“He that takes truth for his guide, and duty for his end, may safely trust to God’s providence to lead him aright.” – Blaise Pascal. "There is but one straight course, and that is to seek truth and pursue it steadily" – George Washington letter to Edmund Randolph — 1795. We live in a “post-truth” world. According to the dictionary, “post-truth” means, “relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.” Simply put, we now live in a culture that seems to value experience and emotion more than truth. Truth will never go away no matter how hard one might wish. Going beyond the MSM idealogical opinion/bias and their low information tabloid reality show news with a distractional superficial focus on entertainment, sensationalism, emotionalism and activist reporting – this blogs goal is to, in some small way, put a plug in the broken dam of truth and save as many as possible from the consequences—temporal and eternal. "The further a society drifts from truth, the more it will hate those who speak it." – George Orwell “There are two ways to be fooled. One is to believe what isn’t true; the other is to refuse to believe what is true.” ― Soren Kierkegaard
Seek God in the Morning Matthew 6:6; Mark 1:35; Luke 5:16
He who runs from God in the morning will hardly find him at the close of the day; nor will he who begins with the world and the vanities thereof, in the first place, be very capable of walking with God all the day after. It is he who finds God in his closet that will carry the savor of him into his house, his shop, and his more open conversation.
Ritzema, E., & Vince, E. (Eds.). (2013). 300 Quotations for Preachers from the Puritans. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.
Intensely Hoping for a Resurrection Romans 8:19–22
There is no element and no part of the world which, being touched, as it were, with a sense of its present misery, does not intensely hope for a resurrection.
Ritzema, E. (2013). 300 Quotations for Preachers from the Reformation. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.
1:11 Paul did not claim humans have no self-determining freewill. As Rm 9 indicates, God is able to use even sinful human choices for his purposes. But the point here is that whatever God does for those in Christ, he does according to a carefully orchestrated plan for their benefit.
1:11 Christians have been predestined according to God’s plan. They come to faith in Christ not by chance, coercion, or unaided choice, but by the enabling of God’s Spirit.
1:11 Paul did not claim humans have no self-determining freewill. As Rm 9 indicates, God is able to use even sinful human choices for his purposes. But the point here is that whatever God does for those in Christ, he does according to a carefully orchestrated plan for their benefit. 1
:11 all things … his will. A sweeping statement on the extent of God’s will.
1:11we Reflecting Paul’s own ethnicity, “we” likely refers to Jews—God’s chosen people (in the ot) and those from whom the Messiah came (see Matt 10:5 and note, 10:6; 15:24 and note; Acts 1:8 and note; Rom 1:16 and note). This means that “you” often refers to Gentiles (non-Jews), including most of the believers in Ephesus and the surrounding areas (see Eph 2:11; 3:1). Compare note on 2:17.
were chosen From the Jewish perspective, this likely refers to the salvation brought about by the Jewish Messiah, Jesus. Such an understanding coheres with passages like Deut 7:6; 9:26; 14:2; 32:9.
1:11Obtained an inheritance seems the best rendering of the Greek verb that normally means “to allot [a portion].” Some believe the meaning is that God has claimed his own portion, the believing Jews (see v. 14). predestined. Making those who believe in him heirs with Christ was not an ad hoc event; God had planned it from all eternity. By definition God is sovereign, directing all things freely according to his royal counsel. This is in sharp contrast with the pagan gods of the time, who were understood to be often fickle or bound by an inscrutable and arbitrary fate. God’s predestination gives his people tremendous comfort, for they know that all who come to Christ do so through God’s enabling grace and appointment (see 2:8–10). Who works all things according to the counsel of his will is best understood to mean that every single event that occurs is in some sense predestined by God. At the same time, Paul emphasizes the importance of human responsibility, as is evident in all of the moral commands later in Ephesians (chs. 4–6) and in all of Paul’s letters. As Paul demonstrated in all of his remarkable efforts in spreading the gospel (Acts 13–28; cf. 2 Cor. 11:23–28), he believed that doing personal evangelism and making conscious choices to obey God are also absolutely essential in fulfilling God’s plan. God uses human means to fulfill what he has ordained. With regard to tragedies and evil, Paul and the other biblical writers never blame God for them (cf. Rom. 5:12; 2 Tim. 4:14; also Job 1:21–22). Rather, they see the doctrine of God’s sovereignty as a means of comfort and assurance (cf. Rom. 8:28–30), confident that evil will not triumph, and that God’s good plans for his people will be fulfilled. How God’s sovereignty and human responsibility work together in the world is a mystery no one can fully understand.
1:11 we have obtained an inheritance. Christ is the source of the believer’s divine inheritance, which is so certain that it is spoken of as if it has already been received. Cf. 1Co 3:22, 23; 2Pe 1:3, 4. having been predestined. Before the earth was formed, God sovereignly determined that every elect sinner—however vile, useless, and deserving of death—by trusting in Christ would be made righteous. See note on v. 4.who works all things. The word translated “works” is the same one from which “energy,” “energetic,” and “energize” are derived. When God created the world, He gave it sufficient energy to begin immediately to operate as He had planned. It was not simply ready to function, but was created functioning. As God works out His plan according to “the counsel of His will,” He energizes every believer with the power necessary for his spiritual completion (cf. Phil 1:6; 2:13).
1:11. Paul writes that in Christ we have obtained an inheritance. The past tense of the verb shows that the inheritance is guaranteed. All believers are “heirs of God” (Rom 8:17a). Sometimes believers confuse an inheritance with rewards. The inheritance in Eph 1:11 refers to what God freely gives to all believers because of their relationship in Christ. But being “joint heirs with Christ” (Rom 8:17b) is different. This refers to the fact that believers can earn the right to rule with Christ (2 Tim 2:12).
This inheritance had been predestined [planned beforehand] according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will. God had decided beforehand that all believers will have an inheritance.
1:11 One vital feature of the mystery is that believing Jews and believing Gentiles have their share in this grand program of God. The apostle speaks of the mystery in relation to Jewish believers in verses 11 and 12; in relation to Gentile believers in verse 13; then he combines them both in verse 14.
As for the Christians of Jewish ancestry, Paul writes, In Him also we have obtained an inheritance. Their right to a share is not based on their former national privileges, but solely on their union with Christ. The inheritance here looks forward to the time when they and all true believers will be manifested to an amazed world as the Body of Christ, the Bride of the Lamb.
From all eternity these Jewish Christians were marked out for this place of privilege by the sovereign will of God, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will.
1:11. Finally, in Christ, we are enriched. We have been chosen and predestined according to God’s plan to receive an inheritance which we will possess in full when we stand before him in heaven. This inheritance is not an accident or a whim. It is in keeping with God’s plan for us from the beginning.
NASB, NKJV, NRSV
“we have obtained an inheritance”
“God chose us to be his own people”
“we have received our heritage”
This is literally “we were chosen as an inheritance,” an AORIST PASSIVE INDICATIVE. Originally in the OT this referred only to the Levites (the tribe of Levi became the priests, Temple servants, and local teachers of the Law), who did not inherit land in the Promised Land (cf. Num. 18:20; Deut. 10:9; 12:12; 14:27, 29). It came to refer to the truth that God Himself is the inheritance of all believers and they are His (cf. Ps. 16:5; 73:26; 119:57; Lam. 3:24). It also came to be a metaphor for God’s people (cf. Deut. 4:20; 7:6; 9:26, 29; 14:2; 2 Sam. 21:3; 1 Kgs. 8:51, 53; 2 Kgs. 21:14; Ps. 28:9; 33:12; 68:9; 78:62, 71; 94:14; 106:5, 40; Isa. 19:25; 47:6; 63:17; Jer. 10:16; 51:19). The NT replaces the promises of a land with the promise of being part of God’s family. NT writers universalize the Jewish-Greek distinction into the believer-unbeliever model. The same is true of the city of Jerusalem which becomes the New Jerusalem, which is a metaphor of heaven, not a geographical location.
11. in whom we—I, Paul, and you, the addressed—also have been made heirs. Note the word “also,” meaning: not only did we, in vital union with Christ, receive such blessings as redemption, forgiveness of sin, and spiritual illumination (wisdom, insight), favors which have already been mentioned (verses 7–10 above) but, in addition to these initial favors, which, though they have abiding significance, focus the attention upon the past (deliverance from that terrible power by which we were bound, pardon of past sins, banishment of former darkness), the right to future glory was bestowed upon us. “We were made heirs,” says Paul. Heirs are those who, apart from any merit of theirs, were given the right to all the blessings of salvation in Jesus Christ, nevermore to lose them. The inheritance is given to them in two stages: certain blessings are bestowed upon them in the here and now, others in the hereafter (see on verses 13 and 14 below).
The objection might occur, “But will all the blessings of salvation—future as well as present—really be ours? Does God’s plan for our lives also secure the future?” The apostle answers this by continuing: having been foreordained according to the purpose of him who accomplishes all things according to the counsel of his will. Neither fate nor human merit determines our destiny. The benevolent purpose—that we should be holy and faultless (verse 4), Sons of God (verse 5), destined to glorify him forever (verse 6, cf. verses 12 and 14)—is fixed, being part of a larger, universe-embracing plan. Not only did God make this plan that includes absolutely all things that ever take place in heaven, on earth, and in hell; past, present, and even the future, pertaining to both believers and unbelievers, to angels and devils, to physical as well as spiritual energies and units of existence both large and small; he also wholly carries it out. His providence in time is as comprehensive as is his decree from eternity. Literally Paul states that God works (operates with his divine energy in) all things. The same word occurs also in verses 19 and 20, which refer to the working (energetic operation) of the infinite might of the Father of glory, which he wrought (energetically exerted) in Christ when he raised him from the dead. Hence, nothing can upset the elect’s future glory.
Moreover, although everything is included in God’s universe-embracing plan and in its effectuation in the course of history, there is nothing in this thought that should scare any of the children of God. Quite the contrary, for the words clearly imply that the only true God, who in Christ loves his own with a love that passes all understanding, acts with divine deliberation and wisdom. All his designs are holy, and he delights to reward those who trust in him. Human responsibility and the self-activity of faith are never violated in any way. There is plenty of room for them in the decree and in its effectuation. Scripture is very clear on this (Luke 22:22; Acts 2:23; Phil. 2:12, 13; 2 Thess. 2:13).
Besides, God is not like the heathen deities who are moved by changing circumstances, by whim and caprice, so that one never knows how long their favor is going to last. He who in his love has foreordained his people to adoption as sons will never forsake them, but will finish that which he began in them (Phil. 1:6). He will carry out his plan to the very finish. Nothing will ever be able to frustrate his design. “Nor sin, nor death, nor hell can move his firm predestinating love.”
Ver. 11. In whom also we have obtained an Inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of Him who worketh all things after the council of His own will.—
Priority in the purpose of redemption:—The connecting thought is the divulging of the purpose of redemption (ver. 9), in which there is development and a consummation (Ver. 10).
I. The earlier born. Jewish Christians are described as those who before hoped in Christ. The hoping in Him before He came implies the trusting in Him as come, and it is as believers that they were made possessors, of the inheritance. Why were they thus the first in privilege? “To the praise of His glory.” It must have been the best method by which God could accomplish the end He had in view.
II. The later born. Gentile Christians.
III. The earlier born and the later born have certain things in common. 1. A common seal. (1) What the seal is—the Holy Spirit of promise. (2) What is sealed on us—the Divine image. (3) What is sealed to us—that we are the sons of God. 2. A common guarantee. (1) To what the guarantee pertains—our inheritance. (2) How far the guarantee extends—until the redemption of the purchased possession. (3) In what the guarantee consists—the earnest of the Spirit. 3. They can join in a common doxology. (R. Finlayson.)
The Christian inheritance:—1. It is implied in this that it is a good of a most substantial and enduring kind. It is worthy of the soul of man with all its cravings, aspirations, and desires, when these, too, have been purified, ennobled, and strengthened in the highest degree. 2. The second reflection we would point out from the expression here used, is that our everlasting happiness is a free gift from God. It is an inheritance; and what can be less merited on our part than that which we inherit by the will and deed of another? (W. Alves, M.A.)
Heaven through Christ alone:—In the terms of a court of law, it is theirs, not by conquest, but by heritage. Won by another arm than theirs, it presents the strongest imaginable contrast to the spectacle seen in England’s palace that day when the king demanded to know of his assembled nobles, by what title they held their lands? “What title?” At the rash question a hundred swords leapt from their scabbards. Advancing on the alarmed monarch—“By these,” they replied, “we won, and by these we will keep them.” How different the scene which heaven presents! All eyes are fixed on Jesus; every look is love; gratitude glows in every bosom, and swells in every song. (T. Guthrie, D.D.)
God accomplishes His purposes gradually:—Paul has just said that it is the Divine purpose to “sum up all things in Christ, the things in the heavens and the things upon the earth.” This is the destiny of the universe. Unmeasured ages of imperfection, conflict, sin, and suffering lie behind us; and it may be that there are unmeasured ages of imperfection, conflict, sin, and suffering still to come. But at last the whole creation is to illustrate and fulfil the Divine thought, and is to reach its perfect unity and ideal perfection in Christ. That coarse conception of the Divine omnipotence which assumes that a Divine purpose is never obstructed or delayed, and that every Divine volition is immediately accomplished, receives no sanction either from the Jewish or the Christian Scriptures. It receives no sanction from those discoveries of God which are accessible through the physical universe and through the moral nature of man. It looks as though God did nothing at a single stroke, nothing by an immediate and irresistible exercise of mere force. It is His will that the summer should be beautiful with flowers, and that the autumn should bring the brown corn and the purple grapes; but flowers and grapes and corn are not commanded to appear suddenly, out of nothing; the Divine will accomplishes itself gradually, and by processes extremely complex and subtle. The world itself came to be a fit home for our race as the result of a history extending over vast and awful tracts of time. God intended that it should become what it now is; but His intention was accomplished by the action, through age after age, of the immense forces which are under His control. “Fire and hail, snow and vapour, and the stormy wind,” have fulfilled His word. He gave a commission to millions upon millions of living creatures to build the limestone rocks. Through untold centuries vast forests grew and perished, to form the coal measures. Volcanic eruptions, frost and heat, the slow movements of glaciers, the swift rush of rivers, have all had their work to do in bringing the earth which is our home into its present condition. This seems to be the Divine manner of working. The Divine purposes are not achieved suddenly. God “fainteth not, neither is He weary.” Chaos, with all its confusions, is only gradually being reduced to order; the great work is not completed yet; it will reach its term only when all things are finally summed up in Christ. The same law holds in relation to the moral and spiritual universe. We see it illustrated within narrow limits in the individual lives of good men. They only gradually approach the Divine conception of what they ought to be; their perfection is not consummated in an hour; their knowledge of God and of the will of God gradually widens and deepens; their moral and religious strength is very slowly augmented. It is God’s will that they should know Him, and know their duty, but they have to be taught. It is God’s will that they should be righteous, but they have to be disciplined to righteousness. The law is illustrated on a larger scale in the religious history of the race. The great revelation of God in Christ was not made in the earlier ages of the world. There was a long preparation for it. God began with the most elementary moral truths, and with the most elementary religious truths. He taught and disciplined the elect race by picture lessons, by a visible temple, a human priesthood, and a whole system of external rites and ceremonies. There were faint prophecies of the future redemption, but at first they were so obscure as to excite only the most vague and undefined hopes of a Divine deliverance from the evils by which human life was oppressed; and when they became clearer and more vivid, they were easily misunderstood. One generation of saints after another passed away, and the Divine purpose was still delayed. And even when the Christ came at last and the kingdom of heaven was set up among men, the hopes excited by that transcendent manifestation of God were not at once fulfilled. After eighteen hundred years the final triumph of the Divine righteousness and love seems still remote. (R. W. Dale, LL.D.)
God’s sovereign will:—
I. The will of God is the sovereign guide of all things, both natural and spiritual, in the world and in the Church. 1. His sovereign rill is that His people should be saved (Jer. 23:6; Jer. 30:10; Isa. 49:25). 2. That they should be saved by coming to Christ (John 6:37; Rom. 5:1; 1 Cor. 15:57). 3. That they should be holy (1 Thess. 4:7; Heb. 12:10, 14).
II. The Divine will is the result of God’s counsel. 1. This counsel was Divine (Psa. 89:1–4; 2 Tim. 1:9). 2. It was a wise counsel (1 Cor. 1:24; 1 Cor. 2:7; Eph. 3:9, 11). 3. It was an efficient counsel (Isa. 46:10; Isa. 53:10; Psa. 105:3; Eccles. 3:14).
