Category Archives: Daily Devotional Guide

40 Days to the Cross: Week Six – Saturday

Confession: Psalm 42:11

Why are you in despair, O my soul?

And why are you disturbed within me?

Hope in God, because I shall again praise him,

my salvation and my God.

Reading: Mark 16:1–20

And when the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome purchased fragrant spices so that they could go and anoint him. And very early in the morning on the first day of the week they came to the tomb after the sun had risen. And they were saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb?” And when they looked up, they saw that the stone had been rolled away (for it was very large). And as they were going into the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed. But he said to them, “Do not be alarmed. You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene who was crucified. He has been raised, he is not here! See the place where they laid him! But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going ahead of you to Galilee. You will see him there, just as he told you.” And they went out and fled from the tomb, because trembling and amazement had seized them. And they said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid.

So they promptly reported all the things they had been commanded to those around Peter. And after these things, Jesus himself also sent out through them from the east even as far as the west the holy and imperishable proclamation of eternal salvation. Amen.

Now early on the first day of the week, after he rose, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, from whom he had expelled seven demons. She went out and announced it to those who were with him while they were mourning and weeping. And those, when they heard that he was alive and had been seen by her, refused to believe it. And after these things, he appeared in a different form to two of them as they were walking, while they were going out into the countryside. And these went and reported it to the others, and they did not believe them. And later, while they were reclining at table, he appeared to the eleven. And he reprimanded their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they did not believe those who had seen him after he had been raised. And he said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. The one who believes and is baptized will be saved, but the one who refuses to believe will be condemned. And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will expel demons, they will speak in new tongues, they will pick up snakes. And if they drink any deadly poison it will never hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick and they will get well.”

Then the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God. And they went out and proclaimed everywhere, while the Lord was working together with them and confirming the message through the accompanying signs.

Reflection

He that abides in Christ the crucified one learns to know what it is to be crucified with Him—and in Him to be indeed dead unto sin. He that abides in Christ the risen and glorified one becomes in the same way partaker of His resurrection life, and of the glory with which He has now been crowned in heaven. Unspeakable are the blessings which flow to the soul from the union with Jesus in His glorified life.

This life is a life of perfect victory and rest. Before His death, the Son of God had to suffer and to struggle. He could be tempted and troubled by sin and its assaults. As the risen one, He has triumphed over sin. And, as the glorified one, His humanity has entered into participation of the glory of deity. The believer who abides in Him as such is led to see how the power of sin and the flesh are indeed destroyed. The consciousness of complete and everlasting deliverance becomes increasingly clear. The blessed rest and peace—the fruit of such a conviction that victory and deliverance are an accomplished fact—take possession of the life. Abiding in Jesus, in whom he has been raised and set in the heavenly places, he receives of that glorious life streaming from the head through every member of the body.

—Andrew Murray

Abide in Christ

Response

Christ has defeated death! If you abide in Christ, you are a partaker of His resurrection life. Spend time today—every day—praising Him for this new life. Jesus leaves His disciples with words of encouragement and empowerment. How do you see His commission playing out in your own life? What steps do you take to fulfill it?[1]


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

40 Days to the Cross: Week Six – Friday

Confession: Psalm 86:1–5

Incline, O Yahweh, your ear and answer me,

because I am poor and needy.

Watch over my life because I am faithful.

You are my God; save your servant.

I am the one who trusts you.

Be gracious to me, O Lord,

because I call to you all day long.

Make glad the soul of your servant,

because I desire you, O Lord.

For you, O Lord, are good and forgiving,

and abundant in loyal love for all who call to you.

Reading: Mark 15:42–47

And when it was already evening, since it was the day of preparation (that is, the day before the Sabbath), Joseph of Arimathea, a prominent member of the council who was also himself looking forward to the kingdom of God, came acting courageously and went in to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. And Pilate was surprised that he was already dead, and summoning the centurion, asked him whether he had died already. And when he learned of it from the centurion, he granted the corpse to Joseph. And after purchasing a linen cloth and taking him down, he wrapped him in the linen cloth and placed him in a tomb that had been cut from the rock. And he rolled a stone over the entrance of the tomb. Now Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses saw where he was placed.

Reflection

Consider that gratitude and thankfulness is the best service—being the end of all other worship—and is God’s due. It is the end why God gives matter and means by which, and for which, we should be thankful. Nothing is more beneficial than thankfulness, nor anything more mischievous than unthankfulness. Consider also that hearty and constant thankfulness is a testimony of uprightness; it excellently becomes the upright to be thankful. It is all the homage, and all the service which God requires at your hands, for all the good that He bestows on you. It is pleasant and delightful. It is possible and easy through the grace of God’s Spirit.…

Thankfulness elevates and enlarges the soul, making it fruitful in good works beyond any other duty. For the thankful man is often consulting with himself what he shall render to the Lord for all His benefits to him. This spiritual praise and thanks to God by Christ is the beginning of heaven upon earth—being part of that communion and fellowship which saints and angels have with God above. It is that everlasting service, which endures forever.

—Henry Scudder

The Christian’s Daily Walk

Response

Is thankfulness your first response to Christ’s saving work? Spend time today—Good Friday—reading and reflecting on Mark 15. Then, turn to God in prayer.[1]


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

40 Days to the Cross: Week Six – Thursday

Confession: Psalm 141:7–8

As when one plows and breaks up the earth,

so our bones are scattered at the mouth of Sheol.

But my eyes are toward you, O Yahweh, my Lord;

I have taken refuge in you. Do not lay bare my soul.

Reading: Mark 15:37–41

But Jesus uttered a loud cry and expired. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. And when the centurion who was standing opposite him saw that he expired like this, he said, “Truly this man was God’s Son!” And there were also women observing from a distance, among whom were Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the younger and Joses, and Salome, who used to follow him and serve him when he was in Galilee, and many other women who went up with him to Jerusalem.

Reflection

It was God’s love that sent Jesus Christ to die for sinful men, rise again from the dead, and ascend to the right hand of the Father in glory. And it will be God’s love that will send Him back again to earth when the fullness of time for that greatest event in all this earth’s history has come. Heaven and all its glories, Hell and all its horrors both have their origin in the love of God.

Yes, “God is love” is the key note of the Bible, the secret of history, the explanation of nature and the solution of eternity’s mysteries. This manifestation of God’s love is greatest of all. This manifestation of God’s love is stupendous. It seems past believing, but we know it is true.

—R. A. Torrey

The Gospel for Today

Response

Other Gospel accounts record how Jesus’ followers were scattered and afraid after His death. Are there times in your life when you have doubted God’s love and sovereignty?[1]


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

40 Days to the Cross: Week Six – Wednesday

Confession: Psalm 141:1–5

I call on you, O Yahweh; hasten to me.

Listen to my voice when I call to you.

Let my prayer be set before you as incense,

the lifting up of my palms as the evening offering.

Set a guard, O Yahweh, over my mouth;

keep watch over the door of my lips.

Do not incline my heart to any evil thing,

to practice wicked deeds with men who do iniquity;

and do not let me eat of their delicacies.

Let a righteous one strike me in kindness,

and let him chasten me.

It is oil for my head; let not my head refuse.

For still my prayer is against their evil deeds.

Reading: Mark 15:33–36

And when the sixth hour came, darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour. And at the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” (which is translated, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”) And some of the bystanders, when they heard it, said, “Behold, he is summoning Elijah!” And someone ran and filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on a reed, and gave it to him to drink, saying, “Leave him alone! Let us see if Elijah is coming to take him down.”

Reflection

Oh, the blessed shadow of Christ’s cross! All the flocks of the Lord lie down under it, and rest in peace. Millions of souls are delivered by it from the heat of vengeance, and myriads more shall find a covert within it from the wrath to come. Dear reader, are you within the shadow of the crucified? Does He stand between God and your soul to ward off the burning beams of justice, which your sins so richly deserve, by bearing them Himself? If you die in the fierce heat of divine wrath, you will have yourself alone to blame, for there is the shadow of the great propitiation, cool and refreshing, and it is at every moment accessible to simple faith. If you refuse to believe, and count yourself unworthy of salvation, your blood must lie at your own door.

Come, now, into the sure and blessed shelter, lest the sunstroke of despair should wither you. Once beneath the shadow of Jesus, the sun shall not smite you by day, nor the moon by night; you shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. “Yahweh is your protector; Yahweh is your shade at your right hand.” (Psa 121:5).

—Charles H. Spurgeon

Hindhead

Response

What does it mean for you to live your life within the shadow of the crucified Christ?[1]


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

40 Days to the Cross: Week Six – Tuesday

Confession: Psalm 123:1–2

I lift up my eyes to you,

the one enthroned in the heavens.

Behold, as the eyes of servants

look to the hand of their master,

as the eyes of a maid to the hand of her mistress,

so our eyes look to Yahweh our God,

until he is gracious to us.

Reading: Mark 15:21–32

And they forced a certain man who was passing by, Simon of Cyrene (the father of Alexander and Rufus), who was coming from the country, to carry his cross. And they brought him to the place Golgotha (which is translated “Place of a Skull”). And they attempted to give him wine mixed with myrrh, but he did not take it. And they crucified him and divided his clothes among themselves by casting lots for them to see who should take what. Now it was the third hour when they crucified him. And the inscription of the charge against him was written, “The king of the Jews.” And with him they crucified two robbers, one on his right and one on his left. And those who passed by reviled him, shaking their heads and saying, “Aha! The one who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save yourself by coming down from the cross!” In the same way also the chief priests, along with the scribes, were mocking him to one another, saying, “He saved others; he is not able to save himself! Let the Christ, the king of Israel, come down now from the cross, so that we may see and believe!” Even those who were crucified with him were reviling him.

Reflection

The Passion of Christ was very bitter for three reasons:

  1. The goodness of Him suffering is marked by three circumstances—First, He harmed no one: “He committed no sin” (1 Peter 2:22 nrsv). Second, He most patiently sustained the injuries laid upon Him: “When he was abused, he did not return the abuse” (1 Pet 2:23 nrsv); “I was like a gentle lamb led to the slaughter” (Jer 11:19 nrsv). Third, He was doing good to all: “He went about doing good” (Acts 10:38 nrsv); “I have shown you many good works from the Father” (John 10:32 nrsv).
  2. The indignity of His death is marked by three things—First, He was judged, which was the most wicked of all: “But they kept shouting, ‘Crucify, crucify him!’ ” (Luke 23:21 nrsv). Second, He suffered many indignities: “They gathered the whole cohort around him. They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, and after twisting some thorns into a crown, they put it on his head … and they spat on him” (Matt 27:27–30 nrsv). Third, because He was condemned to a most shameful death: “Let us condemn him to a shameful death” (Wisdom of Solomon 2:20 nrsv).
  3. The cruelty of those who crucified Him is seen from three things—First, He was very cruelly flagellated before death: “… after flogging Jesus, he handed him over to be crucified” (Matt 27:26 nrsv). Second, at the point of death He was given vinegar and hyssop to drink: “So they put a sponge full of the wine on a branch of hyssop and held it to his mouth” (John 19:29 nrsv); “For my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink” (Psa 69:21 nrsv). Third, He was wounded even after death: “One of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear” (John 19:34 nrsv).

—Thomas Aquinas

The Lord’s Work and Ours

Response

In His final moments on the cross, Jesus experiences total isolation and rejection. Spend time rereading and quietly reflecting on the details of this passage in Mark.[1]


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

40 Days to the Cross: Week Six – Monday

Confession: Psalm 119:169–76

Let my cry come before you, O Yahweh;

give me understanding according to your word.

Let my plea come before you;

Deliver me according to your word.

Let my lips pour out praise,

because you teach me your statutes.

Let my tongue sing of your word,

because all your commands are right.

Let your hand be my help,

because I have chosen your precepts.

I long for your salvation, O Yahweh,

and your law is my delight.

Let my soul live that it may praise you,

and let your ordinances help me.

I have wandered like a lost sheep; seek your servant,

because I do not forget your commands.

Reading: Mark 15:6–20

Now at each feast he customarily released for them one prisoner whom they requested. And the one named Barabbas was imprisoned with the rebels who had committed murder in the rebellion. And the crowd came up and began to ask him to do as he customarily did for them. So Pilate answered them, saying, “Do you want me to release for you the king of the Jews?” (For he realized that the chief priests had handed him over because of envy.) But the chief priests incited the crowd so that he would release for them Barabbas instead. So Pilate answered and said to them again, “Then what do you want me to do with the one whom you call the king of the Jews?” And they shouted again, “Crucify him!” And Pilate said to them, “Why? What evil has he done?” But they shouted even louder, “Crucify him!”

So Pilate, because he wanted to satisfy the crowd, released for them Barabbas. And after he had Jesus flogged, he handed him over so that he could be crucified. So the soldiers led him away into the palace (that is, the governor’s residence) and called together the whole cohort. And they put a purple cloak on him, and after weaving a crown of thorns they placed it on him. And they began to greet him, “Hail, king of the Jews!” And they repeatedly struck him on the head with a reed, and were spitting on him, and they knelt down and did obeisance to him. And when they had mocked him, they stripped him of the purple cloak and put his own clothes on him, and they led him out so that they could crucify him.

Reflection

Socrates, having expressed his idea of a perfect character—a truly virtuous man—ventured to predict the reception such a person (if such a one could ever be found) would meet with from the world. He thought that this man’s practice would be so dissimilar to others, his testimony against their wickedness so strong, and his endeavours to reform them so importunate and unwelcome that—instead of being universally admired—he would be disliked and hated. Humankind was too degenerate and too obstinate to bear either the example or the reproof of such a person, and would most likely revile and persecute him and put him to death as an enemy to their peace.

In this instance, the judgment of Socrates accords with the language of the Old Testament and the history of the New Testament. Messiah was this perfect character. As such Isaiah describes Him. Isaiah likewise foresaw how He would be treated, and foretold that He would be “numbered with transgressors.” He would be despised and rejected by the very people who were eye-witnesses of His upright and benevolent conduct. And thus, in fact, it proved. When Jesus was upon earth, true virtue and goodness were visibly displayed, and thereby the wickedness of humankind became conspicuous. For those He knew “preferred a robber and a murderer to him.” They preserved Barabbas, who had been justly doomed to die for enormous crimes, and in his stead they nailed Jesus to the cross.

—John Newton

The Works of John Newton

Response

Jesus’ perfection and sacrifice affects sinful people in one of two ways: It drives them away or it changes them. How has it changed you?[1]


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

40 Days to the Cross: Week Five – Saturday

Confession: Psalm 119:25–32

My soul clings to the dust;

revive me according to your word.

I told of my ways, and you answered me;

teach me your statutes.

Make me understand the way of your precepts,

that I may meditate on your wonderful things.

My soul weeps because of grief;

strengthen me according to your word.

Remove from me the deceptive way,

and graciously give me your law.

I have chosen the faithful way;

I have set your ordinances before me.

I cling to your testimonies;

O Yahweh, do not let me be put to shame.

I will run the way of your commands,

for you will enlarge my heart.

Reading: Mark 15:1–5

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.

Reflection

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

Response

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.[1]


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

March 26 Evening Verse of The Day

16:3 Commit. Hebrew “roll.” The expression is unusual. It may mean that our plans should be entrusted to the Lord (Ps. 37:5), or devised with conscious application of the principles of God’s Word.[1]


16:3 Commit your work to Yahweh To commit one’s work to Yahweh is to trust Him (Psa 37:5).[2]


16:3 Only through union with Christ can we bear fruit (John 15:1–11).[3]


16:3 Commit. Lit. “roll upon” in the sense of both total trust (3:5–6) and submission to the will of God (Pss 22:8; 37:5; 119:133); He will fulfill your righteous plans.[4]


16:3 — Commit your works to the Lord, and your thoughts will be established.

How do we commit our works to the Lord? Not merely by asking Him to bless what we’ve already done, but by committing ourselves and our plans to Him before, during, and after we have done our work.[5]


16:3 The verb commit to is from a word meaning “to roll.” The idea is to “roll your cares onto the Lord.” Trusting the Lord with our decisions frees us from preoccupation with our problems (3:5, 6).[6]


16:3 The best way to insure that our dreams and goals will be achieved is to dedicate our works to the Lord. J. Allen Blair advises:

Occasionally we find ourselves disturbed and depressed, even in trying to do the Lord’s work. Could anything be further from what God desires? God cannot work through anxious hearts. Whenever a Christian reaches this state, he should stop at once and ask himself, “Whose work is it?” If it’s God’s work, never forget the burden of it is His, too. You are not the important person. Christ is! He is at work through us. What should we do then when things do not go well? Go to Him! Anything less than this is disobedience.

Prayer: “Give me the eye which sees God in all, and the hand which can serve Him in all, and the heart which can bless Him for all” (Daily Notes).[7]


16:3. Committing one’s plans (vv. 1, 9) to the Lord is essential to success. This verse, however, does not offer divine assistance to all plans. The fool (1:32) and the sluggard (6:9–11) are said to come to undesirable ends. Commit is literally “roll” (cf. Ps. 37:5).[8]


16:3. Given God’s sovereignty (v. 1) and human limitation (v. 2), the wise entrust (commit) all that they do to the Lord. Such trust includes submitting one’s plans to the Lord. When those plans accord with His will, they will be realized. It is a principle Christians articulate every time they pray, “if it be your will” (cf. Mt 6:10; Lk 22:42; Ac 18:21; Jms 4:15).[9]


Ver. 3. Commit thy works unto the Lord, and thy thoughts shall be established.Doing our duty is committing our way to God:

There is no instrinsic value in things. They only possess a relative value. All things depend upon seasonableness. The Scripture speaks of a “word in season.” If there can be words in season, there can be words out of season. A word not in season is merely a right thing in a wrong place. Therefore it is not the value of the thing in itself; there is no such thing; values are all from without. The idlest dream a man has is that a bit of gold has an intrinsic value. But a thing that is worthless to-day is not therefore worthless at another time. The word for to-day, in this text, is one of rest. Many people say that “committing your ways to the Lord,” is to tell them to Him when you pray. But that is only saying something. A large part of the piety of the people consists in saying feelings instead of doing. When we say “Commit thy works unto Him,” it is with a view to put down fret, fever, and distress, and to learn a lesson of the holiday of the soul, rather than of the work-day and mammon. Committing your burden unto the Lord is getting Him to carry it. It does not mean sit still and do no work. There is always something left for man to do, even when God takes the matters up. “Commit thy ways” must mean something in the spirit by which, while a man goes on in life, he gets the fret, and the burden, and the gall, and the weariness off his shoulders. There are two difficult and painful businesses. One is, to fit your circumstances to yourself; and the other is, to fit yourself to your circumstances. Ambition is seldom desirable. A profound sense of duty will do all that ambition can do, and leave nothing of the bitterness behind. Suit thyself to thy circumstances; do thy duty; and so commit thy way unto the Lord. Committing your ways is just the absence of ambition: it is to do thy work, and leave it to the great laws of God. He commits his ways unto the Lord who does his duty simply in the state in which he is. As to the results. The text notes the establishment of the thoughts—not always the success of the work—but the establishment of the man. Quietness—uprightness—“Slow gains and few shames.” Commit thyself, with all thy way, and work, and soul, to Him. Say thy prayers, confess thy sins, do thy little piece of work, and do it honestly; God will redeem thee, atone for thee, regenerate thee, be the guardian of thy tomb, fashion for thee a new body, weave for thee an eternal dress, and provide for thee “a house not made with hands.” Think of the blessed result. Be at rest in the Lord, wait patiently for Him; He shall establish thy thought; He shall save thy soul; He shall crown thee with eternal peace. (George Dawson, M.A.)

