Daily Archives: May 4, 2020

May 4th The D. L. Moody Year Book

There is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.—Luke 15:10.

“JOY in the presence of the angels?” Perhaps the friends who have left the shores of time may be looking down upon us; and when they see one they prayed for while on earth turning to God, it sends a thrill of joy to their very hearts. Even now, some mother who has gone up yonder may be looking down upon a son or daughter, and if that child should say: “I will meet that mother of mine; I will decide for God,” the news, with the speed of a sunbeam, reaches heaven, and that mother may then rejoice, as we read, “In the presence of the angels.”[1]

 

[1] Moody, D. L. (1900). The D. L. Moody Year Book: A Living Daily Message from the Words of D. L. Moody. (E. M. Fitt, Ed.) (p. 83). East Northfield, MA: The Bookstore.

May—4 The Poor Man’s Evening Portion

And continued all night in prayer to God.—Luke 6:12.

My soul! contemplate thy Lord in the view here represented of him. “Jesus continued all night in prayer to God.” But did Christ need to use prayer? Yes, as Christ, the sent, the anointed, the servant of Jehovah, when he voluntarily stood up as the surety of his people, at the call of God the Father. But as God, “one with the Father, over all, God blessed for ever,” he prayed not; for all divine perfections were his in common with the Father and the Holy Spirit, eternally, essentially, and underived. But, my soul, as thy representative, Jesus needed the use of prayer, and hath both endeared it, and recommended it, by his bright example. And observe the fervency and earnestness of his prayers, by the length of time. For whereas one short hour is found long by thee, (yea, sometimes in that hour, what coldness and deadness creep in!) thy Redeemer “continued all night in prayer.” And what were the subjects of his prayer, but the salvation of his people? He needed no prayer for himself, had not his love to us, and zeal for his Father’s glory, prompted his infinite mind to undertake our redemption. But when the Son of God became man for us, to make us sons of God, then our safety, peace, and welfare, both for this life and that which is to come, occupied his divine mind, and led him out “all night in prayer to God!” What an illustrious proof hath Jesus given of this in his farewell prayer, the night preceding his sufferings and death! As a dying father in the midst of his family, behold how he commended his whole household to God. “Keep, holy Father,” (said he,) “through thine own name, those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are.” My soul! often let thy thoughts revolve on this; and in thy cold and languid moments in prayer, contemplate how Jesus was engaged for thee and thy salvation. The sun witnessed to the diligence of his labours by day, and the stars in their courses testified of his earnestness in prayer by night. And what is it now in his glorious office as Intercessor, but the all-prevailing and unwearied exercises of the same, only with this difference: in his exalted state his addresses are not by way of prayer, or petition, as when upon earth, for all the high offices of his everlasting priesthood and sacrifice are carried on by his “appearing in the presence of God for us.” He appears in a vesture dipped in blood, and as a Lamb which hath been slain. And his blood is said to be a speaking blood, for it speaketh to God for us, on the ground of his merit, and it speaketh from God to us, on the account of God’s covenant grace and mercy in Christ. Ponder well, my soul, these things; and, in the contemplation of thy Jesus, never lose sight of the everlasting and eternal efficacy of his blood and righteousness, nor of thy interest in both. And when, at any time, thy poor, polluted, cold, and lifeless prayers find no ascension, no strength nor energy, direct one look, with faith, to the Lamb that is in the midst of the throne. Behold him, whom the Father heareth always; and call to remembrance, that it is the efficacy of his merits and intercession which is the sole cause of thine acceptance before God and the Father, and not thy earnestness, or the length of thy prayers. Precious Jesus! help me thus steadfastly and steadily to behold thee in thy holy vestments of the everlasting priesthood of Melchisedek; and then shall I be assured that neither my poor person, nor poor prayers, will ever be forgotten before God![1]

 

[1] Hawker, R. (1845). The Poor Man’s Evening Portion (A New Edition, pp. 136–137). Philadelphia: Thomas Wardle.

May 4, 2020 Evening Verse Of The Day

The Confession

And Simon Peter answered and said, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.” (16:16)

As usual (see, e.g., Matt. 15:15; 19:27; John 6:68), Simon Peter was the spokesman, “the director of the apostolic choir,” as Chrysostom called him. Also as usual, his comments were brief, emphatic, and decisive: “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Christ is the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew Messiah, God’s predicted and long-awaited deliverer of Israel, the supreme “Anointed One,” the coming High Priest, King, Prophet, and Savior. Without hesitation Peter declared Jesus to be the Messiah, whereas the multitudes of Jews believed Him to be only the Messiah’s precursor.

On first meeting Jesus, Andrew had excitedly proclaimed Him to be the Messiah, and Nathaniel had called Him “the Son of God … the King of Israel” (John 1:41, 49). The disciples knew that John the Baptist had borne witness that Jesus “is the Son of God” (John 1:34), and the longer they stayed with Him, the more evidence they had of His divine nature, power, and authority.

Like their fellow Jews, however, they had been taught to expect a conquering and reigning Messiah who would deliver God’s people from their enemies and establish forever His righteous kingdom on earth. And when Jesus refused to use His miraculous power for His own benefit or to oppose the Roman oppressors, the disciples wondered if they were right about Jesus’ identity. His humility, meekness, and subservience were in total contrast to their preconceived views of the Messiah. That the Messiah would be ridiculed with impunity, not to mention persecuted and executed, was inconceivable. When Jesus spoke of His going away and coming back, Thomas doubtlessly echoed the consternation of all the disciples when he said, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, how do we know the way?” (John 14:5).

It was similar bewilderment that caused John the Baptist to question his earlier affirmation of Jesus’ messiahship. “When John in prison heard of the works of Christ, he sent word by his disciples, and said to Him, ‘Are you the Expected One, or shall we look for someone else?’ ” (Matt. 11:1–3). Jesus’ miracles were clear evidence of His messiahship, but His failure to use those powers to overthrow Rome and establish His earthly kingdom brought Jesus’ identity into question even with the godly, Spirit-filled John.

Like John the Baptist, the Twelve fluctuated between moments of great faith and of grave doubt. They could proclaim with deep conviction, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life. And we have believed and have come to know that You are the Holy One of God” (John 6:68–69). They could also display remarkable lack of faith and discernment, even after witnessing hundreds of healings and dramatic demonstrations of supernatural power (see Matt. 8:26; 14:31; 16:8). They were sometimes strong in faith and sometimes weak. Jesus frequently spoke of their “little faith.”

Now, at last, the truth of Jesus’ divinity and messiahship was established in their minds beyond question. They would still experience times of weakness and confusion about what Jesus said and did, but they would no longer doubt who it was who said and did them. He was indeed the Christ, the Son of the living God. God’s own Spirit had now imbedded the truth indelibly in their hearts.

It took two and a half years for them to come to this place of confession, through the struggles and hatred of the Jewish religious leaders, the mounting fickleness and rejection of the people, and their own confusion about what the Messiah had come to do. But without question they now knew He was the fulfiller of their hopes, the source of their salvation, the desire of the nations.

On behalf of all the apostles, Peter not only confessed Jesus as the Messiah, the Christ, but as the Son of the living God. The Son of Man (v. 13) was also the Son of … God, the Creator of the universe and all that is in it. He was the true and real God, not a mythological figment such as Pan or a mortal “deity” such as caesar-both of whom had shrines in Caesarea Philippi. The disciples’ Lord was Son of the living God.

As evidenced by numerous things the Twelve later said and did, they did not at this time have a full comprehension of the Trinity or even of the full nature and work of Christ. But they knew Jesus was truly the Christ and that He was truly divine, the Son of the living God. Son reflects the idea of oneness in essence, because a son is one in nature with his father. So Jesus Christ was one in nature with God the Father (cf. John 5:17–18; 10:30–33).[1]


16 The question was addressed to the disciples as a group, but the reply comes from their leading member. This is the only time Matthew gives “Simon Peter” his full title. When he was first introduced and when he was listed as the first of the Twelve (4:18; 10:2) he was identified as “Simon (also called Peter),” and when he is addressed in the vocative Jesus will call him “Simon” (16:17; 17:25), but elsewhere Matthew always refers to him simply as “Peter.” The fuller name here thus has a more formal sound, as befits the man about to make a momentous declaration. It also prepares us for v. 18 where “Peter” will be explained as a significant nickname given to Simon by Jesus. Here, as already in 15:15 and later in 16:22; 17:4, 24–25; 18:21; 19:27, Peter probably acts as spokesman for the whole disciple group, and indeed the second part of his declaration simply repeats what the disciples as a group have already concluded in 14:33. But the personal commendation which follows perhaps indicates that Peter has been ahead of the rest not only in speaking but also in formulating their growing recognition of Jesus’ unique status and mission (see introductory comments).

While the title “Messiah” (see on 1:1) as such is not used in the OT in this sense, it is clear that by the first century it was current as a title of hope, to denote the human deliverer whom God was expected to send to his people. This hope took various forms in the OT, and it seems likely that the term “Messiah” might in principle be applied to any of these, but there is little doubt that among most Jews in first-century Palestine its primary connotation would be of a “son of David” who would restore the nation to the glory and independence it had known under the first David. It was thus a nationalistic term, and one which was hard to separate from the political aspirations of a subject people.15 We shall see in vv. 22–23 that Peter himself will find it impossible to associate Messiahship with Jesus’ proclaimed mission of suffering and death (which takes up one relatively limited strand of OT expectation); for him apparently the title conveys glory and success, not defeat and execution. So we must not read into Peter’s declaration here all that later Christian theology has found in the term “Messiah.” His understanding of Jesus’ way of “saving his people from their sins” (1:21) still has a long way to go. But, however limited his grasp of Jesus’ actual mission, he has gone beyond the popular acclamation of Jesus as a prophet to the point of recognizing him as not just one among many, not even, like John the Baptist, the greatest of the prophets (11:11), but as the one climactic figure in whom God’s purpose is finally being accomplished. In that he has made the crucial breakthrough.

The title “Son of God” in itself plays a central role in Matthew’s presentation of Jesus (see introductory comments). It is a matter of debate whether it appears here as a distinct and additional part of Peter’s declaration about the identity of Jesus, or whether the two titles “Messiah” and “Son of God” belong together as two ways of expressing the same messianic status; they are similarly combined by the high priest in 26:63. An important OT prophecy says of David’s future son: “I will be a father to him and he will be a son to me,” (2 Sam 7:14) and according to what was probably the current interpretation of Psalm 2 the Messiah is there addressed by God in the words “You are my son; today I have begotten you.” (Ps 2:7) It is on this basis that the Messiah could be thought of at Qumran as God’s son, and while evidence for such language among other Jews of the period is lacking, it seems likely that the two well-known OT passages would have made it acceptable. It is therefore possible that both Peter here and the high priest in 26:63 are using the two titles as virtual synonyms. But in view of Matthew’s emphasis on the title “Son of God” elsewhere, and especially its emphatic reaffirmation which will follow shortly after this incident (17:5), it is more likely that he expected his readers to hear it as adding a further dimension to Peter’s declaration, by supplementing the “functional” title Messiah with one which speaks more directly of who Jesus really is. If Peter may be assumed to have heard Jesus’ exultant prayer at 11:25–27, he would have good grounds for adding this theologically loaded phrase.

