Daily Archives: March 2, 2018

March 2 Unlimited Prayer

“Men ought always to pray” (Luke 18:1, kjv).


Prayer should never be limited to certain times, places, or circumstances.

As a child I was taught to pray with my head bowed, eyes closed, and hands folded. Even as a young man I thought that was the only acceptable mode of prayer.

In my seminary days I sang in a quartet that traveled to various churches throughout the United States. The first time I traveled with them we had a prayer meeting in the car, and the driver prayed with his eyes open. All of us were glad he did, but I wondered if God really heard his prayer.

I have since learned that praying with my eyes closed is a helpful way to avoid distractions, but it isn’t mandated in Scripture—nor are most of the other limitations people often place on prayer. For example, some people want to limit prayer to a certain posture, but Scripture tells of people praying while standing, sitting, kneeling, looking upward, bowing down, and lifting up their hands.

Some try to limit prayer to certain times of the day, such as morning or evening. But in the Bible people prayed at all times: morning, evening, three times a day, before meals, after meals, at bedtime, at midnight, day and night, in their youth, in their old age, when troubled, and when joyful.

Similarly, Scripture places no limits on the place or circumstances of prayer. It tells of people praying in a cave, in a closet, in a garden, on a mountainside, by a river, by the sea, in the street, in the Temple, in bed, at home, in the stomach of a fish, in battle, on a housetop, in a prison, in the wilderness, and on a cross.

The point is clear: there is no specific correct mode or kind of prayer, and prayer isn’t limited by your location or circumstances. You are to pray always. That includes any kind of prayer, on any subject, at any time of the day or night.


Suggestions for Prayer:  Make a list of your current plans, thoughts, and concerns. Have you made each of them a matter of prayer? Commit yourself to sharing every aspect of your life with God.

For Further Study: Read Psalm 136. Note how the Lord is intimately involved in the lives of His people.[1]

[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1993). Drawing Near—Daily Readings for a Deeper Faith (p. 74). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.


Be still, and know that I am God….”

PSALM 46:10

Our fathers had much to say about stillness, and by stillness they meant the absence of motion or the absence of noise, or both. They felt that they must be still for at least a part of the day, or that day would be wasted!

God can be known in the tumult if His providence has for the time placed us there, but He is known best in the silence. So they held, and so the sacred Scriptures declare. Inward assurance comes out of the stillness. We must be still to know!

There has hardly been another time in the history of the world when stillness was needed more than it is today, and there has surely not been another time when there was so little of it or when it was so hard to find. Christ is every man’s contemporary. His presence and His power are offered to us in this time of mad activity and mechanical noises as certainly as to fishermen on the quiet lake of Galilee or to shepherds on the plains of Judea. The only condition is that we get still enough to hear His voice and that we believe and heed what we hear.

As we draw nearer to the ancient Source of our being we find that we are no longer learned or ignorant, modern or old-fashioned, crude or cultured: in that awesome Presence we are just men and women. Artificial distinctions fade away. Thousands of years of education disappear in a moment and we stand again where Adam and Eve stood after the Fall, where Cain stood, and Abel, outside the Garden, frightened and undone and fugitive from the terror of the broken law, desperately in need of a Saviour![1]

[1] Tozer, A. W., & Smith, G. B. (2015). Evenings with tozer: daily devotional readings. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.

March 2, 2018 Truth2Freedom Briefing Report (US•World•Christian)


President Donald Trump’s latest trade salvo over steel and aluminum landed squarely in the middle of Nafta talks, overshadowing efforts by his own negotiators and those from his biggest export markets to update America’s most important free-trade agreement.

President Donald Trump found out how difficult it is to bridge the competing interests of ethanol producers and oil refiners as a third White House biofuel meeting in four days ended with no agreement on how to change U.S. policies.

The U.S. ambassador to Mexico, a career diplomat with more than 30 years of service, announced her intention to step down from the job, joining a wave of senior officers to leave the State Department under the Trump administration.

A proposed law requiring would-be presidents to make their tax returns public before appearing on Maryland’s ballot has advanced in the state Senate. The bill would require presidential and vice presidential candidates to release the preceding five years of their tax returns to appear on the ballot.

Vladimir Putin devoted over a third of his annual state-of-the-nation speech to revealing a series of new weapons — both nuclear and conventional — he said Russia is developing that will render U.S. missile defenses “ineffective.” Many of the systems had been announced in public before, though without the elaborate video displays Putin showed Thursday, according to analysts.

Four Wells Fargo board members, including its three longest-serving directors, plan to retire next month as pressure mounts for new oversight in the 18-month-old scandal.

On Thursday, the U.S. Navy awarded Lockheed Martin Corp. a $150 million contract to develop a high-powered laser system to integrate with a destroyer by 2020.

Consumer demand is falling to “new, lower levels,” according to the 166-year-old maker of Smith & Wesson firearms. The company, American Outdoor Brands Corp., is bracing for the downturn by cutting jobs and repaying debt. Rivals, including one in bankruptcy, are contending with the same slowdown.

AP Top Stories

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov on Friday dismissed a suggestion that Russian hackers were behind a cyber-attack in Germany, saying that Russia was now being blamed for any such attack and without any proof.

Puerto Rico’s power grid broke down again on Thursday, leaving some 800,000 customers without power, as the US Caribbean possession struggles to recover five months after Hurricane Maria slammed the island.

President Vladimir Putin made a new claim that Russia’s nuclear capabilities could reach the coast of Florida.

Russia has called off strategic talks with the US set for this month after a Washington delegation snubbed a meeting on cybersecurity, Moscow’s ambassador to the US told TASS news agency Friday.

Three aid workers were confirmed killed in a Boko Haram attack in northeast Nigeria, the UN said on Friday, in the latest violence to underscore the jihadists’ enduring threat.

North Korea denied reports it had cooperated with Syria on chemical weapons, dismissing them as a fabrication by the United States to pressure the country, state media reported late Thursday.

A suicide car bomber struck on Friday in the Afghan capital of Kabul, killing one person and wounding 14 bystanders, officials said, but there was no immediate claim of responsibility.

The wife of a retired US Special Forces soldier had been facing possible deportation, as a result of Donald Trump’s tightening of immigration rules. The fate of Elia Crawford, the wife of Bob Crawford, who served with the 7th Special Forces Group and who still works with Pentagon as a civilian contractor, is to be decided by a court in Virginia. The Department of Homeland Security has offered to drop the proceedings.

Chinese media reports say the country is planning to build a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier capable of remaining at sea for long durations, in what would be a major upgrade for its increasingly formidable navy.


Gunmen have launched an attack in the capital of Burkina Faso, Ouagadougou, with the French embassy and a military HQ among the apparent targets. Burkina Faso’s government said four attackers had been killed at the embassy and at least two at the HQ. Seven members of the security forces have been killed, officials say, with another six people wounded.

On Saturday, Sydney’s famous Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras marks its 40th anniversary – and its first celebration since Australia legalized same-sex marriage. Much has changed since violence marred the first parade.

A fire has killed 24 people at a drug rehabilitation center in Azerbaijan’s capital Baku, officials said.


The fact remains that America is politically sorted by generations in a way it never has before. The oldest voters are the most conservative, white, and Republican, and the youngest voters the most liberal, racially diverse, and Democratic. There is absolutely no sign the dynamic is abating during the Trump years. If anything, it is accelerating.

“Hundreds” of crosses at war monuments and memorials across the nation now are at risk because a panel from the 4th U.S. Court of Appeals condemned the Bladensburg World War I Veterans Memorial to destruction, and the full court refused to reconsider, says one of the judges.

Lending credence to rumors which surfaced a couple years ago, principals involved in the making of Disney’s Frozen 2 are keeping alive the possibility of Elsa coming out of the closet as a lesbian.

The Briefing — Friday, March 2, 2018

1) Is “perpetual peace” possible? How Vladimir Putin’s latest announcement further undermines the hope of the Enlightenment

NPR (Geoff Brumfiel) –
Experts Aghast At Russian Claim Of Nuclear-Powered Missile With Unlimited Range

The Atlantic (Julia Ioffe) –
What Putin Really Wants

2) Why one same-sex couple is surprised when the convictions of a Christian school turn out to be convictional

The Coast News (Aaron Burgin) –
Santa Fe Christian school discouraged same-sex couple from applying

3) There is a 40% chance that you’ve been exposed to 100% misleading statistics

Wall Street Journal (Holman W. Jenkins, Jr.) –
Good Climate News Isn’t Told

New York Times (Amanda Taub) –
Lies, Damned Lies, and One Very Misleading Statistic

Wall Street Journal (Rolfe Winkler and Justin Lahart) –
How Do Pundits Never Get It Wrong? Call a 40% Chance

YouTube Secretly Using SPLC To Police Videos

(The Daily Caller) The Southern Poverty Law Center is assisting YouTube in policing content on their platform, The Daily Caller has learned.

The left-wing nonprofit — which has more recently come under fire for labeling legitimate conservative organizations as “hate groups” — is one of the more than 100 nongovernment organizations (NGOs) and government agencies in YouTube’s “Trusted Flaggers” program, a source with knowledge of the arrangement told TheDC. View article →

The Dow Jones Industrial Average Falls Another 420 Points As Investors Panic About A Potential Trade War

Many had been hoping that the financial shaking on Wall Street that we witnessed in February would subside in March, but so far that is definitely not the case.  On Thursday, the Dow fell another 420 points as investors fretted about the potential for a trade war.  Over the past month, we have seen many days when stock prices have been way down and other days when stock prices have been way up.  This is precisely the sort of wild volatility that we would expect to see if a major financial crisis was brewing, and the truth is that our financial system is far more vulnerable today than it was back in 2008. (Read More…)

RenewAmerica Newsletter

March 1, 2018
CLIFF KINCAID — Conservative activist Eugene Delgaudio tells a story of meeting Donald J. Trump and confronting him about his liberal past. Trump assured Delgaudio he has repudiated his past. But the old Trump was on display on Wednesday, when President Trump embraced Democratic Party gun control measures and insulted Republicans as tools of the NRA…. (more)

February 28, 2018
‘Will the mainstream media finally cover it?’
BOB UNRUH — Finally! Here’s proof that a campaign colluded with a foreign entity in the 2016 U.S. presidential race. Officials for the Democratic presidential campaign of Bernie Sanders, who was defeated by Hillary Clinton, apparently with the help of the Democratic National Committee, have paid a $14,500 civil penalty for accepting illegal foreign help…. (more)

February 28, 2018
BYRON YORK — Republicans from President Trump down often declare that there was no collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign during the 2016 election. So far, Democrats have not been able to prove otherwise. But the most compelling piece of evidence cited by the president’s opponents is the June 9, 2016, meeting in Trump Tower between Donald Trump Jr., some key Trump campaign aides, and a group of Russians who came promising damaging information about Hillary Clinton. Much remains unknown about that meeting…. (more)

February 28, 2018

NEWSMAX — Thirteen Republican members of the House of Representatives on Wednesday called on Attorney General Jeff Sessions to appoint a special counsel to investigate alleged surveillance abuses by the FBI and the Justice Department…. (more)

February 28, 2018

FOX NEWS — White House communications director Hope Hicks, one of the president’s longest and most loyal advisers dating back to the beginning of his presidential campaign, said Wednesday she is resigning from the administration to explore new opportunities. “There are no words to adequately express my gratitude to President Trump,” Hicks said in a statement. “I wish the president and his administration the very best as he continues to lead our country.”… (more)

February 28, 2018
‘How many other government officials did this?’
BOB UNRUH — A prominent Washington watchdog is asking just how many Obama administration officials hid behind fake names while they worked for the U.S. government, after discovering that Loretta Lynch sometimes wasn’t Loretta Lynch – – for email purposes – – while she was attorney general. She was Elizabeth Carlisle…. (more)

February 28, 2018
CAIR New York director condemned ‘imperialist’ U.S.
ART MOORE — The deputy chairman of the Democratic National Committee, Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., was the keynote speaker for the annual fundraiser for the New York chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a Washington-based front for Hamas, the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, reported Conservative Review…. (more)

February 28, 2018
Accusations of drug trafficking, stalking, sexual battery, kidnapping, extortion, falsifying records
WORLDNETDAILY — Broward County Sheriff’s deputies and employees are the subjects of more than 66 investigations – ranging from drug trafficking and sexual battery to kidnapping – since 2012, according to a new report…. (more)

February 27, 2018
WASHINGTON EXAMINER — With unprecedented speed, the Trump administration has already implemented nearly two-thirds of the 334 agenda items called for by the Heritage Foundation, a pace faster than former President Reagan who embraced the conservative think tank’s legendary “Mandate for Leadership” blueprint…. (more)

February 27, 2018

THE HILL — Attorney General Jeff Sessions said Tuesday that the Justice Department will investigate potential abuses of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). “Yes, it will be investigated,” Sessions told reporters at the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which oversees FISA warrants, according to the Washington Examiner…. (more)

February 27, 2018
BYRON YORK — Recently President Trump tweeted, “I have been much tougher on Russia than Obama, just look at the facts. Total Fake News!” The tweet was greeted with incredulity in some press circles. CNN called it “simply false.” “The facts suggest the opposite,” said the Washington Post. “Mostly false,” declared Politifact, noting the president’s statement “immediately drew guffaws among media commentators.”… (more)