Works and thoughts:

  1. The precept or counsel.
  2. The object, or thing itself, which is committed: “our works.” Either the works done by us, or the works done to, or upon us. Our affairs and businesses. Whatever action we go about, we are to commit ourselves to the Lord, and to refer ourselves still to Him for the disposing of it. We are to commit our works to the Lord in regard to our performance of them; to the acceptance of them; and to their success. Our conditions; those things which in any way concern us, we are also to commit unto the Lord.
  3. The act: “committing.” In a way of simple commendation: presenting them, and laying them open before Him. This is required in order that God may direct and assist us; and also as a piece of respect to God Himself. In a way of humble resignation. Implying that we have some sense of the difficulty and burdensomeness of those works that are upon us. This is necessary, that we may labour the more for strength and ability to the discharge of them; that we may be the more humbled for our failings and neglects in it, as coming short of that exactness and perfection that was required of us; and in reference to others, in a way of compassion; to pity those in the same condition: in a way of assistance, and concurrence with them, for easing their burden; and in a way of thankfulness and acceptance, by acknowledging that labour and pains which hath been taken by them. Committing our works to God must not be taken as allowing us to omit the doing of them. In a way of faithful improvement. Order, dispose, and direct all thine actions unto Him. Roll our works to Him as we would roll a bowl to the mark. Make Him the scope and end and aim of all our endeavours. In a way of thankful acknowledgment.
  4. The person to whom the deposition is committed. Consider His wisdom and knowledge; His strength and power; His faithfulness and truth; His willingness to undertake our burden. We are to commit our burden to Him, and to no one else: to the Lord, not to self; not to other men; not to fortune or chance.
  5. The promise, or argument to enforce it. Something implied in this sentence: “thy thoughts shall be established.” Where there are works there will be thoughts. Our chiefest business is composing and settling our minds. Establishing of our thoughts is a very great happiness and mercy. Something expressed. Thou shalt have a mind free from any other trouble and distraction when thou hast practised this counsel in the text. (T. Horton, D.D.)

Dependence on God:

The counsel implies—

  1. That all our purposes and all our doings should be according to God’s will.
  2. That none of our works can prosper without God.
  3. That it is therefore the imperative duty of intelligent creatures to own their independence, and to seek, on all occasions, the Divine countenance and blessing.
  4. That what is our duty is, at the same time, our interest.
  5. A general truth is expressed, that God will graciously smile on the efforts, and accomplish the purposes and wishes of him who, in all that he does, piously and humbly acknowledges Him and seeks His blessing. (R. Wardlaw, D.D.)[10]

16.3 God’s safe hands. Our activities and plans (av, rv, thoughts) will be no less our own for being his: only less burdensome (commit is lit. ‘roll’, as in Ps. 37:5), and better made.[11]


16:3 / Synthetic and progressive. The distinction here is from action to plans. If the actions are done according to God, then the plans will succeed. In Hebrew the imperative form can be considered the equivalent of a conditional clause (cf. also Ps. 37:5). Trust in God is also urged in Amenemope 22.5–7=23.8–10 (AEL, vol. 2, p. 159).[12]


16:3. Commit your works to the Lord, And your plans will be established.

This third verse continues the theme of verses 1–2 and uses synthetic parallelism to advance its point. The first line calls upon us to ‘Commit’ our endeavors to God. The verb is, more literally, ‘roll,’ and is used to describe rolling a large stone from the mouth of a well (Gen. 29:3, 8, 10). The idea here seems to be rolling one’s planned, and proposed, ‘works’ over onto the Lord. Through prayer, we roll the anxiety of whether or not our hopes and plans will come true over onto God (Ps. 22:8; 37:5; 55:22). ‘… [C]asting all your anxiety upon Him, because He cares for you’ (1 Pet. 5:7).

The second line takes up ‘your plans’ (Prov. 16:1, 9), revealing that the parallel ‘works’ of line one were not yet completed, but merely projected. When we do put the burden of seeing our dreams come true upon the Lord, He promises they ‘will be established.’ The verb is one used to describe God’s work in creation (Prov. 8:27–29). God ‘established’ the heavens and the earth. So, we too are given the privilege of seeing our hopes, dreams and aspirations become a part of His-story for the world!

God does not guarantee any, and every, plan we may conjure up, but those which the Lord has had a part in (v. 1) and which He has been allowed to scrutinize (v. 2). When our plans are in line with His plan, our plan becomes a part of the story of God’s redemptive plan for this world. If we plan and undertake our dreams with utter dependence upon the Lord for their fulfillment (v. 1), and if we humbly acknowledge our accountability to Him (v. 2), He delights to mold our plans to conform to His and thus ‘establish’ them (Prov. 4:26; Ps. 90:17).[13]


3 This proverb draws the inference of the preceding two proverbs. Since the Lord assumes ownership of the disciple’s initiatives (v. 1) and he alone can evaluate the purity of the motives behind them (v. 2), the disciple should commit his planned deeds to the Lord (3a) to establish them permanently as part of his history that outlasts the wicked’s temporary triumphs (3b). Verse 2 implies that the Lord finds the prepared words and the performed deeds as pure, otherwise he would not effect either. When the motives are pure he will integrate them into his fixed righteous order (10:22; Ps. 127). The admonition commit to (gōl ʾel, lit. “roll to/upon” cf. Gen 29:3, 8, 10; Ps. 22:9, 37:5) connotes a sense of finality; roll it unto the Lord and leave it there. Gol ʾel is onomatopoeic; one almost hears the rolling sound of a stone. The indirect object the Lord, the sub-unit’s key word, infers rolling away from oneself. Works (maʿaašeh, from the common root ʿāsâ ʾto do make,” see 2:14) refers either to a planned deed (cf. Mic. 2:1) or a performed one (Gen. 44:15). The faithful must not fret or worry about their effectiveness, or even their purity, for that assessment and their achievement depends upon God, not on the doer (Ps. 22:9; 37:5; 55:23; 1 Pet. 5:7). Secular man, who feels so self-confident, paradoxically is plagued with fear. Pious people, who know God’s sovereignty and their limitations, live in prayer and peace. Conjunctive and links “your works” with your thoughts (see 12:5) that inform the deed. Verset B emphasizes their personal and subjective element by addition “heart.” Plans and deeds performed in conjunction with a total commitment to the Lord will be established (see 4:26) What you think in your inner creations will become overt historical events as enduring as the elements of the Lord’s cosmos (see 8:27–29).[14]


3 Plans, committed to God. For our plans to succeed, we must depend on the Lord. This proverb of instruction includes the result for compliance. The verb “commit” is literally “roll” (gōl, from gālal, though the LXX and Targum assume gal, “reveal”). The figure of rolling, as in rolling one’s burdens onto the Lord, is found also in Psalms 22:8[9]; 37:5; 55:22. It portrays complete dependence on God. This is accomplished with a spirit of humility and by means of a diligent season of prayer, but the plan also must have God’s approval.

The syntax of the second clause shows that there is subordination: the waw on yikkōnû, coming after the imperative of the first clause, expresses that this clause states the purpose or result of the first. People should commit their plans to the Lord so that he may establish them. Not every plan we have is pleasing to him; but for those that are, this verse is a great comfort. Greenstone, 172, says, “True faith relieves much anxiety and smoothens many perplexities.”[15]


[1] Sproul, R. C. (Ed.). (2005). The Reformation Study Bible: English Standard Version (p. 898). Orlando, FL; Lake Mary, FL: Ligonier Ministries.

[2] Barry, J. D., Mangum, D., Brown, D. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Ritzema, E., … Bomar, D. (2012, 2016). Faithlife Study Bible (Pr 16:3). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

[3] Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (p. 1162). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[4] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2006). The MacArthur study Bible: New American Standard Bible. (Pr 16:3). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[5] Stanley, C. F. (2005). The Charles F. Stanley life principles Bible: New King James Version (Pr 16:3). Nashville, TN: Nelson Bibles.

[6] Radmacher, E. D., Allen, R. B., & House, H. W. (1999). Nelson’s new illustrated Bible commentary (p. 762). Nashville: T. Nelson Publishers.

[7] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 831). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[8] Buzzell, S. S. (1985). Proverbs. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 1, p. 940). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

[9] Finkbeiner, D. (2014). Proverbs. In M. A. Rydelnik & M. Vanlaningham (Eds.), The moody bible commentary (p. 927). Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.

[10] Exell, J. S. (n.d.). Proverbs (pp. 411–412). New York; Chicago; Toronto: Fleming H. Revell Company.

[11] Kidner, D. (1964). Proverbs: An Introduction and Commentary (Vol. 17, p. 111). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

[12] Murphy, R. E., & Carm, O. (2012). Proverbs. In W. W. Gasque, R. L. Hubbard Jr., & R. K. Johnston (Eds.), Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs (p. 80). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[13] Kitchen, J. A. (2006). Proverbs: A Mentor Commentary (p. 351). Fearn, Ross-shire, Great Britain: Mentor.

[14] Waltke, B. K. (2005). The Book of Proverbs, Chapters 15–31 (p. 11). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

[15] Ross, A. P. (2008). Proverbs. In T. Longman III, Garland David E. (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Proverbs–Isaiah (Revised Edition) (Vol. 6, pp. 145–146). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

March 26 Morning Verse of The Day

26:40 Could you not watch with Me one hour: Although addressed to Peter, the question was meant for all three disciples. Earlier Peter had claimed that he would never forsake Jesus and that he would even die for Him (v. 35); yet Peter could not stay awake to pray with Jesus at the time of His greatest need.[1]


26:40 “And He came to the disciples and found them sleeping” Before we are too quick to condemn the disciples, let’s note that in Luke 22:45 the phrase “they were asleep from sorrow” describes that they were unable to bear the pain of Jesus’ prophecy about His own death and their subsequent scattering. Though Jesus longed to have human fellowship and intercession at this time of ultimate crisis in His life, He had to face this moment alone, and He faced it for all believers![2]


40. And he came to his disciples. Though he was neither delivered from fear, nor freed from anxiety, yet he interrupted the ardour of prayer, and administered this consolation. For believers are not required to be so constant in prayer as never to cease from conversing with God; but on the contrary, following the example of Christ, they continue their prayers till they have proceeded as far as their infirmity allows, then cease for a short time, and immediately after drawing breath return to God. It would have been no slight alleviation of his grief, if his disciples had accompanied him, and taken part in it; and on the other hand, it was a bitter aggravation of his sufferings, that even they forsook him. For though he did not need the assistance of any one, yet as he had voluntarily taken upon him our infirmities, and as it was chiefly in this struggle that he intended to give a proof of that emptying of himself, of which Paul speaks, (Philip. 2:7,) we need not wonder if the indifference of those whom he had selected to be his companions added a heavy and distressing burden to his grief. For his expostulation is not feigned, but, out of the true feeling of his mind, he declares that he is grieved at having been forsaken. And, indeed, he had good grounds for reproaching them with indifference, since, amidst the extremity of his anguish, they did not watch at least one hour.[3]


[1] Radmacher, E. D., Allen, R. B., & House, H. W. (1999). Nelson’s new illustrated Bible commentary (p. 1195). Nashville: T. Nelson Publishers.

[2] Utley, R. J. (2000). The First Christian Primer: Matthew (Vol. Volume 9, p. 218). Marshall, TX: Bible Lessons International.

[3] Calvin, J., & Pringle, W. (2010). Commentary on a Harmony of the Evangelists Matthew, Mark, and Luke (Vol. 3, pp. 234–235). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

40 Days to the Cross: Week Five – Friday

Confession: Psalm 107:10–15

Those who sat in darkness and gloom,

prisoners of misery and iron—

because they rebelled against the words of God

and spurned the counsel of the Most High,

he therefore humbled their heart with trouble.

They stumbled and there was no helper.

Then they called to Yahweh for help in their trouble;

he saved them from their distresses.

He brought them out of darkness and gloom,

and tore off their bonds.

Let them give thanks to Yahweh for his loyal love

and his wonderful deeds for the children of humankind,

for he shatters the doors of bronze,

and cuts through the bars of iron.

Reading: Mark 14:66–72

And while Peter was below in the courtyard, one of the female slaves of the high priest came up. And when she saw Peter warming himself, she looked intently at him and said, “You also were with the Nazarene, Jesus.” But he denied it, saying, “I neither know nor understand what you mean!” And he went out into the gateway, and a rooster crowed. And the female slave, when she saw him, began to say again to the bystanders, “This man is one of them!” But he denied it again. And after a little while, again the bystanders began to say to Peter, “You really are one of them, because you also are a Galilean, and your accent shows it!” And he began to curse and to swear with an oath, “I do not know this man whom you are talking about!” And immediately a rooster crowed for the second time. And Peter remembered the statement, how Jesus had said to him, “Before the rooster crows twice, you will deny me three times,” and throwing himself down, he began to weep.

Reflection

We recognize in the apostle two acts of will: the one, by which he willed not to die, a thing wholly free from blame; the other, by which he delighted to be a Christian, which was highly praiseworthy. In what then was the apostle blameworthy? Was it in that he preferred to lie rather than to die? Plainly this act of will was deserving of blame, for he willed to preserve the life of the body rather than that of the soul.…

He sinned, therefore, and not without the consent of his own will, which was feeble indeed and wretched, but certainly free. He did not sin by rejecting or hating Christ, but by loving himself too much. Nor did that sudden fear of death forcefully compel his will to this perverse self-love, but it proved it to exist. He was, without doubt, already such a man as this, but he knew it not—even though he heard Christ, from whom the truth could not be hidden, say: “Before the cock crows, you will deny me three times” (Matt 26:34 nrsv). That weakness of will—which was revealed, but not caused. It was by fear inspired. And it made known the extent to which he loved himself, and the extent to which he loved Christ. It was made known however, not to Christ, but to Peter.

—Bernard of Clairvaux

Concerning Grace and Free Will

Response

Do you love yourself—your comfort, your safety, your reputation—more than you love Christ? Are you defensive when challenged about these things, or are you repentant like Peter?[1]


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

March 25 Evening Verse of The Day

22:14 “The-Lord-Will-Provide” is a play on the verb translated “provided.” The verb means basically “see,” as the English word “provide” is from the Latin, meaning “see beforehand.” God sees our need before it arises and makes provision for it.[1]


22:14 The Lord will provide. The Hebrew word here translated “provide” means “see,” or “see to it” (used in vv. 4, 8, 13, 14). The name by which Abraham commemorates the event shows that he perceives God’s revelation of His saving purpose.[2]


22:14 the mountain of Yahweh it shall be provided God provides a sacrificial ram as a substitute for Isaac. In response, Abraham names the place yhwy yir’eh in Hebrew (which may be literally rendered “Yahweh will see”). The narrative immediately adds “it shall be provided,” a descriptive reference to the ram. Since the ram was God’s substitute upon “seeing” Abraham’s faith, “provided” is an appropriate translation.[3]


22:14 Echoing Abraham’s earlier comment to Isaac in v. 8, the location is named The Lord will provide. On the basis of this, the belief developed (as it is said to this day) that God would provide the sacrifice necessary to atone for sin. the mount of the Lord. This probably denotes the hill on which the temple was later built in Jerusalem (see Isa. 2:3).[4]


22:14 — And Abraham called the name of the place, The-Lord-Will-Provide; as it is said to this day, “In the Mount of the Lord it shall be provided.”

The Lord will provide—always. He may surprise us, He may perplex us, He may make us wait. But He will always provide exactly what we need, when we need it.[5]


22:14 The wonderful name The-LordWill-Provide is developed from the faith statement of Abraham to Isaac in v. 8. Compare the name of faith that Hagar gave to the Lord, “The-God-Who-Sees” (16:13). As God provided a ram instead of Abraham’s son, so one day He would provide His own Son! Moriah is where Jerusalem and later the temple were built. And it was at Jerusalem that the Savior would die.[6]


Ver. 14. Abraham called the name of that place Jehovah-jireh.The Lord will provide:—

  1. The Lord will provide for the body. Temporal blessings, no less than spiritual, come to us through the medium of the covenant of grace.
  2. The Lord will provide food for the body. He will bring round the seasons without fail, and make corn to grow for the service of man.
  3. The Lord will provide raiment for His people. For forty years in the wilderness, amid the wear and tear of journey and of battle, the raiment of the Israelites waxed not old because Jehovah provided for them; and doth He not still remember His own?
  4. The Lord will provide for His people protection. Many times are they delivered in a most wonderful way, and to the astonishment of the world.
  5. The Lord will provide for the soul.
  6. Jehovah has provided a Lamb; in the gift of His Son we have the guarantee for the supply of every needed blessing.
  7. The Lord will provide for you His Holy Spirit. The gift of the Spirit comes to us through the atonement of Christ, and the sufficiency of the Sacrifice entailed and implied the promise of the Spirit, so that He who hath provided the Lamb is confidently to be trusted for this also.
  8. The Lord will provide for the soul an eternal home, as is clear from that word, “I go to prepare a place for you.” When the toils of life’s pilgrimage are over there remaineth a rest for the people of God. (J. Thain Davidson, D.D.)

Divine providence:—

This incident teaches—

  1. God’s right to our greatest blessings.
  2. Man’s duty in the highest trial.
  3. God’s providence in the greatest emergency.
  4. The provisions of the Divine interposition correspond exactly with human wants.
  5. Its provisions are obtained in connection with individual agency.

III. Its provisions are often strikingly memorable. (Homilist.)

God’s providence:—

In the season of extremity, God appears for the relief of His people.

  1. Severe trials are intended to prove the strength and purity of our faith. The Christian must walk by faith, not sight.
  2. And may not another reason be, to stir us up to fervency in prayer?
  3. We may also add, that the hand of God appears more obviously when He delivers just at the crisis of danger. Lesson: We need never despair of Divine help when we are pursuing the path of Christian obedience. (D. C. Lansing, D.D.)

