind travels on in solemn thought to the One Who hung upon the Tree on Calvary. He was there because He was "made sin," and so ACCURSED OF GOD. Such blunt statement gives the soul a shock; but it is the very shock we need, if we are ever to come to anything like a true apprehension of the way of our saving. In His case this law was FULFILLED. He did not remain on the Tree through the night. The curse on sin was ACCEPTED, and WITNESSED; the sin was EXPIATED (compensated-atoned) before God, because the One Who suffered its penalty was SINLESS. His BURIAL was the sign that SIN WAS PUT AWAY. His RESURRECTION was the beginning of a new life for Himself, as REDEEMER; and for us, as REDEEMED.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

DIVINE INVESTIGATION & LEADING

DIVINE INVESTIGATION & LEADING


"Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it" Psa. 139:6


In its essential burden, this is the greatest song in literature. What that burden is, is at once revealed if the opening declaration and the closing prayer be brought together: "O Jehovah, Thou hast searched me and known me"; "Search me, O God, and know my heart." Here was a singer who had been brought to a consciousness of GOD'S ABSOLUTELY PERFECT AND FINAL KNOWLEDGE OF HIS LIFE; and who found such satisfaction in the tremendous discovery, that after setting it forth in a song of rare beauty, he could only end by praying for the CONTINUATION OF THAT SEARCHING of his life by God. I have emphasized these words because they are central as a revelation of the discovery which the revelation of God's knowledge of him had brought to this man. When he said, "Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it," he was not referring to the OMNISCIENCE OF GOD in the abstract, but rather to God's knowledge of himself. It is the highest discovery, through which man escapes from himself to God. The ultimate word of Greek philosophy, "Man, know thyself," was really valuable because it brought man face to face with the IMPOSSIBLE. This is what the Hebrew singer had discovered. He did not know himself, nor could he. But God knew him, with COMPLETE FINALITY. To realize that, is to be driven to yield self-up to the DIVINE INVESTIGATION, in order to be set in the way everlasting. That is a great hour, when the soul realizes its IGNORANCE OF ITSELF, in the light of the Divine knowledge. It is the hour when the way of life is found to be that of DIVINE LEADING.

Friday, August 24, 2018

GATHERING OR SCATTERING

GATHERING OR SCATTERING 


"He also that is slack in his work is brother to him that is a destroyer" Prov. 18:9


In this Proverb a principle is involved which has more superlative statement in other well-known words of Holy Writ. It was in the mind of Deborah when she cursed Meroz for not coming to the help of Jehovah against the mighty. It found explicit statement when our Lord said: “He that gathers not with Me scatters." (Matt. 12:30) James recognized it when he wrote: “To him that knows to do good and does it not, to him it is sin." (James 4:17) It means that in life there can be no neutrality. Every man lives in the midst of a CONFLICT between good and evil. He must and does take part therein. If he is not helping Jehovah against the mighty, he is helping the mighty against Jehovah. His abstention is a gain to the foe. Every man lives in a world where TWO FORCES ARE AT WORK; one is GATHERING the other is SCATTERING. If he is not with the One Whose work it is to gather, he is exerting an influence which scatters. Every man is confronted with the possibility of doing good, or of doing evil. If he does not do the good when he knows it, he is strengthening the cause of evil against which all goodness is always working. This proverb applies this principle to work. CONSTRUCTIVE WORK is the law of human life and progress. There is an active principle of DESTRUCTION operating in the history of man; and he who is a slacker at his work, who does not put into it all his strength, is a brother to the man who in wickedness sets himself to the activity of destruction. No living being can be merely a SPECTATOR. Each works or wastes. Not to work well, is to aid the process of waste.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

