"They received the Word with all readiness of mind and searched the Scriptures daily, whether those things were so.  Therefore many believed."--Acts 17:11

Berean Christadelphians

Index

For Further Information Contact:  Jim Phillips

 
Berean Christadelphians
Register Latest Topics
 
 
 


Reply
  Author   Comment   Page 58 of 60     «   Prev   55   56   57   58   59   60   Next
fhigham

Registered:
Posts: 1,023
Reply with quote  #856 

-------------------------------------------------------------

Nov 17    • Neh 4 • Hosea 14 •  1 Thess 3, 4

-------------------------------------------------------------

 

Neh 4

 

CHAPTER 4 introduced us to serious problems the work encountered, but ch. 5 reveals a problem far worse. There isa great lesson in Nehemiah's patient perseverance in the face of ingrained human fleshliness and evil. What a degraded thing the natural man is! What glorious and beau­tiful possibilities are held out before him, but how few have any desire to rise out of natural groveling earthiness!

"There was a great cry of the people against their brethren."

Why? Because the more fortunate and more powerful among them were cruelly oppressing the poorer ones, grind­ing them down into hopeless bondage and debt. This is, and has always been, the way of natural man—greed, selfish­ness and cruelty, yet with such protestations of piety and self-righteousness and showy charity!

"We have mortgaged our lands, and vineyards, and houses: we bring into bondage our sons and daughters."

Naturally, we too are of the same evil, selfish stuff. We must learn—from these manifestations of evil—the ugliness and viciousness of the inner enemy we all have to contend with. We must, by the light of the Spirit, learn to discern the same basic motives and reactions and self-justifications.

Nehemiah says, "I was very angry." Did the fear and good­ness of God mean nothing to them at all? Doubtless they justified their conduct as "prudence" and "industry" and "wisdom" and "good business" and dismissed the plight of their brethren as the result of foolishness or laziness or care­lessness (as doubtless it may have been in some cases).

“The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked,”

—and we can justify and glorify anything, if we want to do so. See how the nations of the earth, both East and West, present every selfish, greedy action as a pious labor for human good! "Let a man examine himself." It is a very humiliating study, if done by the light of God's Word.

Nehemiah was "very angry." Then he says—

"I consulted with myself."

Here is wisdom. Paul says—

"Be ye angry—and sin not."

“I  consulted with myself." He did not speak oract im­petuously in anger—this is the almost irresistible temptation.

Nehemiah had been given supreme authority in Judea. Hisword was law. But he pleaded with them (v. 11)—

"Restore, I pray you, to them this day."

He sought to persuade them, to teach them a more excellent way, to make them ashamed of their wickedness, in the presence of all the congregation. Instead of commanding them,he asked them to enter into a solemn and public oath that they would do what he asked.

In this way he made itas easy as he could for them to dowhat was right, and as difficult as he could for them to go back to doing what was wrong.

"And all the congregation said, Amen, and praised the Lord."

—praised the Lord for the great relief, and for the provision of such a wise and righteous and patient leader who could be firm and inflexible without being unnecessarily harsh and dictatorial.

fhigham

Registered:
Posts: 1,023
Reply with quote  #857 

Let us, in these days, be wise; and we shall at last see the glorious harvest in joy unspeakable, in the ranks of the blessed company who shall sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of God.

 

bro Robert Roberts

 

-------------------------------------------------------------------------

Nov 18 • Nehemiah 5, 6 • Joel 1 • 1 Thessalonians 5

-------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

Reference to:

Nehemiah 5

Neh 5:1  And there was a great cry of the people and of their wives against their brethren the Jews. 

Neh 5:2  For there were that said, We, our sons, and our daughters, are many: therefore we take up corn for them, that we may eat, and live. 

Neh 5:3  Some also there were that said, We have mortgaged our lands, vineyards, and houses, that we might buy corn, because of the dearth. 

Neh 5:4  There were also that said, We have borrowed money for the king's tribute, and that upon our lands and vineyards. 

 

Trouble in The trials of the poor Jews in Jerusalem

 

Jerusalem (Neh. 5) became so great that they could not bear them any longer. They lifted up their voice in

a terrible cry of anguish to Nehemiah, pointing out that the work of building the wall interfered with their opportunity of providing for the needs of their families. "We have large families," they lamented, "and have to provide corn for them that we may eat and live!" Some came to him complaining of the terrible oppression that they suffered from their more wealthy fellow-Jews. "We have mortgaged our lands,

vineyards, and hous e s, that we might buy corn, because of the dearth," they declared.

 

Others had an even more bitter complaint to make: "We have borrowed money for the king's tribute, upon our lands and vineyards,

and our flesh is as the flesh of our brethren (i.e. they had become as slaves to their brethren), our children are as their children; and, lo, we have brought into bondage our sons and our daughters to be slaves, and some of our daughters are brought into bondage, neither is it in our power to redeem  them; for other men have our lands and vineyards!" 

 

Nehemiah was astounded at what he learned. It was incredible that fellow-Jews should be so lacking in consideration as to bring their

fellows who were laboring to establish the defence of Jerusalem, under such bondage; it was unbearable that those who were prepared

to sacrifice their time and energy should have to mortgage their lands, and even their families, bringing them into bondage and slavery, in

order to meet the monthly requirements of interest to fellow-Jews!

 

His heart was stirred within him, and he determined something must be done. Being a man of action he did not allow much time to elapse before he instituted the reform. 

 

Nehemiah's Reform 

 

Stirred up and angry at the state of things revealed to him, he openly rebuked the nobles and rulers for their avarice. "You are exacting usury of your 28brethren!" he declared indignantly. He then called an assembly of people who had witnessed the evils that had been done, and gathering them together, he impressed them with the enormity of the action that had been committed. "Why!" he exclaimed angrily to them, "we have already, after our ability, redeemed our brethren the Jews, which were sold unto the heathen; and will you sell your brethren? Or shall they be sold unto us?"

 

The rulers were ashamed when they heard these words of their governor. They could see the inconsistency of their action. Their brethren had been forced to borrow from them because of difficulties that had arisen through giving their time to building the wall, that is, in doing the work of God, but instead of readily helping them, they had charged them heavy interest on their loans. Further, they had forced their poorer brethren to meet these interest payment when they came due, even taking their children into bondage as security for it. So the audience, pricked in conscience, remained silent as Nehemiah spoke.  ...

 

He continued: "It is not good what you do! Should you not walk in the fear of God? Do you not see that this will cause the heathen our enemies to reproach us? I and my brethren and my servants, might have exacted of the poor Jews money and corn, for we have assisted them, but we have not done so. I pray you, let us leave off this usury, and restore to them, even to this day, their lands, their vineyards, olive-yards, houses, and the hundredth part of the money that you have exacted of them."

 

Moved by the action and words of Nehemiah, the rulers and wealthy Jews agreed to do as he asked. Then, whilst the people were still gathered before him, he called for the priests, and took an oath of them, that the rich brethren should do according to their promise.

 

This was done, and again the people turned to the noble leader who had given such single-minded service in the things of God. Again he stood up before them, and shaking the lap of the garment he was wearing, he declared: "So God shake out every man from his house, and from his labor, that performeth not this promise! Let him thus be shaken out, and emptied!" Solemnly the congregation answered with a loud: "Amen"!

 

And the rich did according to their promise.

 

Nehemiah's Personal Example

 

Nehemiah's words of  exhortation to the Example rulers and wealthy of the nation were carried ut, partly because they saw that what he demanded was only reasonable, and partly because he gave them a personal example as to what should be done. Though he had been appointed governor in the land, he had not exacted of the people the tribute that he was justified in demanding. Former governors had made oppressive demands upon them, but he did not think it right to do so. The fear of God was with him, and he therefore acted liberally towards the people.

 

He had not used the poverty of the people as a means of enriching himself. Others had done so. When the people were in personal want through giving their time to building the wall, wealthy Jews had pur cha s ed  the ir prope r ty at much less than it was wor th. The opportunity was there for Nehemiah to do likewise; but he would not stoop to such an  evi l. In fact, he had impoverished himself in employing his servants to give themselves to the work.

 

And as his diary recorded, he had kept an open house for the Jews and rulers who, as well as other Jews that had been redeemed from the heathen, dined at his table, at his expense. This exacted a heavy toll upon his resources. He could have recouped it by the tribute which he, as governor, could have demanded from the people. He refused to do so, for with the people giving themselves so freely to the work of God, the payment of tribute would have imposed a heavy burden. His action was a sacrifice he willingly made, that the wall and defences of Jerusalem might be established. And with this sacrifice he offered unto God a brief, but intimate prayer: "Think upon me, my God, for good, according to all that I have done for this people!"

 

We are sure that God will abundantly answer this prayer in the day when Nehemiah stands before the Lord Jesus to receive public commendation for his action.

 

bro HP Mansfield, The Story of The Bible, Vol 5 (p29-30) 

 

------------------------------------------------

Reference to:

The Apocalypse in Joel.

 

JOEL, though brief, is very explicit, and coincident with the above. After predicting terrible calamities upon Israel and their country by the lions of Assyria, and others, he consoles the nation with the assurance that after the Gentiles had filled up the measure of their abominations, Jehovah will be jealous for his land and will pity his people; and that they shall no more be made a reproach among the nations. He predicted that Jehovah will do great things, at which the children of Zion shall be glad, and that they shall rejoice in Jehovah, their Elohim, or Christ: that he would give them the latter rain of the Spirit, as on Pentecost, of the first month; and the former rain litzdahkah, on account of righteousness, in the seventh month, which is also the first of the civil year. That in this period there shall be restoration, and that henceforth Jehovah’s people shall never be ashamed. He foretold that between the two Spirit-Rain periods, Zion’s Sun should be turned into darkness, and the Moon of her ecclesiastical heavens into blood, before the great and terrible Day of Jehovah should be apocalypsed, or revealed, upon Israel’s enemies; whose destruction shall proceed from Mount Zion and Jerusalem, in which shall be deliverance for the remnant whom Jehovah shall call. He further makes known, that in the days of the Restoration of Judah and Jerusalem, Jehovah will gather all national armies into the valley of Jehoshaphat or Armageddon; and there contend with them in battle for the possession of the Holy Land: that on the eve of this contest a proclamation shall be made among the nations, stirring them up to the war, which in the Apocalypse is styled “the war of that great day of God Almighty:” that, at this epoch of restoration, Jehovah shall lead down his warriors to the conflict in the valley of judgment; that the harvest-sickle, and the vintage press, shall then do their work; that Jehovah, as the Lion of the Tribe of Judah, shall roar out of Zion, and utter his voice from Jerusalem, and shake the heavens and the earth of the non-Jewish world, whose Sun and Moon shall be darkened, and the shining of their stars shall be destroyed; that when this is consummated, Jerusalem shall be holy; and no strangers, or enemies, shall henceforth pass through her any more; that the land shall be as Paradise, flowing with wine and milk, being so rich in vines and pasturage, fountains and running streams; and to crown the whole, Joel testifies with Ezekiel, Jeremiah, and Isaiah, that Jehovah then dwells in Zion, the place of rest, and city of the Great King—ch. 1:6; 2:18, 19, 23, 24, 26, 31, 32; 3:1, 2, 9, 11–18, 20, 21.

 

bro John Thomas, Eureka : An exposition of the Apocalypse (electronic ed.). .

 

------------------------------------------------

Reference to:

1 THESS 5

 

SUNDAY MORNING AT THE CHRISTADELPHIAN SYNAGOGUE, BIRMINGHAM, NO. 39

“Exhort one another daily.”—PAUL.

 

Paul had been speaking on the subject of the coming of the Lord as the comfort of believers with regard to those who were dead. He here says it was unnecessary for him to write them on the subject of the times and seasons. For this he gives two reasons: “Yourselves know that the day of the Lord cometh as a thief in the night.” How did they know? By Paul’s teaching: for we find him, in the next epistle (chap. 2:5) saying, “When I was with you. I told you these things.” What did they know? That the day would come unexpectedly—“as a thief.” Upon the believers? No. Upon those who should cry “Peace and safety,” when destruction should be at the door. This is not the case with believers. They know that there is no “peace and safety” for the world until the Prince of Peace is enthroned on Zion’s Hill. “In his days the righteous flourish, and abundance of peace so long as the moon endureth.”—(Ps. 72:7.) “In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely.”—(Jer. 23:6.) There is no peace to the world under its present constitution of wickedness. And especially at “the end” is there no peace to be looked for, but nations angry and a time of trouble such as never was since there was a nation upon earth to that same time.—(Dan. 12:1). But all the time and at the last will be found such (and these very numerous) as cry, Peace and safety. The world has been sounding this cry during all its troublous and blood-stained history. After every war, there is to be everlasting peace; and every war is a “guarantee” of the general repose. Notably is this the case in our own day, when the world is armed to the teeth, as it never was before, and trembling in the uncertain balance of peace or war. Notwithstanding the most unpromising situation of things, every potentate, statesman, diplomatist, politician, and newspaper writer talks complacently of peace as a thing to be secured. ‘Peace’ has been on their lips while war is in their hearts, and the heedless throng, anxious only about business, have caught up the strain. The saints are not of those who cry, Peace and safety, except to such as fear God and keep His commandments. For all the rest of mankind war is appointed, especially the war of the great day of God Almighty, which, at the coming of the Lord, is destined to sweep away all refuges of lies, and lay the foundation for a reign of righteousness and everlasting peace.

 

The day of the Lord will not come upon the saints as a thief. As a snare it will come upon all them that dwell upon the whole earth (Luke 21:35), but upon the called, and chosen, and faithful, it will come as the welcome deliverance which a lifetime’s expectation and preparation will have made them ready to receive with gladness. Seeing the appointed tokens among the nations, they lift up their heads, knowing that their redemption draweth nigh.

 

But there was another reason why the day of the Lord could not come upon the Thessalonians as a thief, and as we are in their position, we do well to consider it. “They were not in darkness, that that day should come upon them as a thief. They were all the children of light and of the day.” Come soon or come late, it could not find them unprepared, but ready to rise in joy in response to the uprising of the sun of righteousness. Paul did not mean to say that absolutely every individual of the Thessalonian ecclesia was in this position; for you find him mentioning some who were otherwise conditioned. “I hear,” he says, “that there are some among you that walk disorderly;” and he thought it necessary to direct the ecclesia to withdraw from all who did not submit to his word.—(2 epistle 3:6.) An ecclesia by position and profession belongs to the light of the day. That is the description of the high calling which has called it into existence; but it does not follow that all its members come up to the profession. It is possible that many of them may come short of the stature of the new man in Christ, and consequently fail in obtaining the promise. It is even possible that in a whole ecclesia, there may not be a single individual acceptable in the sight of God. We seem to discover such a case in the messages of Christ to the seven ecclesias that were in Asia. To all, with two exceptions, he speaks of the bulk of their members in doubtful terms. Of one, he speaks as if it lacked a single individual of the true type; which affords matter for serious reflection for us who, living so long after the authoritative proclamation of the word, are in much more danger of being in that position.  ...

 

The Editor, bro Robert Roberts

 

The Christadelphian : Volume 9. 2001 (electronic ed.) (349–350).
fhigham

Registered:
Posts: 1,023
Reply with quote  #858 

-------------------------------------------------------------

Nov 19    • Neh 7 • Joel 2 •  2 Thess 1, 2

-------------------------------------------------------------

 

"My God, think Thou upon the prophetess Noadiah, and

rest of the prophets that would have

put me in fear"—Neh. 6:14

THEY ARE still building the wall. The enemy, who has tried ridicule and conspiracy, now tries—in order—deceit, and intimidation, and a crafty trap, and internal sedition. Well might Nehemiah exclaim—

"O God, strengthen my hands!"

He records (6:2)—

"Sanballat and Geshem sent unto me saying, Come and let us meet together in one of the villages."

This is one of the most difficult approaches of the enemy to contend with—

"Come and let us talk it over. Let us see what can be worked out. Perhaps we are closer together than we think. Why be narrow and exclusive?"

The Truth IS narrow and exclusive. It demands a degree of allegiance and submission that very few are willing to give. In this dispensation it will always be small and despised. When it begins to prosper and spread out, it soon becomes contaminated and diluted. And it is not something that can be compromised. Either we accept it as a whole or we do not.

Nehemiah gave the perfect answer to all the pleasing and plausible invitations to "come out and fraternize"—

"I am doing a great work: I cannot come down to you."

Of course, we must be doing a great work—this is not just a convenient excuse; it must be a statement of fact.

We have no time for other things. Living the Truth and serving God is a full time occupation, and any who do not realize this have not properly learned the Truth. Any who think they have time for anything but God's service have a very faulty conception of the height and depth of the Gospel.

When this sugar-coated approach failed, the enemy tried another (v. 5)—

"Then Sanballat sent his servant unto me with an open letter in his hand."

An open letter was a sign of discourtesy, and contempt, in the pattern of haughty instructions to an inferior servant.

The letter was a threat—an attempt to blackmail and in¬timidate. It charged Nehemiah with planning rebellion against Persia in fortifying Jerusalem, and hinted that if Nehemiah did not cooperate, the charge would be brought before the King. It ended with the same invitation—

"Come now, therefore, and let us take counsel together."

A charge to the Persian King by the officials of all the surrounding territories would be serious. In dictatorships and despotisms, even the mere suggestion of rebellion is often sufficient for condemnation, for such rulers play safe and purges are frequent.

But Nehemiah was not intimidated. He had faith that God would see him through without recourse to seeking to appease or compromise with the enemy. The power of God was far greater and more real to him than that of Persia.

*          *          *

THE NEXT assault is from within. An Israelite, posing as a friend and as a prophet, came to Nehemiah warning him of assassination and urging him to take refuge in the Temple. To a God-fearing man like Nehemiah, it was a subtle and plausible approach. It was designed to cater to both fear and vanity—

“You are very important to the work of God—you are justified in making an exception in your own case and using the Temple as a refuge. Remember that David ate the show-bread in a case of necessity. Why expose yourself when you can be safe? You are just being foolhardy and making a show of your faith and tempting God."

This from an apparently sincere and godly man would be very appealing and plausible. But Nehemiah was too familiar with the mind of the Spirit to be deceived by fleshly wiles—

"Who is there that—being as I am—would go into the Temple to save his life?

"And, lo, I perceived that God had not sent him, but that he prophesied this prophecy against me,  for Tobiah and Sanballat had hired him."

We must examine all advice for motive and purpose. If it appeals to the flesh, we need to be doubly on guard. Often the only safe answer is, "Get thou behind me, Satan."

"My God, think Thou upon the prophetess Noadiah, and the rest of the prophets, that would have put me in fear."

Think of the difficulties and hazards of Nehemiah's posi¬tion, when even reputed prophets were secretly trying to ensnare and destroy him. How similar his position was to that of Jesus among his enemies!

But nothing stopped the work. In the midst of all this intrigue, within and without, the work continued. This is important.