The Lord our Provider, and none other:—

  1. In the first place it is a fact. God will provide. It is His province. It is His, as the Lord. Providing is not the child’s, but the father’s business. Work as I may, care as I may, it is still the Lord who provides. I work and the Lord provides.
  2. God does all His business thoroughly. Nothing that He ought to do, does He ever leave undone; and all that the Lord does, He does as God; not as man would do the thing, but as God alone can do it. If God provide, it must be in harmony with an eye that never sleeps, with hands that are ever working, with arms that are never weary, with a heart of paternal solicitude that never, never can change.
  3. Then, observe, while providing is God’s business, He does it in a Godly style. There is no doubt about God’s plans being carried out. God has not pleased you always in the provision He has made; and yet the provision has been sure and good. In plain language God has never neglected anything which He ought to have done for you.
  4. Now look at the time. When will He do it? Why, “in the mount of the Lord it shall be seen.” God allows you to come to the mount before He provides for you; that is, before He shows the provision. The provision is made long beforehand, but He does not show it. What does this fact say? Why this simple fact says, “wait.” If you cannot do a right thing to meet your own difficulties, do nothing. If you can do a right thing, and God give you the ability and the opportunity, that act may be God’s instrument for meeting your wants; but if you can do nothing without doing wrong, then it is quite clear you are to do nothing, and you are to say, “In the mount of the Lord it shall be seen.” Now, why does God thus sometimes try you? Why! because you think too much of your own providing. Why! because you think too much of your fellow-creatures’ providing. Why! because you make gods of His creatures. (S. Martin.)

The Lord will provide:—

  1. Let us consider what God had provided for Abraham in time past.
  2. The Lord provided for him an unusual measure of faith.
  3. God had provided for Abraham a ram for a burnt-offering in the stead of his son.
  4. Let us consider the inference which Abraham drew from what God had provided for him in time past. “Jehovah-jireh,” said he, “the Lord will provide.” So much as to say, “What He has done is a pledge and an earnest of what He will do. Since He has shown so much of His grace and goodness to me in time past, He will show more in time to some.” Do you ask, What will He provide?
  5. He will provide for us in the life that now is.
  6. God will provide for us in that life which is to come.

Conclusion:

  1. How precious is the grace of faith.
  2. How devoted should we be to the service of God.
  3. And lastly, how firm and assured should be the Christian’s confidence in his God. (D. Rees.)

Jehovah-jireh:—

  1. What will God provide? Two answers may be given to this question. One is furnished by the direct teaching of the passage, and the other by its inferential teaching.
  2. It is clear from the direct teaching of this passage that God will provide for the greatest necessities of His people. This was what He did for Abraham. And now the cross of Jesus stands before us as the grand illustration of the truth and meaning of this great covenant name, Jehovah-jireh. The Lord promised to provide a ransom; and the ransom is provided.
  3. And then there is an inferential teaching from this name—that He will provide for our lesser necessities. Jehovah has bridged the great gulf that once lay between us and heaven, and He will certainly bridge all the smaller gulfs that may meet us on our way.
  4. How will God provide?
  5. Wisely. He seeth the end from the beginning, and is infallible in all His plans and purposes. “The work of the Lord is perfect.” An important part of His work is to provide for His people. And when we apply the word “perfect” to this work, what an assurance we have of the wisdom that marks it! It is only when we lose confidence in this feature of God’s work that our hearts are troubled. Not long ago a Christian merchant met, unexpectedly, with some very great losses. He began to doubt the wisdom of that Providence which could allow such trials to overtake him. He returned to his home one evening in a gloomy and despairing state of mind. He sat down before the open fireplace in his library, “tossed with the tempest” of doubt and destitute of comfort. Presently his little boy, a thoughtful child of six or seven years, came and sat on his knee. Over the mantel-piece was a large illuminated card containing the words—“His work is perfect.” The child spelled out the words, and pointing to them, said, “Papa, what does perfect mean here?” And then, before his father, who was somewhat staggered by the inquiry, could make a reply, there came another question from the little prattler: “Doesn’t it mean that God never makes a mistake?” This was just the thought that troubled father needed to have brought before his mind. If the angel Gabriel had come down from heaven to help him, he could have suggested nothing more timely. And then the father, clasping the little one to his bosom, exclaimed, “Yes, my precious darling, that is just what it means.” His confidence in God revived. The dark cloud that had settled down upon him was scattered.
  6. Tenderly. He is the God of the dew-drop as well as of the thunder and the tempest. He is the God of the tender grass as well as of the gnarled and knotted mountain oak.
  7. Faithfully. He will provide for His people, not the things that they would most like to have here—not those that are the most pleasant and agreeable—but those that are the best. The foundation promise of the covenant is—“No good thing will He withhold.”
  8. Why does He thus provide for His people? Two motives operate with Him to do this. One of these has reference to His people; the other has reference to Himself.
  9. The motive in His people which leads God thus to reveal Himself as their Provider is their need—their weakness, or their want.
  10. The motive in Himself is because He has the fulness required to meet our necessities. In us is weakness, in Him is strength; in us is ignorance, in Him is wisdom; in us is poverty, in Him is riches; in us is emptiness, in Him is fulness. And it is from the blending of these two elements—this weakness in us and this strength in Him—that the resultant force is found which will lead us on to victory. Let us take a familiar illustration of this statement. Yonder is a little fly. It is walking over the ceiling of the room with its head downwards, and yet it walks as safely as you or I do on the floor of the same room with our heads up. And now let us take our stand near yonder massive rock, over which the waves of the ocean are dashing continually. See, there is a little mollusc clinging to the smooth side of that rock. The sea sends up its mighty billows to dash in foam and thunder on that rock. But they can no more move that mollusc that clings there, than they can move the rock itself from its firm base. And what gives to these feeble creatures the security that attends them in their positions of danger? Under the foot of the fly, as it walks over the ceiling, is a little vacant space, a point of emptiness. And there is the same under the shell of the mollusc, as it clings to the rock. The power of the atmosphere is brought to bear on that point of emptiness in the foot of the fly and the shell of the mollusc. This gives to the fly and to the mollusc all the security and support they realize. And the same principle applies to spiritual things. “When I am weak,” said St. Paul, “then I am strong.” When I feel my weakness, i.e., and take hold of the strength that is offered me, then I am strong. The fly and the mollusc make use of the weakness that is in them to draw strength from the atmosphere by which they are surrounded. This gives to the fly the strength of the ceiling over which it walks, and to the mollusc the firmness of the rock to which it clings. And in the same way the Christian who feels his own weakness and takes hold of God’s strength is made as strong—yes! tell it out with boldness, for it is the truth—is made as strong as the omnipotent arm on which he leans, and the Almighty Jehovah to whom he clings. (R. Newton, D.D.)

Jehovah will provide:—

  1. Look at the words as they bear on that grand central event in the world’s history to which they had a prospective reference, and in which they were destined to find their full accomplishment. For in this same place nearly two thousand years after—on or near the spot to which Abraham gave the name of “Jehovah will provide”—Jehovah did provide a Lamb for a burnt-offering, whose death will be the theme of all heaven throughout eternity! God never knew another from the beginning. I doubt not that Isaac was a Divinely ordained type of Him. Was Isaac the child of the promise? The true Child of the promise was Christ. Was Isaac long promised and long waited for before his birth? Four thousand years elapsed, of promise and long expectation, ere Simeon took up the Child Jesus in his arms, saying, “Mine eyes have seen Thy salvation.” Was Isaac’s birth supernatural? “The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee; therefore also that Holy Thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.” Did Isaac meekly submit to be bound to the altar on the wood? “He is led as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so He openeth not His mouth.” But here the resemblances seem to stop. Or, if there be anything, as I doubt not there is much, in the semblance of Isaac’s death and resurrection, yet assuredly it is here but a shadow. For no sinner might ever die to expiate sin; and our God never would have a human sacrifice even to prefigure the true. But now behold, at last, “the Man that is God’s fellow!” Behold the Lamb for a burnt-offering—O yes, consumed by the fire of that Divine holiness and justice, of which the fire of all the burnt-offerings was but the shadow.
  2. “Hath appeared.” Abraham used the future tense—will provide. Are you in deep perplexity as to your path, and fearful of taking a false step? Write Jehovah-jireh, the Lord will provide counsel. The name of this Lamb is Wonderful, Counsellor—“I will instruct thee, and teach thee in the way in which thou shalt go; I will guide thee with Mine eye.” Are you called to some arduous duty? Write Jehovah-jireh, the Lord will provide strength—“My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Are you straitened as to temporal provision? Write still this word, Jehovah-jireh, for “your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of these things.” Do you anticipate painfully the conflict with the last enemy? Write Jehovah-jireh—“O death, I will be thy plagues; O grave, I will be thy destruction.” And as for the eternity beyond, still write Jehovah-jireh, for “the Lamb, which is in the midst of the throne, shall feed them and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters; and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.” (C. J. Brown, D.D.)

God the provider:—

  1. What does God provide for His people? For their wants:
  2. Here.
  3. Hereafter.
  4. When is it that God provides for His people? Just when He sees fit; just as it accords with His infinite wisdom, and not as it accords with our carnal conceptions. He has “a set time” to favour Zion.
  5. In life.
  6. In sickness.
  7. In death.

III. How does God provide for His people? Little do we know of the numberless expedients to which God has recourse in His providence. (R. Luggar.)

The Lord will provide:—

No man who will tread in the steps of Abraham, that is, believe God and obey Him, will ever want a place on which to write Jehovah-jireh. He who shall do this may inscribe Jehovah-jireh on his purse, his table, his cupboard, his trade, his temptation, his trials, his afflictions, his dying day, and his future immortality. Faith—Obedience—The Lord will provide, are three points in the economy of God, as inseparable as the attributes of the Divine nature. (J. Bate.)

Money provided:—

Long before the establishment of Bible societies, the Rev. Peter Williams, a pious, distinguished clergyman of Wales, seeing that his countrymen were almost entirely destitute of the Bible, and knowing that the work of the Lord could not prosper without it, undertook, though destitute of the means, to translate and publish a Welsh Bible for their use. Having expended all his living, and being deeply involved in debt, with the work unfinished, he expected every hour to be arrested and imprisoned, without the means or hope of release. One morning he had taken an affectionate leave of his family for the purpose of pursuing his pious labours, with an expectation that he should not be permitted to return, when, just as he was mounting his horse, a stranger rode up and presented him a letter. He stopped and opened it, and found, to his astonishment, that it contained information that a lady had bequeathed him a legacy of £300 sterling. “Now,” said he, “my dear wife, I can finish my Bible, pay my debts, and live in peace at home.” (Ibid.)

Food provided:—

A lady, who had just sat down to breakfast, had a strong impression upon her mind that she must instantly carry a loaf of bread to a poor man, who lived about half a mile from her house, by the side of a common. Her husband wished her either to postpone taking the loaf of bread till after breakfast, or to send it by her servant; but she chose to take it herself instantly. As she approached the hut, she heard the sound of a human voice. Willing to hear what it was, she stepped softly, unperceived, to the door. She now heard the poor man praying, and among other things he said. “O Lord, help me! Lord, Thou wilt help me; Thy providence cannot fail; and although my wife, myself, and children have no bread to eat, and it is now a whole day since we had any, I know Thou wilt supply me, though Thou shouldst again rain down manna from heaven.” The lady could wait no longer; she opened the door, “Yes,” she replied, “God has sent you relief. Take this loaf, and be encouraged to cast your care upon Him who careth for you,” and when you ever want a loaf of bread, come to my house.” (J. G. Wilson.)

Our Provider:—

The Lord has made full provision for every human being. Behold the fields of fertile earth! Count the millions of acres on which we can grow food for man and beast. There is enough for each, for all, and for evermore.

  1. He will provide a path for our life. You have seen a book without a title-page, and may have thought, “My life is like this book; I came into the world by chance, as a mite is found on the cheese.” The Lord made provision for your life. He gave a body in which your spirit could live, eyes with which to see, the power of speech, the command of thought; and, having provided you with a beginning, He also prepared a path in the world for your life.
  2. The Lord will provide us with love. When you came into the world, He looked upon you with love, and His heart never changes. God is said to be like a sun. You can open your door and let in the blessed sunlight; and in the same way, you may open the chambers of your soul and be filled with the love of God.
  3. The Lord will provide us with pardon.
  4. The Lord also provides salvation for us.
  5. He has provided for us peace of soul. Yesterday, when coming down Oxford Street, I noticed a painter on the top of a very high ladder. People were passing to and fro continually, yet the painter did not look down, and he did not appear to have the slightest anxiety. I stood and heard him humming a song. He was in a dangerous position; on the top of a high ladder resting upon the flags with people passing who might jog against the ladder and knock it over; yet he sang forth in gladness, and when he saw me nodded with delight. What was the secret? I will tell you. At the foot of the ladder stood a man holding it firmly, and this man was his safeguard. The painter had perfect peace up there on the ladder; he knew that his friend at the bottom was holding it, and that if any one came near the ladder unawares, the man at the bottom of it would warn them off. Likewise, the Lord provides peace for all His people. He holds our souls in His hands, and nothing shall happen to us unknown to Him. He orders our steps, directs our paths, and numbers the very hairs of our heads. The man who knows this fact enjoys a solid peace which nothing can shake.
  6. Let me close by showing that He will provide us with the power of true manhood. (W. Birch.)

The cure for care:—

  1. The first thing that God provides for His people is—protection is danger. It is wonderful how many illustrations we find, both in the Bible and out of it, of the way in which God provides protection in danger for His people. When we open the Bible for these illustrations, they meet us everywhere—Noah, Joseph, Moses, Jonah, Daniel. The animal and the vegetable kingdom afford us plenty of illustrations of this same truth. Look at the scales of the crocodile, and the thick, tough hide of the rhinoceros, and the powerful trunk of the elephant, and the strength and courage of the lion. Look at the turtle, with the castle that it carries about with it, and the snail crawling along with its house on its back. When you see how God provides for the protection of all these different creatures, you see how each of them illustrates the truth which Abraham was taught on Mount Moriah, when he called the name of it Jehovah-jireh. A friend of mine has a very powerful microscope. One day he showed me some curious specimens through it. Among these were some tiny little sea animals. They were so small that they could not be seen with the naked eye. They are made to live on the rocks under the water; and, to protect themselves from being swept away by the force of the waves, they are furnished with the tiniest little limbs you ever saw. Each of these is made exactly in the shape of an anchor. This they fasten in the rock; and as I looked at them with wonder through the microscope, I thought: Why, even among these very little creatures we see Jehovah-jireh, too! The Lord provides for their protection. And every apple and pear and peach and plum that grows shows the same thing, in the skin which is drawn over them for their protection. And so does every nut, in the hard shell which grows round its kernel. And so does every grain of wheat, and every ear of Indian corn, in the coverings so nicely wrapped around them to keep them from harm. And God is doing wonderful things all the time for the protection of His people. A Christian sailor, when asked why he remained so calm in a fearful storm, said, “If I fall into the sea, I shall only drop into the hollow of my Father’s hand, for He holds all these waters there.”
  2. The second thing that God provides for His people is—relief in trouble. Here is a striking illustration of the way in which God can provide this relief, when it is needed. Some years ago there was a Christian man in England, who was in trouble. He was poor, and suffered much from want of money. A valuable property had been left to him. It would be sufficient to make him comfortable all the rest of his life, if he could only get possession of it. But in order to do this, it was necessary to find out some deeds connected with this property. But neither he, nor any of his friends, could tell where those deeds were to be found. They had tried to find them for a long time; but all their efforts had been in vain. At last, God provided relief for this man in his trouble in a very singular way. On one occasion, Bishop Chase, who was then the Bishop of Ohio, in America, was on a visit to the city of Philadelphia. He was stopping at the house of Mr. Paul Beck. One day, while staying there, he received a letter from one of the bishops of the Church of England. This letter was written to Bishop Chase, to ask him to make some inquiries about the deeds relating to the property of which we have spoken. The letter had been sent out first to Ohio, and then to Washington, where the bishop had been. From there it had been sent on after him to Philadelphia. If Bishop Chase had received this letter in Ohio, or in Washington, he would probably have read it, and then have said to himself, “I can’t find out anything about these deeds,” and would have written to his friend, the English bishop, telling him so. But the letter came to him while he was at Mr. Beck’s house. Mr. Beck was present when the letter was received. The bishop read it to him. When Mr. Beck heard the letter read, he was very much astonished. “Bishop Chase,” said he, “it is very singular that this letter should have come to you while you are at my house. Sir, I am the only man in the world that can give you the information asked for in this letter. I have the deeds in my possession. I have had them for more than forty years, and never could tell what to do with them, or where to find the persons to whom they belong.” How wonderful it was that this letter, after coming across the ocean, and going from one place to another in this country, should reach the bishop while he was in the house, and in the presence of the only man in the world who could tell about those lost deeds! And if the poor man to whom the property belonged, when he came into possession of it, knew about the singular way in which those deeds were found, he certainly would have been ready to write upon them, in big round letters, the words, “Jehovah-jireh—the Lord will provide.” God provided relief for him in his trouble.

III. But there is a third thing that the Lord will provide, and that is—salvation for the soul. Here is an illustration of a man who was very much burdened with care on account of his soul, and who had this care cured by the salvation which Jesus provides. Many years ago there was a very celebrated preacher, whose name was the Rev. George Whitefield. He went travelling all over England and this country preaching the gospel, and did a great deal of good in this way. One day a brother of Mr. Whitefield’s heard him preach. The sermon led him to see what a sinner he was, and he became very sorry on account of his sins. He was burdened with care because he thought his soul could not be saved; and for a long time it seemed as if he could get no relief from this burden. And the reason of it was that he was not willing to believe the word of Jesus. It is only in this way that we can be saved. When we read the promises of Jesus in the Bible, we must believe that He means just what he says. We must trust His word, and then we shall be saved. Well, one evening this brother of Mr. Whitefield was taking tea with the Countess of Huntingdon. This was an earnest Christian lady, who took a great interest in all good ministers, and the work they did for Jesus. She saw that the poor man was in great trouble of mind, and she tried to comfort him as they took their tea by talking to him about the great mercy of God to poor sinners through Jesus Christ. “Yes, my lady,” said the sorrowful man, “I know what you say is true. The mercy of God is infinite. I am satisfied of this. But, ah! my friend, there is no mercy for me. I am a wretched sinner, a lost man.” “I am glad to hear it, Mr. Whitefield,” said Lady Huntingdon. “I am glad in my heart that you have found out you are a lost man.” He looked at her with great surprise. “What, my lady!” he exclaimed, “glad, did you say? glad at heart that I am a lost man?” “Why, certainly I am, Mr. Whitefield,” said she; “for you know, Jesus Christ came into the world ‘to seek and to save them that are lost.’ And if you feel that you are a lost man, why, you are just one of those that Jesus came to save.” This remark had a great effect on Mr. Whitefield. He put down the cup of tea that he was drinking, and clapped his hands together, saying, “Thank God for that! Thank God for that!” He believed God’s promise then. That cured his care. It took away his trouble. It saved his soul. He was taken suddenly ill and died that same night, but he died happy.

Jehovah-jireh:—

Observe, as you read this chapter, that this was not the first time that Abraham had thus spoken. When he called the name of the place Jehovah-jireh he had seen it to be true—the ram caught in the thicket had been provided as a substitute for Isaac: Jehovah had provided. But he had before declared that truth when as yet he knew nothing of the Divine action, when he could not even guess how his extraordinary trial would end. His son Isaac had said to him, “Behold the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt-offering?” and the afflicted father had bravely answered, “My son, God will provide.” In due time God did provide, and then Abraham honoured Him by saying the same words, only instead of the ordinary name for God he used the special covenant title—Jehovah. That is the only alteration; otherwise in the same terms he repeats the assurance that “the Lord will provide.” That first utterance was most remarkable; it was simple enough, but how prophetic!