The powerful OT phrase “the living God” appears in Matthew here and in 26:63 (though not there as part of the title “Son of God”), and in a dozen other places in the NT. In one sense the participle adds nothing, since if God is not living he is not God. But it is a powerful reminder that the God with whom Jesus is here being connected is not a philosophical abstraction but the dynamic God of Israel’s faith and history. The supernatural dynamic of Jesus’ miracles derives from a God who is himself alive and active in his world. It is the church of the living God which will be declared in v. 18 to be immune to the powers of death. In the region of Caesarea Philippi, a center for the worship of Pan (as it had been previously of the Canaanite Baal), the title would have a special resonance as marking out the true God from all other gods.[2]


16:16 You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God. Peter, as spokesperson for the Twelve (note the plural “disciples” and plural Greek verb for “tell” in 16:20), confesses the true identity of Jesus. He is Messiah, which is then further explained by the title “Son of the living God” (similar to 14:33). “Son of God” is a messianic title in first-century Judaism (2 Esd. 7:28–29; see comments on 4:3, 6). This confession provides a climactic moment in the narrative, since this is the first such explicit confession of Jesus as the Messiah by any person in the story.[3]


Ver. 16.—Simon Peter answered and said. The ardent Peter, when all were asked, replies in the name of the rest, giving, however, his own personal sentiment and belief, as we see from Christ’s answer (ver. 17). Some of the others probably would have been less ready to make the same confession; but in his vehement loyalty, Peter silences all hesitation, and declares boldly what must be the conviction of all his comrades. He speaks out the persuasion wrought in his soul by Divine grace. Thou art the Christ (ὁ Χριστὸς), the Son of the living God. The Christ; the Anointed, the Messiah. The Son of God; of the same substance, one with the Father. Living; as alone “having life in himself,” “the living and true God” (John 5:26; 1 Thess. 1:9). The same (or nearly the same) confession was made by Peter in the name of all the apostles at Capernaum (John 6:69); but the sense of the expression was different, and sprang from very different conviction. It referred rather to the subjective view of Christ’s character, as it influenced the believer’s inward assurance of the source of eternal life. Here the acknowledgment concerns the nature, office, and Person of our Lord. That there was some special distinction between the two enunciations is evident from Christ’s unique commendation of Peter on this occasion compared with his silence on the former. The present confession is indeed a noble one, containing itself a compendium of the Catholic faith concerning the Person and work of Christ. Herein Peter acknowledges Jesus to be the true Messiah, commissioned and sent by God to reveal his will to man, and accomplishing all that the prophets had foretold concerning him; no mere man, not even the most exalted of men (which common opinion held Messiah to be) but the Son of God, of the substance of the Father, begotten from everlasting, God of God, perfect God and perfect man, Son of God and Son of man. Such was Peter’s faith. The Church has added nothing to it, though she has amplified and explained and illustrated it in her Creeds; for it comprises belief in Christ’s Messiahship, Divinity, Incarnation, personality, and the momentous issues depending thereon. We need not suppose that Peter understood all this or speculated on the question how these several attributes were united in Christ. He was content to accept and acknowledge the truth, waiting patiently for further light. This is the attitude which Christ approves.[4]


16. Thou art the Christ. The confession is short, but it embraces all that is contained in our salvation; for the designation Christ, or Anointed, includes both an everlasting Kingdom and an everlasting Priesthood, to reconcile us to God, and, by expiating our sins through his sacrifice, to obtain for us a perfect righteousness, and, having received us under his protection, to uphold and supply and enrich us with every description of blessings. Mark says only, Thou art the Christ. Luke says, Thou art the Christ of God. But the meaning is the same; for the Christs (χριστοί) of God was the appellation anciently bestowed on kings, who had been anointed by the divine command. And this phrase had been previously employed by Luke, (2:26,) when he said that Simeon had been informed by a revelation from heaven that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. For the redemption, which God manifested by the hand of his Son, was clearly divine; and therefore it was necessary that he who was to be the Redeemer should come from heaven, bearing the impress of the anointing of God. Matthew expresses it still more clearly, Thou art the Son of the living God; for, though Peter did not yet understand distinctly in what way Christ was the begotten of God, he was so fully persuaded of the dignity of Christ, that he believed him to come from God, not like other men, but by the inhabitation of the true and living Godhead in his flesh. When the attribute living is ascribed to God, it is for the purpose of distinguishing between Him and dead idols, who are nothing, (1 Cor. 8:4.)[5]


16:16 “You are the Christ” This had been expressed before by Andrew in Jn. 1:41, Nathaniel in Jn. 1:49, and Peter in Jn. 6:69. The Greek title “Christ” was the equivalent of the Hebrew “Messiah” or “Anointed One.”

“the Son of the living God” Peter did not fully understand Jesus’ Messiahship as is obvious from verses 21–23. Therefore, the blessing of verse 17 related to the phrase “Son of the living God.” The phrase “living God” was a paraphrase of YHWH which is the CAUSATIVE FORM of the verb “to be” (cf. Ex. 3:14).[6]


16. And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. He does not say. ‘Scribes and Pharisees, rulers and people, are all perplexed; and shall we, unlettered fishermen, presume to decide?’ But feeling the light of his Master’s glory shining in his soul, he breaks forth—not in a tame, prosaic acknowledgment, ‘I believe that thou art,’ &c—but in the language of adoration—such as one uses in worship, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the Living God!” He first owns Him the promised Messiah (see on ch. 1:16); then he rises higher, echoing the voice from heaven—“This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased;” and in the important addition—“Son of the Living God,”—he recognizes the essential and eternal life of God as in this His Son—though doubtless without that distinct perception afterwards vouchsafed.[7]


16. Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. The personality of Peter and his position of leadership has received earlier comment (see on 4:18–22; 10:2; 14:28, 29). In the present passage note:

  1. Probably to add solemnity and clarity to the record of the event this disciple’s full name is here used: “Simon Peter.” This appellation is the usual one in John’s Gospel, but not in the Synoptics. It occurs in Luke 5:8, in connection with another context of deep emotion and humble reverence.
  2. In the Gospels and in the book of Acts Peter frequently represents The Twelve, as is clear not only from the present context but also, among others, from Matt. 15:15, 16; 19:27, 28; 26:35, 40, 41; Luke 8:45; 9:32, 33; 12:41; 18:28; John 6:67–69; Acts 1:15; 2:14, 37, 38; and 5:29. Nevertheless, his identity is not lost. It is Peter who speaks and Peter who is going to be addressed in verses 17–19.
  3. Even before this time Peter had made soul-stirring declarations concerning Jesus (Luke 5:8; John 6:68, 69), but the present profession of faith is the most complete of them all.
  4. As to definiteness, in this concise statement, containing only ten words, the original uses the definite article no less than four times.
  5. When Peter declares Jesus to be “the Christ” he means the long awaited Anointed One, the One who as Mediator was set apart or ordained by the Father and anointed with the Holy Spirit, to be his people’s chief Prophet (Deut. 18:15, 18; Isa. 55:4; Luke 24:19; Acts 3:22, 7:37); only Highpriest (Ps. 110:4; Rom. 8:34; Heb. 6:20; 7:24; 9:24); and eternal King. (Ps. 2:6; Zech. 9:9; Matt. 21:5; 28:18; Luke 1:33; John 10:28; Eph. 1:20–23; Rev. 11:15; 12:10, 11; 17:14; 19:6).
  6. Peter’s declaration that Jesus is “the Son of the living God” can mean no less than that in a unique sense, a sense not applicable to any mortal, Jesus is, was, and always will be the Son of that God who not only is himself the only living One, over against all the dead so-called gods of the pagans (Isa. 40:18–31), but also is the only source of life for all that lives.[8]

Ver. 16. Simon Peter.—Peter answered not merely in his own name, but in that of all the disciples.—Thou art the Christ,i.e., the Messiah Himself. And this not in the sense in which carnal Jewish traditionalism held the doctrine of the Messiah, but in the true and spiritual import of the title—the Son of the living God—The latter expression must not be taken merely in a negative sense, as denoting the True God in opposition to false deities; it must also be viewed in a positive sense, as referring to Him whose manifestations in Israel were completed in and crowned by the appearance of His Son as the Messiah. This, however, implies Sonship not only in a moral or official, but also in the ontological sense. Thus the reply of Peter had all the characteristics of a genuine confession—being decided, solemn, and deep.

[The confession of Peter is the first and fundamental Christian confession of faith, and the germ of the Apostles’ Creed. It is a confession, not of mere human opinions, or views, or convictions, however firm, but of a divinely wrought faith, and not of faith only (I believe that Thou art), but of adoration and worship (Thou art). It is christological, i.e., a confession of Jesus Christ as the centre and heart of the whole Christian system, and the only and all-sufficient fountain of spiritual life. It is a confession of Jesus Christ as a true man (Thou, Jesus), as the promised Messiah (the Christ), and as the eternal Son of God (the Son—not a son—of the living God.), hence as the God-Man and Saviour of the world. It is thus a confession of the mystery of the Incarnation in the widest sense, the great central mystery of godliness, “God manifest in the flesh.”—Compare also the excellent remarks of Olshausen (in Kendrick’s Am. ed., vol. i p. 545 sq.) and Alford, who, following Olshausen, says in loc.: “The confession is not made in the terms of the other answer: it is not ‘we say,’ or “I say,’ but ‘Thou art’. It is the expression of an inward conviction wrought by God’s Spirit. The excellence of this confession is, that it brings out both the human and the divine nature of the Lord: ὁ Χριστός is the Messiah, the Son of David, the anointed King; ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ Θεοῦ τοῦ ζῶντος is the Eternal Son, begotten of the Eternal Father, as the last word most emphatically implies, not ‘Son of God’ in any inferior figurative sense, not one of the sons of God, of angelic nature, but the Son of the living God, having in Him the Sonship and the divine nature, in a sense in which they could be in none else. This was the view of the person of Christ quite distinct from the Jewish Messianic idea, which appears to have been (Justin Mart. Dial. p. 267) that he should be born from men, but selected by God for the office on account of his eminent virtues. This distinction accounts for the solemn blessing pronounced in the next verse. Ζῶντος must not for a moment be taken here, as it sometimes is used (e.g., Acts 14:15), as merely distinguishing the true God from dead idols: it is here emphatic, and imparts force and precision to υἱός. That Peter, when he uttered the words, understood by them in detail all that we now understand, is not of course here asserted, but that they were his testimony to the true Humanity and true Divinity of the Lord, in that sense of deep truth and reliance, out of which springs the Christian life of the Church.” Meyer, indeed, takes τοῦ ζωντος  simply as the solemn epithet of the true God in opposition to the dead idols of the heathen; but there was no reason here for contrasting the true God with heathen idols, and Peter must have meant to convey the idea, however imperfectly understood by him at the time, that the Godhead itself was truly revealed in, and reflected from, the human person of Christ in a sense and to a degree compared with which all former manifestations of God appeared to him like dead shadows. He echoed the declaration from heaven at Christ’s baptism: “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased,” and recognized in Him the essential and eternal life of the great Jehovah.—P. S.][9]


16 Simon Peter (for the double name, see 4:18; 10:2; cf. v. 17) answers for himself as well as for the other apostles (see esp. 15:15; cf. 19:27 for Peter as spokesman for the others). This was something they had undoubtedly discussed again and again, and they had already come to their conclusion. While it must be granted that it is Peter who responds and upon whom the singular pronouns and verbs of vv 17–19 focus (thus rightly Davies-Allison), Peter is never regarded as isolated from the twelve. To be sure, he is their leader and spokesman (primus inter pares), but he is also their representative, indeed the representative of the entire church (rightly Luz). Cf. too the plural verbs in the similar logion in 18:18, which in principle involve the same authority, even if at a local level (cf. Kingsbury, JBL 98 [1979] 67–83). Peter thus boldly declares: σὺ εἶ ὁ Χριστὸς ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ θεοῦ τοῦ ζῶντος, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” This answer differs categorically from those offered by the people. That is, here Jesus is not identified as one of the figures involved in the coming of the end times, but as the coming one, the determinative person who brings with him the messianic age and the transformation of the present order. Χριστός, “Christ,” is the Greek word for “anointed one” (Hebrew: מָשִׁיחַ; [māšîaḥ]). For the title, see Comment on 1:1, 16. This is the first occurrence of the title in direct speech. For the closely related title “Son of David,” see 9:27; 12:23; 15:22.