The best way to handle and combat all disruptive and diversionary tactics is to IGNORE THEM and keep on work¬ing at the main objective, which at present is the MAKING READY A PEOPLE PREPARED FOR THE LORD.

There are lots of side issues, lots of challenges, lots of threats and hints that we may be tempted to be drawn aside into conflict with, but life is short, time is brief, and we are a very small cog in a great enterprise.

Let us not be diverted. Only God Himself can straighten out many things. Let us stick to the one glorious, central objective, so that we can sincerely answer to all diversionary invitations to "Come and let us take counsel," by saying—

“I am engaged in a great work: I cannot come down to you.”

 And so Nehemiah could record (6:15)—

"So the wall was finished in 52 days, and when our enemies heard thereof, they were cast down, for they per¬ceived that this work was wrought of our God."

But here is the sad and significant part. Even though they perceived this, they were not converted, but schemed harder. This is a perverse characteristic of the flesh, to rebel against the light. It is not sensible or logical, but how very human and natural!

*          *          *

VS. 17-18 REVEAL a very disastrous condition from the point of view of the soundness and welfare of God's people—

"Moreover in those days the nobles of Judah sent many letters to Tobiah, and the letters of Tobiah came to them."

"For there were many in Judah sworn unto him because he was the son in law of Shechaniah, and his son Johanan had taken the daughter of Meshullam."

Alien marriage—mixing with the world—going out to see the daughters of the land—the greatest single evil that has plagued the people of God since before the flood.

“She is such a nice person!”—“He comes from such a nice family!”—“Perhaps it will bring them to the Truth.”

"Shall we do evil that good may come?" God, in His mercy, or for His own purpose, sometimes brings good out of evil, but He more often brings evil out of evil. Either way, the shame and disobedience of the original evil remains.

*          *          *

"The nobles of Judah sent many letters to Tobiah."

He does not say, "Some of the nobles," but, "The nobles," showing that, not just some individuals, but as a group they were scheming with the enemy against Nehemiah. Nehemiah was no friend of special privilege or oppression. These nobles had been living well by oppressing their poor brethren and fraternizing with the leaders of the outside nations around them.

They resented Nehemiah's reforms—his bothersome zeal for holiness and for the fulfilment of the law of God.

V. 19—"Also they reported his good deeds before me."

This was very subtle and hypocritical. Tobiah was an enemy of God and of God's people. He was using every means he could to destroy the good Nehemiah was doing.

The issue was a clear case of allegiance to God, or to the enemy of God. There was no middle ground.

But they "reported his good deeds" before Nehemiah. What's wrong with reporting a man's good deeds? Is it not according to the law of God to do so? Should we not be charitable?—see the best?—think the best of any one?

Here was the subtlety and the hypocrisy of it—a vicious, malicious misapplication of a divine truth that would nullify all distinction between good and evil, faithfulness and un¬faithfulness. They labored to confuse the issue, glorify the enemy, and weaken the faithful—all in the name of "charity" and "friendliness."

"And they reported my matters to Tobiah. And Tobiah sent letters to put me in fear."

This situation will be found in all ages of the Truth—men who pretend to be loyal friends of the Truth, but whose heart and sympathies and associations are in the broad way with the enemy, and who are always trying to glorify the enemy and weaken and belittle those who faithfully strive for the narrow way.

*          *          *

WE BEGIN ch. 7. First Nehemiah says that when the wall was finished, he appointed its rulers. This is the next neces¬sary step. First build up the wall safe and complete. Then set up faithful rulers in charge. His principle of choice is a very important one to follow (v. 2)—

"He was a faithful man, and feared God above many."

This should be the basis of choice in all ecclesial arrange¬ments—natural ability, personal relationship, animal friendliness—mean NOTHING.

"To this man will I look, saith the Lord…"

—not to the learned, or accomplished, or polished, or self-assertive, but

“... to him that is poor, and of a broken spirit, and that trembleth at My Word."

Then (v. 3) for the security of the city, the gates were only to be opened at limited times, and under careful guard, and during the night each household was to be responsible for setting a watch in its own area.

They were actually in a state of siege, where constant care and watchfulness was essential to their safety. We are im¬pressed in all these things with the parallel of the Household today, as sheep in the midst of wolves.

PART FOUR

"Mourn not, nor weep; neither be ye sorry, nor

grieved, for the joy of the Lord is

your strength"—Neh. 8:9-10.

Nehemiah's next concern (7:4) was with the inhabitants of the City—

 "The people were few, and the houses not builded."

And he says—

"And   my God put in my heart to gather the people that they might be reckoned by genealogy."

We notice that Nehemiah has a single purpose—the peace and prosperity of Jerusalem—and he proceeds in an orderly way from step to step. He says so often, "My God put in my heart" to do this or that.

All action must be based on prayer and study of the Word of God, seeking guidance—

"It is not in man that walketh to direct his steps."

 

 

We must learn, and remember, that as natural, animal creatures we have neither the knowledge nor mental capacity to determine our course of action ourselves. Man, with all his pride, is utterly and constitutionally incapable of know¬ing what he should do even from moment to moment, let alone the big issues of life.

For the foundation of his genealogy, Nehemiah first goes back to the record of those who came back from Babylon 100 years before under Zerubbabel. The rest of ch. 7 is this list, which is identical, except in minor detail, with that in Ezra 2.

It is thought more probable that Ezra's list is the way it was when made up in Babylon before leaving, while Nehemiah's is a list made after arriving in the land, with adjustments made for any changes that occurred in between.

*          *          *

THE WALL was finished on the 25th day of the 6th month, just a few days before the beginning of the 7th, in which the joyful Feast of Tabernacles was to be celebrated.

The people were apparently aware by custom and tradition that certain national celebration days fell in this month, but they were not aware of the details. Having completed the wall, however, their minds turn toward God, Who has pros¬pered their effort thus far. What should they do—how should they proceed to arrange their national life?

This is the most encouraging sign in the whole book, and must have given Nehemiah great comfort and satisfaction.

Just how widespread the feeling was, or how long it endured afterward, we do not know, but at this time at least there was a great movement to seek the Law of God.

An enthusiastic desire on the part of all members for a constant increase of the knowledge of the Word of God is essential for any sound ecclesial life—not just a few, well-worn, crotchetty points, beaten back and forth, year after year, but a broad, balanced wholesome study of all Scripture. This love for, and knowledge of, God's Word is the great distinction between the people of God and the people of the world. Without this we may be very "nice" people, but we have no right to consider ourselves children of God.       GVG

 

fhigham

Registered:
Posts: 1,023
Reply with quote  #859 

-------------------------------------------------------------------------

Nov 20 • Nehemiah 8 • Joel 3 • 1 Thessalonians 3,4

------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

 

Nehemiah and Paul

 

"Lo, this is our Yahweh; we have waited for Him, and He will save us: we will be glad and rejoice in His salvation!"

 

            DURING the past week, we have been in godly company with Ezra, Nehemiah, Hosea and Paul. The dates of some important events leading up to the time of Nehemiah will be found interesting and useful in giving us a balanced historical picture (These dates will vary 1 or 2 years (or more) according to different authorities.) —

588 BC: Judah carried captive by Nebuchadnezzar.

538 BC: Babylon taken by Cyrus.

536 BC: Cyrus proclamation to rebuilt the Temple in Jerusalem.

 

            The first 6 chapters of Ezra deal with what was accomplished during the period in which Haggai and Zechariah prophesied as the Temple was being rebuilt under Zerubbabel.

 

457 BC: Ezra takes up his personal record.

446 BC: Nehemiah begins his record.

 

Taking our daily readings in order of date, we have—

785 BC: Hosea's prophecy; 457 BC: Ezra; 446 BC: Nehemiah;

54 AD: Paul's letters to the Thessalonians (500 years from Nehemiah).

 

            When we read from Nehemiah we have to note the dating of the chapters, for the events recorded are not in sequence—

Ch. 1 to ch.7:5 cover the years 446 & 445 (Nehemiah's own time).

Ch. 7:6 to end goes back to 536 (Zerubbabel's time).

Ch. 8 returns to Nehemiah's time, and runs to the end of ch. 11.

Ch. 12 goes back again to 536 (Zerubbabel), and continues to v.26.

Ch. 12:27 brings us up again to 445, and continues to the end of the book.

 

            The name Nehemiah means "Yahweh comforts." The only personal information we have is that he was the son of Hachaliah, & had a brother named Hanani, as we read in 7:2. But further personal information would not give added strength to his record.

 

Though not a prophet he was an outstanding man of Israel in 3 ways:

            1. He adhered rigidly to his duties.

            2. He was stern and firm when opposing wrong doing.

            3. Above all, he had an unwavering faith in God.

 

            He comes to our attention in the 20th year of the Persian king Artaxerxes I (Longimanus), for whom he served as cupbearer in the royal palace of Shushan. Thirteen years before this, Ezra had headed a great company who had returned from the captivity to the land of Judah. In spite of great difficulties, Ezra completed repairs to the Temple, and did much to help the people to settle in the land. But they encountered great hardships and perils: the walls of Jerusalem were broken down; the gates burned with fire.

 

            Nehemiah, having learned of this through his brother Hanani, sat down and wept and mourned, and fasted certain days, and prayed. His fervent and passionate prayer appears in ch. 1:5-11, and it is a noble example for all believers. Unlike the Pharisee in the parable of Jesus, he did not thank God that he was "not like other men." Nor was he unmindful of the dreadful majesty of God. Note how he addresses the Father—

 

            "I beseech Thee, O Lord God of heaven, the great and terrible God, that keepeth covenant and mercy for them             that love Him AND OBSERVE HIS COMMANDMENTS" (v. 5).

 

It is well to compare his prayer with that of Daniel (9:4)—

            "And I prayed unto the Lord my God, and made my confession, and said, O Lord, the great and dreadful God,             keeping the covenant and mercy to them that love Him, &: to them that KEEP HIS COMMANDMENTS."

 

            The word "terrible" in Nehemiah's prayer, and the word "dreadful" in Daniel's, both mean "to be had in reverence." Let us ever keep before us the infinite greatness of God, and when we approach Him in prayer, let our attitude and manner of addressing Him be of the examples we find in the Scriptures.

 

            Nehemiah not only recognized the supremacy of God, but he also fully realized his own position, for he not only confessed the sins of the people, but he also said—

"Both I and my father's house have sinned."

 

            It is well for us to remember that no matter how hard we try to walk in the Truth, we still make many mistakes and come far short of the standard of submission and obedience set by the Lord Jesus. The mental or emotional disorder forming an individual's response to the discovery that he has made a serious mistake, was well exhibited by Peter when he "went out and wept bitterly." But the sequence to Peter's mental suffering is the beautifully infinite forgiveness that the Lord Jesus extended to him after his resurrection. We can almost hear the voice of Jesus as he said—

            "Simon, son of Jonas, LOVEST THOU ME?"

 

            What a wonderfully tender and spiritual method of rebuke! —and after such a terrible failure as denying his Lord with cursing and swearing. Would we be as gentle and loving in such a case?

 

            Going back for a moment to the thoughts that are generated by the prayers of Nehemiah and Daniel, we are reminded of a serious thought generated by the words of Jesus in Mark 11:25-26—

 

            "When ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may             forgive you your trespasses.

            "But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses."

 

            In Neh. 1:10-11, he appeals for mercy and help in the presence of the king, for he said—

 

            “I was the king s cupbearer.”

 

            The meaning of the word is "one who gives drink." It was an officer of the household who tasted the wine and passed it to those at the table. In ancient oriental courts, he was always a person of rank and importance, greatly trusted.

            Nehemiah's prayer was answered, and he found favor in the presence of the king, who sent him to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem, and to seek the welfare of the people. Under the protection of a military escort which the king chose to send, Nehemiah came to Jerusalem in 444 BC arid remained until 432, a period of 12 years during which time he was actively engaged in promoting the welfare of the people.

 

            His principal work was the repairing of the city walls which was accomplished in 52 days, in spite of the opposition caused by Sanballat the Horonite, an officer of Persia, and Tobiah an Ammonite. These men sought to hinder the work, first by scoffing at the attempt, then by threatening the workmen.

 

            When these things failed, they tried to weaken his authority—for Nehemiah was the governor. And they threatened to kill him. But none of these things moved him, as we see in 6:11 —

 

            "And I said, Should such a man as I flee? And who is there that, being as I am, would go into the Temple to             save his life? I will not go in."

 

            The schemes all failed, and the work was completed. But Nehemiah's troubles were not all from without. He encountered trouble from his own people, arising out of the general distress, which was aggravated by cruel exactions and oppression by their own nobles and rulers. As ever among mankind, the powerful preyed on the misfortunes of the weak.

            Solemn remonstrance by Nehemiah brought about prompt redress, for he had set a striking example of his generosity—

            "Moreover, from the time that I was appointed to be their governor in the land of Judah . . for 12 years I and             my brethren have not eaten the bread of the governor.

            "The former governors that had been before me were chargeable to the people, and had taken of them bread             and wine, besides 40 shekels of silver: yea, even their servants bare rule over the people;

            "But so did not I, because of the fear of God" (5:14-15).

 

            The outstanding feature in the building of the wall is revealed in 4:13-18. The manner in which they worked is comprehended in one word: COOPERATION—

            "So built we the wall; and all the wall was joined together, for THE PEOPLE HAD A MIND TO WORK"                                                                                                                                                     (4:6).

            How wonderful it is when this spirit and condition prevails!—when there is loving unity, and zeal for the work of the Lord. When all forget their own petty little feelings and selfishnesses— when minds are big enough to live in the Spirit and not in the childishness of the flesh. The same idea is expressed by the apostles in such words as "like-minded," "one mind," & "one accord."

            We should think very seriously about this, remembering that we must all stand at the judgment seat of Christ in the presence of our brethren—for this is the ONLY way possible for an ecclesia to succeed and prosper.

 

One of the engrossing features in this book is in 8:8—

            "So they read in the Book in the Law of God distinctly, and gave the sense, and caused them to understand the             reading."

 

            But in this they had no advantage over us: for many of our brethren can read distinctly and give the sense. As to "causing to understand," no people have ever been more blessed than we are. The works of brethren Thomas and Roberts were designed for that very purpose. In the providence of God, we have them to thank for bringing us to a knowledge of the saving Truth of the Gospel, and if we have any wisdom we shall be humbly thankful and not ashamed to confess our debt to them and their labors.

 

            The deep spiritual joy—far surpassing any natural joy—that comes from the knowledge and understanding of God's Word is manifested in 8:12—

            "And all the people went their way to eat and drink, and to send portions, and to make great mirth because they had understood the words that were declared unto them."

 

            Should there not be a similar great and continuous gladness among us—banishing all petty unhappiness and discontent—as we assemble on the basis of this same glorious knowledge and understanding of the wonderful works of God? As Paul so beautifully expressed it in our readings on Thursday (Col. 2:6-7)—

 

            "As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him: rooted and built up in him, and             stablished in the Faith, as ye have been taught, ABOUNDING therein with THANKSGIVING."

 

            Is it not knowledge of the Word that causes us to appreciate and rejoice in the great provision God has made, of which we are reminded by the emblems on the table? Surely these are joyful things—joy that overflows and transcends every sorrow.

            There is an item in v. 10 that should receive our attention—

 

            "Then he said unto them, Go your way, eat the fat, drink the sweet."

 

But in Lev. 3:16-17 it is commanded—

            "All the fat is the Lord's. It shall be a perpetual statute for your generations throughout all your dwellings, that             ye eat neither fat nor blood."

 

            The explanation is that the Hebrew word "khaleb" is always used when speaking of the fat of animals, but the word "mashman" signifies "a rich dish," and that is the word in Neh. 8:10.

 

            Coming back to the subject of knowledge and understanding of God's Word, we find that we often become so absorbed in our own daily vocations that we are apt to overlook the dangers and evils of the age that are gnawing at the very vitals of our existence.

            By all means, let us always keep before our minds the remembrance that the Truth of God to which we have covenanted our heart is the only real thing of any value in life.

 

            Our daily papers are full of the strivings in business, full of every kind of worldly problem and interest. Let us remember they are not our problems and interests. We are strangers and pilgrims in this evil age. Our interests are spiritual and heavenly. Some trust in their wealth, and some boast themselves in the multitude of their riches: but when death comes upon them, they perish for ever like the beast.

 

            Where then lies wisdom? Not in the cares of this life, nor in present advantage, because when we become silent in death our cares will have ceased and our advantages will have disappeared.

 

            Wisdom, then, lies in this—that we "seek first the Kingdom of God, and His righteousness. If we do that, we will have strong faith in God, and will do our best to live soberly and godly—thankful, joyful, peaceful and content —and will be diligent in every good work. In Eccl. 7:4 we read—

 

            "The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning, but the heart of fools is in the house of mirth."

 

            Are we then not to be cheerful and happy? Yes, by all means we must be. Anything less is a reflection on God's infinite goodness toward us. But our cheerfulness and happiness are comprehended in the "joy that is set before us." Our happiness does not blindly ignore the evils of the present, but it sees far beyond their brief span, into the glories of the eternal future. Therefore Jesus could say in Matt. 5:4—

 

            "Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted."

 

            The wise see the full truth of the situation. They see through to the end. They see at present sin, disease and death reigning among the people of the world, and realize that God is a stranger among them. Mirth has its place among us, but it is a deep, spiritual, abiding mirth. It is not the shallow, fleshly mirth of fools, such as Jesus describes in one of his parables, wherein a man said to himself (Luke 12:19)—

 

            "Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years: take thine ease; eat, drink, and be merry."

 

            When Jesus said ''those who mourn shall be comforted," he no doubt had in mind the prophecy of Isa. 61:3 —

 

            "To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion; to give them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the             garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness: that they might be called trees of righteousness."

 

            In our efforts to meet with favor when the Lord Jesus comes, let us keep before us such examples as that of Nehemiah, for surely few men in any age have combined in themselves a more rigid adherence to duty, a sterner opposition to wrong-doing, a more unswerving faith in God, than Nehemiah. He was like Paul in many ways, and as we are now in the latter's company, let us look at a few highlights in his teaching.

 

In 1 Timothy 6:20, Paul pleads with his son in the Faith—

            "O Timothy, keep (or guard) that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings (that             is, empty sounds), and oppositions of science falsely so called,

            "Which some professing have erred concerning the Faith."

 

            This is the mission and duty of each one of us: to guard the Truth that has been entrusted to us.

 

            The word used by Paul and rendered "science" signifies scientific knowledge—a form of teaching that has been creeping into some groups using the name Christadelphian. It is the same pattern as that found in the 2nd century, and which soon developed into the Roman Catholic system.

 

            In Acts 20:17, you will recall that Paul called the elderly brethren of the ecclesia in Ephesus, and had considerable to say to them by way of warning, but in particular (v. 29)—

 

            "I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock.

            "Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them."