III. That the triune Jehovah worketh all things according to the purpose of His own will. 1. This is evident in the choice of His people (2 Thess. 2:13; Tit. 3:5). 2. He works out their new birth by the Spirit (Eph. 2:10). 3. He works all things for the preservation of His people and their comfort by faith (Rom. 8:28; John 1:12; Acts 16:31). (T. B. Baker.)
Doctrine of predestination:—I look upon this earth in which I live. I find it grasped and girded by God’s all-embracing laws, as of gravitation, of the ebb and flow of the tides, of light, of the procession of the seasons—all utterly and absolutely beyond my control. They reach above, beneath, around, within me; I cannot touch them. There they are, unalterable, unswerving, necessitated; in its profoundest sense predestinated. And what is the issue of obedience to these laws? (A. B. Grosart, LL.D.)
Happiness in the measure of such obedience:—Is that no revelation of the character of the God of the universe? No revelation? I could shut my Bible, and from creation, from the meanest flower that blows, up to the stars that hang like lamps before the great white throne, find infinite proofs that my God is also my Father. Exactly so; I cannot tell how free-will, choice, contingency accord with predestination, election, fore-ordination, substitution. I do not feel that I am called upon to do so. But, as we have seen, our own consciousness attests the former, while the Word of God recognizes and addresses them, recognizes and addresses man as free to think, feel, will, choose, reject. Equally does the Word of God affirm the latter. I therefore accept them also, and can defer knowing how the All-wise harmonizes them, until He is pleased to reveal them to me. Nay more, I have deepest belief that even as the physical world is grasped and girded by its great laws, so must the other and grander world of mind have underneath it—like the granite base of the everlasting hills; above it—like the dome of the sky—kindred laws. These laws I recognize and accept in predestination, election, fore-ordination, substitution. Remove the law of gravitation, and many a fair star “flaming on the forehead of the sky,” yea, the big sun, and the whole stupendous universe, would rush to ruin, and wander off from the throne of God. Similarly, I believe, remove the laws of predestination, and you snap the many-linked chain that binds man to God. And just as I have the power to violate God’s great laws, to my destruction, so may I His laws in the plan of redemption, equally to my destruction. Obey His physical laws, and until the appointed hour I live. Obey His spiritual laws; accept “eternal life” according to His predestinated way, even in and from God the Son, as offered in the gospel—and I am saved. (Ibid.)
God’s predestination overruling man’s presumption:—It is said, that on the eve of Napoleon’s departure on his Russian campaign, he related his schemes in detail to a noble lady, with such arrogant positiveness, that she tried to check him, exclaiming, “Sire, man proposes, but God disposes.” To which the emperor haughtily replied, “Madame, I propose and dispose also.” We find how, but a few months later, the disastrous retreat from Moscow, and the loss of his crown, army, and liberty vindicated the power of God. The purpose of Him who worketh all things after the counsel of His own will.—
God’s effectual working:—1. Being in Christ, we find not only righteousness, but life everlasting. (1) In this life we receive the firstfruits, “the earnest of the Spirit.” Wards, while in their minority, have some allowance from their inheritance; and parents will prove their children with a small allowance, to see how they will behave, before they place in their charge the full estate they mean to leave them; and so does God. (2) We receive the fulness in the life to come. (a) Prerogatives, kings and priests to God, &c. (b) Glory put Upon our persons; the soul filled with the light of knowledge, &c. (c) Things given us to possess. “All things are yours.” 2. The ground of all these benefits is our predestination. 3. Everything which comes about is God’s effectual working. (1) He originally made all things out of nothing. (2) He continually sustains all things by His power. (3) He directs all things according to His own will. 4. Whatever God works or wills, He does it with counsel. (1) Let this assure us that all things are working together for good. (2) Let rash, self-willed persons take example by their Maker, who does nothing unadvisedly. 5. What God wills, He brings about—“effectually working.” Where there is full power to work anything applied to the working of it, the thing wrought must needs follow. (Paul Bayne.)
God’s decrees:—of the counsel or purpose of God concerning all His works or all things in general. Here let us consider—1. The extent or objects of God’s purposes. 2. The properties of them.
I. As to the extent or objects of God’s purposes, it appeaers that everything which happens has a place in the Divine decrees in a manner suitable to its nature. And, indeed, if we go about to except anything, there would be no knowing where to stop: such is the series and connection of one with another. Let us take a brief survey of some instances, especially such as relate to our world. As (1) The work of creation with all the effects of God’s providence over the natural world. (2) The purpose of God has before determined all the great revolutions and events of nations, kingdoms, and societies of men. (3) All events that befall particular persons in this world were likewise settled by a Divine decree. (4) The actions of men also are not exempted from God’s previous purpose. (5) The dispensation of the gospel and means of grace, the revelations of the Divine will which have had a respect all along to the economy of salvation by Christ as well as that economy itself, were adjusted in the counsels of God. These revelations were appointed to be made in that variety of ways, and in those parts and degrees, as also to such persons, and at such and for so long a time as has since fallen and will fall out.
II. As to the properties of God’s decrees. (1) They are sovereign and free acts of His will. God, though a necessary Being, is not a necessary Agent. To suppose this would be to make Him no Agent at all. (2) They are eternal. Not indeed in the same absolute sense as God’s nature is, which always was, and could not but be what it is. For how would that consist with their being acts of will and liberty? But they are so eternal, as that it is impossible to assign or conceive any time when they were first formed. (3) They are infinitely wise. For they form a scheme of a prodigious compass, which reaches to endless ages, and whose various parts are all laid out and disposed together for execution in the best manner and to the best ends. (4) They are holy (Psa. 145:17). Consequently He is holy in all His purposes, which are the beginning of His ways, and which are accomplished in them. The infinite rectitude and blessedness of God is sufficient security, that He could neither design nor act anything contrary to justice and goodness. His counsels of old are faithfulness and truth (Isa. 25:1). Let us now briefly improve this subject. 1. Hence we learn that there is no such thing as chance or necessary fate, or the supreme independent government of two opposite principles, good and evil, but all events are subject to the purpose and providence of one intelligent, all-knowing, infinitely wise, powerful, holy and good Being. Nothing can ever arise to surprise Him, or cast any difficulty and perplexity on His way, He having already from eternity settled the proper measures of conduct in every case that shall emerge. 2. Let us own, and let us quietly submit to the supreme will of God as fulfilled in all that befalls us. We should consider that, even when we suffer wrongfully from men, the will of God so is (1 Pet. 3:17). Let us then receive all our allotments with this language of resignation, “The will of the Lord be done” (Acts 21:14). 3. This doctrine of God’s decrees may inspire us with a good confidence about the final issue of all things. How securely may we trust in God for a fair account at last of the worst appearances of the most corrupt and disorderly state of the world, since they have not escaped His eternal foresight and provision! 4. What a spring is it, too, of generous, brave, and noble undertakings in the cause of God! When we believe that He has taken, even from eternity, the wisest and best care of all events, what remains for us to care about, but only to do our duty, and to apply to it so much the more vigorously, as we have no need to distract our minds about the issues of things! With what serenity and fortitude may a good man commit himself to God in well-doing! Application: What abundant cause does this excellent order which God observed in framing the world, as well as the quality of the creatures, which had all their parts fitted to a proper use, and were made subservient to one another for the good of all, afford us to break forth into that celebration of Divine wisdom! (Psa. 104:24, “O Lord, how manifold are Thy works! in wisdom hast Thou made them all!”). Thus also the new creation of grace in Christ Jesus is executed gradually after the same model, which is the more from hence confirmed to be a point of wisdom and beauty. And how will the conducting it from a spiritual chaos of darkness and wild disorder through various periods and gradations to a glorious issue excite the most ravishing admiration in the saints, when they shall be able to carry their views from the beginning to the end of both these creations at once? How should we adore likewise the Divine power as infinitely great and wonderful in creation? Here, as in its proper province, omnipotence acted illustriously from first to last, and was only laid open to a more distinct survey in the wise order of its procedure. (J. Hubbard.)
Of the decrees of God:—
I. I am to explain the nature of a decree. The text calls it a purpose, a will. For God to decree is to purpose and fore-ordain, to will and appoint that a thing shall be or not be. And such decrees must needs be granted, seeing God is absolutely perfect, and therefore nothing can come to pass without His will; seeing there is an absolute and necessary dependence of all things and persons on God as the first cause. But there is a vast difference betwixt the decrees of God and men; whereof this is the principal. Men’s purposes or decrees are distinct from themselves, but the decrees of God are not distinct from Himself. God’s decrees are nothing else but God Himself, who is one simple act; and they are many only in respect of their objects, not as they are in God; even as the one heat of the sun melts wax and hardens clay.
II. I proceed to consider the object of God’s decrees. This is whatsoever comes to pass. He worketh all things, says the text. We may consider the extent of the Divine decree under the three following heads. 1. God has decreed the creation of all things that have a being. 2. He has decreed to rule and govern the creatures which He was to make. He has decreed the eternal state of all His rational creatures.
III. I come to consider the end of God’s decrees. And this is no other than His own glory. Every rational agent acts for an end; and God being the most perfect agent, and His glory the highest end, there can be no doubt but all His decrees are directed to that end. 1. This was God’s end in the creation of the world. The Divine perfections are admirably glorified here, not only in regard of the greatness of the effect, which comprehends the heavens and the earth, and all things therein; but in regard of the marvellous way of its production. 2. The glory of God was His chief end and design in making men and angels. The rest of the creatures glorified God in an objective way, as they are evidences and manifestations of His infinite wisdom, goodness, and power. But this higher rank of beings are endued with rational faculties, and so are capable to glorify God actively. Hence it is said (Prov. 16:4), “The Lord hath made all things for Himself.” If all things were made for Him, then man and angels especially, who are the masterpieces of the whole creation. We have our rise and being from the pure fountain of God’s infinite power and goodness; and therefore we ought to run towards that again, till we empty all our faculties and excellencies into that same ocean of Divine goodness. 3. This is likewise the end of election and predestination. 4. This was the end that God proposed in that great and astonishing work of redemption. In our redemption by Christ we have the fullest, clearest, and most delightful manifestation of the glory of God that ever was or shall be in this life.
IV. I come now to consider the properties of God’s decrees. 1. They are eternal. God makes no decrees in time, but they were all from eternity. So the decree of election is said to have been “before the foundation of the world” (Eph. 1:4). 2. They are most wise, “according to the counsel of His will.” God cannot properly deliberate or take counsel, as men do; for He sees all things together and at once. 3. They are most free, according to the counsel of His own will; depending on no other, but all flowing from the mere pleasure of His own will (Rom. 11:34). “For who hath known the mind of the Lord, or who hath been His counsellor?” 4. They are unchangeable. 5. They are most holy and pure. 6. They are effectual. Whatever God decrees comes to pass infallibly (Isa. 46:10). I conclude all with a few inferences. 1. Has God decreed all things that come to pass? Then there is nothing that falls out by chance, nor are we to ascribe what we meet with either to good or ill luck and fortune. 2. Hence we see God’s certain knowledge of all things that happen in the world, seeing His knowledge is founded on His decree. As He sees all things possible in the glass of His own power, so He sees all things to come in the glass of His own will; of His effecting will, if He hath decreed to produce them; and of His permitting will, if He hath decreed to suffer them. 3. Whoever be the instruments of any good to us, of whatever sort, we must look above them, and eye the hand and counsel of God in it, which is the first spring, and be duly thankful to God for it. And whatever evil of crosses or afflictions befalls us, we must look above the instruments of it to God. 4. See here the evil of murmuring and complaining at our lot in the world. How apt are ye to quarrel with God, as if He were in the wrong when His dealings with you are not according to your own desires and wishes? You demand a reason, and call God to an account, Why am I thus? But you should remember that this is to defame the counsels of infinite wisdom, as if God had not ordered your affairs wisely enough in His eternal counsel. 5. There is no reason for people to excuse their sins and falls, from the doctrine of the Divine decrees. Wicked men, when they commit some villainy or atrocious crime, are apt to plead thus for their excuse, Who can help it? God would have it so; it was appointed for me before I was born, so that I could not avoid it. This is a horrid abuse of the Divine decrees, as if they did constrain men to sin: whereas the decree is an immanent act of God, and so can have no influence, physical or moral, upon the wills of men, but leaves them to the liberty and free choice of their own hearts; and what sinners do, they do most freely and of choice. 6. Let the people of God comfort themselves in all cases by this doctrine of the Divine decrees; and, amidst whatever befalls them, rest quietly and submissively in the bosom of God, considering that whatever comes or can come to pass, proceeds from the decree of their gracious Friend and reconciled Father. (T. Boston, D.D.)
The Divine decrees and the free agency of man:—
I. To explain and establish the doctrine of the Divine decrees. The Divine decrees are the eternal purpose, will, or plan of God, whereby He hath, for His own glory, predetermined whatsoever has, or shall come to pass. 1. This purpose is eternal. If, therefore, God has existed from eternity, He has known from eternity what is the best plan by which to govern the universe; He has from eternity had a preference for that which is best, and from eternity determined to adopt and pursue it, and that is all that is intended by His eternal purpose—the determination of God, from all eternity, to do that, in every possible case, which it appeared most desirable to Himself that He should do. 2. His purpose is immutable. It cannot alter. An alteration in the Divine purpose would necessarily imply an alteration in the Divine mind, which would be, in fact, to suppose a fickle, changeable God. 3. His purpose is sovereign—not arbitrary. There are some who always understand the word sovereign as though it were synonymous with arbitrary; and, therefore, reject the idea of the Divine sovereignty altogether. No; in the purpose of God there is an end to be secured infinitely worthy of Himself, namely, His own glory; and that purpose is nothing more than the determination to secure this end by the best possible means. The sovereignty of His purpose lies in this, that it is perfectly independent of His foreknowledge, as its cause; and that in the adoption and prosecution of it, He is not, in any way, responsible to any of His creatures.
II. To state what is necessary to the constitution of a free agent, or accountable creature, and to shew that man is such a creature. 1. To constitute an accountable creature, or a free agent, there must be intelligence. 2. The exercise of will is absolutely essential to free agency, and it is in this especially that our own consciousness informs us our free agency consists. The actions which are not the result of choice or will, but contrary to it, are not, properly speaking, our own. 3. Where actions are concerned, sufficiency of means is also requisite to the constitution of a free agent, or an accountable creature. No man can be justly chargeable with guilt, in failing to accomplish what he had not sufficiency of means to perform.
III. That the divine decrees, thus understood, and the free agency of man, thus defined, are not incompatible the one with the other; in other words, that the purpose of God does not destroy the freedom of human actions. If, indeed, the doctrine of the Divine purpose be established, and the free agency of man admitted, then the proposition is at once demonstrated. It is not the fact, but the mode of that fact which is the subject of inquiry, 1. Hypothetical reasoning, or reasoning by supposition, is a legitimate mode of argument on topics such as these, where the object is not so much to establish the truth of a doctrine or proposition, as to show the possibility of its existence, by an appeal to some supposable cases. There are only two ways in which the Divine purpose or decree can be supposed to affect the free agency of man—either by rendering his actions certain, before they take place; or by compelling or constraining those actions against his will. Now, can we not suppose a finite being in every sense perfectly free—a being under no system of moral government whatever, left in every respect to himself, and whose actions should be, in the philosophical sense of the word, contingent? Would not such a being be allowed to possess every requisite qualification of a free agent? But the circumstance that all the actions of that being, and every volition of his mind, are perfectly foreknown by God, would not render them less free. 2. But we may appeal, as another ground of argument on this difficult subject, to our own consciousness. Are we ever conscious, either in our vicious or virtuous actions, of acting against our inclination? Were we ever conscious of choosing a thing against our choice, or of preferring a line of conduct contrary to our preference? 3. But we shall finally appeal to some scriptural illustrations of the doctrine. The first we shall introduce is that furnished by the text. Now the counsel and purpose of God are infallibly certain, but faith in Christ is the voluntary act of an intelligent creature; by this we mean, an act done with the full consent of the will. It may be asked, then, “Is the will of man free to receive or free to reject Christ, so that it can as easily do the one as the other?” We answer, No; for by reason of the Fall, his will has naturally a bias to that which is evil, and would, therefore, in every case, without a Divine influence, reject Christ. Here, then, is the difference between free agency and free will. A free agent is one who has the power of willing and of acting according as his will shall dictate! but free will, in its popular sense, is an ability, in the will itself, to choose good or evil; and this is not the case with man; for the will that spontaneously and of itself chooses holiness, cannot be a depraved will; this supposition would, therefore, falsify the doctrine of human depravity, and, at the same time, annihilate the doctrine of the influence of the Holy Spirit; for the will that can choose holiness without a Divine influence, does not require a Divine influence; and, therefore, the office of the Holy Spirit is, in that case, unnecessary. The will, indeed, is uncoerced; the idea of a coerced will is absurd. But the will of a finite being is limited and bounded by the circumstances of his nature, and in man that nature being fallen, limits the exercises of his will to that only which is in harmony with his fallen nature. While the will to sin, then, is perfectly free (we use the term as opposed to coercion), he cannot, from the very necessity of his nature, will holiness without a Divine influence on the heart; and that influence is such as not to coerce the will, or render the will to holiness less free than was the previous will to sin. The one was the will of a corrupt and depraved nature—the other is the will of a renewed nature, both equally uncoerced; but, in the one instance, the principle was from within himself—in the other, it was from God. (T. Raffles, D.D.)
