Sunday, November 30, 2014

Sunday Sermon
by D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones (1898-1981)
“But ye have not so learned Christ.” - Ephesians 4:20

HERE WE COME TO A dramatic and almost an abrupt statement. The Apostle has been describing the kind of life which is lived by the "other Gentiles", the kind of life that these Ephesians Christians themselves used to live - the life still being lived by those of their compatriots and fellows who had not believed the gospel of Jesus Christ. And having finished his description he suddenly turns, and uses this word But. Now to get the full force of this, let us look at the statement again as a whole. "This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart: who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness. But you have not so learned Christ"; and then Paul goes on to say, "if so be that you have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus".

We come, then, to this extraordinary, dramatic, vivid, almost, I say, abrupt statement which the Apostle makes here. And it is obvious that he put it in this form quite deliberately, in order to call attention to it and to shock them, and in order to bring out the tremendous contrast that he has in mind. And therefore the emphasis must be placed both upon the but and upon the you. "But you" - "you have not so learned Christ": the you in contrast with those other Gentiles; and the but standing here as a great word of contrast to bring out this marked antithesis. What then do those two words suggest to us?

The first thing, surely, that they should convey to us is a feeling of relief and of thanksgiving. I start with this because I think that it is the thing that we should be conscious of first of all. We have followed the Apostle's masterly analysis, his psychological dissection of the life of the unbeliever, the pagan, the man who is not a Christian, and we see how it goes from bad to worse because his mind is wrong. He is in a state of darkness, the heart is affected, and he is alienated from God. We have also seen men giving themselves over, in their foulness and lasciviousness, to work all kinds of iniquity and uncleanness with greediness. We have been looking at it all and seeing it. And then, Paul says, "But you"! And at once we say, Well, thank God! we are no longer there, that is not our position. And this, I repeat, is the thing that must come first; we must feel a sense of relief and profound gratitude to God that we are covered by this But, that Paul is here turning from sin to salvation, and that we have experienced the change of which he is now going on to speak.

I emphasize this point because it seems to me that there is no better test of our Christian profession than our reaction to these words "But you". If we merely hold the truth theoretically in our minds this will not move us at all. If we have looked on at the description of sin merely in a kind of detached, scientific manner, or as the sociologist might do; if we have put down groups and categories of people, and have done it all in an utterly detached way, then we will have no sense of relief and of thanksgiving as we come to these words. But if we realise that all that was true of us; if we realize that we were in the grip and under the dominion of sin; if we realize that we still have to fight against it, then, I say, these words at once give us a sense of marvelous and wonderful relief. It is not the whole truth, of course, there is more to be said. But as we respond to these words, in our feelings, in our sensibilities, as well as with our minds, we are proclaiming whether we are truly Christian or not. We read these words of Paul, and then we read our newspapers, and as we look at what is going on all around us, we say, Yes, it is absolutely right and true, that is life in this world. And then we suddenly stop and say, Ah! but wait a minute, there is something else 1 - there is the Christian, there is the Christian Church, there is this new humanity that is in Christ! The other seems to be true of almost everybody in the world, but it is not, for "there is yet a remnant according to the election of grace"! Thank God! In the midst of all the darkness there is a glimmer of light. Christianity is a protest in that sense; something has happened, there is an oasis in the desert. Here it is; thank God for it! And therefore I am saying that we test ourselves along these lines. Here we have been traveling in this wilderness, in this desert, and it seems to be endless. There seems nothing to hope for. Suddenly we see it - "But you"! After all, there is a bridgehead from heaven in this world of sin and shame I But you! Relief! Thanksgiving! A sense of hope after all!

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Afternoon/Evening Reflection

To consider the circumstances of that which we apprehend to be a provocation, so as at no time to express our displeasure but upon due mature deliberation. The office of meekness is to keep reason upon the throne in the soul as it ought to be; to preserve the understanding clear and unclouded, the judgment untainted and unbiased in the midst of the greatest provocations, so as to be able to set every thing in its true light, and to see it in its own color,and to determine accordingly; as also to keep silence in the court, that the "still small voice" in which the Lord is, as he was with Elijah at mount Horeb, may not be drowned by the noise of the tumult of the passions. A meek man will never be angry at a child, at a servant, at a friend, till he has first seriously weighed the cause in just and even balances, while a steady and impartial hand holds the scales, and a free and unprejudiced thought adjudges it necessary. It is said of our Lord Jesus, John 11:33, he troubled himself; which denotes it to be a considerate act, and what he saw reason for. Things go right in the soul, when no resentments are admitted into the affections but what have first undergone the scrutiny of the understanding, and thence received their pass. That passion which comes not in by this door, but climbs up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber, (John 10:31), against which we should guard. In a time of war—and such a time it is in every sanctified soul, in a constant war between grace and corruption—due care must be taken to examine all travelers, especially those that come armed: whence they came, whither they go, whom they are for, and what they would have. Thus should it be in the well-governed, well-disciplined soul. Let meekness stand sentinel; and upon the advance of a provocation, let us examine who it is that we are about to be angry with, and for what. What are the merits of the cause; wherein lay the offense; what was the nature and tendency of it? What are likely to be the consequences of our resentments; and what harm will it be if we stifle them, and let them go no further? Such as these are the interrogatories which meekness would put to the soul; and in answer to them it would abstract all which passion is apt to suggest, and hear reason only as it becomes rational creatures to do.

The Word of God is Faithful 

45 There failed nothing of all the good things, which the Lord had said unto the house of Israel, but all came to pass. - Joshua 21:45

19 God is not as man, that he should lie, neither as the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? and hath he spoken, and shall he not accomplish it? 20 Behold, I have received commandment to bless: for he hath blessed, and I cannot alter it. Numbers 23:19-20

Not only every good thing in general, but every part and particular of that good thing; that, with all that was included in it, or were appendages to it, or circumstances of it, [all happened] exactly, precisely, and punctually, even everything relative to their temporal and spiritual good: so all that God promises to his spiritual Israel, with respect to their present comfort or everlasting happiness, all is exactly fulfilled, all his promises in Christ are yea and amen. Such an acknowledgment as this, here subscribed by Joshua, in the name of all Israel, we afterward find made by Solomon; and all Israel did in effect say amen to it, 1 kings 8:56 .The inviolable truth of God's promise, and the performance of it to the uttermost, is what all believers in Christ have been always ready to bear their testimony to. And if in any thing it has seemed to come short, they have been as ready to take all the blame to themselves. The foundation of God stands sure. Israel’s experience of God’s fidelity is here upon record, and is an acquittance under their hands to the honour of God, the vindication of his promise which had been so often distrusted, and the encouragement of all believers to the end of the world. 

Friday, November 28, 2014

Afternoon/Evening Reflection

Meekness teaches us prudently to govern our own anger whenever any thing occurs that is provoking. As it is the work of temperance to moderate our natural appetites in things that are pleasing to sense, so it is the work of meekness to moderate our natural passions against those things that are displeasing to sense, and to guide and govern our resentments. Anger in the soul is like mettle in a horse, good if it be well managed. Now meekness is the bridle, as wisdom is the hand that gives law to it, puts it into the right way, and keeps it in an even, steady, and regular pace; reducing it when it turns aside, preserving it in a due decorum, and restraining it and giving it check when at any time it grows headstrong and outrageous, and threatens mischief to ourselves or others. It must thus be held in, like the horse and mule, with bit and bridle, lest it break the hedge, run over those that stand in its way, or throw the rider himself headlong. It is true of anger, as we say of fire, that it is a good servant but a "bad master;" it is good on the hearth, but bad in the hangings. Meekness keeps it in its place, sets banks to this sea, and says, Hitherto thou shalt come, and no further; here shall thy proud waves be stayed.