 

            You will notice that he did not say "a long time after I have left you," but "after my departing," and members of your own ecclesia shall arise and distort the truth. This has been going on ever since. Brother John Thomas gave us the Truth in Elpis Israel and Eureka, and ever since brethren have been picking at Eureka.

 

            The latest is a new exposition of the Apocalypse by a well known brother in another group who claims that Eureka is not a true and biblical exposition, that Jerusalem and not Rome is Babylon, and that the book refers only to either the first century or the very last days. This is what the Catholic Church teaches about the Revelation.

 

            Every brother or sister should be aware of and on guard against this trend. The situation today is as it was when Paul said—

            "O Timothy, guard that which is committed to thy trust!"

 

            Brethren and sisters, we do have the Truth. It is the greatest heritage that can come to any man or woman. It has become our birthright through our belief and obedience of the Gospel. As a Body we have had the Truth, thanks to the labors of bro. Thomas, for over 100 years. We must stand fast against these efforts to pervert it. In 1 Tim. 4:13, Paul says to Timothy—

            "Till I come, give attendance to (attend to) reading, to exhortation, to doctrine . . Meditate upon these things,             give thyself WHOLLY to them."

 

            It is impossible for us to keep the Truth bright and fresh and powerful in our minds unless we persist in our daily Bible readings, and in faithful attendance at our meetings whenever possible. The natural man requires water every day so he will be refreshed and alert: so the spiritual man or woman requires the Water of Life to sustain and refresh us.

            God's counsels will never guide us unless we know what they are—-unless we keep them fresh in our minds. Is it not reasonable, therefore, that in proportion as we read thoughtfully and prayerfully from His Word, in such proportion shall we know and understand what He requires of us?

 

            Coming to the word of exhortation, one of the first thoughts that will arise in our minds is Paul's instruction to—

            “Suffer the word of exhortation.”

—for it should stir up our minds: make us stop and think deeply. We all tend to drift into the natural way, to pass through each day absorbed in present things—often necessary things, but still passing things. But if we let exhortation do what it should, and we become exercised about it, we will remember to constantly examine ourselves by the Spirit Word. It will pull us back from the natural into the spiritual, and strengthen us in it, and help to keep us in the narrow way that leads unto eternal life.

            There are other pointed statements of the apostle that stir us up to think, as—

            “Hold fast the form of sound words . .

                        "Hold fast that which is good , .

                                    "Hold fast your confidence . .

                                                "Hold fast our profession of faith . .

 

And finally the words of Jesus himself—

"HOLD FAST TILL I COME."

 

            Clearly holding fast is not something that is just going to naturally happen as we go about our busy daily activities. It is something of which we need constantly to be reminded; something that needs constant effort and remembrance. We understand from these appeals that we must make the effort to keep the Truth firmly fixed in the forefront of our minds, whatever we are doing; that we must be ever steadfast in the Faith, and not be moved, or shifted around, or unsettled in our minds.

 

And finally Paul says to Timothy (2:15)—

            "STUDY to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing             (discerning, handling) the Word of Truth."

 

            The idea embodied in the word "study" is to make an effort, to be in earnest, to be diligent, to apply oneself to something in a consistent and disciplined way so as to learn it thoroughly and deeply. This does not come naturally to the slothful mind of the flesh. Truly some will apply themselves deeply to study, and make great sacrifices, where there is material gain or power or prestige to be acquired; but how many are ready to completely set aside the interests and advantages of the present, and really, deeply devote themselves to study of spiritual things—with a view to their own personal transformation?

            But do not these words of Paul imply clearly that if we do not diligently "study to be approved," we may—yea, we will—be "ashamed" when we stand before the Son of God. That brief moment, so sure to come, of standing before all at the judgment seat, should be the focal point of all our thinking and all our planning.

 

            Making our calling and election sure gives us plenty to occupy our time, and leaves no place for the discussion of unprofitable questions, or the pursuit of unprofitable activities. Spiritual benefit must be the measuring rod of all we do. There are some who bring up questions, in Bible Classes and elsewhere, just to create discussion of a subordinate nature, without real purpose. Such a course has the effect of lowering the moral and spiritual standard of the ecclesia, and creates an atmosphere detrimental to spiritual welfare. All study and discussion should be directed toward the practical goal of godliness, but we must be careful how we judge others in this endeavor, for this can be done both directly and indirectly. Whatever promotes knowledge or helps memory of the Word helps in this vital battle for spiritual transformation.

            Let us then be among the truly wise who fear the Lord, and rejoice in the Truth, and comfort and strengthen one another in this ever-increasingly sinful world. Let us, like the noble Nehemiah, be unwavering in faith, and stern in opposing wrong, BUT—we must not forget to be always kindly affectioned to one another with brotherly love.

 

            In our readings on Friday, there is a commandment (and let us note that it is a commandment) given by Paul that every one of us should memorize and make a constant rule of our life. lt would purify and sweeten all our activities, especially at times when we feel in faithfulness we must take issue with something we believe to be wrong. It is oft quoted, but never often enough in this day of the poor weakness of the flesh—

 

            "Let the word of Christ dwell in you RICHLY in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms             and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord."

 

            Is it not interesting and thought-provoking that he says "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly"—as if it is just a matter of sitting back and letting it flow in? Truly in one sense great effort and self-discipline is required, but in another and perhaps deeper sense what is required is a complete yielding and submitting to the refreshing, purifying influence of the Word: putting aside the wilfulness of the flesh, so the Word can work its wonders in us.

 

            May the Lord build us up by the great power of His living Word, that we may truly become Wisdom's children, and that we may so order our steps that when the Lord Jesus comes we may be among those who are able to say—

            "Lo, this is our Yahweh; we have waited for Him, and He will save us: we will be glad and rejoice in His             salvation!"                                                                                                                               — G.A.G.

 

 

fhigham

Registered:
Posts: 1,023
Reply with quote  #860 

-------------------------------------------------------------

Nov 21        Neh 9  •  Amos 1 •  1 Tim 1, 2, 3

-------------------------------------------------------------

 

"And the people blessed all the men that willingly offered
themselves to dwell at Jerusalem"—
Neh. 11:2.

CHAPTER 8 ends on a note of exultant joy—a foretaste of the final great anti-typical Feast of Tabernacles. In ch. 9 the whole picture changes—the tone of ch. 9 is realization, repentance, resolve and reform.

We might have said, mourn first, putthings right, and then rejoice. But Nehemiah said, "Rejoice first! Joy in the strength of Yahweh—thenlet us assemble with fasting and sack cloth to make a covenant with our God."

The joy had to come first. Jesus said that the kingdom of heaven was like treasure hidden in a field; which, when a man findeth—

"For joy thereof he goeth and selleth all that he hath."

The joy had to come first. It was the joy that made him sell everything else. The joy is the strength that makes the sacrifice possible—

"For the joy that was set before him he endured the cross and despised the shame."

We must not limit this joy to the future, for it is the strength of the present. The fruits of the Spirit are "Love, Joy and Peace". Then follow the others, built upon these—meekness, self-control, etc. Until the joy comes—takes hold of us, fills us—we haven't begun to understand the Truth.

The joy of ch. 8 is tempered in ch. 9 with the realization that the nation's record before God was a dismal one, that their present distressed condition was a result of long abuse of God's patience, and that theythemselves had been content to lay so long in ignorance and disobedience.

First (v. 2) they separated themselves from all strangers. Does this conflict with the command we looked at a little while ago that all the strangers must attend and hear the Law read at the Feast of Tabernacles?

No. There, it was the public proclamation of the Word—the preaching and the teaching of the will of God and the way of righteousness. Here, it is fellowship and covenant—God's relation to His separated people.

Here again (v. 3) the Law is read to them, but the process is different, and the application more personal. For a period the Law is read. Then for a period they confess where they have failed. They examine themselves by what has been read. They pray, and confess, and seek forgiveness.

Their purpose is reconciliation with God, as a separate, purified, faithful people. Most ofthis chapter is a prayerin the form of a long historical confession of the sins of the nation from the days of Moses forward. It lists the continual manifestations of God's love and goodness toward them, and their continual disobedience and rebellion.

This prayer illustrates one very important principle—when things are wrong they cannot be put right by just ignoring the past.

There can be no sound foundationfor the future if the facts of the past are not recognized.

The past was on record—the continual struggles of the faithful prophets against the unfaithful majority. They could have said, “All that is passed. We refuse to have it con­sidered. Just take us as we are on our present profession.”

But that would not have been acceptable. It would not have provided a clean and sound foundation. It would have left the picture confused, and their real allegiance in doubt.

And so they concluded the prayer by (v. 7) referring to their miserable and oppressed condition—all their posses­sions and their own bodies and lives subject to the whim of a heathen king.

But they did not ask for relief. They recognized its justice and purpose. What they did do was to enter into a written, signed covenant, and a solemn curse, and an oath, to separate from all others and to faithfully observe all the Law that God had given them through Moses.

GVG

fhigham

Registered:
Posts: 1,023
Reply with quote  #861 

There is no safety except in Christ’s advice to abide in him, and to let his words abide in us.

 

bro Robert Roberts

 

-------------------------------------------------------------------------

Nov 22 • Nehemiah 10 • Amos 2 • 1 Timothy 4, 5

-------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

Reference to:

(Nehemiah 10.)

 

The previous chapter dealt with Israel’s history. In this chapter, we have allusions to the offerings, which will be interesting to speak about. The Sabbath was not being kept, nor the Sabbatical year. They forget that the earth requires rest as well as man, especially in hot climates. No doubt it is the lack of a law like this that causes India’s famines. The writer has read similar remarks about Australia in their own newspapers. Every institution of God is good for man.

 

Verse 32.—God’s people are ever ready to help with their money, as the more needy brethren testify (verse 33). The only vessels connected with the Temple service, of which we really know the form, are the Seven Branched Candlestick and the Table of Shewbread (Leviticus 24:5). These were carried to Rome on the destruction of Jerusalem, and they were copied in the carving that appears on the Arch of Titus—an arch erected to commemorate the conquest of Judea. They were surrendered to Titus by the temple treasurer before the final conflagration (Josephus, book 6., chapter 1, paragraph 3). No Jew will pass under this arch if he can avoid it. He spits and turns aside.

 

Verse 33.—“Meat”—more correctly meal offering.—For an account of the offerings see Numbers 28.

 

Verse 34.—The casting of lots by the priests to decide what portion of the Holy work they should take was in force in Christ’s time (Luke 1:9.)

 

Verse 37.—The tithe was first voluntarily paid by Abraham (Genesis 14:10), afterwards promised by Jacob (Genesis 28:22), made law under Moses (Leviticus 27:30). The Rod was dropped on every tenth beast—good or bad—which was set aside for the Levites. They had to give the tithe of their tithes to the high priests.—In case of distance the offerings were to be turned into money (see Deuteronomy 14:24 to 27.) How different to modern tithing, which is the most scandalous thing in connection with modern ecclesiasticism that can be imagined.

 

The Christadelphian : Volume 34. 189 (electronic ed.) (212).

 

------------------------------------------------

Reference to:

Amos 2

 

... But before all this, God’s judgments were to come upon Moab because of their pride, and their exultation over the calamities He had brought upon His people. “Behold,” said He to Moab, among other powers, “I begin to bring evil on the city which is called by my name, and should ye be utterly unpunished? Ye shall not be unpunished” (Jer. 25:29). And Moab had to take of the wine-cup of His fury (5:15) and come under the same Babylonian yoke (Jer. 27:1–7). Thus, Moab the uncircumcised was punished with Israel, circumcised in flesh but “uncircumcised in the heart” (ch. 9:26).

 

The reasons of the judgments are plainly given in the prophets. The following are examples: “We have heard of the pride of Moab; he is very proud: even of his haughtiness and his pride, and his wrath: but his lies shall not be so (or, his boasting is nought, R.V.). Therefore shall Moab howl for Moab” (Isa. 16:6). “Because thou hast trusted in thy works and in thy treasures, thou shalt also be taken: and Chemosh shall go forth into captivity with his priests and his princes together, and the spoiler shall come.… Moab hath been at ease from his youth, and he hath settled on his lees, and hath not been emptied from vessel to vessel, neither hath he gone into captivity: therefore his taste remained in him, and his scent is not changed. Therefore behold the days come, saith the Lord, that I will send unto him wanderers that shall cause him to wander, and shall empty his vessels and break their bottles. And Moab shall be ashamed of Chemosh, as the house of Israel was ashamed of Bethel their confidence.… Moab is spoiled, saith the King, whose name is the Lord of Hosts.” The “strong staff and beautiful rod” would be broken and cast away to make room for the “rod out of the stem of Jesse,” whose people at last should “lay their hands upon Moab.” “Make ye him drunken, for he magnified himself against the Lord.… For was not Israel a derision unto thee?… Since thou spakest of him thou skippedst for joy” Because of this, God would cause to cease the worship of Moab, and the Babylonian eagle would spread his wings over Moab as over Israel. “And Moab shall be destroyed from being a people, because he hath magnified himself against the Lord” (Jer. 48).

 

So Ezekiel (chap. 25:8): “Because that Moab and Seir do say, Behold, the house of Judah is like unto all the heathen, therefore I will open the side of Moab … unto the men of the east, … and I will execute judgment upon Moab, and they shall know that I am the Lord.” So also Amos 2: “For three transgressions of Moab, and for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof, because he burned the bones of the King of Edom into lime.” A king of Moab offered his own son as a burnt offering to his idols in the days of Elisha, and this would appear to have been a similar abomination. It is probably to an action like this that Micah (ch. 6) alludes when, referring to the intrigues of Balak against Israel and rebuking their idolatry, he says: “Shall I give my first-born for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?”

 

Then again Zephaniah says of Moab: “I have heard the reproach of Moab and the revilings of the children of Ammon, whereby they have reproached my people, and magnified themselves against their border. Therefore as I live, saith the Lord of Hosts, the God of Israel, Surely Moab shall be as Sodom, and the children of Ammon as Gomorrah, even the breeding of nettles and salt pits and a perpetual desolation: the residue of my people shall spoil them, and the remnant of my people shall possess them. This shall they have for their pride, because they have reproached and magnified themselves against the people of the Lord of Hosts. The Lord will be terrible unto them, for He will famish all the gods of the earth; and men shall worship him, every one from his place, even all the isles of the heathen” (Zeph. 2:8–11).

One of the statutes of the law said “An Ammonite or a Moabite shall not enter into the congregation of the Lord; even to their tenth generation shall they not enter into the congregation of the Lord for ever; because they met you not with bread and water in the way, when ye came forth out of Egypt: and because they hired against thee Balaam the Son of Beor of Pethor in Mesopotamia, to curse thee” (Deut. 23:44).

 

All these divine proclamations concerning an outside nation are valuable guidance to the Gentiles if they would but hear them. They are on record against the time to come. They are a standing denunciation of things most esteemed among the nations to this day. Pride, trust in uncertain riches, settlement on the lees, idolatry of various forms, reckoning Israel no different from all the heathen, magnifying themselves against them, even against the Lord and His people—all these things are characteristic, more or less, of the most prominent Gentile powers to-day, and will be more and more so until the crisis comes which has been so long ago revealed in the prophets. The Anti-Semitic movement, bred and fostered among the European powers, has its condemnation and judgment exemplified in these prophecies; but the supporters of it will certainly not learn righteousness until the judgments of the Lord are in the earth, and their origin, and connection, and aim explained to the humbled remnant of the nations that fight against Zion by her king enthroned in victory. ...

 

bro Robert Roberts, bro C C Walker. The Ministry of the Prophets: Isaiah (299–302).

 

------------------------------------------------

Reference to:

1Ti 4:13 Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine.

 

... The word which Christ spoke and the word contained in the Scriptures of Moses and the prophets is one. It is increasingly unfashionable to estimate that word in the way that Christ indicates. But the truth remains with Christ, though all the world go away from it. It is by the enlightenment resulting from the study of the Christ-Word given to us in the Scriptures of truth (and by this enlightenment alone), that men can attain that unity with Christ which is signified by incorporation with the branchship of the true vine. And it is only by continuance in this enlightenment that the connection can be maintained. Therefore, saith he, “Abide in me and I in you.” This implies the need for effort on our part. We cannot abide in Christ, nor he in us, without aiming to do so. Practically, it means letting the truth abide. “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly” (Col. iii. 16). Or as Christ expressed it, let “my words abide in you.”

 

How we are to do this is manifest, but has been much obscured by the metaphysical theology of the dark ages. It is by “giving attention to reading” (1 Tim. iv. 13). Only by reading the word with regularity, attention, and prayer can the word abide in us. By this process, it does abide. By the neglect of it, it withers away and the mind is left with its merely natural impressions, which in spiritual directions, are darkness itself. There is much literal force and truth in what Christ says on this head: “As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine, no more can ye expect ye abide in me. He that abideth in me and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit, for without me, ye can do nothing. If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a (broken) branch and is withered, and men gather them and cast them into the fire, and they are burnt.” There are those who recognise the truth of this, and there are those who practically deny it. The latter give in to the false impression either that the knowledge of the truth is of little importance, or that once known, it needs no renewal; and under this false impression, they give attention to the truth but little, and cultivate the things of the present world much, with the result that in all spiritual directions they grow barren and sterile; their hearts become but feebly responsive to the glorious things of God; their affections die; till at last the withering branch is broken by the next storm, and falls with the wreckage to the ground. ...

 

bro Robert Roberts Nazareth Revisted [computer files (electronic ed.) (289–290).

 

 

CHAPTER 10 Nehemiah begins by listing all the leaders who subscribed to this covenant. Eliashib the high priest is not among them. Apart from the actual building of the wall, he is not mentioned as taking part in any of these activities or reforms.

The latter part of ch. 10 is a list of items that were considered to require special mention in the covenant, because of their seriousness, and because of the time's special abuses.

The very first one, at the top of the list, is that old stone of stumbling that had caused so much evil and corruption all down through their history right up to their own time—ALIEN MARRIAGE—a wilful, presumptuous, premeditated breaking down the scriptural wall of separation and safety.

*          *          *

THEY ALSO covenanted (v. 31) that they would—

"…leave the 7th year and the exaction of every debt."

The release of the 7th year was one of the most beautiful and wholesome and unworldly provisions of the Law—

"At the end of every 7 years thou shalt make a release…Every creditor that lendeth ought unto his neighbor shall release it…"

"He shall not exact it of his neighbor, or of his brother, because it is called the Lord's release" (Deut. 15:1-2).

And they could not circumvent this by refusing to lend, the same chapter commands them to lend to any in need.

Consider the implications of this command! Every 7th year all debts were cancelled. It was designed for a purpose. It was designed to break the habit of obeying the selfish impulses of the flesh, and to develop large, wholesome, godly qualities of mind.

The basic evils of the flesh are the lust of the eye, the lust of the flesh and the pride of life—that is, greed, lust, and pride. This comprehends all natural human motives.