Predestination:—When St. Paul speaks of our being predestinated or fore-ordained, he is speaking about this nature of ours and what it was made for? He says in effect, that the idea of a thing is in the constitution of the thing itself—but it is also in the mind of God before it is in our mind. Fore-ordination is that to which the thing was ordained before it was actually made. The idea of this building was in the mind of the architect before it was ever put on paper, before it was ever translated into material visibility. And the idea of every part of it was in other minds before it was in his. The idea of Gothic architecture was suggested to the mind of the first man who attempted it, by an avenue of trees, their branches hanging towards each other, forming a peculiar kind of arch. The idea of man and the destiny of man was in the Divine mind before this world was. Man was made according to a Divine idea, and for a definite purpose. Now, when Jesus Christ comes into the world Paul sees that there is God’s idea and purpose for man fully and clearly revealed. And so he begins to speak of that for which man was predestinated; of that for which he was fore-ordained. His mind is full of it. It does not depress him; it inspires him; animates him, makes life purer and sweeter, grander and more glorious. So much so, that in speaking to the Romans with these ideas of predestination in his mind, he cries out, “If God be for us, who can be against us.” Fore-ordination is God for us, according to the apostle. Predestination is God for us, according to the apostle. And there can be no room for doubt that to the mind of St. Paul these ideas had nothing in them of gloom or depression. But they have been so used as to bring gloom and depression to many minds. Predestination means purpose. It implies an end. And it implies the provision necessary to carry out that purpose and to accomplish that end. Rightly viewed, it means that the Creator does not work at random, nor blindly, but according to a preconceived idea and along the line of the law which leads up to making that idea into a fact. In every department of life there is the perfect type. The perfect thing is the complete thing—that which cannot be improved upon. To me predestination speaks of the end which God had in making man, of the type of man that the Creator intended, and of the unchangeable purpose that He has to produce that type—that type, the perfection and consummation of which we have in Jesus the Christ. A man conformed to that type is a man after God’s own heart; not conformed to it he is breaking away from the destiny which God intended for him. (Reuen Thomas.)
11. In Christ, the calling of believers involves being claimed as a possession of God. This is a result of the programme God is working out according to his will. Believers have been allotted a place with God. We become God’s own possession, predestined as part of the purpose of him who accomplishes all things according to the counsel of his will. The key verb in this part of the praise is klēroō. It refers to something received or appointed by lot (1 Sam. 14:41). This term appears only here in the New Testament. Here the picture is of an inheritance or a group God has taken possession of as his own. It has fallen to us to be his. Colossians 1:12 is similar in force, looking to the believer’s allotment with the saints. Ephesians 1:18 points to the riches of God’s inheritance. In making us his own, God has also given us benefits. What exactly does inheritance mean? Do we have an inheritance, with the stress being on what we have received, or are we the inheritance, something God possesses of which we are a part? The stress in the note of praise is on how we are related to God and his actions. This fits the idea that we are a people for God’s possession, something that makes us precious not just because of what we have but because of who God has made us. Either way, this act and our secure place before God was and is intentional. Just as Israel was called to be God’s special people, so are those who are in Christ (Deut. 32:9). The predestination of this according to the purpose of the counsel of God’s will is an idea repeated from verses 4–5, making it almost a refrain in the passage. Our experience of grace is no accident. It is a key part of all the things God sought to accomplish in Christ.
11. Through whom also we have obtained an inheritance. Hitherto he has spoken generally of all the elect; he now begins to take notice of separate classes. When he says, we have obtained, he speaks of himself and of the Jews, or, perhaps more correctly of all who were the first fruits of Christianity; and afterwards he comes to the Ephesians. It tended not a little to confirm the faith of the Ephesian converts, that he associated them with himself and the other believers, who might be said to be the first-born in the church. As if he had said, “The condition of all godly persons is the same with yours; for we who were first called by God owe our acceptance to his eternal election.” Thus, he shews, that, from first to last, all have obtained salvation by free grace, because they have been freely adopted according to eternal election.
Who worketh all things. The circumlocution employed in describing the Supreme Being deserves attention. He speaks of Him as the sole agent, and as doing everything according to His own will, so as to leave nothing to be done by man. In no respect, therefore, are men admitted to share in this praise, as if they brought anything of their own. God looks at nothing out of himself to move him to elect them, for the counsel of his own will is the only and actual cause of their election. This may enable us to refute the error, or rather the madness, of those who, whenever they are unable to discover the reason of God’s works, exclaim loudly against his design.
Inheritance (v. 11)
We have been predestined not only to adoption and to holiness (vv. 4–5), but also to “an inheritance,” Paul says in verse 11. But what is that “inheritance”? Does Paul have in mind the list that we have been piecing together over the last few paragraphs? In other words, are sanctification, adoption, redemption, and forgiveness our “inheritance”? Or is Paul thinking in this verse about our “inheritance” in heaven? Perhaps both! We do have a great many spiritual blessings, even now, do we not? But, all the more thrilling, these things will be perfected when our “inheritance” is deeded over in full, someday, in heaven! Moreover, on that day we will see Jesus face to face! We will see the nail prints in his hands and feet, and be with him forever! What an “inheritance”! What a reason to say with Paul, “Blessed be God”!
God’s Heart (1:11a)
“In him we were also chosen,” says Paul (Eph. 1:11). The words echo what has already been said about all believers earlier in this long sentence: “[God] chose us in him” (Eph. 1:4). Our tendency in English is simply to insert a form of the verb “to be” to make sense of this phrase, “God chose us (to be) in him.” But the meaning is deeper and different than that. If we were chosen to be in him, then the focus is on the end of the process, or what results. And while that truth is present, the focus is more on the origin of God’s choosing than its end results. Although the NIV offers the translation “chose” and “chosen” for the verbs in both verses 4 and 11, in actuality the words in Greek, while overlapping conceptually, are distinct. Here the Greek word (eklērōthēmen) indicates that “we are apportioned as an inheritance.” The passive voice favors the notion that “we” are those who are made to be the inheritance rather than those who have obtained an inheritance. The apostle is making it clear that God’s love is based on something in his heart rather than on anything that we would achieve or claim for ourselves—just as an heir does not inherit because of what he has gained but because of what his father gives.
The chosen people of Israel were not chosen because of anything in them. They were not more holy, more numerous, or more distinguished than any other nation. Moses tells the people in Deuteronomy, “The Lord your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be his people, his treasured possession. The Lord did not set his affection on you and choose you because you were more numerous than other peoples, for you were the fewest” (Deut. 7:6–7); and, “It is not because of your righteousness or integrity that … the Lord your God is giving you this good land to possess, for you are a stiff-necked people. Remember this and never forget how you provoked the Lord your God to anger in the desert” (Deut. 9:5–7). As the Old Testament people of God were called God’s inheritance (e.g., Deut. 4:20; 9:29; 32:8–9; Ps. 33:12; 1 Kings 8:51), so too his new covenant people are God’s portion and inheritance (Eph. 1:18). This apportioning is according to God’s own choice (he is the agent—implied in the passive verb—who apportions the inheritance), which is further emphasized by Paul when he discusses God’s predestining purpose.
Why were the people to remember that their God loved them because of what was in his heart rather than what was in theirs? So that the people would “know therefore that the Lord your God is God” (Deut. 7:9). The concept of choosing, which sometimes raises questions about God’s fairness, is actually being used here to comfort God’s people. Paul wants everyone to remember that we are loved not because of what is in us but because of what is in God. The loving faithfulness of God that is revealed in Christ is the cause of our being his. The locus, or cause, of the covenant people being God’s is moved from them to him; they are his because of what is in his heart.
God’s Plan (1:11b)
Divine causation is emphasized in the words that follow the reminder of God’s choosing. The covenant people were chosen “having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will” (Eph. 1:11b). These words follow close on the heels of Paul’s earlier statement that the will of God purposed in Christ is “to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ” (Eph. 1:10). God plans to bring everything under his Son, and even now the Father is making everything work together for that purpose—everything! The scope of these words our humanity has not the capacity to contain.
One summer I took a group tour with a botanist through meadows in the shadows of the Rocky Mountains. In addition to showing us the marvelous colors of the wild flowers we so easily fail to notice, he also used a hand-held microscope to reveal the incredible design of violets, clover, and orchids at the cell level. And while these flower cells were whispering the glory of God, the mountains above us were at the same moment shouting his greatness. I was moved to awe in those moments by remembering that all things—as great as mountains and as small as flower cells—are being coordinated according to God’s plan to bring glory to his Son as the head of all things.
11 The verb translated “we were claimed … as his portion” has been rendered more freely in a number of recent versions. In the RSV it is taken together with the following participle and rendered comprehensively “we … have been destined and appointed.” The NEB, less freely, renders it “we have been given our share in the heritage.” The NIV renders it “we were … chosen.” But we are dealing with a passive form of the verb which means “appoint by lot,” “allot,” “assign,” and the passive sense should be brought out unless there is good reason to the contrary. The reason for the rendering “we were claimed by God as his portion” (rather than “we were assigned our portion”) is that it is in keeping with OT precedent.86 In the Song of Moses (Deut. 32:8–9) the nations of the world are assigned to various angelic beings (“the sons of God”), but Yahweh retains Israel as his personal possession:
“for the Lord’s portion is his people,
Jacob his allotted heritage.”
So here, believers in Christ are God’s chosen people, claimed by him as his portion or heritage. That this is the sense is confirmed by the reference in v. 18 to “the glorious wealth of his inheritance in the saints.”
The idea of the divine foreordination is repeated from v. 5. There God is said to have foreordained his people “according to the good pleasure of his will”; here this is said to be part of his eternal governance of the universe, for he “works all things according to the counsel of his will.” His will may be disobeyed, but his ultimate purpose cannot be frustrated, for he overrules the disobedience of his creatures in such a way that it subserves his purpose. So in Acts 4:27–28 the apostles in their praise and prayer acknowledge before God that Herod and Pontius Pilate and the other enemies of Jesus conspired together, all unwittingly, “to do whatever thy hand and thy plan had predestined to take place.”
11 The NIV starts a new paragraph here, though, of course, the sentence that started with 1:3 continues through 1:14. It starts with the now familiar “in him” (lit., “in whom”), detailing yet another divine action for those who are incorporated in Christ. Paul employs the verb klēroō (GK 3103), which means “to appoint or obtain by lot” (cf. BDAG, 548). If Paul intends the idea of “appoint,” then he means that in Christ we were appointed to be his possession or to become his inheritance. Thus O’Brien, 115, defends the translation “we were claimed by God as his portion.” The NIV interprets this as “we were also chosen” (cf. v. 4). If the sense centers more on “obtain,” then Paul might mean that in Christ the church obtained its inheritance (cf. NASB). Muddiman, 76–77, translates this phrase as “in whom we have gained our allotted portion.” This would parallel the idea of predestination that follows: what God has determined for his people. It is difficult to make a choice here, for both make good sense in the context and fit the uses of the verb elsewhere, though this is its only occurrence in the NT. Perhaps the former has a slight edge, given the common OT sense of the people of Israel as God’s inheritance (e.g., Dt 4:20; 9:29; 32:8–9; 1 Ki 8:51; Pss 33:12; 106:40; cf. Col 1:12). In either case, we note the corporate emphasis again: we are God’s inheritance as members of the corporate Christ, or we obtain our inheritance in Christ.
As in v. 5, Paul appends the verb “predestine,” but we do not find what God has predetermined for his people until v. 12—that “we … be for the praise of his glory.” Before saying that, however, Paul provides insight into the way God predestines such things. Compounding synonyms, Paul affirms that God predestines in a very purposeful way. The outcomes do not occur randomly, nor are they in any doubt, for they follow from the prothesis (“plan, purpose, resolve,” GK 4606) of God, who accomplishes what he does (“all things”) according to the boulē (“resolution, decision,” GK 1087) of his thelēma (“will, desire,” GK 2525; cf. v. 1). The structure proves somewhat opaque; again the language is florid and expansive, and the meanings of the terms overlap. Paul’s point is not in doubt. In Christ God is accomplishing a very carefully worked-out plan for his people.
 Klein, W. W. (2017). Ephesians. In T. Cabal (Ed.), CSB Apologetics Study Bible (p. 1472). Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.
 Wallace, D. B. (2017). Perseverance of the Saints. In E. A. Blum & T. Wax (Eds.), CSB Study Bible: Notes (p. 1872). Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.
 Keller, K., & Klein, W. W. (2017). Ephesians. In S. McDowell (Ed.), The Apologetics Study Bible for Students (p. 1475). Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.
False Prophets Incorrigible in Their Misconduct Jeremiah 23:13–29; 2 Peter 2:1
As long as a person has a notion that he is guided by immediate direction from heaven, it makes him incorrigible and impregnable in all his misconduct.
Ritzema, E. (Ed.). (2012). 300 Quotations for Preachers. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.
Union with Christ Brings Happiness Philippians 2:1–2; Colossians 2:2
By remaining united to Him, who is the real Being, and who is always happy, we also shall attain a continued and happy existence. By remaining united to Him, I said; that is, not only by knowledge, but by love.
BERNARD OF CLAIRVAUX
Ritzema, E., & Brant, R. (Eds.). (2013). 300 quotations for preachers from the Medieval church. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.
Lebanon PM warns of ‘dangerous chemicals’ in southern oil facility Lebanon’s outgoing prime minister said on Friday that experts had found “dangerous chemicals” at a warehouse at the Zahrani oil installations in the south. Hassan Diab said the country’s atomic energy authority identified the substances as “nuclear” after reviewing a report by German company Combi Lift, which Lebanon had tasked with clearing hazardous material at Beirut port.
Iran, China sign 25-year cooperation accord The Chinese and Iranian foreign ministers on Saturday signed a 25-year cooperation agreement between the two allies in a ceremony carried live on state television. “Our relations with Iran will not be affected by the current situation, but will be permanent and strategic,” Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi was earlier quoted by Iranian news agencies as saying.
Pelosi’s Wild Declaration Regarding the Iowa House Seat Democrats Tried to Steal Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi might as well have declared, “I am the Congress” with her latest remarks about the Iowa House seat that’s become another ‘stop the steal’ story for the 2020 cycle. She pretty much said she has the right to seat or unseat members of the House of Representatives regardless of the election result. The empress has spoken. Also, a tad creepy, huh?
Myanmar: Deadly protests erupt as coup leaders mark Armed Forces Day Myanmar’s security forces have cracked down on new protests as the leaders of its coup marked Armed Forces Day. Protesters took to the streets of Yangon and other cities. Some reports say 50 have been shot dead. Coup leader Min Aung Hlaing said in a national TV address on Saturday that he would “safeguard democracy”, promising elections but giving no timetable.
Israelis gather for Passover, celebrating freedom from virus A year ago, Giordana Grego’s parents spent Passover…alone but grateful that they had escaped the worst of the pandemic in Italy. This year, the whole family will get together to mark the Jewish feast of liberation and deliverance… Israel has vaccinated over half its population of 9.3 million…authorities have allowed restaurants, hotels, museums and theaters to re-open. Up to 20 people can now gather indoors.
After A Year Under Lockdown, Will Our Freedoms Survive The Tyranny of COVID-19? It remains to be seen, however, whether our freedoms will survive the tyranny of the government’s heavy-handed response to the COVID-19 pandemic.Indeed, now that the government has gotten a taste for flexing its police state powers by way of a bevy of lockdowns, mandates, restrictions, contact tracing programs, heightened surveillance, censorship, overcriminalization, etc., we may all be long-haulers, suffering under the weight of long-term COVID-19 afflictions.
Rabobank says “biblical” surge in food prices soon to come The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) says the United States is on track to maintain its current stocks of food based on an expectation of maximum acreage planted and healthy yields. However, Rabobank writers Michael Every and Michael Magdovitz disagree, warning that a crisis of “biblical” proportions could be on the way.