Cities of Refuge; Sanctuary 

Some interesting thoughts by Matthew Henry:
I delight not in quibbling upon names, yet am willing to take notice of these. Kedesh signifies holy, and our refuge is the holy Jesus. Shechem, a shoulder, and the government is upon his shoulder. Hebron, fellowship, and believers are called into the fellowship of Christ Jesus our Lord. Bezer, a fortification, for he is a strong-hold to all those that trust in him. Ramoth, high or exalted, for him hath God exalted with his own right hand. Golan, joy or exultation, for in him all the saints are justified, and shall glory. Lastly, Besides all these, the horns of the altar, wherever it was, were a refuge to those who took hold of them, if the crime were such as that sanctuary allowed. 

Thursday, November 27, 2014

The First Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Corinthians 10:31

31 Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.

Therefore, in all things whatsoever, whether of a religious or civil nature, in all the common, as well as sacred, actions of life, keep the glory of God in view, and steadily pursue in all this one end of your being, the planting or advancing the vital knowledge and love of God, first in your own soul, then in all mankind. - John Wesley 

[So that] common actions of life are done to the glory of God, when every mercy is considered and owned as coming from him; and when we confess ourselves unworthy of any; and when we ascribe all we have to the free and unmerited goodness of God; and enjoy every mercy of this kind, as a fruit of our Father's love to us, as a blessing of the covenant, and as coming to us through the blood of Christ; when we are contented and satisfied with what we have, and act faith continually on God for future fresh supplies, and give thanks for all we receive: and if this, then much more eating and drinking in an ordinance way should be directed to the glory of God and Christ, as eating the bread, and drinking the wine in the Lord's supper; and which is so done, when it is done in a decent and reverend manner, in the exercise of faith, discerning the Lord's body, eating his flesh, and drinking his blood in a spiritual manner, without dependence on the actions done, and in remembrance of the love of God and Christ. [Likewise] in a natural, civil, or religious respect, in preaching, hearing, praying, fasting, giving of alms whatever in the closet, in the family, in the church, or in the world, in private, or in public. [Thereby showing] God's glory is the end of all his works and actions; in creation, providence, and grace; in election, in the covenant, in the blessings and promises of it, in redemption, in the effectual calling, and in bringing many sons to glory. The same is the end of all Christ's actions, as man and Mediator, of his doctrines and miracles, of his obedience, sufferings, and death in this world, and of his interceding life in the other; who, as he lives to make intercession for us, lives unto God, to the glory of God; and therefore the glory of God should be the end of all our actions: besides, without this no action can be truly called a good one; if a man seeks himself, his own glory, and popular applause, or has any sinister and selfish end in view in what he does, it cannot be said, nor will it be accounted by God to be a good action. Let all thy works be done to the glory of God, even when thou art employed in eating and drinking, and in the business of life, thou shalt not design thy bodily profit, but that thou mayest be strong to do the will of thy Creator. -  John Gill (Edited by RPW Sr.)

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Caleb; How His Devotion to God Should be our Own

Caleb was one of the twelve that were sent out on an errand by Moses, and he now reflected upon it with comfort, and mentioned it, not in pride, but as that which, being the consideration of the grant, was necessary to be inserted in the plea, That he made his report as it was in his heart, that is, he spoke as he thought when he spoke so honourably of the land of Canaan, so confidently of the power of God to put them in possession of it, and so contemptibly of the opposition that the Canaanites, even the Anakim themselves, could make against them, as we find he did, Numbers 13:30 and Numbers 14:7-9 . He did not do it merely to please Moses, or to keep the people quiet, much less from a spirit of contradiction to his fellows, but from a full conviction of the truth of what he said and a firm belief of the divine promise. That herein he wholly followed the Lord his God, that is, he kept close to his duty, and sincerely aimed at the glory of God in it. He conformed himself to the divine will with an eye to the divine favour. He had obtained this testimony from God himself (Numbers 14:24 ), and therefore it was not vain-glory in him to speak of it, any more than it is for those who have God’s Spirit witnessing with their spirits that they are the children of God humbly and thankfully to tell others for their encouragement what God has done for their souls. Note, Those that follow God fully when they are young shall have both the credit and comfort of it when they are old, and the reward of it for ever in the heavenly Canaan.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Afternoon/Evening Reflection


There is, meekness towards our brethren towards "all men." Titus 3:2. Meekness is especially conversant about the affection of anger: not wholly to extirpate and eradicate from the soul the holy indignation of which the Scriptures speak, for that were to quench a coal which sometimes there is occasion for, even at God's altar, and to blunt the edge even of the spiritual weapons with which we are to carry on our spiritual warfare; but its office is to direct and govern this affection, that we may be angry and not sin. Ephesians 4:26. Meekness, in the school of the philosophers, is a virtue consisting in a mean between the extremes of rash excessive anger on the one hand, and a defect of anger on the other; a mean which Aristotle confesses it very hard exactly to gain. Meekness, in the school of Christ, is one of the fruits of the Spirit. Galatians 5:22, 23. It is a grace wrought by the Holy Ghost both as a sanctifier and as a comforter in the hearts of all true believers, teaching and enabling them at all times to keep their passions under the conduct and government of religion and right reason. I observe that it is wrought in the hearts of all true believers, because, though there are some whose natural temper is unhappily sour and harsh, yet wheresoever there is true grace, there is a disposition to strive against, and strength in some measure to conquer such a disposition. And though in this, as in other graces, an absolute sinless perfection cannot be expected in this present state, yet we are to labor after it, and press towards it. More particularly, the work and office of meekness is to enable us prudently to govern our own anger when at any time we are provoked, and patiently to bear the anger of others, that it may not be a provocation to us. The former is its office especially in superiors, the latter in inferiors, and both in equals.

The Book of Joshua Chapter 13:14
Geneva Bible Translation

14 Only unto the tribe of Levi he gave none inheritance, but the sacrifices of the Lord God of Israel are his inheritance, as he said unto him.

Namely, in the land beyond Jordan, where yet a considerable part of the Levites were to have their settled abode. This is mentioned as the reason both why Moses gave all that land to the Reubenites and Gadites and Manassites; and why Joshua should divide the land only into nine parts and an half, as was said, in verse 7 , because Levi was otherwise provided for.Made by fire - Which are here put for all the sacrifices and oblations, including first - fruits and tithes, that were assigned to the Levites; and this passage is repeated, to prevent those calumnies and injuries which God foresaw the Levites were likely to meet with, from the malice, envy and covetousness of their 
Notes by John Wesley 

Monday, November 24, 2014

The Book of Joshua Chapter 12:1-6
Geneva Bible Translation

1 And these are the Kings of the land, which the children of Israel smote and possessed their land on the other side Jordan toward the rising of the sun, from the river Arnon, unto mount Hermon, and all the plain Eastward. 2 Sihon king of the Amorites, that dwelt in Heshbon, having dominion from Aroer, which is beside the river of Arnon, and from the middle of the river, and from half Gilead unto the river of Jabbok, in the border of the children of Ammon. 3 And from the plain unto the sea of Chinneroth Eastward, and unto the sea of the plain, even the salt sea Eastward, the way to Beth Jeshimoth, and from the South under the springs of Pisgah. 4 They conquered also the coast of Og king of Bashan of the remnant of the giants, which dwelt at Ashtaroth, and at Edrei, 5 And reigned in mount Hermon, and in Salcah, and in all Bashan, unto the border of the Geshurites, and the Maachathites, and half Gilead: even the border of Sihon king of Heshbon. 
6 Moses the servant of the Lord, and the children of Israel smote them: Moses also the servant of the Lord gave their land for a possession unto the Reubenites, and unto the Gadites, and to half the tribe of Manasseh.