In 2 Sam 7:4–16, the passage that gives rise to the expectation of the Son of David, it is said that “the Lord will make you a house” and that that house “shall be made sure forever before me” and that throne “shall be established forever” (2 Sam 7:16). Davies-Allison stress this passage as the background for the present pericope, which serves as its fulfillment: “Mt 16.13–20 records the eschatatological realization of the promises made to David” (Davies-Allison, 2:603; see too Anderson for Davidic and Zionist links with Peter’s confession). Matthew’s interpretive expansion, ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ θεοῦ, “the Son of God,” defines the Messiah as more than a human figure, as someone who is uniquely a manifestation of God, the very agent of God who somehow participates in God’s being (see Gundry, Davies-Allison; on the title, see Comment on 3:17; and 4:3; 8:29; 11:27). The disciples had earlier already confessed Jesus as the Son of God (14:33). There it was under pressure of extraordinary circumstances; here it is the result of calm reflection as well as the product of divine revelation. And to this second confession the revelation of Jesus’ call to suffer and die is appended. The high priest later asks Jesus whether he is “the Christ, the Son of God” (26:63), thereby again bringing together the two titles (for the same juxtaposition of titles, see also John 11:27; 20:31). For the background of the conception of the Messiah as God’s Son, cf. 2 Sam 7:14; Ps 2:6–8, 12; & 4QFlor; 10–14. See also 27:40, 43, 54 for the “Son of God” title. The title is, of course, extremely important in the Fourth Gospel (besides references above, see 1:34, 4–9; 19:7; cf. 6:69). The expression τοῦ θεοῦ τοῦ ζῶντος, “the living God,” is an OT expression (cf. Deut 5:26; Pss 42:2; 84:2), found elsewhere in Matthew in 26:63 (cf. 22:32) and frequently in the NT (see 1 Tim 3:15; 4:10 [where it furthermore modifies the noun ἐκκλησία, “church”]; Acts 14:15; Rom 9:26; 2 Cor 3:3, 6:16; 1 Thess 1:9; Heb 3:12; 9:14; 10:31; 12:22; 1 Peter 1:23; Rev 7:2; 15:7; cf. John 6:57; Rev 1:18; 4:9). It describes the true God, as opposed to the gods of the world who were not alive, such as the deities of the region of Caesarea Philippi (cf. its use by Jews in pagan contexts, e.g., 2 Macc 7:33; 15:4; 3 Macc 6:28). Implied in the phrase (but only implied) is the fact that God is uniquely the source of all life (see Meier, Davies-Allison).[10]


[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1985). Matthew (Vol. 3, pp. 20–22). Chicago: Moody Press.

[2] France, R. T. (2007). The Gospel of Matthew (pp. 617–619). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publication Co.

[3] Brown, J. K. (2015). Matthew. (M. L. Strauss & J. H. Walton, Eds.) (p. 186). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[4] Spence-Jones, H. D. M. (Ed.). (1909). St. Matthew (Vol. 2, p. 133). London; New York: Funk & Wagnalls Company.

[5] Calvin, J., & Pringle, W. (2010). Commentary on a Harmony of the Evangelists Matthew, Mark, and Luke (Vol. 2, p. 289). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

[6] Utley, R. J. (2000). The First Christian Primer: Matthew (Vol. Volume 9, p. 139). Marshall, TX: Bible Lessons International.

[7] Brown, D., Fausset, A. R., & Jamieson, R. (n.d.). A Commentary, Critical, Experimental, and Practical, on the Old and New Testaments: Matthew–John (Vol. V, p. 88). London; Glasgow: William Collins, Sons, & Company, Limited.

[8] Hendriksen, W., & Kistemaker, S. J. (1953–2001). Exposition of the Gospel According to Matthew (Vol. 9, p. 643). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

[9] Lange, J. P., & Schaff, P. (2008). A commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Matthew (pp. 294–295). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

[10] Hagner, D. A. (1995). Matthew 14–28 (Vol. 33B, pp. 468–469). Dallas: Word, Incorporated.

May 4 The Interpreter: Spurgeon’s Devotional Bible

May 4.—Morning. [Or September 4.]
“Overcome evil with good.”

1 Samuel 24:1–7; 17–19

AND it came to pass, when Saul was returned from following the Philistines, that it was told him, saying, Behold, David is in the wilderness of En-gedi. (Everybody was ready to act as a spy upon David. The saints of God are always watched by the world, and this should make them all the more careful in their conduct.)

Then Saul took three thousand chosen men out of all Israel, and went to seek David and his men upon the rocks of the wild goats.

Though signally disappointed on former occasions, the envious king must needs be at his cruel work again. No matter where David might conceal himself, or how quiet he might remain, Saul would not let him alone. Envy can never be quiet till it has glutted its revenge.

And he came to the sheepcotes by the way, where was a cave; and Saul went in to cover his feet: and David and his men remained in the sides of the cave. (These vast cavernous places could within their dark recesses conceal vast numbers so completely, that an individual might come and go, and never know of their presence.)

4, 5 And the men of David said unto him, Behold the day of which the Lord said unto thee, Behold, I will deliver thine enemy into thine hand, that thou mayest do to him as it shall seem good unto thee. (Our best friends will mislead us if we let them. In this case, with the best intentions, David’s followers urged him on to murder, but grace restrained his hand.) Then David arose, and cut off the skirt of Saul’s robe privily. And it came to pass afterward, that David’s heart smote him, because he had cut off Saul’s skirt. (Good men tremble at doing little wrongs, where others delight in committing great crimes.)

And he said unto his men, The Lord forbid that I should do this thing unto my master, the Lord’s anointed, to stretch forth mine hand against him, seeing he is the anointed of the Lord.

So David stayed his servants with these words, and suffered them not to rise against Saul. But Saul rose up out of the cave, and went on his way. (Dr. Kitto, in his Daily Bible Illustrations, forcibly describes the scene, and that which followed it: “Although under the influence of the master-hand which held back the fierce outlaws, Saul was suffered to escape unscathed from that dangerous cave, David was willing to secure some evidence of the fact that Saul’s life had been in his power. He therefore approached him softly as he slept, and cut off the skirt of his robe. No sooner, however, did Saul arise and leave the cavern, and his men begin to laugh at the ridiculous figure the sovereign presented in his skirtless robe, than David’s heart smote him for the indignity he had been instrumental in inflicting on the royal person. Yielding to the impulse of the moment—which again was right, though it might have been in common calculation, most dangerous, he went boldly forth to the entrance of the cave, and called to the king as he descended into the valley,—‘My lord, the king!’ Well did the king know that voice. A thunderclap could not have struck him more. He looked up, and David bowed himself very low, in becoming obeisance to his king. He spoke. In a few rapid and strong words, he told what had happened—he described the urgency he had resisted—he held up the skirt in proof how completely had been in his hand the life he spared—saying, ‘I have not sinned against thee; yet thou huntest my life to take it. The Lord judge between me and thee; and the Lord avenge me of thee: but mine hand shall not be upon thee.’ Behold, now that stern heart is melted. The hard wintry frosts thaw fast before the kindly warmth of his generous nature. Saul weeps; the hot tears—the blessed tears, fall once more from those eyes, dry too long.”)

17 And he said to David, Thou art more righteous than I: for thou hast rewarded me good, whereas I have rewarded thee evil.

18, 19 And thou hast shewed this day how that thou hast dealt well with me: forasmuch as when the Lord had delivered me into thine hand, thou killedst me not. For if a man find his enemy, will he let him go well away? wherefore the Lord reward thee good for that thou hast done unto me this day.

Dear Saviour, should our foes defame,

Or brethren faithless prove

Then, through thy grace, be this our aim,

To conquer them by love.

Kept peaceful in the midst of strife,

Forgiving and forgiven;

O may we lead the pilgrim’s life,

And follow thee to heaven!

May 4.—Evening. [Or September 5.]
“I will sing and give praise.”

DAVID was ever ready to express his gratitude, and when he had escaped from Saul, he took care to praise the Lord with a new song. He then wrote

Psalm 57

which is entitled

To the chief Musician, Al-taschith, Michtam of David, when he fled from Saul in the cave.

Al-taschith signifies “destroy not,” probably in allusion to his refusing to destroy Saul.

Be merciful unto me, O God, be merciful unto me: for my soul trusteth in thee: yea, in the shadow of thy wings will I make my refuge, until these calamities be overpast.

I will cry unto God most high; unto God that performeth all things for me.

He shall send from heaven, and save me from the reproach of him that would swallow me up. Selah. God shall send forth his mercy and his truth.

My soul is among lions: and I lie even among them that are set on fire, even the sons of men, whose teeth are spears and arrows, and their tongue a sharp sword.

Be thou exalted, O God, above the heavens; let thy glory be above all the earth.

They have prepared a net for my steps; my soul is bowed down: they have digged a pit before me, into the midst whereof they are fallen themselves. Selah.

My heart is fixed, O God, my heart is fixed: I will sing and give praise.

One would have thought he would have said, “My heart is fluttered;” but no, he is calm, firm, happy, resolute, established. When the central axle is secure, the whole wheel is right. If our great bower anchor holds, the ship cannot drive, “O God, my heart is fixed.” I am resolved to trust thee, to serve thee, and to praise thee. Twice does he declare this to the glory of God who thus comforts the souls of his servants. It is surely well with each one of us if our once roving heart is now firmly fixed upon God and the proclamation of his glory. “I will sing and give praise.” Vocally and instrumentally will I celebrate thy worship. With lip and with heart will I ascribe honour to thee. Satan shall not stop me, nor Saul, nor the Philistines. I will make Adullam ring with music, and all the caverns thereof echo with joyous song.

Awake up, my glory; awake, psaltery and harp: I myself will awake early. (It is as if he had said, “Let the noblest powers of my nature bestir themselves: the intellect which conceives thought, the tongue which expresses it, and the vivid imagination which beautifies it—let all be on the alert now that the hour for praise has come. ‘Awake, psaltery and harp.’ Let all the music with which I am familiar be well attuned for the hallowed service of praise. ‘I myself will awake early.’ I will gladden the dawn with my joyous music. No sleepy verses and weary notes shall be heard from me; I will thoroughly arouse myself for this high employ.”