At what point do we realize Bill Gates is dangerously insane? Bill Gates is crazy. And he’s dangerous, because he’s willing to put untold sums of money toward making the insane things he believes a reality – and all of those insane things hurt people. The most recent idiocy? Impossible Burgers for all the white people.
The Harris-Biden Administration Is Rolling Out America’s Version Of Mao’s Genocidal Cultural Revolution Some people ask me if I truly believe that the Deep State and their Democratic Party operatives would commit mass murder against conservatives, Christians and Trump supporters. Subsequently, I began to outline my thoughts and I had a distinctive “Aha moment” as I realized that America was going through a cultural revolution, The Cultural Revolution that Mao Zedong, the head of the Communist Party, begain in China in 1966.
It’s officially an offence now to LEAVE England After four hours of debate yesterday in the House of Commons, the United Kingdom has approved an emergency measure that will, among other restrictions, fine Brits who LEAVE the country without a qualifying reason.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK”Republicans who don’t stand up to the left’s gender madness are useless. This is a hard line issue. No capitulating. No compromise. Our side is 100 percent right. The other side is 100 percent wrong. They should get no concession and no consideration.” —Matt Walsh
The accuracy of CNN’s ‘Reliable Sources’ newsletter, touted as disproving misinformation with fact-checks, has been called into question. The latest issue is riddled with errors and misrepresents a story critical of the network.
About a week ago, CNN aired a report on the migration situation at the US’ southern border. A large chunk of the piece was dedicated to dozens of people who were crossing the Rio Grande into Texas just as the TV crew was passing by on a motor boat, seizing the chance to film them.
The video drew the attention of the American Prospect, a progressive liberal outlet, which said there may be something fishy about it. It suggested that the CNN crew was duped into filming an event staged by advocates of stricter border control, and that the US Border Patrol may have been in on the ruse.
The publication put forward a number of arguments to make its case. Videos of the same event, or one very similar, are available online and were widely covered by outlets skeptical of migration. The person conducting boat trips across the river was wearing a face mask and distinctive fatigues – indicating he knew he would be filmed and was not afraid to be caught, since he made no attempt to blend in with the passengers. The crossing allegedly happened in a location only accessible to the Border Patrol, and took too long for a genuine operation conducted by somebody avoiding law enforcement. The list goes on.
The suspected deception, seemingly an embarrassing one for CNN, was picked up on by right-wing outlets like Fox News and went viral. An apparent attempt at damage control came in the form of the latest issue of ‘Reliable Sources’, CNN’s newsletter, which lamented that “there is simply too much disinfo and misinfo promoted by bad-faith actors and others to keep tabs on.”
The newsletter called The American Prospect “a progressive website,” assured that “obviously, CNN did not stage the crossing,” and cited a statement by “Customs and Border Patrol” categorically denying involvement in any sort of a staged photo op. The outlet is a printed magazine with over three decades of publishing history, though it does host current news on its website. It also had not accused CNN of staging anything. And the law enforcement body cited by the newsletter is called United States Border Patrol (USBP), which is part of the United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP).
Considering the inaccuracies and a failure to address the core of the issue, it’s no surprise that David Dayen, the executive editor of the American Prospect, unleashed a furious rebuke of CNN and its writer, Oliver Darcy, who penned the sloppy ‘Reliable Sources’ issue.
In a Twitter thread, Dayen pointed out that the Border Patrol’s statement may not be truthful and thus was not valid evidence. He also outlined other problematic parts of the attempt to fact-check the “misinfo,” and said the newsletter even failed to accurately quote the response he gave them about the claim he had published.
“We’re going to have more on this in a followup,” Dayen promised. “But it is so sleazy of @CNN to duck us for a week, then have their ‘media’ ‘reporter’ run a BS story that lumps us in with conspiracy theorists. With the ‘evidence’ that an untrustworthy agency said so.”
New York will soon introduce the Excelsior Pass, a card which proves you have taken a Covid-19 vaccine or have a recent negative test in order to enter events and businesses.
“Similar to a mobile airline boarding pass, individuals will be able to either print out their pass or store it on their smartphones using the Excelsior Pass Wallet app,” the press release announcing the ‘passports’ read.
Businesses and venues will be able to scan a unique code for each passport and see the Covid-19 history of the person in front of them. The app will reportedly not show detailed medical history, but rather just a simple message that you are or are not vaccinated, or have or have not been recently tested.
Also on rt.com
“An individual’s data is kept secure and confidential at all times,” the news release promises.
Madison Square Garden and the Times Union Center are already set to begin using the app in the coming days. On April 2, the app will then expand to smaller venues in the state.
Governor Andrew Cuomo, who is facing a number of personal and professional controversies at the moment, celebrated the Excelsior Pass as the first of its kind and called “the question of ‘public health or the economy’” a “false choice.”
“The question of ‘public health or the economy’ has always been a false choice — the answer must be both,” the governor said in a statement. “As more New Yorkers get vaccinated each day and as key public health metrics continue to regularly reach their lowest rates in months, the first-in-the-nation Excelsior Pass heralds the next step in our thoughtful, science-based reopening.”
Numerous officials have previously floated the idea of ‘vaccination passports’ or proof of vaccinations being required in order for people to travel or gather in larger venues. White House health adviser Anthony Fauci said “immunity cards” would be “possible” last year, saying requiring such paperwork was “being discussed.”
The idea has led to a wave of pushback, especially from Republicans. Governor Ron DeSantis (R-Florida) announced this week that “vaccine passports” are a “terrible idea” and “totally off the table” for his state.
Ritzema, E. (2013). 300 Quotations for Preachers from the Early Church. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.
Thanksgiving Can Turn Anything into a Blessing Philippians 4:4; 1 Thessalonians 5:18
If anyone would tell you the shortest, surest way to all happiness, and all perfection, he must tell you to make a rule to yourself, to thank and praise God for everything that happens to you. For it is certain that whatever seeming calamity happens to you, if you thank and praise God for it, you turn it into a blessing.
Ritzema, E., & Vince, E. (Eds.). (2013). 300 quotations for preachers from the Modern church. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.
7:14 The Hebrew word ‘almah refers to a young woman before the age of marriage, and is sometimes translated “virgin.” Some interpreters claim that Matthew misappropriated this verse (Mt 1:23) in applying it to the birth of Jesus. They believe Isaiah was referring to a woman in the time of Ahaz—either a son born to an ‘almah in Ahaz’s harem or a son to Isaiah’s wife (Is 8:1–4), and that this “Immanuel” was a sign of hope for the future when “God will be with us.” Others accept this immediate application, but also view the passage as prophetic of Christ (a “double fulfillment” approach). But Ahaz’s good son Hezekiah was already born at this time; and Isaiah already had children, so his wife would not be called a “virgin” at this point in her life. Thus, many believe this prophecy only referred to the future birth of the Messiah. If so, this messianic application was expanded and verified through progressive revelation in 9:6–7, which announced that “a child will be born for us … He will reign on the throne of David.”
7:14 The context indicates that the preliminary fulfillment of this sign must have taken place within a few years of its utterance—the time between a child’s conception and his knowing right from wrong (vv. 15–16), traditionally at age twelve. The Hebrew word translated virgin means “young woman of marriageable age” and often has the implication of virginity. Thus many scholars feel that the referent is a woman whom Isaiah would marry and, if so, then the birth is mentioned in 8:1–4. This may be the immediate fulfillment of this sign. But its ultimate and more exalted fulfillment is noted in Mt 1:23 as it cites the more specific Greek word found in the Septuagint, parthenos, which means “virgin.” Immanuel means “God With Us.”
7:14˓Almah (Heb.) is one of two words translated as “virgin.” The other term, betulah (Heb.), is very specific, only meaning “virgin,” whereas ˓almah is more general and can sometimes mean “a young woman of marriageable age.” The ambiguity of this term is reflected in its being translated “virgin” in some places and “maiden” in others. It has been maintained that the seven uses of this word in the O.T. (Gen. 24:43; Ex. 2:8; Ps. 68:25; Prov. 30:19; Song 1:3; 6:8; Is. 7:14) all have the meaning of “virgin.” This view is supported by the fact that translators of the LXX chose the Greek word parthenos, which means “virgin,” to translate ˓almah. In view of the importance of this verse to the N.T. doctrine of the virgin birth of Jesus Christ, it is puzzling why Isaiah chose the ambiguous term, ˓almah, over the more frequent and specific one, betulah. The answer may be related to vv. 16, 22, which suggest a double fulfillment to the prophecy. The prophet may have used ˓almah instead of betulah because the impending birth which would be a sign to Ahaz would not be a virgin birth, but the future birth of Immanuel (see note in center column) would be the Virgin Birth. The virgin birth of Jesus is essential to faith because only through this miracle can Christ (1) be fully God and fully Man simultaneously; (2) be the “New Adam”; (3) be sinless and perfectly obedient to the law of God on behalf of sinners; and (4) be the payment for sins as One who is both God and Man. The term “Immanuel” (“God with us”) was not meant as a proper name but as a description of the Person and work of the Messiah (cf. 9:6; 11:1–10).
7:14 virgin. The Hebrew word occurs seven times in the Old Testament. It means a young woman of marriageable age, normally a virgin (Gen. 24:43). The Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Old Testament made about 150 b.c.) translated with a word more specifically meaning “virgin.” The New Testament understands Isaiah to be designating the Virgin Mary (Matt. 1:23). See “The Virgin Birth of Jesus” at Luke 1:27.
Immanuel. “God with us.” The name conveys God’s promise to save, bless, and protect His children. The identity of the virgin and the child has been the subject of considerable discussion. Three major views have been proposed. First, some, especially Jews of the second century a.d., understood the prophecy to mean Ahaz’s wife and her child, Hezekiah (2 Kin. 18:2). But as Jerome (c. 400 a.d.) pointed out, Hezekiah was already born. Second, others identify the woman as Isaiah’s wife or a woman betrothed to him (8:3). The child is then Isaiah’s son, Maher-shalal-hashbaz. This interpretation is questionable. The Hebrew term translated “virgin” would not normally be used for a woman who was already a mother (of Shear-jashub, 7:3). If someone engaged to the prophet is meant, it becomes necessary to assume that his first wife had died. Also, the interpretation requires that the child have contradictory names: “God Is With Us” (Immanuel) and “The Spoil Speeds, the Prey Hastens” (Maher-shalal-hash-baz). Though not impossible, it seems unlikely. Finally, the child’s diet of “curds and honey” suggests that He would grow up after Judah’s destruction (v. 15 note). Tradition suggests a third interpretation, identifying the child as the Messiah, a divine personage whose birth is above nature. It equates the Child named “Immanuel” with the Child possessing God’s titles in 9:6, and with the “Branch” of ch. 11. According to Matthew, the virgin is Mary and the Child is Jesus Christ (Matt. 1:22, 23). In v. 16, the birth seems nevertheless to be imminent. Perhaps the prophecy has a partial fulfillment in the birth of Isaiah’s son Maher-shalal-hash-baz (8:1–3), while the definitive fulfillment waits for the birth of Jesus Christ, who secures God’s throne forever.
7:14the virgin The Hebrew term here, almah, indicates a young woman of marriageable age. In the ancient world, a young unmarried woman who had reached puberty could reasonably be assumed to be a virgin because of the close social and familial restrictions on her activities.
There is ongoing debate about whether almah technically denotes a virgin, since the Hebrew term bethulah is the more precise word for “virgin.” If almah does not denote virginity, the implication would be that the nt interpretation of the virgin birth is mistaken (see note on Matt 1:23). However, Hebrew and Greek use a variety of terms to refer to young unmarried women or girls, indicating that physical virginity was the cultural norm and did not need to be explicitly expressed.
The overlapping use of almah and bethulah in Gen 24 to refer to the unmarried Rebekah demonstrates that these terms were considered to be interchangeable (see Gen 24:16, 43). The Septuagint uses the Greek term parthenos to translate almah in Isa 7:14 and Gen 24:43. Drawing on the Septuagint, the nt interpretation is based on the Greek word parthenos, also a more precise word for “virgin.” The nt describes the fulfillment of Isa 7:14 with the birth of Jesus in Matt 1:18–23. Matthew focuses on the miraculous nature of Jesus’ birth and the scandal of Mary’s pregnancy prior to the consummation of her marriage to Joseph. While Isaiah focuses on the child and the symbolic nature of his name, Matthew emphasizes the remarkable nature of the birth.
God with us Means “God with us.” The three symbolic names of these children point to the three phases of God’s future work: imminent judgment, coming restoration, and future redemption (compare Isa 7:3; 8:1).
The concept that God is present among His people is prominent in the ot. The symbolic name Immanuel can be understood as an affirmation of trust in Yahweh, as it is in 8:10. Such affirmations of trust are common in divine promises and prayerful statements of faith (e.g., Psa 46:7). God’s presence among His people was an important theological symbol for Israel (the presence of Yahweh enters the temple in 1 Kgs 8:10–11). The people’s sinfulness puts that privilege in jeopardy. The sign of Immanuel should remind Ahaz that—at least for now—God’s presence remains with Israel.
The name Immanuel symbolizes the full restoration of Yahweh’s broken relationship with His people. While the immediate context of the sign itself points to a short-term fulfillment (see note on Isa 7:10–25), the larger context of Isaiah heavily stresses the future time of redemption and reconciliation between Yahweh and Israel. The coming salvation is depicted in the royal role of the Messiah in 9:2–8 that weaves divine titles into the description of the ideal righteous ruler—the Davidic messiah. The close relationship between messianic and divine roles and titles supports the understanding of Immanuel as a messianic figure. In 11:1–10, the Messiah is given the divine right to judge the nations; His reign inaugurates an era of worldwide peace. The suffering, death, and destruction that entered the world through sin will be replaced with peace, justice, and righteousness as predator and prey live together in harmony (11:6). The time of Immanuel will reflect the perfection of creation as originally formed in the garden of Eden.
7:14the Lord himself. Failure of the human king to respond to the invitation (v. 12) results in the divine King again taking the initiative (cf. v. 17). Similarly, two such signs would be offered to Hezekiah, Ahaz’s son and successor (see 37:30; 38:7).
Although some claim that the word translated virgin (Hb. ‘almah) refers generally to a “young woman,” it actually refers specifically to a “maiden”—that is, to a young woman who is unmarried and sexually chaste, and thus has virginity as one of her characteristics (see Gen. 24:16, 43; Ex. 2:8, “girl”). Thus when the Septuagint translators, 200 years before the birth of Christ, rendered ‘almah here with Greek parthenos (a specific term for “virgin”) they rightly perceived the meaning of the Hebrew term; and when Matthew applied this prophecy to the virgin birth of Christ (see Matt. 1:23), it was in accord with this well-established understanding of parthenos (“virgin”) as used in the Septuagint and in other Greek writers.
Isaiah prophesies further that it is “the virgin” who shall call his name Immanuel. Bestowing a child’s name often falls to the mother in the OT (e.g., the naming of the patriarchs in Gen. 29:31–30:24; but cf. 35:18; also Judg. 13:24; 1 Sam. 1:20), although other women (cf. Ruth 4:17) or even the father (Gen. 16:15; Judg. 8:31) could be involved in the naming. The name itself, Immanuel, “God is with us,” is the message of the sign. Such is its importance that Matthew translates it for his readers (Matt. 1:23). Immanuel is used as a form of address in Isa. 8:8 (“your land, O Immanuel”), and as a sentence in 8:10 (“for God is with us”). To say that God is “with” someone or a people means that God is guiding and helping them to fulfill their calling (Gen. 21:22; Ex. 3:12; Deut. 2:7; Josh. 1:5; Ps. 46:7, 11; Isa. 41:10). As such, it would provide a pointed message either to the fearful Ahaz or to the failing royal house.
Christian interpretation follows Matthew in applying this verse to the birth of Jesus. However, some aspects of Isaiah’s prophecy also relate to the significance of the sign for Isaiah’s own day. This being the case, a number of questions are raised: To whose family does the virgin belong, and how should her marital status be understood? What is the precise significance of the child’s name? Is it a personal name, or should it be understood as a title? Most importantly, does the fulfillment of this sign belong to Isaiah’s own day, or does it rather point (even in his day) to a much more distant and complete fulfillment? Christians have typically answered these questions in one of two ways.