Joshua, or whoever else is the historian before he comes to sum up the new conquests Israel had made, in these verses receives their former conquests in Moses’s time, under whom they became masters of the great and potent kingdoms of Sihon and Og. Note, Fresh mercies must not drown the remembrance of former mercies, nor must the glory of the present instruments of good to the church be suffered to eclipse and diminish the just honour of those who have gone before them, and who were the blessings and ornaments of their day. Joshua’s services and achievements are confessedly great, but let not those under Moses be overlooked and forgotten, since God was the same who wrought both.
Notes - Matthew Henry’s Complete Bible Commentary

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Afternoon/Evening Reflection

When the methods of Providence are dark and intricate, and we are quite at a loss what God is about to do with us—his way is in the sea, and his path in the great waters, and his footsteps are not known, clouds and darkness are round about him—a meek and quiet spirit acquiesces in an assurance that all things shall work together for good to us, if we love God, though we cannot apprehend how or which way. It teaches us to follow God with an implicit faith, as Abraham did when he went out, not knowing whither he went, but knowing very well whom he followed. It quiets us with this, that though what he doeth we know not now, yet we shall know hereafter. John 13:7.  When poor Job was brought to that dismal plunge, that he could no way trace the footsteps of divine Providence, but was almost lost in the labyrinth, Job 23:8-9, how quietly does he sit down with this thought: "But he knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold."

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Afternoon/Evening Reflection

It is the silent submission of the soul to the providence of God, for that also is the will of God concerning us. When the events of Providence are grievous and afflictive, displeasing to sense and crossing our secular interests, meekness not only quiets us under them, but reconciles us to them; and enables us not only to bear, but to receive evil as well as good at the hand of the Lord; which is the excellent frame that Job argues himself into: it is to kiss the rod, and even to accept of the punishment of our iniquity, taking all in good part that God does; not daring to strive with our Maker, no nor desiring to prescribe to him, but being dumb, and not opening the mouth, because God does it. How meek was Aaron under the severe dispensation which took away his sons with a particular mark of divine wrath. He "held his peace." God was sanctified, and therefore Aaron was satisfied, and had not a word to say against it. Unlike to this was the temper, or rather the distemper of David, who was not like a man after God's own heart when he was displeased because the Lord had made a breach upon Uzzah, as if God must have asked David leave thus to assert the honor of his ark. When God's anger is kindled, our must be stifled; such is the law of meekness, that whatsoever pleases God must not displease us. David was in a better frame when he penned the 56thPsalm, the title of which, some think, bespeaks the calmness and submissiveness of his spirit when the Philistines took him in Gath. It is entitled, The silent dove afar off. It was his calamity that he was afar off, but he was then as a silent dove—mourning perhaps, Isaiah 38:14—but not murmuring, not struggling, not resisting, when seized by the birds of prey; and the psalm he penned in this frame was Michtam, a golden psalm. The language of this meekness is that of Eli, "It is the Lord;" and that of David to the same purport, "Here am I; let him do to me as seemeth good unto him." Not only, He can do what he will, subscribing to his power, for who can stay his hand? or, He may do what he will, subscribing to his sovereignty, for he gives not account of any of his matters; or, He will do what he will, subscribing to his unchangeableness, for he is of one mind, and who can turn him? but, Let him do what he will, subscribing to his wisdom and goodness, as Hezekiah, "Good is the word of the Lord, which thou hast spoken." Let him do what he will, for he will do what is best; and therefore if God should refer the matter to me, says the meek and quiet soul, being well assured that he knows what is good for me better than I do for myself, I would refer it to him again: "He shall choose our inheritance for us."

The Book of Joshua Chapter 10:12-14
Geneva Bible Translation Ed. 1599

12 Then spake Joshua to the Lord, in the day when the Lord gave the Amorites before the children of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel, Sun, stay thou in Gibeon, and thou Moon, in the valley of Aijalon. 13 And the Sun abode, and the moon stood still, until the people avenged themselves upon their enemies: (is not this written in the book of Jasher?) so the Sun abode in the midst of the heaven, and hasted not to go down for a whole day. 14 And there was no day like that before it, nor after it, that the Lord heard the voice of a man: for the Lord fought for Israel.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Afternoon/Evening Reflection

The promise of teaching is made to the meek, because they are disposed to learn: "the meek he will teach his way." The word of God is gospel indeed, "good tidings to the meek;" they will entertain it and bid it welcome. The "poor in spirit" are evangelized; and Wisdom's alms are given to those that with meekness wait daily at her gates, and like beggars wait at the posts of her doors. Proverbs 8:34. The language of this meekness is that of the child Samuel: "Speak, Lord, for thy servant heareth;" and that of Joshua, who, when he was in that high post of honor, giving command to Israel, and bidding defiance to all their enemie —his breast filled with great and bold thoughts—yet, upon the intimation of a message from heaven, thus submits himself to it: "What saith my Lord unto his servant?" and that of Paul—and it was the first breath of the new man—"Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?" and that of Cornelius: "And now we are all here present before God, to hear all things that are commanded thee of God;" and that of the good man I have read of, who, when he was going to hear the word, used to say, "Now let the word of the Lord come; and if I had six hundred necks, I would bow them all to the authority of it." To receive the word with meekness, is to be delivered into it as into a mould: this seems to be Paul's metaphor in Romans 6:17, that "form of doctrine which was delivered you." Meekness softens the wax, that it may receive the impression of the seal, whether it be for doctrine or reproof, for correction or instruction in righteousness. It opens the ear to discipline, silences objections, and suppresses the risings of the carnal mind against the word; consenting to the law that it is good and esteeming all the precepts concerning all things to be right, even when they give the greatest check to flesh and blood.

Note - Cornelius is believed to be the first gentile convert. 

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Afternoon/Evening Reflection

There is meekness towards God, and it is the easy and quiet submission of the soul to his whole will, according as he is pleased to make it known, whether by his word or by his providence. It is the silent submission of the soul to the word of God: the understanding bowed to every divine truth, and the will to every divine precept; and both without murmuring or disputing. The word is then an "engrafted word," when it is received with meekness, that is, with a sincere willingness to be taught, and desire to learn. Meekness is a grace that cleaves the stock, and holds it open, that the word, as a shoot, may be grafted in; it breaks up the fallow ground, and makes it fit to receive the seed; captivates the high thoughts, and lays the soul like white paper under God's pen. When the dayspring takes hold of the ends of the earth, it is said to be turned as clay to the seal. Job 38:14. Meekness does, in like manner, dispose the soul to admit the rays of divine light, which before it rebelled against; it opens the heart, as Lydia's was opened and sets us down with Mary at the feet of Christ, the learner's place and posture.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Afternoon/Evening Reflection

Meekness may be considered with respect both to God and to our brethren; it belongs to both the tables of the law, and attends upon the first great commandment, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God; as well as the second, which is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself; though its especial reference is to the latter.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Afternoon/Evening Reflection