COMPLETE DELIVERANCE FROM THE POLLUTION OF SIN

COMPLETE DELIVERANCE FROM THE POLLUTION OF SIN  


"Have mercy upon me, O God" Psa. 51:1


This is the fourth of the Penitential Psalms. (The others are 6, 32, 38, 102, 130, 143.) Of the seven it is central, and it is the greatest in spiritual power. The heading gives us the occasion of its writing, and thus we are enabled the more accurately to follow the working of the MIND OF THE SINNER. The whole song is a clear revelation of his consciousness that sin can only be dealt with by God. No plan is urged. From beginning to end the song is prayer, petition following petition. It is the cry of a soul who can have no hope except in the MERCY OF GOD. In it, too, the truth about sin is revealed. The three words are used: TRANSGRESSION, INIQUITY, AND SIN.
  1. The first recognizes sin as definite REBELLION against God, and so involving GUILT.
  2. The second estimates that sin is PERVERSION, and so involving POLLUTION.
  3. The third realizes that sin is FAILURE and so involving RUIN.
The standard by which sin is known is that of the soul's relation to God, and therefore in the last analysis this penitent uttered a tremendous truth when he said: "Against Thee, Thee only, have I sinned." Yet again the consciousness of the sinning soul as to its own need is clearly manifested. The penitent sinner asks that sin may be BLOTTED-OUT; that he may be washed, cleansed, made pure, purged with hyssop. The need is for infinitely more than forgiveness, as we are able to extend it to our fellow-men. It is for COMPLETE DELIVERANCE FROM THE POLLUTION OF SIN. This great song, pulsating with the agony of a sin-stricken soul, helps us to understand the stupendous wonder of the everlasting mercy of our God. CALVARY is God's answer; and it is enough.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

ISHMAEL AND ISAAC - ISLAM AND JUDAISM

 ISHMAEL AND ISAAC - ISLAM AND JUDAISM


"God hath heard the voice of the lad where he is" Gen. 21:17


 This was the word of the Angel of God about Ishmael (through who came the NATIONS OF THE ARAB peoples and, eventually, ISLAM AND THE GREATER ISLAMIC WORLD), and it is one which we do well to ponder. ISHMAEL was the son of the bond-woman, the offspring of a FAILURE OF FAITH. When ISAAC, THE CHILD OF FAITH, was born, the bondwoman MOCKED. That is a suggestive statement. It was necessary that Hagar and Ishmael should be sent forth. They could have no part in the purposes of God, which were being wrought out through the chosen people. But when thus sent out, they had not passed out of the sight of God, nor beyond His care and government. God provided for him what he needed at the moment to preserve his life; God was with the lad, and he grew; God made of him A GREAT NATION. This account, rightly apprehended, will help us to that VIEW OF ALL HISTORY which is necessary to intelligent understanding thereof. God's elections never mean His aban­donment of those not elected. There is no nation which He has not made. There are no people which He has ex­cluded from the purposes of His good­ness. Those elected are elected to SERVE THE OTHERS. When at last His city is built, all the nations shall walk in the light thereof (Rev. 21:24). When the SEED, called in ISAAC, has won the final triumph, ISHMAEL will share in the glo­rious results knowing Christ to be Jesus of Nazareth and his Savior and Redeemer. A remembrance of that fact will purge our hearts from the possibility of all contempt for any less-favored peoples. We shall see in them those whom God sees, for whom God cares, and for whose ultimate recovery and blessedness God is forever working.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

SAVED VS UNSAVED CONTRASTED

SAVED VS UNSAVED CONTRASTED 


"O continue Thy lovingkindness unto them that know Thee" Psa. 36:10


Thus opens the prayer with which the Psalm closes, and it is the natural and restful conclusion to the contrast preceding it. That is a CONTRAST between the man who lives without the fear of God, and the God in Whom the righteous man is trusting. The description of the evil man is graphic. He has by some means PERSUADED HIMSELF that God does not interfere with men, by having no knowledge of what God says. Consequently he has no fear of God, enthrones himself at the center of his own being, and goes in the way of wickedness in thought and in action. The CONTRAST is not between that man and the man who fears God, but rather, as we have said, between that manner of life and the conception of God which inspires the contrary way of life. God is set forth in His lovingkindness, in His righteousness, in His faithfulness, in all His goodness to men. The prayer is for the continued manifestation of that lovingkindness to those who know this God. Thus the CONTRAST becomes personal. On the one hand are the MEN WHO HAVE NO FEAR OF GOD. On the other are THOSE WHO KNOW HIM. The difference is radical, and all the life is affected. LOSING THE FEAR OF GOD is to go in every way of wickedness, and ultimately to inevitable destruction (see last verse). To KNOW GOD is to worship Him, and in His ways to find refuge, satisfaction, life, and, light. In the ultimate words of Jesus: "This is life eternal, that they should know Thee the only true God, and Him Whom Thou didst send, Jesus Christ." (John 17:3)