Some hold that the sign has a single fulfillment—that is, the sign points originally and solely to the birth of Jesus as the “ultimate” Messiah. Those who hold this view emphasize the understanding of ‘almah only as “virgin,” thus precluding any “near term” fulfillment before the birth of Jesus; this view understands “Immanuel” as a title (as in 8:8) rather than a personal name. It is also noted that the variation in reference to a “son” (Hb. ben) in 7:14, as compared to a “boy” (Hb. na‘ar) in v. 16, further distinguishes between the child of miraculous birth and a more generic reference to a male child unrelated to the divine promise. This has the effect of separating the reference to Isaiah’s day (vv. 16–17) from the fulfillment of the announced miraculous son to be born at a future time (v. 14). According to this interpretation, then, the prediction of the virgin birth in v. 14 is a straightforward prediction of an event cast well into the future, and Matthew’s application of this prophecy to Jesus (Matt. 1:20–23) provides the divinely inspired testimony to there being a single fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy. By this interpretation, the sign is directed to the “house of David,” to affirm God’s intention of preserving David’s dynasty (in keeping with the promises of 2 Sam. 7:12–16), in order to bring Israel’s mission to its glorious fulfillment (Isa. 9:6–7; 11:1–10). God will use any means to do this, even miraculous ones: this is a rebuke to the faithless and secular outlook of Ahaz.
Those who see in this sign a more immediate application to Ahaz and his times usually argue that the prophecy has a double fulfillment—that is, both an immediate fulfillment in Isaiah’s day and a long-term fulfillment in the birth of the Messiah. Those who hold this view argue that it is natural for the name “Immanuel” to be understood in terms of double fulfillment, since two other “sons” perform similar symbolic roles in the context (cf. 7:3; 8:3–4). They argue further that the prophet’s own interpretation of the sign in 7:16–17 applies it directly to Ahaz’s own day. It should be observed that this understanding of the text in no way diminishes Matthew’s affirmation of the supernatural conception and virgin birth of Jesus (cf. also Luke 1:34–35). Even if the prophecy does include an immediate application to the time of Ahaz, however, the prophecy cannot have been fulfilled completely by the birth of someone like Maher-shalal-hash-baz (Isa. 8:1, 3) or by Hezekiah, as some have suggested, since 9:6 prophesies the birth of a son whose name will be “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace”—a statement that could apply only to the Davidic Messiah. On this understanding, then, the prophecy of 7:14 foretells the birth of Immanuel, which was fulfilled partially in Isaiah’s time but fully and finally in the person of Jesus Christ.
Faithful interpreters can be found on either side of this debate. One should not, therefore, lose sight of those truths on which all agree: the prophet speaks authoritatively for God; Ahaz and his house stand under judgment; the prophetic sign directly meets the failures of Ahaz’s day; fulfillment of the prophecy comes about through direct divine intervention in human history; and the sign finds its final fulfillment in the virgin birth of Jesus the Messiah, who is literally “God with us.”
7:14 The prophecy concerning Immanuel (see also Gen. 3:15) is fulfilled in Jesus Christ (Matt. 1:20–23). It is related to the larger OT theme in which God brings new life and offspring to barren women (see note on Gen. 18:10).
7:14 a sign. Since Ahaz refused to choose a sign (vv. 11, 12), the Lord chose His own sign, whose implementation would occur far beyond Ahaz’s lifetime. a virgin. This prophecy reached forward to the virgin birth of the Messiah, as the NT notes (Mt 1:23). The Heb. word refers to an unmarried woman and means “virgin” (Ge 24:43; Prov 30:19; SS 1:3; 6:8), so the birth of Isaiah’s own son (8:3) could not have fully satisified the prophecy. Cf. Ge 3:15. Immanuel. The title, applied to Jesus in Mt 1:23, means “God with us.”
7:14 — … Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel.
“Immanuel” means “God with us” and functions more as a title than a proper name. The angel told Mary to call her Son “Jesus,” which means “God saves.” So Jesus is the God among us who saves (Matt. 1:21, 23).
7:14 Again you is plural here. Isaiah turns from the king whom he has dismissed in judgment and addresses all who are present. The sign is for many. The word Lord speaks of the sovereignty of God, of His great control over all His creation. The pronoun Himself adds an absolute certainty to the impending sign. The Hebrew word rendered virgin means “a young woman of marriageable age.” But the word also connotes the idea of virginity, for the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible made in the second century b.c., renders the Hebrew word with a Greek term that specifically means “virgin”.
7:14 Like many prophecies, this one seems to have had an early fulfillment (in the days of Ahaz) and later, complete fulfillment (in the First Advent of Christ). Verse 14 points irresistibly to Christ—the Son of the virgin whose name indicates that He is Immanuel, God-with-us. Again we quote Vine:
“Behold”, in Isaiah, always introduces something relating to future circumstances. The choice of the word almah is significant, as distinct from bethulah (a maiden living with her parents and whose marriage was not impending); it denotes one who is mature and ready for marriage.
Ver. 14. Therefore the Lord Himself shall give you a sign.—God’s sign to King Ahaz:—
Perhaps more perplexity has been produced among commentators by this passage than by any other in Old Testament prophecy. The chief difficulties of the passage may be stated as follows: Does the prophecy refer to some event which was soon to occur, or does it refer exclusively to some event in the distant future? If it refers to some event which was soon to occur, what event was it? Who was the child intended, and who the virgin who should bring forth the child?
1. The first step toward the unravelling of the prophet’s meaning is to determine the exact significance of the words. What, then, is the meaning of the word אוֹת, which is translated “sign”? Delitzsch defines the word as “a thing, event, or act which may serve to guarantee the Divine certainty of some other thing, event, or act.” It does not of necessity denote a miracle. For example, in Gen. 17:11, circumcision is said to be a “sign,” or token. The context, together with the nature of the thing, event, or act, must decide whether the אוֹת is a miracle or not. All that is necessary to constitute a “sign” to Ahaz is that some assurance shall be given which Jehovah alone can give. And the certain prediction of future events is the prerogative of Jehovah alone.
2. We turn now to the word עַלְמָה, translated “virgin” and shall try to find its exact meaning. The derivation of it from עָלַם, to hide, to conceal, is now generally abandoned. Its most probable derivation is from עָלַם, to grow, to be strong, and hence the word means one who has come to a mature or marriageable age. Hengstenberg contends that it means one in an unmarried state; Gesenius holds that it means simply being of marriageable age, the age of puberty. However this may be, it seems most natural to take the word in this place as meaning one who was then unmarried and who could be called a virgin. But we must guard against the exegetical error of supposing that the word here used implies that the person spoken of must be a virgin at the time when the child is born. All that is said is that she who is now a virgin shall bear a son.
3. Let us now proceed to consider the interpretation of the prophecy itself. The opinions which have generally prevailed with regard to it are three—
(1) That it has no reference to any Messianic fulfilment, but refers exclusively to some event in the time of the prophet.
(2) That it has exclusive and immediate reference to the Messiah, thus excluding any reference to any event which was then to occur. On this view, the future birth of the Messiah from a virgin is made the sign to Ahaz that Jerusalem shall be safe from a threatened invasion
(3) That the prophet is speaking of the birth of a child which would soon take place of some one who was then a virgin; but that the prophecy has also a higher fulfilment in Christ. This last view we regard as the only tenable one, and the proof of it will be the refutation of the other two. The following reasons are presented to show that the prophecy refers to some event which was soon to occur.
1. The context demands it. If there was no allusion in the New Testament to the prophecy, and we should contemplate the narrative here in its surrounding circumstances, we should naturally feel that the prophet must mean this. If the seventh and eighth chapters, connected as they are, were all that we had, we should be compelled to admit a reference to something in the prophet’s time. The record in chap. 8:1–4, following in such close connection, seems to be intended as a public assurance of the fulfilment of what is here predicted respecting the deliverance of the land from the threatened invasion. The prediction was that she who is a virgin shall bear a son. Now Jehovah alone can foreknow this, and He pronounces the birth of this child as the sign which shall be given.
2. The thing to be given to Ahaz was a sign or token that a present danger would be averted. How could the fact that the Messiah would come seven hundred years later prove this?
Let us now look at the reasons for believing that it contains also a reference to the Messiah.
1. The first argument we present is derived from the passage in chap. 9:7. There is an undoubted connection between that passage and the one under consideration, as almost all critical scholars admit. And it seems that nothing short of a Messianic reference will explain the words. Some have asserted that the undoubted and exclusive reference to Messiah in this verse (9:7) excludes any local reference in the prophecy in chap. 7:14. But so far from this being the case, we believe it is an instance of what Bacon calls the “springing, germinant fulfilment of prophecy.” And we believe that it can be proved that all prophecies take their start from historical facts. Isaiah here (9:7) drops the historical drapery and rises to a mightier and more majestic strain.
2. The second and crowning argument is taken from the language of the inspired writer Matthew (1:22, 23). (D. M. Sweets.)
Who was the “virgin,” and who the son?—
1. Some have supposed that the wife of Ahaz was meant by the “virgin,” and that his son Hezekiah was the child meant. There is an insuperable difficulty against this view. Ahaz’s reign extended over sixteen years (2 Kings 16:2), and Hezekiah was twenty-five years old when he succeeded Ahaz (2 Kings 18:2). Consequently, at this time Hezekiah could not have been less than nine years old. It has been supposed that Ahaz had a second wife, and that the son was hers. This is a mere supposition, supported by nothing in the narrative, while it makes chap. 8:1–4 have no connection with what precedes or follows.
2. Others have supposed that some virgin who was then present before Ahaz was designated, and they make the meaning this: “As surely as this virgin shall conceive and bear a son, so surely shall the land be forsaken of its kings.” This is too vague for the definite language used, and gives no explanation of the incident in chap. 8 about Maher-shalal-hash-baz.
3. Another opinion is that the virgin was not an actual but an ideal virgin. Michaelis thus presents this view: “By the time when one who is yet a virgin can bring forth (i.e., in nine months), all will be happily changed and the present impending danger so completely passed away that if you were to name the child you would call him Immanuel.” Surely this would not be a sign or pledge of anything to Ahaz. Besides, it was not a birth possible, but an actual birth, which was spoken of.
4. But the view which is most in keeping with the entire context, and which presents the fewest difficulties, is that the prophet’s own son is intended. This view does require the supposition that Isaiah married a second wife, who at the time of this prophecy was still a virgin, and whom he subsequently married. But there is no improbability in the supposition that the mother of his son, Shear-jashub, was deceased, and that Isaiah was about again to be married. This is the only supposition which this view demands. Such an occurrence was surely not uncommon. All other explanations require more suppositions, and suppositions more unnatural than this. Our supposition does no violence to the narrative, and certainly falls in best with all the facts. We would then identify Immanuel (as Ahaz and his contemporaries would understand the name to be applied) with Maher-shalal-hash-baz. With this view harmonises what the prophet says in chap. 8:18: “Behold, I and the children whom Jehovah hath given me are for signs and for wonders in Israel from Jehovah of hosts, which dwelleth in Mount Zion.” It is no objection to this view that another name than “Immanuel” was given to the child. It was a common thing to give two names to children, especially when one name was symbolic, as Immanuel was. Jesus Christ was never called Immanuel as a proper name, though almost all scholars agree that the prophecy referred to Him in some sense. (Ibid.)
A double reference in Isaiah’s prophecies:—
The careful, critical student of Isaiah will find this thing common in his writings, namely, that he commences with a prophecy having reference to some remarkable delivery which was soon to occur, and terminates it by a statement of events connected with a higher deliverance under the Messiah. His mind becomes absorbed; the primary object is forgotten in the contemplation of the more remote and glorious event. (Ibid.)
The Hebrew word rendered “virgin” in the A.V. would be more accurately rendered “damsel.” It means a young woman of marriageable age, and is not the word which would be naturally used for “virgin,” if that was the point which it was desired to emphasise. (Prof. A. F. Kirkpatrick.)
Our English word “maiden” comes as near, probably, as any to the Hebrew word. (Speaker’s Commentary.)
The Hebrew lexicons tell us that the word almah, here translated virgin, may denote any mature young woman, whether a virgin or not. So far as its derivation is concerned, this is undoubtedly the case; but in Biblical usage, the word denotes a virgin in every case where its meaning can be determined. The instances are, besides the text, that in the account of Rebekah (Gen. 24:43), that of the sister of Moses (Exod. 2:8), the word used in the plural (Psa. 68:25, 26; Cant. 1:3; 6:8), its use in the titles of Psalms (Psa. 46:1–11; 1 Chron. 15:20), and its use in Prov. 30:19. The last passage is the one chiefly relied on to prove that the word may denote a woman not a virgin; but, “the way of a man with a maid” there spoken of is something wonderful, incapable of being traced or understood, like the way of an eagle in the air, a serpent on a rock, a ship in the sea, and it is only in its application to that wonderful human experience, a first love between a man and a virgin, that this description can find a full and complete significance. The use of the word in the Bible may not be full enough in itself to prove that almah necessarily means virgin, but it is sufficient to show that Septuagint translators probably chose deliberately and correctly, when they chose to translate the word, in this passage, by the Greek word that distinctively denotes a virgin, and that Matthew made no mistake in so understanding their translation. (Prof. W. J. Beecher, D.D.)
Deliverance by a lowly agent:—
Not Ahaz, not some high-born son of Ahaz’s house, is to have the honour of rescuing his country from its peril: a “nameless maiden of lowly rank” (Delitzsch) is to be the mother of the future deliverer. Ahaz and the royal house are thus put aside; it is not till chap. 9:7—spoken at least a year subsequently—that we are able to gather that the Deliverer is to be a descendant of David’s line. (Prof. S. R. Driver, D.D.)
God’s sign to Ahaz:—
The king having refused to ask a sign, the prophet gives him one, by renewing the promise of deliverance (vers. 8, 9), and connecting it with the birth of a child, whose significant name is made a symbol of the Divine interposition, and his progress a measure of the subsequent events. Instead of saying that God would be present with them to deliver them, he says the child shall be called Immanuel (God with us); instead of mentioning a term of years, he says, before the child is able to distinguish good from evil; instead of saying that until that time the land shall lie waste, he represents the child as eating curds and honey, spontaneous products, here put in opposition to the fruits of cultivation. At the same time, the form of expression is descriptive. Instead of saying that the child shall experience all this, he represents its birth and infancy as actually passing in his sight; he sees the child brought forth and named Immanuel; he sees the child eating curds and honey till a certain age. But very different opinions are held as to the child here alluded to. Some think it must be a child about to be born, in the course of nature, to the prophet himself. Others think that two distinct births are referred to, one that of Shear-jashub, the prophet’s son, and the other Christ, the Virgin’s Son. Yet others see only a prophetic reference to the birth of Messiah. (J. A. Alexander.)
A prediction of the miraculous conception of Jesus Christ:—
While some diversity of judgment ought to be expected and allowed, in relation to the secondary question (of the child of the period that is referred to), there is no ground, grammatical, historical, or logical, for doubt as to the main point, that the Church in all ages has been right in regarding this passage as a signal and explicit prediction of the miraculous conception and nativity of Jesus Christ. (Ibid.)
The figure of Immanuel an ideal one:—
The language of Isaiah forces upon us the conviction that the figure of Immanuel is an ideal one, projected by him upon the shifting future—upon the nearer future in chap. 7, upon the remoter future in chap. 9, but grasped by the prophet as a living and real personality, the guardian of his country now, its deliverer and governor hereafter. The circumstances under which the announcement is made to Ahaz are such as apparently exclude deliberation in the formation of the idea; it is the unpremeditated creation of his inspired imagination. This view satisfies all the requirements of the narrative. The birth of the child being conceived as immediate affords a substantial ground for the assurance conveyed to Ahaz; and the royal attributes with which the child speedily appears to be endued, and which forbid his identification with any actual contemporary of the prophet’s, become at once intelligible. It is the Messianic King, whose portrait is here for the first time in the Old Testament sketched directly. (Prof. S. R. Driver, D.D.)
Immanuel, the Messiah:—
It is the Messiah whom the prophet here beholds as about to be born, then in chap. 9 as born, and in chap. 11 as reigning. (F. Delitzsch.)
What sign could the distant birth of Christ be to Ahaz?—
The answer is plain, as evidenced by the prophet turning away from the king who repudiated his privileges to the “house of David,” to which in all its generations the promise was given. The king was endeavouring to bring about the destruction of “the land,” but his efforts in that direction would be useless until the destiny of the house of David was fulfilled. The virgin must bear the promised Son; Judah is immortal till that event is accomplished. It matters not whether it is near or far, the family and lineage of David must survive till then. Hence the sign was plain enough, or ought to have been, to Ahaz and the people in general. The closing portion of this section of Scripture fully discloses the destruction that should befall Judah as well as Israel, but the final fall of Judah is after the birth of Immanuel. (F. T. Bassett, M.A.)