Meekness and quietness seem to import much the same thing, but the latter having something of metaphor in it, will illustrate the former, and therefore we shall speak of them distinctly. We must be of a MEEK spirit. Meekness is easiness of spirit: not a sinful easiness to be debauched, as Ephraim's, who willingly walked after the  commandment of the idolatrous princes; nor a simple easiness to be imposed upon and deceived, as Rehoboam's, who, when he was forty years old, is said to be young and tender-hearted; but a gracious easiness to be wrought upon by that which is good, as theirs whose heart of stone is taken away and to whom a heart of flesh is given. Meekness accommodates the soul to every occurrence, and so makes a man easy to himself and to all about him. The Latins call a meek man mansuetus, which alludes to the taming and reclaiming of creatures wild by nature, and bringing them to be tractable and familiar. James 3:7,-8. Man's corrupt nature has made him like the wild ass used to the wilderness, or the swift dromedary traversing her ways. Jeremiah 2:23- 24. But the grace of meekness, when that gets dominion in the soul, alters the temper of it, submits it to management; and now the wolf dwells with the lamb, and the leopard lies down with the kid, and a little child may lead them; for enmities are laid aside, and there is nothing to hurt or destroy. Isaiah 11:6, 9.

James 3:7,-8; Jeremiah 2:23- 24; Isaiah 11:6, 9

The Book of Joshua 7:13
Geneva Bible Translation Ed. 1599

13 Up therefore, sanctify the people, and say, Sanctify yourselves against tomorrow: for thus saith the Lord God of Israel, There is an execrable thing among you, O Israel, therefore ye cannot stand against your enemies, until ye have put the execrable thing from among you

Monday, November 17, 2014

Joshua 6:18 
Geneva Bible Translation Ed. 1599

18 Notwithstanding, be ye ware of the execrable thing, lest ye make yourselves execrable, and in taking of the execrable thing, make also the host of Israel execrable, and trouble it.

Consider also this day for additional meditation; 
Ezekiel 23:49;  1 John 5:21; Revelation 9:20-21

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Sunday Sermon
Matthew Henry Theologian 1662-1714

Joshua 5:13-15

13 And when Joshua was by Jericho, he lift up his eyes and looked: and behold, there stood a man against him, having a sword drawn in his hand: and Joshua went unto him, and said unto him, Art thou on our side, or on our adversaries? 14 And he said, Nay, but as a captain of the host of the Lord am I now come: then Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and did worship, and said unto him, What saith the Lord unto his servant? 15 And the captain of the Lord’s host said unto Joshua, Loose thy shoe of thy foot: for the place whereon thou standest, is holy: and Joshua did so.

 We have hitherto found God often speaking to Joshua, but we read not till now of any appearance of God’s glory to him; now that his difficulties increased his encouragements were increased in proportion. Observe,I. The time when he was favoured with this vision. It was immediately after he had performed the great solemnities of circumcision and the passover; then God made himself known to him. Note, We may then expect the discoveries of the divine grace when we are found in the way of our duty and are diligent and sincere in our attendance on holy ordinances.II. The place where he had this vision. It was by Jericho; in Jericho, so the word is; in it by faith and hope, though as yet he had not begun to lay siege to it; in it in thought and expectation; or in the fields of Jericho, hard by the city. There, it should seem, he was all alone, fearless of danger, because sure of the divine protection. There he was (some think) meditating and praying; and to those who are so employed God often graciously manifests himself. Or perhaps there he was to take a view of the city, to observe its fortifications, and contrive how to attack it; and perhaps he was at a loss within himself how to make his approaches, when God came and directed him. Note, God will help those that help themselves. Vigilantibus non dormientibus succurrit lex—The law succours those who watch, not those who sleep. Joshua was in his post as a general, when God came and made himself known as Generalissimo.III. The appearance itself. Joshua, as is usual with those that are full of thought and care, was looking downwards, his eyes fixed on the ground, when of a sudden he was surprised with the appearance of a man who stood before him at some little distance, which obliged him to lift up his eyes, and gave a diversion to his musings, (verse 13) He appeared to him as a man, but a considerable man, and one fit to be taken notice of. Now, 1. We have reason to think that this man was the Son of God, the eternal Word, who, before he assumed the human nature for a perpetuity, frequently appeared in a human shape. So bishop Patrick thinks, consonant to the judgment of the fathers. Joshua gave him divine honours, and he received them, which a created angel would not have done, and he is called Jehovah, (Chronicles 6:2 ). He here appeared as a soldier, with his sword drawn in his hand. To Abraham in his tent he appeared as a traveller; to Joshua in the field as a man of war. Christ will be to his people what their faith expects and desires. Christ had his sword drawn, which served, (1.) To justify the war Joshua was engaging in, and to show him that it was of God, who gave him commission to kill and slay. If the sovereign draw the sword, this proclaims war, and authorizes the subject to do so too. The sword is then well drawn when Christ draws it, and gives the banner to those that fear him, to be displayed because of the truth, (Psalm 60:4) (2.) To encourage him to carry it on with vigour; for Christ’s sword drawn in his hand denotes how ready he is for the defence and salvation of his people, who through him shall do valiantly. His sword turns every way.IV. The bold question with which Joshua accosted him; he did not send a servant, but stepped up to him himself, and asked, Art thou for us or for our adversaries? which intimates his readiness to entertain him if he were for them, and to fight him if he were against them. This shows, 1. His great courage and resolution. He was not ruffled by the suddenness of the appearance, nor daunted with the majesty and bravery which no doubt appeared in the countenance of the person he saw; but, with a presence of mind that became so great a general, put this fair question to him. God had bidden Joshua be courageous, and by this it appears that he was so; for what God by his word requires of his people he does by his grace work in them. 2. His great concern for the people and their cause; so heartily has he embarked in the interests of Israel that none shall stand by him with the face of a man but he will know whether he be a friend or a foe. It should seem, he suspected him for an enemy, a Goliath that had come to defy the armies of the living God, and to give him a challenge. Thus apt are we to look upon that as against us which is most for us. The question plainly implies that the cause between the Israelites and the Canaanites, between Christ and Beelzebub, will not admit of a neutrality. He that is not with us is against us. V. The account he gave of himself, (verse 14) "Nay, not for your adversaries, you may be sure, but as captain of the host of the Lord have I now come, not only for you as a friend, but over you as commander in chief.’’ Here were now, as of old (Genesis 32:2 ), Mahanaim, two hosts, a host of Israelites ready to engage the Canaanites and a host of angels to protect them therein, and he, as captain of both, conducts the host of Israel and commands the host of angels to their assistance. Perhaps in allusion to this Christ is called the captain of our salvation (Hebrews 2:10 ), and a leader and commander to the people, (Isaiah 55:4). Those cannot but be victorious that have such a captain. He now came as captain to review the troops, to animate them, and to give the necessary orders for the besieging of Jericho.VI. The great respect Joshua paid him when he understood who he was; it is probable that he perceived, not only by what he said but by some other sensible indications, that he was a divine person, and not a man. 1. Joshua paid homage to him: He fell on his face to the earth and did worship. Joshua was himself general of the forces of Israel, and yet he was far from looking with jealousy upon this stranger, who produced a commission as captain of the Lord’s host above him; he did not offer to dispute his claims, but cheerfully submitted to him as his commander. It will become the greatest of men to be humble and reverent in their addresses to God. 2. He begged to receive commands and directions from him: What saith my Lord unto his servant? His former question was not more bold and soldier-like than this was pious and saint-like; nor was it any disparagement to the greatness of Joshua’s spirit thus to humble himself when he had to do with God: even crowned heads cannot bow too low before the throne of the Lord Jesus, who is King of kings, (Psalm 2:10-11, Psalm 72:10-11; Revelations 19:16 ). Observe, (1.) The relation he owns between himself and Christ, that Christ was his Lord and himself his servant and under his command, Christ his Captain and himself a soldier under him, to do as he is bidden, (Matthew 8:9). Note, The foundation of all acceptable obedience is laid in a sincere dedication of ourselves, as servants to Jesus Christ as our Lord, (Psalm 16:2 ). (2.) The enquiry he makes pursuant to this relation: What saith my Lord? which implies an earnest desire to know the will of Christ, and a cheerful readiness and resolution to do it. Joshua owns himself an inferior officer, and stands to receive orders. This temper of mind shows him fit for the post he was in; for those know best how to command that know how to obey.VII. The further expressions of reverence which this divine captain required from Joshua (v. 15): Loose thy shoe from off thy foot, in token of reverence and respect (which with us are signified by uncovering the head), and as an acknowledgment of a divine presence, which, while it continued there, did in a manner sanctify the place and dignify it. We are accustomed to say of a person for whom we have a great affection that we love the very ground he treads upon; thus Joshua must show his reverence for this divine person, he must not tread the ground he stood on with his dirty shoes, (Ecclesiastes  5:1). Outward expressions of inward reverence, and a religious awe of God, well become us, and are required of us, whenever we approach to him in solemn ordinances. Bishop Patrick well observes here that the very same orders that God gave to Moses at the bush, when he was sending him to bring Israel out of Egypt (Exodus 3:5 ), he here gives to Joshua, for the confirming of his faith in the promise he had lately given him, that as he had been with Moses so he would be with him, (Chronicles 1:5). Had Moses such a presence of God with him as, when it became sensible, sanctified the ground? So had Joshua.And (lastly) Hereby he prepares him to receive the instructions he was about to give him concerning the siege of Jericho, which this captain of the Lord’s host had now come to give Israel possession of.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Joshua 4:20-24
Geneva Bible Translation Ed. 1599