  1. It teaches us this truth, that the confident speech of a believer is akin to the language of a prophet. The man who accepts the promise of God unstaggeringly, and is sure that it is true, will speak like the seers of old; he will see that God sees, and will declare the fact, and the holy inference which comes of it. The believer’s child-like assurance will anticipate the future, and his plain statement—“God will provide”—will turn out to be literal truth.
  2. True faith not only speaks the language of prophecy, but, when she sees her prophecy fulfilled, faith is always delighted to raise memorials to the God of truth.
  3. Note yet further, that when faith has uttered a prophecy, and has set up her memorial, the record of mercy received becomes itself a new prophecy. Abraham says, “Jehovah-jireh—God will see to it”; what was he doing but prophesying a second time for future ages?
  4. When Abraham said “Jehovah will provide,” he meant us, first of all, to learn that the provision will come in the time of our extremity. The Lord gave our Lord Jesus Christ to be the Substitute for men in view of the utmost need of our race.
  5. Secondly, upon the mount the provision was spontaneously made for Abraham, and so was the provision which the Lord displayed in the fulness of time when He gave up His Son to die.

III. But, thirdly, we ought to dwell very long and earnestly upon the fact that for man’s need the provision was made by God Himself. The text says, “Jehovah jireh,” the Lord will see to it, the Lord will provide. None else could have provided a ransom. Neither on earth nor in heaven was there found any helper for lost humanity. I will only interject this thought here—let none of us ever interfere with the provision of God. If in our dire distress He alone was our Jehovah-jireh, and provided for us a Substitute, let us not think that there is anything left for us to provide. O sinner, do you cry, “Lord, I must have a broken heart”? He will provide it for thee. Do you cry, “Lord, I cannot master sin, I have not the power to conquer my passions”? He will provide strength for thee. Do you mourn, “Lord, I shall never hold on and hold out to the end. I am so fickle”? Then He will provide perseverance for thee.

  1. That which God prepares for poor sinners is a provision most gloriously made. God provided a ram instead of Isaac. This was sufficient for the occasion as a type; but that which was typified by the ram is infinitely more glorious. In order to save us God provided God. I cannot put it more simply. He did not provide an angel, nor a mere man, but God Himself. Come, sinner, with all thy load of sin: God can bear it; the shoulders that bear up the universe can well sustain thy load of guilt. God gave thee His Godhead to be thy Saviour when He gave thee His Son. But He also gave in the person of Christ perfect manhood—such a man as never lived before, eclipsing even the perfection of the first Adam in the garden by the majestic innocence of His nature. When Jesus has been viewed as man, even unconverted men have so admired His excellence that they have almost adored Him. Jesus is God and man, and the Father has given that man, that God, to be thy Redeemer.
  2. Fifthly, the provision was made effectively. Isaac did not die: the laughter in Abraham’s house was not stifled; there was no grief for the patriarch; he went home with his son in happy companionship, because Jehovah had provided Himself a lamb for a burnt-offering. The ram which was provided did not bleed in vain; Isaac did not die as well as the ram; Abraham did not have to slay the God-provided victim and his own son also. No, the one sacrifice sufficed. Beloved, this is my comfort in the death of Christ—I hope it is yours—that He did not die in vain.
  3. Turn we then, sixthly, to this note, that we may well glorify Jehovah-jireh because this provision was made for every believer.

VII. But now I close with a remark which will reveal the far-reaching character of my text. “Jehovah-jireh” is true concerning all necessary things. The instance given of Abraham being provided for shows us that the Lord will ever be a Provider for His people. As to the gift of the Lord Jesus, this is a provision which guarantees all other provision. “He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?” (C. H. Spurgeon.)

The Lord will provide:—

A poor woman, holding the hand of her little boy, recently said to the preacher, “Sir, the word ‘Jehovah-jireh’ has been a great comfort to us through this child. Owing to my husband’s long illness we were in great want. But one Sunday Robert came running home and said: ‘Cheer up, father and mother, the Lord will be sure to provide; Jehovah-jireh!’ And often after that, when we have been in trouble, he has said: ‘Come, let us sing a verse of Jehovah-jireh—

‘ “Though troubles assail and dangers affright,

Though friends should all fail, and foes all unite,

Yet one thing secures us, whatever betide,

The Scripture assures us—The Lord will provide.” ’

“Once, when we had no food left, he again told us not to forget Jehovah-jireh. He went out, but came back in a few minutes holding up a shilling he had found on the pavement, and saying: ‘Here’s Jehovah-jireh, mother; I was sure He would provide!’ ” Who will say this betokened childish ignorance and not Christian wisdom? Might not our philosophy be more sound, if we were more as “little children”? We know who said, “Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings Thou hast perfected praise.” Hast not help often come to the people of God as unexpectedly, giving rise to the proverb, “Man’s extremity is God’s opportunity”? Should we not gratefully acknowledge such “interposition of Providence”; such special help from Jehovah the Provider. (Newman Hall, LL.B.)

In the mount of the Lord it shall be seen:—

  1. The Lord will be seen. In His special providence to His servants in their afflictions.
  2. The time when He will be seen. “In the mount,” i.e., when things are brought to an extremity; when we think there is no more help nor hope, that is the time when the Lord will be seen.
  3. It is God’s usual manner to bring His children to extremities.
  4. And the first cause why the Lord doth so usually do it is, when He brings afflictions on His children; He lets it run along till they may think there is no more help nor hope, that so it may be an affliction to them. If a man were in a smoky house, and had a door opened, it were no difficulty for him to shift himself out of it; but when we are shut up, that is it which makes it difficult; and that it might be so, the Lord suffers it to come to an extremity.
  5. Secondly, the Lord brings us to an extremity because the Lord might be sought to; for so long as the creatures can do us any good, we will go no further; but when they fail us, we are ready to look up to the Lord; as it is with men which are on the seas, when they are in an extremity, those that will not pray at any other time, will pray now, and be ready to say with these in the prophet Hosea, “Come and let us return unto the Lord; for He hath torn, and He will heal us; He hath smitten, and He will bind us up” (6:1); and the reason is, because where the creature ends, the Lord must begin, otherwise there can be no help at all.
  6. Thirdly, the Lord doth it, because that hereby it comes to pass that the Lord may be known to be the helper; that when we are delivered He may have all the praise.
  7. Fourthly, the Lord doth it, because all that we have, we may have as a new gift; therefore the Lord suffers us, as it were, to forfeit our leases, as it were, that He may renew them; otherwise we should think ourselves to be freeholders.
  8. Fifthly, the Lord doth it because He may teach us by experience to know Him. But here some man will be ready to say, Why cannot that be without these extremities? To this I answer, you must know when a man goes on in a course, without any troubles or changes, his experience is to no purpose; for he hath no great experience of the Lord. But when a man is in tribulation, that brings experience; and experience, hope; for it is another kind of experience that is so learned, than that which comes without it; and indeed nothing is well learned till it be learned by experience.
  9. Lastly, the Lord does it for proof and trial, as in the case of Abraham.
  10. In the time of extremities will the Lord be seen, and not before. Why?
  11. Because the Lord knows this is the best way to draw forth the practice of many graces and good duties, which otherwise would be without use.
  12. Because He would give a time to men to repent and meet Him in, which is good for His children; otherwise we would not seek unto the Lord.
  13. To let us know the vanity of the creature. The use of it is to teach us not to make too much haste for deliverance in the time of distress, but to wait upon the Lord, yea, depend upon His providence when we seem to be without help. If we look upon the creature, yet then are we to depend upon the Lord, so as never to say there is no help, but on the contrary to say, “I will trust in Him though He kill me.”

III. Godly men’s extremities are but trials, sent for their good; not punishment sent for their hurt and ruin. Ay, but what is that good? Why, this; first, it shall increase grace in your hearts; for as the gold which is tried loseth nothing but dross, and so is made the better thereby, so it is with our afflictions, for “the trial of our faith,” saith the apostle, “bringeth forth patience”; for the greater thy trial is, the more it strengthens thy faith, and so increaseth comfort; for when the afflictions of the apostle abounded, his consolation abounded also. Again, you shall have the greater wages; for when a man hath a friend that hath been employed about any great thing for him, why, the greater the trouble was which he did undergo for him, the more will he be beholden to him, and the greater reward will he bestow upon him; even so, the greater the trials are from the Lord, the greater benefit will come to us by them. (J. Preston.)

God’s providence:—

The celebrated Richard Boyle, Earl of Cork, who rose from a humble station in life to the highest rank, and passed through strange and trying vicissitudes, used these words as his motto, and ordered them to be engraved on his tomb: “God’s providence is my inheritance.” (Old Testament Anecdotes.)

Trust in the Lord:—

Paul Gerhardt, the German poet and preacher, after ten years of pastoral work in Berlin, was deprived of his charge by the King of Prussia, and expelled from the country. He turned towards Saxony, his native land, accompanied by his wife and little children, all on foot, without means and without prospect. They stopped at a village inn to pass the night, and there the poor woman naturally gave way to a burst of sorrow and anxiety. Her husband endeavoured to comfort her, especially dwelling upon the words of Scripture, “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, and lean not to thine own understanding; in all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths.” The same evening two gentlemen entered the inn parlour, and mentioned that they were on their way to Berlin to seek the deposed clergyman, Paul Gerhardt, by order of Duke Christian, of Merseburg, who desired to settle a considerable pension on him as a compensation for the injustice from which he had suffered. (Fifteen Hundred Illustrations.)[7]


14. Jehovah-jireh is, apart from the name for God, the expression Abraham had used in 8. Provide is a secondary meaning of the simple verb ‘to see’ (cf. our ‘see to it’), as in 1 Samuel 16:1c. Both senses probably coexist in the little saying of 14b (which deserves to be better known), i.e. ‘In the mount … it will come clear’.[8]


14. And Abraham called the name of that place. He not only, by the act of thanksgiving, acknowledges, at the time, that God has, in a remarkable manner, provided for him; but also leaves a monument of his gratitude to posterity. In most extreme anxiety, he had fled for refuge to the providence of God; and he testifies that he had not done so in vain. He also acknowledges that not even the ram had wandered thither accidentally, but had been placed there by God. Whereas, in process of time, the name of the place was changed, this was done purposely, and not by mistake. For they who have translated the active verb, ‘He will see,’ passively, have wished, in this manner, to teach that God not only looks upon those who are his, but also makes his help manifest to them; so that, in turn, he may be seen by them. The former has precedence in order; namely, that God, by his secret providence, determines and ordains what is best for us; but on this the latter is suspended; namely, that he stretches out his hand to us, and renders himself visible by true experimental tokens.[9]


14. That is, the Lord will provide. Reader! cannot your experience bear a thousand testimonies to this sweet scripture? Have you not been called upon many times, to set up your Jehovah-jirehs?[10]


14 Appropriately Abraham names this place Yahweh-yireh, “Yahweh sees (or provides).” He does not call this site “Abraham-shama” (“Abraham obeyed”). The name does not draw any attention to Abraham’s role in the story. Thus his part in the story is not memorialized; rather, it is subordinated to that of Yahweh. The name highlights only the beneficent actions of Yahweh. The reader will come away from this story more impressed with God’s faithfulness than with Abraham’s compliance.

This emphasis is borne out by the fact that the following phrase, and even today it is said, lifts the event out of Abraham’s time and projects it into the time of the narrator. Thus the phrase gives to the entire narrative a certain timelessness. It witnesses to the gracious provisions of God.

There are some textual problems in the last few words of the verse: behar YHWH yērāʾeh. The following are possible translations of the text as it stands: “In the mountain of Yahweh he is seen”; “In the mountain of Yahweh he shall be seen”; “In the mountain of Yahweh it shall be provided.” The problem here is to identify the relationship, if any, between the active of rāʾá in Yahweh-yireh, “Yahweh sees,” and the passive of rāʾá, yērāʾeh, “is seen.”

The ancient versions do not reflect the MT. Hence LXX En tṓ órei kýrios ṓphthē, “in the mountain the Lord is seen,” necessitates reading the first word in the MT (behar) as bāhār. The Vulg. reads yirʾeh (Qal) for MT yērāʾeh (Niphal), and thus translates “In the mountain the Lord sees” (in monte Dominus videbilt).

Other suggestions are that the variation of yirʾeh and yērāʾeh reflects the fact that the Masorah possessed two vocalizations of the place name and has preserved both variants, or that the relative clause in v. 14b is so obscure that it probably did not originally belong with v. 14a. Perhaps even “Yahweh-yireh” is an explanation for a lost name.

The use of the active and passive of rāʾá may be deliberate, and if so, we should be hesitant about excising it. God not only sees and provides for the needs of his servants but also shows himself to his servants. Elohim is no anonymous philanthropist. But in this incident at least, God shows himself not in any self-revelation but by his act of providing a ram in lieu of Isaac. Revelation for Abraham at Moriah was a visible manifestation of God’s act.66[11]


[1] 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., Ge 22:14). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[2] Sproul, R. C. (Ed.). (2005). The Reformation Study Bible: English Standard Version (p. 45). Orlando, FL; Lake Mary, FL: Ligonier Ministries.

[3] Barry, J. D., Mangum, D., Brown, D. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Ritzema, E., … Bomar, D. (2012, 2016). Faithlife Study Bible (Ge 22:14). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

[4] Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (p. 88). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[5] Stanley, C. F. (2005). The Charles F. Stanley life principles Bible: New King James Version (Ge 22:14). Nashville, TN: Nelson Bibles.

[6] Radmacher, E. D., Allen, R. B., & House, H. W. (1999). Nelson’s new illustrated Bible commentary (p. 44). Nashville: T. Nelson Publishers.

[7] Exell, J. S. (n.d.). The Biblical Illustrator: Genesis (Vol. 2, pp. 123–131). London: James Nisbet & Co.

[8] Kidner, D. (1967). Genesis: An Introduction and Commentary (Vol. 1, p. 155). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

[9] Calvin, J., & King, J. (2010). Commentary on the First Book of Moses Called Genesis (Vol. 1, p. 571). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

[10] Hawker, R. (2013). Poor Man’s Old Testament Commentary: Genesis–Numbers (Vol. 1, p. 92). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

[11] Hamilton, V. P. (1995). The Book of Genesis, Chapters 18–50 (pp. 113–114). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

March 25 Morning Verse of The Day

4:39 God in heaven … there is no other: Since no other God was Creator, Lord of history, Teacher, and the Lover of His people, Israel had to respond to God alone. This is a major theme of Deuteronomy and of the prophets. The incomparability of Yahweh is also the heart of the basic creed of Israel, the “Shema” (6:4).[1]


Ver. 39. Consider it in thine heart, that the Lord He is God in heaven above, and upon the earth beneath.—The relation of man to God:—

We must have God before we can understand Him. We must receive Him into our loving trust before we can make any advance in knowing what He is, what are His qualities and His attributes, and what is all the meaning that is written in His infinite heart. I am delighted to tell again and again of the poor woman who, upon being interrogated by her minister concerning formal divinity, before she could be admitted as a guest at the Lord’s table, was utterly unable to answer a single question; whereupon the minister informed her that she was not fit to be admitted to the table of the Lord. “Sir,” said she, with womanly feeling and pathos, “I can’t answer these questions, but I could die for Him.” That is religion! Not answering questions only, not being able to enter into critical disquisitions, but sending the heart out to receive God into its trust and love. Hence the exhortation of the text, “Consider it in thine heart.” You may consider the question in the intellectual region, and get little or nothing out of the considerations. When the heart knows its own hunger and its own bitterness, then, in that sad but holy hour, the heart may get some hold upon the idea of God. I can imagine the man of average education and intelligence, whom I am imaginatively addressing, asking me some such question as this, How is it that God does not show Himself more clearly to us than He does, and so put an end to all uncertainty concerning Himself? I answer, Are we capable of understanding what is and what is not the proper degree and method of Divine manifestation? Is it becoming in men, who cannot certainly tell what will happen in one single hour, that they should write a programme for God, and appoint the way of the Almighty? These things cause me to say that religious questions, if they are to be profitably considered at all, must be considered in a deeply religious spirit. You can make no advancement in this learning unless you bring a right heart with you. That is the beginning. There was a peculiar controversy or conversation in my garden the other day; it quite entertained me. There were, after those heavy rains, two worms that had struggled out of the earth, and found their way upon the wet green grass; and they began to talk in a very decided and mocking manner about myself. One, the elder and better-to-do of the two, said, “Eh, eh, eh! We have been told that this garden has an owner or somebody that takes care of it, that nourishes the roots of things, and that altogether presides over the affair. Eh, eh, eh, I never saw him. If there is such an owner, why doesn’t he show himself more clearly?—why doesn’t he come to the front and let us see him, eh?” And the leaner one of the two said, “That is an unanswerable argument. I never saw him. There may be such a being, but I care nothing about him; only, if he is alive, why don’t he show himself?” They quite wriggled in contemptuous triumph; yet all the while I was standing there, looking at the poor creatures, and hearing them! I could have set my foot upon them and crushed them; but I did not. There is a way of wasting strength; there is also a way of showing patience. But the worms could not understand my nature. I was standing there, and they knew me not! What if it be so with ourselves in the greater questions? Proceeding with our statement respecting the revelation of God, I have now to ask you to believe with me, as a matter of fact—

  1. 1. That we stand to God in the relation of dependants. That is our actual position in life. “What hast thou, that thou hast not received?” Let a man begin his studies there, and he will become correspondingly reverent. Have you genius? Who lighted the lamp? Have you health? Who gave you your constitution? Do you find the earth productive? “Yes.” Who made it productive? “I did. I till it; I supply all the elements of nourishment needful; I did.” Did you? Can you make it rain? Can you make the sun shine? If a man once be started on that course of reflection, the probability is, that he who begins as a reverent inquirer will end as a devout worshipper.
  2. 2. Then I ask you to believe, in the next place, that the very fact of being dependent should lead us to be very careful how we measure the sovereignty and the government of God. He has made us servants, not masters. We are little children, not old beings, in His household and universe. We are mysteries to ourselves. We need not go from home to seek mysteries.
  3. 3. I have to ask you, in the third place, to believe that the very fact of the mystery of our own life should be the beginning and the defence of our faith in God. Reason from yourself upwards. There is a way out of the human to the Divine. It is a commendable course of procedure to reason from the known to the unknown. If you are such a mystery to your own child, if the philosopher is such a mystery to the uninstructed man, if you are such a mystery to yourself—why may there not be a power around more mysterious still, higher and nobler yet? Reason from yourselves—from your own capacities and your own resources. Is not the maker greater than the thing made? Take away the idea of God from human thinking, and mark the immediate and necessary consequences. This is a method of reasoning which I commend to the attention of young inquirers who are earnest about this business. The method, namely, of withdrawment. If a man doubts concerning God, I shall withdraw the idea of God from human thinking, and see the necessary consequences. If a man has any argument to adduce against Christianity, take Christianity out of the country, and see what will be left. Take out the doctrine, take out the practice, take out not only Christian theology, but Christian morality, and see how many hospitals would be left, and how many penitentiaries, infirmaries, schools, and asylums for the deaf and the dumb and the blind and the idiotic. So take away the idea of God from human thinking, and see the immediate and inevitable consequences. There is no God; then there is no supreme supervision of human life as a whole; for none could have the eye that could see the whole orbit of things. We see points, not circumferences. There is no God; then there is no final judgment by which the wrongs of centuries can be avenged; there is no heart brooding over us to which we can confide the story of our sorrow, or tell the anguish of our pain. Set God again on the throne, and all that makes life worth having, even imaginatively, comes back again. Set God upon the throne, and all things take upon them a new, true, beautiful meaning; there is hope of judgment, and a certainty that right will eventually be done. Shall I ask you to remember—observe, I still speak to my scholar whom I assume to be diligent and earnest—that our little day has been too short to know the full mystery of God? When an infant of yours has gone to school, do you expect the little one to come back at twelve o’clock on the first day and be able to read you a chapter even out of the simplest book? You are an old man; yes, but a young being, an infantile being. Very old indeed, if you think of insuring yourself, or buying another estate, or laying out a great sum of money—very, very old indeed; but if you are talking of the universe, you are the insect of a moment—hardly born! But you wish to read the book called the Universe through at one sitting, like a cheap novel. Thou art of yesterday, and knowest nothing; and I, thy teacher, what am I but a man who, having seen one ray of light amid thick and terrible gloom, come to thee and stand here that you may see the same beautiful revelation! All this shows us what our spirit ought to be. He who comes to school with this spirit will learn most and learn it most quickly. And this let me tell you, young man, the greatest men I have ever known have been the most humble, docile, self-distrustful. ( Parker, D.D.)[2]

39. Know therefore this day. He again inculcates what we have lately spoken of, that the glory of the one true God was proved by the miracles, but he does so by way of exhortation. For he desires them carefully and attentively to consider what God had shewn them, because in so plain a matter there would be no excuse for error or ignorance. He therefore infers from what had gone before, that the people must beware of shutting their eyes against the clear revelation of God’s power, and therefore urges them to keep it in memory, because man’s ingratitude is but too prone to forgetfulness. He afterwards reminds them wherefore God would be known, viz., that they might keep His Law and obey His statutes. The sum is, that they would be inexcusable if they did not obediently receive the Law, which they knew to have come from God; for they must needs be worse than stupid if the majesty of God, known and understood by so many proofs, did not awaken them to reverence. And lest they should undervalue the doctrine as proceeding from a mortal man, he expressly confesses, indeed, that he is the minister, and yet that he had set before them nothing which he had not received from God.[3]


[1] Radmacher, E. D., Allen, R. B., & House, H. W. (1999). Nelson’s new illustrated Bible commentary (p. 240). Nashville: T. Nelson Publishers.