The virgin mother:—
To maintain that Isaiah did not mean to say that a certain Person in the future was to be born of a virgin, is not the same thing as to hold that Christ was not so born as a fact. (F. H. Woods, B.D.)
The mystery of the sign:—
The “sign” is on the one side a mystery staring threateningly at the house of David, and on the other side it is a mystery rich in comfort to the prophet and all believers; and it is couched in such enigmatic terms in order that they who harden themselves may not understand it, and in order that believers may so much the more long to understand it. (F. Delitzsch.)
A new thing in the earth (vers. 10–16):—
I. The pledge proposed.
1. The condescension which God displayed on this occasion was very remarkable.
2. There may be a semblance of regard for the honour of God, while the heart is in a state of hostility against Him.
3. God may sustain a certain relationship to those who are not His in reality.
II. The indignant rebuke administered. (Ver. 13.)
1. The persons to whom it was addressed. Not the king only, but the whole nation; which shows that they, or a large portion of them, were like-minded with their ungodly ruler. They are called “the house of David,” a designation which was doubtless intended to remind them of his character, and the great things which God had done for him. Well would it have been if he by whom David’s throne was now occupied had been imbued with David’s spirit, and walked in David’s ways; and that his influence had been exerted in inducing his subjects to do so likewise.
2. The feeling by which it was prompted. It was evidently that of holy indignation.
3. The grounds on which it rested. There were two things especially by which God was dishonoured on this occasion.
(1) Unbelief. Nothing casts a greater indignity upon the Divine character than for His word to be distrusted.
(2) Hypocrisy. Far better to bid open defiance to the Most High, and say with Pharaoh, “Who is the Lord, that I should obey His voice?” than pretend to serve Him while we are resolved to act in opposition to His will.
III. The glorious event predicted. As to this striking prediction, in itself considered, there are several particulars which it sets before us—
1. The miraculous conception of Christ.
2. The essential Deity of Christ.
3. The design of the coming of Christ. For Him to be called “Immanuel, God with us,” shows that He appeared to espouse our cause.
4. The lowly condition of Christ. “Butter and honey shall He eat,” &c.
5. The moral purity of Christ. Although the expression, “before the child shall know to refuse the evil, and choose the good,” has literal reference to His attaining the age of discernment, yet it may be applied with special propriety to the spotless sanctity of His character. He knew, in a sense in which no one else ever knew, how to refuse the evil and choose the good. (Anon.)
The birth of Christ:—
I. The birth of Christ.
1. We see here a miraculous conception.
2. Notice next, the humble parentage. Though she was not a princess, yet her name, Mary, by interpretation, signifies a princess; and though she is not the queen of heaven, yet she has a right to be reckoned amongst the queens of earth; and though she is not the lady of our Lord, she does walk amongst the renowned and mighty women of Scripture. Yet Jesus Christ’s birth was a humble one. Strange that the Lord of glory was not born in a palace! Let us take courage here. If Jesus Christ was born in a manger in a rock, why should He not come and live in our rocky hearts? If He was born in a stable, why should not the stable of our souls be made into a habitation for Him? If He was born in poverty, may not the poor in spirit expect that He will be their Friend?
3. We must make one more remark upon this birth of Christ, and that remark shall be concerning a glorious birthday. With all the humility that surrounded the birth of Christ, there was yet very much that was glorious, very much that was honourable. No other man ever had such a birthday as Jesus Christ had. Of whom had prophets and seers ever written as they wrote of Him? Whose name is graven on so many tablets as His? Who had such a scroll of prophecy, all pointing to Him as Jesus Christ, the God-man? Then recollect, concerning His birth, when did God ever hang a fresh lamp in the sky to announce the birth of a Cæsar? Cæsars may come, and they may die, but stars shall never prophesy their birth. When did angels ever stoop from heaven, and sing choral symphonies on the birth of a mighty man? Christ’s birth is not despicable, even if we consider the visitors who came around His cradle.
II. The food of Christ. “Butter and honey shall He eat, that He may know to refuse the evil, and choose the good.” Our translators were certainly very good scholars, and God gave them much wisdom, so that they craned up our language to the majesty of the original, but here they were guilty of very great inconsistency. I do not see how butter and honey can make a child choose good, and refuse evil. If it is so, I am sure butter and honey ought to go up greatly in price, for good men are very much required. But it does not say, in the original, “Butter and honey shall He eat, that He may know to refuse the evil, and choose the good,” but, “Butter and honey shall He eat, till He shall know how to refuse the evil, and choose the good,” or, better still, “Butter and honey shall He eat, when He shall know how to refuse the evil, and choose the good.” We shall take that translation, and just try to elucidate the meaning couched in the words. They should teach us—
1. Christ’s proper humanity. When He would convince His disciples that He was flesh, and not spirit, He took a piece of a broiled fish and of a honeycomb, and ate as others did.
2. The butter and honey teach us, again, that Christ was to be born in times of peace. Such products are not found in Judea in times of strife; the ravages of war sweep away all the fair fruits of industry.
3. There is another thought here. “Butter and honey shall He eat when He shall know how to refuse the evil, and choose the good.” This is to teach us the precocity of Christ, by which I mean that, even when He was a child, even when He lived upon butter and honey, which is the food of children, He knew the evil from the good.
4. Perhaps it may seem somewhat playful, but I must say how sweet it is to my soul to believe that, as Christ lived upon butter and honey, surely butter and honey drop from His lips. Sweet are His words unto our souls, more to be desired than honey or the honeycomb.
5. And perhaps I ought not to have forgotten to say, that the effect of Christ’s eating butter and honey was to show us that He would not in His lifetime differ from other men in His outward guise. Butter and honey Christ ate, and butter and honey may His people eat; nay, whatsoever God in His providence gives unto them, that is to be the food of the child Christ.
III. The name of Christ. “And shall call His name Immanuel.”
1. The Virgin Mary called her son Immanuel that there might be a meaning in His name.
2. Would you know this name most sweetly you must know it by the teaching of the Holy Spirit. (C. H. Spurgeon.)
The responsibility of revelation:—
1. This annunciation to Ahaz was a great opportunity for him—a crisis in his spiritual life. He was getting entangled in idolatrous ways, involved in disloyal relations with the Assyrian monarchy, and had already seriously compromised himself in sacrilegious appropriation of temple treasure. And here was a golden opportunity to break through his bonds, and cast himself loose, once for all, from his unworthy associations. He was only asked to trust on for a little while longer, to watch events, and, as they fell out in a certain direction, to recognise that they were of God’s special ordering, and that they constituted a claim on his obedience and trust in God. But he was incapable of profiting by God’s goodwill towards him. He rejected the Divine overtures of prosperity and peace; and, while God still carried out the dictates of His purpose, they came to Ahaz without blessing and without relief. His enemies were removed, but a direr foe stood in their place; he could not but learn that God was faithful, but the word that he compelled God to keep was a word of retribution.
2. And if we were capable of the combined mental and spiritual effort that such a course would require, and were to sit down calmly and without prejudice to dissect our past lives, and with unerring judgment were to separate cause from effect in every case, and to trace each important issue of life to its true turning-point, how often, probably, should we find that the unsatisfactory features of the past were largely due to our neglect of some revelation—some annunciation—of God! By experience, by example, by warning, by discipline; by difficulties significantly placed in our path, or by clearances unexpectedly but unmistakably made; by words in season, out of season; by a thousand things, and in countless ways, we have had annunciations from God—plain indications of His will and pleasure concerning us, and no indistinct prophecies of things that shall be hereafter. And our judgment upon a review of the whole is this—that our true happiness and our genuine success have been in very exact proportion to our faithfulness or our unfaithfulness in reading the signs of God. (E. T. Marshall, M.A.)
The mercy of God:—
The first word of this text joins the anger of God and His mercy together. God chides and rebukes the king Ahaz by the prophet; He is angry with him, and “therefore” He will give him a sign—a seal of mercy.
I. God takes any occasion to show mercy.
II. The particular way of His mercy declared here. “The Lord shall give you a sign.”
III. What this sign was. “Behold a virgin,” &c. (J. Donne.)
Miracle of miracles:—
King Ahaz saith, I will not tempt God, and, making religion his pretence against religion, being a most wilful and wicked man, would not. We may learn by this wretched king that those that are least fearful before danger are most basely fearful in danger (ver. 2). We may see the conflict between the infinite goodness of God and the inflexible stubbornness of man; God’s goodness striving with man’s badness. When they would have no sign, yet God will give them a sign. “Behold.”
(1) As a thing presented to the eye of faith.
(2) As a matter of great concernment.
(3) As a strange and admirable thing. It is atheistical profaneness to despise any help that God in His wisdom thinketh necessary to support our weak faith withal. The house of David was afraid they should be extinct by these two great enemies of the Church; but, saith Isaiah, “A virgin of the house of David shall conceive a son,” and how then can the house of David be extinct? Heaven hath said it; earth cannot disannul it. God hath said it, and all the creatures in the world cannot annihilate it. How doth friendship between God and us arise from hence, that Christ is God in our nature?
1. Sin, the cause of division, is taken away.
2. Our nature is pure in Christ, and therefore in Christ God loveth us.
3. Christ being our head of influence conveyeth the same Spirit that is in Him to all His members, and, little by little, by that Spirit, purgeth His Church and maketh her fit for communion with Himself.
4. The second person is God in our nature for this end, to make God and us friends. (R. Sibbes.)
Christ in prophecy:—
You will find that the presence of one Person pervades the whole book If you go into a British navy-yard, or on board a British vessel, and pick up a piece of rope, you will find that there is one little red thread which runs through the whole of it—through every foot of cordage which belongs to the British government; so, if a piece of rope is stolen, it may be cut into inch pieces, but every piece has the mark which tells where it belongs. It is so with the Bible. You may separate it into a thousand parts, and yet you will find one thought—one great fact running through the whole of it. You will find it constantly pointing and referring to one great Personage. Around this one mighty Personage this whole book revolves. “To Him give all the prophets witness.” (H. L. Hastings.)
The three names taken together would mean this—the Assyrians would spoil the countries of Syria and Ephraim, and though they would threaten Judah, God would be with His people, and save them, and so a remnant would be left which would return at once to religious faith and to national prosperity. For these two last are almost always associated in the prophet’s view. (F. H. Woods, B.D.)
A prophecy of the Messiah:—
When Jesus claimed to be the Son of God, the Jews saw quite clearly that this was indeed nothing less than the claim to be Divine, and they cried out that this was blasphemy. And what was His reply? Jesus reminded His hearers that the earliest judges and leaders of the people of Israel, as testified by the language of their Scriptures, had been called gods. “Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your law, I said, ye are gods? If He called them gods, unto whom the Word of God came, and the Scripture cannot be broken; say ye of Him, whom the Father hath sanctified and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest; because I said, I am the Son of God?” The judges and rulers of the early days of Israel had been called gods because their office and function was just this—to represent God on earth to men, to reflect His character, and do His will, and lead His people. They often failed to do this because they were merely human. In some cases they were false to their trust, and then God’s vengeance overtook them. Yet they pointed to that one far-off Divine event when One who should perfectly fulfil that name was to interpose for the world’s deliverance. And thus, just as the implied prophecy in calling men gods was to be one day fulfilled, so the prophecy of Isaiah before us was also a prophecy of that same later far-off event, when one who was in every sense “God with us” should come to satisfy the needs and the longings of the human heart. (Canon Ainger.)
Immanuel, the Sympathiser:—
“God with us.” This means omnipotence with us, omniscience with us, perfection with us, and the love that never fails. Some of us, perhaps, have tried, in conformity with the passion for getting rid of the supernatural that marks the latest struggle of the scientific world, to construct a new religion out of the old, in which the same pathetic and lovely figure as before shall be placed beside us for our example, but from whom the aureole of Deity has been taken away; they have been trying to find all that life needs in the presence only of a fellow-man, however superior to ourselves in holiness and purity. There are moments in our lives when we feel ourselves face to face with sin, in the presence of sorrow or of death from which no man can deliver us. In the sad hours of your life, it has been said, the recollection of that Man you read of in your childhood, the Man of sorrows, the great Sympathiser with human woes and sufferings, rises up before you. I know it is a reality for you then, for you feel it to be not only beautiful but true. In such moments does it seem to you as if Christ were merely a person who eighteen hundred years ago made certain journeying between Judea and Galilee? Can such a recollection fill up the blank which some present grief, the loss of some friend, has made in your heart? It does not. It never did this for you or for anyone. But the comfort that came to you from the thought of Him may be safely trusted not to betray you, for that voice that came to you in your anguish says, “You may trust Me, you may lean upon Me, for I know all things in heaven and earth. I and My Father are one.” (Ibid.)
Nature, God, and Jesus are words often used to designate the same power or being, but are suggestive of very different associations. The word “nature” veils from our view the glory of the Godhead, and removes His personality from our consciousness. It removes the Deity to a distance from us, but Jesus, the newer and better name, the latest revelation, brings Him nearer to us. The associations of the name Jesus, as a name of God, are most tender and endearing. Jesus does not remind us of blind power or unfeeling skill, as the word nature does; nor yet of overwhelming greatness, distant force and vast intelligence, the conception of which strains our faculties, and the realisation of which crushes our power, as the word God does. The name of Jesus reminds us chiefly of sympathy, kindheartedness, brotherly tenderness, and one-ness with ourselves. The word God presents a picture of the Deity to the mind, in which those attributes of the Divine character which are in themselves most removed from us, occupy the most prominent position, and are bathed with a flood of light, while those features of character, by which the Divine Spirit touches the delicate chords of human affections, are dimly seen amid the darkening shadows of the background. The picture is reversed in Jesus. The great attributes are buried in the light of love, as the stars are covered by the light of day. (Evan Lewis, B.A.)
“Immanuel,” a stimulus to the prophet himself:—
Isaiah may have meant the Name to speak to him as well as to the nation. He may have desired to bring the message of the Name into his personal and family life. For, after all, a prophet is but a man of like passions with ourselves, subject to the same infirmities and fluctuations of spirit, “warmed and cooled by the same winter and summer.” There were times, no doubt, when even Isaiah lost faith in his own function, in his own message, when the very man who had assured a sinful nation that God was with them could hardly believe that God was with him, or could even cry out, “Depart from me, O Lord, for I am a sinful man!” And in such moments as these, when, weary of the world and weary of himself, he lost courage and hope, he may have felt that it would be well for him to have that in his very household which would help to recall the truths he had recognised and taught in hours of clearer insight, help to restore the faith with which he had first sprung up to greet the Divine message. We may believe that there were many darkened hours in his experience, hours of broken faith and defeated hope, when he would fall back on his earlier faith and brighter hopes; when he would call his little son to him, and, as he fondled him, would repeat his name, Immanuel, Immanuel—God-with-us, God-with-us,—and find in that Name a charm potent to restore his waning trust in the gracious presence and gracious will of Jehovah. (“Niger” in Expositor.)
The child Immanuel:—
Isaiah may have felt, as we feel, that God is with a little child in quite another sense, in a more pathetic sense, than He is with grown men. To him, as to us, their innocence, their loveliness, and, above all, their love, may have been the most exquisite revelation of the purity and love of God. “Heaven lies about their infancy”; and in this heaven the prophet may often have taken refuge from his cares, despondencies, and fears. Every child born into the world brings this message to us, reminds us that God is with us indeed and of a truth; for whence did this new, pure, tender life come if not from the central Fountain of life and purity and love? And from this point of view Isaiah’s “Immanuel” is but the ancient analogue of our Lord’s tender words: “Of such is the kingdom of heaven.” (Ibid.)
The text is a prophecy of the Messiah (Matt. 1:23).
I. The circumstances under which it was spoken.
II. Its fulfilment. For more than seven hundred years devout Jews waited for the Divinely predicted sign. Then came the day which Christmas commemorates.
III. Its practical import. To Christians this prophecy is significant of those blessings which are pledged to us in Christ. In Him we have the assurance of God being—
1. With us in the sense of on our side. Nature shows us God as above us; law shows us God as against us, because we have made ourselves His enemies; but the Gospel shows us God with us to defend us from the power of sin and to deliver us from the penalty of sin.
2. With us in the sense of in our nature. “The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us”; became one of ourselves, shared with us—
(1) The trials of a human life;
(2) The temptations which assail us;
(3) The penalty of sin—death of the body, the hiding of God’s countenance. And so in Christ Jesus we have the pledge of the three cardinal blessings of all Divine revelation—
(a) The Divine sympathy, because He is “touched with the feeling of our infirmities.”
(b) The Divine salvation, because He has “put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.”