Study notes from Matthew Henry’s Bible Commentary

20 Also the twelve stones, which they took out of Jordan, did Joshua pitch in Gilgal. 21 And he spake unto the children of Israel, saying, When your children shall ask their fathers in time to come, and say, What mean these stones? 22 Then ye shall show your children, and say, Israel came over this Jordan on dry land: 23 For the Lord your God dried up the waters of Jordan before you, until ye were gone over as the Lord your God did the red Sea, which he dried up before us, till we were gone over, 24 That all the people of the world may know that the hand of the Lord is mighty, that ye might fear the Lord your God continually.

The twelve stones which were laid down in Gilgal (verse 8) are here set up either one upon another, yet so as that they might be distinctly counted, or one by another in rows; for after they were fixed they are not call a heap of stones, but these stones. I. It is here taken for granted that posterity would enquire into the meaning of them, supposing them intended for a memorial: Your children shall ask their fathers (for who else should they ask?) What mean these stones? Notes, Those that will be wise when they are old must be inquisitive when they are young. Our Lord Jesus, though he had in himself the fulness of knowledge, has by his example taught children and young people to hear and ask questions, (Luke 2:46) Perhaps when John was baptizing in Jordan at Bethabara (the house of passage, where the people passed over) he pointed at these very stones, while saying (Matthew 3:9 ) God is able of these stones (which were at first set up by the twelve tribes) to raise up children unto Abraham. The stones being the memorial of the miracle, the children’s question gave occasion for the improvement of it; but our Saviour says (Luke 19:40 ), If the children should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out; for one way or other the Lord will be glorified in his works of wonder.II. The parents are here directed what answer to give to this enquiry (verse 22): "You shall let your children know that which you have yourselves learned from the written word and from your fathers.’’ Note, It is the duty of parents to acquaint their children betimes with the word and works of God, that they may be trained up in the way they should go.1. They must let their children know that Jordan was driven back before Israel, who went through it upon dry land, and that this was the very place where they passed over. They saw how deep and strong a stream Jordan now was, but the divine power put a stop to it, even when it overflowed all its banks—"and this for you, that live so long after.’’ Note, God’s mercies to our ancestors were mercies to us; and we should take all occasions to revive the remembrance of the great things God did for our fathers in the days of old. The place thus marked would be a memorandum to them: Israel came over this Jordan. A local memory would be of use to them, and the sight of the place remind them of that which was done there; and not only the inhabitants of that country, but strangers and travelers, would look upon these stones and receive instruction. Many, upon the sight of the stones, would go to their Bibles, and there read the history of this wondrous work; and some perhaps, upon reading the history, though living at a distance, would have the curiosity to go and see the stones.2. They must take that occasion to tell their children of the drying up of the Red Sea forty years before: As the Lord your God did to the Red Sea. Note. (1.) It greatly magnifies later mercies to compare them with former mercies, for, by making the comparison, it appears that God is the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever. (2.) Later mercies should bring to remembrance former mercies, and revive our thankfulness for them.3. They must put them in the way of making a good use of these works of wonder, the knowledge whereof was thus carefully transmitted to them, (verse 24)  1. The power of God was hereby magnified. All the world was or might be convinced that the hand of the Lord is mighty, that nothing is too hard for God to do; nor can any power, no, not that of nature itself, obstruct what God will effect. The deliverances of God’s people are instructions to all people, and fair warnings not to contend with Omnipotence. 2. The people of God were engaged and encouraged to persevere in his service "That you might fear the Lord your God, and consequently do your duty to him, and this for ever,’’ or all days (margin), "every day, all the days of your lives, and your seed throughout your generations.’’ The remembrance of this wonderful work should effectually restrain them from the worship of other Gods, and constrain them to abide and abound in the service of their own God. Note, In all the instructions and informations parents give their children, they should have this chiefly in their eye, to teach and engage them to fear God for ever. Serious Godliness is the best learning.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Joshua 4:10-19 
 Geneva Bible Translation Ed. 1599

10 So the Priests, which bare the Ark, stood in the midst of Jordan, until everything was finished that the Lord had commanded Joshua to say unto the people, according to all that Moses charged Joshua: then the people hasted and went over. 11 When all the people were clean passed over, the Ark of the Lord went over also, and the Priests before the people. 12 And the sons of Reuben, and the sons of Gad, and half the tribe of Manasseh went over before the children of Israel armed, as Moses had charged them. 13 Even forty thousand prepared for war, went before the Lord unto battle, into the plain of Jericho. 14 That day the Lord magnified Joshua in the sight of all Israel, and they feared him, as they feared Moses all the days of his life. 15 And the Lord spake unto Joshua, saying, 16 Command the Priests that bear the Ark of the testimony, to come up out of Jordan. 17 Joshua therefore commanded the Priests, saying, Come ye up out of Jordan. 18 And when the Priests that bare the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord, were come up out of the midst of Jordan, and as soon as the soles of the Priests’ feet were set on the dry land, the waters of Jordan returned unto their place, and flowed over all the banks thereof, as they did before. 19 So the  people came up out of Jordan the tenth day of the first month, and pitched in Gilgal, in the East side of Jericho.