February 27, 2018
WASHINGTON TIMES — A federal court cleared the way Tuesday for President Trump to build his border wall, ruling that the administration has the power to waive a series of environmental laws to speed up construction. The state of California and environmental groups had been counting on the lawsuit to derail the border wall and called the decision disappointing…. (more)

February 27, 2018

LEXINGTON HERALD LEADER — Teachers could soon be carrying concealed guns inside schools in Pike County under a proposal that was preliminarily approved Monday evening by the Pike County School Board. The unanimous decision came after the board heard concerns about school safety from teachers, parents and administrators during a town hall meeting at Pike County Central High School. The discussion was prompted by multiple school shootings in recent weeks, including one at Marshall County High School in Western Kentucky that left two dead and another in Florida that left 17 dead…. (more)

February 27, 2018
The Left doesn’t fight evil; it fights those who do.
DENNIS PRAGER — hy does the Left oppose allowing a small number of highly trained teachers and other adults who work at schools to arm themselves? When asked, their response is consistent: “It’s a crazy idea.” And “we need fewer guns, not more guns.” A New York Times editorial offered the following argument against having any armed teachers: “Nationwide statistics on police shooting accuracy are not to be found. But if New York is typical, analyses show that its officers hit their targets only one-third of the time. And during gunfights, when the adrenaline is really pumping, that accuracy can drop to as low as 13 percent.”… (more)

February 27, 2018
NEWSMAX — Cruz family service calls regarding the Florida school shooter or his brother numbered at least 45, according to sheriff’s office records obtained by CNN. That’s nearly double the number of calls Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel has publicly acknowledged…. (more)

February 27, 2018
NEWSMAX — An Obama-era policy designed to compartmentalize school discipline may have hamstrung law enforcement’s efforts to prevent the Feb. 14 massacre of 17 students and faculty, Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran told Breitbart News…. (more)

February 27, 2018
CAIR leader conducted weapons training at radical mosque
ART MOORE — A leader of the Council on American-Islamic Relations in South Florida also serves as a deputy for the Broward County Sheriff’s office, which is under fire for its handling of the Valentine’s Day school shooting in which 17 people were killed…. (more)

February 27, 2018
NEWSMAX — Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay labeled House Democrats’ memo about the ongoing Russia investigation as political and full of lies. “The Republican memo is nothing but a factual memo laying out what has been going on and what they know to date. The Democrat memo is a pack of lies,” DeLay told Newsmax TV host John Bachman on “Newsmax Now.”… (more)

February 27, 2018
BOB UNRUH — New York state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman boasts on his state website that he’s long advocated for abortion businesses and lately has opposed President Trump’s plan to ban visitors from certain terror-supporting nations. He cites the many targets of his campaigns: corrupt politicians, companies that rip off New Yorkers, big banks, consumer fraud, lying, illegal tracking technology, drug trafficking rings, discrimination, hatred, and opponents of carbon credits and sanctuary cities…. (more)

February 27, 2018
JOAN SWIRSKY — Imagine a guy in his mid-thirties walking on a beach in Hawaii and seeing an object that actually looked like the genie lamp he read about in his childhood – – the kind of lamp he could rub until a genie popped out and granted his most fervent wish. Being a pretty ordinary guy – – you know, the kind who hung out smoking pot, who slacked off in school, who didn’t get the girl and actually hated and was jealous of the guys who did – – he asked for power…. (more)

February 25, 2018
WORLDNETDAILY — House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes is blaming former President Obama for being in cahoots with Russia for eight years and setting the stage for orchestrating a conspiracy theory of collusion between Moscow and Donald Trump during the 2016 election…. (more)

February 25, 2018
NEWSMAX — Russia’s 2016 election meddling campaign was designed to “amplify” discord among Americans, their president, and with Congress, and their execution was “cheap and effective,” according to a former FBI special agent in N.Y.’s cyber division…. (more)

February 25, 2018

ROBERT KNIGHT — In 1953 in Chattanooga, Tenn., the Rev. Billy Graham saw that his crusade audience was segregated in roped-off sections. He personally tore the barriers down. Over the next six decades, he preached the Gospel of Jesus Christ to more than 200 million people in 185 countries. Without giving an inch of theological ground, he adjusted his message to the moment, for example, dropping the name “crusade” for his rallies so as not to offend Muslims that he was trying to reach for Christ…. (more)

February 25, 2018

NEWSMAX — Former New York City Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik said it was “outrageous” if reports were confirmed that four Broward County sheriff’s deputies failed to enter the Parkland, Florida, high school during a February 14 shooting that claimed 17 lives. “It’s outrageous. I’ve never heard anything like this before,” Kerik told Newsmax on Saturday…. (more)

February 25, 2018

WASHINGTON TIMES — The National Rifle Association on Sunday morning said the “headline” in the aftermath of the Parkland, Florida, school shooting is the failure of the FBI and local law enforcement to do something about alleged gunman Nikolas Cruz before he carried out his massacre…. (more)

News – 3/2/2018

Report: US Peace Plan to Include East Jerusalem as Palestinian Capital
A French diplomat told the Arabic-language daily that the Trump administration is expected to reveal its peace plan at an upcoming international conference in Cairo. The report says that under Trump’s peace plan, the United States will recognize an independent Palestinian state with eastern Jerusalem as its capital on condition that the disputed old city, home to sites holy to Judaism, Christianity and Islam, is administered by an international custodian.

Humming economy doesn’t fix broken culture
When it comes to morality, however, the national divide is really felt. A strong majority of all faith segments says we are morally bankrupt in America. “Our moral compass is broken. We’ve lost it,” Barna says of that finding.

Trump: “Trade Wars Are Good And Easy To Win”
When a country (USA) is losing many billions of dollars on trade with virtually every country it does business with, trade wars are good, and easy to win. Example, when we are down $100 billion with a certain country and they get cute, don’t trade anymore-we win big. It’s easy!

Snow storm Emma to turn into DOUBLE-STORM monster TODAY – weather systems collide & hit UK
SWATHES of Britain are on fresh alert for another snow deluge today driven by hurricane-force winds as Storm Emma rips through the country. Gusts of more than 80mph will be whipped up around the churning union putting most of Britain in the firing line for gales and heavy snow.

Mike Huckabee resigns from country music board, citing political and religious intolerance
An apparently frustrated Mike Huckabee resigned from the board of the Country Music Association Foundation after just one day Thursday, saying the music industry is intolerant to those with conservative, religious beliefs. But prominent music industry leaders swiftly criticized Huckabee’s appointment, including some who singled out his support for gun rights and traditional family values.

US General Reveals How Brutal War With North Korea Would Actually Be
“If the sanctions don’t work, we’ll have to go phase two,” President Donald Trump said recently. “Phase two may be a very rough thing, may be very, very unfortunate for the world.” The Trump administration asserts it desires a peaceful solution, yet the president and other senior officials have repeatedly stressed that all options remain on the table, including the application of military force. Evaluating the potential casualties, Milley reportedly remarked that the “brutality” of such a conflict “will be beyond the experience of any living soldier.”

Andrew McCabe Authorized Media Leaks, Misled Investigators
DOJ’s internal watchdog to criticize former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe. McCabe authorized leaks to the media, according to new reports. The former deputy director also reportedly misled watchdog investigators about the media disclosures. McCabe stepped down from his position in January. The Department of Justice’s internal watchdog will criticize former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe for authorizing leaks to the media and giving misleading statements to investigators about doing so, according to two new reports.

Israel developing cutting edge artificial intelligence crime-fighting tools
Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and the Israel Police aim to develop advanced cyber, big-data and artificial intelligence tools that may eventually be able to predict and prevent crime. In a joint initiative with the police, the university launched the Center for Computational Criminology this week at BGU’s Advanced Technologies Park in the presence of Police Commissioner Insp.-Gen. Roni Alsheikh and BGU president Prof. Rivka Carmi.

Foreign Ministry: Ties with Poland important, Holocaust memory even more
Israel values its…ties with Warsaw, but preserving the memory of the Holocaust is even more important, Foreign Ministry director-general Yuval Rotem said…“Israel and Poland enjoy strong political bilateral ties, based on common values,” Rotem said. But, Rotem added, “preserving the memory of the Holocaust is a matter beyond the bilateral relationship between Israel and Poland. It is a core issue cutting to the essence of the Jewish people.”

Burkina Faso attack: Ouagadougou sees gunfire and explosion
Gunfire and an explosion have been heard near the army headquarters and the French embassy in the capital of Burkina Faso, Ouagadougou. Witnesses have reported seeing armed men getting out of a car and opening fire. Pictures from the scene showed a cloud of black smoke rising into the sky. It is not yet clear who is behind the attack.

Insulting Egyptian security forces is high treason, says Sisi
Egypt’s President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi has said he considers any insult of its security forces to be “high treason”, in an apparent warning to the media. “If someone insults the army or police they’re defaming all Egyptians and that’s not freedom of opinion,” he said during a visit to the town of Alamein. Mr Sisi’s comments came after the government complained about recent foreign media coverage of the country.

Ireland shutdown as Europe severe weather continues
Severe weather continues to bring chaos to large parts of Europe, where at least 55 people have died amid sub-zero temperatures. Most transport and flights have been suspended in Ireland where strong winds brought by a storm left some 24,000 homes and businesses without power. Several other countries have faced disruptions caused by snow and ice.

Afrin offensive: Eight Turkish soldiers killed in Syria clashes
Eight Turkish soldiers have been killed in fighting in the north Syrian region of Afrin, the military says. Another 13 were injured in the clashes on Thursday, with several said to be in a critical condition. It is one of the bloodiest days for Turkish troops since they began a major offensive against Kurdish fighters in Afrin in January.

Trump steel tariffs: Trading partners threaten retaliation
The main trading partners of the US have reacted angrily after President Donald Trump announced plans to impose tariffs on steel and aluminium imports. Canada and the EU said they would bring forward their own countermeasures to the steep new tariffs. Mexico, China and Brazil have also said they are weighing up retaliatory steps.

Miami’s airport wants to read your face.
…On Tuesday, MIA celebrated its newly renovated Concourse E federal inspection facility for international travelers. One of its main features: passport screening via facial recognition technology to verify travelers’ identities by matching them to the documents they present.

Transgender surgeries are on the rise, says first study of its kind
In the first broad demographic study of trends in gender-affirming surgeries in the United States, researchers found that the number of operations increased fourfold from 2000 to 2014. Some of the significant rise, according to a study published Wednesday in the journal JAMA Surgery, may be related to an increase in insurance coverage for the procedures.

Sandbags and warnings as northeast U.S. braces for storm-driven flood
Businesses blocked doors with sandbags and officials warned residents of waterfront homes to be ready to evacuate as the northeastern United States braced for a powerful storm on Friday that threatened to flood coasts from Maine to North Carolina. Along Boston’s Long Wharf, near the Fanueil Hall tourist area, large piles of sandbags were in place around a subway station and a Marriott hotel, a spot that flooded with icy seawater during an early January storm.

Nearly 1 million U.S. evangelicals are Jewish
A new survey by LifeWay Research shows an estimated 871,000 American evangelical Christians have at least one Jewish parent or grandparent – almost three times the largest estimates previously assessed in past studies.

REJOICE AMERICA: Federal Court rules Trump can build border wall on Mexican border
A federal court cleared the way Tuesday for President Trump to build his border wall, ruling that the administration has the power to waive a series of environmental laws to speed up construction.

CBS Launches New Show Comedy ‘Living Biblically’ To Mock Christianity And Make Christians Look Like Idiots
…This season it is the CBS show ‘Living Biblically’ – a comedic take on the real life quest of a journalist to live his life “according to the Bible” for one year. From the preview scenes alone, it seems obvious that this show has no intention of representing the Bible accurately or bringing any actual serious discussion about the Christian faith. Instead it seeks cheap laughs and gags all the while mocking The Lord Jesus Christ and those who try their best to follow Him.

The Next “Bomb Cyclone” Is Set To Detonate Off The East Coast
“A strong area of low pressure will track off the New England coast Friday, leading to a potpourri of sensible weather impacts across the Northeast. A persistent east-northeast flow will lead to coastal flooding along east-facing shores of New England and the Mid-Atlantic, some of which could be moderate to major intensity particularly in New England.

Chaffetz: Fla. School Shooting Survivors Need ‘Belief in God’
The survivors of the Parkland, Florida high school shooting need “belief in God and Jesus Christ,” former Utah Congressman Jason Chaffetz said Thursday.

Transgender sex change ceremonies join birth, marriage and death as life landmark in UK
EXCLUSIVE: Transgender people who swap sexes can now take part in a celebratory ceremony once their transition is complete, regardless of religion. The new ceremony is set to join christenings, marriages and funerals as part of the right of passage ceremonies of British life.

YOU’RE WELCOME: Israel’s intelligence helped 30 countries thwart terror attacks in 2017
“30 countries got phone calls from Israel in 2017, in which Israel said to them: You need to know this and that, in this and that place, pay attention, there’s going to be an attack,” Minister Cohen revealed.

South Africa’s Parliament Passes Motion to Take White People’s Land ‘Without Compensation’
South Africa’s National Assembly passed a motion Tuesday to allow the government to expropriate land without compensation, fulfilling the wishes of radicals and black nationalists, but raising fears for the fate of the country’s white minority, as well as the future of its agricultural sector.

DNC deputy chairman keynotes ‘Muslim Mafia’ fundraiser
The deputy chairman of the Democratic National Committee, Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., was the keynote speaker for the annual fundraiser for the New York chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a Washington-based front for Hamas, the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, reported Conservative Review.

