Category Archives: C. H. Spurgeon

January 21 The Interpreter: Spurgeon’s Devotional Bible

January 21.—Morning. [Or February 10.]
“He giveth not account of any of his matters.”

WE omit some of the minor details of the history as contained in Genesis, and pass on to the birth of Isaac’s twin sons, Esau and Jacob. Let us see how the New Testament explains the Old. We shall read

Romans 9:1–13

In this chapter the apostle illustrates the doctrine of election by the history of the households of Abraham and Isaac, in which the will of the Lord made differences irrespective of merit. Here he brings us into a great deep; but if we only wish to know what God reveals and no more, we may safely follow where Scripture leads. Election is not a fit subject for idle curiosity, neither is it to be passed over in neglect, for whatever is taught us in the Word is profitable for some gracious purpose.

1, 2, 3 I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost, That I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart. For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh:

Paul did not write as he did because he hated the nation to which he belonged. Far from it. He would have sacrificed everything for their good; and he felt almost ready to be cast away himself, if by such a fate he could have rescued the Jewish people. Passionate love speaks a language which must not be weighed in the balances of cold reasoning. View the words as the outburst of a loving heart, and they are clear enough. O that all Christians had a like love for perishing sinners.

4, 5 Who are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises; Whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen.

Paul pauses to adore the Lord whom he loved. Let us bow our heads and worship also.

6, 7 Not as though the word of God hath taken none effect. For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel: Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children: but, In Isaac shall thy seed be called.

Here was a difference made according to the divine will. God has a right to dispense his favours as he pleases, and it is not for us either to censure his actions or ask an account of them.

That is, They which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed.

For this is the word of promise, At this time will I come, and Sarah shall have a son.

10 And not only this; but when Rebekah also had conceived by one, even by our father Isaac;

11 (For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth;)

12 It was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger.

13 As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.

God passed by Esau, and gave Jacob the covenant blessing. This is a fact to be believed, and not to be made a matter for human judgment. Who are we that we should summon Jehovah to our bar? God is righteous in all his ways. We find that Esau despised his birthright, and sold it for a mess of pottage, and so by his actions abundantly justified, as well as fulfilled, the purpose of God.

How it ought to humble us when we remember that we have no claims upon God. If he should leave us to go on in sin and perish, we have no right to complain, for we deserve it. How earnestly and humbly should we implore him to look upon us in mercy, and save us with his great salvation. “Whosoever cometh unto me I will in no wise cast out,” is the voice of Jesus, and whether we see it or not, it is quite consistent with the predestination taught in this chapter. The Lord has a chosen people, and yet his gospel is to be preached to every creature. Believe, but do not cavil. When we believe on the Lord Jesus, we are in the way to make our calling and election sure. Only by faith can we be assured that the Lord has called and chosen us.

’Tis not that I did choose thee,

For, Lord, that could not be;

This heart would still refuse thee,

But thou hast chosen me:

Thou from the sin that stain’d me

Wash’d me and set me free,

And to this end ordain’d me,

That I should live to thee.

January 21.—Evening. [Or February 11.]
“Hold thou me up.”

Genesis 25:27–34

HAVING read of the purpose of God concerning Esau and Jacob, we will now follow their history.

27 And the boys grew: and Esau was a cunning hunter, a man of the field; and Jacob was a plain man, dwelling in tents.

Children of the same parents may differ greatly in disposition, in conduct, and in character. The sovereign grace of God creates grave distinctions when it begins to operate, and every year makes the differences more apparent. Esau was wild and Jacob gentle. The one was roving, unsteady, and proud, and the other domesticated, thoughtful, and sedate.

28 And Isaac loved Esau, because he did eat of his venison: but Rebekah loved Jacob.

This was bad on the part of both parents. Favouritism ought to be avoided, for nothing but discontent and ill feeling can come of it. Yet if Rebekah loved Jacob because of his quiet, pious disposition, she had good reason for it, which is more than can be said of Isaac’s love of the rough huntsman Esau, only because “he did eat of his venison.”

29 ¶ And Jacob sod pottage: and Esau came from the field, and he was faint:

30 And Esau said to Jacob, Feed me, I pray thee, with that same red pottage; for I am faint: therefore was his name called Edom (or Red).

31 And Jacob said, Sell me this day thy birthright (This was unbrotherly and ungenerous of Jacob; the only good point about it is that he set a high value upon the birthright, and so showed his spiritual understanding. It is plain from this that Jacob’s salvation was due to the mercy of God, for his natural character was by no means commendable. The good points in him were of the Lord, the bargaining propensity was inherited from his mother’s family.)

32 And Esau said, Behold, I am at the point to die: and what profit shall this birthright do to me?

33, 34 And Jacob said, Swear to me this day; and he sware unto him: and he sold his birthright unto Jacob. Then Jacob gave Esau bread and pottage of lentiles; and he did eat and drink, and rose up, and went his way: thus Esau despised his birthright.