The inspired historian seems to be so well pleased with his subject here that he is loth to quit it, and is therefore very particular in his narrative, especially in observing how closely Joshua pursued the orders God gave him, and that he did nothing without divine direction, finishing all that the Lord had commanded him (verse 10), which is also said to be what Moses commanded. We read not of any particular commands that Moses gave to Joshua about this matter: the thing was altogether new to him. It must therefore be understood of the general instructions Moses had given him to follow the divine direction, to deliver that to the people which he received of the Lord, and to take all occasions to remind them of their duty to God, as the best return for his favours to them. This which Moses, who was now dead and gone, had said to him, he had in mind at this time, and did accordingly. It is well for us to have the good instructions that have been given us ready to us when we have occasion for them. I. The people hasted and passed over, (verse 10) Some understand this of the twelve men that carried the stones, but it seems rather to be meant of the body of the people; for, though an account was given of their passing over (verse 1), yet here it is repeated for the sake of this circumstance, which was to be added, that they passed over in haste, either because Joshua by their officers ordered them to make haste, for it was to be but one day’s work and they must not leave a hoof behind, or perhaps it was their own inclination that hastened them. 1. Some hasted because they were not able to trust God. They were afraid the waters should return upon them, being conscious of guilt, and diffident of the divine power and goodness. 2. Others because they were not willing to tempt God to continue the miracle longer than needs must, nor would they put the patience of the priests that bore the ark too much to the stretch by unnecessary delay. 3. Others because they were eager to be in Canaan, and would thus show how much they longed after that pleasant land. 4. Those that considered least, yet hasted because others did. He that believeth doth not make haste to anticipate God’s counsels, but he makes haste to attend them, Isaiah. 28:16 .II. The two tribes and a half led the van, (verse 12- 13) So they had promised when they had their lot given them on that side Jordan, (Numbers 32:27)And Joshua had lately reminded them of their promise, (Chronicles 1:12-15) It was fit that those who had the first settlement should be the first in the encounter of difficulties, the rather because they had not the incumbrance of families with them as the other tribes had, and they were all chose men, and fit for service, ready armed. It was a good providence that they had so strong a body to lead them on, and would be an encouragement to the rest. And the two tribes had no reason to complain: the post of danger is the post of honour.III. When all the people had got clear to the other side, the priests with the ark came up out of Jordan. This, one would think, should have been done of course; their own reason would tell them that now there was no more occasion for them, and yet they did not stir a step till Joshua ordered them to move, and Joshua did not order them out of Jordan till God directed him to do so, (verses 15-17) So observant were they of Joshua, and he of God, which was their praise, as it was their happiness to be under such good direction. How low a condition soever God may at any time bring his priests or people to, let them patiently wait, till by his providence he shall call them up out of it, as the priests here were called to come up out of Jordan, and let them not be weary of waiting, while they have the tokens of God’s presence with them, even the ark of the covenant, in the depth of their adversity.IV. As soon as ever the priests and the ark had come up out of Jordan, the waters of the river, which had stood on a heap, gradually flowed down according to their nature and usual course, and soon filled the channel again, (verse 18) This makes it yet more evident that the stop which had now been given to the river was not from any secret natural cause, but purely from the power of God’s presence, and for the sake of his Israel; for when Israel’s turn was served, and the token of God’s presence was removed, immediately the water went forward again; so that if it be asked, What ailed thee, O Jordan! that thou wast driven back? It must be answered, It was purely in obedience to the God of Israel, and in kindness to the Israel of God. There is therefore none like unto the God of Jeshurun; (Yshuruwn yesh-oo-roon', upright; Jeshurun, a symbol. name for Israel)  happy also art thou, O Israel! who is like unto thee, O people? Some observe here, by way of allusion, that when the ark, and the priests that bore it, are removed from any place, the flood-gates are drawn up, the defence has departed, and an inundation of judgments is to be expected shortly. Those that are unchurched will soon be undone. The glory has departed if the ark is taken.V. Notice is taken of the honour put upon Joshua by all this (verse 14): On that day the Lord magnified Joshua, both by the fellowship he admitted him to with himself, speaking to him upon all occasions and being ready to be consulted by him, and by the authority he confirmed him in over both priests and people. Those that honour God he will honour, and when he will magnify a man, as he had said he would magnify Joshua (Chronicles 3:7 ), he will do it effectually. Yet it was not for Joshua’s sake only that he was thus magnified, but to put him in a capacity of doing so much the more service to Israel, for hereupon they feared him as they feared Moses. See here what is the best and surest way to command the respect of inferiors, and to gain their reverence and observance, not by blustering and threatening, and carrying it with a high hand, but by holiness and love, and all possible indications of a constant regard to their welfare, and to God’s will and honour. Those are feared in the best manner, and to the best purpose, who make it to appear that God is with them, and that they set him before them. Those that are sanctified are truly magnified, and are worthy of double honour. Favourites of heaven should be looked on with awe.VI. An account is kept of the time of this great event (verse 19): it was on the tenth day of the first month, just forty years since they came out of Egypt, wanting five days. God had said in his wrath that they should wander forty years in the wilderness, but, to make up that forty, we must take in the first year, which was then past, and had been a year of triumph in their deliverance out of Egypt, and this last, which had been a year of triumph likewise on the other side Jordan, so that all the forty were not years of sorrow; and at last he brought them into Canaan five days before the forty years were ended, to show how little pleasure God takes in punishing, how swift he is to show mercy, and that for the elects’ sake the days of trouble are shortened, (Matthew 24:22) God ordered it so that they should enter Canaan four days before the annual solemnity of the Passover, and on the very day when the preparation for it was to begin (Exodus 12:3), because he would have their entrance into Canaan graced and sanctified with that religious feast, and would have them then to be reminded of their deliverance out of Egypt, that, comparing them together, God might be glorified as the Alpha and Omega of their bliss.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Be Never so Busy as to Exclude God

Imagine how busy Joshua and all the men of war were while they were passing over Jordan, when besides their own marching into an enemy’s country, and in the face of the enemy, which could not but occasion them many thoughts of fear, they had their wives, and children, and families, their cattle, and tents, and all their effects, bag and baggage, to convey by this strange and untrodden path, which we must suppose either very muddy or very stony, troublesome to the weak and frightful to the timorous, the descent to the bottom of the river and the ascent out of it steep, so that every man must needs have his head full of care and his hands full of business, and Joshua more than any of them. And yet, in the midst of all his hurry, care must be taken to perpetuate the memorial of this wonderous work of God, and this care might not be adjourned to a time of greater leisure. Note, how much soever we have to do of business for ourselves and our families, we must not neglect nor omit what we have to do for the glory of God and the serving of his honour, for that is our best business.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

A Meditation for Today

[When] they [the children of Israel] came to Jordan and lodged there, (Joshua 3:1) Though they were not yet told how they should pass the river, and were unprovided for the passing of it in any ordinary way, yet they went forward in faith, having been told (chronicles 1:11 ) that they should pass it. We must go on in the way of our duty though we foresee difficulties, trusting God to help us through them when we come to them. Let us proceed as far as we can, and depend on divine sufficiency for that which we find ourselves not sufficient for.
Matthew Henry - Theologian - 1662-1714

Monday, November 10, 2014

The Book of Joshua 1:7-9 
(Geneva Bible Translation Ed. 1599)

7 Only be thou strong, and of a most valiant courage, that thou mayest observe and do according to all the Law which Moses my servant hath commanded thee: thou shalt not turn away from it to the right hand, nor to the left, that thou mayest prosper whithersoever thou goest. 8 Let not this book of the Law depart out of thy mouth, but meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe and do according to all that is written therein: for then shalt thou make thy way prosperous, and then shalt thou have good success. 9 Have not I commanded thee, saying, Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be discouraged? for I the Lord thy God will be with thee whithersoever thou goest. 