New Video Shows People, Dogs Eating Out of Trash in Venezuela 
A new video obtained exclusively by Infowars shows Venezuelans competing with dogs to eat from trash in the middle of the street.

Mid-Day Snapshot

Mar. 2, 2018

The Tariff Trump Card

Is a shot at China and Russia worth the high domestic economic price? The president seems to think so.

The Foundation

“Measures which serve to abridge the free competition of foreign Articles, have a tendency to occasion an enhancement of prices.” —Alexander Hamilton (1791)

ZeroHedge Frontrunning: March 2

  • ‘Trade wars are good, and easy to win’: Trump (Read More)
  • U.S. Allies Bristle at Trump Tariff Plan (Read More)
  • The Biggest Problem With Trump’s Tariffs (Read More)
  • Trump’s Tariff Folly (Read More)
  • Kushner’s Influence in West Wing Wanes After Key Allies Depart (Read More)
  • China’s latest conglomerate crackdown casts dealmaking shadow (Read More)
  • Bitcoin’s Plunge in Volume Stirs Questions About Its Popularity (Read More)
  • Israeli police question Netanyahu over telecom case (Read More)
  • News Corp. CEO Slams Facebook, Google for Not Sharing Enough Ad Revenue (Read More)
  • Jimmy Kimmel’s mission impossible – Oscar host in midst of #MeToo (Read More)
  • J.C. Penney profit forecast, same-store sales disappoint, shares dive (Read More)
  • Italy’s center-right leaders fret over 5-Star strength (Read More)
  • Delta subjected to retribution in Georgia for crossing NRA (Read More)
  • GM plants to cut 5,000 South Korean jobs, keep production at current level (Read More)
  • Venezuelans Are Paying a 100% Premium for Cash (Read More)
  • Scaramucci Says He Fears John Kelly Will Thwart SkyBridge Sale (Read More)

Headlines – 3/2/2018

ZOA: If Reports About Trump Administration’s “Peace Deal” are True, It’s a Disaster

Purim Parody: In bizarre rant, Trump challenges ‘gremlin’ Abbas to gun fight

PA Foreign Minister urges Brazil to play key role in peace process

Paris suburb rescinds symbolic recognition of ‘Palestine’

Americans in Israel warned to ‘keep a low profile’ after announcement on embassy’s move to Jerusalem

Prince William to make first official royal visit to Israel and Palestine after years of rejected invitations

President Rivlin on Prince William’s visit: ‘Present for Israel’s 70th Independence Day’

Netanyahu and wife set to face police in parallel interrogations

Likud warns coalition row over draft bill ‘could bring government down’

Poland’s Deputy PM: We All Must Stop Using the Holocaust for Political Games

Israeli, Polish delegations begin ‘open, candid’ dialogue on Holocaust law

1946 US report says ‘Poles persecuted the Jews as vigorously as did the Germans’

El Al seeks international help to access Saudi airspace – would mark a dramatic diplomatic shift

Will the Eastern Mediterranean become a world hub for the natural-gas trade?

Egypt’s Government Silences Media as Election Approaches

Insulting Egyptian security forces is high treason, says Sisi

Egyptian army kills 13 armed men on day 21 of ‘Sinai 2018’ operation

Israel feels US does not take Iranian expansion in Syria seriously, reports say

Iran’s Khamenei hails ‘resistance’ of Syria’s Assad

US calls Russia idea of Syria humanitarian corridors ‘a joke’

UN official: Pauses in Syria suburb unilateral, ‘not enough’

US hopes for UN vote on new Syria toxic gas inquiry next week

North Korea denies chemical weapons link with Syria

Pentagon: Mission in Yemen to fight terrorism, support Saudi Arabia

Alarming numbers for displaced Yemenis due to Houthis’ violations

Bangladesh accuses Myanmar of deploying troops at border

Suicide car bomber hits Afghan capital, at least four wounded

Angela Merkel admits that ‘no-go zones’ exist in Germany

Marine Le Pen has been charged for posting violent ISIS images on Twitter

France’s Favorite Crypto-Fascist Could Face Three Years in Prison for ISIS Tweets

Spurned by U.S. and Facing Danger Back Home, Iranian Christians Fear the Worst

AIPAC-backed US House bill seeks to broaden Iran sanctions

Europeans working to limit Iran’s Mideast aggression in bid to save nuclear deal

Boeing ordered to give details of $16b Iran deal to Israeli terror victims

Putin: Moscow would regard nuclear attack on allies as attack on Russia

Putin boasts of new Russian nuclear weapons that ‘can’t be intercepted’

Putin claims Russia has nuclear-tipped underwater drones and new supersonic weapon

‘Now you will listen’: Putin claims new nuclear weapons can bypass any missile defense system

Putin denies ‘new Cold War’ but says new nukes are on ‘combat duty’

Putin, before vote, unveils ‘invincible’ nuclear weapons to counter West

US accuses Russia of breaching treaties with ‘invincible’ weapons

New Russian nuke weapons aren’t new and may not be ready, say experts

Pentagon: ‘Fully prepared’ after Putin boasts of hypersonic missiles

Putin’s nuke boasts could spark new arms race with US

Trump nominee: Russia, China don’t expect ‘much’ U.S. response to cyber attacks

Nunes: FBI may have violated criminal statutes in FISA application to spy on Trump adviser Carter Page

More Than 30 Trump Aides Lose Top-Secret Clearance, Sources Say

FBI said to be investigating Ivanka Trump’s business ties

One of Ivanka Trump’s international business deals could spell trouble for her in the US

Trump to impose steep tariffs on steel, aluminum; stokes trade war fears

Dow plummets more than 500 points after Trump announces tariffs

Foreign Holdings of U.S. Securities Rise to Record $18 Trillion

Venezuela’s woes spread to zoos as animals feed on each other

The disturbing acceptance of Google’s new ‘smart’ camera

Miami’s airport wants to read your face. You might be happy about that

Former Google exec: AI movie death scenarios ‘one to two decades away’

5.9 magnitude earthquake hits near Saumlaki, Indonesia

5.6 magnitude earthquake hits near Porgera, Papua New Guinea

5.4 magnitude earthquake hits near Yacuiba, Bolivia

5.2 magnitude earthquake hits near Ishigaki, Japan

5.1 magnitude earthquake hits near Porgera, Papua New Guinea

5.0 magnitude earthquake hits near Yonakuni, Japan

5.0 magnitude earthquake hits near Porgera, Papua New Guinea

Popocateptl volcano in Mexico erupts to 21,000ft

Reventador volcano in Ecuador erupts to 16,000ft

Fuego volcano in Guatemala erupts to 15,000ft

Turrialba volcano in Costa Rica erupts to 14,000ft

Kadovar volcano in Papua New Guinea erupts to 13,000ft

Europe: Heavy snow continues, storms set to collide

Nor’easter to become bomb cyclone: Fierce winds, flooding, snow and coastal havoc on tap

‘We Expect To Lose Homes’ In Major Nor’easter, MEMA Chief Says

Beware of replicating sexism in AI, experts warn

Transgender surgeries are on the rise, says first study of its kind

Tulsa Opera makes history with transgender woman in principal role

Young adults spend more than six hours per day feeling ‘stressed out’, finds Mental Health study

Democrats demand bill with expanded background checks, gun confiscations

Republicans signal no quick moves on guns despite Trump push

Trump, Pence ‘don’t want gun control,’ NRA’s chief lobbyist says after meeting

Fox commentator: Parkland survivors need belief in Jesus Christ – at least 40% of students at school are Jewish

Mike Huckabee resigns from country music board, citing political and religious intolerance

Interest in Bible Translation Has ‘Gone Viral’ Says Leader of Wycliffe Associates

What is the Bible? by Rob Bell – Reviewed by Gary Gilley

G. Richard Fisher – The Basic Life Principles of Bill Gothard

Black Panther Sermon Series Begin Around Country

Lou Engle’s “The Call” Based on Dream Involving Verified False Prophet Benny Hinn

Abortion Clinics Grind Up Remains of Aborted Babies and Flush Them in the Sewer

Indonesian Christians Flogged in Rare Shariah Punishment for Non-Muslims

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(Alternative News, Apologetics, Current Events, Commentary, Opinion, Theology, Discernment Blog, Devotionals, Christian Internet Evangelism & Missions Activist).

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Billy Graham: Who is Jesus?

As the world remembers the life of the Evangelist Billy Graham, I’ve been taking the opportunity to listen to his messages.  This video was recorded in 1971 in Chicago.  The title is “Who is Jesus?”


Friday’s Featured Sermon: “The Only Way to Happiness”

Matthew 5:1-12

Code: B180302

Where does lasting happiness come from?

John MacArthur argues that it is not found in this earth, or the things of this earth.

Pleasure isn’t the path to happiness. Possessions aren’t the path to happiness. It’s ridiculous to spend your whole life trying to make yourself happy on things that are all going to end up on the junk heap. Happiness is never found in the cursed earth and it’s never really ultimately and finally found in the evil system. Why? Because physical things do not touch the soul. You cannot fill a spiritual need with a physical substance.

That’s a quote from his sermon “The Only Way to Happiness.” In it, John takes a bird’s eye view of the Beatitudes, and helps listeners understand what it means to be “blessed” in the sense Christ used the term in His Sermon on the Mount.

We’re talking here about contentment. We’re talking here about satisfaction. We’re talking here about what we tend to call happiness, inward happiness, a condition of bliss which is neither the result of external circumstances nor is it the result of some outside influence subject to change. Most people in the world experience a little bit of happiness when they have internal emotions that are positive, or when they have external circumstances that for the moment are positive. But both of those things are whimsical. The basic New Testament meaning that we’re looking at is a continual constant state of happiness, a state of bliss, a state of blessedness, a state of well-being in which a person finds satisfaction and fulfillment.

In that sense, John argues that “Jesus is committed to providing true happiness.” That’s not always the way believers see their lives or their callings—prioritizing our happiness instinctively seems somewhat man centered. And it would be if we were merely defining happiness in the flawed way the world does.

But as John MacArthur explains, the happiness we know in Christ is not the transitory emotion the world craves.

Jesus is saying happy people are people who have the right attitudes. . . . It’s attitudinal. It’s not what you possess; it’s poverty of spirit, mourning, gentleness, hunger and thirst for righteousness, mercy, purity, peace. It’s attitudes that produce happiness. It’s attitudes that are Godlike attitudes that literally come to us by virtue of us sharing His divine nature. Jesus was saying happiness starts from the inside and works its way out. And even where there is suffering and sorrow, happiness is not canceled out—it is, in fact, generally aided and increased.

That kind of happiness is not fleeting. It is grounded in the unchanging character of Christ. And it’s available to all who know and love Him.

Click here to listen to “The Only Way to Happiness.”


Available online at: https://www.gty.org/library/blog/B180302
COPYRIGHT ©2018 Grace to You

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Moody Bible Institute Takes Bold Step to Affirm Biblical Inerrancy

“In wake of allegations that not all its faculty affirm biblical inerrancy, the Moody Bible Institute (MBI) yesterday took a bold step to define and strengthen its position on inerrancy, and to hold its faculty accountable.”
(Julie Roys) In wake of allegations that not all its faculty affirm biblical inerrancy, the Moody Bible Institute (MBI) yesterday took a bold step to define and strengthen its position on inerrancy, and to hold its faculty accountable.

In an email sent to faculty and alumni, the institute announced it is adopting the Short Statement of the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy, as well as its Articles of Affirmation and Denial. The institute further stated that all faculty will be required to sign an affirmation of the Chicago Statement as a condition of employment beginning with the 2018-2019 academic year. View article →

Source: Moody Bible Institute Takes Bold Step to Affirm Biblical Inerrancy

CultureWatch: Notable Christians: Billy Graham

I had not planned to write a piece on the passing of the great evangelist Billy Graham. After all, what more could be said about the man that hasn’t already been said a million times over? But watching the very moving live streaming of his funeral was enough to prompt me to say at least a few words about him.

I will do this in two ways. First, I will offer a few snippets about the man, and then I will quote from a few of my earlier articles about him. The details about his life are pretty well known. Let me offer a very brief outline based on a piece from the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association website:

He was born on November 7, 1918 in North Carolina, and raised on a farm near Charlotte. At age 15 in 1934 he was converted at an evangelistic campaign. In 1939 he was ordained as a Baptist minister. He graduated from Wheaton College in Chicago in 1943. While there he met fellow student Ruth McCue Bell, the daughter of a missionary doctor. He married her in 1943 and enjoyed her company for 63 years. She died in 2007.

His first major evangelistic crusade was in Los Angeles in 1949, and his last crusade was in New York in 2005. Much of the rest is of course history. It is said he preached to some 215 million people in more than 185 countries and territories, with hundreds of millions more reached through television, video, film, and webcasts.

Of course out of all these who heard the evangelist, God only knows how many were actual converts who stayed true to God, walking with Christ for the rest of their lives. Many were likely just a flash in the pan, who had an emotional reaction at one of his meetings. But many – most? – were soundly converted, and hopefully discipled through local churches.

He died on February 21st, age 99. Such was his stature that on February 28 and March 1, he became the fourth private citizen in United States history to lie in honor in the United States Capitol rotunda in Washington, D.C.

As to some of my past writings on the man, let me cite two of them. In June of 2007 I wrote “Two Men Who Shaped Nations”. It was a real study in contrasts. One man was of course Graham. The other was Playboy’s Hugh Hefner. They are now both dead, and their lives could not have been more different. As I wrote over a decade ago:

There are two elderly Americans who have both made a profound impact on not only America but the rest of the world. One is a man who renounced self and dedicated his life to his God and the welfare of others. The other, who has snubbed God altogether, has made a name for himself as one totally absorbed with himself, and his lusts.