[2] Exell, J. S. (n.d.). The Biblical Illustrator: Deuteronomy (pp. 71–72). New York; Chicago; Toronto; London; Edinburgh: Fleming H. Revell Company.

[3] Calvin, J., & Bingham, C. W. (2010). Commentaries on the Four Last Books of Moses Arranged in the Form of a Harmony (Vol. 1, pp. 353–354). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

40 Days to the Cross: Week Five – Thursday

Confession: Psalm 103:8–14

Yahweh is compassionate and gracious,

slow to anger and abundant in loyal love.

He does not dispute continually,

nor keep his anger forever.

He has not dealt with us according to our sins,

nor repaid us according to our iniquities.

For as the heavens are high above the earth,

so his loyal love prevails over those who fear him.

As far as east is from west,

so he has removed far from us the guilt of our transgressions.

As a father pities his children,

so Yahweh pities those who fear him.

For he knows our frame.

He remembers that we are dust.

Reading: Mark 14:53–65

And they led Jesus away to the high priest, and all the chief priests and the elders and the scribes came together. And Peter followed him from a distance, right inside, into the courtyard of the high priest. And he was sitting with the officers and warming himself by the fire. Now the chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin were looking for testimony against Jesus in order to put him to death, and they did not find it. For many gave false testimony against him, and their testimony was not consistent. And some stood up and began to give false testimony against him, saying, “We heard him saying, ‘I will destroy this temple made by hands, and within three days I will build another not made by hands.’ ” And their testimony was not even consistent about this. And the high priest stood up in the midst of them and asked Jesus, saying, “Do you not reply anything? What are these people testifying against you?” But he was silent and did not reply anything. Again the high priest asked him and said to him, “Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed One?” And Jesus said, “I am, and you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power and coming with the clouds of heaven.” And the high priest tore his clothes and said, “What further need do we have of witnesses? You have heard the blasphemy! What do you think?” And they all condemned him as deserving death. And some began to spit on him and to cover his face and to strike him with their fists, and to say to him “Prophesy!” And the officers received him with slaps in the face.

Reflection

Admire the self-command of the disciples, who relate these things with exactness. Here, we clearly see their disposition as they truthfully relate the things that seem to be scornful. Disguising nothing, nor being ashamed, they rather account it a great glory (as indeed it was) that the Lord of the universe should endure to suffer such things for us. This shows both His unutterable tenderness and the inexcusable wickedness of those men.… For neither did Christ fail in gentleness, nor they of insolence and cruelty in what they did and said. These things the prophet Isaiah foretold, proclaiming beforehand and by one word intimating all this insolence. For “like as many were astonished at you,” he said, “so shall your form be held inglorious of men, and your glory of the sons of men” (Isa 52:14 [paraphrase]).

… Indeed, they inflicted the blows that are most insulting of all—buffeting, smiting with the palms of their hands, and adding to these blows the insult of spitting at Him. And with words teeming again with much derision they spoke, saying, “Prophesy to us, you Messiah! Who is it that stuck you?” (Matt 26:68 nrsv) because the multitude called Him a prophet.

But another disciple said that they covered His face with His own garment, and did these things, as though they had in the midst of them some vile and worthless fellow.…

These things let us read continually; these things let us hear again; these things let us write in our minds, for these are our honors. In these things do I take a pride, not only in the thousands of dead He raised, but also in the sufferings which He endured. These things Paul puts forward in every way—the cross, the death, the sufferings, the revilings, the insults, the scoffs. And now he says, “Let us then go … bear the abuse he endured” (Heb 13:13 nrsv); and now, “who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame” (Heb 12:2 nrsv).

—John Chrysostom

Homilies of St. John Chrysostom

Response

What does it mean to you that Christ suffered scorn and reproach for your sake? Jesus was brought outside of Jerusalem to die—like a criminal. Paul says “we must go outside the camp and bear the abuse he endured” (Heb 13:13). What does it mean to you—that no matter how much shame you might feel—you must follow Christ? How is this radically present in your life?[1]


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

March 24 Evening Verse of The Day

78:4 We will not hide them from their children Israel failed to follow God throughout its history. The psalmist seems to be saying that he will not hide the past from God’s people but instead use it for teaching.

the praises of Yahweh The focus of Israel’s faith is not their goodness, but God’s help to them over the course of their history.

wonders The Hebrew word used here, niphla’oth, is usually associated with the events of the exodus from Egypt (see Exod 7:3).[1]


78:4 — We will not hide them from their children, telling to the generation to come the praises of the Lord, and His strength and His wonderful works that He has done.

It is our job to tell our children not only the great things God did in Bible times, but also the wonderful works He has performed in our own lives. They need to see God at work in us.[2]


4. “We will not hide them from their children.” Our negligent silence shall not deprive our own and our father’s offspring of the precious truth of God, it would be shameful indeed if we did so. “Shewing of the generation to come the praises of the Lord.” We will look forward to future generations, and endeavour to provide for their godly education. It is the duty of the church of God to maintain, in fullest vigour, every agency intended for the religious education of the young; to them we must look for the church of the future, and as we sow towards them so shall we reap. Children are to be taught to magnify the Lord; they ought to be well informed as to his wonderful doings in ages past, and should be made to know “his strength, and his wonderful works that he hath done.” The best education is education in the best things. The first lesson for a child should be concerning his mother’s God. Teach him what you will, if he learn not the fear of the Lord, he will perish for lack of knowledge. Grammar is poor food for the soul if it be not flavoured with grace. Every satchel should have a Bible in it. The world may teach secular knowledge alone, ’tis all she has a heart to know, but the church must not deal so with her offspring; she should look well to every Timothy, and see to it that from a child he knows the Holy Scriptures. Around the fire-side fathers should repeat not only the Bible records, but the deeds of the martyrs and reformers, and moreover the dealings of the Lord with themselves both in providence and grace. We dare not follow the vain and vicious traditions of the apostate church of Rome, neither would we compare the fallible record of the best human memories with the infallible written word, yet would we fain see oral tradition practised by every Christian in his family, and children taught cheerfully by word of mouth by their own mothers and fathers, as well as by the printed pages of what they too often regard as dull, dry task books. What happy hours and pleasant evenings have children had at their parents’ knees as they have listened to some “sweet story of old.” Reader, if you have children, mind you do not fail in this duty.[3]


Ver. 4. We will not hide them from their children.Children:

  1. The interesting objects of our solicitude mentioned. Consider—
  2. The love which welcomes them.
  3. The evils which surround them.
  4. The possibilities which await them.
  5. The sacred duties which we owe to them.
  6. They are weak; we must protect them (Gen. 33).
  7. They are helpless; we must provide for them.
  8. They are ignorant; we must instruct them.

III. The object which we hope shall be realized.

  1. The knowledge of truth shall be perpetuated.
  2. Our children will put their hope in God.
  3. They shall be better than their fathers. (The Study.)

The knowledge of national benefits and deliverances transmitted to the rising generation:

  1. Point out a few of those things which we have heard and known, or which our fathers have told us, and which we, with the psalmist, may style “The praises of the Lord, and His strength, and the wonderful works that He hath done.”
  2. Recommend and enforce the resolution in my text. The great God may justly expect that we acquaint ourselves with His ways and works; that we endeavour to trace Him in the natural, providential, and civil world, and in the world of grace; and that we treasure up in our hearts each signal deliverance He hath wrought. But a genuine disciple of Jesus, and a child of God, will neither wish to live nor to die unto himself. What we have known of the wonderful works of God in favour of our fathers, of ourselves, or of ages to come, we should transmit to the rising generation. I am apprehensive that one cause of the languishing state of public spirit, and of pious zeal, in this age, is the want of knowledge. Had the minds of persons in the present day been early and deeply impressed with the conduct of God to this highly favoured country, the privileges they enjoy would be more dear and important in their esteem, and patriotism would not be that empty boast which we have too much reason to apprehend it now is. With the knowledge of those “things we have heard, and known, and which our fathers have told us,” transmit, as far as possible, the things themselves. On our part let nothing be left untried, that they who are soon to fill our places in civil and religious life, and that their descendants, even to the world’s last period, may stand forth, under God, the guardians of each important and sacred right, and approve themselves the unshaken friends of their country, of Jesus, and of the Gospel. (N. Hill.)

The transmission of Scriptural truth to posterity:

The text presents four grand arguments why we should zealously devote ourselves to this duty.

  1. The peculiar character of Scriptural truth. Consider it—
  2. As a revelation of God.
  3. As a law of duty.
  4. As a history of God’s conduct.
  5. The manner in which we have been put into its possession. As we have received the knowledge of God and the way of happiness from our fathers, who showed us by their lips and their lives the way of happiness, we are bound, by every consideration of gratitude, to give to others what has been so freely given to us.

III. The Divine arrangements as to its transmission. Fathers are commanded to make known the commands and the character of God to their children. Various powerful reasons might be assigned for this infinitely wise arrangement. The young come into our world with an awfully strong bias to evil, and it is unspeakably important to check the workings of their depravity by presenting the most powerful considerations which tend to the accomplishment of such an end. Nor must it be forgotten here, that, as immortal creatures, the character of man is usually formed in youth for eternity.

  1. The great results which it is intended to accomplish. Every individual who receives the knowledge of God, in the love of it, becomes a moral sun, diffusing light and warmth around him, the glorious effects of which shall be felt through all the changes of time, and in eternity itself. (J. Belcher.)

The true method by which generation helps generation:

  1. True religious knowledge is a thing imparted to man. It is that “which we have heard and known, and our fathers have told us.” It is not inbred nor discovered. Without denying that man has a capacity to discover God as the Creator, all history shows that he has never done so; and as to His redeeming capacity, that, in the nature of the case, transcends all human conceptions. As sinners, this is the knowledge of God we require, and it involves the former. And we have it, not by intuition or discovery, but by impartation. It has been transmitted to us through many generations.
  2. They have handed it down to us by inspired documents.
  3. They have handed it down to us by their own teaching.
  4. True religious knowledge is imparted to us, not to monopolize, but to transmit (vers. 5–8). The transmittory arrangement implies—
  5. That the children of every generation have a capacity for receiving this knowledge. There is no danger of teaching religion boo soon.
  6. That the children of every generation will require this knowledge. Coming generations may not require our philosophies, poetries, and governments; they may out-grow our sciences, and despise our civilization, but they will require our religion. Though they may not require our lamps, they will need our sun.
  7. The eternal harmony of all God’s operations. The Eternal does not contradict Himself. The first Divine act on earth’s theatre will harmonize with the last. The whole will form one great anthem filling eternity with music.

III. True religious knowledge is to be thus transmitted in order to elevate posterity.

  1. The grand result aimed at is threefold—

(1) Rightness of intellect. “Not forget the works of God.” A constant recognition of Divine agency.

(2) Rightness of heart. “That they might set their hope in God,” and “set their heart aright”; the heart fixed on God as the supreme Good.

(3) Rightness of conduct. “Keep His commandments.” To bring immortal man to this sublime rightness—this rightness in thought, feeling, and action, is the grand and ultimate end of all this teaching. Glorious end!

  1. It is coming slowly but surely. Humanity is rising, and every true thought arid virtuous act helps it on. (Homilist.)[4]

4. We will not conceal them from their children in the generation to come. Some take the verb נכחד, nechached, in the nephil conjugation, and translate it, they are not concealed or hidden. But it ought, according to the rules of grammar, to be resolved thus:—We will not conceal them from our posterity, implying, that what we have been taught by our ancestors we should endeavour to transmit to their children. By this means, all pretence of ignorance is removed; for it was the will of God that these things should be published from age to age without interruption; so that being transmitted from father to child in each family, they might reach even the last family of man. The end for which this was to be done is shown—that they might celebrate the praises of Jehovah in the wonderful works which he hath done.[5]


4. How lovely is it to behold, even from the days of the patriarchs, the care and attention with which the fathers handed down the testimony they had received concerning the promised seed. Hence we find Abraham telling Isaac, and Isaac Jacob, and Jacob, when dying, holding forth to his children, the blessing of redemption by Christ, upon which their own souls had lived, and with which they were most familiarly acquainted. Gen. 49:1; 50:24.[6]


We will not hide them from their children; we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord, his power, and the wonders he has done (v. 4). These object lessons from history were not to be concealed, but rather revealed! Covenantal history was a record of what God had done for his people, and the power and wonderful deeds that he had demonstrated were worthy of praise and adoration. The word ‘hide’ (kâchad, Pi.) conveys the idea of refusing to make something known. The truth about the past had to be told to successive generations.[7]


[1] Barry, J. D., Mangum, D., Brown, D. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Ritzema, E., … Bomar, D. (2012, 2016). Faithlife Study Bible (Ps 78:4). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

[2] Stanley, C. F. (2005). The Charles F. Stanley life principles Bible: New King James Version (Ps 78:4). Nashville, TN: Nelson Bibles.

[3] Spurgeon, C. H. (n.d.). The treasury of David: Psalms 56-87 (Vol. 3, p. 331). London; Edinburgh; New York: Marshall Brothers.

[4] Exell, J. S. (1909). The Biblical Illustrator: The Psalms (Vol. 3, pp. 397–398). New York; Chicago; Toronto; London; Edinburgh: Fleming H. Revell Company; Francis Griffiths.

[5] Calvin, J., & Anderson, J. (2010). Commentary on the Book of Psalms (Vol. 3, p. 230). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

[6] Hawker, R. (2013). Poor Man’s Old Testament Commentary: Job–Psalms (Vol. 4, p. 413). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

[7] Harman, A. (2011). Psalms: A Mentor Commentary (Vol. 1–2, p. 584). Ross-shire, Great Britain: Mentor.

March 24 Morning Verse of The Day

9:15 His indescribable gift refers to God’s Son, Jesus. Giving ought to be an expression of appreciation to God for sending Jesus (Jn 3:16).[1]


9:15 This verse should be read in connection with 8:9. God’s “indescribable gift” is His own precious Son (cf. John 3:16). Giving is again directed to the cross for its proper motivation. God gave His best; He gave His all. All Christian giving should be a humble and joyful response of praise, worship, thanksgiving, and gratitude for God’s wonderful gift, which human words are truly inadequate to describe.[2]


9:15 Our giving is only a small imitation of God’s own excellent generosity to us, especially in the “inexpressible gift” of His Son (John 3:16).[3]


9:15 his indescribable gift Refers to Christ, who brought about salvation through His life, death, and resurrection. It may also refer to His generosity: He became poor so that those who believe in Him might become rich (8:9). Paul appropriately closes his appeal for the Corinthian church to give generously by thanking God for His generous gift.[4]


9:15 The gift of the Corinthians reflects the inexpressible gift God has given to believers in Christ (cf. 8:9; Rom. 8:32).[5]


9:15 Paul summarized his discourse by comparing the believer’s act of giving with what God did in giving Jesus Christ (cf. Ro 8:32), “His indescribable gift.” God buried His Son and reaped a vast harvest of those who put their faith in the resurrected Christ (cf. Jn 12:24). That makes it possible for believers to joyfully, sacrificially, and abundantly sow and reap. As they give in this manner, they show forth Christ’s likeness (cf. Jn 12:25, 26; Eph 5:1, 2).[6]


9:15 — Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!

The greatest gift we could ever receive is the marvelous grace of God, which hit its apex in the gift of God’s Son, Jesus Christ. The only reason we have the privilege of giving is that God already gave far more.[7]


9:15 God’s indescribable gift is His Son, Jesus Christ. Our gifts can never compare to God’s sacrifice for us.[8]


9:15. The ultimate expression of this grace is found in Jesus Christ, who provides the basis for all the other graces. Paul therefore ends this section by saying Thanks (charis) be to God for His indescribable gift![9]


9:15 At this point Paul simply bursts out into an exclamation! This verse has been a puzzle to many Bible scholars. They cannot see that it is closely connected with what has gone before. And they wonder what is meant by His indescribable gift.