Related Scripture - Psalm 119:16, 48, 50, 57, 74, 160; Isaiah 51:6, 59:21; John 17:14, 17; James 1:21-22

Sunday, November 9, 2014

The Book of Deuteronomy 33:3, 29 
(Geneva Bible Translation Ed. 1599)

3 Though he love the people, yet all thy Saints are in thine hands: and they are humbled at thy feet, to receive thy words
29 Blessed art thou, O Israel: who is like unto thee, O people saved by the Lord, the shield of thine help, and which is the sword of thy glory? therefore thine enemies shall be in subjection to thee, and thou shalt tread upon their high places.

33:3 - The people - The tribes of Israel. The sense is, this law, though delivered with fire and smoke and thunder, which might seem to portend nothing but hatred and terror, yet in truth was given to Israel, in great love, as being the great mean of their temporal and eternal salvation. Yea, he, embraced the people, and laid them in his bosom! so the word signifies, which speaks not only the dearest love, but the most tender and careful protection. All God's saints or holy ones, that is, his people, were in thy hand, that is, under God's care to protect, direct and govern them. These words are spoken to God: the change of persons, his and thy, is most frequent in the Hebrew tongue. This clause may farther note God's kindness to Israel, in upholding them when the fiery law was delivered, which was done with so much terror that not only the people were ready to sink under it, but even Moses did exceedingly fear and quake. But God sustained both Moses and the people, in or by his hand, whereby he in a manner covered them that no harm might come to them. At thy feet - Like scholars to receive instructions. He alludes to the place where the people waited when the law was delivered, which was at the foot of the mount. Every one - Of the people will receive or submit to thy instructions and commands. This may respect either, the peoples promise when they heard the law, that they would hear and do all that was commanded. Or, their duty to do so.

33:29 - The shield of they help - By whom thou are sufficiently guarded against all assailants; and the sword of thy excellency - Or, thy most excellent sword, that is, thy strength and the author of all thy past or approaching victories. Those in whose hearts is the excellency of holiness, have God himself for their shield and sword. They are defended by the whole armour of God: His word is their sword, and faith their shield.And thine enemies shall be found liars unto thee - Who said they would destroy thee: or at least, that they would never submit: and thou shalt tread upon their high places - Their strong holds, palaces and temples.Thus shall the God of peace tread Satan under the feet of all believers, and that shortly.

Notes on verses three and twenty nine by John Wesley 

Saturday, November 8, 2014

The Book of Deuteronomy 32:46-47 
(1599 Geneva Bible Translation)

46 Then he said unto them, Set your hearts unto all the words which I testify against you this day, that ye may command them unto your children, that they may observe and do all the words of this Law. 47 For it is no vain word concerning you, but it is your life, and by this word ye shall prolong your days in the land, whither ye go over Jordan to possess it.

Related Scripture - Deuteronomy 8:3; Matthew 4:4; Hebrews 4:12; 

Friday, November 7, 2014

The Book of Deuteronomy 32:3-4 
(1599 Geneva Bible Translation)

3 For I will publish the Name of the Lord: give ye glory unto our God. 4 Perfect is the work of the mighty God: for all his ways are judgment. God is true, and without wickedness: just and righteous is he.

Consider also this day - Isaiah 49:23; Romans 1:16; 2 Timothy 1:12

Thursday, November 6, 2014

The Book of Deuteronomy 31:28-29
 (GNV Translation)

28 Gather unto me all the Elders of your tribes, and your officers, that I may speak these words in their audience, and call heaven and earth to record against them. 29 For I am sure that after my death, ye will utterly be corrupt and turn from the way which I have commanded you: therefore evil will come upon you at the length, because ye will commit evil in the sight of the Lord, by provoking him to anger through the work of your hands.

Note according to Strong’s Concordance the word corrupt translates as:
 'alach aw-lakh' a primitive root; to muddle, i.e. (figuratively and intransitive) to turn (morally) corrupt:--become filthy

Note also according to Webster’s Dictionary (Ed. 1913 & 1828) 
1. Changed from a sound to a putrid state; spoiled; tainted; vitiated; unsound.
2. Changed from a state of uprightness, correctness, truth, etc., to a worse state; vitiated; depraved; debased; perverted; as, corrupt language; corrupt judges.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Some encouragement for this morning.

"What God has made our duty we have reason to expect opportunity and assistance from him for the doing of"
Matthew Henry - Theologian 1662-1714 

Monday, November 3, 2014

The Book of Deuteronomy 
Chapter 30:11-20

11 For this commandment which I command thee this day, is not hid from thee, neither is it far off. 12 It is not in heaven, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go up for us to heaven, and bring it us, and cause us to hear it, that we may do it? 13 Neither is it beyond the sea, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go over the sea for us, and bring it us, and cause us to hear it, that we may do it? 14 But the word is very near unto thee: even in thy mouth, and in thine heart, for to do it. 15 Behold, I have set before thee this day life and good, death and evil, 16 In that I command thee this day, to love the Lord thy God, to walk in his ways, and to keep his commandment, and his ordinances, and his laws, that thou mayest live, and be multiplied, and that the Lord thy God may bless thee in the land, whither thou goest to possess it. 17 But if thine heart turn away, so that thou wilt not obey, but shalt be seduced and worship other gods, and serve them, 18 I pronounce unto you this day, that ye shall surely perish, ye shall not prolong your days in the land, whither thou passest over Jordan to possess it. 19 I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live, 20 By loving the Lord thy God, by obeying his voice, and by cleaving unto him: for he is thy life, and the length of thy days, that thou mayest dwell in the land which the Lord sware unto thy fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give them.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

The Blessings of Obedience to God
By Matthew Henry
Theologian 1662 - 1714

1 If thou shalt obey diligently the voice of the Lord thy God, and observe and do all his commandments, which I command thee this day, then the Lord thy God will set thee on high above all the nations of the earth. 2 And all these blessings shall come on thee, and overtake thee, if thou shalt obey the voice of the Lord thy God. 3 Blessed shalt thou be in the city, and blessed also in the field. 4 Blessed shall be the fruit of thy body, and the fruit of thy ground, and the fruit of thy cattle, the increase of thy kine, and the flocks of thy sheep. 5 Blessed shall be thy basket and thy dough. 6 Blessed shalt thou be when thou comest in, and blessed also when thou goest out. 7 The Lord shall cause thine enemies that rise against thee, to fall before thy face: they shall come out against thee one way, and shall flee before thee seven ways. 8 The Lord shall command the blessing to be with thee in thy store houses, and in all that thou settest thine hand to, and will bless thee in the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee. 9 The Lord shall make thee an holy people unto himself, as he hath sworn unto thee, if thou shalt keep the commandments of the Lord thy God, and walk in his ways, 10 Then all people of the earth shall see that the Name of the Lord is called upon over thee, and they shall be afraid of thee. 11 And the Lord shall make thee plenteous in goods, in the fruit of thy body, and in the fruit of thy cattle, and in the fruit of thy ground, in the land which the Lord swore unto thy fathers, to give thee. 12 The Lord shall open unto thee his good treasure, even the heaven to give rain unto thy land in due season, and to bless all the work of thine hands: and thou shalt lend unto many nations, but shalt not borrow thyself. 13 And the Lord shall make thee the head, and not the tail, and thou shalt be above only, and shalt not be beneath, if thou obey the commandments of the Lord thy God which I command thee this day, to keep and to do them. 14 But thou shalt not decline from any of the words, which I command you this day, either to the right hand or to the left, to go after other gods to serve them.
Deuteronomy 28:1-14