I concluded my piece this way:

The contrast could not be much greater. Yet there is one fundamental commonality that unites the two men. Both are sinners. The only difference is, one acknowledged his sin early on, and turned to the finished work of Christ for a new life. The other still wallows in his old life of sin and selfishness. And such are the options for all of us. There are in the end only these two options. May we choose wisely.

In March of 2010 I wrote about him again, comparing him with someone who had just died; Father Paul Marx, the founder of Human Life International. In my piece I had reflected on the autobiographies of the two men:

Faithful for Life: The Autobiography of Father Paul Marx. (Human Life International, 1997.)
Just As I Am: The Autobiography of Billy Graham. (HarperCollins, 1997.)

In my piece I said that they shared a number of common features, and there were a number of parallels between the two lives. I wrote:

A number of other similarities emerged: both are nearly 80; both grew up in rural America on dairy farms; both men’s families lost nearly all in the great depression; and both knew early on that they were to make an impact on their world.

Both men have rejected racism, ensuring that blacks and whites alike took part in their work. Also, both recognised the importance of working together with people from differing religious persuasions. Thus Marx made a point of working with Protestants where possible, and Graham encouraged working together with Catholics. Both also sought to work with Jewish groups as well whenever feasible. Thus ethnic and religious bigotry were notably absent from their ministries.

Early on in his ministry Graham had made a point of ensuring that no hint of scandal be found in his organisation. Back in 1948 he and his team decided to set out a group of resolutions which would guide their work in the future. The first point was to be totally open and accountable concerning finances. The second commitment was to avoid all hints of sexual immorality. Third, the team resolved to always work together with local churches, and seek unity wherever possible. Fourth, they determined to be unflinchingly honest about numbers – the number of conversions, etc. No exaggerations, no misrepresentations.

Between these two men, probably every country on earth has been visited. They are both remarkable for their travels and countless speaking engagements. Many a younger man would not have kept up with the gruelling schedules, the sleepless nights and the strange surroundings. Both men, although now well advanced in years, are still fully devoted to their cause, although Graham is slowed down by Parkinson’s disease….

Both men have been to Australia on numerous visits. On one visit to Australia, when South Australia legalised abortion in 1970, Fr Marx gave 31 lectures in 30 days to stave off further attempts to spread abortion. He left behind a manuscript on euthanasia which was published as The Mercy Killers. Well over a million copies were to be sold or distributed.

Billy Graham is best known for his overflow crowd at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. On one Sunday afternoon in March 1959, 143,750 people crammed into the Melbourne Cricket Ground to hear Graham preach. It was his largest crowd to date, and the biggest crowd ever assembled at the MCG. Graham’s largest audience was in Seoul, Korea, in 1973, when over one million people crowded into an open air plaza to hear him speak.

So what made Billy Graham tick? Obviously, he had a deep and abiding love for God and for man. That is all one needs really. And he simply took to heart passages like Romans 10:13-15:

For, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”

Some of you know a bit about church history and have read about the great Christian preachers, revivalists and evangelists of the past such as the Apostle Paul of old, or more recently, George Whitefield, Charles Spurgeon, Charles Finney, Jonathan Edwards, etc. I, like many others, have often wondered what it would have been like to have actually heard such preachers.

Well, many of us got to hear – either in person, or on video – what Billy Graham was like as a preacher. My wife and I for example heard him in Amsterdam at the International Conference for Itinerant Evangelists, in July 1983 where we helped out as volunteers.

So we know a little bit about what it is like to actually hear, if not see, a great evangelist for Christ. Yes, there have been others, and there will be others. But in many ways the life and ministry of Graham was unique. He will be missed by millions.

He has run the race and finished the course that God laid out for him, and now enjoys his eternal reward of being with the one he most loved, Christ his Saviour. As always, such moving examples of godly faith inspire us to also make a difference for Christ and the Kingdom.

This quote of his has gone viral during the past week or so, and is still worth running with: “Someday you will read or hear that Billy Graham is dead. Don’t you believe a word of it. I shall be more alive than I am now. I will just have changed my address.”

God bless you Billy. Well done, good and faithful servant.

[1464 words]

The post Notable Christians: Billy Graham appeared first on CultureWatch.

March 2, 2018 This ‘n’ That

  • I appreciate this perspective from Pastor Justin Bullington on how he will explain Billy Graham to his children, though I do think we ought to pay a bit more attention to the false gospel that was also proclaimed at times, no doubt leading to great confusion for many.
  • This could be an exciting discovery! We should be so thankful that God has gifted men and women with the intellectual capacity to conduct this kind of research. He will be glorified, even if they do not acknowledge Him.
  • Because sometimes, you find yourself simply asking, “Why?”
  • So, basically, I think I’m just going to retire now.
  • Um…no. I cannot believe an adult reviewed this book…favorably.
  • Here is your weekly dose of adorable.
  • Ever heard of “prevenient grace”? Ever wonder what it means, or if it is biblical? Check out these resources.
  • I’m going to link this article and see how long it takes folks to [wrongly] conclude that I am a feminist.
  • Who is Lucy Hutchison?
  • I had never heard of Books At a Glance until now. Thinking I might have to sign up for that free trial!
  • I think this is important.
  • Context matters.
Your life is short, your duties many, your assistance great, and your reward sure. Therefore faint not, hold on and hold up, in ways of well-doing, and Heaven shall make amends for all! —Thomas Brooks

Cleaning house: ‘No more free heresy!’

(Amy Spreeman) This is the story of one church taking drastic steps to rid itself of the heresy from its church library.

Church libraries are a great source for free Christian reads, and those nice librarians rarely charge late fees. Notice I didn’t say “great Christian reads;” I said “free.” Unfortunately many church libraries contain some of the worst fiction in Christendom. Books by authors promoting the New Age, Spiritual Formation, Word of Faith, New Apostolic Reformation, Hebrew Roots, and every seeker-sensitive, feel-good, self-esteem-building, purpose-driven, paradigm-shifting message that distorts the True gospel of Jesus. View article →

Source: Cleaning house: ‘No more free heresy!’

March 2, 2018 Afternoon Verse Of The Day

Abel: Worshiping in Faith


By faith Abel offered to God a better sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained the testimony that he was righteous, God testifying about his gifts, and through faith, though he is dead, he still speaks. (11:4)

James Moffatt wrote, “Death is never the last word in the life of a righteous man. When a man leaves this world, be he righteous or unrighteous, he leaves something in the world. He may leave something that will grow and spread like a cancer or a poison, or he may leave something like the fragrance of perfume or a blossom of beauty that permeates the atmosphere with blessing.” Man leaves this world either a Paul or a Nero.

Dead men do tell tales. They are not silent, but still speak to those who will listen. From many thousands of years ago, Abel speaks to twentieth-century man. This man who lived when the earth was new, who was of the second generation of mankind, has something to teach modern, sophisticated, technological man. He lived in a far distant age, in a far different culture, with far less light from God than we have. But what he has to tell us is more relevant than anything we are likely to read in our current newspapers or magazines.

The obvious theme of Hebrews 11 is faith, and it is about faith that Abel speaks to us. He is the first in a long line of faithful persons who can teach us about the life of faith. He, and the others mentioned in chapter 11, illustrate a pure kind of faith that sharply isolates it from works. It is this distinction that the Jewish readers especially needed to see. They had to be shown that, from the very beginning, faith has been the only thing that God will accept to save fallen man.

Adam and Eve could not have been persons of faith in the same way as their descendants. They had seen God face-to-face, fellowshipped with Him, talked with Him, and had lived in the garden of paradise. Until they sinned, they had no need for faith, because they lived in God’s very light. Even after they sinned, they had the memory and knowledge of this unique and beautiful relationship with their Creator. Their children were the first to have need of faith in its fullest sense. Abel was the first man of faith, and it is important to understand that his faith had to do with his personal salvation.

Abel’s faith led to three progressive things: true sacrifice, true righteousness, and true witness. Because he believed, he offered a better sacrifice. Because he offered a better sacrifice, he obtained righteousness. Because he obtained righteousness, he is for all the ages a living voice saying, “Righteousness is by faith.”

God put Adam and Eve out of the Garden because of sin. Sin violated their fellowship with God and forfeited their right to be in His presence. But even as His judgment sent them out, His grace promised a way back. Through woman a man would be born whose heel would be bruised by Satan but who would bruise Satan on the head (Gen. 3:15). That is, this One who would be born from the seed of woman would conquer and destroy Satan, and thereby deliver mankind from sin’s curse. Within the very curse itself, a Redeemer was promised. While judgment was being executed, mercy was being offered.

Only one woman, the mother of Jesus, has ever possessed a seed apart from its being implanted by a man. The Holy Spirit placed the seed in her, and in this way it was the seed of woman that gave birth to Jesus, the promised Savior. Not only the coming of the Redeemer but also His virgin birth was prophesied in the first part of the first book of God’s Word.

From her comments after the birth of Cain, it is possible that Eve thought her firstborn would be the promised deliverer. His name probably means “to get” or “to get something,” and her statement, “I have gotten a manchild with the help of the Lord” (Gen. 4:1), might be rendered, “I have gotten ‘He is here.’ ” If she thought this son was the deliverer, she was greatly mistaken. This son became mankind’s first murderer, not its savior. Even apart from Cain’s wickedness and faithlessness, he could not have been the savior, nor could any of Adam and Eve’s physical descendants. Flesh can only produce flesh. In Adam all died, and the sons of Adam could not give a life which they themselves did not have.

We do not know their age difference, but Abel was born sometime after Cain. The basic meaning of Abel could be “breath,” “weakness,” or “vanity,” carrying the idea of brevity. In any case, his life was indeed brief, cut off by his jealous brother.

Abel was “a keeper of flocks,” while Cain was “a tiller of the ground.” One was a shepherd, the other a farmer. Both were conceived after the fall and were born outside of Eden. They were therefore both born in sin. They were the second and third men ever to live on earth. They lived and functioned as all mankind since their time has lived and functioned. They had the same natures and capacities and limitations and inclinations that every person since then has had. In other words, in all the essentials of human nature, they were exactly as we are. In no way do they resemble the primitive beings of evolutionist fantasy.

Showing their preconceptions and biases, evolutionists and various interpreters of Scripture have argued that the Genesis account of man’s beginnings cannot possibly be correct, because Adam, Eve, Cain, Abel, and the others mentioned in the earlier chapters are far too advanced to have been the first human beings. Besides the impossible supernatural claims of Adam and Eve talking with God, critics reason that original man could not have domesticated animals, as Abel did, or plowed and planted fields, as Cain did—much less have invented musical instruments or metal tools (4:21–22).

The Bible is clear, however, that Adam and Eve were highly intelligent when God created them. Adam named all the animals, which required devising a creative vocabulary. Their sons understood animal husbandry and farming, and within a very few generations came the tools and musical instruments already mentioned. The Genesis account, brief as it is, gives the definite picture of people who were well-developed in language and in general culture.

The first human inhabitants of earth, Adam and Eve and Cain and Abel, lived and functioned as human beings in the ways that we do today.

Abel Made a True Sacrifice

By faith Abel offered to God a better sacrifice than Cain. (11:4a)

This verse takes us back to Genesis, where we read of Abel’s sacrifice: “So it came about in the course of time that Cain brought an offering to the Lord of the fruit of the ground. And Abel, on his part also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of their fat portions. And the Lord had regard for Abel and for his offering; but for Cain and for his offering He had no regard” (Gen. 4:3–5).

a place to worship

Cain and Abel had a place to worship. Because they brought offerings, some sort of altar must have been used on which to make the sacrifices. There is no mention of their erecting an altar at this time, and it may be that an altar already existed near the east side of the Garden of Eden, where God had placed the cherubim with the flaming sword to prevent man from reentering.

It seems perfectly consistent with God’s grace that, from the beginning, He would have provided for some means of worship. Perhaps the altar here was a forerunner of the mercy seat, a place where man could come for forgiveness and atonement. Very early in man’s history God promised a future Deliverer, and very early He provided a temporary means of worship and sacrifice.

a time for worship

There seems also to have been a time for worship. “In the course of time,” means literally, “at the end of days,” that is, at the end of a certain period of time. It may be, therefore, that God had designated a special time for sacrificing. God is a God of order, and we know that in later centuries He did prescribe definite times and ways of worshiping. The fact that Cain and Abel came to sacrifice at the same time also suggests that God had specified a particular time.

a way to worship

I also believe that God had designated a way to worship. Cain and Abel would know nothing about the need for worship or sacrifice, much less the way, had they not been told by God—perhaps through their parents. It is especially significant that the first recorded act of worship was sacrifice, a sin offering, the supreme act of worship in all of God’s covenants with His people. Abraham sacrificed to God, and through Moses came the complicated and demanding rituals of sacrifice of the Old Covenant. The heart of the New Covenant is Jesus’ perfect, once-for-all sacrifice on the cross. It is inconceivable that Cain and Abel accidentally stumbled onto sacrifice as a way of worshiping God. The fact that God accepted only the one sacrificial offering also seems to indicate that He had established a pattern for worship.

Abel offered his sacrifice by faith. Since “faith comes from hearing” (Rom. 10:17), Abel must have had some revelation from God on which his faith was based. He must have known the place and time and way in which God wanted the sacrifice for sin to be offered.