(c) The Divine succour, because He “ever liveth to make intercession” for us; and His parting word to His Church is, “Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.” (T. H. Barnett.)
God with us, though His presence is not always realised:—
Professor Tyndall has told us how, as he wandered through the higher Alpine pastures in the earlier months of the present summer (1879), he was often surprised to find at evening lovely flowers in full bloom where in the morning he had seen only a wide thin sheet of snow. Struck with the strange phenomenon, unable to believe that a few hours of even the most fervent sunshine had drawn these exquisite flowers to their full maturity, he carefully scraped away the snow from a few inches of pasture and examined the plants that were growing beneath it. And, to his surprise and delight, he found that the powers of life had been with them even while they seemed wrapped in death; that the sun had reached them through the snow; that the snow itself had both held down the rising warmth of the earth upon them, and sheltered them from the cold biting winds which might else have destroyed them. There they stood, each full grown, every flower maturely developed, though the green calyx was carefully folded over the delicately coloured petals; and no sooner was the snow removed, no sooner did the rays of the sun touch the green enfolding calyx, than it opened and revealed the perfect beauty it had shrouded and preserved. And so, doubtless, we shall one day find that God, our Sun, has been with us even during the winter of our self-discontent, all through the hours of apparent failure and inertness, quickening in us a life of which we gave but little sign, maturing and making us perfect by the things we suffered; so that when the hindering veils are withdrawn, and the full light of His love shines upon us, at that gracious touch we too may disclose a beauty of which we had not dreamed, and of which for long we gave no promise. (“Niger” in Expositor.)
Life’s best amulet:—
A Mohammedan negro in Africa was once taken prisoner in war. He wore suspended around his neck an amulet or charm. When this was taken from him he became almost frenzied with grief, and begged that it be returned to him He was willing to sacrifice his right hand for it. It was his peculiar treasure, which he valued as life itself. It was a very simple affair—a little leather case enclosing a slip of paper on which was inscribed in Arabic characters one word—“God.” He believed that the wearing of this charm secured for him a blessed immunity from ill. When it was returned to him he was so overjoyed that the tears streamed from his eyes, and falling to the ground he kissed the feet of the man who restored to him his treasure. That poor negro had but the bare name—we have God! Not a distant monarch seated lonesomely away from any human voice or footstep. There is one name that ought to be dearest of all to every Christian—“Immanuel.” It means not a Deity remote or hidden, but “God with us.” (Christian Endeavour.)
God with us:—
An old poet has represented the Son of God as having the stars for His crown, the sky for His azure mantle, the clouds for His bow, and the fire for His spear. He rode forth in His majestic robes of glory, but one day resolved to alight on the earth, and descended, undressing Himself on the way. When asked what He would wear, He replied, with a smile, “that He had new clothes making down below.” (Gates of Imagery.)
14. Against the background of divine exasperation (13) and the change from ‘your God’, therefore draws a conclusion: the sign he proposes is no longer a movement of grace opening a door of faith to the king (10) but a movement of displeasure spelling out the dire result of his faithlessness. But can the sign itself be of less magnitude than the promise to ‘move heaven and earth’ (11), especially since its giver is the Lord himself (’ǎdōnāy, ‘the Sovereign One’)? The virgin (hā‘almâ): it is widely urged that, had Isaiah intended virgo intacta (as Matt. 1:23, 25 understood him to mean), he would not have used ‘almâ but bĕtûlâ and that, by using ‘almâ, he meant no more than a ‘young woman’ who, since she was to become pregnant, must charitably be assumed to be married. But it is argued here that Isaiah did indeed intend virgo intacta (see Additional note, pp. 90–91).
Be with child … give birth: cf. Genesis 16:11; Judges 13:5. The expression is ‘timeless’, with the context deciding in each case. Immanuel: ‘God with us’ (niv mg.). The case for expecting a divine Messiah is strong in the Old Testament and was, in fact, Jesus’ understanding (Matt. 22:41–45). It is clear that at some point the expectations originating in 2 Samuel 7 developed into the hope of a perfect King who would reign universally for ever (9:7) and who would be both son of David and Son of God (see on 4:2; Pss 2:7; 45:6; cf. Acts 13:33; Rom. 1:4; Heb. 1:5; 5:5). The view that the ‘almâ means, collectively, the young marrieds of Judah, who in the coming troubles would either express faith by naming their sons ‘God is with us’ or voice prayer by naming them ‘God be with us’, must surely be doubted. The you (pl.) to whom the Sovereign One gives this sign is the ‘house of David’, represented by Ahaz. In what sense would a rash of little Immanuels, which Ahaz would dismiss as women’s hysteria, constitute a heaven-sent sign, matching the momentousness of this passage, or prepare for the developing Immanuel-theme through 8:8 into 9:6?
14. Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign. Ahaz had already refused the sign which the Lord offered to him, when the Prophet remonstrated against his rebellion and ingratitude; yet the Prophet declares that this will not prevent God from giving the sign which he had promised and appointed for the Jews. But what sign?
Behold, a virgin shall conceive. This passage is obscure; but the blame lies partly on the Jews, who, by much cavilling, have laboured, as far as lay in their power, to pervert the true exposition. They are hard pressed by this passage; for it contains an illustrious prediction concerning the Messiah, who is here called Immanuel; and therefore they have laboured, by all possible means, to torture the Prophet’s meaning to another sense. Some allege that the person here mentioned is Hezekiah; and others, that it is the son of Isaiah.
Those who apply this passage to Hezekiah are excessively impudent; for he must have been a full-grown man when Jerusalem was besieged. Thus they show that they are grossly ignorant of history. But it is a just reward of their malice, that God hath blinded them in such a manner as to be deprived of all judgment. This happens in the present day to the papists, who often expose themselves to ridicule by their mad eagerness to pervert the Scriptures.
As to those who think that it was Isaiah’s son, it is an utterly frivolous conjecture; for we do not read that a deliverer would be raised up from the seed of Isaiah, who should be called Immanuel; for this title is far too illustrious to admit of being applied to any man.
Others think, or, at least, (being unwilling to contend with the Jews more than was necessary,) admit that the Prophet spoke of some child who was born at that time, by whom, as by an obscure picture, Christ was foreshadowed. But they produce no strong arguments, and do not show who that child was, or bring forward any proofs. Now, it is certain, as we have already said, that this name Immanuel could not be literally applied to a mere man; and, therefore, there can be no doubt that the Prophet referred to Christ.
But all writers, both Greek and Latin, are too much at their ease in handling this passage; for, as if there were no difficulty in it, they merely assert that Christ is here promised from the Virgin Mary. Now, there is no small difficulty in the objection which the Jews bring against us, that Christ is here mentioned without any sufficient reason; for thus they argue, and demand that the scope of the passage be examined: “Jerusalem was besieged. The Prophet was about to give them a sign of deliverance. Why should he promise the Messiah, who was to be born five hundred years afterwards?” By this argument they think that they have gained the victory, because the promise concerning Christ had nothing to do with assuring Ahaz of the deliverance of Jerusalem. And then they boast as if they had gained the day, chiefly because scarcely any one replies to them. That is the reason why I said that commentators have been too much at their ease in this matter; for it is of no small importance to show why the Redeemer is here mentioned.
Now, the matter stands thus. King Ahaz having rejected the sign which God had offered to him, the Prophet reminds him of the foundation of the covenant, which even the ungodly did not venture openly to reject. The Messiah must be born; and this was expected by all, because the salvation of the whole nation depended on it. The Prophet, therefore, after having expressed his indignation against the king, again argues in this manner: “By rejecting the promise, thou wouldest endeavour to overturn the decree of God; but it shall remain inviolable, and thy treachery and ingratitude will not hinder God from being continually the Deliverer of his people; for he will at length raise up his Messiah.”
To make these things more plain, we must attend to the custom of the Prophets, who, in establishing special promises, lay down this as the foundation, that God will send a Redeemer. On this general foundation God everywhere builds all the special promises which he makes to his people; and certainly every one who expects aid and assistance from him must be convinced of his fatherly love. And how could he be reconciled to us but through Christ, in whom he has freely adopted the elect, and continues to pardon them to the end? Hence comes that saying of Paul, that all the promises of God in Christ are Yea and Amen. (2 Cor. 1:20.) Whenever, therefore, God assisted his ancient people, he at the same time reconciled them to himself through Christ; and accordingly, whenever famine, pestilence, and war are mentioned, in order to hold out a hope of deliverance, he places the Messiah before their eyes. This being exceedingly clear, the Jews have no right to make a noise, as if the Prophet made an unseasonable transition to a very remote subject. For on what did the deliverance of Jerusalem depend, but on the manifestation of Christ? This was, indeed, the only foundation on which the salvation of the Church always rested.
Most appropriately, therefore, did Isaiah say, “True, thou dost not believe the promises of God, but yet God will fulfil them; for he will at length send his Christ, for whose sake he determines to preserve this city. Though thou art unworthy, yet God will have regard to his own honour.” King Ahaz is therefore deprived of that sign which he formerly rejected, and loses the benefit of which he proved himself to be unworthy; but still God’s inviolable promise is still held out to him. This is plainly enough intimated by the particle לכן, (lāchēn,) therefore; that is, because thou disdainest that particular sign which God offered to thee, הוא, (hū,) He, that is, God himself, who was so gracious as to offer it freely to thee, he whom thou weariest will not fail to hold out a sign. When I say that the coming of Christ is promised to Ahaz, I do not mean that God includes him among the chosen people, to whom he had appointed his Son to be the Author of salvation; but because the discourse is directed to the whole body of the people.
Will give you a sign. The word לכם, (lāchĕm,) to you, is interpreted by some as meaning to your children; but this is forced. So far as relates to the persons addressed, the Prophet leaves the wicked king and looks to the nation, so far as it had been adopted by God. He will therefore give, not to thee a wicked king, and to those who are like thee, but to you whom he has adopted; for the covenant which he made with Abraham continues to be firm and inviolable. And the Lord always has some remnant to whom the advantage of the covenant belongs; though the rulers and governors of his people may be hypocrites.
Behold, a virgin shall conceive. The word Behold is used emphatically, to denote the greatness of the event; for this is the manner in which the Spirit usually speaks of great and remarkable events, in order to elevate the minds of men. The Prophet, therefore, enjoins his hearers to be attentive, and to consider this extraordinary work of God; as if he had said, “Be not slothful, but consider this singular grace of God, which ought of itself to have drawn your attention, but is concealed from you on account of your stupidity.”
Although the word עלמה, (gnălmāh,) a virgin, is derived from עלם, (gnālăm,) which signifies to hide, because the shame and modesty of virgins does not allow them to appear in public; yet as the Jews dispute much about that word, and assert that it does not signify virgin, because Solomon used it to denote a young woman who was betrothed, it is unnecessary to contend about the word. Though we should admit what they say, that עלמה (gnălmāh) sometimes denotes a young woman, and that the name refers, as they would have it, to the age, (yet it is frequently used in Scripture when the subject relates to a virgin,) the nature of the case sufficiently refutes all their slanders. For what wonderful thing did the Prophet say, if he spoke of a young woman who conceived through intercourse with a man? It would certainly have been absurd to hold out this as a sign or a miracle. Let us suppose that it denotes a young woman who should become pregnant in the ordinary course of nature; everybody sees that it would have been silly and contemptible for the Prophet, after having said that he was about to speak of something strange and uncommon, to add, A young woman shall conceive. It is, therefore, plain enough that he speaks of a virgin who should conceive, not by the ordinary course of nature, but by the gracious influence of the Holy Spirit. And this is the mystery which Paul extolls in lofty terms, that God was manifested in the flesh. (1 Tim. 3:16.)
And shall call. The Hebrew verb is in the feminine gender, She shall call; for as to those who read it in the masculine gender, I know not on what they found their opinion. The copies which we use certainly do not differ. If you apply it to the mother, it certainly expresses something different from the ordinary custom. We know that to the father is always assigned the right of giving a name to a child; for it is a sign of the power and authority of fathers over children; and the same authority does not belong to women. But here it is conveyed to the mother; and therefore it follows that he is conceived by the mother in such a manner as not to have a father on earth; otherwise the Prophet would pervert the ordinary custom of Scripture, which ascribes this office to men only. Yet it ought to be observed that the name was not given to Christ at the suggestion of his mother, and in such a case it would have had no weight; but the Prophet means that, in publishing the name, the virgin will occupy the place of a herald, because there will be no earthly father to perform that office.
Immanuel. This name was unquestionably bestowed on Christ on account of the actual fact; for the only-begotten Son of God clothed himself with our flesh, and united himself to us by partaking of our nature. He is, therefore, called God with us, or united to us; which cannot apply to a man who is not God. The Jews in their sophistry tell us that this name was given to Hezekiah; because by the hand of Hezekiah God delivered his people; and they add, “He who is the servant of God represents his person.” But neither Moses nor Joshua, who were deliverers of the nation, were so denominated; and therefore this Immanuel is preferred to Moses and Joshua, and all the others; for by this name he excels all that ever were before, and all that shall come after him; and it is a title expressive of some extraordinary excellence and authority which he possesses above others. It is therefore evident that it denotes not only the power of God, such as he usually displays by his servant, but a union of person, by which Christ became God-man. Hence it is also evident that Isaiah here relates no common event, but points out that unparalleled mystery which the Jews labour in vain to conceal.
14 If Ahaz will not ask for a sign, God in his sovereignty will give one in any case. It is impossible to ascertain whether this is the sign God intended to give had Ahaz asked, or whether it is especially given in view of Ahaz’s refusal to ask. At any rate, it is the one he receives. As noted above, it confirms Isaiah’s earlier promise (vv. 4–9), but it also confirms the foolishness of not trusting that promise. That the positive side would have applied had Ahaz received the sign in faith lends some weight to the idea that this was the intended sign. Had Ahaz received it in faith, Immanuel would have appeared solely as the vindication of the house of David. As it was, he was to appear as a shame to the house of David: they had not believed, and so received the just result of that unbelief. Nevertheless, God, in faithfulness to his own promise, would raise up from the wreckage a true Son of David.
a maiden shall conceive. It is not possible to be dogmatic as to why Isaiah used the ambiguous ʿalmâ here instead of the unambiguous beṯûlâ. Nor is it clear what meaning should be assigned to ʿalmâ. Typically, the meaning given is “a young woman of marriageable age,” with the clear implication that the conception is a natural one. However, conservative scholars have frequently pointed out that the word is never used of a married woman in the OT.21 So they have argued that the word denotes a sexually mature, but unmarried, young woman. It would be axiomatic in Hebrew society that such a woman would be a virgin. While the viginity would not be the main focus, as with beṯûlâ, nonetheless it would still follow. The English “maiden” comes very close to having the same denotations and connotations. Such an understanding has the significant virtue of explaining the origin of the LXX parthénos, “virgin,” something those commentators opting for “a young woman of marriageable age” do not mention. Unless ʿalmâ had overtones of virginity about it, the LXX translation is inexplicable.
But if Isaiah wished to stress the virginity of the mother here, why did he not use beṯûlâ? Young, noting that beṯûlâ is frequently accompanied by some such statement as “she had not known a man,” argues that it was the ambiguous term. However, this is manifestly not so, for beṯûlâ has no implication in addition to virginity, whereas ʿalmâ does. The conclusion to which we are driven is that while the prophet did not want to stress the virginity, neither did he wish to leave it aside (as he could have done by using ʾišŝa or some other term for “woman”). In fact, he may have used this term precisely because of its richness and diversity. The Ugaritic cognate (ǵlmt) is used with reference to a goddess who was understood to be a perpetual virgin. Without conceding that Isaiah has merely adapted a myth,24 one may still think that he adapted well-known linguistic forms which would make it plain that whatever might occur along the way, the ultimate fulfillment of this prophecy would be no ordinary event.
Possibly, then, it is the dual focus of the oracle that explains the use of ʿalmâ here. In the short term, the virgin conception does not seem to have had primary importance. Rather, the significance is that a child conceived at that moment would still be immature when the two threatening nations would have been destroyed (vv. 16, 22). Had Isaiah used beṯûlâ here, Ahaz would probably have been so caught up with that thought that he would have missed the specific linkage to his own time.