The command was to give them practice in developing faith and overcoming greed—to break them out of the natural worldly way of thinking and acting.

The commands of Christ carry even greater revolutionary and flesh-nullifying implications, if we will face them in their fulness.

The final item of the covenant is significant, especially in view of what happens later (end of v. 39)—

"And we will not forsake the house of our God."

We won't give up and get tired, or bedrawn away by other interests. We will stick with it to the end.

*          *          *

WE REMEMBER that at the beginning of ch. 7, when the wall was finished—

      “The city was large, but the people were few therein,”

—and Nehemiah decided to record all the people of the land by genealogy.

GVG
fhigham

Registered:
Posts: 1,023
Reply with quote  #862 
Hold Fast The Form Of Sound Words (2 Tim. 1:13)

We should not be interested in peddling crotchets. The Truth was settled among us long ago to the satisfaction of the sound and stable, including the basic meaning and interpretation of the book of Revelation. We hold fast to the orginal sound Christadelphian principles of doctrine and fellowship, desiring neither to add new tests of fellowship, nor to abandon old ones. We have no sympathy with the welter of modern speculations and speculators who do not comprehend the value of the sound foundation laid. Let those who revel in "some new thing" seek the company of the pagan Athenians. We are very happy and encouraged to learn, from considerable spontaneous correspondence, that -- in the general declension -- there are still many who are of the same mind: deeply troubled at present trends. May God guide each one into all truth.

Search Me O God, bro Growcott


------------------------------------------------
Nov 24    Neh 12  Amos 4  2Tim 1
------------------------------------------------

Reference to:
The Apocalypse in Amos.


Amos, who was contemporary with Isaiah, adds his testimony to a like effect. He says that Jehovah will roar from Zion, and utter his voice from Jerusalem; but that he will do nothing without first revealing it unto his servants the prophets. He predicted that the ten tribes of israel should be carried into captivity beyond Damascus; that there should come a famine of hearing the words of Jehovah, and that Israel should run to and fro to seek the word, but should not find it, as it has come to pass for the past eighteen hundred years. He foretold the desolation of the kingdom in all its elements, but also that Jehovah will not utterly destroy the house of Jacob; but that he would sift them among all nations as grain is sifted in a sieve, yet that not one good seed should fall to the earth to rise no more: for that when the indignation shall be completed, Jehovah will raise up the dwelling-place of David that is fallen, and close up the breaches thereof; he will raise up David’s ruins, and build the kingdom AS in the days of old; that they who shall inherit it, may possess the remnant of Edom, and of all the nations when Jehovah’s name shall be proclaimed to them: then Israel shall be planted upon their land, and rooted up no more from thence, saith Jehovah Elohim, who hath given it to them, and not to the Gentiles ch. 1:2; 3:7; 5: 27; 9:8, 11–15.

Thomas, J. (1997). Eureka  : An exposition of the Apocalypse. Volumes 1-5. (electronic ed.) (volpg.1.45). West Beach, South Australia: Logos Publication.

------------------------------------------------

Reference to:
Amo 4:2  The Lord GOD hath sworn by his holiness, that, lo, the days shall come upon you, that he will take you away with hooks, and your posterity with fishhooks.


...In the next place, there is no evidence that the hooks are the “political hooks” indicated by our friend. Hooks are used in the prophets to signify Jehovah’s judicial policy in regard to the people of His curse. Thus, he says to Israel, “The Lord God hath sworn by His holiness, that, lo, the day shall come upon you, that He will take you away with hooks, and your posterity with fish-hooks”—(Amos. 4:2.) This taking away with hooks is illustrated in the deportation of the tribes from the Holy Land by their Assyrian invaders.

Again, “Before the harvest, when the bud is perfect, and the sour grape is ripening, there shall be a blossom, he shall both cut it off as sprigs with pruning hooks, and take away and cut down the branches. They shall be left together to the fowls of the mountains, and to the beasts of the earth; and the fowls shall summer upon them, and all the beasts of the earth shall winter upon them.”—(Isa. 18:5, 6.) Hooks in the jaws, are to draw out the power owning the jaws from the waters in which it swims, as the great Leviathan or Dragon. They are not for drawing or turning him back, but for drawing out (Ezek. 29:3, 4); but when pruning hooks are used they are for lopping off, cutting down, and slaying, as Isaiah predicts of Gog in the above quotation; for of him have all the prophets spoken.—(Ezek. 38:17.)

The hooks to be put into Gog’s dragon-jaws, are for the purpose of bringing him forth from his place in the north parts, and all his army with him, that the power may be captured and destroyed upon the mountains of Israel. This is fishing the dragon that is in the seas—(Isai. 27:1.) Adonai Jehovah is the fisher, with His hooks armed with a bait that has never failed of bringing up the Leviathan family of the sea to the mountains of Israel—possession and dominion over Jerusalem and her land. The Lord will draw him up there with His hooks; and “with His sore, and great and strongsword punish him” with a wound he will not recover for a thousand years. ...

The Christadelphian  : Volume 15. 2001, c1878.  (15:146-147).

------------------------------------------------

Reference to:
2Ti 1:1  Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, according to the promise of life which is in Christ Jesus,

A Matter of Promise

And this is the promise … eternal life. 1 Jno. 2:25.
The promise of life which was in Christ Jesus. 2 Tim. 1:1.
Search the Scriptures, for in them ye think ye have eternal life. Jno. 5:39, 40.
For we are saved by hope. Rom. 8:24.—In hope of eternal life. Tit. 1:2.
Heirs according to the hope of eternal life. Tit. 3:7.

R. C. Bingley, S. (2002). Index Rerum (37). Christadelphian Joy Fund, Inc.

-----

... The whole race is under sentence of death. Death is only a question of time. A hundred years will see something like two generations disappear from the land of the living into the grave. Now, where men have no connection with God, it is impossible that this death-state of theirs can be changed. Continuing in alienation from Him, they are “the dead” in contrast to that section of them who have “the promise of life which is in Christ Jesus” (2 Tim. i. 1). Their burial is, therefore, from Christ’s point of view, a very insignificant affair, and not to be allowed to come at all into collision with affairs connected with the great and stirring hope and work of life which he, and he alone, has in hand.

Where men see human life as Christ saw it, they will think and act in it as he did—and with a like appearance of harshness and a like certainty of being misunderstood by the children of the flesh—with whom the affairs of the flesh are everything, and the affairs of Christ of secondary practical moment. Another said, “Lord, I will follow thee, but let me first go and bid them farewell which are at home at my house.” This receives no more consideration at the hands of Christ than the plea about the funeral. It would, of course, be lauded by every class of natural writer as altogether a praiseworthy concern on the part of the young man; and, under ordinary circumstances, it is legitimate enough to consider the natural claims of those to whom we may be domestically related—but not when Christ calls. Christ required the young man at once. Had the young man sufficiently understood the proffered honour, he would have given an immediate and obedient response. But he hesitated under the power of natural feelings. The answer, apparently rough, was just in the circumstances. “No man having put his hand to the plough and looking back is fit for the kingdom of God” (Luke ix. 62). This is “written for our instruction.”   ...

Roberts, R. (1997, c1983). Nazareth Revisted [computer files. In harmony with the scriptures of Moses and the Prophets. (electronic ed.) (94). Birmingham, UK: The Christadelphian.
fhigham

Registered:
Posts: 1,023
Reply with quote  #863 

------------------------------------------------
Nov 25   Neh 13    Amo 5    2Tim 2
------------------------------------------------

 

"The Lord shall suddenly come to His Temple. Who
may abide the day of His coming? Who shall
stand when He appeareth?"—
Mal. 3:1

It would have presented a very beautiful and pleasing final picture if the book of Nehemiah had ended with chapter 12. But there is another chapter—a sad one, and yet it too is glorious. Beginning with v. 6, its events are many years later—

"But in all this time was not I at Jerusalem: for in the two and thirtieth year of Artaxerxes, king of Babylon, came I unto the king, and after certain days obtained I leave of the king."

We remember at the beginning the King set him a time. How long he stayed at Jerusalem the first time we do not know, nor how long this chapter is after he left the city.

We discern another type, which will be more striking and impressive as we consider the events of this chapter—

“The Son of Man is as a man taking a far journey, who left his house, and gave authority to his servants, and to every man his work, and commanded the porter to watch."

What did Nehemiah find when he returned after a long absence spent in the presence of the king?

The scene is a sad one—

"When the Son of Man cometh, shall he find the faith on the earth?"

Nehemiah tells us (v. 7)—

"And I came to Jerusalem, and understood of the evil that Eliashib did for Tobiah, in preparing him a chamber in the courts of the House of God."

Here was one of the major causes of the evil condition Nehemiah found on his return—the High Priest, the spirit­ual leader—was unfaithful, and allied to the enemy.

He hadbrought in the enemy and established him right in the Temple of God.

"And it grieved me sore. Therefore I cast forth all the household stuff of Tobiah out of the chamber."

The Temple is cleansed. Judgment begins at the House of God. Malachi, who prophesied sometime during this period, declared (3:1-3)—

"The Lord shall suddenly come to His Temple. Who may abide the day of His coming? Who shall stand when He appeareth?…He shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver."

Nehemiah continues (v. 10)—

"And I perceived that the portion of the Levites had not been given them… for the Levites and singers were fled every one to his field."

“The singers were fled." The rejoicing had fallen silent. The praise and worship and thanksgiving had stopped.

V. 11—"Then contended I with the rulers, and said, Why is the House of God forsaken?"

"Why is the House of God forsaken?" We remember the solemn covenant they had made before he left them.

V. 13—"And I made treasurers over the treasuries—Shelemiah (Recompensed of God), Zadok (Righteous), Pedaiah (God has ransomed), Hanon (Merciful)—for they were counted faithful."

A complete change of administration. Faithful stewards are given charge over the treasuries—

"Thou hast been faithful over a few things. I will make thee ruler over many things."

V. 15—He found them profaning the sabbath, working for their own advantage, following their fleshly interests.

V. 16—And aliens were coming in, and trading on the sabbath. God had said—

"My House shall be a House of Prayer for all nations."

Israel was chosen to teach the whole world the blessings of righteousness. But what kind of teachers were these? How could the alien learn the ways of God when these appointed teachers encouraged them to come and help them break God's laws?

So Nehemiah set his servants as guards at the gates, to allow no merchandise to be brought in on the Sabbath. Then the merchants set up their stands just outside the walls to entice the people to come out and shop.

They sought to circumvent the law by a technicality—to come as close as they could to getting in. But Nehemiah "chased them FAR AWAY." The principle is clear. Tempta­tion and evil must not be put just outside the wall, where it can continue to tempt. It must be chased  far away and outof sight.     

*          *          *

V. 23—"In those days also saw I Jews that had married wives of Ashdod, of Ammon, and of Moab.

"And their children spake half in the speech of Ashdod, and could not speak in the Jew's language."

What a sorry state of affairs they had gotten themselves into in Nehemiah's absence! How can children learn the language of the Truth when we deliberately choose an instructor for them in the language of the world?

Surely this is the saddest and most evil aspect of alien marriage—thechildren grow up misguided and confused—speaking half the Jew's language and half the confused, heathen, worldly tongue of Ashdod—a pitiful mixture so often manifested in families born of alien marriage—far sadder even than no knowledge of the Truth at all.

V. 25"And I contended with them, and cursed them, and smote certain of them, and plucked off their hair.”

"Thereshall be weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth."

"Shall we then hearken unto you to do all this great evil, to transgress against our God in marrying strange wives?"

—the age-old evil that had corrupted all the earth, and brought the flood on the world of the ungodly.

*          *          *

V. 28—"And one of the Sons of Joiada, the son of Eliashib the high priest, was son-in-law to Sanballat …therefore I chased him from me…"

"Depart from me, ye cursed, into outer darkness."

How could the high priest countenance the marriage of his grandson to the daughter of Sanballat, the arch-enemy who had labored so hard by every evil device to destroy Nehemiah and his work for the Lord? Here is how—

A new movement was in the air. The old narrow separate­ness was in disrepute. The past was to be forgotten.

"Was not Sanballat a Samaritan?—of a people who accepted God, accepted the Law of Moses? Nehemiah was an extremist—well meaning indeed, and he did a lot of good work, but he did not have the proper spirit. For­tunately he is gone now, and we can be more charitable. True, Sanballat was an enemy, but are we not commanded to love our enemies?"

Such would be the argument—very persuasive—very appealing to the flesh.

The sad thing is that such reasoning is prevalent today—reasoning that misses the whole spirit of Scripture, and subtly endeavors to undermine the walls that faithful Nehemiah labored to build in troublous times, just as our pioneer brethren have built them up from the rubbish for us.

To illustrate the reality of this danger, I would like to quote a paragraph from a standard Christadelphian publica­tion put out by another group—a paragraph that shocked me very much. The writer is discussing these actions of Nehemiah in ch. 13 which we have just considered. He says—

"One cannot but be thankful Nehemiah did not live a millennium or so earlier, otherwise he might have contacted Obed and there would then have been no "sweet Psalmist of Israel" nor wise king Solomon, nor good kings Jehoshaphat and Hezekiah, for the Bible would have been deprived of one of its most beautiful characters, Ruth the Moabitess, the ancestress of David from whom those kings sprang."

How could ANYONE claiming to be in the Truth SO misconstrue and misunderstand Scripture—and set Scripture against Scripture—faithful Nehemiah against faithful Ruth!

He is thankful that Nehemiah did not live in the time of Ruth or he might have been able to prevent her marriage to Boaz! See how this line of reasoning undermines the power of the whole book of Nehemiah, and opens the way for the undermining of any other unpalatable portion of Scripture—opens the way for the free course of the thinking of the flesh. This is today's great danger to the Household.

Nehemiah labored amid enemies of every sort, and his true friends—those who stood for the narrow way without compromise—were few.

Today the struggle, and the choice of allegiance, is ours. Let us labor and watch constantly upon our walls, and say to all who would hinder, or compromise, or distract—"We are doing a great work, we cannot come down to you."

                                                                                                                        Bro. G.V. Growcott

 

fhigham

Registered:
Posts: 1,023
Reply with quote  #864 
The Knowledge Of The Truth (2 Tim. 3:7)

Every man is a mixture of ignorance and knowledge: a tiny island of knowledge in a vast ocean of ignorance. The proportion of ignorance to knowledge varies slightly from individual to individual; and the FORM of the knowledge varies greatly. Thank God continually that YOUR knowledge includes God and His love and His Word, for that is the only knowledge of any permanent value.

Search Me O God, bro Growcott

------------------------------------------------
Est 1    Amo 6    2Ti 3,4
------------------------------------------------

Reference to:

THE  BOOK OF ESTHER

Historically the book reveals the hidden ways of God; it shows Providence overlooking His people from the shadows, ensuring the ultimate triumph of the righteous. 

Typically, it demonstrates the principle that the devil (Haman) will be crucified on the stake intended for Christ (Mordecai).  When Christ hung from the cross, his enemies thought they had triumphed.  Instead, he gained the victory (Heb. 13:20), and it was the devil (sinful human nature) that was destroyed through his sacrificial death (Heb. 2:14).  Haman had prepared a cross for Mordecai, but perished on it himself.

Prophetically these circumstances foreshadow the final crisis  when Israel shall finally be delivered from out of the time of Jacob’s trouble, and Gogue, the “Jews’ enemy” will be destroyed.

Parabolically, it sets forth the purpose of God for the redemption of His people, and thus dramatizes and condenses the history of Israel.

The five main characters in the drama, seem to be thus representative – The Persian monarch: of God; Vashti: of natural Israel; Haman: of the serpent’s seed politically and individually; Mordecai: of the Lord Jesus; Esther: of spiritual Israel.

As Christ is both Star and Sceptre (Num. 24:17-20), so Esther embraced the name of Star (as the true ecclesia does that of Christ), and could only obtain access to the king by touching the golden sceptre (Est. 4:11).  She was married to the king, thus foreshadowing the position of the Lamb’s Bride, who replaces natural Israel, the original “wife” of Yahweh (Isa.54:5).

Other type in this interesting book can be searched out as follows:

ESTHER AS A TYPE

Her genealogy, as set out in this book, is as follows (see Est. 2:5 , 7, 15); Benjamin (Son of my Right Hand), Kish (Power), Shimei (Fame of Yahweh), Abahail (Father of Might), Esther (Star).  A paraphrase of these names forms the following statement: “The Son of My right hand manifested power, and, for the fame of Yahweh, revealed himself as a Father of Might to the Star.”

Esther is a type of the true ecclesia.  Her name was originally Hadassah, or Myrtle (Est 2:7), which is the symbol of the true Israel (Isa. 55:13; 41:19; Neh 8:15; Zech 1:8, 10, 11).  As Esther (Star) she is representative of the multitudinous Christ, having taken upon herself the name of her spouse (Num. 24:17; 2Pet 1:19; Gen 22:17; Psa. 147:4; 1Cor 15:41; Rev 3:1).

She was orphaned (Est. 2:7) – the Bride of Christ is represented as having left mother and father (Eph. 5:31-32), is brought up by Mordecai (a type of Christ) as his own child (Est. 2:7); possessed a retinue of seven maidens (Est. 2:9, representative of the multitudinous Christ, Song 1:3; Rev 1:20), was subject to a process of purification for marriage (Est. 2:9; cp. 2Thess 2:13), manifested pleasing characteristics  and deportment (Est. 2:15; cp. 1Pet. 3:1-3), was taken into the royal house (Est. 2:16; cp John 14:1-3); always acted under Mordecai’s instructions (Est. 2:20; cp. Mat. 7:6). was called upon to sacrifice for the faith (Est. 4:16); after three days of humiliation and prayer, assumed royal apparel on the third day (Est. 5:1; cp. Hosea 6:2); at the royal banquet she found pleasure in the eyes of the king (Est. 5:6; cp. Rev. 19:7-8).

She was ultimately victorious over her enemies.  She presided over the banquet of wine for Haman (Est.7:1; cp. Jer. 25:27), which brought about his doom, and finally gained control of all his possessions (Est. 8:1; cp. Rev. 3:9).  She interceded, and ultimately legislated for the relief of Israel (Est. 8:7-8; cp. Zech.10:6).

Finally, joint with Mordecai, she decreed the feast of rejoicing (Est. 9:32; cp. Rev.19:9), which was adopted by the Jews throughout the empire who found great blessings in their efforts on their behalf.