There was nothing intrinsically wrong with a grain or fruit or vegetable offering. The Mosaic covenant included such offerings. But the blood offerings were always first, because only the blood offerings dealt with sin.

Here is where the life of faith begins, with a sacrifice for sin. It begins with believing God that we are sinners, that we are worthy of death, that we need His forgiveness, and that we accept His revealed plan for our deliverance. That is the beginning of the life of faith. It was in such faith that Abel presented his sacrifice to God. And it was because of such faith that his sacrifice was acceptable to God.

When Abel did what God said, he revealed his obedience and acknowledged his sinfulness. Cain, on the other hand, was disobedient and did not acknowledge his sin. Abel offered to God a better sacrifice than Cain because God had prescribed a blood sacrifice. Somehow Abel, and Cain as well, knew what God wanted. The difference between the two was that Abel gave what God wanted, whereas Cain gave what he himself wanted. Abel was obedient and Cain was disobedient. Abel acknowledged his sin. Cain did not.

Abel approached God and said, in effect, “Lord, this is what You said You wanted. You promised that if I brought it, You would forgive my sin. I believe You, God. I acknowledge my sin and I acknowledge Your prescribed remedy. Here it is.” Cain had the same knowledge of God’s requirements, but decided to worship in his own way. In the tradition of his parents, he did his own thing. In effect, he was denying his sin.

Cain believed in God, else he would not have brought Him a sacrifice. He acknowledged a supreme being and even that he owed Him some sort of worship. He recognized God, but he did not obey God. He believed in God, but he did not believe God. He thought he could approach God in whatever way he wanted, and expected Him to be impressed and satisfied. In so doing, Cain became the father of all false religion.

False religion is trying to come to God by any other way than the way God has prescribed. It says, “I can get to God by thinking myself into Nirvana,” or, “I can please God by meditation,” or, “I can satisfy God by my works or by following the teachings of Mary Baker Eddy, Joseph Smith, or Charles Taze Russell.” God’s Word says, “There is no other name under heaven that has been given among men, by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). False religion says that there is another name, another way. False religion is any way to God that God Himself has not ordained. Proverbs 14:12 marks this truth: “There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.”

The idea that one way is just as good as another does not seem to be accepted in any area of life except religion and morality. When a person goes to a doctor with a problem, he first of all wants to know the truth. No one likes to hear a diagnosis of a terrible disease. But the sensible person would rather know the truth than live in ignorance of something that could ruin his health or even take his life. Once knowing the diagnosis, he then wants the right cure, not just any cure. He wants the best treatment he can find and will usually go to any lengths to get it. He would be insulted and infuriated with a doctor who told him simply to go home and do whatever he thought best—that one person’s opinion was just as good as another’s. The reason we think this way about medicine is that we believe there are medical truths. Medical science does not have all the answers, but a great deal is known and accepted as factual, reliable, and dependable. The reason this same kind of reasoning is not applied to spiritual and moral issues is that the absolute truths and standards God has given are rejected. In fact, the very notion of spiritual and moral absolutes is rejected. Cain rejected God’s standards and became the first apostate.

Cain failed to acknowledge his sin and refused to obey God by bringing the sacrifice God required. He did not mind worshiping God, as long as it was on his own terms, in his own way. And God rejected his sacrifice and rejected him.

Cain’s disobedience of God and setting up his own standards of living were the beginning of Satan’s world system. Cain “went out from the presence of the Lord” (Gen. 4:16) and into a life of continuous self-will, which is the heart of worldliness and unbelief. By his own decision, his own volition, he turned away from God and God’s way to himself and his own way. We should not be sorry for him because God refused to honor his sacrifice. He knew what God required, and he was able to do it. But he chose instead to do what he himself wanted.

There are all kinds of people around under the guise of religion, even Christian religion, who are denying God. “Woe to them!” Jude says, “For they have gone the way of Cain” (v. 11). Cain is an example of the religious natural man, who believes in God and even in religion but after his own will and who rejects redemption by blood. Paul says of such people that, “they have a zeal for God, but not in accordance with knowledge. For not knowing about God’s righteousness, and seeking to establish their own, they did not subject themselves to the righteousness of God” (Rom. 10:2–3).

In addition to being wicked and unbelieving, Cain was a hypocrite. He did not want to worship God but only give the appearance of worship. His purpose was to please himself, not God. His sacrifice was simply a religious activity designed to suit his own purposes and fulfill his own will. Cain was like the Pharisee in the Temple who Jesus said was praying “to himself” (Luke 18:11). He was patronizing God and worshiping himself. Also like the Pharisee, Cain went home unjustified; whereas Abel, like the penitent tax gatherer, went home justified.

God is not arbitrary or whimsical or capricious. He was not playing a game with Cain and Abel. He did not hold them accountable for what they could not have known or could not have done. Abel’s sacrifice was accepted because he knew what God wanted and obeyed. Cain’s was rejected because he knew what God wanted, yet disobeyed. To obey is righteous; to disobey is evil. Abel was of God; Cain was of Satan (1 John 3:12).

Abel offered a better sacrifice because it represented the obedience of faith. He willingly brought God what He asked, and he brought the very best that he had. In Abel’s sacrifice, the way of the cross was first prefigured. The first sacrifice was Abel’s lamb—one lamb for one person. Later came the Passover—with one lamb for one family. Then came the Day of Atonement—with one lamb for one nation. Finally came Good Friday—one Lamb for the whole world.

Abel Obtained Righteousness

Through which he obtained the testimony that he was righteous. (11:4b)

The only thing that obtained righteousness for Abel was that, in faith, He did what God told him to do. That is the only thing that changes a man’s relationship to God. It is not how good we are, but whether or not we trust in Him, that counts with God. That trust is evidenced in obedience to His Word.

Abel was sinful, just as Cain was. But it is quite possible, even likely, that Abel was a better person than Cain. He was probably more moral, more dependable, more honest, and even more likable than Cain. It was not, however, these qualities of Abel that made his sacrifice acceptable, or the lack of these qualities that made Cain’s sacrifice unacceptable. The difference was the way in which the sacrifices were made. One was made in obedient faith; the other made in disobedient unbelief.

Abel’s was the kind of faith that allows God to move in on our behalf and make us righteous. True faith is always obedient. Jesus said “to those Jews who had believed Him, ‘If you abide in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine’ ” (John 8:31). These people believed Jesus, but they had not yet trusted in Him, which Jesus said would be marked by obedience to His word. Obedience does not bring faith, but faith will always bring obedience and the desire to live righteously.

Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints. For certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ. (Jude 3–4)

We cannot claim to have faith in God and then continually disregard His Word. James must have known some people who thought this way, for he wrote, “What use is it, my brethren, if a man says he has faith, but he has no works? Can that faith save him?… Faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself” (James 2:14, 17). Nonworking faith, disobedient faith, is not saving faith. It is not valid faith at all. Cain believed that God exists. Even the demons believe this, James goes on to say. “But are you willing to recognize, you foolish fellow, that faith without works is useless?” (2:19–20).

James then drives the point home by reminding his readers that Abraham’s faith, for which he was counted righteous, was demonstrated by his obedience in offering his son Isaac as God commanded. “You see that faith was working with his works, and as a result of the works, faith was perfected” (2:21–22).

James does not teach salvation by works. He is saying that our faith is only real when it issues in works. We cannot work our way to God, but having come to Him, works will become evident—and prove that our faith is genuine. The Christian, in fact, is “created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Eph. 2:10).

It seems to me that God’s testimony that Abel’s sacrifice was acceptable and that He counted Abel as righteous could have been indicated by His causing this offering to be consumed. On at least five occasions recorded in Scripture, God showed His acceptance of a sacrifice by sending fire to consume it (Lev. 9:24; Judg. 6:21; 1 Kings 18:38; 1 Chron. 21:26; 2 Chron. 7:1). In any case, it is clear from Genesis that God made His approval and disapproval of the sacrifices known to Cain and Abel. He did not leave them in doubt as to their standing before Him.

Abel was counted righteous, not because he was righteous, but because he trusted God. He stood righteous before God because He had faith in God. Abel was the same sinner as he was before he made the sacrifice. He did not even receive the Holy Spirit, as do believers today. He walked away with the same problems he had before. But He had God’s approval, and God’s righteousness credited to his account.

Abel Speaks from the Dead

God testifying about his gifts, and through faith, though he is dead, he still speaks. (11:4c)

When the Lord confronted Cain after Abel’s murder, He said, “What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood is crying to Me from the ground” (Gen. 4:10). Abel’s first “speaking” after death was to God, asking for his murder to be avenged. Like the souls underneath the altar “who had been slain because of the word of God” (Rev. 6:9–10), Abel asked the Lord to avenge his blood.

His voice also spoke to his brother. “And now you are cursed from the ground, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. When you cultivate the ground, it shall no longer yield its strength to you; you shall be a vagrant and a wanderer on the earth” (Gen. 4:11–12). Every bit of soil on which Cain placed his feet would remind him of his wicked deed. The earth, in effect, rejected Cain as he had rejected God and his brother. Abel, though dead, continued to speak to his brother.

The primary meaning of Hebrews 11:4, however, has to do with Abel’s speaking to later generations of believers and potential believers. He still speaks. He says three things: man comes to God by faith, not works; man must accept and obey God’s revelation above his own reason and self-will; and sin is severely punished. This is Abel’s timeless three-point sermon to the world, which he has been preaching for thousands of years to those who will hear. It could be titled, “The Righteous Shall Live by Faith.”[1]

Faith Justifying

Hebrews 11:4

By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain, through which he was commended as righteous, God commending him by accepting his gifts. And through his faith, though he died, he still speaks. (Heb. 11:4)

As we study this great eleventh chapter of Hebrews, we will discover the variety of things that faith does or accomplishes. We often think of this chapter as focusing on the heroes of the faith, on the people themselves, and certainly the writer of Hebrews does draw upon the wonderful histories of the Old Testament and therefore on its personalities. But ultimately it is not these men and women who are on display, in all their variety of experience, but rather the one faith that shows its various facets in their lives. Through these historical and biblical figures, the author personifies the faith he is commending, and we thereby see all the things faith does and the benefits it conveys.

In the previous chapter we saw two things that faith does. It makes present and real things that are future and unseen. By faith we presently lay hold of our possessions in Christ. Moreover, faith sees the Creator behind the creation; by faith we understand who made and sustains the universe. As we proceed through this chapter, we are going to see more of the many things faith does. Faith pleases God; it does good works; it looks upon a heavenly city; it trusts God’s promises; and it conquers over obstacles. This is what the apostle John had in mind at the end of his first epistle: “This is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith” (1 John 5:4).

Cain and Abel

The first example of faith that the writer presents is that of Abel: “By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain.” This refers to the episode recorded in Genesis 4:1–5:

Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain, saying, “I have gotten a man with the help of the Lord.” And again, she bore his brother Abel. Now Abel was a keeper of sheep, and Cain a worker of the ground. In the course of time Cain brought to the Lord an offering of the fruit of the ground, and Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat portions. And the Lord had regard for Abel and his offering, but for Cain and his offering he had no regard. So Cain was very angry, and his face fell.

Hebrews says that Abel’s sacrifice was better than Cain’s because of faith. There are two ways to understand this statement. The first is that because Abel was a man of faith and Cain was not, God accepted Abel’s sacrifice while rejecting Cain’s. The issue was not the sacrifices but the men themselves. John Calvin held this view: “The sacrifice of Abel was more acceptable than that of his brother only because it was sanctified by faith.… Where did his pleasing come from other than that he had a heart purified by faith?”

You see the logic of this view, a logic we want to heartily endorse. God receives the man of faith and therefore his offering, rejecting the man who lacks faith. The apostle Paul spoke this way when he wrote in Romans 14:23, “Whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.” And in Galatians 5:6 he wrote, “The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love” (niv). According to that standard we see that because he lacked faith, whatever Cain offered had to be rejected, while faithful Abel’s offering was received.

We want to affirm this way of thinking, but it does not seem to be a sufficient explanation for what we find in Genesis 4. The Old Testament text seems to emphasize the difference between the two offerings, and not merely between the two men. It wasn’t that the two brothers brought the same offering, one that was received because of faith while the other was rejected for unbelief. No, the offerings were different, and in that difference we see the faith of one and the unbelief of the other.

We might begin by asking whether God had given commands or regulations at that time concerning the type of sacrifice his people were to offer him. “Just what,” we ask, “had God revealed to these first children or to their parents, Adam and Eve?” The answer brings us back to the prior chapter, and specifically to Genesis 3:21.

Genesis 3 tells the tragic story of man’s fall into sin. Verses 1–7 record how the serpent deceived the woman so that she ate the fruit from the forbidden tree, then how Adam ate it with her and joined her in transgressing God’s commandment. Verses 8–13 relate God’s confrontation of our first parents in that primordial sin, and their pathetic attempt to shift the blame even as they confessed their misdeed. In verses 14–19 come God’s curses, first on the serpent, then on the woman, and finally on Adam. Then, in verse 21, we see God’s action to deal with the problem of their sin, which we must consider central to God’s message of salvation because it is his most direct response to sin: “The Lord God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them.” God dealt with their sin by slaying an innocent animal, a spotless substitute. God had said that sin would produce death and here we see that it did—not the death of Adam and Eve, although death did come upon their race—but the death of a substitute that would shed its blood in their place and offer its own innocence to clothe their guilty stains. The great evangelist George Whitefield rightly connected this to Jesus and his death upon the cross:

What were the coats that God made to put on our first parents, but types of the application of the merits of the righteousness of Jesus Christ to believers’ hearts? We are told that those coats were made of skins of beasts.… Those beasts were slain in sacrifice, in commemoration of the great sacrifice, Jesus Christ, thereafter to be offered. And the skins of the beasts thus slain, being put on Adam and Eve, they were hereby taught how their nakedness was to be covered with the righteousness of the Lamb of God.