When we are at our best we fall far short of the Lord’s deserts; let us, therefore, make sure that what we bring him is the noblest production of our powers. If it be marred with infirmity, let it not be deteriorated by indolence. Three times the psalmist calls upon himself to awake. Do we need so much arousing, and for such work? Then let us bestir ourselves, for the engagement is too honourable and too important to be left undone, or to be done in a slovenly manner.)

I will praise thee, O Lord, among the people: I will sing unto thee among the nations.

10 For thy mercy is great unto the heavens, and thy truth unto the clouds. (Right up from man’s low estate to heaven’s loftiness mercy reaches. Imagination fails to guess the height of heaven, and even thus the riches of God’s mercy exceed our highest thoughts. The psalmist as he sat at the cave’s mouth, and looked up to the firmament, rejoiced that God’s goodness is vaster, and more sublime than even the vaulted skies.)

11 Be thou exalted, O God, above the heavens: let thy glory be above all the earth.

A grand chorus: let us take it up with all our hearts, and lovingly adore the all glorious Lord.

My heart is fix’d, my song shall raise

Immortal honours to thy name;

Awake my tongue, to sound his praise,

My tongue, the glory of my frame.

Be thou exalted, O my God,

Above the heavens, where angels dwell;

Thy power on earth be known abroad,

And land to land thy wonders tell.[1]

 

[1] Spurgeon, C. H. (1964). The Interpreter: Spurgeon’s Devotional Bible (pp. 260–261). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.

May 4 Life-Changing Moments With God

Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; nor His ear heavy, that it cannot hear.

In the day when I cried out, You answered me, and made me bold with strength in my soul. As in answer to Daniel’s prayer You sent Gabriel, swiftly, so Lord God, do not hide Your face from me; do not turn Your servant away in anger; You have been my help; do not leave me nor forsake me, O God of my salvation. But You, O Lord, do not be far from Me; O My Strength, hasten to help Me!

Ah, Lord God! Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and outstretched arm. There is nothing too hard for You. You delivered me from so great a death, and You do deliver me; in whom I trust that You will still deliver me. Shall You, Lord God, not avenge Your own elect—we who cry out day and night to You—though You bear long with us? Jesus tells me that You will avenge us speedily.

Lord God, there is nothing too hard for You! Make me bold to seek Your face and patient to wait for Your answer.

Isaiah 59:1; Psalm 138:3; Daniel 9:21; Psalm 27:9; Psalm 22:19; Jeremiah 32:17; 2 Corinthians 1:10; Luke 18:7–8[1]

 

[1] Jeremiah, D. (2007). Life-Changing Moments With God (p. 139). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

May 4, 2020 Afternoon Verse Of The Day

The Lord’s Response

Then Jesus answered and said to her, “O woman, your faith is great; be it done for you as you wish.” And her daughter was healed at once. (15:28)

After putting up a barrier of silence and then a double barrier of seeming rejection, Jesus heard what He wanted to hear. Her seeking heart would not give up. Like Abraham, she grew strong in faith through God’s testing (Rom. 4:20), and like Jacob wrestling with the Lord (Gen. 32:26), she would not let go until He blessed her. She fulfilled the pledge of Jeremiah 29:13–14, “ ‘And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. And I will be found by you,’ declares the Lord.”

Highly pleased with the woman’s response, Jesus declared, O woman, your faith is great. Without having heard the Sermon on the Mount, she came with the humble, mourning, meek, and seeking heart that God requires for kingdom entrance (Matt. 5:3–6). She exhibited the attitude expressed in Luke 16:16 of vigorously pressing forward (from biazomai) into the kingdom and in Luke 13:24 of striving, struggling, straining every nerve (from agōnizomai) to enter it.

Because of her great faith, Jesus granted her wish that her little child be delivered from the demon, and her daughter was healed at once. As Spurgeon observed, “The Lord of glory surrendered to the faith of the woman.” She kept asking until she received, seeking until she found, and knocking until it was opened to her (cf. Matt. 7:7).[1]


28 The faith that simply seeks mercy is honored. Again Jesus speaks, this time with emotion (see Notes), and the woman’s daughter is healed “from that very hour” (cf. 8:13; 9:22). The Clementine homilies (end of the second century) call the woman Justa and her daughter Berenice, but the names may have been invented.[2]


28 Jesus’ reply appears to be a complete reversal of his stance so far in the dialogue. He recognizes the justice of her case, and applauds the boldness of her refusal to accept defeat. She has won the argument, and her request is granted forthwith. See introductory comments on how far this need mean that Jesus has actually changed his mind and embraced a new theology of salvation, or whether his earlier Jewish reluctance may be seen rather as a debating ploy to draw out the “great faith” which he now welcomes and rewards. This is the only time in Matthew when faith is qualified as “great” (though the centurion’s faith is favorably compared with any in Israel, 8:10); contrast Peter (14:31) and the other disciples (8:26; cf. 16:8) who have shown “little faith.”

The conclusion of this story is closely similar to that of the parallel story in 8:5–13, though the commendation of the centurion’s faith took place earlier in that story (8:10). This woman’s insight, no less than the centurion’s, foreshadows the time when the people of God will include Gentiles equally with Jews on the basis of their faith. The rather perfunctory account of the healing even uses the same verb as in 8:13, “cure,” even though the previous story was of a physical healing, this one of an exorcism (see on 4:24); the nature of the problem has been only a minor interest in this pericope, where all the emphasis has fallen on the issue of Jew and Gentile. These two healings of Gentiles are the only ones performed by Jesus at a distance in the Synoptic Gospels; cf. John 4:46–54, where it is possible, but not so certain, that the patient is also a Gentile.[3]


15:28 Woman, you have great faith! The passage concludes with Jesus’ exclamation of this woman’s great faith and his healing of her daughter. The only other occurrence of “great faith” in Matthew describes the one other Gentile supplicant coming to Jesus for healing, the centurion in 8:10, again tying these two stories together thematically as well as in a number of their narrative details.[4]


28. Here finisheth the wonderful subject, in the Lord’s manifested grace, and her soul’s joy. O woman, great is thy faith; be it unto thee even as thou wilt. As if Jesus threw the reins of government into her hand, saying, as by the Prophet, Concerning my sons, and concerning the work of my hands command ye me. Isaiah 45:11. And was there ever a more finished instance of grace and mercy, not only in following up this daughter of Abraham’s petition; but planting such faith in her heart, as might sustain so long, and painful a trial. Reader! I pray you, dismiss it not, until you have gathered some, at least of the many blessed instructions it contains, for your own private encouragement, under the lesser exercises of your faith.

And, First. Behold the sovereignty of Almighty grace, in this chosen vessel of God; and taken from the coasts of Tyre and Sidon. How evident is it, that Jesus hath a Church, to be gathered from all nations. They shall come from the east, and from the west, and from the north, and from the south. And the certainty of their coming is in the covenant. Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power. Psm. 110:3.

Secondly. Mark the grace of the Lord, in disposing the way for this poor Gentile to come to Christ. By inducing afflictions of body, and giving grace in the soul, she is brought to Jesus. Oh! how often the Lord thus mercifully deals with his people.

Thirdly. Learn from the Lord’s dealings with her, how to form proper judgment of his dealings with all his people. Though from the first, more disposed to grant than she to ask; yet to enhance the blessing, and to improve her faith, the mercy is suspended for a space. So Jesus doth by all. And sweet it is, when by waiting upon the Lord, we renew our spiritual strength.

Fourthly. Behold what humbleness of soul grace accomplisheth in the heart. Truth, Lord, said this poor member of Christ’s mystical body, I am unworthy of children’s fare. Reader! depend upon it, in proportion to our views of Christ’s glory, such will be our views of our own unworthiness. It is Christ alone that shall be exalted. And now this poor Canaanite is sitting down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of our God, and of his Christ![5]


Ver. 28.—O woman, great is thy faith. Jesus had often to complain of unbelief in his hearers; at no man’s faith did he ever express surprise, except in the case of another Gentile, the centurion of Capernaum (ch 8:10). Be it unto thee even as thou wilt. She had conquered; she gained her wish. But we must not think that Christ consented because his human feelings were overcome by her importunity, like the unjust judge in the parable, though the principle and teaching of that parable were here beautifully illustrated. He acted all the time as God, who foreknew what he would do. He had been leading her up to this climax; he had willed to give her an opportunity of exhibiting this trust and self-command and unfailing confidence, and now he crowns her with his mighty eulogium, and grants her request, rewarding her great faith by a great mercy. Her daughter was made whole. St. Mark reports the words of Christ, “For this saying go thy way; the devil is gone out of thy daughter.” He does not say, “I will come and heal her;” he tells her that the cure is already effected. Without personal contact with the sufferer, without any command uttered to the possessing demon, by his silent will alone the wonder comes to pass. This blessing for the child was won by the mother’s faith. The two points to be remarked in this marvellous history are—Christ’s abnormal treatment of a suppliant, and that suppliant’s astonishing faith and perseverance. Both of these subjects have been noticed in the course of the Exposition.[6]


28. Great is thy faith. He first applauds the woman’s faith, and next declares, that on account of her faith he grants her prayer. The greatness of her faith appeared chiefly in this respect, that by the aid of nothing more than a feeble spark of doctrine, she not only recognized the actual office of Christ, and ascribed to him heavenly power, but pursued her course steadily through formidable opposition; suffered herself to be annihilated, provided that she held by her conviction that she would not fail to obtain Christ’s assistance; and, in a word, so tempered her confidence with humility, that, while she advanced no unfounded claim, neither did she shut against her the fountain of the grace of Christ, by a sense of her own unworthiness. This commendation, bestowed on a woman who had been a heathen, condemns the ingratitude of that nation which boasted that it was consecrated to God.

But how can the woman be said to believe aright, who not only receives no promise from Christ, but is driven back by his declaration to the contrary? On that point I have already spoken. Though he appears to give a harsh refusal to her prayers, yet, convinced that God would grant the salvation which he had promised through the Messiah, she ceases not to entertain favourable hopes; and therefore she concludes, that the door is shut against her, not for the purpose of excluding her altogether, but that, by a more strenuous effort of faith, she may force her way, as it were, through the chinks. Be it unto thee as thou desirest. This latter clause contains a useful doctrine, that faith will obtain anything from the Lord; for so highly does he value it, that he is always prepared to comply with our wishes, so far as it may be for our advantage.[7]


28. No-one else receives from Jesus the accolade Great is your faith! (though again the centurion is the nearest equivalent, see 8:10). Was it merely her persistence in expecting a response despite apparent refusal (‘by faith, not by sight’)? Or is there also the idea of her spiritual perception in recognizing both the primary scope of Jesus’ mission to Israel and also the fact that that was not to be its ultimate limit? She thus, like the centurion, foreshadows the time when the true Israel will transcend the boundaries of culture and nationality.[8]


15:28 your faith is great. Jesus commended the woman for her great faith and immediately healed her daughter. Thus, the woman’s faith truly was great (cf. 9:22, 29). She had persisted through three rebuffs from Jesus, and her remarks manifest an amazing understanding of Jesus’ identity, power, and mission.[9]


15:28 “O woman, your faith is great;” Jesus complimented Gentiles several times (cf. 8:10). This was to: (1) show His love for Gentiles, or (2) stimulate the disciples’ global world view.