(to be continued)

The Story of The Bible Vol 4 (pp 386-387) – bro HP Mansfield
fhigham

Registered:
Posts: 1,023
Reply with quote  #865 

-----------------------------------------------—-
Nov 27       Est 2    Amo 7    Titus 1-3
-----------------------------------------------—-

The Name of God in the Book of Esther

It is certainly a remarkable fact that the name of God should not be mentioned once in a book which shows His hand at work in Providence more strikingly than any other book of the Bible as a book. During the month, there has been put into our hands an ingenious pamphlet on the subject by Dr. Ballinger, and published at 7, St. Paul’s Church Yard; price 3d. It is deserving the attention of readers who love knowledge. Pointing out that the Holy Spirit has given certain scriptures in acrostic form in the original Hebrew (such as Psalm 119.), with the result of preserving the Hebrew alphabet from possible oblivion, the author affirms that in the book of Esther, the name of Jehovah is given four times in an acrostic form, in four separate sentences of four consecutive words—twice by the initial letters of the words forming the sentences and twice by the final letters—the first giving the name backwards, the second forwards, the third backwards, and the fourth forwards. Three ancient manuscripts have been discovered, in which the acrostic letters are written in larger characters and in a more prominent form than the rest of the text, so that the Hebrew reader would see the name Jehovah four times. There are no other acrostics in it. It is evident, therefore, that the four acrostics are not the result of mere chance. It is parallel with the supposeable case of a person opening a book of closely-printed pages and finding his name on four separate pages standing out in red letters, in the midst of the ordinary smaller printing. Suppose that, on examining the letters composing his name, the person finds that they are the first or last letters of as many words as there are letters in his name. Would he not feel that his name had been put there as an acrostic by design? and that the idea of chance was out of the question? Practically, this is the position of the case in question. The explanation of it is necessarily a matter of speculation; but the author makes some feasible suggestions. Israel had been driven out of their land, and were away from touch with the divine Presence at the time described in Esther; yet they had not been finally cast away. He suggests that in a book portraying such a time, when God was defending His people, not openly, but by the gloved hand of Providence, it was seeming that God’s name should be veiled in the writing of the record of it. For other interesting suggestions we must refer the reader to the pamphlet itself.

 

The Christadelphian : Volume 29 Bd. 29. electronic ed. Birmingham : Christadelphian Magazine & Publishing Association, 2001, c1892, S. 29:26-27

Amos

AMOS, who was contemporary with Isaiah, adds his testimony to a

like effect. He says that Jehovah will roar from Zion, and utter his

voice from Jerusalem; but that he will do nothing without first revealing

it unto his servants the prophets. He predicted that the ten tribes of

Israel should be carried into captivity beyond Damascus; that there

should come a famine of hearing the words of Jehovah, and that Israel

should run to and fro to seek the word, but should not find it, as it has

come to pass for the past eighteen hundred years. He foretold the desolation

of the kingdom in all its elements, but also that Jehovah will

not utterly destroy the house of Jacob; but that he would sift them

among all nations as grain is sifted in a sieve, yet that not one good

seed should fall to the earth to rise no more: for that when the indignation

shall be completed, Jehovah will raise up the dwelling-place

of David that is fallen, and close up the breaches thereof; he will raise

up David's ruins, and build the kingdom AS IN THE DAYS OF OLD; that

they who shall inherit it, may possess the remnant of Edom, and of all

the nations when Jehovah's name shall be proclaimed to them: then

Israel shall be planted upon their land, and rooted up no more from

thence, saith Jehovah Flohim, who hath given it to them, and not to

the Gentiles ch I : 2 ; 3 : 7 ; 5 : 27 ; 9 : 8, I 1-15.

Eureka Vol. 1 page 46 Logos edition

Titus

Zealous of Good Works

 

"In all things showing THYSELF a pattern"--Tit. 2:7

PAUL'S EPISTLE TO TITUS

Paul's fourteen epistles appear to fall into five groups:

1: The earliest, 1 & 2 Thess. (and possibly Gal.) were written on his second missionary journey when he first went into Europe.

2: 1 & 2 Cor. & Rom., during his third journey, when he spent most of his time in Ephesus. (This was at the time of the troubles in Corinth when Titus was sent there.

3: Eph., Col., Phil., Philemon & Heb. near the end of his first imprisonment in Rome, when he was expecting to be soon released, as he indicates in several of them.

4: 1 Tim., Tit. in the period after his release, when he is back working in the same area of Greece, Macedonia and Asia Minor again.

5: Finally 2 Tim., right at the end of his life, from prison again in Rome.

WE know Titus to have been a companion and helper of Paul for a period of about 20 years, possible longer, but he is only mentioned 4 times during that period:--

1. He went with Paul from Antioch to Jerusalem (about 50 AD) regarding the issue of the Gentiles being circumcised and keeping the Law. Titus, a Gentile, was the test case. Paul refused to let him be circumcised, and the apostles supported him, and the freedom of the Gentiles from the Law was established. Thereafter Titus was a living symbol of that freedom, as Timothy was of not needlessly offending Jews.

2. About 5 years later (about 55 AD), during Paul's 3-year stay at Ephesus, Titus was sent twice to Corinth concerning the ecclesial troubles there as we learn from the Corinthian epistles; and he was successful in correcting the problems and reconciling the Corinthians to Paul. Due to the seriousness of the matter, and Paul's great concern, it would appear he considered Titus his most qualified fellow-laborer.

3. About 10 years later, (about 65 AD), as we learn from this epistle to him, Titus was left in Crete to complete the work Paul had begun in organizing ecclesias in various cities there, and setting up suitable elders and a strong discipline for guiding the new ecclesias in constructive godliness. Here again he is chosen for a difficult and important task, and when the foundations were laid, he was to be relieved by Tychicus or Artemas, who could carry on, so he could be used for pressing work elsewhere. Clearly he was one of Paul's primary helpers.

4. Finally, a few years later in Paul's second letter to Timothy, in his second imprisonment just before his death, he says Titus has gone to Dalmatia.

***

ACCORDING to this epistle, then, Titus was left in Crete to follow up and complete Paul's work of forming and organizing ecclesias and arranging for elders to carry them on.

Then he was to join Paul at Nicopolis (on the western shore of Macedonia) where Paul was to make his headquarters for the winter in carrying on the Truth's work in a new region.

This would be just south of the Dalmatian coast, and doubtless the labors of Paul and Titus extended there, for later, from Rome (in 2 Tim.) we have noted Paul sent Titus to Dalmatia.

There is great emphasis in this epistle on the practical application of godliness. The leading thought of the epistle is the vital importance of good works in any who profess the Name of Christ--

"Zealous of Good Works" is the key expression.

Everyone is zealous about something--usually about their own interests and affairs. Some are zealous about talking about the Truth. But the important thing is to be "zealous of good WORKS"--this is enough to keep anyone both happy and busy.

The ideal presented in this epistle is of a society living and working together in the calm beauty and joy of spiritual self-control, with all the selfish, evil motions of the flesh recognized and restrained.

***

"Ordain elders in every city."

"Ordain" simply means to appoint, and should be so translated, as it is in some versions. The "ordination" of "clergy" in the world's churches is a later invention.

Great stress is laid (vs. 6-9) upon the qualifications of bishops (elders, arranging brethren). Seventeen requirements are listed, and they are worthy of much study and contemplation, for they are not just for elders--they are the required qualifications of ALL--Titus just had to make sure the elders he chose had the necessary Christian qualities that God requires of all believers.

Most are quite clear and , like most Scripture, need not explanation but application. The practical requirements of the Truth are usually quite clear and leave no excuse for neglect or misunderstanding.

It is the theoretical aspects we like to get side-tracked and bogged down in. It's more pleasing and less demanding upon the flesh to bandy unlearned questions than to face plain commands.

Overall, an elder must be strong, firm and determined but gentle, calm and self-controlled.

The word "bishop"--literally, an overseer--occurs only 5 times, one of them applying to Christ. In the 4 times applied to brethren, the context in all cases indicates more than one in an ecclesia, and generally identifies them with "elders". The lordly "bishops" of modern churches have no similarity with New Testament bishops.

***

"A bishop must be blameless" (1:7).

An elder, or bishop, must first of all be blameless. He must be free from any grounds of criticism. He must give up and put away anything that could be a matter of question or censure, to the detriment of the Truth--anything that might trouble his brethren or cause the outsider to doubt.

A bishop is to be the husband of one wife, and his children must be believers (v. 6). It is unnecessary to point out how the Catholic Church has blasphemously contradicted the Word of God in forbidding marriage to their clergy.

***

"Not (soon) angry" (1:7).

Like the similar addition of the word "easily" in 1 Cor. 13 ("not easily provoked"), the word "soon" is not in the original, but is a fleshly addition to weaken the command. "Not given to anger" is the true meaning.

***

"No striker" (1:7).

The meaning is, "not pugnacious or belligerent, quarrelsome, contentious"--the opposite of a peacemaker.

***

"A lover of hospitality" (1:8).

Not just hospitable, but a LOVER of hospitality--one who takes joy in hospitality--who always reacts positively and eagerly to the opportunity, regardless of his own convenience. One at whose house all are not only welcome but also actively desired as an opportunity for service to God. One whose desire and pleasure is to help and take care of anyone in need.

***

"Sober" (1:8).

"Sober" is calm, balanced, restrained, thoughtful, steady-minded--nothing silly or flippant--not changeable and excitable--thinking carefully before speaking, and meaning all that is said--a spiritual quality developed only by long contemplation of spiritual things.

***

"Temperate" (1:8).

"Temperate" is self-controlled, self-disciplined, always acting, not according to feeling or emotion or personal desire, but according to the guidance of the Spirit and the Word of God.

***

"Holding fast the faithful Word as he hath been taught"

This is especially timely and important today, when there is such a tendency to innovation and seeking "some new thing."

The sound and consistent continuity of the Truth is essential. The Truth does not change.

The true elder is not an innovator or tinkerer or speculator, but a faithful preserver of sound truth passed on by pioneers before him. That, in God's mercy, is our position today, and it is our wisdom to be on guard against current fleshly attempts to belittle and destroy the foundations laid by past brethren.

***

"For there are many unruly and vain talkers and deceivers."

It would be pleasant if there were no such things as these in our experiences in the Truth, but these things are part of the necessary pattern of our training and development.

They are to school us both in self-control and in defense of the Truth.

BOTH aspects of training are necessary. It is important that the Truth be defended, but it is equally important that it be done with the pure, calm sword of the Spirit, and not with any of the ugly natural weapons of the flesh--

"The wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God."

It takes no special effort or ability to criticize and condemn error. Any limited minds can do that, and enjoy the boost it gives their ego.

But it takes much self-discipline and self-preparation to confront error with a calm manifestation of personal godliness and a CONSTRUCTIVE, upbuilding presentation of the deep beauties of the Truth.

***

"Whose mouths must be stopped" (1:11).

False teaching MUST be faced and dealt with. We must constantly labor to make ourselves as competent as possible in defense of the Truth, and we must confront error as it arises.

Life is a continual training for God's service and we have NO time to follow our own interests.

And just going on record as objecting is clearly not a sufficient and faithful fulfillment of the command, for Paul says their "Mouths must be STOPPED," plainly showing that action of separation must be taken if persuasion is not effective.

We tend, according to our natural constitution, to go either too far or not far enough in this matter. We must try to get a full understanding of ALL the Spirit's teaching on fellowship and go just as far as God instructs us to go by commands and examples of Scripture.

This epistle to Titus is an important part of this scriptural picture which we must clearly get and be guided by. Some seem always looking for something to find fault with, and to glory in separation as evidence of their holiness and zeal.

Others temporize and hesitate and tolerate far beyond the point where the Scriptures call for action.

There is corrective guidance here for both tendencies. On the one hand we have a picture of a condition almost unbelievably bad existing in the ecclesias--

"Unruly, vain talkers, deceivers, teaching wrong things for filthy lucre's sake" (1:10-11).

This is sad, but encouraging for us. We would think that all hope was gone if we faced such problems and conditions. But it teaches us there always were--and always will be--problems that must be prayerfully and courageously and patiently and joyfully contended with.

Joyfully? Yes, joyfully! For ALL things have a wise divine purpose and are steps toward the ultimate glorious end. We should never regret anything unpleasant that happens to us or wish it had not happened.

Truly we should not SEEK such things, but when they happen we must believe they have a necessary purpose in our education and development in godliness, and we must recognize that our wisdom lies in thankfully accepting the training and seeking the purpose.

On the other hand, we are taught these things in the ecclesia cannot be tolerated or ignored, but must be faced and grappled with and brought to a faithful conclusion.

"Whose mouths MUST be stopped."

--if not by persuasion, then by exclusion. These were newly formed ecclesias just drawn out of the evil world.

***

"Cretians are always liars, evil beasts, idle gluttons" (1:12).

This is strong language. It makes us think. It seems out of place in talking about brethren. Why does Paul use it? Would we be justified in doing so?

We would, if used in the same sense and purpose and spirit.

We can never too strongly delineate the basic characteristics of human nature. We must honestly face what we are naturally, so that we can clearly realize the tremendous transformation that is needed if we are to be any use to God.

Paul is not especially singling out the Cretians. That is not his style. He too clearly saw the evil of ALL human nature.

To make a strong point, he is quoting a very appropriate and obviously well-known statement by one of the nation itself, as he used the inscription to the Unknown God at Athens, and as we quote from news sources showing in man's own words what an evil state mankind is in.

This is the raw material out of which God is calling saints--liars, evil beasts, idle gluttons--

***

"Rebuke them , that they may be sound in the Faith" (1:13).

"Exhort one another daily, while it is called Today."

We constantly need mutual encouragement and mutual sharp warning, to face and combat the evils of our nature. It was this constant contemplation and realization of what he was naturally--his natural tendencies--that led Paul to exclaim--

"O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?

"I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord!"

The thanksgiving will be in proportion to the realization--

"To whom much is forgiven, the same will love much."

Cretians and every one else, ourselves included, are--naturally--liars, evil beasts, idle gluttons. It's much more easy to be an idle glutton--lazy and greedy--self centered and self-pleasing--than we like to think. It is man's normal condition.

***

Rebuke them SHARPLY" (13).

This may seem like a contradiction to the gentleness and patience and meekness that is commanded in dealing with others (as in 3:2), but it is not. BOTH aspects are important.

It is the spirit and purpose in which the rebuking is done that is important. The faithful brother is always loving and gentle, but never weak and smooth.

A sharp rebuke from an obviously affectionate brother who has established a consistent record of personal self-control and labor for the Truth and true loving concern for all his brethren, would not need to be very strong to be effective, if anything at all could be effective.

But without first laying such a foundation of godliness, no rebuke would have power.

This command to "rebuke sharply" does give an opening for the sourness and harshness of the flesh to intrude, parading itself offensively as "righteous zeal," but it does not justify it.

The rebuke, though sharp and clear, and followed by appropriate action if necessary, must be in patience and love and sincere concern and true inner meekness and humility, and continual consciousness of one's own shortcomings. Only God can give us this combination of gentleness and divine strength.                 GVG

"Not giving heed to Jewish fables, and commandments of men" (1:14).

It is the tendency of the flesh to ignore God's very searching rules of life, and to make its own self-pleasing rules, according to its own particular fancy.

We see this illustrated in its most extreme form in the Jewish nation of Jesus' day--the multitude of added regulations by which they thought they served God, but by which they completely blinded themselves to the practical application and deep personal requirements of the Law.

It was all so sincere and well-meaning, and a very easy course for the flesh to slip into, and miss the realities.

Bro. Thomas may often seem over-liberal and tolerant when he opposes so vehemently all the well-meaning crotchets of his day, as anti-pork, anti-tobacco, anti-slavery, anti-liquor, etc., but it is not that he was necessarily if favor of, or defending, these things.

He could clearly see that--blown up to special issues--they were but shallow, self-glorifying crotchets that fatally diverted the mind and zeal and energies from real transforming power of the Gospel.

***

"Unto the pure all things are pure" (1:15).

This is a deep and important saying, but it can be very easily misapplied to justify impurity, by those SEEKING such justification. It must, like other Scripture, be spiritually discerned by those seeking true purity. It will not mislead such, for they seek not self-justification, but constant self-examination.

The great point is that we must purify the HEART itself--go right to the root of the evil and not veneer it over with self-satisfying external regulations. It is THEN, and only then, that EVERYTHING will be pure. It is just as Jesus said--

"Not that which goeth into a man defileth him, but that which cometh out of his heart" (Mk. 7:15-23).

Paul is talking especially about clean and unclean meats and ritualistic regulations that are the dangerous seeds of retrogression into legalistic Judaism--the course the majority of the early Ecclesia followed that ended with the Catholic Church.

We are commanded to break bread and drink wine in remembrance of Christ--a very simple command with a deep spiritual import: no details, no ritual.

But a host of crotchets--about what kind of wine, and what kind of bread, and how to break, and how to pour, and who takes first, and just what to say in prayer about it--have always swirled murkily about this very simple and beautiful command through the Truth's history.

Let us be careful we just keep to the simple command and try with all our power to concentrate our zeal on the deep and PERSONAL application--

"Let a man examine HIMSELF--and so let him eat."

"Unto the pure all things are pure"--a wonderful saying, a wonderful revelation--as long as we keep our minds centered on its true inward heart-searching and spiritual application.

Defilement comes from within, and purity must come from within--ever growing and pressing outward from within, rejecting and casting out all impurity.

***

"But speak thou the things which become sound doctrine."

Through this chapter and the next the great emphasis is on practical, personal holiness of life, and dedication and service to God, and against getting sidetracked into theoretical questions and contentions and genealogies and strivings. The thought and contrast is carried forward from 1:16--

"They PROFESS to know God."

They make a big show of talk and argumentation and threadbare "foolish questions"--

"but in works they deny Him."

When it comes to their OWN daily activities and service and self-sacrifice, they deny God by living for themselves and their own desires and pleasures. The questions they bandy about are just a hobby and a conscience-salver.

Talking and arguing and making regulations for others is so easy: disciplining ourselves, giving up our own natural desires, bringing our own lives into full service to God, is so hard.

To keep talking about the Truth, and then to follow the flesh in what we do with our time and money (actually God's time and money) is just hypocrisy.

Our big concern must be how we ourselves live our daily life--what we do with our time and money and strength--and whether we manifest the spiritual character of the mind of Christ: purity, patience, gravity, goodness, kindness, love.

Apparently the Cretians especially manifested a fondness for hair-splitting and arguing and a constant going round-and-round on the same old worn and threadbare crotchets, instead of getting down to practical, day to day holiness and self-sacrifice.

***

"That the aged men be sober, grave, temperate (rather: self-disciplined), sound in faith, in love, in patience" (2:2).

"Sober," for which the margin gives "vigilant," means to be clear-minded, wide awake and aware, watchful, thoughtful--spiritual THINKERS, rather than, like most of mankind, mere animal FEELERS.

It is easy to drift into self-centered thoughtlessness and obsession with present trivialities--what shall we eat, what shall we wear, what shall we do to enjoy ourselves--chattering like monkeys about foolish, passing things.

The mind must be constantly disciplined and directed outward--away from present and self to the world and eternity--to the purpose of God and the service of God.