But it seems to us that as the Apostle Paul reaches the end of his section on Christian giving, he is forced to think of the greatest Giver of all—God Himself. He thinks, too, of the greatest gift of all—the Lord Jesus Christ. And so he would leave his Corinthian brethren on this high note. They are children of God and followers of Christ. Then let them follow such worthy examples![10]


9:15. This thought was so magnificent in Paul’s outlook that it caused him to break forth in praise. He wrote, Thanks be to God. His heart broke out in adoration for God’s indescribable gift which made all of this possible—the gift of salvation through Christ. He was overwhelmed by the thought of Gentiles in Corinth joining with other Gentile churches to provide for Jewish believers in Jerusalem. He overflowed with joy that all of these churches would join together in the praise of God and in prayer for one another. Paul was so ecstatic at the thought he could go no further.[11]


9:15 “Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift” Some take this context to refer to the Corinthian gift, but because of (1) Jesus’ great sacrifice mentioned in 8:9, or (2) the gospel of Christ mentioned in 9:13, it must refer to the ministry of Jesus of Nazareth, the Messiah.

The self-giving ministry of the Son (cf. 8:9) was meant to inspire these believers to give thanks (eucharistia, vv. 11, 12; charis, v. 13) to God and money to needy believers.

©

 

 

 

NASB, NKJV, NRSV

 

“indescribable”

 

TEV

 

“priceless”

 

NJB

 

“beyond all telling”

 

This is the term ekdiēgeomai, which means to explain completely or mention all the details, plus the ALPHA PRIVATIVE, which negates it. In some ways the love of God is too wonderful for humans to grasp all its facets (cf. Deut. 30:11; Job 11:7; Ps. 139:6; Prov. 30:18; Isa. 55:8–9; Rom. 11:33).[12]


15. Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift.

This text often appears on Christmas cards with the message that God has given us the gift of his Son. No one questions the truth of this message, but those readers who take the time to look at the context of this verse immediately notice that Paul says nothing about Jesus’ birth.

What is Paul trying to convey? With the words of a prayer, “Thanks be to God,” he introduces a doxology, which is a fitting conclusion to the preceding reference to God’s surpassing grace. God receives the tribute that is due him for his providence to make the collection a blessing to the entire church.

Paul expresses his gratitude to God “for his indescribable gift” of Jesus Christ. The apostle John writes about the unfathomable love of God (John 3:16; 1 John 4:9), but Paul notes the gift of God. This gift of God to the world is the birth, ministry, suffering, death, resurrection, ascension, and eventual return of his Son. For Paul, the thought of God giving his Son to mankind is astounding. He sees the glorious results in the faith both Jew and Gentile place in Jesus Christ, in the breaking down of racial barriers, and in the unity of the Christian church. Presently the church of Jesus Christ is spanning the globe, so that everywhere Christians gather and worship the Lord. Believers meet in cathedrals, churches, chapels, private homes, a variety of other buildings, forests, caves, and hidden places. By means of the airwaves, the printed page, and the spoken word, the gospel goes forth throughout the world and accomplishes the purpose for which God has sent it (Isa. 55:11).

We see God’s indescribable gift, namely, his Son Jesus Christ, in the development and progress of the church. In his lifetime, Paul saw God’s kingdom advancing from Jerusalem to Rome and parts of the Roman Empire. In our times we witness its worldwide growth, power, and influence. Paul called attention to God’s inexpressible gift of salvation and gave thanks. With him, we too express our gratitude to God for the coming of his Son. On this earth we will never be able to fathom the depth of God’s love for us, the infinite value of our salvation, and the gift of eternal life. God’s gift indeed is indescribable![13]


15. Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift! This verse strikes a note sounded already in 8:9. There the grace of Christ was shown in his becoming poor for our sakes so that we might become rich. That was God’s indescribable gift. The word indescribable (anekdiēgetos) which Paul uses here is found neither in classical Greek nor in the papyri. It appears first in the New Testament and only in this verse. It appears to be a word the apostle himself coined to describe the ineffable character of God’s gift. Once coined by Paul, it was used by Clement of Rome in his letter to the Corinthians (written c. ad 95) when writing of God’s ‘indescribable’ judgments, love and power (1 Clem 20:5; 49:4; 61:1). The important thing to note is that for Paul all Christian giving is carried out in the light of God’s indescribable gift, and therefore ought to be done with a cheerful heart as an expression of gratitude to God, as well as in demonstration of concern for, and partnership with, those in need.

Paul’s confidence that the Corinthians would contribute to the collection was finally rewarded. When the apostle wrote Romans during his three-month stay in Greece (after the problems reflected in 2 Corinthians had been settled for the time being), he was able to say, ‘Now, however, I am on my way to Jerusalem in the service of the Lord’s people there. For Macedonia and Achaia were pleased to make a contribution for the poor among the Lord’s people in Jerusalem’ (Rom. 15:25–26, italics added; cf. Acts 24:17).

Theology

Paul’s exhortations concerning the collection in chapters 8–9 provide important teaching about Christian giving. Generosity is an aspect of the grace of God in people’s lives. The grace of God in the Macedonians was evident in their being joyful in the midst of trials, generous in the midst of poverty, begging for the privilege of participating in the collection, and dedicating themselves to the Lord himself and to Paul in support of the collection. As a result, they could be held up as an example for the Corinthians, so that they too might excel in the grace of generosity as they excelled in other spiritual graces. Christian generosity cannot be demanded, but the example of Christ who became ‘poor’ so that we might become ‘rich’ is the supreme example and provides fundamental motivation for believers to be generous.

It is important to remember that people’s capacity to be generous is ultimately made possible by God’s generosity. He who provides ‘seed to the sower’ can enrich us in every way and increase our capacity to give to those in need. This, of course, presupposes that there will always be those who are in need (as Jesus said, ‘The poor you will always have with you’, Mark 14:7), and they must not be expected to be generous in the same way as those who are rich.

In dealing with financial matters, it is crucial that things be done in a way that is pleasing to God and right in the eyes of our fellow human beings. This will mean making conscious efforts, as Paul did, to avoid criticism by acting transparently and by involving people of good repute in the enterprise.

In advocating Christian generosity, Paul emphasized that his purpose was not to relieve some at the unreasonable expense of others. He only wanted there to be a form of equality whereby those who were well-off contributed to meeting the necessities of those suffering want. And those who do contribute have the joy of seeing people’s needs met, thanks being given to God, and the hearts of the recipients responding in love to their benefactors. The whole matter of Christian giving is to be done in the light of God’s ‘indescribable gift’.

The significance of the collection for Paul and his mission is the subject of much debate. Clearly, the collection was intended to be a compassionate response to the pressing needs of Judean Christians, and an expression of the unity of the Jewish and Gentile sections of the church (2 Cor. 8:14–15; cf. Rom. 15:25–27). Some similarities (and some differences) have been noted between the way Paul speaks of the collection and the way in which the Jewish temple tax was administered. And, more conjecturally, it has been suggested that Paul conceived the bearing of the collection to Jerusalem by representatives of the Gentile churches in terms of the Old Testament prophecies of the latter days when the nations and their wealth would flow into Zion (Isa. 2:2–3; 60:5–7; Mic. 4:1–2). Furthermore, it is proposed that Paul hoped this would convince Jewish Christians that God was fulfilling his ancient prophecies, and as this realization dawned upon unbelieving Jews, they would become jealous when they saw Gentiles enjoying the blessings of God first promised to them, and that would trigger the repentance of Israel for which Paul longed (Rom. 11:11–14, 25–32). Unfortunately, things did not work out as Paul is thought to have hoped. Although he was warmly received by those in the Jerusalem church when he arrived with those bearing the collection (Acts 24:17–26), it did not trigger repentance on the part of unbelieving Jews. Shortly afterwards, his presence in the temple with those undergoing purification rites resulted in a tumult, his arrest and a further hardening of Jewish people against the gospel. This suggestion that Paul thought of the collection in terms of those Old Testament prophecies has been found unconvincing by the majority of recent commentators, for it constitutes a large superstructure built upon the foundation of inferences from a rather limited evidential base.[14]


15 I have judged it proper to consider this verse alone, and unconnected with every other, from the very great sweetness, and importance of it. For, in whatever point of view the Apostle meant it, the beauty and loveliness is the same. It is probable, that he intended it by way of enforcing, upon higher principles than he had before mentioned, the charity he was recommending to the Corinthian Church. And to be sure, it doth form the highest, and the best of all arguments; the unequalled, and unspeakable love of God, in the gift of his dear Son. For who that properly considers, the free, unmerited, unlooked-for, gift of Christ, in all his suitableness, seasonableness, and preciousness, and lives in the enjoyment of Christ, and his fulness, and all-sufficiency; could pause a moment, from flying to the relief of all Christ’s distressed members, wherever he heard of them, or met them?

But, after paying all due respect on this ground, to the words of the Apostle, I would beg to consider them, on a point of infinitely higher moment. In what sense soever is meant this unspeakable gift: whether Christ, or the Holy Ghost, in either, or in both, the doctrine is most blessed. Some have conceived, that by the unspeakable gift, Christ is understood: and some have thought, that it is the Holy Spirit which is meant.

If we suppose Christ, as Christ, and as the gift of God; in every sense the mercy is so great, that it may well be called unspeakable. For the infinite dignity of his Person, and the infinite cause for which he is given; all the vast concerns involved in this gift, first before the world was formed, then during the whole of the present time-state of the Church; and, lastly, the eternal world which follows, and in which, all those immense purposes, for which Christ was given to the Church, and the Church to Christ, are to be accomplished: in whatever way the subject be considered, every child of God, in contemplating Christ, finds reason to join the Apostle, and cry out: now thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift.

And there is another view, which tends to enhance this gift, and render it unspeakably more dear and precious: I mean, in that it was given freely, without any one motive, moving the infinite mind of Jehovah to be thus gracious, but his own sovereign will, and from his own everlasting love. So far were the highly objects of this unspeakable mercy, from seeking it, or even from knowing that they needed it, that they were altogether ignorant, both of the Gift, and the Giver. And therefore, in the contemplation of God the Father’s love, in such unequalled proofs of it, as the free, full, and never to be recalled gift of his dear Son, with all the glorious purposes contained in it; every motive compels them to be unceasingly engaged, in praising God for his unspeakable gift.

And, if God the Holy Ghost in his office-character be supposed as implied in this unspeakable mercy; there is no less reason for admiring, adoring, and giving praise to God, for such a token of divine love.

When I speak of God the Holy Ghost as the gift of God, I beg to be clearly understood, as speaking upon Scriptural grounds, and by Scriptural authority. There is a gift of his Person, and a gift of his graces, in his office-character in the Covenant of grace. But this must never be understood, as lessening in our view the infinite glories of the Person of the Holy Ghost, in his own eternal power, and Godhead. In the essential glories of the Godhead, all the Persons are equal, in every point, which can distinguish the divine nature. Distinguished only by their personalities, they are One, in essense, will, power, and in all the sovereignty which constitutes Godhead. They are the Three which bear record in Heaven; and Which three are One. Such is the unity of the divine Nature. 1 John 5:7. Deut. 4.

And in relation to the account given to the Church in Scripture, concerning them; they are equally proposed to us in all the revelations of the sacred word, as entitled to the joint love, adoration, obedience, and praise, of all their creatures. Hence, they have in Covenant engagements, entered into certain offices, by which they are pleased to be made known to the Church, in the accomplishment of those grand purposes, from all eternity designed. God the Father’s office-character is represented, as choosing the Church in Christ, giving the Church to Christ, accepting the Church in Christ, and everlastingly blessing the Church in Christ, with all suited blessings, of grace here, and glory to all eternity. Hence in this office-character, Christ is said to be sent of the Father, to be the Savior of the world. 1 John 4:14. And in like manner, the Holy Ghost is said to be the gift of God the Father, in, and through, Christ. Hence Jesus, when speaking to his disciples on the coming of the Holy Ghost, said: the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name. John 14:26. And in the same discourse, the Lord Jesus speaks of the Holy Ghost being sent to them by himself. It is expedient for you, (said Jesus,) that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you: but if I depart, I will send him unto you. John 16:7. But in both instances it is plain, from the dignity of God the Holy Ghost, in his own Person, eternal nature, and Godhead, which he possesseth in common with the Father and the Son; that these things refer to the office-character, which in the Covenant of grace, God the Holy Ghost hath entered into, and engaged for: and not as if implying any inferiority, in his Almighty Person, and Godhead.

If in this sense, the Apostle meant the Holy Ghost, as the unspeakable gift of God; the Lord the Spirit is indeed unspeakably precious, in all that relates to his office-character and relation. And the Reader, as well as the Writer, of this Poor Man’s Commentary, if so be he hath partaken in His manifold gifts, and graces; may well join Paul in the same short, but expressive hymn of praise, and say: Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift![15]


15 And so Paul himself ends this appeal in the very way he indicates their response will be received in Jerusalem, with praise to God for his indescribable gift. Here, then, is the conclusion to the exposition of chapters 8–9. The word “grace” (charis—8:1), with which Paul began, he now uses symbolically in this final statement. To be sure, the meanings are different; at the beginning it means “grace,” while here it means “thanks.” Indeed, the word charis, although used with different nuances and meanings throughout this long passage, has served to give an overarching unity to the whole, thus forming an “elaborate inclusio.”

It is, of course, “God” to whom the apostle expresses his “thanks” (see on 8:16; cf. 2:14). Thanksgiving—first by the “saints” of Jerusalem (vv. 11–12) and now by the apostle—has dominated these final verses of his exposition.

What is “[God’s] indescribable gift” (dōrea72) for which Paul offers his thanks to God? It is “the surpassing grace of God to you,” as stated in the previous verse, which has sparked a chain reaction. What began in free, unconditioned generosity has issued in thankfulness and longing in the fellowship within the “household of faith … the Israel of God,” in which there can be “neither Jew nor Greek” because “all are one in Christ Jesus” (Gal 6:10, 16; 3:28). While the immediate context demands such an answer, a broader sweep of this passage hints that, ultimately, “God’s indescribable gift” can only be gracious Jesus himself, who, though rich, impoverished himself to make the poor rich (see on 8:9). Jesus Christ is “the divine gift which inspires all gifts” (so Tasker).

So conclude chapters 8–9, a remarkable and sustained exposition of the “grace of God” as applied to the historic situation in Corinth where the members of the church had allowed their contributions to Paul’s collection to fall into abeyance. Despite his powerful desire that the Corinthians complete the collection, at no point does Paul weaken his grip on this great truth of the gospel. As he began, so he ends, with “grace,” God’s “indescribable gift,” as he calls it, or rather him, Jesus Christ.

Paul’s words stand as a rebuke to the Corinthians’ myopic individualism and congregationalism (8:7). Paul’s emphasis is upon “equality” within the worldwide people of the new covenant and the mutual responsibility each member is to show to others, regardless of geographic separation or ethnic difference (8:13–15). The Corinthians displayed a lack of practical commitment to this reality as compared with the zeal and generosity of the very poor Macedonians. Paul presents these northern Greek believers, in whom the grace of God was at work, as a shining example of loving generosity to others in time of need, beyond their immediate circle.

Moreover, God’s righteousness, in covenantal fidelity (9:9) to the people to whom he has given his forensic righteousness (5:21), is to be expressed by them in the bountiful fruits of their righteousness (9:10), that is, in generous “sharing” with others (9:6–10) within the worldwide covenant people (9:13). God’s grace does not terminate in the recipient, but is to be reproduced in generosity. This is the “proof of love” (8:8, 24) and of obedience to the confession of Christ through the gospel (9:12). Sharing with others beyond the immediate congregation glorifies God and will be reciprocated by the recipients’ prayers for and longing toward the givers (9:13–14), the distant brothers and sisters in congregations beyond. Against Corinthian fears that their own needs would be unmet should they “share” in the collection (8:13–15), Paul gives assurances as to the power and faithfulness of God in providing for their own ongoing needs and for their own ongoing generosity toward others (9:6–10).

Various views have been expressed regarding Paul’s theological motivation in activating the collection. Prominent among these is that, in fulfillment of the promises of the prophets, the collection represents the ingathering of the Gentiles, which, in Paul’s view, would provoke a Jewish acceptance of the Messiah (as in Rom 9–11), thus hastening the Parousia. As noted earlier, we do not subscribe to this interesting view; Paul sets forth his own reasons for the collection, and the above hypothesis is not found among them (see Rom 15:15–33). Significantly, too, Paul states that the “sharing” is also for “everyone else” (v. 13), not only for the “saints” in Judaea.

Whatever the case, the collection was Paul’s. It was his “ministry of service … for the saints” (8:4; 9:1, 12, 13), in which the churches were asked to “share.” As such it was a merciful “ministry” (diakonia), which should be bracketed with the “ministry of reconciliation” that God had “given” him (5:18). Edifyingly, Paul’s exercise of the “ministry of service … for the saints” was conducted with careful forward planning (8:10; 1 Cor 16:1–4), with prudent attention to detail (8:16–24), with sensitivity to matters of probity (8:20), with perseverance in face of difficulty and disappointment (8:6–12), and, not least, in unswerving devotion of the doctrine to the grace of God (8:1–9:15 passim).[16]


15 This doxology is a final appeal to the lofty grandeur of divine giving (cf. 8:9; 9:8, 10–11). Since the gift is said to be given by God (“his … gift”) and beyond adequate human description (“indescribable”), it could hardly be the Corinthian contribution or even the boon of Jewish—Gentile reconciliation in Christ alluded to in v. 14a, but must refer secondarily to the “surpassing grace” that God imparts (v. 14b) and primarily to the Father’s gift of the Son (cf. Ro 8:32).[17]


Likeness to God

Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift! (9:15)

This simple concluding benediction is one of the richest statements in Scripture. God’s indescribable gift is, of course, His Son—the most magnanimous, glorious, wonderful gift ever given, the gift that inspires all other gifts.

For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; and the government will rest on His shoulders; and His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. (Isa. 9:6)

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.” (John 3:16–17)

He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? (Rom. 8:32)

But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law. (Gal. 4:4)

By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. (1 John 4:9–10)

God’s gift of the Lord Jesus Christ is the basis for Christian giving. Jesus was the “grain of wheat [that] falls into the earth and dies, … but if it dies, it bears much fruit” (John 12:24). God, as it were, planted Him as a seed and reaped a harvest of redeemed people. Believers are called to “be imitators of God, as beloved children” (Eph. 5:1), and they are never more like Him than when they give.

Subsequent history reveals how the Corinthians responded to Paul’s plea in chapters 8 and 9 regarding the offering. Sometime after writing 2 Corinthians, Paul visited Corinth as he had planned (2 Cor. 12:14; 13:1–2). He remained there about three months (Acts 20:1–3), during which time he penned Romans. In that letter, Paul revealed that the Corinthians had responded positively concerning the collection:

Now, I am going to Jerusalem serving the saints. For Macedonia and Achaia have been pleased to make a contribution for the poor among the saints in Jerusalem. Yes, they were pleased to do so, and they are indebted to them. For if the Gentiles have shared in their spiritual things, they are indebted to minister to them also in material things. (Rom. 15:25–27)

Not only had they contributed, but “they were pleased to do so”; they were joyful, happy, cheerful givers. They were on the path to true prosperity.[18]


[1] Easley, K. H. (2017). 2 Corinthians. In E. A. Blum & T. Wax (Eds.), CSB Study Bible: Notes (p. 1849). Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.