“her daughter was healed at once” Notice that this lady did not require ritual magic or Jesus’ physical presence (cf. 8:8–9). When He told her that her daughter was healed, she believed.[10]


28. Then Jesus answered and said to her, “O woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you desire.” And healed was her daughter from that very moment. Divine love is so infinite and marvelous that it even praises a human being for exercising a gift—in this case faith—with which this very divine love has endowed her, and which apart from that divine activity could not have gone into action at all.

The praise which this woman receives cannot fail to remind us of the eulogy with which Jesus lauded the centurion (8:10). Here as well as in 8:10, 11 is there not a prediction of the fast approaching wide-opening of the door for the reception of the Gentiles into the kingdom of heaven?

Note also that the blessing bestowed on the woman cannot even be conceived of apart from that with which her daughter was favored. When the woman received what she desired this implied that the daughter likewise was given what she needed. The latter was healed immediately and completely! Moreover, these blessings did not rob “children” of their “bread.”[11]


15:28. Finally, having seen ample proof of this dear woman’s heart of faith, and having “rubbed it in” for the disciples, Jesus broke his feigned “resistance” with this enthusiastic response: Woman, you have great faith! Clearly, he was deeply touched by such mature and persistent faith in this Gentile woman.

There was no longer any reason to test the woman’s faith, so Jesus assured her that her deepest desire had been granted. Just as with the centurion’s servant (8:13), Jesus performed a long-distance healing. Matthew records that the woman’s daughter was healed that very hour.[12]


Ver. 28. O woman, great is thy faith.—Thu showing that, in the one main point, she was one of the lost sheep of the house of Israel.

From that very hour.See ch. 9:22; John 4:53. An instance of healing at a distance, as in ch. 8:13; John 4. The intermediate link in this case was the heart of the mother, so closely knit to that of her daughter; as in the other two instances it had been the paternal affection of the royal officer, and the deep faith of the centurion at Capernaum.[13]


[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1985). Matthew (Vol. 2, pp. 473–474). Chicago: Moody Press.

[2] Carson, D. A. (2010). Matthew. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Matthew–Mark (Revised Edition) (Vol. 9, p. 405). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[3] France, R. T. (2007). The Gospel of Matthew (pp. 595–596). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publication Co.

[4] Brown, J. K. (2015). Matthew. (M. L. Strauss & J. H. Walton, Eds.) (p. 180). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[5] Hawker, R. (2013). Poor Man’s New Testament Commentary: Matthew–John (Vol. 1, pp. 109–110). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

[6] Spence-Jones, H. D. M. (Ed.). (1909). St. Matthew (Vol. 2, p. 101). London; New York: Funk & Wagnalls Company.

[7] Calvin, J., & Pringle, W. (2010). Commentary on a Harmony of the Evangelists Matthew, Mark, and Luke (Vol. 2, pp. 268–269). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

[8] France, R. T. (1985). Matthew: an introduction and commentary (Vol. 1, pp. 250–251). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

[9] Turner, D., & Bock, D. L. (2005). Cornerstone biblical commentary, Vol 11: Matthew and Mark (p. 212). Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers.

[10] Utley, R. J. (2000). The First Christian Primer: Matthew (Vol. Volume 9, p. 135). Marshall, TX: Bible Lessons International.

[11] Hendriksen, W., & Kistemaker, S. J. (1953–2001). Exposition of the Gospel According to Matthew (Vol. 9, p. 625). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

[12] Weber, S. K. (2000). Matthew (Vol. 1, p. 232). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

[13] Lange, J. P., & Schaff, P. (2008). A commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Matthew (p. 282). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Ex-CIA operative: Comey and Brennan should get death penalty | WND

James Comey (ABC)

A former CIA operative says officials such as former FBI Director James Comey and former CIA Director John Brennan should be given the death penalty for their roles in the Russia-collusion investigation because they are “traitors.”

“If they can prove that case and prosecute people like the James Comeys, and I think a guy like John Brennan, what I hope will happen is they will try to find whatever the most extreme form of punishment is that they can throw at these guys,” Bryan Dean Wright said Saturday in an interview with Fox News.

“I’d love to see the death penalty,” he said. “And boy, oh boy, I tell you, if I could flip the switch myself, I’d do it. These men are traitors.”

He was reacting to the FBI’s treatment of former national security adviser Michael Flynn, detailed in a series of FBI records unsealed last week, reported the Washington Examiner.

The records show FBI agents discussing how to “catch him in a lie so that he could be charged with a crime or removed from his position.”

“We have these unelected bureaucrats who had decided they’re going to take out a member of the Trump administration,” Wright said.

“We have this very clear case of James Comey and a whole bunch of other folks on the senior level of the FBI trying to get people fired. Not because the facts warranted it or the law called for it, but because of their own personal, partisan agenda.”

U.S. Attorney John Durham is conducting a criminal investigation of the origins of the Obama administration’s Crossfire Hurricane probe of the Trump campaign.

According to sources, the Examiner said, Durham is reviewing Brennan’s handling of a secret source said to be close to the Kremlin and his use of the unverified dossier compiled by former British spy Christopher Steele.

The opposition-research document, based on anonymous Russian sources, was funded by the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee. Its major claims against Trump were debunked by Robert Mueller’s special counsel investigation and none have been verified. Nevertheless, it was used as primary evidence to obtain warrants to spy on the Trump campaign.

Calling the Obama administration’s actions during the 2016 “horrifying,” Wright said it’s now been “established that Deep State is real.”

“Unelected bureaucrats deciding they are going to take out a member of the Trump administration,” he said. “They decided they were going to choose the nation’s political winners and losers.”

Source: Ex-CIA operative: Comey and Brennan should get death penalty

‘Believe Women’ Slogan Updated To ‘Believe Creepy Old Men With Dementia’ — The Babylon Bee

U.S.—As Joe Biden seals the Democratic nomination, the Me Too movement has unveiled its new slogan, “Believe Creepy Old Men With Dementia.”

The “Believe Women” slogan that was so popular just a couple years ago is said to be obsolete now that Democrats need to support a handsy old man with dementia. So, the movement quietly updated its slogan, replacing it with the updated, more accurate “Believe Creepy Old Men With Dementia.”

“If a handsy old guy who likes to sniff women’s hair in broad daylight says he didn’t do something inappropriate, then he didn’t,” said Alyssa Milano. “It’s that simple. We hear you, Joe, and we believe you. Don’t let the accusers get you down. You do you.” Milano then attacked women who don’t believe Joe as “Trump enablers” and “science deniers.”

The slogan will also be emphasized with hand clap emojis so you know that it is the highest moral truth: “Believe 👏 creepy 👏 old 👏 men 👏 with 👏 dementia 👏.” Another tactic will be to repeat the slogan as many times as Twitter will allow in 280 characters, so you know that it is irrefutable.

“If you don’t believe everything Joe Biden says, you hate women.”

via ‘Believe Women’ Slogan Updated To ‘Believe Creepy Old Men With Dementia’ — The Babylon Bee

May 4, 2020 Truth2Freedom Briefing Report (US•World•Christian)

REUTERS

President Donald Trump said on Sunday he now believes as many as 100,000
Americans could die in the coronavirus pandemic, after the death toll
passed his earlier estimates, but said he was confident a vaccine would be
developed by the year’s end.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Monday said bipartisan discussions are
underway over whether more U.S. government relief funding is needed amid
the nation’s novel coronavirus outbreak, but that President Donald Trump is
focused on taxes and travel.

United Nations leaders called on Monday for a global effort to develop and
distribute to all at affordable prices vaccines, treatments and testing
kits against COVID-19.

The European Union pledged on Monday $1.09 billion for the global search
for vaccines and treatment for the novel coronavirus, the European
Commission President Ursula von der Leyen told a pledging conference.

Spain will pledge $136.58 million to developing a global response to the
coronavirus pandemic, Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said on Monday.

President Macron said France would contribute 500 million euros ($550
million) to a global fund-raising push to finance research into a vaccine
and treatments against the novel coronavirus.

Norway will give $1 billion to support the distribution worldwide of any
vaccine developed against COVID-19 as well as for vaccines against other
diseases.

Indian police fired tear gas at a crowd of protesting migrant workers in
Gujarat and launched baton charges against hundreds of people queuing at
liquor stores in New Delhi, even as the first steps were being taken to
relax a coronavirus lockdown.

Big central banks are buying from an expanding menu of government bonds,
corporate debt and consumer loans to help businesses and households through
the coronavirus pandemic – and no one knows whether they can stop.

Shares of the top four U.S. airlines dropped on Monday after billionaire
investor Warren Buffett said Berkshire Hathaway offloaded its entire stake
in the carriers last month, adding to the sense of crisis around the
industry.

An internal Chinese report warns that Beijing faces a rising wave of
hostility in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak that could tip relations
with the United States into confrontation, people familiar with the paper
told Reuters.

Carnival said on Monday it planned to restart some of its cruise trips from
North America in August as it tries to recover from the coronavirus
pandemic, which has brought the industry to a virtual standstill.

New orders for U.S.-made goods fell more than expected in March and could
sink further as disruptions from the novel coronavirus fracture supply
chains and depress exports.

General Electric said on Monday it was planning to cut its global workforce
in the aviation unit by as much as 25% this year, including both voluntary
and involuntary layoffs, due to business disruptions caused by the COVID-19
pandemic.

J. Crew filed for bankruptcy protection on Monday with a plan to hand over
control to lenders, adding to a list of brick-and-mortar retailers pushed
to the brink by widespread store closures in response to the COVID-19
pandemic.

Oil prices fell on Monday on worries that a global oil glut may persist
even as coronavirus pandemic lockdowns start to ease and amid a fresh spat
between the United States and China over the origin of the virus.

AP Top Stories

North and South Korean troops exchanged fire along their border on Sunday,
the South’s military said, the first such incident since the rivals took
unprecedented steps to decrease frontline tensions in 2018.

Nineteen kids aged 9 to 16 have been accused of stealing 46 cars worth a
total of $1.1 million from dealerships in North Carolina.

Iran’s parliament has passed a bill allowing the government to slash four
zeros from the rial, Iranian state media reported on Monday, after a sharp
fall in the value of the currency as a result of crippling U.S. sanctions.
Iran’s national currency will be changed from the rial to the Toman, which
is equal to 10,000 rials, under the bill.

Indian police fired tear gas at a crowd of protesting migrant workers in
Gujarat and launched baton charges against hundreds of people queuing at
liquor stores in New Delhi, even as the first steps were being taken to
relax a coronavirus lockdown.

More than 2,800 Indians are looking to be evacuated from the US back to
India, but they can’t get flights home because of India’s coronavirus
lockdown.

In Nigeria, businesses have reopened on the first working day after the
easing of a lockdown imposed on key urban areas in a bid to restart
Africa’s largest economy. But in the commercial hub, Lagos, traffic jams
were absent, indicating that many are remaining indoors.

South Africa began easing one of the world’s strictest lockdowns on Friday,
with runners and dog-walkers returning eagerly to the streets but not all
wearing the face masks that are now mandatory in the country with Africa’s
most coronavirus cases.

Millions of people were allowed to return to work in Italy Monday as
Europe’s longest lockdown started to ease, while countries from Iceland to
India took a patchwork of steps to loosen coronavirus restrictions.
Businesses, including hairdressers in Greece and restaurants in Lebanon,
were opening their doors under new conditions.