In this way, God revealed the manner by which sinful man was to approach him. Here he taught sinners what kind of sacrifice they ought to bring. This is how we must evaluate the fitness of Abel’s versus Cain’s offering: “Cain brought to the Lord an offering of the fruit of the ground” (Gen. 4:3). There must have been much to commend such an offering to Cain. Here was a portion of what arose from his own hard-fought labor. God had said to Adam in his curse, “By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread” (Gen. 3:19). So what Cain brought to God came only by hard labor, just as farming continues to demand today. Furthermore, it must have been beautiful, pleasing to the eye, and sweet to the taste.

What, then, was the problem with Cain’s offering? It did not involve the shedding of blood. This was the key difference between Abel’s offering and Cain’s: Abel “brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat portions” (Gen. 4:4). In keeping with the pattern that God had established with his parents, and that had undoubtedly been taught to him by Adam and Eve, Abel brought a sacrifice that pointed forward to the atoning death of a spotless substitute. By faith Abel’s sacrifice was better than Cain’s, not just because Abel’s faith made it better, but because by faith he offered the sacrifice God had established as the means by which he would accept sinful mankind.

The One Way

We learn several important lessons from this episode. First, we see that sinful man is justified, or accepted by God, only by faith in the blood of the sacrifice that God has provided. This is a doctrine the Book of Hebrews has repeatedly stressed. Chapter 9 spoke of the blood of Christ which opens up heaven for those who trust in him: “Christ [was] offered once to bear the sins of many” (Heb. 9:28). Similarly, Hebrews 7:27 tells us about the meaning of the cross: he sacrificed for our sins “once for all when he offered up himself.”

This means that you cannot come to God any way you choose. You do not just say you believe in God and then decide for yourself how you will draw near to him. That was Cain’s problem. He would decide the terms of his coming to God; he would offer a sacrifice according to his own devising. How bitter he was when God rejected him and his self-righteous worship.

There really are only two kinds of offerings, two ways to come to God—those that point to our own work, our own merits, our own righteousness, and those that point to Jesus Christ, crucified in our place to pay for sins. Unless we come to God confessing the guilt of our sin and our need for his grace, and embracing the gift of his own Son to die in our place, we reject the one way that he has provided. We then will be rejected, condemned for our sins, and made to suffer the eternal pains of hell. But people nonetheless persist in rejecting the way provided by God, especially in churches that deny or downplay the gospel. James M. Boice wrote of this in his commentary on Genesis: “That is the problem with so many ‘good, religious people.’ They come to God with their heightened sense of esthetics and want to be received by God because of their beautiful offerings. But God rejects them and their godless worship. There is no blood, no Christ and, hence, no true Christianity, however beautiful their service might be.”

We should offer our best to God. We should offer beautiful worship to him because he is deserving of our very best. There is no higher privilege than for us to do all we can to honor and bless his name. But this comes only after the blood, only after we have confessed our guilt and placed our faith in the blood of the sacrifice. Boice continues:

If one comes first through faith in Christ and his shed blood, then he can present all the beautiful things he is capable of finding or creating. And God will be pleased by this, because the person does not trust these things for salvation but rather is offering them to God just because he loves him and wants to show affection. It is only on the basis of the sacrifice of Christ that one can come.

You may say you are coming to God by any of a number of ways. You may say you are coming because of your sincere heart. You may say your religion is based on your good works. You may trust sacraments or religious tradition or church membership. But apart from the blood of Jesus Christ all of these will be rejected, like Cain’s offering, because you have not come by faith in the way God has provided. The apostle Peter said to the Sanhedrin, “There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). Jesus taught, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). These passages refer not merely to some vague belief regarding Jesus Christ but to his atoning blood, to which Abel’s sacrifice pointed and on which it relied, his substitutionary death in our place upon the cross. As Hebrews 9:22 tells us, “Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.”

Justification by Faith

If there is any doubt about the importance the writer of Hebrews attaches to faith, Hebrews 11:4 removes any ambiguity. Here he tells us that it was by faith that Abel was declared to be righteous: “By faith … he was commended as righteous.”

By faith Abel was declared righteous, or justified, by God. This is one of the great teachings of the Bible: the doctrine of justification by faith. This is why those early Hebrew Christians who first received this letter were exhorted not to abandon their faith, as they were tempted to do: because by faith in Christ alone are sinners justified by God. This doctrine is at the core of the gospel, the good news God offers us in Christ, because it declares exactly what we see in the case of Abel, how a sinner can be accepted and declared righteous by the holy God.

John 3:16 declares that “God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” By believing on Jesus Christ, by resting on his saving work for the forgiveness of our sins, by accepting God’s Word and coming to him the one way he has provided, we are forgiven and are, as our text says, “declared righteous by faith.” We are not righteous by works, which declare our supposed merit—that was Cain’s mistake and the cause of his rejection—but by faith, which declares our need and our acceptance of God’s gracious gift.

We find this truth emphasized in the Genesis account. Abel was a sinner, being the son of Adam and bearing sin’s corruption in his fallen human nature. Yet when he came to God bearing the blood of a substitute, “the Lord had regard for Abel and his offering” (Gen. 4:4). The blood turned away God’s wrath by speaking of the coming cross of Christ, and on that basis God received Abel with gladness. This acceptance was not available only to him; Cain could have been justified this same way. As God explained to a bitter Cain, “Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted?” (Gen. 4:6–7).

Justification by faith makes the same claim to everyone reading these words. It is not just those who were born into Christian families, who have the right connections, who have the proper appearance or works or money to offer, but everyone may come in this way. That is why God said to Cain, “Why do you not come in the way I have graciously provided?” God offers each and every one of us salvation, forgiveness of sin, and restoration into fellowship with him by the sacrifice he has provided, even the blood of his own Son.

This point is forcefully made in the early chapters of Genesis. We have seen the first sacrifice, when God clothed Adam and Eve with the skins of innocent animals (Gen. 3:21). Although Adam did not die, his sin barred him from the Garden of Eden. Genesis 3:22–23 tells us he was no longer fit to dwell with and serve God there, to eat from the tree of life and live forever. But then verse 24 adds a remarkable detail: “[God] drove out the man, and at the east of the Garden of Eden he placed the cherubim and a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life.” East of Eden, into the curse-blasted world of sin went Adam and Eve, their way back barred by angels with flaming sword.

This imagery would become important later in Israel’s history, in the time of Moses, when instructions were given for the construction of the tabernacle. The tabernacle was the place where people came to meet with God and where God dwelt in the midst of his people. At its center, in the holy of holies, rested the ark of the covenant, God’s throne on the earth, where he kept the tablets of the Ten Commandments, his law.

The tabernacle was a movable structure made of wooden frames and curtains. The writer of Hebrews made a careful study of it in chapter 9. There was an outer court where sacrifices were offered and the priests were cleansed before entering. The outer room, called the holy place, was where the priests served. Finally, there was the inner sanctum, the holy of holies, where God himself dwelt, separated by a thick veil from sinful mankind. What is striking when we read the instructions in the Book of Exodus for the construction of the tabernacle is that the image of cherubim was to be worked into the curtains of the tabernacle: “You shall make the tabernacle with ten curtains of fine twined linen and blue and purple and scarlet yarns; you shall make them with cherubim skillfully worked into them” (Ex. 26:1). This detail evidently carried great significance because it is repeated four times in the Book of Exodus (26:1, 31; 36:8, 35). Just as the cherubim guarded the way to God in the garden with a fiery sword, so the symbolic cherubim on the curtains in the tabernacle kept sinners away.

We may infer from this that after their sin and expulsion from the garden, Adam and Eve still came to worship God at the entrance to Eden. It was to the guarded way between the cherubim that they came with sacrifices of blood. Likely, this is where Abel and Cain came, one with a sacrifice of blood and the other with an offering representing his works. Abel would have been like the later priests of Israel, able to come to the gate, to the holy place, to live and serve in God’s reflected light, but barred from the inner sanctum by the guardian angels, just as the thick veil with the image of cherubim kept Israel’s priests out of the holy of holies.

But that is not the end of the story. The Book of Exodus gave further instructions concerning the mercy seat, the atonement cover for the ark of the covenant within the holy of holies:

You shall make a mercy seat of pure gold. Two cubits and a half shall be its length, and a cubit and a half its breadth. And you shall make two cherubim of gold; of hammered work shall you make them, on the two ends of the mercy seat. Make one cherub on the one end, and one cherub on the other end. Of one piece with the mercy seat shall you make the cherubim on its two ends. The cherubim shall spread out their wings above, overshadowing the mercy seat with their wings, their faces one to another; toward the mercy seat shall the faces of the cherubim be. And you shall put the mercy seat on the top of the ark, and in the ark you shall put the testimony that I shall give you. (Ex. 25:17–21)

Although no sinner could come directly into God’s presence, just as neither Adam nor Abel could return to the garden, there was one day of the year, the day of atonement, when Israel’s high priest could enter into the holy of holies. This one day prophesied an entire age to come. When the high priest came, he was confronted by the sight of the two cherubim. The atonement cover of the ark of the covenant thus graphically portrayed the gate to the garden. There two mighty angels faced each other, with wings upswept, casting down the shadow of their presence. Their eyes gazed downward to the ark which contained the tablets of the law of God, broken by sinners. They saw that man is barred from the garden and from the presence of God. Because he is a transgressor, man is under the sentence of death and therefore cannot enter back into life.

But on the day of atonement, the high priest came and poured the blood of the atoning sacrifice upon the mercy seat between the cherubim. And thus the way that was barred now was opened. This provides an important insight about the guardian cherubim: they not only kept shut the way to God without the atoning blood, but they also secured the way for the great day to come when the true sacrifice would open wide the gates to Paradise. That one day a year when the high priest came before the cherubim with a blood offering symbolized an entire age that would be opened by the true high priest with the true blood he himself had shed. God therefore said to Moses, concluding his commands for the mercy seat: “There I will meet with you, and from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubim that are on the ark of the testimony, I will speak with you” (Ex. 25:22).

God met with his people between the cherubim—not in the garden, but at its gate. God met with them at the place where the blood was poured to cover the breaking of the law. Between the angels on the ark of the covenant sat the mercy seat. In Greek this is the hilastērion, the very term the apostle Paul used in Romans 3:25 to describe what God presented to us in the death of Jesus Christ. “God put [him] forward as a hilastērion,” that is, a mercy seat. The English Standard Version precisely defines this as “a propitiation,” and the New International Version gives the more general translation, “a sacrifice of atonement.” The point is that what the angels were looking for all along was Christ, whose coming would end their watch, and therefore they guarded the way to God until his coming.

That great day for which the angels looked did come. The Gospels tell us about it. The day came when the curtain with its cherubim was not merely pulled aside temporarily but torn from top to bottom, removed altogether, the angels thus relieved of their ancient task. Matthew 27 tells us of the death of Christ: “Jesus cried out again with a loud voice and yielded up his spirit. And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom” (vv. 50–51).

Finally, the true high priest had come to the gate between the cherubim, and there he offered his own blood once-for-all. The gate was opened, the angels went their way rejoicing, taking with them the sword of death. Now the way is open wide and secured by Christ himself, who is the way. Now it is to him that we come, not merely to the gate but into the garden to walk with God. Between the cherubim, Abel was declared righteous by faith, because he looked to the sacrifice to come. Now through faith in Christ every sinner can come to be accepted into fellowship with God and to receive everlasting life.

What Angels Longed to See

Hebrews 11:4 concludes by saying of Abel, “And through his faith, though he died, he still speaks.” Faith bore testimony to Abel, that he was accounted righteous, and now Abel bears testimony about faith—about its value, its worth, and its power to justify those who trust in Christ.

Shortly after making his faithful offering, Abel was killed. Cain tried to silence his testimony; we learn in Genesis 4:8 that instead of repenting, Cain murdered his brother to put away the testimony about faith and the righteousness it brings. And yet the man of faith still speaks to us in the Word of God. Faith in God is never silenced, because God himself keeps alive the testimony of his faithful servants.

When I think of Abel, I often recall Peter’s statement about the gospel: “Even angels long to look into these things” (1 Peter 1:12 niv). Abel’s faith spoke to those angels; it declared to them the wonder that sinners might come back to God, that those under the curse might meet with him at the place the angels guarded. What a wonder it was to the guardian cherubim when Abel by his sacrifice of faith was accepted and approved of God.

The same must have happened when Abel was killed: the first man to die, but also the first to appear in heaven. What an event that must have been! For the first time a sinner appeared in the holy courts of glory, cleansed and clothed in the righteousness of God’s Son. How the angels must have marveled at this mystery of grace! G. Campbell Morgan writes:

It was a great occasion when this first soul representing a fallen race appeared in the unsullied light of the home of the unfallen. He came by faith, ransomed by love, at the cost of sacrifice. As the Scripture declares that “the angels desire to look into” these things, this must indeed have been a mystery of life and love demanding their close attention, and not perchance, even fathomed by them, until the explanation … was wrought out upon the Cross of Calvary.