"The aged men." Old age can either follow the usual and natural course of recession to the small-mindedness and self-centeredness of childhood, or it can be God-guided into the golden age of experience, understanding and usefulness.

It depends on how we have prepared for it in earlier years. In the ideal ecclesial community that Paul portrays here, each age has its place and work--the aged to give counsel and wisdom and deep knowledge of the Word of God, the middleaged to carry forward the work and activity, the young eager in all things to learn and to help--a healthy, wholesome, united Body of beauty and usefulness.

But we must guard against the very natural tendencies that Paul mentions that can so easily mar this picture. In the aged (2:2), patience is emphasized, and (v. 3) avoidance of gossip and criticism.

Patience, because spirituality is a matter of gradual growth. Youth inclines to many things that Age has seen the emptiness of and grown out of. But Age must have patience while Youth is maturing. If there is movement in the right direction, we must be careful to encourage it and not destroy it with fault-finding and impatience.

And Youth will be much more inclined to listen if Age can show in its OWN life that it has learned to manifest the fruit of Spirit.

We must examine ourselves--recognize how little we have really learned of godliness, and how long it took us to learn that little. This teaches patience.

***

"In all things showing THYSELF a pattern" (2:7).

This is the vital thing. Christ, above all that he did or said, was an example. And so was Paul. Example is the greatest and most powerful exhortation.

It is not worthwhile giving any attention to anyone who does not first discipline himself and live up to his professed faith. Regardless of any appearance of knowledge, such have nothing to offer as to useful guidance in the way of life.

Examine a man's own life and characteristics. If he is not fulfilling the practical part of his professed faith, pay no attention to anything he says, nor to any criticism he has of others.

***

"That he that is of the contrary part may be ashamed, having no evil thing to say of you" (2:8).

Here is the power of godliness, for which there is no substitute. The Truth is not so much a matter of presentation and reasoning and logic, as of manifestation in beauty and power. If we do not manifest the beauty of the Truth in ourselves, then we cannot teach it in any living way to others.

We can pass on doctrines as such, but there will be no transforming power of godliness. We must SHOW the way of life and holiness, that he that is of the contrary part may be ashamed.

The way of God, truly and joyfully lived, is the greatest persuasive power on earth. But it must be lived joyfully--not as a burden but as a glorious privilege. Jesus Christ singlehandedly changed the course of this evil world by the sheer impact of perfect holiness. The Proverbs say (28:1)--

"The wicked flee when no man pursueth: but the righteous are bold as a lion."

There is far more depth to this than we realize. Holiness IS power. We read of occasions when Christ's opponents were ashamed before the pure brilliance of his sinless perfection. They could not stand up to him as he probed the depths of their hearts and motives.

***

"Exhort servants to be obedient unto their own masters" (2:9).

It should be, as in the New Rev., "slaves." Why tell slaves to obey their masters? Is not holding a man in bondage manifestly unjust and contrary to the spirit of Christ?

Yes, but so is everything else in this evil world. Paul here takes direct issue with the reformers and philosophers of this fleshly order of things, who do not get to the root of evil; and we must stand squarely with him for he represents the wisdom of God--they of the flesh.

The Scriptures tell us that "The whole world lieth in wickedness," and God's present purpose is not to change it, but first to develop, by means of the discipline and trial of that evil background, a purified and spiritually-minded people for His Name and glory.

If, in God's wisdom, slavery helps prepare a man for God's Kingdom, then slavery for him is a blessing from God. The way and theories of men are right in their own eyes, but only God knows what is best.

To the mind of the flesh, this is foolishness. Paul says the natural mind cannot comprehend these things--only those whom God enlightens.

Truly we should not seek handicaps and disabilities and tribulations. "If thou mayest be free, use it rather," is Paul's counsel.

But we must see--in everything that comes upon us--God's hand and God's wisdom. We must never regret or resent anything that happens--but always seek to learn and benefit from it.

Whatever we do, even in slavery, can, and must, be done unto God and for God, and God will gloriously accept it as such, and so we patiently and joyfully work out our salvation.

We must, like Moses, "see Him Who is invisible." We must, in our mind's eye, eliminate all the non-essentials, and boil the picture down to just God and ourselves. That is the only reality for us. Everything else is merely a passing background that God has provided to test and develop us.

All people and events in this background--real though they may seem--are but temporary experiences of our consciousness in the great eternal relationship of ourselves and God.

Where are all the people of 100 years ago? Completely gone from existence and reality--and most of them gone eternally. They seemed so real in their day, but time proved that they were but briefly passing shapes and manifestations that the transient vapor called human flesh took temporarily.

They can become realities by attaching themselves to the Great Eternal Unchanging Reality, God Himself, for (v. 11)--

***

"The grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to ALL MEN, teaching us that--denying ungodliness and worldly lusts--we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present evil world" (2:11-12).

This is how we achieve reality and eternity--denying ungodliness and worldly desire. What is "ungodliness and worldly desire"? Can we define these terms the Spirit uses for our instruction? It would be very well for us to be clear on this.

The Scriptures leave no doubt. "Ungodliness" is anything not connected with, and in harmony with, God, and "worldly desire" is anything to do with present passing life. These we must deny--repudiate--put away. And we must live--

"Soberly, righteously, godly."

SOBERLY--according to wisdom and reason;

RIGHTEOUSLY--according to truth;

GODLY--in harmony and union with God.

***

"Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ" (2:13).

More correctly, as in the Diaglott and R.V.--

"The appearing of the glory of the great God."

--as we read in Matt. 16:27--

"The Son of Man shall come in the glory of his Father."

***

"Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works" (2:14).

"Redeem us from (out of, away from) all iniquity." Iniquity is a word that does not make a strong personal impact on us, because no one really thinks they are iniquitous. But the literal meaning is "lawlessness," failure to submit, to bring ourselves in harmony with Divine law--

Redeem us from all lawlessness."

Law is beauty and order and harmony. Conformity with God's law is the way we achieve unity with God. And the Perfect Law--the Royal Law--the Law of Liberty is, as James tells us--

"Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself."

Anything we do that is not in perfect harmony with all God's will is lawlessness; and Christ suffered and died to redeem us, to deliver us--lift us up--OUT OF all lawlessness, into perfect harmony with God, as he was.

***

"To PURIFY unto himself a peculiar people."

TO cleanse, to make pure, to remove impurity. All of the Law of Moses teaches us that the natural flesh and its thinking are unclean. To be clean we must learn and walk by the mind of the Spirit, whose fruits are love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, etc.

***

"Purify a PECULIAR people."

What is a "peculiar people"? The word has 2 meanings, both which apply, Literally, it means "something beyond, something special or superior." It also means a "personal possession"--a people especially belonging to himself--a people of his own--at one with him.

***

"Zealous of Good Works."

 

This is the key and central thought in this very practical epistle. It is not sufficient that we just DO good works. Even more important is that we be zealous about it--eager, enthusiastic--that this be our pleasure and consuming desire--that we never feel we have done enough for God and the Truth, but are always striving to do more.

That is "zealous of good works." If we do not manifest this characteristic, we are not Christ's peculiar people. We are just ordinary, self-pleasing people, like all the rest of the perishing world.

"Good works" means helping people--both temporarily and eternally, especially the latter, but by no means ignoring the former--laboring, doing something practical and constructive, comforting and encouraging.

If we are sorry for ourselves, full of self-pity, we are USELESS to God.

We cannot even begin to fulfil this requirement of good works. For if, having the glorious gift of Truth, we have not enough faith and appreciation to be eternally and joyfully thankful to God, we are blind indeed. We just do not know God: we never have found Him.

Let us test every activity by this expression "good works." Talking, arguing, discussing, contending, are "good works" ONLY if they perform constructive good for someone, only if they lead closer to practical godliness of life--only if they guide others in God's Way, or deepen or strengthen them in that Way.

The flesh has a hankering for crotchets--for what Paul calls:

"Foolish questions, contentions, unprofitable and vain strivings" (3:9).

Flesh prefers to avoid facing issues which have an uncomfortable practical bearing on its own conduct and character.

It would much rather argue about who was Cain's wife, or whether the Transfiguration was a vision, or whether Christ's temptation was "subjective" or "objective, than to think about the personal bearing of the command to love one's neighbor as one's-self, or about how it uses for its own gratification God's goods entrusted to it in stewardship, or the command to sell what it has and give to the poor.

These practical questions the flesh avoids, preferring the crotchets and speculations which do not interfere with its pleasures and self-will. But "zealous of good works" is still the clear distinguishing mark of the peculiar people of Christ.

They are too busy doing good for others to waste time and effort on barren contentions that have no practical value toward godliness.

***

"These things affirm CONSTANTLY" (3:8).

Keep on about them over and over and over. About WHAT? (vs. 8-9)--

"That they maintain good WORKS, and that they avoid unprofitable, unpractical, unproductive questions."

***

And finally (3:10)--

"A heretic after the first and second admonition reject."

This is his last command. A sad but necessary reminder that the way is narrow and against the flesh, that Truth IS important and must be faithfully defended, even to the point of separation when that becomes necessary.

May we, in God's love and mercy, be spared from such sad duties. But may we be given the wisdom and courage to resolutely face and deal with such things when necessary--in infinite patience and kindness, but with firmness and faithfulness, realizing the great and life-giving value of that Treasure which has been entrusted to our care.

BROTHER GILBERT GROWCOTT

 

fhigham

Registered:
Posts: 1,023
Reply with quote  #866 

------------------------------------------------
Nov 28       Est 3,4    Amo 8    Phil
------------------------------------------------

LIGHT is sweet to the eyes. This is true in all senses. There are various kinds of light, as there are various kinds of darkness. When we are young, the most oppressive form of darkness is the natural darkness of night when the sun has set. When we are old, it is another form of darkness that distresses us the most—the darkness of evil circumstances—the darkness caused by God’s averted face and man’s unloving and unholy ways—the darkness that broods everywhere in the prevalence of pain and death. We can mitigate the natural darkness of night by artificial light, and have comfortable times round the pleasant fire. The other darkness that covers all the earth finds its only alleviation in the Bible.

It has been well said that the Bible is lit up from beginning to end. We find it to be really so when we become acquainted with it. Wherever we dip into it, we find ourselves in the presence of light and comfort. Our methodical reading keeps us in continual contact with it. The light does not shine for the haphazard or the casual reader. The Bible is so constituted that it requires constant faithful familiarity to make visible and available the light that is in it. To this kind of familiarity, light yields itself everywhere—even in parts where to the uninitiated there seems none. Let us see the illustration afforded of this in the readings of to-day. The first does not seem very promising. The narrative of Esther, consummate in construction and diction, does not even mention the name of God. What light can there be here? Let us see. The narrative concerns the Jews, God’s nation, at a moment of extreme peril. A decree had been obtained for their extermination—not a part of them, but the whole. The decree applied to the Persian empire, and the Persian empire practically meant the whole world. Its execution would have meant the destruction of the entire Jewish race. The catastrophe it is; and the mode of its prevention, that contains light for us. That God was not in the process, it is impossible to suppose; for God had said to Israel, “Though I make a full end of all the nations among whom I have scattered thee, yet will I not make a full end of thee.” Here a “full end” was threatened. Consequently, its prevention was a divine necessity. How was it brought about? In a perfectly natural way. The hand of God was not visible in any part of the transaction. A quarrel between Artaxerxes and his queen leads to her being put away. The selection of a successor falls upon a Jewish maiden. She is to be used in obtaining the repeal of the decree; but in order to predispose the king in favour of the Jewish race, a plot against the king’s life is discovered by her Jewish uncle, Mordecai, whose friendly part is recorded in the Court Chronicles, and brought vividly to the king’s notice through his having had a sleepless night which he seeks to beguile in the reading of the Chronicles. Then comes Esther’s invitation of the king to a banquet at which she makes petition for the repeal of the decree against the Jews, and the king’s hearty granting of the same, to the great joy and deliverance of the Jewish race everywhere. In all this there is nothing but what is perfectly natural on the surface, yet by means of these perfectly natural circumstances a divine result was accomplished, as has been celebrated by the Jewish race in all the centuries since in the feast of Purim.

Now the light here for us lies in a direction where we are most liable to feel in the darkness. We live in a time when there is no visible interference of God in the affairs of men; and we are liable to feel as if God had nothing to do with our affairs. It is truly written that if we “commit our way unto the Lord, he shall direct our steps;” that “a good man’s steps are ordered of the Lord;” and that “all things work together for good for them who love God and are the called according to His purpose.” But it would seem as if our circumstances did not correspond with these statements. If we gave in to the impressions of natural experience, we should conclude there was no element of divine guidance in our life,—all is so intensely dark—so perfectly natural. There is nothing in our life on which we can put our finger and say “This is divine,” as contrasted with something that is human. We have no burning bush: no dry fleece: no angelic visit. Without instruction, we might suppose that therefore there is no God in our life—no guidance to our steps. In this, we should make a great and demoralising mistake. Here is where the Esther narrative comes to our aid. God may direct a line of circumstances apparently natural entirely throughout. Our inability to detect His participation is no proof that His hand is not there. It will not follow that His hand is in any particular set of circumstances. It is only in certain cases where His guidance takes part. It all depends upon whether they stand related to his purpose. The point lies here, that our circumstances being natural does not mean that they are not also divine. We stand related to the purpose of God if we are children of God, and we are children of God if we are obedient believers of the truth in the love and life thereof. It is therefore no presumption for us to believe that in the dreary lives of our probation, our affairs, though not apparently, are really guided to those issues of life which God has appointed, and in the realisation of which we must utterly fail if left to ourselves. It is not in man that liveth to direct his steps.

We get light of another kind in our reading from Amos. It is sometimes the enquiry of unbelief how it can be that God ever did anything in the earth, seeing He is inactive now; how it can be that the Jews are God’s nation, seeing they are scattered; how Jerusalem can ever have been the dwelling-place of His name, seeing it is down-trodden. Those who put those questions sum them all up in a further, and, as they think, decisive question. If ever there was a revelation, why is there none now? Why is God silent? Why are things all dark? If we did not understand these questions, they would necessarily distress us. This chapter in Amos gives us the understanding. Here we have the very state of things which now exists foretold, and the reason of it explained. The reason is placed first. It is introduced under a figure. Amos is shown an object, and asked what he sees. Amos answers, “A basket of summer fruit.” What can that signify? Ripeness,—shortlivedness,—perishability. How was this applied? To the people of Israel. “Then said the Lord unto me, the end has come upon My people of Israel; I will not again pass them by any more.” Had they been passed by before? Yes, often. God had long forborne with their wickedness; he would now do so no more. He would bring judgment as foreshown by Moses at the beginning. “In that day,” continues the word of God by Amos, “the songs of the temple shall be howlings; there shall be many dead bodies in every place; they shall cast them forth with silence” How terribly this was fulfilled we have recently had occasion to realise in the recital of the things testified by Josephus in connection with the destruction of Jerusalem—piles of corpses on all the highways, and vast numbers daily thrown in silence over the city walls, till they formed a mass of putrifaction that compelled the Romans to remove their camp to a distance; the temple enclosure, usually a place of singing, crammed with a shrieking multitude towards the close of the siege. The occurrence of such things so far from discrediting the Word of God, has the opposite meaning, did the objectors but understand. Jesus himself had foretold these things—“great distress in the land and wrath upon this people”—Jerusalem given up to captivity and the sword—her place trodden down. If Jerusalem were not trodden down: if the Jews were not scattered: if the Gentile powers were not in the ascendant—if things were not just as we see them, then might the scoffer ask with some effect, why is this? The very things that he stumbles at are the strong foundations of faith. So also with the absence of active revelation, the truth of God’s word requires it. Amos throws light on this otherwise dark point also. God by him foretells the cessation of that to which Israel had been accustomed, and of which we have the written form, “Behold the days come, saith the Lord God, that I will send a famine in the land, not a fame of bread nor a thirst of water, but of hearing the words of the Lord. And they shall wander from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east, they shall run to and fro to seek the word of the Lord, and shall not find it” (Amos 8:11, 12), or as it is expressed in Micah 3:6, “Therefore (because of iniquity) night shall be unto you that ye shall not have a vision, and it shall be dark unto you, that ye shall not divine; and the sun shall go down over the prophets, and the day shall be dark over them. Then shall the seers be ashamed and the diviners confounded; yea, they shall all cover their lips: for there is no answer of God.” In view of these predictions, what can we say to the absence of revelation now but just the reverse of what unbelief would suggest. The very fact that there is now no revelation is evidence of there once having been such, for had past revelation been merely a human performance, it would have perpetuated itself like all other human accomplishments. Further, had it been a merely human performance, how can we imagine it predicting its own discontinuance? For in that case, it could neither know nor desire such a consummation. If it were not divine revelation, it must have been a human imposture, and what account could be given of a human imposture predicting its own cessation? What object could be served? What motive suggested? And lastly, what explanation could there be of the fact that the prophecy has come true? Revelation is the one thing not to be found on the earth except in its written Bible survival. Men who have the opportunity, wander far and wide (the late Mr. Oliphant did) to find it, but in vain. There is no answer from God. This, in one way, is distressing, and gives unbelief the opportunity for cavil, but it is as it ought to be. If revelation were a current phenomenon, it would be inconsistent with the prophecy before us. The darkness is dreary and the divine silence difficult to endure; but a discernment of these things helps us. The eclipse is only transient. The same word that foretells the cessation foretells also the resumption of divine communication, and on a far larger and more glorious scale: “I have long time holden my peace; I have been still and refrained myself. . . . Yet now hear, O Jacob, my servant. . . . I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground. I will pour my spirit upon thy seed, and my blessing upon thine offspring.” “He will be very gracious unto thee at the voice of thy cry; when he shall hear it, he will answer thee. And though the Lord (for a time—even now) give the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, yet shall not thy teachers be removed into a corner any more, but thine eyes shall see thy teachers, and thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way; walk ye in it . . . in the day that the Lord bindeth up the breach of his people and healeth the stroke of their wound.” “Neither will I hide my face any more from them; for I have poured out my spirit upon the house of Israel, saith the Lord God.” “The Lord shall arise upon thee, and His glory shall be seen upon thee.” “The glory of the Lord shall cover the earth as the waters cover the sea.” “The Lord shall be thine everlasting light, and the days of thy mourning shall be ended.”

Thus, we have but to wait to see a very glorious sequel to the present dark phase of God’s dealings with Israel. It is not without fulness of meaning that it is written: “They shall not be ashamed that wait for me.” Joy and honour and gladness will attend the resumption of revelation in the earth, for those who may have been enabled faithfully to wait through the present time of drought and famine. It is that we may be so enabled that it is profitable to review these things as they present themselves from time to time in our readings. They strengthen the mind in this attitude as nothing else can, unless it be the good hand of God upon us in response to that prayer without ceasing which comes to be the characteristic habit of the new man.