Hundreds flocked to Barcelona’s maritime promenade on Sunday (May 3) as the
government eased its coronavirus lockdown. People in Spain were allowed to
leave their homes for outdoor exercise on Saturday (May 2), the first time
in almost 50 days.

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has revealed that doctors prepared to
announce his death as he battled coronavirus, ending up in intensive care,
last month.

Venezuela’s leftist government said Sunday it foiled an incursion from the
sea, killing eight members of a group of alleged mercenaries bent on
“terrorist acts” aimed at overthrowing President Nicolas Maduro.

The mayor of an Oklahoma city amended an emergency declaration requiring
customers to wear face masks while inside businesses after store employees
were threatened with violence.

The United States has made over $500 billion in loans to small businesses
hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic, and about $145 billion remains in the
congressionally approved fund, the U.S. Small Business Administration and
Treasury Department said Sunday.

BBC

Scientists have discovered a microbe that completely protects mosquitoes
from being infected with malaria. The team in Kenya and the UK say the
finding has “enormous potential” to control the disease.

In the middle of the rainforest, the virus has taken hold. Manaus, the
Amazon’s biggest city, is at breaking point. They are digging mass graves,
or trenches. It is the only way overwhelmed authorities can cope with the
deaths from Covid-19.

More than 40 people were reportedly killed after rioting broke out at a
prison in Venezuela. Inmates at Los Llanos jail, near western Guanare city,
were angry at a lack of food and water.

Some lucky Australians this weekend emerged, blinking in the sun, after
more than a month in lockdown.

The European Commission has launched a global effort to fund research on a
vaccine and other tools to combat the coronavirus. It is hosting a virtual
conference for world leaders and philanthropists in a bid to raise $8.3bn.

At least ten members of an Iraqi militia group have been killed in an
attack by Islamic State militants.

WND

The British government is proposing a complete ban on transgender medical
procedures for children, and American lawmakers would be “wise” to follow
that example, contends a leading family advocate.

A woman in England who gave birth to a child but now “identifies” as a man
has lost her legal fight to be listed on the birth certificate as the
father.

Palestinian Media Watch, which has documented the Palestinian Authority’s
payment of salaries to convicted terrorists or their families, is warning
banks not to process funds for the salaries.

Hundreds of people have been exposed for reporting people who have flouted
social distancing rules and some are now scared they could receive a
backlash. The names and addresses of approximately 900 people in Missouri
were released as part of a media request under the Sunshine Law, which
allows for the release of information submitted to a public agency (except
for wrongdoing and abuse tips).

U.S. reading and math scores on multiple assessments have all seen
“historic declines since most states implemented national Common Core
English and math curriculum standards six years ago,” according to a Monday
news release from the Pioneer Institute, which published the study.

Two Iranian nationals have been charged with violating U.S. export laws and
sanctions against Iran by buying a petroleum tanker with the intent of
delivering it to Iran. It could cost them the $12 million they laundered
through the U.S. monetary system, according to the Department of Justice.


Mid-Day Snapshot · May 4, 2020

The Foundation

“It is the madness of folly, to expect mercy from those who have refused to do justice; and even mercy, where conquest is the object, is only a trick of war; the cunning of the fox is as murderous as the violence of the wolf.” —Thomas Paine (1776)

China’s P4 Lab and SARS-CoV-2 — The Evidence Mounts

“All other possible places of the virus’ origin have been proven to be highly unlikely.”


Trump’s Town Hall: Quick Reopening, Confident of Vaccine

The president sought to reassure millions of Americans that better days are ahead.


Biden’s Hypocritical Record on Sexual Assault

He bullied colleges and universities to abandon due-process rights for the accused.


A Character-Revealing Crisis

You either embrace total lockdown and economic armageddon or you’re a moral reprobate.


Marital Commitment Is the Missing Ingredient

The marriage rate in America has dropped to an all-time low. That’s very bad.


P. Diddy Gets Lashes for Free Political Thought

Yet another prominent black man is questioning the value of voting Democrat.


Video: Breaking Down the Bombshell FBI-Flynn Story

Ben Shapiro reviews newly released documents that make James Comey and the FBI look insanely corrupt.


Video: No, We Shouldn’t Bail Out Broke Blue States

Badly mismanaged states like Illinois are hankering for a bailout.


Video: Democrats Abandon ‘MeToo’ Movement

In response to the allegations made against Joe Biden, many Democrats have seemingly abandoned the “MeToo” movement.


Video: A Nation of Karens: She IS the Boss of You

There are two Americas — there are Karens, and not Karens.



Today’s Opinion

Gary Bauer
The Flynn Timeline
Jeff Jacoby
Keep Politicians’ Names Off Relief Checks. And Everything Else.
Peggy Noonan
The Iron Lady and the Coronavirus Age
Burt Prelutsky
Schlafly: In Her Own Words
Matthew Continetti
The End of History and ‘The Last Dance’
For more of today’s columns, visit Right Opinion.

Monday News Executive Summary

China lied, payroll tax cut, sanctuary-city legal loss, Canada gun ban, and more.


Monday Short Cuts

Notable quotables from Mike Pompeo, Ronna McDaniel, Don Lemon, and more.



Today’s Meme

For more of today’s memes, visit the Memesters Union.

Today’s Cartoon

For more of today’s cartoons, visit the Cartoons archive.

Headlines – 5/4/2020

US: Israel can only annex under terms of Trump peace plan

Will Abbas carry out his threat to nix agreements with Israel?

Ending first day of hearings, High Court signals it won’t veto Netanyahu gov’t

US: Israel should re-think China’s participation in desalination plant

Israel said to join tourism compact for countries bringing virus under control

Brooklyn Chassidic Rebbe Calls for Massive Aliyah Before It’s Too Late

Hezbollah’s new offensive – cutting holes in border fence raises tensions

Iran Cancels Annual Anti-Israel ‘Quds Day’ Rallies Due to Coronavirus Pandemic

Iran warns nuclear deal will ‘die forever’ if arms embargo extended

Terrorist threats rise amid coronavirus pandemic

IS extremists step up as Iraq, Syria, grapple with virus

Iraqi Kurdistan On The Brink Of Collapse As Oil Prices Crash

Venezuela claims it ‘foiled’ attack backed by US, Colombia

Pompeo: ‘Enormous evidence’ coronavirus came from Chinese lab

Trump says China made a ‘mistake’ and tried to cover up coronavirus outbreak

‘Once Upon a Virus’: China mocks U.S. coronavirus response in Lego-like animation

Robots and cameras: China’s sci-fi quarantine watch

Swiss soldiers fight COVID-19 armed with Bluetooth app

Cellphone monitoring is spreading with the coronavirus. So is an uneasy tolerance of surveillance.

Coronavirus health passports for UK ‘possible in months’

Bill Gates says we need a nationwide shutdown for at least 10 more weeks to fight coronavirus: ‘The window for making important decisions hasn’t closed’

Trump predicts coronavirus vaccine by year’s end, vows ‘plague’ will pass

April Jobs Report Likely to Show Highest Unemployment Rate on Record

White House, Congress clash over liability protections for businesses as firms weigh virus reopening plans

Michigan’s Whitmer says armed protesters displayed ‘worst racism and awful parts’ of US history

Phoning it in: Pandemic forces Supreme Court to hear cases in a new way

Sidelined by pandemic, Trump campaign turns to digital shows

David Jeremiah reveals ‘unprecedented’ online revival happening amid COVID-19

Millennials, Gen Zers showing greater interest in Gospel amid COVID-19 pandemic, Greg Laurie says

Asteroid 2020 JA to flyby Earth at 0.62 LD on May 3

5.9 magnitude earthquake hits near Fukue, Japan

5.2 magnitude earthquake hits near Hachijo-jima, Japan

5.1 magnitude earthquake hits near Ohonua, Tonga

5.1 magnitude earthquake hits the Easter Island region

5.0 magnitude earthquake hits near Makurazaki, Japan

5.0 magnitude earthquake hits near Kotaagung, Indonesia

Los Angeles rattled by magnitude-3.3 earthquake

Sabancaya volcano in Peru erupts to 28,000ft

Sangay volcano in Ecuador erupts to 20,000ft

Popocateptl volcano in Mexico erupts to 19,000ft

Reventador volcano in Ecuador erupts to 15,000ft

Semeru volancano in Indonesia erupts to 14,000ft

Ebeko volcano in the Kuril Islands erupts to 11,000ft

These 2 major European cities received an entire spring’s worth of rain in April


Apostasy Watch

Warren Peel – ‘Fallen, Fallen is Babylon the Great’

Michelle Lesley – Basic Training: Being Berean- 8 Steps for Comparing Teaching to Scripture

‘You’ve Received a Miracle’: Minister Told to Pull the Plug, Then His Wife Is Healed

Max Lucado Endorses Anti-Trinitarian Word of Faith Heretic Steven Furtick

Army Chaplain under fire for sharing John Piper’s book ‘Coronavirus and Christ’

Police Stand Down as Canadian Church Defies Govt with Fourth Drive-in Service

Jerry Falwell Claims Gov. Northam Is Actively Discriminating Against Liberty University

Pope Francis…..Celebrates Jihadis’ Favorite Holiday

Pro-life activists ordered to pay Planned Parenthood over $1.2M for exposé on baby body parts scandal

The Muslim Genocide of 2.5 Million Christians


Truth2Freedom Blog Disclaimer

This post was originally posted on: https://truth4freedom.wordpress.com

This blog is an aggregator of news and information that we believe will provide articles that will keep people informed about current trends, current events, discussions and movements taking place within our church and culture.

In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107,material here is distributed without profit for research and educational purposes. Any copyrighted material displayed or referenced is done under the doctrine of fair use.

An article and/or blog post link doesn’t necessarily mean that there is agreement or approval with all the views and opinions expressed within the linked article/posting. Caution is also warranted with regards to the advertisements and links that are embedded within the headline linked article.