Before the time of Jesus Christ, Abel—though dead—spoke of a sacrifice yet to come that would take away our sin, and of faith in the sacrifice that declares the sinner righteous. Now that Christ has come, Abel speaks of it still, with a voice that fully rejoices. Many of our hymns echo the words that Abel, though dead, must speak about his Savior. Horatius Bonar’s words would be welcome and familiar to the lips of Abel, who brought a sacrifice of faith in the work of the Savior’s blood:

Not what my hands have done

can save my guilty soul;

not what my toiling flesh has borne

can make my spirit whole.…

Thy work alone, O Christ,

can ease this weight of sin;

thy blood alone, O Lamb of God,

can give me peace within.…

No other work, save thine,

no other blood will do;

no strength, save that which is divine,

can bear me safely through.…

I praise the God of grace;

I trust his truth and might;

he calls me his, I call him mine,

my God, my joy, my light.

Thus speaks the voice of Abel. And so shall we, if we are justified by faith in that same blood, clothed in that same righteousness, and thus accepted into the love of God, just as Abel was before us.[2]

4 The first human being in the Genesis story who is “commended” is not Adam or Eve (who represent rebellion rather than faith) but Abel (Ge 4:2–8). As the first victim of murder, he would form a suitable model for those who faced the possibility of martyrdom at the hands of their faithless “brothers.” The Genesis account does not explain why Abel’s animal sacrifice was more acceptable to God than Cain’s vegetable offering, but for our author, the fact is enough. His character as a true worshiper of God is demonstrated from the title “righteous” (used of Abel also in Mt 23:25; 1 Jn 3:12—and based on God’s words in Ge 4:7, which imply that Abel, unlike Cain, did “what is right”), from the fact that God approved his sacrifice (Ge 4:4), and from his continued “speaking” even after his murder. This last point is an inference from Genesis 4:10, where God tells Cain that his dead brother’s blood “cries out to me from the ground”; it will be mentioned again at 12:24. From this admittedly limited evidence, our author concludes that what distinguished Abel from Cain was his “faith,” a healthy and living relationship with the God whom he worshiped.[3]

[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1983). Hebrews (pp. 295–303). Chicago: Moody Press.

[2] Phillips, R. D. (2006). Hebrews. (R. D. Phillips, P. G. Ryken, & D. M. Doriani, Eds.) (pp. 401–412). Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing.

[3] France, R. T. (2006). Hebrews. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Hebrews–Revelation (Revised Edition) (Vol. 13, p. 150). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.


Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit.

Luke 23:46

When Christ Jesus died on that unholy, fly-infested cross for mankind, He never divided the Godhead! We are assured from the earliest church fathers that the Father in heaven, His eternal Son, and the Holy Ghost are forever One—inseparable, indivisible—and can never be anything else.

Not all of Nero’s swords could ever cut down through the substance of the Godhead to cut off the Father from the Son.

It was Mary’s son who cried out, “Why hast Thou forsaken me?” It was the human body which God had given Him. It was the sacrifice that cried—the lamb about to die! The Son of Man knew himself forsaken. God dumped that vast, filthy, slimy mass of human sin on the soul of the Savior—and then backed away.

Believe it that the ancient and timeless Deity was never separated. He was still in the bosom of the Father when He cried, “Into thy hands I commend my spirit!” (Luke 23:46).

Little wonder that we are amazed and marvel every day at the wonder of the ancient theology of the Christian Church!

Lord, sometimes Your nature is a mystery to my limited thinking. But how grateful I am that You were willing to bear my sin—and that of the whole human race—on the cross of Calvary.[1]

[1] Tozer, A. W. (2015). Mornings with tozer: daily devotional readings. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.

40 Days to the Cross: Week Two – Friday

Confession: Psalm 32:8–11

I will instruct you and teach you

in the way that you should go.

I will advise you with my eye upon you.

Do not be like a horse or like a mule, without understanding;

that needs his tackle—bridle and rein—for restraint

or he would not come near you.

Many are the pains of the wicked,

but for the one who trusts Yahweh

loyal love surrounds him.

Be glad in Yahweh and rejoice, you righteous,

and shout for joy, all you upright of heart.

Reading: Mark 11:20–25

And as they passed by early in the morning, they saw the fig tree withered from the roots. And Peter remembered and said to him, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree that you cursed has withered!” And Jesus answered and said to them, “Have faith in God! Truly I say to you that whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be lifted up and thrown into the sea!’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for him. For this reason I say to you, whatever you pray and ask for, believe that you have received it, and it will be done for you. And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father who is in heaven will also forgive you your sins.”


He showed His power to take vengeance. Wherefore not in any other, but in the moistest of all planted things did He work the miracle, so that hence also the miracle appeared greater.

And that you might learn, that for the disciples’ sakes this was done, that He might train them to feel confidence, hear what He said afterwards. “You also shall do greater things, if you are willing to believe and to be confident in prayer” (John 1:50; Matt 21:22 [paraphrases]). All is done for their sake, so that they might not be afraid and tremble at plots against them? For this reason He said this a second time also, to make them cleave to prayer and faith. “For not this only shall you do, but also shall remove mountains; and many more things shall you do, being confident in faith and prayer” (Matt 21:21–22 [paraphrase]).

—John Chrysostom

Homilies of St. John Chrysostom


Do you feel confident in prayer and faith? Do you trust that God is at work in your life? He hears your requests. Today, pray in this confidence.[1]

[1] Van Noord, R., & Strong, J. (Eds.). (2014). 40 Days to the Cross: Reflections from Great Thinkers. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

March 2 Mercy and Justice

Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.—Matt. 5:7

The relationship of mercy and justice is a confusing one because on the surface they seem the exact opposite. Justice gives exactly what is deserved; mercy gives less punishment and more help than is deserved. So the great question is: How can God be both just and merciful at the same time? The truth is God does not show mercy without punishing sin. For Him to offer mercy without punishment would negate His justice.

Mercy that ignores sin is false mercy and is all too common today. Some think it is unloving and unkind to hold people responsible for their sins. That is what is known as cheap grace—which is neither merciful nor just, nor does it offer punishment or pardon for sin. Because it overlooks sin, it leaves sin untouched and unforgiven. The one who relies on this sort of mercy is left in his sin.

The good news of the gospel, however, is that Christ paid the penalty for all sins so that God might be merciful to all sinners. On the cross Jesus satisfied God’s justice. And when a person trusts in His sacrifice, God opens the floodgates of His mercy. God did not gloss over sin and compromise justice. The good news is that in the shedding of Christ’s blood, He satisfied His justice, forgave sin, fulfilled righteousness, and made His mercy available. There is never an excuse for sin, but there is always a remedy.


What is true of God’s mercy should be true of ours. Rather than simply letting people get away with abuse, mistreatment, or destructive habits, we must realize that for mercy to truly be merciful, it must lead others toward health and holiness. Mercy is tougher than we think. How then might it look in practice?[1]

[1] MacArthur, J. (2008). Daily readings from the life of Christ (p. 70). Chicago: Moody Publishers.

March 2 A View to Obedience

Teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you.

Matthew 28:20

You cannot be a disciple apart from a life of obedience and a desire to follow Christ as Lord. One of the most important ways we obey is by teaching others to obey His commands.

Regarding the Holy Spirit, Jesus said, “He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things I said to you” (John 14:26). Through the Word of God, the Spirit has made that teaching available to every believer. And every believer is to submit himself to it in obedience.

Only a true convert will obey Christ. Only as you “present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God” (Rom. 6:13) do you exhibit obedient faith.[1]

[1] MacArthur, J. (2001). Truth for today : a daily touch of God’s grace (p. 75). Nashville, Tenn.: J. Countryman.

March 2, 2018 Morning Verse Of The Day

23 Pleasure, good and evil. One’s character is revealed in what one enjoys. Evil conduct to the fool is “like sport” (kiśḥôq; “pleasure,” NIV), literally, like a laugh; like child’s play, it is so easy (Plaut, 132). This evil conduct is contrasted with wisdom, the delight of those who have understanding.[1]

10:23 / Antithetic. Wrongdoing is the delight of the foolish, whereas wisdom satisfies the sensible.[2]

10:23 A fool amuses himself by getting into trouble; it’s his favorite sport. A man of understanding gets his pleasure in conducting himself wisely.[3]

10:23 a sport for a fool The Hebrew word used here, sechoq, indicates laughter (Job 8:21; Psa 126:2). The fool finds enjoyment in doing wrong. In contrast, the wise person finds pleasure in wisdom.[4]

10:23 Shameful conduct contrasts with wisdom. A person of understanding finds pleasure in wisdom just as a fool finds pleasure in shameful conduct.[5]

[1] Ross, A. P. (2008). Proverbs. In T. Longman III, Garland David E. (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Proverbs–Isaiah (Revised Edition) (Vol. 6, p. 113). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[2] Murphy, R. E., & Carm, O. (2012). Proverbs. In W. W. Gasque, R. L. Hubbard Jr., & R. K. Johnston (Eds.), Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs (p. 51). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[3] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 816). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[4] Barry, J. D., Mangum, D., Brown, D. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Ritzema, E., … Bomar, D. (2012, 2016). Faithlife Study Bible (Pr 10:23). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

[5] Stabnow, D. K. (2017). Proverbs. In E. A. Blum & T. Wax (Eds.), CSB Study Bible: Notes (p. 967). Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.


For the LORD  your God is God of gods, and Lord of lords, a great God, a mighty, and a terrible, which regardeth not persons, nor taketh reward.

—Deuteronomy 10:17

Modern Christianity is simply not producing the kind of Christian who can appreciate or experience the life in the Spirit. The words, “Be still, and know that I am God,” mean next to nothing to the self-confident, bustling worshiper….

This loss of the concept of majesty has come just when the forces of religion are making dramatic gains and the churches are more prosperous than at any time within the past several hundred years. But the alarming thing is that our gains are mostly external and our losses wholly internal; and since it is the quality of our religion that is affected by internal conditions, it may be that our supposed gains are but losses spread over a wider field….

The decline of the knowledge of the holy has brought on our troubles. A rediscovery of the majesty of God will go a long way toward curing them. It is impossible to keep our moral practices sound and our inward attitudes right while our idea of God is erroneous or inadequate. If we would bring back spiritual power to our lives, we must begin to think of God more nearly as He is. KOHVIII

Lord, we’ve forgotten how to be still and witness Your majesty. May I rediscover You in a way that affects my entire life. Amen.[1]

[1] Tozer, A. W., & Eggert, R. (2015). Tozer on the almighty god: a 365-day devotional. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.

March 2 Coming under God’s Authority

“Submit therefore to God.”

James 4:7a


The truly humble will submit to God’s authority.

Most people understand the basic requirements of military service. The first thing anyone experiences when he enlists is his rank within the chain of command under the commanding officer. Implicit in such lining up under the leadership of a superior is that the soldier, sailor, airman, or marine will obediently carry out all he is commanded to do.

However, the military is not the only context in which the concept of submission applies. James 4:7 uses the term “submit” in the far more important arena of our relationship to God. We are to submit to Him and come under the sovereign authority of the Lord Jesus Christ. This is the basic requirement for anyone who would be humble before God. Since Scripture often uses military terms to describe our service to God (Phil. 2:25; 2 Tim. 2:3), it is appropriate to see ourselves as enlisting in God’s army, willingly obeying His commands, and following His leadership.

This kind of humble, willing submission to God’s authority is what Jesus meant when He told the disciples, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me” (Luke 9:23). This concept of submission simply means doing God’s will from the heart, no matter what the cost.

The story of the rich young ruler provides a good measuring rod of our submissiveness to God. After the young man professed obedience to God’s law, Jesus tested him further by commanding him to “go and sell all you possess, and give it to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me” (Mark 10:21). At that point the young man was not willing to obey Jesus. Instead, “his face fell, and he went away grieved, for he was one who owned much property” (v. 22).

How would you have reacted? Would you have willingly obeyed Jesus’ command, or would you have allowed your pride to keep you from submitting to Him? If you have humbly lined up under God’s authority, the proper response is not difficult.


Suggestions for Prayer: Ask the Lord to remind you throughout this day of your need to submit all you do to His authority.

For Further Study: Read the Acts 9:1–22 account of the apostle Paul’s conversion to Christ. What do you notice about his obedience and humility? ✧ What is noteworthy about Ananias’ behavior?[1]

[1] MacArthur, J. (1997). Strength for today. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

March 1 Daily Help

HEAVEN is a place of complete victory and glorious triumph. This is the battle-field; there is the triumphal procession. This is the land of the sword and the spear; that is the land of the wreath and the crown. Oh, what a thrill of joy shall shoot through the hearts of all the blessed when their conquests shall be complete in heaven, when death itself, the last of foes, shall be slain—when Satan shall be dragged captive at the chariot wheels of Christ—when he shall have overthrown sin—when the great shout of universal victory shall rise from the hearts of all the redeemed![1]

[1] Spurgeon, C. H. (1892). Daily Help (p. 64). Baltimore: R. H. Woodward & Company.