The blessings are here put before the curses, to intimate, 1. That God is slow to anger, but swift to show mercy: he has said it, and sworn, that he would much rather we would obey and live than sin and die. It is his delight to bless. That though both the promises and the threatenings are designed to bring and hold us to our duty, yet it is better that we be allured to that which is good by a filial hope of God’s favour than that we be frightened to it by a servile fear of his wrath. That obedience pleases best which comes from a principle of delight in God’s goodness. Now,I. We have here the conditions upon which the blessing is promised. 1. It is upon condition that they diligently hearken to the voice of God (v. 1, v. 2), that they hear God speaking to them by his word, and use their utmost endeavors to acquaint themselves with his will, v. 13. Upon condition that they observe and do all his commandments (and in order to obedience there is need of observation) and that they keep the commandments of God (v. 9) and walk in his ways. Not only do them for once, but keep them for ever; not only set out in his ways, but walk in them to the end. 3. Upon condition that they should not go aside either to the right hand or to the left, either to superstition on the one hand, or profaneness on the other; and particularly that they should not go after other gods (v. 14), which was the sin that of all others they were most prone to, and God would be most displeased with. Let them take care to keep up religion, both the form and power of it, in their families and nation, and God would not fail to bless them.II. The particulars of this blessing.1. It is promised that the providence of God should prosper them in all their outward concerns. These blessings are said to overtake them, v. 2. Good people sometimes, under the sense of their unworthiness, are ready to fly from the blessing and to conclude that it belongs not to them,; but the blessing shall find them out and follow them notwithstanding. Thus in the great day the blessing will overtake the righteous that say, Lord, when saw we thee hungry and fed thee? Matthew 25:37 . Observe,(1.) Several things are enumerated in which God by his providence would bless them:—[1.] They should be safe and easy; a blessing should rest upon their persons wherever they were, in the city, or in the field, v. 3. Whether their habitation was in town or country, whether they were husbandmen or tradesmen, whether their business called them into the city or into the field, they should be preserved from the dangers and have the comforts of their condition. This blessing should attend them in their journeys, going out and coming in, v. 6. Their persons should be protected, and the affair they went about should succeed well. Observe here, What a necessary and constant dependence we have upon God both for the continuance and comfort of this life. We need him at every turn, in all the various movements of life; we cannot be safe if he withdraw his protection, nor easy if he suspend his favour; but, if he bless us, go where we will it is well with us. [2.] Their families should be built up in a numerous issue: blessed shall be the fruit of thy body (v. 4), and in that the Lord shall make thee plenteous (v. 11), in pursuance of the promise made to Abraham, that his seed should be as the stars of heaven for multitude, and that God would be a God to them, than which a greater blessing, and more comprehensive, could not be entailed upon the fruit of their body. See Isaiah. 61:9 . [3.] They should be rich, and have an abundance of all the good things of this life, which are promised them, not merely that they might have the pleasure of enjoying them, but (as bishop Patrick observes out of one of the Jewish writers) that they might have wherewithal to honour God, and might be helped and encouraged to serve him cheerfully and to proceed and persevere in their obedience to him. A blessing is promised, First, On all they had without doors, corn and cattle in the field (v. 4, v. 11), their cows and sheep particularly, which would be blessed for the owners’ sakes, and made blessings to them. In order to this, it is promised that God would give them rain in due season, which is called his good treasure (v. 12), because with this river of God the earth is enriched, Psalm 65:9 . Our constant supplies we must see coming from God’s good treasure, and own our obligations to him for them; if he withhold his rain, the fruits both of the ground and of the cattle soon perish. Secondly, On all they had within doors, the basket and the store (v. 5), the store-houses or barns, v. 8. When it is brought home, God will bless it, and not blow upon it as sometimes he does, Haggai. 1:6 - 9 We depend upon God and his blessing, not only for our yearly corn out of the field, but for our daily bread out of our basket and store, and therefore are taught to pray for it every day. [4.] They should have success in all their employments, which would be a constant satisfaction to them: "The Lord shall command the blessing (and it is he only that can command it) upon thee, not only in all thou hast, but in all thou doest, all that thou settest thy hand to,’’ v. 8. This intimated that even when they were rich they must not be idle, but must find some good employment or other to set their hand to, and God would own their industry, and bless the work of their hand (v. 12); for that which makes rich, and keeps so, is the blessing of the Lord upon the hand of the diligent, Proverbs.10:4, Proverbs 10:22 . [5.] They should have honour among their neighbours (v. 1): The Lord thy God will set thee on high above all nations. He made them so, by taking them into covenant with himself, Chronicles 26:19 . And he would make them more and more so by their outward prosperity, if they would not by sin disparage themselves. Two things should help to make them great among the nations:—First, Their wealth (v. 12): "Thou shalt lend to many nations upon interest’’ (which they were allowed to take form the neighbouring nations), "but thou shalt not have occasion to borrow.’’ This would give them great influence with all about them; for the borrower is servant to the lender. It may be meant of trade and commerce, that they should export abundantly more than they should import, which would keep the balance on their side. Secondly, Their power (v. 13): "The Lord shall make thee the head, to give law to all about thee, to exact tribute, and to arbitrate all controversies.’’ Every sheaf should bow to theirs, which would make them so considerable that all the people of the earth would be afraid of them (v. 10), that is, would reverence their true grandeur, and dread making them their enemies. The flourishing of religion among them, and the blessing of God upon them, would make them formidable to all their neighbours, terrible as an army with banners. [6.] They should be victorious over their enemies, and prosper in all their wars. If any were so daring as to rise up against them to oppress them, or encroach upon them, it should be at their peril, they should certainly fall before them, v. 7. The forces of the enemy, though entirely drawn up to come against them one way, should be entirely routed, and flee before them seven ways, each making the best of his way.(2.) From the whole we learn (though it were well if men would believe it) that religion and piety are the best friends to outward prosperity. Though temporal blessings do not take up so much room in the promises of the New Testament as they do in those of the Old, yet it is enough that our Lord Jesus has given us his word (and surely we may take his word) that if we seek first the kingdom of God, and the righteousness thereof, all other things shall be added to us, as far as Infinite Wisdom sees good; and who can desire them further? Matthew 6:33 .2. It is likewise promised that the grace of God should establish them a holy people, v. 9. Having taken them into covenant with himself, he would keep them in covenant; and, provided they used the means of steadfastness, he would give them the grace of steadfastness, that they should not depart from him. Note, Those that are sincere in holiness God will establish in holiness; and he is of power to do it, Romans 16:25 . He that is holy shall be holy still; and those whom God establishes in holiness he thereby establishes a people to himself, for a long as we keep close to God he will never forsake us. This establishment of their religion would be the establishment of their reputation (v. 10): All the people of the earth shall see, and own, that thou art called by the name of the Lord, that is, "that thou art a most excellent and glorious people, under the particular care and countenance of the great God. They shall be made to know that a people called by the name Jehovah are without doubt the happiest people under the sun, even their enemies themselves being judges.’’ The favourites of Heaven are truly great, and, first or last, it will be made to appear that they are so, if not in this world, yet at that day when those who confess Christ now shall be confessed by him before men and angels, as those whom he delights to honour.