Our third reading brings us the same light in another form. There is always light in the apostolic writings. We have not to seek for it: no windows to open—no veils to lift. It shines out upon us bright and full, even in such a letter as Paul to Philemon, even in the very first verse, where we have Paul “a prisoner,” and “a prisoner of Jesus Christ.” Here at once is Paul’s life, and the meaning thereof projected in a sentence before us—a life devoted to the preaching of Christ, and a life that brought persecution—in which, when logically worked out, we have the strongest guarantee of the truth of what Peter says, that he and the apostles did not follow “cunningly devised fables, when they made known the things concerning Christ.” They were matters of actual fact and sober truth, the resurrection of Christ a matter of personal witness — out of which comes “The Light,” that waits in the future—the light of the glory of God, which, when exhibited symbolically, becomes a city having “light like unto a stone most precious, even like a jasper stone, clear as crystal.” This is the light that lights up our forward horizon (like the aurora borealis rays,) with the glory of the dazzling sun, not yet risen. Apart from the resurrection of Christ, which gives us pledge of his coming again, there is no light on the horizon at all, but the darkness of mystery and despair. But the horizon cannot in true knowledge be contemplated apart from Christ; for true knowledge embraces the work of the Apostles which has its only explanation in the purpose of God already partly accomplished; and with that part accomplishment, giving pledge of what remains—even the second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ in power and great glory, to take to himself “the kingdoms of this world” and fill the earth with glory for ever. To all this we have become related by the very gospel that Paul preached—whose work, in a sense not very indirect, all Gentile believers of this century are, in the Lord. Related thus to the resurrection of Christ by faith, we are also related to his present living existence in heaven, for being raised, he lives for ever, with “all power in heaven and in earth” centred in his hand—power bestowed specially at present with reference to the work in hand—the work of developing the community that are to be his everlasting associates in the coming perfect day. This is a work, could we but know the details, of special interest to Christ. Paul in one place describes the upshot of the work thus: “That he might present it (the ecclesia) to himself a glorious ecclesia, not having spot or wrinkle, or any such thing, but that it should be holy and without blemish.” To this end, he now makes intercession in his capacity as high priest, without which we could have but poor hope—nay, not any. To this end, as his Apocalyptic messages to the churches show, he guides and regulates the affairs of his brethren that by various means—sometimes the heavy hand of correction (Rev. 3:19)—they may be brought into harmony with his mind. The guidance, though invisible, is none the less real, so that we can heartily join in the words of Paul’s enquiry: “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.” The result of the guidance is at last very glorious. We will see it only in “the general assembly and church of the first born,” surrounded with that “innumerable company of angels” of which Paul speaks in Heb. 12. Think of it, that every man admitted to that assembly is “without fault before the Throne of God”—iniquity forgiven, nature perfected, blemishes removed. Think of it, that not a flaw will disfigure—not a weakness mar a single member of that glorified assembly—all of them “jewels”—so described by God himself—“made up” in splendid cluster and setting for His royal use in that glorious day. Then only will the truly “finished work of Christ” be manifest, and its greatness be seen. It is being done in detail now, in the preparation of the sons of God. It is a work to which Christ is accessory. It is greatly an individual work—each in the separateness and privacy of his own case, getting tried and polished—sometimes in furnace heat, sometimes in darkness and friction, sometimes the sharp rasp of the file, sometimes the smart blow of the hammer. The process is often painful: sometimes the alleviations of love and light are permitted, but ever forward it goes to that final attainment when the heart, weaned from all carnal things, and fully opened and quickened to the high and mighty and subtle things of God, is prepared as a “polished stone most precious” for use in the heavenly city.

We bring our three beams of light to a focus. Esther tells us that God may be at work in the circumstances of daily life when He appears to take no part. Amos shows to us that the very chaos that now prevails with all divine things on the earth at the present moment is part of the truth and reality of these things, and that any other state, such as the unbeliever mockingly suggests, would be inconsistent with their true character. And finally Philemon reveals to us that in the midst of the chaos, a divine constructive work is going, by means of the word of the truth of the gospel, supplemented by the Lord’s own providential control, which out of the darkness is providing the materials for glorious light. With such clear and guiding light, it but remains for us to walk as children of the light, in all faith and goodness and truth, waiting, in the patient performance of the will of God, for that promised day of life and gladness which will assuredly come, and which, when it comes, will never pass away, but shine on for ever in ever-varying, ever-progressing forms of well-being to the glory of God and the joy of all his ransomed sons and daughters.

Editor.

The Christadelphian : Volume 27 Bd. 27. electronic ed. Birmingham : Christadelphian Magazine & Publishing Association, 2001, c1890, S. 27:93-97

fhigham

Registered:
Posts: 1,023
Reply with quote  #867 

The longer we live,the more do we see the wisdom of Christ in having required his brethren and sisters to come together once a week, to break bread in remembrance of him. There is nothing in the life we have to live during the six days of the week, to remind us of him. Everything tends in the oposite direction.

 

bro Robert Roberts, The Unsearchable Riches of Christ

 

-------------------------------------------------------------------------

Dec 02 • Job 1,2 • Jonah 2,3 • Hebrews 8,9

-------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

Reference to:

Satan In Job And Revelation

 

Satan figures largely in the book of Job, and many base their concept of a fallen-angel-devil upon the expressions of this book.

It is alleged, for example, that the scene of Ch. 1:6–7 which depicts Satan appearing before the Lord in company with the sons of God, relates to God’s dwelling place in heaven, and at first sight it seems to read that way.

 

But obviously, if God is so holy that He “cannot look upon sin,” He would not tolerate such a creature in close proximity to Him.

And a true interpretation of the verses does not require such an inconsistent picture.

We learn from Deuteronomy 19:17 that when a person appeared before a priest (God’s representative on earth) he appeared before the Lord, because God was with the priest in the judgment (2 Chron. 19:6).

 

Why not apply the same principle of interpretation to Job Ch. 1:6—a principle that is consistent with other parts of Scripture? When that is done, the whole transaction is understood as taking place on earth, before God’s priest.

 

But what of the term: “Sons of God”? Does not that indicate the angels of heaven?

 

By no means. The same phrase is used of mortal believers (see Deut. 14:1; Hos. 1:10; Isa. 43:6–7). John, writing to mortal believers, declared: “Now are we the Sons of God” (1 John 3:2). Thus the term relates to Mortals, not angelic beings.

 

Satan (many Bibles supply the alternative—“adversary” in the margin) was also a son of God, or a believer, but one who was motivated by jealousy and envy against job, and who was therefore his adversary. He sought to blacken Job’s reputation in the sight of God by imputing unworthy motives to his blameless life, and by accusing him of hypocrisy.

 

It is by no means uncommon to have such people among the believers, and claiming to be sons of God in the sense of 1 John 3:1. Even among the disciples of the Lord, there was satan in the person of Judas (John 6:70) as well as Peter (Matt. 16:23, Mark 8:33). Every Christian community has its satan, its Judas in its midst, so that Job’s experience was by no means unique.

 

It is sometimes claimed, however, that the Satan of Job exercised the powers of life and death over the patriarch. The book does not say so. It claims that all the trials that job experienced came from God (Job 2:3; 19:21; 42:11). He was tested that his enemies might be confounded, and that a principle of faith in adversity might be exhibited as an example for all times (James 5:11).

 

Another reference frequently advanced to prove the existence of Satan in heaven as a fallen angel is Revelation 12:7: “There was war in heaven …” This seems conclusive, but is far from being so when the context is examined. For example, vv.1–2 depicts a woman giving birth to a son “in heaven.” It is the same “heaven,” but is it God’s dwelling place?

 

Such an idea is unthinkable. There is neither marriage nor giving in marriage there (Luke 20:36). It is obvious that we are in the presence of symbolic language (see Rev. 1:1), and the “heaven” in question relates to the political “heavens” which are set up on earth!

 

In fact, all this chapter is couched in symbolic language, and should be interpreted in that light. It is completely wrong to base a Bible doctrine on the literal interpretation of such expressions.

 

The same chapter speaks of a “great red dragon” (also in heaven) “having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads” which catches a third of the stars in his tail and casts them into the earth.

 

Obviously this is not literal language; nor is it the language of fantasy. It is the language of symbol, the clues for the understanding of which, are carefully given (see Rev. 17:9–10). And these reveal that the symbols have relation to political events on earth, not in heaven, in which God’s purpose is worked out.

 

The doctrinal evidence of the Bible shows, without doubt, that the devil revealed therein relates to sin in its various forms which Christ came to destroy.

 

bro HP Mansfield, (1997). Key to Understanding of the Scriptures (electronic ed.).

 

------------------------------------------------

Reference to:

Jonah

 

Jonah was a man of sign whose experiences foreshadowed the Greater Resurrected Prophet who was to come; and who in that Resurrection was manifested as “the son of God with power according to the spirit of holiness” (Rom. 1:4). The name Jonah means Dove, a fitting sign of God’s Messenger of Peace. He prophesied before Joel and Obadiah, though we have not all his prophecies” (2 Kings 14:25). The Bible record concentrates on “the sign”, concerning which the men of “the great city” are so very incredulous, though Christ attested it, and worked it out so gloriously.

 

Jonah’s prayer out of his living grave (ch. 2) is as it were the spirit of Christ in the prophet crying out of the pit. Compare David’s words in Psa. 18:4, 5. Jonah is “cast out of God’s sight” yet he “looks again towards his holy temple”. “I went down to the bottoms of the mountains”, said the imprisoned prophet, “the earth with her bars was about me for, ever; yet hast thou brought up my life from the pit, O Lord my God”. Thus did God for His beloved Son; and thus He will do, as He said, for all the sons of God who are “accounted worthy to obtain that world and the resurrection of the dead” … “for they are equal unto the angels; and are the children of God being the children of the resurrection” (Luke 20:35–36).

 

bro C. C. Walker. (1990; 2002). God Manifestation or Theophany (Page 132). The Christadelphian.

 

------

 

Jon 2:1 Then Jonah prayed unto the LORD his God out of the fish's belly,

 

Of Jonah it is recorded that he cried “out of the belly of hell (sheol).” This “hell” was the belly of the fish (Jonah 2:1–2), a place of covering which was to him a grave, but certainly not the “hell” of popular theology.

 

Peter used the term to teach the doctrine of the resurrection declaring concerning Christ: “His soul was not left in hell (hades)” (Acts 2:31). It is obvious that Jesus never went to the place of torture, to which many churches refer “hell,” but that be did go to a place of covering, into the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea. This was the “hell” of Peter’s discourse, from whence Christ rose after three days’ burial.

 

bro HP Mansfield, (1997). Key to Understanding of the Scriptures (electronic ed.).

 

------------------------------------------------

Reference to:

Heb 8:1 Now of the things which we have spoken this is the sum: We have such an high priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens;

Heb 8:2 A minister of the sanctuary, and of the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man.

 

“Atonement”: Definition and Synonyms

 

The English phrase, “the atonement,” is found but once in the New Testament (A.V.), namely, in Rom. 5:11. The passage with its context runs as follows:

 

“When we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. For if while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more being reconciled we shall be saved by his life. And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement” (verses 6–11).

 

In the margin here the alternative “reconciliation” is given for “atonement” in the text; and in the Revised Version “reconciliation” has been put in the text, thus harmonizing the context, and leaving that term “reconciliation” as the sole English representative of the original Greek word katallagee, the only occurrences of which in the N.T. are the following: Rom. 5:11; 11:15; 2 Cor. 5:18, 19.

 

It is obvious from the foregoing that “the atonement,” or “reconciliation,” has to do with the death of Christ the Son of God in reconciling men to God. But what is the radical idea underlying the original term? It is a change of status from some other position—a restoration to favour, the verb katallasso being formed from allos, another. An allophulos was a man of another race or nation, i.e., not a Jew (Acts 10:28). Such were the Ephesian Christians by nature (Eph. 2:11), but in Christ they were “no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God” (verse 19).

 

The synonyms of “atonement” in the New Testament are “reconciliation,” as above, “ransom,” “redemption,” “propitiation,” “justification,” in all of which it is to be understood that God, the Father, is the Prime Mover, and that His purpose, justice and mercy are always manifested and upheld in His work.

 

Thus, as to “ransom”: Jesus said, “The Son of Man came not to be ministered unto but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many” (Matt. 20:28; Mark 10:45). “There is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time” (1 Tim. 2:5, 6), (or, R.V., “the testimony to be borne in its own times”), that is by the apostles (compare 2 Tim. 2:8).

 

So also with regard to “redemption,” of which word “ransom” is but a much shrunken form. Believers are “justified freely by God’s grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 3:24). “Of him (God) are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us (apostles and brethren) wisdom and righteousness and sanctification and redemption” (1 Cor. 1:30). See also Eph. 1:7; Col. 1:14.

So again with regard to “propitiation” and “propitiatory,” always understanding that no idea of “substitution,” or satisfaction, in the sense of “commercial transaction,” as it has been profanely expressed, underlies the divine usage of the terms: “If any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and he is the propitiation (hilasmos) for our sins” (1 John 2:1–2). “God loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:10). “Christ Jesus, whom God hath set forth (marg. foreordained) to be a propitiation (hilasterion) through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God” (Rom. 3:24, 25). Hilasterion is the Greek term by which the Septuagint translated kapporeth, the “mercy seat” of the Old Testament scriptures. “We have such a high priest (after the order of Melchisedec) … a minister of the sanctuary and of the true tabernacle which the Lord pitched and not man … There was (under the first, Mosaic, covenant) a tabernacle … and after the second veil the tabernacle which is called the Holiest of all; which had the golden censer, and the ark of the covenant overlaid round about with gold, wherein was the golden pot that had manna, and Aaron’s rod that budded, and the tables of the covenant, and over it the cherubim of glory overshadowing the mercy seat (hilasterion); of which we cannot now speak particularly” (Heb. 8:1–2; 9:2–5).

 

 

Atonement in the Old Testament

 

From these references it is obvious that we cannot rightly understand and appreciate “the atonement” unless we rightly understand and appreciate the divine ideas underlying the typical “atonement” of the Old Testament scriptures. We are expressly told that Christ died “for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first covenant” (Heb. 9:15). So that all its ritual localized in him, and was but “the shadow of good things to come” (Heb. 10:1).

 

First, then, as a matter of words and meanings, it must be remarked that whereas the word “atonement” occurs but once in the New Testament (A.V., and not at all in the text of the R.V.), it occurs frequently in the Old Testament, and is there the representative of the Hebrew verb kahphar (literally to cover) and its derivatives. In Gen. 6:14 God said to Noah, “Make thee an ark of gopher wood … and thou shalt pitch it within and without with pitch”. Here the verb is kahphar and the noun kopher, because pitch was the covering substance with which the ark was waterproofed. Kopher is also translated ransom, satisfaction; and in a bad sense, bribe. Kippooreem, plural, is translated atonement, atonements, and the yom hakkippurim, the great “Day of Atonement” (Lev. 16), is memorialized to this day among the Jews.

 

The radical idea then of “atone” in the Old Testament is to cover.

 

bro C. C. Walker. Atonement: Salvation Through the Blood of Christ (10–12).
fhigham

Registered:
Posts: 1,023
Reply with quote  #868 

--------------------------------------------------------

Dec 04 • Job 5 • Michah 1 • Hebrews 11

--------------------------------------------------------

  

 Doth Job Fear God for Nought?

 

 JOB'S GREATEST AGONY: GOD'S SEEMING REJECTION

 

All forsook him in his extremity. But his greatest agony was not in his sufferings, nor in his rejection by all mankind, but God's apparent rejection and forsaking and enmity. Again and again he implores God for but one word of hope or comfort or recognition, but is met with total silence, and increased oppression. Even when he seeks brief, exhausted surcease in sleep, he is terrified with awful dreams (7:14).

 

To judge what he says, we must consider all he said, and the order in which he said it; just as we must consider the whole of Psa. 22, and not just the first few words from it that Christ quoted on the cross. It is all too easy to get his cries of anguish out of proportion, as if they were the studied and final conclusions reached coolly and theoretically in ease and comfort.

 

The fundamental fact is that Job held fast his trust in God, and would not deviate from his dedication to righteousness (which has no meaning outside of faith in God); and he was confident throughout of final resurrection, and of God's open manifestation to him at last.

 

there is no more triumphant victory of faith than is expressed in his memorable words, wrung from him in the depth of present despair--

 

"Though he slay me, yet will I trust him . . He also shall be my salvation!"

"If a man die, shall he live again? All the days of my appointed time will I wait, till my change come. Thou shalt call, and I will answer Thee. Thou wilt have a desire (kasaph: longing) to the work of Thine hands."

"I KNOW that my redeemer liveth, and that He shall stand at the latter day UPON THE EARTH . . Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold" (13:15-16; 14:14-15; 19:25-27).

 

WHY SUCH DREADFUL AFFLICTION?

 

His complaints are not against God's overall justice, but against His seeming injustice in the affairs of this life--especially that one who tried so hard to obey should be picked out for the most terrible of afflictions, while all men gloated, and the wicked were at ease. Job knew that at last all would be righted, but why this special, dreadful, unprovoked affliction of a righteous and faithful man?

 

The friends fall silent. Job restates his case at length (chaps. 26-31) with great power and beauty: conceding that the wicked are finally punished; conceding God's infinite might and understanding; conceding that man's whole wisdom is to fear God and depart from evil--but again long and stoutly declaring his own righteousness, and crying for the opportunity of debating his case with God, confident of victory.

 

Then a new figure enters, the young Elihu, who prepares Job for the final revelation from God. He introduces the idea that suffering is not only for punishment, as the friends contended, but has many uses in the love and wisdom of God: constructive loving discipline, directional chastisement of a Father, strengthening by training and rigor, manifestation and deepening of faith, purification--especially purification, making perfect: suffering can and must lead to fuller understanding, and thus be a blessing. Job makes no attempt to answer Elihu.

 

GOD SPEAKS

 

Then God speaks. It is notable that Job was given just what he asked: an opportunity to stand up to God and argue with Him: to show Him how He must be mistaken. But how swiftly Job's bold self-assurance fled before the mighty manifestation of God's infinite wisdom and power!

That God should deign to speak to man at all--especially to one calling His ways in question--is a tremendous condescension in itself, a tremendous and unique honor, and manifestation of love for Job.

 

As God spoke of the endless marvels of His Creation, Job shrank to nothing. Crushed in shame, he learned to rest totally and unreservedly in God, devastated by the sudden realization of the stupidity and presumption of daring to challenge God and question His ways.

 

When God brought Job to the comfort and peace of unquestioning love and trust, He thereby solved all Job's problems, even before He removed Job's afflictions. Their removal came later, after Job had waived all his complaints, and prostrated himself in loving worship.

 

God banished Job's questions, not by answering them, but by totally removing them from his concern. Job was wholly satisfied that whatever God did must be right, and must be rooted in love and wisdom.

 

God's answer was to give no answer, but to manifest a God so great that no answer was needed. To need an explanation and justification of anything God does is to have a degraded and unacceptable conception of God. He is infinitely above all question and accountability.