March 1, 2018 Evening Verse Of The Day

The Selection of the Worthy One

and one of the elders said to me, “Stop weeping; behold, the Lion that is from the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has overcome so as to open the book and its seven seals.” And I saw between the throne (with the four living creatures) and the elders a Lamb standing, as if slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God, sent out into all the earth. And He came and took the book out of the right hand of Him who sat on the throne. (5:5–7)

Because his tears were inappropriate, one of the elders told John to stop weeping. Then he drew John’s attention to a new Person emerging on the scene, the Lion that is from the tribe of Judah, the Root of David. No human and no angel can redeem the universe, but there is One who can. This Person, of course, is the glorified, exalted Lord Jesus Christ, described here by two of His messianic titles. The title the Lion that is from the tribe of Judah derives from Jacob’s blessing on the tribe of Judah given in Genesis 49:8–10:

Judah, your brothers shall praise you; your hand shall be on the neck of your enemies; your father’s sons shall bow down to you. Judah is a lion’s whelp; from the prey, my son, you have gone up. He couches, he lies down as a lion, and as a lion, who dares rouse him up? The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until Shiloh comes, and to him shall be the obedience of the peoples.

Out of the lionlike tribe of Judah would come a strong, fierce, and deadly ruler—the Messiah, Jesus Christ (Heb. 7:14). The Jews of Jesus’ day expected the Messiah to be powerful and to liberate them from the heavy hand of their oppressors, at that time the Roman rulers. It was partly because Jesus failed to live up to those expectations that they rejected and killed Him. He had no political aspirations (cf. John 6:15; 18:36), nor did He use His miraculous powers against the Roman oppressors. Instead, He offered a spiritual kingdom.

Tragically, the Jews completely misjudged their Messiah. He is a lion, and will tear up and destroy their enemies. But He will do so according to His timetable, not theirs. His lionlike judgment of His enemies awaits the yet-future day that He has chosen—the day that begins to unfold in Revelation chapter 5.

Jesus is also seen here as the Root or descendant of David (cf. 22:16; Jer. 23:5–6; 33:15–17). That messianic title derives from Isaiah 11:1, 10: “Then a shoot will spring from the stem of Jesse, and a branch from his roots will bear fruit.… Then it will come about in that day that the nations will resort to the root of Jesse, who will stand as a signal for the peoples; and His resting place will be glorious.” As the genealogies of Matthew 1 and Luke 3 reveal, Jesus was a descendant of David both on His father’s and on His mother’s side. In Romans 1:3 the apostle Paul said that Jesus was “born of a descendant of David according to the flesh.” The term “Son of David” is a messianic title used frequently in the Gospels (e.g., Matt. 9:27; 12:23; 15:22; 20:30–31; 21:9, 15; 22:42; Mark 12:35).

Jesus is the One worthy to take the scroll because of who He is, the rightful King from David’s loins; what He is, the Lion from Judah’s tribe with the power to destroy His enemies; and also because of what He has done—He has overcome. At the cross He defeated sin (Rom. 8:3), death (Heb. 2:14–15), and all the forces of hell (Col. 2:15; 1 Pet. 3:19). Believers are overcomers through His overcoming (Col. 2:13–14; 1 John 5:5).

As he looked at the incredible scene before him, the glowing, blazing reflection of God’s glory emanating from the throne, the bright green rainbow surrounding it, the brilliant pavement on which it sat, the flashes of lightning and peals of thunder foreshadowing fearsome divine judgment, the worshiping four living creatures and twenty-four elders, John’s attention was irresistibly drawn to what he saw between the throne (with the four living creatures) and the elders. Instead of the anticipated mighty Lion of the Tribe of Judah, the all-conquering Davidic King, John saw a Lamb. The Lord Jesus could not be the Lion of judgment, or the King of glory, unless He was first “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).

Arnion (Lamb), the diminutive form of arnos, refers to a little lamb, or a pet lamb. The imagery derives from the Passover, when Jewish families were required to keep the sacrificial lamb as a household pet for four days before sacrificing it (Ex. 12:3–6). While every lamb sacrificed under the Old Covenant pointed toward Christ, He is only referred to as a lamb once in the Old Testament (Isa. 53:7). In the New Testament outside of Revelation, He is only called a lamb four times (John 1:29, 36; Acts 8:32; 1 Pet. 1:19). But in Revelation He appears as the Lamb thirty-one times.

Several features indicate that this was no ordinary lamb. First, He was standing, alive, on His feet, yet looking as if He had been slain. The scars from the deadly wound this Lamb received were clearly visible; yet He was alive. Though demons and wicked men conspired against Him and killed Him, He rose from the dead, thus defeating and triumphing over His enemies.

At first glance it seems a disastrous mismatch to pit a lamb against a dragon (12:9) and the hordes of hellish locusts (9:3), frogs (16:13), and human soldiers (19:19) who follow the dragon. But this Lamb is more than just a willing sacrificial offering for sin; He is also a Lion and the “King of kings, and Lord of lords” (19:16). He has already defeated Satan (1 John 3:8; cf. John 12:31; 16:11; Rom. 16:20; Heb. 2:14) and his forces (Col. 2:15; 1 Pet. 3:22) at the cross and is about to consummate that victory.

Another feature about this Lamb that John noted was that it had seven horns. In imagery drawn from the animal world, horns in Scripture symbolize strength and power (e.g., 1 Sam. 2:1, 10; 2 Sam. 22:3; Pss. 18:2; 75:10; 89:17, 24; Jer. 48:25; Mic. 4:13). Seven, the number of perfection, symbolizes the Lamb’s complete, absolute power. The Lamb in John’s vision also had seven eyes, again denoting perfect omniscience and complete understanding and knowledge. Those eyes, John noted, represented the seven Spirits of God, sent out into all the earth. As noted in the discussions of 1:4 and 4:5 earlier in this volume, the phrase seven Spirits of God describes the Holy Spirit in all His fullness. Here, as in 4:5, the Holy Spirit’s fullness is seen in relation to judgment, as He goes out into all the earth searching for guilty, unrepentant sinners to be judged (cf. John 16:8).

Verse 7 records the final, monumental act in the heavenly scene. Everything John has been describing since this vision began in 4:1 had been building toward this moment. This views the great, culminating act of history, the act that will signal the end of man’s day. The ultimate goal of redemption is about to be seen; paradise will be regained, Eden restored. Before John’s wondering eyes the Lamb came and took the book out of the right hand of Him who sat on the throne.

This is the same scene described by Daniel in Daniel 7:13–14, although Daniel does not mention the scroll:

I kept looking in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven One like a Son of Man was coming, and He came up to the Ancient of Days and was presented before Him. And to Him was given dominion, glory and a kingdom, that all the peoples, nations and men of every language might serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion which will not pass away; and His kingdom is one which will not be destroyed.

The worthy One has arrived to take back what is rightfully His.[1]

5 John’s sorrow is assuaged. One of the elders announces that there is one who has “triumphed” (nikaō, “overcome, conquer, win a victory,” GK 3771—the same word as in 2:7; 3:21; etc.). He has triumphed because of his death (v. 9). Two figurative titles are used of the one who is worthy—“the Lion of the tribe of Judah” and “the Root of David.” Both are familiar OT messianic titles (Ge 49:9–10; cf. Isa 11:1, 10; Jer 23:5; 33:5; Rev 22:16). But they are linked together only here and in the Qumran literature (cf. 4Q252; Trudinger, “Some Observations Concerning the Text,” 88). In Jewish apocalyptic literature contemporary with John, the figure of a lion was used to designate the conquering Messiah who would destroy Rome (4 Ezra 11:38). Close attention should be paid to John’s understanding of the role and function of the Messiah, observing where it is similar to the Jewish understanding of the Messiah and where it differs.[2]

The worthiness of One (vv. 5–7)

John’s weeping is halted by these words from one of the elders: ‘Do not weep. Behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has prevailed to open the scroll and to loose its seven seals’ (v. 5). And John sees ‘a Lamb as though it had been slain’ take the scroll out of the right hand of the One on the throne (vv. 6–7).

This ‘Lamb’ is none other than the Lord Jesus Christ. He is ‘the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David’ (v. 5). When he came to earth, he came as a descendant of Judah and of David. He came as a lion, which means he came to conquer all foes that would thwart the purpose of God.

But, amazingly enough, it is in the capacity of ‘a Lamb’ that the Lord Jesus is able to take the scroll. The lamb is, of course, the animal of sacrifice. Although innocent, it was put to death, symbolically taking the penalty that was due to the one who was offering it. Animals could not truly pay for human sin. They could only picture and anticipate the One who could do so—Jesus, the perfect Lamb. In this vision, John sees him with seven horns and seven eyes (v. 6). As we have seen, the number seven represents perfection, while horns are to be associated with power and eyes with discernment. Christ, then, is perfect in power and perfect in discernment. His perfect discernment is due to the fact that he has ‘seven Spirits’, that is, he is perfectly filled with the Holy Spirit.

By virtue of his death on the cross, Jesus is uniquely qualified to explain what has been and will be happening to his people in this world for this reason: they are his people. And they are his people by virtue of his death—that is how he made them his people.[3]

5:5–6 / The situation is not as hopeless as John first imagines: one of the elders points out the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David. This title combines two ot texts (Gen. 49:9; Isa. 11:1, 10), forming the biblical promise of a future messianic deliverer. From his heavenly vantage point, the elder identifies the one who already has triumphed. His Christology is formed “from above,” where the results of Christ’s triumph are already realized. Since his perspective accords with Jewish expectation of a messianic lion (cf. 4 Ezra 11:37–12:34), he may well provide a foil for John’s Christian (and for Jews, scandalous) faith in a crucified Christ.

The Greek word for Christ’s “triumph” is nikaō from which “overcomer” comes. The elder’s confirmation of Christ’s triumph responds to the earlier messages to the seven churches in which the triumphant Christ exhorts the believers to “overcome.” Now the reader understands the full force of Christ’s exhortation: the hope of the church’s eschatological triumph with Christ is rooted in the heavenly confirmation that he has already triumphed over the same evil powers which now threaten the church. The Lord overcame the powers of sin and death, and so will his true disciples (cf. 14:1–5).

Yet, John, whose Christology is formed “from below” and whose apprehension of the Lamb is formed by the traditions of the historical Jesus, does not see at first glance what the elder sees: he finds not a Lion but a Lamb. Neither does the Lamb appear as one who has triumphed but as if he had been slain. Here is, then, the scandal and the foolishness of Christian proclamation: Christ is revealed as a slain Lamb, and not a triumphant Lion (cf. 1 Cor. 1:22–24); a crucified one fulfills the ot promise of messiah. Concerning this interpretative crux in Revelation, Mounce concludes that “in one brilliant stroke John portrays the central theme of nt revelation—victory through sacrifice” (Revelation, p. 144).

It might be that John is at first confused by what he saw; there is a certain tentativeness in his words, as if it had been slain. His is the same ambivalence found within his audience, who on the one hand confess with the elder a triumphant Christology “from above,” and who, on the other hand, share in the costliness of a servant Christology “from below.” Rhetorically, this moment in John’s christophany, full of tension and ambiguity, underscores both the spiritual crisis and its solution for John’s readership.

John, at first confused, does find the slain Lamb standing, evidently no longer dead. He also finds him in the center of the throne of God. Thus, it is where John finds the Lamb, as much as what he finds there, that confirms him as worthy to open the scroll: the Lamb is one with God (cf. 5:13; John 10:30–38). Further, John’s initial ambivalence calls attention to a reversal in the way power is conventionally defined: Lordship is given to a Lamb.

Upon closer examination, John finds that he has seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God—the specific indicators which link the Lamb to God’s kingdom as the mediator of its power and truth. The Lamb currently conveys the truth and power of God’s reign to all the earth through the sevenfold Spirit of God, the Paraclete (cf. John 14:17; 16:7–11). This collection of images envisions the conflict between violent death and triumphant might and portrays the Christian idea of a slain but exalted Christ. At a more implicit level, the scene also portrays the experience of Christian martyrs who one day will be enthroned with Christ (cf. Rev. 6:9–11; 20:4).[4]

5:5. One of the twenty-four elders now answers the question originally asked by the mighty angel in verse 2. First, John is ordered, “Do not weep!” or more exactly, “Stop crying.” Someone has at last been found who is able to open the scroll. John hears two unique titles for this worthy one: the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David. (Later he sees this one as a Lamb.) Neither of these exact phrases is found anywhere else in the Bible, although there are similar ones. In Jacob’s blessing on his sons, he proclaimed, “You are a lion’s cub, O Judah; you return from the prey, my son” (Gen. 49:9). This is often taken as a prophecy that Judah’s line would provide kings for the entire nation of Israel, ultimately fulfilled by the Messiah.

In Isaiah 11:10, the coming Messiah is called the ancestor or “root of Jesse,” who was King David’s father: “In that day the Root of Jesse will stand as a banner for the peoples.” (In Isaiah 11:1, the same Messiah is called the Branch or descendant of Jesse. How the Messiah could be both Root and Branch of Jesse was a mystery until it was fulfilled in Jesus.) On the basis of Isaiah 11:10 we understand that the “Root [ancestor] of Jesse” is also the Root [ancestor] of David. The two titles of Jesus, then, point in the direction of both his deity (as the ultimate divine source of David) and his humanity (as the royal lion from Judah).[5]

[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1999). Revelation 1–11 (pp. 166–169). Chicago: Moody Press.

[2] Johnson, A. F. (2006). Revelation. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Hebrews–Revelation (Revised Edition) (Vol. 13, p. 647). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[3] Ellsworth, R. (2013). Opening Up Revelation (pp. 53–54). Leominster: Day One.

[4] Wall, R. W. (2011). Revelation (pp. 101–103). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[5] Easley, K. H. (1998). Revelation (Vol. 12, p. 92). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.