“A simple layman armed with Scripture is to be believed above a pope or a council without it…” – Martin Luther

Woodstock Occurred in the Middle of a Pandemic | Anti-Empire

In my lifetime, there was another deadly flu epidemic in the United States. The flu spread from Hong Kong to the United States, arriving December 1968 and peaking a year later. It ultimately killed 100,000 people in the U.S., mostly over the age of 65, and one million worldwide. Lifespan in the US in those days was 70 whereas it is 78 today. Population was 200 million as compared with 328 million today. It was also a healthier population with low obesity. If it would be possible to extrapolate the death data based on population and demographics, we might be looking at a quarter million deaths today from this virus. So in terms of lethality, it was as deadly and scary as COVID-19 if not more so, though we shall have to wait to see. “In 1968,” says Nathaniel L. Moir in National Interest, “the H3N2 pandemic killed more individuals in the U.S. than the combined total number of American fatalities during both the Vietnam and Korean Wars.” And this happened in the lifetimes of every American over 52 years of age. I was 5 years old and have no memory of this at all. My mother vaguely remembers being careful and washing surfaces, and encouraging her mom and dad to be careful. Otherwise, it’s mostly forgotten today. Why is that? Nothing closed. Schools stayed open. All businesses did too. You could go to the movies. You could go to bars and restaurants. John Fund has a friend who reports having attended a Grateful Dead concert. In fact, people have no memory or awareness that the famous Woodstock concert of August 1969 – planned in January during the worse period of death – actually occurred during a deadly American flu pandemic that only peaked globally six months later. There was no thought given to the virus which, like ours today, was dangerous mainly for a non-concert-going demographic. Stock markets didn’t crash. Congress passed no legislation. The Federal Reserve did nothing. Not a single governor acted to enforce social distancing, curve flattening (even though hundreds of thousands of people were hospitalized), or banning of crowds. No mothers were arrested for taking their kids to other homes. No surfers were arrested. No daycares were shut even though there were more infant deaths with this virus than the one we are experiencing now. There were no suicides, no unemployment, no drug overdoses. Media covered the pandemic but it never became a big issue. As Bojan Pancevski in the Wall Street Journal points out, “In 1968-70, news outlets devoted cursory attention to the virus while training their lenses on other events such as the moon landing and the Vietnam War, and the cultural upheaval of the civil-rights movements, student protests and the sexual revolution.” The only actions governments took was to collect data, watch and wait, encourage testing and vaccines, and so on. The medical community took the primary responsibility for disease mitigation, as one might expect. It was widely assumed that diseases require medical not political responses. It’s not as if we had governments unwilling to intervene in other matters. We had the Vietnam War, social welfare, public housing, urban renewal, and the rise of Medicare and Medicaid. We had a president swearing to cure all poverty, illiteracy, and disease. Government was as intrusive as it had ever been in history. But for some reason, there was no thought given to shutdowns. Which raises the question: why was this different? We will be trying to figure this one out for decades. Was the difference that we have mass media invading our lives with endless notifications blowing up in our pockets? Was there some change in philosophy such that we now think politics is responsible for all existing aspects of life? Was there a political element here in that the media blew this wildly out of proportion as revenge against Trump and his deplorables? Or did our excessive adoration of predictive modelling get out of control to the point that we let a physicist with ridiculous models frighten the world’s governments into violating the human rights of billions of people? Maybe all of these were factors. Or maybe there is something darker and nefarious at work, as the conspiracy theorists would have it. Regardless, they all have some explaining to do. By way of personal recollection, my own mother and father were part of a generation that believed they had developed sophisticated views of viruses. They understood that less vulnerable people getting them not only strengthened immune systems but contributed to disease mitigation by reaching “herd immunity.” They had a whole protocol to make a child feel better about being sick. I got a “sick toy,” unlimited ice cream, Vicks rub on my chest, a humidifier in my room, and so on. They would constantly congratulate me on building immunity. They did their very best to be happy about my viruses, while doing their best to get me through them. If we used government lockdowns then like we use them now, Woodstock (which changed music forever and still resonates today) would never have occurred. How much prosperity, culture, tech, etc. are losing in this calamity? What happened between then and now? Was there some kind of lost knowledge, as happened with scurvy, when we once had sophistication and then the knowledge was lost and had to be re-found? For COVID-19, we reverted to medieval-style understandings and policies, even in the 21st century. It’s all very strange. The contrast between 1968 and 2020 couldn’t be more striking. They were smart. We are idiots. Or at least our governments are. Source: AIER

Source: Woodstock Occurred in the Middle of a Pandemic

The Coronavirus Death Rate Is MUCH Lower Than the Estimates Justifying the Lockdowns… — Christian Research Network

“None of these studies were perfect. Some are large, some are small. As you’ll see, they came up with a range of fatality rates, but considering our country was shut down over the belief that the coronavirus had a CFR of 2% to 3.4% and all of these studies suggest the actual CFR is under 1 percent, it makes you wonder why the country was shut down.”

(Matt Margolis – PJ Media)  Appearing on Justice with Judge Jeanine on Saturday night, Dr. Debora Birx admitted something that anyone paying attention to the coronavirus pandemic has known for some time now….

“I think we underestimated very early on the number of asymptomatic cases,” Dr. Birx said. “And I think we’re really beginning to understand there are people that get infected that those symptoms are so low-grade that they don’t even know that they’re infected.”

The question, of course, is how much? Well, we have a rough idea already.

But, first, let’s go back to what experts said originally. Back in March, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimated a 3.4 percent fatality rate and Dr. Anthony Fauci estimated that the fatality rate of the coronavirus was about 2 percent. “If you look at the cases that have come to the attention of the medical authorities in China, and you just do the math, the math is about 2%.” View article →

via The Coronavirus Death Rate Is MUCH Lower Than the Estimates Justifying the Lockdowns… — Christian Research Network

May 4 Thoughts for the quiet hour

Looking up to heaven he sighed

Mark 7:34

Too often we sigh and look within; Jesus sighed and looked without. We sigh, and look down; Jesus sighed, and looked up. We sigh, and look to earth; Jesus sighed, and looked to Heaven. We sigh, and look to man; Jesus sighed, and looked to God.

Stork[1]

 

[1] Hardman, S. G., & Moody, D. L. (1997). Thoughts for the quiet hour. Willow Grove, PA: Woodlawn Electronic Publishing.

How Should Christians Respond to the COVID-19 Crisis? — Ligonier Ministries Blog

 

Now is a time for Christians to demonstrate their trust in Jesus Christ. From our livestream event Made in the Image of God, John MacArthur urges believers to express their living hope amid the continuing crisis wrought by COVID-19.

Just ask Ligonier to get clear and trustworthy answers to your biblical and theological questions.

via How Should Christians Respond to the COVID-19 Crisis? — Ligonier Ministries Blog

May 4 Streams in the Desert

He maketh sore, and bindeth up: he woundeth and his hands make whole.” (Job 5:18)

The ministry of a great sorrow.

AS we pass beneath the hills which have been shaken by the earthquake and torn by convulsion, we find that periods of perfect repose succeed those of destruction. The pools of calm water lie clear beneath their fallen rocks, the water lilies gleam, and the reeds whisper among the shadows; the village rises again over the forgotten graves, and its church tower, white through the storm twilight, proclaims a renewed appeal to His protection “in whose hand are all the corners of the earth, and the strength of the hills is his also.”—Ruskin.

God ploughed one day with an earthquake,

And drove His furrows deep!

The huddling plains upstarted,

The hills were all aleap!

But that is the mountains’ secret,

Age-hidden in their breast;

“God’s peace is everlasting,”

Are the dream-words of their rest.

He made them the haunts of beauty,

The home elect of His grace;

He spreadeth His mornings upon them,

His sunsets light their face.

His winds bring messages to them—

Wild storm-news from the main;

They sing it down the valleys

In the love-song of the rain.

They are nurseries for young rivers,

Nests for His flying cloud,

Homesteads for new-born races,

Masterful, free, and proud.

The people of tired cities

Come up to their shrines and pray;

God freshens again within them,

As He passes by all day.

And lo, I have caught their secret!

The beauty deeper than all!

This faith—that life’s hard moments,

When the jarring sorrows befall,

Are but God ploughing His mountains;

And those mountains yet shall be

The source of His grace and freshness,

And His peace everlasting to me.

William C. Gannett.[1]

 

[1] Cowman, L. B. (1925). Streams in the Desert (pp. 136–137). Los Angeles, CA: The Oriental Missionary Society.

Your Guide To The Obama Administration’s Hit On Michael Flynn — The Federalist

Your Guide To The Obama Administration’s Hit On Michael Flynn
New documents in the Michael Flynn case cemented that a small cadre of high-level FBI agents set a perjury trap for President Trump’s then-national security advisor.

 

The unsealing last week of a series of documents in the Michael Flynn criminal case cemented the reality that a small cadre of high-level FBI agents set a perjury trap for President Trump’s then-national security advisor. Beyond exposing the depth of this despicable personal and political hit job on a 30-year military veteran, the newly discovered documents hold great legal significance. Here’s your legal primer.

The Russiagate special counsel’s office charged Flynn with violating 18 U. S. C. § 1001, which makes it a federal crime to “knowingly and willfully” make a false statement of “a material fact” to a federal official. Former Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team claimed Flynn violated Section 1001 by lying to FBI agents Joe Pientka and Peter Strzok—the latter of whom has since been fired—when the duo questioned Flynn on January 24, 2017, about Flynn’s December 2016 telephone conversations with the Russian ambassador.

Flynn pleaded guilty to the Section 1001 charge in December 2017, but after the special counsel’s office disbanded, Flynn fired his prior attorneys and hired Sidney Powell. He later moved to withdraw his guilty plea, arguind his prior Covington and Burling lawyers had provided ineffective counsel. More significantly, Flynn maintained that he is innocent of the charge and had only pleaded guilty because Mueller’s prosecutors threatened to go after his son if he refused.

New Lawyer Discovers a Rat’s Nest

Since Powell took the reins of Flynn’s legal defense nearly a year ago, she has been busy reviewing the voluminous file Flynn’s former lawyers kept. In a court filing a little more than a week ago, Powell revealed she had discovered strong evidence supporting Flynn’s claim that federal prosecutors had threatened to target his son.

“We have a lawyers’ unofficial understanding that they are unlikely to charge Junior in light of the Cooperation Agreement,” one email read, referring to Flynn’s son, also named Michael Flynn. A second email proved even more damning, as Flynn’s lawyer suggested prosecutors were attempting to keep the Michael Flynn Jr. part of the deal secret to avoid having to reveal it to other defendants against whom Flynn senior might testify. (Disclosing such impeachment testimony is constitutionally mandated by the Giglio decision.)

“The government took pains not to give a promise to [defendant Flynn] regarding Michael Jr., so as to limit how much of a ‘benefit’ it would have to disclose as part of its Giglio disclosures to any defendant against whom MTF may one day testify,” Flynn’s attorney wrote in the email Powell attached to a supplemental filing in Flynn’s case.

This evidence confirms Flynn’s claim that he was coerced into the plea agreement. (It also provides an independent basis for a plea withdrawal, although outright dismissal is a more appropriate remedy to respond to the outrageous prosecutorial misconduct.) That coercion explains why Flynn would have pleaded guilty to lying when he did not knowingly misrepresent his conversation with the Russian ambassador to the FBI agents.

Now It All Starts to Make Sense

In fact, this scenario makes more sense than the “Flynn lied” script: Flynn, who had served in the Obama administration as the director of national intelligence, was well-versed in intelligence and would have known that his conversation with the Russian ambassador had been recorded. Flynn would have known that the FBI either already knew or could have easily learned the content of Flynn’s conversations. Flynn also violated no law in speaking with the Russian ambassador, so there was no reason to lie about the conversation.

Evidence that has trickled out over the last two years also indicates that the FBI agents did not believe Flynn had lied to them. Nearly two years ago, Andrew McCabe, the former deputy director of the FBI, testified in an executive session of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence that “the two people who interviewed [Flynn] didn’t think he was lying.”

Since then, we have learned from Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s report on Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) abuse that, prior to interviewing Flynn, FBI Agent Pientka had attended a briefing with then-candidate Trump and Flynn to assess Flynn’s demeanor. Pientka explained to the IG that he took “the opportunity to gain assessment and possibly have some level of familiarity with [Flynn],” such as learning “Flynn’s overall mannerisms.”

The IG report further noted that “in this instance it actually proved useful because [Pientka] was able to compare Flynn’s ‘norms’ from the briefing with Flynn’s conduct at the interview that [Pientka] conducted on January 24, 2017, in connection with the FBI’s investigation of Flynn.”