 

MAN DARE NOT QUESTION GOD

 

Job was faithful and righteous above all his contemporaries, and completely, actively dedicated to good works, and to service to God and man. He demonstrated his firm and unshakable endurance, and that he unselfishly loved goodness for goodness sake alone. But he did not have the necessary total self-abasing humility and recognition of self-nothingness until he was crushed by the divine revelation. The learning of this was the supreme blessing of his entire experience.

 

The whole lesson of God's self-manifestation to Job is the limitless greatness of God, and the utter littleness of man. If God had stooped to explain Himself to Job before totally humbling him in the recognition of his nothingness, then God would have been conceding man's right to judge God and demand an answer for His ways. And this right man must be made to fully realize that he just does not have. It is absurd and unthinkable that puny little ignorant created man should for one moment question God, Who effortlessly maintains the numberless stars and galaxies in their myriad courses throughout the universe. What is weak, brief-lived, earth-crawling man to question his Creator?

 

But when Job humbled himself, and cast away all self-importance, God graciously went much further to set Job's mind at perfect rest, and doubly compensated him for all his faithfully-borne suffering and shame. He totally vindicated and honored him before his self-righteous friends, and gave Job the joyful, forgiving privilege of being their mediator.

 

RESTORATION

 

And then He justified Job before his whole community, and made him twice as rich as he had been before. After what Job had bitterly learned of the fickle respect and fellowship of men (who fled when he needed them, and came back shamelessly seeking his favor when he was restored), and had gloriously learned of the companionship of God, the riches and honor would mean little to him, except as an even greater opportunity to resume his former course of goodness and guidance and charity to others, succoring the needy and defending the oppressed.

 

Some have felt that the restoration of the temporal riches and honor detracts from the spiritual force of the story, which is otherwise played out on a wholly spiritual plane. Such think incorrectly, again unwisely judging God's ways. It was fitting and necessary--for the instruction of all Job's associates, and all since--to complete the picture by the double restoration of all he had lost.

 

And it brings the closing picture fully into harmony with the antitype. Job, in well-deserved riches and honor--after passing triumphantly through all his trials for the inspirational and instructional benefit of the race--rejoiced to see his sons and his sons' sons, in peace and prosperity.

 

So Christ, in eternal riches and honor, shall see his redeemed Seed: a holy, perfected 'generation of the race'--

 

"HE SHALL SEE OF THE TRAVAIL OF HIS SOUL, AND BE SATISFIED."

"How unsearchable are God's judgments and His ways past finding out!"      GVG

fhigham

Registered:
Posts: 1,023
Reply with quote  #869 

Dec 5

The Apocalypse in Micah.

MICAH was contemporary with the times of Amos and Isaiah. He

opens his prophecy apocalyptically by saying, "Behold Jehovah cometh

forth out of his place, and will come down, and tread upon the high

places of the earth." He predicted that because of the iniquity of the

Israelites and their rulers, Zion should be ploughed as a field, and Jerusalem

should become heaps, and the mountain on which the temple

stood as the high places of the forest. But, he goes on to say, that

Zion, Moriah, and Jerusalem, although thus trodden under foot of

destroyers, should not always be abased. He coincides with Isaiah, and

testifies in the same words, that in the latter days yet future, the kingdom

of Jehovah, which he terms "The mountain of the house of Jehovah,"

shall have the sovereignty over the empires and kingdoms of

the earth, and that all nations shall concentre around its throne: that

Jehovah the Elohim of Jacob will enlighten, or apocalypse them, and

that they will in consequence walk in his ways: that a law and a word

will be promulgated from Zion and Jerusalem, and be universally

obeyed: that war will then be abolished, peace be established as the

order of the day, and good-will everywhere prevail. He further testifies,

that Israel shall then be a strong nation, with Jehovah (Christ) reign

ing over them in Mount Zion from thenceforth, and for the Olahm,

or Millennium—the First Dominion shall come to Zion; and the kingdom

to the daughter of Jerusalem. But he also testifies, that before

this exaltation to dominion, Zion's daughter should dwell in Babylon, in

the ten streets of which she is a wanderer to this day: that in Babylon

she shall be delivered: in Babylon Jehovah shall redeem her from the

hand or power of her enemies, the Gentiles. He testifies that when

the time of this deliverance shall arrive, the Daughter of Zion (which

is constituted of the twelve tribes of Israel, and the Saints) shall arise

and thresh with horn of iron and hoof of brass, and beat in pieces

many people, whose spoil shall be consecrated to Jehovah the Judge of

Israel, and the A don or Sovereign Ruler of the whole earth; who, in

the days of his humanity, should be smitten with a rod upon the cheek

by the rebellious.

Isaiah had foretold that the Judge of Israel should come of the

house of David (Isai. 9 : 6, 7); and Micah predicted he should be born

in Bethlehem Ephratah. But, because of the unworthy treatment he

should experience at their hands, he should abandon the nation to its

calamities, until the time of Zion's travail, when he shall be apocalypsed

as a thief in the night; and then the remnant of his brethren shall return

on account of the children of Israel.

He goes on furthermore to say, that in this day of apocalypse, the

Judge of Israel shall stand and rule in the strength of Jehovah, in the

majesty of the name of Jehovah his Eloah; that Israel shall then abide,

or dwell safely in the Holy Land, because their Divine King shall be

great to the ends of the earth. That when he is apocalypsed in the day

of Zion's travail, writhing in pain under Gentile oppression, the Bethlehemborn

Judge of Israel shall be the nation's peace; because He and his

brethren princes shall expel the Assyrian from Judea, and, carrying the

war into the land of Nimrod, shall reduce the enemy to the necessity of

suing for peace, which will be granted with the loss of dominion and

independence. That the remnant of Jacob in more distant nations of

the earth shall be as a lion among the beasts of the forest, as a young

lion among a flock of sheep; who, if he go through, both treadeth down

and teareth in pieces, and none can deliver.

But though Israel is to do valiantly in the latter days, he showed

that they should previously suffer much because of iniquity, transgression,

and sin. That they would be not only nationally corrupt, but socially

treacherous and cruel, so that a man's enemies would be those of his own

house. That, though they should cause the fall of One, he should rise

again; and though they should cause him to sit in the darkness of death,

Jehovah should become to him a light. That after this cruel treachery,

Jerusalem, his enemy, should be covered with shame, and trodden down

as mire in the streets; and that when the day of her rebuilding should

arrive, the decree authorizing it should come from afar.

Micah, perceiving that there was hope in Israel's end, petitions

Jehovah in their behalf. He prays that they may be fed in Bashan

and Gilead "AS IN THE DAYS OF OLD." His supplication is heard, and

he is informed by Jehovah that their Exodus from Babylon should be after

the type and duration of that from Egypt into Canaan: that in this

exodus from Babylon the nations shall be confounded when they shall

behold the prowess of the Jews; that they shall lick the dust like a serpent,

and be afraid of Jehovah our Elohim (Christ), for he will execute

vengeance in anger and fury upon the nations, such as they have not

heard.

But concerning Israel the prophet testifies, that the Conqueror of the

nations will pass by the transgression of the remnant of his heritage

that he will have compassion on them; that he will subdue their iniquities,

and cast all their sins into the depth of the sea; that he will perform

the truth to Jacob, the mercy to Abraham, which he has sworn

to Israel's fathers from the days of old—ch. 1 : 3 ; 2 : 12, 13 ; 3 : 12 ; 4 :

1-4, 7, 8, 10, 13 : 5 : 1-8, 15 ; 7 : 6, 8, 10, 11, 14-20.

Eureka Vol. 1 pg 46  Logos edition

fhigham

Registered:
Posts: 1,023
Reply with quote  #870 

________________________________

Dec 06   Job 8  Michah 3,4   Hebrews 13
________________________________
 

REPROACH

 Our attention has been called this morning to the remarkable exhortation of Paul to the Hebrews, in the 13th chapter of his epistle to them, verse 13: "Let us go forth, therefore, unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach." This exhortation had a meaning for those to whom Paul was writing which it cannot have for us. They were Jews who, like himself, had been brought up in subjection to the Mosaic institutions in all particulars, and whose acceptance, of Christ brought upon them excommunication from the synagogue, and all the reproach connected with an apparent apostasy from a Divine institution, and an acceptance of what was accounted a cunningly devised and magically supported imposture. Their steadfastness was put under a powerful strain in having to accept an apparent dissociation from Moses, by whom all were agreed God had spoken; and in having to associate with one who had the reputation of being the destroyer of the law of Moses, and whose undoubted end as a crucified companion of felons, brought him under the curse of the law of Moses.

It was true comfort that Paul administered to them, when he said to the Romans that his doctrine of Christ, so far from "making void" the law, "established" it. It was similar consolation for them to be told that Christ had said, "Think not that I am come to destroy the law and the prophets. I am not come to destroy but to fulfil." Writing directly to themselves, Paul had told them that the law, though Divine, was but "a figure for the time then present," pointing forward to Christ, in whom all its hidden significances had an end. This was his declaration on the subject as a whole. In the exhortation under consideration, he makes a particular application of it in a matter of detail. He reminds them that "the bodies of those beasts whose blood was brought into the sanctuary by the high priest for sin, were burned without the camp," involving the recollection that anyone availing himself of the ceremonial purification connected with the use of the ashes of the beast, had to go out of the camp to get at them: a typical foreshadowing of the fact that when the real purification from sin was provided, Israelites would have to go outside the national camp to obtain the benefit. In harmony with the figure, Christ "suffered without the gate," in being proscribed by the national authorities, and in being crucified outside the walls of Jerusalem. From this it was easy and natural to extract the farther figuration, by which the position of Jesus at the time of his crucifixion is made to represent the excommunicated and despised position of those of Israel who afterwards believed on his name. It was a natural climax to say, "Let us go forth, therefore, to him without the camp, bearing his reproach."

We cannot apply this to ourselves in a direct manner this morning. We are not Jews, who in accepting Christ, have had to turn our backs upon what is called Judaism, and to go forth with courage to brave the reproach of those remaining in the camp. Nevertheless, there is a sense in which we are called upon to submit to such an ordeal. We have had to go forth from a certain camp, bearing the reproach and dating historically back to the work of the apostles in the first century. We have left that camp, with all the attractions that belong to a popular establishment. We cannot assemble with the respectable crowds that fill the commodious religious edifices that abound in every town. We cannot take part in their opulent arrangements, or join their imposing and comfortable services. We have chosen to step out of the flourishing throng; to desert the attractive festivals of popular faith; to stand aloof from the profitable associations of "the names and denominations of religion." We have accepted the obscurity and the dishonour of hole-and- corner meetings apart from the rich and powerful. It has been a hard resolution to take, not only because of the temporal disadvantages of our decision-not only because of the sacrifice of present gratifications of society, and the acceptance of present mortifications to the natural man and the spiritual too, but because the system of religion around us accepts Christ by profession. If these systems said, "We reject Christ," our course would have been much easier; instead of that, they profess his name, and proclaim themselves his servants. It has in consequence been a great exercise of mind for us to consider whether we are justified in leaving a system professedly subject to Christ, and taking a step which by implication passes condemnation on them as an unchristian thing. But we have not faltered when all the facts were fully before us for decision.

We have learnt that the true "House of God, which is the church of the living God, is the pillar and ground of THE TRUTH" (1 Tim. iii. 15); and that men and systems may say, "Lord, Lord," and may even claim to have done wonderful things in his name, and yet have no claim to his recognition at his coming, by reason of their non- submission to his requirements. Consequently, we have asked-Is the religious system under which we were born "the pillar and ground of the truth"? A pillar supports, holds up: does the religious system support, hold up, the truth?" "Ground" gives a resting-place, a basis, a foundation: does the religious system act as a foundation, a resting-place for "the truth"? We have been able to answer this with an emphatic negative when we have come to know what "the truth" is.

This phrase "the truth" is very comprehensive. "The truth" we find to be made up of many things which require to be put together before we can have the whole thing so defined. For instance, it is true that God exists: but to believe that God exists is not to believe the comprehensive thing meant by "the truth." The Jews believed in God's existence: and yet Paul had "continual sorrow of heart" because they were not in the way of salvation. The truth is not only the fact that God exists, but that He has said and done certain things and given to us certain commandments. It is part of the truth that Christ was crucified: but to believe this of itself is not to believe the truth. Jews and infidels believe that Christ was crucified, but reject the truth of which that is an element. It is part of the truth that Christ rose from the dead and appeared to his disciples: but if these facts are disconnected from his ascension and the promise of his return to raise the dead and establish his kingdom, the belief of them does not constitute a belief of "the truth." So with every element of "the truth" by turns; they must all have their place in relation to the rest, or we fail to receive and hold the truth.

Now, when we try the system around us by this test, we find it is the very opposite of being "the pillar and ground of the truth." It lacks, yea rejects, the very first principles of the oracles of God. It teaches a triune instead of the one God: it asserts man to be immortal instead of mortal: it declares torment instead of death the wages of sin: it preaches the death of Christ as a "substitutionary" satisfaction of the Divine law, instead of a declaration of the righteousness of God (Rom. iii. 25) in the condemnation of sin in the flesh (Rom. viii. 3), as a basis on which the forbearance of God offers the forgiveness of all who recognise themselves "crucified with Christ" (Rom. iii. 25; Gal. ii. 20). It proclaims death instead of resurrection the climax of the believer's hope; it preaches heaven instead of earth as the inheritance of the meek. It affirms our going, instead of Christ's coming as the means and occasion of the promised reward. And so forth. The dissimilarities might be enumerated in other points. Instead of being "the pillar and ground of the truth," the religious system around us is the puller-down and scatterer of the truth. How, then, could we hesitate to "come out from among them"? It is part of apostolic doctrine that we are not to be identified with any who bring not the doctrine of Christ, whatever their profession (2 John 10; Rev. xiv. 9; Rom. xvi. 17). Consequently, we could not remain in popular fellowship without the danger of being responsible for their errors. This is the explanation of our position this morning in having gone forth out of the popular camp, unto Christ, bearing the reproach incident in our professedly Christian day to a profession of his truth.

It is well also to recognise the fact that the principle which isolates us from popular communion isolates us also from the fellowship of all who reject any part of the truth. Some accept the truth in part, but are either unable or unwilling to receive it in its entirety, They believe in the kingdom but reject the Bible doctrine of death; or they hold the mortal nature of man but do not receive the restoration of the kingdom again to Israel; or they accept both, but deny the judgment; or believe in the judgment, but deny the kingdom; or accept all three, but reject the apostolic doctrine of Christ's nature and death, and so on. Such persons are generally what is called very "charitable": that is, they are willing to connive at any amount of doctrinal diversity so long as friendliness is maintained. They are lovers of peace. Peace is certainly very desirable when it can be had on a pure foundation: but the charitable people referred to are not particular about the foundation. They will compromise the truth in some one or other of its integral elements for the sake of personal harmony. This is a spurious charity altogether. We are not at liberty to relax the appointments of God. The exercise of "charity" must be confined to our own affairs. We have no jurisdiction in God's matters. What God requires is binding on us all: and the faithful man cannot consent to accept any union that requires a jot or tittle to be set aside or treated as unimportant. Such a man cannot consent to form a part of any community that is not "the pillar and ground of the truth."

There is just another side to this question which cannot be too well remembered, and that is that the possession of the truth in its entirety does not necessarily ensure acceptance with Christ at his coming. The Scriptures speak of "those who hold the truth IN UNRIGHTEOUSNESS," and declares that the end of such will be "indignation, anguish, and wrath." Consequently, no one should rest on the knowledge and belief of the truth as securing his salvation without failure. That knowledge is of great value to him. In the obedience to it in baptism it brings him into relation with Christ, who is the righteousness of God; invested with whose name he stands a forgiven man, "purged from his old sins." But he has a life to live after that, and Christ shall judge that life at his coming; and it will all depend upon his estimate of that life as to how he will deal with the person. He will give to every man "according to his works." In the case of some, he will "blot their name out of the book of life." He will take away their part out of the holy city. He will refuse recognition and dismiss the refused to the society of the adversary, at that time about to be "devoured." In the case of others, he will confess their names, and invite them to inherit the kingdom of God. There is no sane man who would not desire to be among the latter. There is a principle upon which admission is predicated. The doctrines of the apostasy have obliterated this principle. They teach that men have "only to believe" that Christ has paid their debts, and that they have, nothing to do but believe that Christ died for them. Whereas the exhortation of Peter is to be "diligent to make our calling and election SURE"; that only "if we do these things which he had enumerated, we shall never fall." This is the uniform teaching of Christ and his servant Paul. Jesus says it is vain to acknowledge him unless we do what he commands (Matt. vii. 21). Paul says every man at the judgment seat of Christ shall receive according to that he hath done (2 Cor. v. 10); and that he who doeth wrong shall receive for the wrong that he hath done (Col. iii. 25). Consequently, it rests with us to work out our salvation with fear and trembling (Phil. ii. 12), as obedient children, not fashioning ourselves according to our former lusts in our ignorance, but as He that hath called us is holy, so must we be holy in all manner of conversation.

There is a natural tendency to overlook this phase of the work of Christ, unless we are on our guard. The popular habit of depreciating the importance of doctrine, is liable to have the effect of shutting us up entirely to the fact that apart from a knowledge of the truth, we cannot be saved. We are in danger of shutting our eyes to the equally certain truth that a knowledge of the truth will be of no value to us if it fail to effectuate that purification of heart –that moral and intellectual assimilation to the Divine character which it is intended to produce in all who are called to the holy calling: we can only avoid this dangerous extreme by a habitual and meditative reading of the holy oracles. In this exercise, day by day, we shall be made acquainted with the full and noble breadth of the Divine work, in the practical transformation of men. We shall not fail to perceive that Christ made the state of the heart and the character of our actions the most prominent feature of his teaching. He preached the Kingdom of God it is true, and constantly did so: but this, only, as the framework of his instruction. The character of those who would inherit that kingdom, was constantly the burden of his speech to those around him. And we shall only resemble him and take part truly in his work, in proportion as we do the same. And what is more solemnly true, we can only hope for an entrance into his kingdom in the day of his glory if we are of the same mind and work as he. It is written, "There shall in no wise enter into it anything that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination or maketh a lie" (Rev. xxi. 27). Men-aye, even such as are called brethren, may forget or be indifferent to this meanwhile, but they will discover at last that the word of the Lord standeth sure, and that the gate of eternal glory will be barred against everyone who conforms not to the Divine standard revealed in the Word. The fact may appear a stern one, but its effect as regards the House of God will be only good and glorious: it will secure a perfect fellowship, composed of such as know God and delight in His praise, and in the delightsome love one to another that glows in every heart that truly seeks His face.  Bro. Roberts

 

Previous Topic | Next Topic
Print
Reply

Quick Navigation:

Easily create a Forum Website with Website Toolbox.