[2] 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., 2 Co 9:15). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[3] Sproul, R. C. (Ed.). (2005). The Reformation Study Bible: English Standard Version (p. 1684). Orlando, FL; Lake Mary, FL: Ligonier Ministries.

[4] Barry, J. D., Mangum, D., Brown, D. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Ritzema, E., … Bomar, D. (2012, 2016). Faithlife Study Bible (2 Co 9:15). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

[5] Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (p. 2235). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[6] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2006). The MacArthur study Bible: New American Standard Bible. (2 Co 9:15). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[7] Stanley, C. F. (2005). The Charles F. Stanley life principles Bible: New King James Version (2 Co 9:15). Nashville, TN: Nelson Bibles.

[8] Radmacher, E. D., Allen, R. B., & House, H. W. (1999). Nelson’s new illustrated Bible commentary (p. 1506). Nashville: T. Nelson Publishers.

[9] Hunt, D. L. (2010). The Second Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Corinthians. In R. N. Wilkin (Ed.), The Grace New Testament Commentary (p. 804). Denton, TX: Grace Evangelical Society.

[10] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 1855). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[11] Pratt, R. L., Jr. (2000). I & II Corinthians (Vol. 7, p. 408). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

[12] Utley, R. J. (2002). Paul’s Letters to a Troubled Church: I and II Corinthians (Vol. Volume 6, p. 274). Marshall, TX: Bible Lessons International.

[13] Kistemaker, S. J., & Hendriksen, W. (1953–2001). Exposition of the Second Epistle to the Corinthians (Vol. 19, pp. 322–323). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

[14] Kruse, C. G. (2015). 2 Corinthians: An Introduction and Commentary. (E. J. Schnabel, Ed.) (Second edition, Vol. 8, pp. 220–223). Nottingham, England: Inter-Varsity Press.

[15] Hawker, R. (2013). Poor Man’s New Testament Commentary: Acts–Ephesians (Vol. 2, pp. 543–545). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

[16] Barnett, P. (1997). The Second Epistle to the Corinthians (pp. 448–450). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

[17] Harris, M. J. (2008). 2 Corinthians. In T. Longman III &. Garland, David E. (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Romans–Galatians (Revised Edition) (Vol. 11, p. 510). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[18] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2003). 2 Corinthians (pp. 319–320). Chicago: Moody Publishers.

40 Days to the Cross: Week Five – Wednesday

Confession: Psalm 103:1–5

Bless Yahweh, O my soul,

and all within me, bless his holy name.

Bless Yahweh, O my soul,

and do not forget all his benefits:

who forgives all your iniquity,

who heals all your diseases,

who redeems your life from the pit,

who crowns you with loyal love and mercies,

who satisfies your life with good

so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

Reading: Mark 14:43–52

And immediately, while he was still speaking, Judas—one of the twelve—arrived, and with him a crowd with swords and clubs, from the chief priests and the scribes and the elders. Now the one who was betraying him had given them a sign, saying, “The one whom I kiss—he is the one. Arrest him and lead him away under guard!” And when he arrived, he came up to him immediately and said, “Rabbi,” and kissed him. So they laid hands on him and arrested him.

But a certain one of the bystanders, drawing his sword, struck the slave of the high priest and cut off his ear. And Jesus answered and said to them, “Have you come out with swords and clubs, as against a robber, to arrest me? Every day I was with you in the temple courts teaching, and you did not arrest me! But this has happened in order that the scriptures would be fulfilled.”

And they all abandoned him and fled. And a certain young man was following him, clothed only in a linen cloth on his naked body. And they attempted to seize him, but he left behind the linen cloth and fled naked.

Reflection

We are told in the Gospel that Judas, one of Christ’s friends and associates at the table, betrayed Him. Let me show you how this is foretold in the Psalms: “[He] who ate of my bread has lifted the heel against me” (Psa 41:9 nrsv). And in another place: “They gathered together against me” (Psa 35:15 nrsv). And again: “… with words that were softer than oil, but in fact were drawn swords” (Psa 55:21 nrsv). What then is meant by his words were made soft? “At once [Judas] came up to Jesus and said, ‘Greetings, Rabbi!’ and kissed him” (Matt 26:49 nrsv). Thus through the soft blandishment of a kiss he implanted the execrable dart of betrayal.

—Rufinas of Aquileia

A Commentary on the Apostles Creed

Response

Jesus was abandoned and betrayed in His final hours. Do you think Judas’ actions were any less devastating, despite Jesus’ prediction of them? Spend time reflecting on Jesus’ abandonment and His willingness to be crucified.[1]


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

March 23 Evening Verse of The Day

41:2 To be blessed in the land was the hope of all those in Israel who were loyal to the Lord and to his covenant with them (see note at 37:3).[1]


41:2 in the land. The Lord preserves the life of His people, but He will also prosper them in the land. This applies the promise of the land found in the Abrahamic covenant (Gen. 12:1–3).[2]


41:2 be called blessed upon the earth. The verb “be … blessed” is from the same Heb. root as the exclamatory description “blessed” of v. 1 (on other occurrences of the verb, cf. Pr 3:18; 31:28; SS 6:9).[3]


2. “The Lord will preserve him, and keep him alive.” His noblest life shall be immortal, and even his mortal life shall be sacredly guarded by the power of Jehovah. Jesus lived on till his hour came, nor could the devices of crafty Herod take away his life till the destined hour had struck; and even then no man took his life from him, but he laid it down of himself, to take it again. Here is the portion of all those who are made like their Lord, they bless and they shall be blessed, they preserve and shall be preserved, they watch over the lives of others and they themselves shall be precious in the sight of the Lord. The miser like the hog is of no use till he is dead—then let him die; the righteous like the ox is of service during life—then let him live. “And he shall be blessed upon the earth.” Prosperity shall attend him. His cruse of oil shall not be dried up because he fed the poor prophet. He shall cut from his roll of cloth and find it longer at both ends.

“There was a man, and some did count him mad,

The more he gave away the more he had.”

If temporal gains be not given him, spirituals shall be doubled to him. His little shall be blessed, bread and water shall be a feast to him. The liberal are and must be blessed even here; they have a present as well as future portion. Our Lord’s real blessedness of heart in the joy that was set before him is a subject worthy of earnest thought, especially as it is the picture of the blessing which all liberal saints may look for. “And thou wilt not deliver him unto the will of his enemies.” He helped the distressed, and now he shall find a champion in his God. What would not the good man’s enemies do to him if they had him at their disposal? Better be in a pit with vipers than be at the mercy of persecutors. This sentence sets before us a sweet negative, and yet it were not easy to have seen how it could be true of our Lord Jesus, did we not know that although he was exempted from much of blessing, being made a curse for us, yet even he was not altogether nor for ever left of God, but in due time was exalted above all his enemies.[4]


2. Jehovah will keep him, and preserve him in life. Here David follows out the same sentiment expressed in the preceding verse, when he says that the Lord will keep the afflicted, whose destruction cruel and unjust men represent as inevitable. It is likewise necessary always to bear in mind the contrast which is stated between the day of evil and the blessing of deliverance. In this verse the expressions denoting restoration to life, and blessedness on the earth, are of similar import. By these expressions, David means to show that although he had been to all appearance a dead man, yet the hope of life both for himself and for all the faithful had not been extinguished. There might, it is true, appear some inconsistency in his promising himself a happy life in this world, seeing our condition here would be miserable indeed if we had not the expectation of a better state in the world to come. But the answer to this is, that as many had despaired of his recovery, he expressly declares that he will yet be restored to his former state, and will continue alive, nay, that in him there will be seen manifest tokens of the favour of God. He does not in the least exclude by these expressions the hope of a better life after death. What follows concerning the bed of sorrow has led some to form a conjecture which, in my opinion, is not at all probable. What David says of affliction in general, without determining what kind of affliction, they regard as applicable exclusively to sickness. But it is no uncommon thing for those who are sorrowful and grieved in their minds to throw themselves upon their bed, and to seek repose; for the hearts of men are sometimes more distressed by grief than by sickness. It is, certainly, highly probable that David was at that time afflicted with some very heavy calamity, which might be a token that God was not a little displeased with him. In the second clause of the verse there is some obscurity. Some understand the expression, turning the bed, in the same sense as if God, in order to give some alleviation to his servant in the time of trouble, had made his bed and arranged it, as we are wont to do to those who are sick, that they may lay themselves more softly. Others hold, and, in my opinion, more correctly, that when David was restored to health, his bed, which had formerly served him as a sick couch, was turned, that is to say, changed. Thus the sense would be, that although he now languish in sorrow, whilst the Lord is chastening him and training him by means of affliction, yet in a little while he will experience relief by the hand of the same God, and thus recover his strength.[5]


41:2 The Lord protects and preserves them—they are counted among the blessed in the land. The first part of the verse refers to the Lord keeping the psalmist alive. The word that the NIV renders “counted among the blessed” (root ’shr) is similar to the word that begins the psalm, ’ashre (“blessed”), and may be translated in this way. Another meaning, however—and my preference—is “to take steps” (Prov. 9:6). It would be translated “he will take steps on the earth,” which is a logical sequence to the psalmist’s restoration from his sickness (i.e., “he will walk again”).[6]


The Lord will protect him and preserve his life; he will bless him in the land and not surrender him to the desire of his foes (v. 2). The theme of the Lord as the keeper of Israel finds fuller development in Psalm 121:7–8. Part of the protection referred to here was preservation in time of serious illness. The phrase ‘preserve his life’ can also be rendered ‘keep him alive’. There are difficulties with the following words. The Hebrew text has: ‘he will be blessed in the land and do not you give him …’ The niv follows the Septuagint, the Vulgate, and the Syriac in translating it as active (‘he will bless’), but the passive form still yields good sense: ‘he will be blessed in the land.’ The change to a second person singular form in the final clause is understandable if it is part of the prayer addressed to God: ‘May the Lord protect … and preserve … and not surrender him into the life of the enemy’. In the good land he will be kept safe (see Ps. 37:22), and his enemies will not see their desire for him fulfilled.[7]


[1] Warstler, K. R. (2017). Psalms. In E. A. Blum & T. Wax (Eds.), CSB Study Bible: Notes (p. 855). Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.

[2] Sproul, R. C. (Ed.). (2005). The Reformation Study Bible: English Standard Version (p. 772). Orlando, FL; Lake Mary, FL: Ligonier Ministries.

[3] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2006). The MacArthur study Bible: New American Standard Bible. (Ps 41:2). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[4] Spurgeon, C. H. (n.d.). The treasury of David: Psalms 27-57 (Vol. 2, p. 256). London; Edinburgh; New York: Marshall Brothers.

[5] Calvin, J., & Anderson, J. (2010). Commentary on the Book of Psalms (Vol. 2, pp. 115–116). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

[6] Bullock, C. H. (2015). Psalms 1–72. (M. L. Strauss & J. H. Walton, Eds.) (Vol. 1, pp. 314–315). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[7] Harman, A. (2011). Psalms: A Mentor Commentary (Vol. 1–2, pp. 343–344). Ross-shire, Great Britain: Mentor.

March 23 Morning Verse of The Day

33:19 my goodness … my name. Though the visible magnificence of this theophany is apparent from the text, the emphasis falls on a revelation to Moses of God’s sovereign, gracious, and compassionate nature (cf. 34:5–7). In Jesus Christ, the glory of the gracious and compassionate God that was withheld even from Moses is displayed to believers through the Spirit (John 1:14; 2 Cor. 3:18).

to whom … on whom. The Lord is sovereign in His purposes of mercy (Rom. 9:14–16). See “The Purpose of God: Predestination and Foreknowledge” at Mal. 1:2.[1]


33:19 the name of Yahweh’ Yahweh has already revealed His name to Moses (3:14). In ot theology, the “name” (shem) of God was another way to refer to the person of God Himself (e.g., Isa 24:15; 30:27; Prov 18:10; Psa 75:1).[2]


33:19 The Lord’s words appear to be a response to Moses’ requests—that the Lord would show him his ways (v. 13) and his glory (v. 18). The description points forward to the event of the Lord’s self-declaration that is to come: “I will make all my goodness pass before you and will proclaim before you my name ‘The Lord’ (see 34:5–6) … I will be gracious … and will show mercy” (see 34:6). Paul cites this in Rom. 9:15 to show that, when God shows mercy, it is because he has chosen to do so.

33:19 God as sovereign works his will in election (Rom. 9:15).[3]


33:19 — “ … I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.”

God consistently reveals Himself as a God of grace and compassion—something that greatly comforts us during difficult times or when we sin or make errors in judgment. It’s a promise we can always count on.[4]


33:19 Amazingly, the Lord responded positively. My goodness speaks of the sense of the wonder of God, of His divine attributes, of His essential worth and majesty. Proclaim the name of the Lord: The name of God is the expression of His person, who He is. be gracious … have compassion: The Lord’s sovereignty is paramount in His dealings with people. God can do anything He wants. Yet, in His mercy, He responded to Moses’ plea. What a great gift this is: The Creator of the universe tenderly granting the audacious request of His servant (Ps. 40:1).[5]


Ver. 19. I will be gracious.—Election no discouragement to seeking souls:—Because God is the Maker, and Creator, and Sustainer of all things, He has a right to do as He wills with all His works.

  1. Let us begin with this assertion, which we are absolutely sure is correct: this doctrine does not oppose any comfort derived from other scriptural truths. There is not the slightest shadow of a conflict between God’s sovereignty and God’s goodness. He may be a sovereign, and yet it may be absolutely certain that He will always act in the way of goodness and love. It is true that He will do as He wills; and yet it is quite certain that He always wills to do that which, in the widest view of it, is good and gracious.
  2. That this doctrine has a most salutary effect upon sinners. To the awakened sinner, next to the doctrine of the Cross, the doctrine of distinguishing grace is perhaps the most fraught with blessings and comfort.
  3. In the first place, the doctrine of election, applied by the Holy Ghost, strikes dead for ever all the efforts of the flesh.
  4. Again, this doctrine gives the greatest hope to the really awakened sinner.
  5. Moreover, do not you see how the doctrine of election comforts the sinner in the matter of power. His complaint is, “I find I have no power to believe; I have no spiritual power of any kind.” Election stoops down and whispers in his ear “But if God wills to save you, He gives the power, gives the life, and gives the grace; and therefore since He has given that power and might to others as weak as you, why not to you? Have courage, look to the Cross of Christ and live.” And oh! what emotions of gratitude, what throbbings of love does this doctrine cause in human hearts. I wanted to have said a word as to the effect of this gospel upon incorrigible sinners. If you are ever to be pardoned, God must do it. (C. H, Spurgeon.)

Moral glory:

How precious is the thought suggested by this—that when God is seen to be most good to His creatures, He is then seen to be most glorious in the universe; that the glory and the goodness of God are so connected together that where the one is most revealed, the other shines in its richest splendour. Not power in creating, not justice in punishing, but goodness in saving, sets forth most the glory of God. Creation is the mirror of His power; Sinai is the pedestal of His justice; but Calvary is the scene of His goodness, and therefore of His great glory. And we all know that great genius may make us wonder, great riches may make us envy, great strength may startle us; but great goodness rises upon the soul with an influence like the sun in his shining light, making us love as well as admire, and reverence, and esteem. Lost as man is, goodness is still most impressive on the heart of the very worst. Even with all our depravity, who does not admire Howard, the philanthropist, vastly more than Byron, the poet? There may have been little genius in Howard, as the world calls genius, but there was a beneficence that went into the retreats of fever, into the lairs of vice, shut its eyes to monumental remains of ancient days, and opened his heart only to the cry of them that were appointed to die. And when one hears what he did, and what he dared under the inspiration of goodness, one is not awed, but charmed and delighted, with the character of Howard. But when we see, on the other hand, great genius—and one cannot but admire such a genius as that gifted nobleman had—we wonder at the greatness and the versatility of intellect; but when that intellect was used only to scathe, and to wither, and to blast, we look upon it in the same way as upon the sirocco in the desert, we are rather terrified at it, or retreat from it, or would rather wish we should not see it at all. But how complete is the contrast between goodness in a Howard, and mere power in a Byron! And is there one in this assembly that would not infinitely rather take the example of Howard as his model, than wish the power of Byron to be his possession? But this is in the human, and I quote it in the human only to show you more clearly the truth I am trying to teach; that not the manifestation of power, not the manifestation of justice, but the manifestation of goodness, is the most impressive on the heart. (J. Cumming, D.D.)[6]


19. Proclaim before you my name. God’s revelation will be of his ‘name’ (that is, his nature) proclaimed in terms of his deeds to man. God’s nature is here defined as ‘goodness’ (Heb. ṭûb), and this is further described in terms of ‘grace’ and ‘mercy’. Driver rightly says that the object of this divine grace and mercy is sinful Israel: without this quality of ‘loving-kindness’ as God’s basic characteristic, Israel would be utterly lost. See Hyatt for various meanings of ṭûb in the Bible. I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious. Romans 9:15 quotes this verse with reference to the sovereignty of God. Israel can only marvel that she has been chosen as an object for divine mercy, for she cannot explain it in any human terms. Commentators point out that the Hebrew phrase used here does not imply any abrupt arbitrariness on the part of God, as its English translation might suggest. It simply draws attention to the fact that these are qualities of God which may be seen in certain specific historic instances, without going into further detail.[7]


19. And he said, I will make all my goodness pass. At the outset He declares how far He has listened to Moses; but a limitation is presently added to prevent excess. Thus his prayer is not altogether rejected, but only so far as he was too eagerly set on beholding the perfection of God’s glory. The passing by signifies a vision of brief duration; as if He had said, Let it suffice thee to have seen once, as for a moment, my glory, when it shall pass before thine eyes. The word טוב, tub, which I have rendered beauty, (decorem,) others translate good, (bonum😉 and hence, some take it to mean goodness; but the expression beauty (pulchritudinis, vel decoris) is more suitable, in which sense we find it used more than once. Hence that which is pleasing and delectable is said to be good to be looked upon.