That the FBI agents who interviewed Flynn did not believe he was lying, including one agent who had previously interviewed the retired general to establish a baseline of Flynn’s demeanor and assess his “norms,” provides strong support for Flynn’s claim that he did not “knowingly and willfully” misrepresent his conversations with the Russian ambassador—the first element the government would need to establish to convict Flynn of violating Section 1001.

More Reasons Flynn Didn’t Break the Law

But the newly released documents now make clear that even if Flynn had “knowingly and willfully” misled the FBI, he still did not violate Section 1001, because his statements to the FBI were not concerning “a material fact.” As the Supreme Court has made clear, to be “material” a “statement must have ‘a natural tendency to influence, or [be] capable of influencing, the decision of the decisionmaking body to which it was addressed.’” So to be criminal, Flynn’s purported lies needed to be capable of influencing the FBI.

How could Flynn’s statements have influenced the FBI, given that the FBI knew exactly what Flynn said to the Russian ambassador before the agents interviewed him? But the law is clear that even if the government agent knows a statement is false, it can nonetheless be material because it could influence an investigation. Here is where the recently unsealed documents prove legally significant: There was no legitimate ongoing investigation of Flynn at the time of the interview!

On Thursday, we learned for the first time that in a January 4, 2017 email the FBI transmitted documentation to close the Crossfire Razor investigation into Flynn. The four-page closing document summarized the supposed basis for targeting Flynn, detailed the results of the FBI’s investigative efforts—no derogatory information—and concluded Flynn “was no longer a viable candidate as part of the larger Crossfire Hurricane umbrella case.”

A series of text messages released last week show that, 20 minutes later, Strzok desperately reached out to an unknown FBI agent telling the agent not to close out the Flynn investigation yet because the “7th floor” was now involved, meaning the upper leadership of the FBI. The exchanges noted they were trying to decide what to do with Flynn with regard to a matter that was redacted, but other texts indicated McCabe and Strzok were discussing interviewing Flynn.

Flynn’s Prosecutors Mislead the Court

Here the unsealing of Exhibit 3 completes the story. Exhibit 3 in the first of Powell’s recent supplemental filings consisted of a series of emails the FBI agents exchanged in preparation of the January 24, 2017 questioning of Flynn and handwritten notes attributed to McCabe and the now-retired assistant director of the FBI Counterintelligence Division, Bill Priestap. Those documents make clear that the FBI’s questioning of Flynn was unrelated to the Crossfire Hurricane investigation and that the FBI kept the investigation of Flynn open to provide a pretext to question him.

The FBI knew of those communications and nonetheless decided to close the investigation into Flynn.

This evidence refutes federal prosecutor Brandon Van Grack’s argument to the court that Flynn’s purported “false statements to the FBI on January 24, 2017, were absolutely material.” “At the time of the January 24 interview, the FBI was conducting a counterintelligence investigation into whether individuals associated with the campaign of then-candidate Donald J. Trump were coordinating with the Russian government in its activities to interfere with the 2016 presidential election,” the special counsel hold-over wrote in a brief to the court in opposition to Flynn’s motion to dismiss the case against him for egregious prosecutorial misconduct.

“The defendant’s conduct and communications with Russia went to the heart of that inquiry. Actions such as the defendant’s communications with the Russian Ambassador about U.S. Sanctions could have been indicative of such coordination,” Van Grack suggested.

But as the recently unsealed documents reveal, the FBI knew of those communications and nonetheless decided to close the investigation into Flynn, concluding Flynn “was no longer a viable candidate as part of the larger Crossfire Hurricane umbrella case.” That there was an official investigation still open on Flynn had nothing to do with there being a legitimate investigative purpose for questioning Flynn.

Rather, as Strzok and Page quipped in text exchanges unsealed last week, the FBI’s failure to have expeditiously closed the Strzok investigation was the result of their “utter incompetence” which, in their minds, proved to be “serendipitiously good.”

Without a legitimate investigative purpose for questioning Flynn, his statements—legally—could not be material within the meaning of Section 1001. Or, as Powell put it more bluntly to The Federalist, “there is no world in which Flynn’s statements to the agents in the scenario of this rank setup were material to any ‘investigation.’”

It’s a Trap!

Powell is correct. This was no investigation. This was a “rank setup.” It was in essence a perjury trap, where the “government questions a witness or the primary purpose of obtaining a statement from him in order to prosecute him later for perjury.” As the case law explains, “it involves the government’s use of its investigatory powers to secure a perjury indictment on materials which are neither material nor germane to a legitimate ongoing investigation.”

Remarkably—because who puts this stuff in writing!—Priestap’s handwritten notes released last week expose this reality: “What is our goal? Truth/Admission or to get him to lie, so we can prosecute him or get him fired?” he wrote, after recognizing the interview strategy devised the previous day made no sense from an investigative standpoint.

Even then, the only investigative standpoint the FBI agents floated concerned the Logan Act, and not the Crossfire Hurricane Investigation. There was no open Logan Act investigation into Flynn, and any such investigation would have been an illegitimate—and laughable—basis on which to question Flynn.

Mark Hemingway’s concise summary of the Logan Act sharpens this point:

Let’s talk about the Logan Act for a bit. Or rather, let’s talk about why serious people don’t talk about the Logan Act. The Logan Act is to national security laws about what phrenology is to medical science. Since its passage in 1799, no one’s ever been convicted under the Logan Act, and just about every legal expert agrees it is wildly unconstitutional and runs counter to the First Amendment. George Logan, the senator whose actions motivated the passage of the law, was never even charged under it. Seriously, the only man charged under the law was a Kentucky farmer who wrote a newspaper article in 1803 about American territories allying with France—and even he was never prosecuted. The fact the Logan Act is still on the books is an accident of history, and to the extent it has been discussed in modern times, it’s almost exclusively invoked by cranks and the conspiracy-minded.

To the “cranks and conspiracy-minded” chatting up the Logan Act, we can now add coup-fermenting FBI agents. No one ever took the Logan Act theory seriously, which is why the special counsel’s office and later the rag-tag remainderman of Van Grack never mentioned it as a justification for the interview of Flynn.

It Was Always a Trap

It was always a perjury trap to oust Flynn. The details dribbled out over the last two years tell that truth: the strategizing over how to put Flynn at ease; the back-and-forth over the required timing of the 1001 admonition (a warning to a target that lying to FBI agents is a federal offense); the plotting over how to frame that warning without alerting Flynn to the real purpose of their questioning; the FBI’s decision not to show Flynn the transcript of his call with the Russian ambassador, even though, as Priestap’s notes reveal, that would be the regular course of action.

Then, following his interview, even though Strzok didn’t believe Flynn had lied, Strzok was nonetheless giddy that Flynn had misremembered the details of his conversation with the Russian ambassador. “Describe the feeling, nervousness, excitement knowing we had just heard him denying it all. Knowing we’d have to pivot into asking. Puzzle round and round about it. Talk about the funny details. Remember what I said that made Andy [McCabe] laugh and ask if he really said that,” Strzok texted his mistress, FBI lawyer Lisa Page, as he left the White House after questioning Flynn.

These facts and many others reveal that Flynn did not—and could not—have violated Section 1001, because any misstatements were immaterial.

Special Counsel and Prosecutors Violated a Court Order

Last week’s revelations hold a second legal significance: They conclusively establish the special counsel’s office, and later the federal prosecutors handling the case, violated presiding Judge Emmet Sullivan’s standing order that directed the prosecution “to produce to defendant in a timely manner . . . any evidence in its possession that is favorable to defendant and material either to defendant’s guilt or punishment.”

Under normal circumstances, the government would be required under Brady v. Maryland to produce evidence that is material to a defendant’s guilt or punishment, including, as the Supreme Court later clarified in Giglio v. United States, impeachment evidence. But in his plea agreement, Flynn waived his right to obtain any additional evidence. Judge Sullivan’s order, however, trumped that waiver and thus the prosecution was required to comply with Brady and Giglio.

Yet Powell just now received these highly material documents—and only after U.S. Attorney General William Barr assigned an independent U.S. attorney to review the Flynn case. These documents are highly relevant to the question of materiality and whether there was a legitimate purpose for the interview of Flynn, or whether it was a perjury trap.

While the answer seems clear that it was the latter, even those who refuse to acknowledge the obvious should be able to see the significance of the emails, texts, and handwritten notes: Those documents would provide a defense attorney substantial ammunition for cross-examining the government’s witnesses in order to argue to the jury that the purported lies were immaterial.

Now We Know Why Prosecutors Hid the 302s

The documents released on Thursday also revealed a further Brady violation: the prosecution’s failure to turn over the original version of the 302 interview summary. Powell has long asked for the original 302, and now we know why: They were substantially revised by Strzok and Page.

What exactly the original 302 said before the edits is important to know.

“This document pisses me off,” Page texted Strzok, in reference to the 302 form Strzok had revised and emailed Page. “You didn’t even attempt to make this cogent and readable,” Page fumed. Strzok countered, “Lisa you didn’t see it before my edits that went into what I sent you.” He then explained that he was “trying to not completely re-write the thing so as to save [Pientka’s] voice,” and yet get it to her quickly for a general review. Strzok added that he had already incorporated Page’s earlier edits.

What exactly the original 302 said before the edits is important to know. Had FBI Agent Pientka spoken of his belief that Flynn had not knowingly lied in the interview? What exactly did Pientka report Flynn had told him and Strzok about his conversations with the Russian ambassador?

We already know from Powell’s other filings that the FBI made edits to other versions of the 302s, changing the content and context of Flynn’s statements and making it appear that Flynn had lied when he had not. We now know that even more substantial edits were made earlier to the original 302. This obvious Brady material should have been turned over to Flynn’s defense team long ago.

Hopefully, U.S. Attorney Jeff Jensen will uncover the original 302 in his continued probe into the Flynn case. The public, though, will have to wait some time to learn any more details, as late last week Judge Sullivan entered an order directing Powell not to file any additional supplements on Flynn’s behalf “until the government completes its final production from the review of the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Missouri.” Sullivan further ordered Jensen to file a notice on the public docket once it has provided Flynn the government’s final production.

There is no telling how long that will take, but in the interim, Powell should consider asking Judge Sullivan to vacate the protective order that prevents her from discussing or publishing the documents Jensen handed over. Flynn, who has been on trial in the court of public opinion for more than three years, deserves that much.

Margot Cleveland is a senior contributor to The Federalist. Cleveland served nearly 25 years as a permanent law clerk to a federal appellate judge and is a former full-time faculty member and adjunct instructor at the college of business at the University of Notre Dame. The views expressed here are those of Cleveland in her private capacity.

via Your Guide To The Obama Administration’s Hit On Michael Flynn — The Federalist

Forgiveness and Reconciliation: What Does the Bible Say About Forgiveness? — Radically Christian

On this episode of the Bible Study Podcast, Travis and Wes discuss a listener’s question about the difference between forgiveness and reconciliation. Is there a difference? Wes walks through the parable of the Unforgiving Servant, which reminds us that when we have an opportunity to forgive, we are being given the chance to reenact the forgiveness Christ has given us.

If you have a passage or topic you would like us to study, please send Wes an email or call and leave a short message at 707-238-2216. We may play your message on an upcoming episode of the Bible Study Podcast.

via Forgiveness and Reconciliation: What Does the Bible Say About Forgiveness? — Radically Christian