On the other hand, the very two-sidedness of the sign in Ahaz’s time demanded something more. Yes, the disappearance of Syria and Ephraim could be seen as evidence that God was with them. But what of Assyria, foolishly trusted and soon to turn on its hapless client? Was God still with them in that? And suppose even greater powers than Assyria strode onto the world’s stage, what then? If we can believe that the transcendent One is really immanent, and the immanent One truly transcendent, then there is reason to live courageously and unselfishly. But no child born to a young woman in Ahaz’s day is proof of God’s presence in all times. But if a virgin overshadowed by God’s Spirit should conceive and give birth, it would not only be a sign of God’s presence with us. Better than that, it would be the reality of that experience. So Ahaz’s sign must be rooted in its own time to have significance for that time, but it also must extend beyond that time and into a much more universal mode if its radical truth is to be any more than a vain hope. For such a twofold task ʿalmâ is admirably suited.
she will call his name Immanuel. The custom of the mother’s naming her child is not uncommon in the OT (cf. Gen. 4:1, 25; 29:31–30:13, 17–24; 35:18; Judg. 13:24; 1 Sam. 1:20; 4:21), especially if the mother has reason for a unique emotional investment in the child or if the father cannot perform the task. This emphasis upon the mother and the corresponding de-emphasis of the father’s role cannot help but be suggestive in the shaping of the ultimate understanding of the sign. No man sired by a human father could be the embodiment of “God with us.”
In contrast with Shear-jashub and Maher-shalal-hash-baz, both of whom are treated in a straightforward manner as Isaiah’s sons, there is an aura of mystery about the Immanuel figure. This is so even without the NT quotation of 7:14. His father is not identified at all and his mother only generally. He is touched upon only briefly, but then appears again suddenly in 8:8 as possessor of the land and yet again in 8:10 by means of a wordplay. The enigmatic nature of the references makes it extremely difficult to identify the child of Ahaz’s time. In the context of the house of David and being spoken of as owner of the land, it is tempting to think of a newly conceived crown prince. The recognition that curds and honey represent food of royalty in some Mesopotamian texts lends further credence to the idea, as does the thought that through Hezekiah God was able to demonstrate his faithful presence. However, that Hezekiah was twenty-five years old at his accession in 516 (2 K. 18:2) means that he was born in 741, at least six years before these events. To hold that the child was “the crown prince, as yet unborn,” raises again the question of Hezekiah. Are we to think Isaiah did not know that the crown prince was already born? Furthermore, if Ahaz was to father this child, it seems very odd that the fact should be ignored. Finally, v. 22 makes it very plain that curds and honey are not intended as symbols of royalty but of the generally depopulated nature of the region.
The suggestion that no particular child was intended is even less attractive, in the light of the particularity of Isaiah’s children as well as of 8:8 and of the description here. The facts of a child’s conception and birth are significant to the framework of the sign. The child will be born in a certain time frame, and its specific existence in that time frame is intrinsic to the function of the sign. It would not be necessary that Ahaz know of the birth, only that at some point he become aware that the promised child had been born.
Perhaps the most attractive option is that Immanuel and Maher-shalal-hash-baz were one and the same. If this were so, this passage would form a more poetic statement of the child’s identity, pointing to the ultimate Immanuel, whereas 8:1–4 would constitute a more prosaic account and be limited merely to the person of Maher-shalal-hash-baz. The references to his conception and birth in 8:3 lend support to the connection, as does the reference to Immanuel in 8:10, shortly after the discussion of the birth of Isaiah’s son.
 Smith, G. (2017). Isaiah. In T. Cabal (Ed.), CSB Apologetics Study Bible (p. 824). Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.
 Longman, T., III. (2017). Isaiah. In E. A. Blum & T. Wax (Eds.), CSB Study Bible: Notes (p. 1053). Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.
 Criswell, W. A., Patterson, P., Clendenen, E. R., Akin, D. L., Chamberlin, M., Patterson, D. K., & Pogue, J. (Eds.). (1991). Believer’s Study Bible (electronic ed., Is 7:14). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.
We are to remember our Creator, to live by faith in Him! Solomon applies this call in three ways. First, live by faith in Him when you are young and throughout your life, because one day you will die (v.1, 6a). God, through Solomon, uses a poem to show us this. One day the silver cord is snapped. Second, live by faith in Him now because when you die your body turns to dust and your soul meets God (v.6b-8). Third, and the main point, live by faith because life is a vapor. All of life is controlled by God, so trust God and enjoy life. Do you like to read? Read with joy in God’s name, one day you will not be able to. Do you like sports? Play with joy in God’s name, one day you will not be able to. Do you like to worship on Sunday? Worship with joy in God’s name, one day you will not be able to.
In other words, keep God in mind all the time. Remember what He has done for you, given to you, and promised you. Have faith in the Lord when you are young, in days of trouble, when the sun shines and when it is dark before the golden bowl is broken. Life is a gift from God to be lived for Him and enjoyed. He came to redeem us to enjoy Him and glorify Him. The gospel of Jesus, which God has given, is the way for us to have joy and faith.
Suggestion for prayer
Disparaging and worrying about circumstances in life is not wise. Pray God will give you the Holy Spirit’s fruit of peace and joy.Rev. Henry Bartsch has been serving as pastor of the Trinity Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church (Chatham, Ontario) since 2003. He and his wife Tammy have seven children and two grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional.
“It is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9
Don’t you love gifts! Especially when they’re truly given, with no strings attached, all we have to do is receive them. The greatest gift we’ve ever received has nothing to do with our efforts. It is a gift from God. We didn’t earn it, deserve it, or purchase it. God gave it through his sacrificial gift so our salvation would not be our boast, but his kindness.
Holy God, I can never thank you enough for sending Jesus and paying the debt for my sin. May I never presume on your grace or take the cost of your gift lightly. At the same time, Father, I want to live confidently, knowing that my salvation is not dependent on my mistakes but upon your grace. Because of such a lavish gift, I want to live for you today in a way that reflects the joy I have at receiving such an awesome gift. In the name of Jesus, my source of hope and grace, I pray. Amen.
“O, God, You are my God, earnestly I seek You; my soul thirsts for You…” Psalm 63:1
Prayer to action this in my life:
Father in Heaven, Thank you that You are my God. Thank you that through opening my life to You I received forgiveness and life through Jesus.
Lord, I confess that often I do not seek You. I run breathlessly seeking to accomplish so many things. I cry out for Your blessing on what I undertake. I beg for Your help when I lose my way. I want Your strength when mine is gone. And You so graciously provide for me in all these ways. Your invitation is wide open to come boldly to Your throne of grace to find mercy and help in my time of need.
Yet I know You have so much more for me…
You have that cool drink that will satisfy my thirsty spirit. You desire to lead me beside quiet waters and wash the dust off my soul. You have joy to infuse into my being as I come to You in quiet contemplation of all You are. To you, O God, I lift up my soul right now. Restore to me the joy of knowing You. Renew in me the commitment to spend time letting Your word soak into my heart and mind. Refresh me with new understand of Your goodness and mercy in my life. Refuel my soul with the filling and power of Your Holy Spirit. Keep my heart thirsty for You, Lord and help me to seek you with my whole heart. I love You Lord and I thank You for Your loving hand on my life. In Jesus’ name I give You thanksgiving and praise as I come thirsty, amen.
Our workplace ethic is praiseworthy when we appropriate the power of His Presence. Do we have a tendency to strive in life and work to please others but disregard Him?
…not in the way of eye-service, as men-pleasers, but as servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart…
Several times the idea is put forth: never work for men, you Christians; work only for God. You can work under a person’s direction, but remember that you are working unto the Lord, that your daily task is work that He has given you to do, and you do it unto Him. What a glory this gives to every task. If you approach your work like this, you will never have another dull day. You will never be bored stiff with the routine and humdrum of what you have to do if you recognize that you are doing it with the eye of the Lord upon you and with the recognition that one day it will be made open and clear to all whether you did it as unto the Lord or unto men. What are the signs of the failure to do this?
The first sign is eyeservice, which means working only when the boss is watching. When the boss is not there to observe, you quit working. Some years ago I read an account of a foreman and some primitive workers under him. He found that they were afflicted with this disease of eyeservice; they worked only when he watched them. But this particular foreman was the proud possessor of a glass eye, and he found that he could take his eye out of the socket and lay it on a stump where it couldwatchthe men, and they would go right on working, whether he was there or not. But one day he came back to find them all lounging around. He had placed the eye on the stump, but one of the men had found a way to sneak around, come up behind the eye, and put his hat over it so that it no longersawthem. It is that attitude that so widely pervades our society today, the idea of working only when the boss is watching. If you are a Christian, this is forbidden if you want to be faithful to your Lord. Remember, the eye that watches you is not a human eye.
The second sign of failure in this respect is to be men-pleasing. Notice how the apostle is putting his finger on the attitudes that he found so frequently in this relationship of labor and capital. What is being men-pleasing? It is falsely flattering the boss, apple polishing, or playing office politics. It reveals a double heart, the lack of a single eye. It reveals that we are trying to get on by making other people happy but disregarding what God thinks. These are the signs of failure.
Christians are called away from these things. They have no business engaging in these types of activity if they want to be faithful to their Lord. They do not accomplish a thing. They seem to accomplish something, but in the end they do not. Christians are saved from all this if they remember that what they do is the will of God. Paul says that we are to obey our earthly masters in singleness of heart,doing the will of God from the heart.What is the will of God? Your work! The very work you are doing, where you are doing it, with your co-workers, under the present circumstances and conditions under which you have to work-that is God’s choice for you, that is the will of God.
Father, I live before You. There is no area of my life that is not subject to Your gaze and to Your judgment. Grant to me that I correct what is wrong in my own work in the light of this word.
He never deserted His disciples, but they in cowardly fear of their lives fled from Him at the very outset of His sufferings.
He never deserted them, but they in cowardly fear of their lives fled from Him at the very outset of His sufferings. This is but one instructive instance of the frailty of all believers if left to themselves; they are but sheep at best, and they flee when the wolf appears. They had all been warned of the danger and had promised to die rather than leave their Master; and yet they were seized with sudden panic and took to their heels.
It may be that I, at the opening of this day, have braced myself to bear a trial for the Lord’s sake, and I imagine myself able for the challenge; but let me be careful in case with the same evil heart of unbelief I should depart from my Lord as the apostles did. It is one thing to promise, and quite another to perform. It would have been to their eternal honor to have stood manfully at Jesus’ side; they fled from honor. May I be kept from imitating them! Where else could they have been so safe as near their Master, who could presently call for twelve legions of angels? They fled from their true safety.
O God, let me not play the fool also. Divine grace can make the coward brave. The smoking flax can flame forth like fire on the altar when the Lord wills it. These very apostles who were timid as hares grew to be bold as lions after the Spirit had descended upon them, and even so the Holy Spirit can make my wretched spirit brave to confess my Lord and witness for His truth. What anguish must have filled the Savior as He saw His friends so faithless! This was one bitter ingredient in His cup; but that cup is drained dry; let me not put another drop in it.
If I forsake my Lord, I shall crucify Him afresh and put Him to an open shame. Keep me, O blessed Spirit, from such a shameful end.
March 27 Deuteronomy 7:1-8:20 Luke 7:36-8:3 Psalm 69:1-18 Proverbs 12:1
Deuteronomy 7:4 – God cares about who you marry. 2 Corinthians 6:14 warns about being unequally yoked. I Kings 11:2-4 reiterates this warning to Solomon and says that the women led him astray.
Deuteronomy 7:5 – The LORD does not believe all roads lead to Heaven. He commanded destruction of pagan altars. In Judges 6:25 God commanded Gideon to destroy the altar to the false gods, as did Josiah in 2 Kings 23:8.
Deuteronomy 7:18 – We are commanded to remember the works of God.
Deuteronomy 7:25 – Sometimes we want to repurpose things used in the service of Satan to other purposes. But God says we must utterly separate from the worship of other gods.
Deuteronomy 8:10-11 – On March 30, 1863, Abraham Lincoln echoed these words:
We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of Heaven. We have been preserved, these many years, in peace and prosperity. We have grown in numbers, wealth and power, as no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace, and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us; and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us!
It behooves us then, to humble ourselves before the offended Power, to confess our national sins, and to pray for clemency and forgiveness.
Luke 8:3 – We are introduced to Joanna, the wife of Chuza, who financially supported Jesus. Throughout history God has used people of means to support His work – Frederick the Wise who supported Luther, John Thornton who partly supported John Newton, Cyrus McCormick who supported Moody, Lyman Stewart who funded the Fundamentals and started the Bible Institute of Los Angeles (B.I.O.L.A.), amongst others. Interestingly this financial support may be from gratitude – Joanna may have been the mother of the child healed by Jesus in John 4. Today many Christian ministries are supported by faithful older women who are grateful for what the LORD has done in their life.
Psalm 69:5 – Don’t be afraid to admit your faults to the LORD, He knows them already.
Proverbs 12:1 – What do you love?
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The Apostle Paul instructs Christians in Philippi to “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling” (Phil. 2:12–13). From one of our Ask Ligonier events, Steven Lawson explains what this means and how this fear is cultivated.
23 Woe to you Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, for you tithe mint and dill and cumin, but you have neglected the more important things of the Law: justice and mercy and faith; but these things you should have done without neglecting the others. Matthew 23:23 (translated from the NA28 Greek text)
A simple definition of mercy is “the withholding of deserved punishment and relieving distress.” The Greek ἔλεος (eleos) speaks of “compassion, pity.” One Greek lexicon tells us, “Kindness or good will towards the miserable and afflicted joined with a desire to relieve them.” Even the pagans of Greece felt pity. Aristotle wrote that tragedy aroused pity and even fear that the same tragedy might befall them.
This word, ἔλεος (eleos), appears in the passage I placed at the top of this post, Matthew 23:23. In it our Lord calls the Pharisees hypocrites because while they fastidiously counted out a tenth of the seeds of herbs to give as tithes, they ignored the more important matters of mercy and faith. In a graphic example of mercy, after the Lord told the disciples the parable of how the Good Samaritan showed mercy (Luke 10:25-37), He told them to “Go and do likewise.”
Paul also used this word often in his letters as a simple reminder of God’s mercy, a reminder that none of us can hear too often (Romans 9:23; 11:21; Galatians 6:16). In one of the most pointed verses in Scripture about salvation not being by works, Paul wrote to Titus: “He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit” (3:5) This word was imbedded in Paul’s thinking, in face, that he even used it often in salutations (1 Timothy 1:2; 2 Timothy 1:2; Titus :4).
So mercy is obviously always to the helpless. Moreover, as Ephesians 2:1-3 show, we deserve whatever tragedy, affliction, misery, depression, heartache, and all other pain that befall us, but God relieves it by His underserved mercy. In short, we deserve God’s wrath, but He is merciful; He relieves us out of His incomprehensible compassion.
What is the difference between mercy and grace?
Mercy – the withholding of what is deserved (e.g., death and hell).
Grace – the bestowing of what is not deserved (e.g., life and heaven).
And as soon as morning came, after formulating a plan, the chief priests, with the elders and scribes and the whole Sanhedrin, tied up Jesus, led him away, and handed him over to Pilate. And Pilate asked him, “Are you the king of the Jews?” And he answered him and said, “You say so.” And the chief priests began to accuse him of many things. So Pilate asked him again, saying, “Do you not answer anything? See how many charges they are bringing against you!” But Jesus did not answer anything further, so that Pilate was astonished.
He is the First-begotten, after a transcendent manner. He is the creator of man. He is all in all—patriarch among the patriarchs; law in the law; the priest among priests; among kings, prime Leader; the prophet among the prophets; the angel among angels; the man among men; son in the Father; God in God; king to all eternity. He was sold with Joseph, and He guided Abraham. He was bound along with Isaac and wandered with Jacob. With Moses, He was Leader, and, respecting the people, legislator. He preached in the prophets, was incarnate of a virgin, and born in Bethlehem. He was received by John and baptized in Jordan. He was tempted in the desert, and proved to be the Lord.
He gathered the apostles together and preached the kingdom of heaven. He gave light to the blind and raised the dead. He was seen in the temple, but was not held by the people as worthy of credit. He was arrested by the priests, conducted before Herod, and condemned in the presence of Pilate. He manifested Himself in the body, was suspended upon a beam of wood, and raised from the dead. He was shown to the apostles, and—having been carried up to heaven—sits on the right hand of the Father, and has been glorified by Him as the resurrection of the dead. Moreover, He is the salvation of the lost, the light to those dwelling in darkness, and redemption to those who have been born. He is the shepherd of the saved and the bridegroom of the Church. He is the charioteer of the cherubim, the leader of the angelic host. He is God of God—Jesus Christ our Saviour.
—Irenaeus of Lyons
Fragments from the Lost Writings of Irenaeus
Which of Jesus’ roles, listed by Irenaeus of Lyons above, is the most amazing to you? Why? Spend time praising Him in prayer and thanking Him for His roles and His work.