“To call in the name of the Lord,” I understand thus, to declare in a clear and loud voice what it is useful for us to know respecting God Himself. It had been said before to Moses, “I am the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob,—but by my name,—was I not known to them.” (Exod. 6:3.) Whereas, then, Moses was already superior to the patriarchs, he is now still more highly exalted, inasmuch as God makes Himself more fully known to him, and carries His manifestation of Himself to its very utmost. First, therefore, it must be borne in mind that God was now known to Moses more familiarly than heretofore; still, at the same time, let it be observed, that although a vision was exhibited to his eyes, the main point was in thethe voice; because true acquaintance with God is made more by the ears than by the eyes. A promise indeed is given that he shall behold God; but the latter blessing is more excellent, that God will proclaim His name, so that Moses may know Him more by His voice than by His face; for speechless visions would be cold and altogether evanescent, did they not borrow efficacy from words. Thus, therefore, just as logicians compare a syllogism to the body, and the reasoning, which it includes, to the soul; so, properly speaking, the soul of a vision is the doctrine itself, from whence faith takes its rise.

and will be gracious to whom I will be gracious. It will be well to consider how this sentence is connected with the foregoing, which has been either altogether neglected, or not sufficiently attended to. As to me, although I think that God’s mercy is magnified by the fact, that He deals so indulgently to this guilty people, still I have no doubt but that He desired purposely to cut off occasion from the audacity of men, lest they should exclaim against His unwonted and as yet unheard of liberality; for, whether God executes His judgments, or mercifully pardons sins, profane men never cease to quarrel with Him; thus, out of mere disputatiousness, they ask why He delayed the advent of His Son for so many ages; why He has deigned to bring forth the light of the Gospel out of darkness in our own days; nay, they take flight even to the creation of the world, inasmuch as it seems absurd to them that God should have been idle for so many ages, and therefore they inquire, in ridicule, why it at length entered His mind to make the world, which has not yet reached its sixth millennium? Especially, however, does the frowardness of many advance beyond all due bounds on this point, viz., because the reason does not appear, why God should be merciful to one nation or one age, and severe both to other ages and other nations. Hence the admirable counsel of God, whereby He has chosen some, and reprobated others, has always been exposed to the calumnies of ungodly men; for unless they see the cause of the diversity, they do not hesitate to condemn the injustice of God in making this distinction between the two.2 God here checks this insanity, and asserts His power, which men, or rather worms of the earth, would gladly deprive Him of, viz., that according to His own will He exercises peculiar mercy towards whomsoever He pleases. When the Prophet relates how the fathers obtained possession of the land of Canaan, he assigns no other reason except that God “had a favour unto them.” (Ps. 44:3.) And this doctrine, which filthy dogs endlessly assail with their barking, everywhere occurs in the Scriptures. Especially, however, do they rail when God shews Himself to be propitious, and beneficent towards the unworthy. For this reason Paul reminds believers of the incomprehensible counsel of God, because, by the preaching of the Gospel, He revealed the mystery, which was kept secret from all eternity. (Rom. 16:25.) Again, because by ingrafting the Gentiles into the body of the Church, from which they had so long been aliens, He commends the depths of that mystery, which, though hidden even from angels, He made known to all men in the fulness of time. (Eph. 3:9.) With the same intent, He here expressly declares that the cause why He manifests Himself to Moses more fully than of old to the patriarchs, is only to be sought in His own counsel or good-pleasure. Now, although this in the first place relates to Moses, still, inasmuch as he beheld the glory of God for the common good of the people, this mercy, which is referred to, extends to them all. And assuredly it was an inestimable proof of God’s grace that, after this most disgraceful fall and wicked apostasy of the people, He nevertheless revealed Himself more clearly than before to Moses for their spiritual good. This, indeed, is certain, that by this reply a restraint is put upon whatever carnal feelings might allege in consideration of the novelty of the act; as if God had declared in one word that the dispensation of His grace is in His own sole power; and that men not only do amiss, but are carried away by impious and blasphemous madness when they endeavour to interfere with Him; as if it were their business to arraign that supreme Judge whose subjects they are. The mode of expression simply tends to this, that God’s will is superior to all causes, so as to be the reason of all reasons, the law of laws, and the rule of rules. And surely, as long as men permit themselves to inquire into the secret counsels of God, there will be no bounds to their seditiousness. God, therefore, does not correct this insanity by disputing with it, but by the assertion of His right to be free in the dispensation of His grace; for in His sovereignty He says that He will be merciful to whomsoever He will. Let us beware, then, lest, when He is kind, our eyes should be evil.

Further, the better to convince dissatisfied men of their pride and temerity, He sets forth His mercy and compassion; as much as to say, that He is under obligation to none; and hence that it is an unworthy thing in them to murmur, because He does not indiscriminately do good to them to whom He owes nothing. Hence it is clear how appropriately Paul, when treating of gratuitous election, accommodates this passage to the matter in hand, (Rom. 9:15,) viz., that God must be by no means accounted unjust, because He passes by some and elects others; for the words loudly proclaim that God’s grace is destined to a certain number of men, so as not to appear equally in all. The phrase itself needs no exposition, for it is common in all languages when we wish to prevent our reasons from being investigated, to repeat the point in question; thus, a person, wishing to rid himself of the censures of others, would say, I will go whither I will go, or I will do what I will do.[8]


19. Observe, God’s glory in the salvation of sinners is his goodness; Jesus is the Father’s glory. Heb. 1:3.[9]


And the Lord said, “I (at my initiative and under my control) will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the Lord, in your presence” (33:19). ‘Goodness’ and ‘name’ are substituted for ‘glory’. Moses is not going to be exposed to the full intensity of the divine radiance, but he is going to learn all that can be known about the Lord’s covenant dealings with his people. ‘Goodness’ points to the benefits God sovereignly bestows on those whom he calls to himself. What this involves is spelled out in 34:6–7. Moses will also be permitted to hear the divine name, that is, what has been revealed of God’s nature and essence. There is a change from what is visible and perceptible to what is verbal, requiring the inner acceptance of faith before it can be comprehended. ‘Pass’ indicates that this privileged experience is to be transient. It will be a time of special blessing, which Moses is not going to be permitted to enjoy for the rest of his earthly life.

The Lord emphasises the inscrutability of his grace. I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. There is no humanly accessible logic that can explain why the Lord works in the way he does, either at the level of his showing favour to mankind who are in rebellion against him or at the level of the individuals he calls to himself. The contemplation of the divine name emphasises the wonder of his mercy and of his compassion. For ‘mercy’, see on ‘gracious’ (34:6), and for ‘compassion’, see on ‘compassionate’ in the same verse. The repetitive nature of the expression is an emphatic device to bring out the sovereignty of God’s action (Rom. 9:15; see discussion at 3:14). There is no formula that can predict the recipients of his mercy.[10]


[1] Sproul, R. C. (Ed.). (2005). The Reformation Study Bible: English Standard Version (p. 144). Orlando, FL; Lake Mary, FL: Ligonier Ministries.

[2] Barry, J. D., Mangum, D., Brown, D. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Ritzema, E., … Bomar, D. (2012, 2016). Faithlife Study Bible (Ex 33:19). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

[3] Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (p. 199). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[4] Stanley, C. F. (2005). The Charles F. Stanley life principles Bible: New King James Version (Ex 33:19). Nashville, TN: Nelson Bibles.

[5] Radmacher, E. D., Allen, R. B., & House, H. W. (1999). Nelson’s new illustrated Bible commentary (p. 143). Nashville: T. Nelson Publishers.

[6] Exell, J. S. (n.d.). The Biblical Illustrator: Exodus (pp. 577–578). New York: Anson D. F. Randolph & Company.

[7] Cole, R. A. (1973). Exodus: an introduction and commentary (Vol. 2, pp. 235–236). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

[8] Calvin, J., & Bingham, C. W. (2010). Commentaries on the Four Last Books of Moses Arranged in the Form of a Harmony (Vol. 3, pp. 377–381). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

[9] Hawker, R. (2013). Poor Man’s Old Testament Commentary: Genesis–Numbers (Vol. 1, p. 385). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

[10] Mackay, J. L. (2001). Exodus (p. 558). Fearn, Ross-shire, Great Britain: Mentor.

40 Days to the Cross: Week Five – Tuesday

Confession: Psalm 95:6–9

Come in, let us worship and bow down;

let us kneel before Yahweh, our maker.

For he is our God,

and we are the people of his pasture

and the sheep of his hand.

Today if you will hear his voice:

“Do not harden your heart as at Meribah,

as in the day of Massah in the wilderness,

when your ancestors tried me.

They put me to the test,

even though they had seen my work.”

Reading: Mark 14:32–42

And they came to a place named Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” And he took along Peter and James and John with him, and he began to be distressed and troubled. And he said to them, “My soul is deeply grieved, to the point of death. Remain here and stay awake.” And going forward a little he fell to the ground and began to pray that, if it were possible, the hour would pass from him. And he said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you! Take away this cup from me! Yet not what I will, but what you will.” And he came and found them sleeping, and he said to Peter, “Simon, are you sleeping? Were you not able to stay awake one hour? Stay awake and pray that you will not enter into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak!” And again he went away and prayed, saying the same thing. And again he came and found them sleeping, for they could not keep their eyes open, and they did not know what to reply to him. And he came the third time and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? It is enough! The hour has come. Behold, the Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of sinners. Get up, let us go! Behold, the one who is betraying me is approaching!”

Reflection

With eternal foresight, and with lifelong, fond intention, our glorious Saviour entered into His passion. “I come to do your will, O my God.” That will was that He—Jesus, the Son of Man, God of God, the Holy One—should pass through and feel, as if it were His own. He experienced the torment and the horror of all sin in expiation of the crimes of the whole world. “And He began to be exceedingly sorrowful, even unto death.” O Jesus, we bow down our hearts before your sacred heart, which, in the garden, alone, cried out to heaven with the agony God laid upon it. “See if there be any sorrow like unto His sorrow.” We adore that dear, submissive heart, burning with love for God and man, but wrung with anguish, sweating drops of blood.

—Bernard of Clairvaux

Saint Bernard on the Love of God

Response

Christ remained obedient to the Father in all things, even leading up to His death. Write a prayer of thanks for Christ’s obedient sacrifice in the space below.[1]


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

March 22 Evening Verse of The Day

11:11 Sarah The wife of Abraham; one of several women in Genesis who were barren (Gen 11:30; 25:21; 29:31).

one who had promised In spite the natural odds against him, Abraham believed that God was faithful and obeyed Him (Gen 15:6; 17:22–27).[1]


11:11 By faith Sarah was miraculously empowered to conceive when she was about ninety years old. The record clearly states that she was past the time of life when she could bear a child. But she knew that God had promised her a baby, and she knew He could not go back on His word. She had shatterproof faith that He would do what He had promised.[2]


11:11 “Sarah” Some ancient Greek manuscripts (P46, D) add “barren.” It is significant that none of the patriarch’s wives (except Leah) could conceive without the help of God. Also, none of the first born children were the heirs of promise. God acted to show that He was in charge!

Sarah, like Abraham, was a mixture of fear and faith. She gave Abraham her servant; she also laughed at God’s promise (cf. Gen. 18:12).[3]


11. It is perhaps surprising to find Sarah spoken of as an example of faith, for according to Genesis she was more conspicuous as an example of doubt. But since the birth of the theocratic community is in mind, Sarah’s part was as important as Abraham’s. In view of her advancing years she needed some power (dynamis) beyond herself if she was to conceive and bring forth a child. An alternative text attributes to Abraham the receiving of power to conceive, which is more natural than attributing it to Sarah. The change in the text, however, looks like an attempt to avoid an apparent difficulty. In spite of the fact that Sarah laughed when first hearing that she was to have a child, her mockery must have turned to faith long before Isaac was born. It needed a woman of faith to be wife of a believer as outstanding as Abraham. She too had to come to the same conviction as her husband that the God who had promised would honour his word (she considered him faithful who had promised). In all spiritual encounters it is easier to doubt than to believe, and Sarah must be commended for her willingness to change her approach and to make way for the development of her faith. The conviction that God is faithful is one of the cardinal aspects of biblical doctrine. It is as strong in the Old Testament as it is in the New Testament. It is the foundation stone of the faith of God’s people.[4]


11. Through faith also, Sarah herself, &c. That women may know that this truth belongs to them as well as to men, he adduces the example of Sarah; which he mentions in preference to that of others, because she was the mother of all the faithful.

But it may seem strange that her faith is commended, who was openly charged with unbelief; for she laughed at the word of the angel as though it were a fable; and it was not the laugh of wonder and admiration, for otherwise she would not have been so severely reproved by the angel. It must indeed be confessed, that her faith was blended with unbelief; but as she cast aside her unbelief when reproved, her faith is acknowledged by God and commended. What then she rejected at first as being incredible, she afterwards as soon as she heard that it came from God, obediently received.

And hence we deduce a useful doctrine,—that when our faith in some things wavers or halts, it ceases not to be approved of God, provided we indulge not the spirit of unbelief. The meaning then is, that the miracle which God performed when Isaac was born, was the fruit of the faith of Abraham, and of his wife, by which they laid hold on the power of God.

Because she judged him faithful, &c. These reasons, by which the power and character of faith are set forth, ought to be carefully noticed. Were any one only to hear that Sarah brought forth a child through faith, all that is meant would not be conveyed to him, but the explanation which the Apostle adds removes every obscurity; for he declares that Sarah’s faith was this,—that she counted God to be true to his word, that is, to what he had promised.

There are two clauses to this declaration; for we hence learn first, that there is no faith without God’s word, for of his faithfulness we cannot be convinced, until he has spoken. And this of itself is abundantly sufficient to confute the fiction of the sophists respecting implicit faith; for we must ever hold that there is a mutual relation between God’s word and our faith. But as faith is founded chiefly, according to what has been already said, on the benevolence or kindness of God, it is not every word, though coming from his mouth, that is sufficient; but a promise is necessary as an evidence of his favour. Hence Sarah is said to have counted God faithful who had promised. True faith then is that which hears God speaking and rests on his promise.[5]


11 According to the transmitted text, as commonly translated, we now have a statement about the faith of Sarah. There are difficulties in the way of the traditional interpretation, some of them less weighty and some of them more so.

(i) Sarah, it is said, is not a good example of faith. According to Gen. 18:12 she laughed when she overheard the divine promise that she would give birth to a son, and the comment of God on her laughter (Gen. 18:13f.) makes it plain that it was the laughter of incredulity. Chrysostom indeed, in dealing with this difficulty, suggests that her subsequent denial of her laughter was “by faith”; but of course it was nothing of the kind: “Sarah denied, saying, I laughed not; for she was afraid” (Gen. 18:15). Yet according to promise she gave birth to Isaac nevertheless. No doubt when Isaac was born she laughed in a manner that betokened no incredulity but exulting wonder: “God has made laughter for me; every one who hears will laugh over me” (Gen. 21:6). But our author speaks of an act of faith that preceded her conception of Isaac. Still, this is not an insuperable objection. Our author elsewhere in this chapter can see faith where most people would not, and there may be something in R. V. G. Tasker’s comment:96 “It is surely just the paradoxical character of the illustration which is a sign of its genuineness; and kai autē [‘even herself’] so far from making a poor connexion, as Zuntz asserts, may well give us the insight we need into the author’s thought about Gen. xviii. Even Sarah’s acceptance of a promise which at first she seemed to hear with indifference is to the mind of the auctor ad Hebraeos a venture into the unseen world which faith makes real.”

(ii) In v. 12 it is still Abraham’s faith that is the subject, so that v. 11, if it refers to Sarah, is a digression. Even so, it would not be an irrelevant digression; Sarah was very much involved in the fulfilment of the promise that Abraham would have a son.

(iii) The Genesis narrative lays stress on the quality of Abraham’s faith in accepting God’s promise that he would have descendants when he was still childless. It is in this particular context that Abraham “believed Yahweh; and he reckoned it to him as righteousness” (Gen. 15:6). Paul, following the Genesis narrative, emphasizes that “no distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised” (Rom. 4:20f.). But on the usual reading of our present passage the author of Hebrews has nothing to say about this signal demonstration of Abraham’s faith. If the language of v. 11 were unambiguous, we should simply have to accept this situation; but in fact the language of v. 11 points in another direction.

(iv) The one firm argument against taking v. 11 as a statement of Sarah’s faith lies in the fact that the phrase traditionally rendered “to conceive seed” just does not mean that; it refers to the father’s part in the generative process, not the mother’s. A literal translation would be, “for the deposition of seed”; it does not denote the receiving or conception of seed. This is a straightforward matter of the natural sense of a Greek word, and had it not been for the apparent presence of “Sarah” as subject of the sentence no one would ever have thought of finding a reference to conception here.100 Tasker describes this objection to the traditional interpretation as a “notorious difficulty”; but adds: “do we know enough about Greek usage at the time to say definitely that an active noun of this kind could not also carry a passive sense?” All that we know of the usage of this Greek noun at the time renders it in the highest degree improbable that it would be employed in the sense of “conception,” especially by one so sensitive to Greek usage as our author is. But Tasker is certainly right in saying that the solution proposed by Zuntz and others “seems a too drastic cutting of the knot.” They suggest that the words “Sarah herself” should be rejected as a very early addition to the text; the verse would then be rendered: “By faith he [Abraham] also received power to beget a child even after the natural season of life …” But it is not necessary to cut out “Sarah herself” from the text. If the adjective “barren” belongs to the original text, “Sarah herself being barren” is best taken as a circumstantial clause103 and “Abraham” remains the subject of “received power.” If “barren” is regarded as a later addition to the text, then “Sarah herself” may be construed in the dative case instead of the nominative, and the verse then runs: “By faith he [Abraham] also, together with Sarah, received power to beget a child even after the natural season of life, because he reckoned the one who gave the promise to be trustworthy.” In either case, v. 12 then follows on naturally.[6]


11 These comments will follow TNIV, which has, rightly in my view, placed in the text what in the NIV was given as a footnote (see note below for the textual issue). As we noted above, the inclusion of Sarah within the account of Abraham’s faith is a surprise, especially when she is not only listed as an example of “faith” but is said to have “considered him faithful who had made the promise.” In Genesis 18:10–15, Sarah hears the promise she will have a son and laughs, not with pleasure, but out of cynicism, and is rebuked for her unbelief. When eventually her son is born, the laughter of unbelief gives way to the laughter of joy, from which Isaac gets his name (Ge 21:6–7), but there has been no indication in the narrative that the change was the result of faith rather than of the undeniable evidence of pregnancy. It is not surprising, therefore, that the verse was found difficult and that variants arose which attributed the faith to Abraham rather than to Sarah. But our author has apparently judged Sarah by her whole experience rather than by the specific incident recorded in Genesis 18:10–15. For a hitherto barren woman of ninety (Ge 17:17) to bear a child was a remarkable instance of God’s overruling of circumstances, and the woman at the heart of the story, even if initially unable to believe it, must have been a woman who took God seriously, though at first she had to lean on Abraham’s faith rather than her own. Thus, despite her initial unbelief, “even Sarah” (the phrase reveals the author’s own awareness of the boldness of his claim) finds herself, along with Moses’ mother (v. 23) and Rahab the prostitute (v. 31), representing the women of the OT in our author’s gallery, just as in 1 Peter 3:5–6 she stands as a representative godly wife for Christian wives to imitate.[7]


[1] Barry, J. D., Mangum, D., Brown, D. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Ritzema, E., … Bomar, D. (2012, 2016). Faithlife Study Bible (Heb 11:11). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

[2] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 2197). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[3] Utley, R. J. (1999). The Superiority of the New Covenant: Hebrews (Vol. Volume 10, p. 117). Marshall, Texas: Bible Lessons International.

[4] Guthrie, D. (1983). Hebrews: An Introduction and Commentary (Vol. 15, pp. 234–235). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

[5] Calvin, J., & Owen, J. (2010). Commentary on the Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Hebrews (pp. 280–282). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

[6] Bruce, F. F. (1990). The Epistle to the Hebrews (Rev. ed., pp. 294–296). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

[7] France, R. T. (2006). Hebrews. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Hebrews–Revelation (Revised Edition) (Vol. 13, p. 152). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.