He valued it so little that a sorry mess of lentiles could buy it of him. Surely it was the dearest dish of meat man ever bought, though we remember a little fruit which cost us more. Many a worldling barters his soul for the pleasures of an hour, crying, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.” In order to be rich, to indulge in pleasure, or to have their own way, men have thrown aside all hope of heaven. This is to exchange pearls for pebbles, realities for shams, lasting bliss for fleeting mirth. May those who are just growing up into life take warning from this sad act of Esau, and choose earnestly the good part which shall not be taken from them. The apostle turns Esau’s story to good account in.

Hebrews 12:15–17

LOOKING diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; (We are to watch lest any of us who profess to be children of God should, fall short of grace, like an arrow which does not quite reach the target. To fail to possess grace in the heart is a fatal thing.) lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled; (Sin is a bitter root, and brings forth sorrow and shame.)

16 Lest there be any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright. (It is a profane thing to compare the priceless blessing of God to a merely sensual enjoyment. It is an acted blasphemy.)

17 For ye know how that afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected; for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears.

The deed was done, the blessing had been given to Jacob, and Isaac could not withdraw it from him. If men sell their hope of heaven for the joys of earth they will in the world to come repent of their bargain, but there will be no repentance with God. He that is filthy must be filthy still.

Should I to gain the world’s applause,

Or to escape its harmless frown,

Refuse to countenance thy cause,

And make thy people’s lot my own;

I sell my birthright in that day,

And throw my precious soul away.

No! let the world cast out my name,

And vile account me if they will;

If to confess the Lord be shame,

I purpose to be viler still.

For thee, my God, I all resign,

Content if I can call thee mine.[1]

 

[1] Spurgeon, C. H. (1964). The Interpreter: Spurgeon’s Devotional Bible (pp. 41–42). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.

January 20 The Interpreter: Spurgeon’s Devotional Bible

January 20.—Morning. [Or February 8.]
“Follow thou Me.”

Genesis 24:50–67

LABAN, having heard Eliezer’s story and seen the jewels, which were no doubt great arguments with his mercenary mind, consented that Rebekah should go with him to Isaac.

50 Then Laban and Bethuel answered and said, The thing proceedeth from the Lord: we cannot speak unto thee bad or good.

51 Behold, Rebekah is before thee, take her, and go, and let her be thy master’s son’s wife, as the Lord hath spoken. (It is always right for young people to seek the consent of parents and natural guardians in such an important business.)

52 And it came to pass, that, when Abraham’s servant heard their words, he worshipped the Lord, bowing himself to the earth. (He was too devout a man to fail to adore ingratitude; too many, however, only pray in need, but forget to worship in thanksgiving.)

53 And the servant brought forth jewels of silver, and jewels of gold, and raiment, and gave them to Rebekah: he gave also to her brother and to her mother precious things. (He was a wise steward, and knew what arguments weighed most with Laban.)

54 And they did eat and drink, he and the men that were with him, and tarried all night; and they rose up in the morning, and he said, Send me away unto my master. (God’s servants should imitate this steward, and never be loiterers.)

55 And her brother and her mother said, Let the damsel abide with us a few days, at the least ten; after that she shall go.

56 And he said unto them, Hinder me not, seeing the Lord hath prospered my way; send me away that I may go to my master. (We ought not easily to be delayed from duty. To loiter is to disobey. When God speeds us we should speed indeed.)

57 And they said, We will call the damsel, and enquire at her mouth.

58 And they called Rebekah, and said unto her, Wilt thou go with this man? And she said, I will go. (How happy would ministers be if all young people could be as readily led to the great Bridegroom, the Lord Jesus. He accepts the willing mind. He asks for the heart. Alas, how many deny their consent to his loving claims.)

59 And they sent away Rebekah their sister, and her nurse, and Abraham’s servant, and his men.

60 And they blessed Rebekah, and said unto her, Thou art our sister, be thou the mother of thousands of millions, and let thy seed possess the gate of those which hate them. (The blessing of parents is a precious dowry.)

61 ¶ And Rebekah arose, and her damsels, and they rode upon the camels, and followed the man: and the servant took Rebekah, and went his way.

62 And Isaac came from the way of the well Lahai-roi; for he dwelt in the south country.

63 And Isaac went out to meditate in the field at the eventide; (This good man, in his choice of a suitable place and time for one of the most heavenly of occupations, is an example to us all. If we meditated more we should be far more gracious than we are;) and he lifted up his eyes, and saw, and behold, the camels were coming.

64 And Rebekah lifted up her eyes, and when she saw Isaac, she lighted off the camel.

65 For she had said unto the servant, What man is this that walketh in the field to meet us? And the servant had said, It is my master: therefore she took a vail, and covered herself.

66 And the servant told Isaac all things that he had done. (Happy is that servant of God who dare tell his Master in heaven all that he has done. What a sad account would some have to render; for, “who hath believed our report, and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?”)

67 And Isaac brought her into his mother Sarah’s tent, and took Rebekah, and she became his wife; and he loved her: and Isaac was comforted after his mother’s death.

In all my Lord’s appointed ways,

My journey I’ll pursue;

“Hinder me not,” ye much-loved saints,

For I must go with you.

Through floods and flames, if Jesus lead,

I’ll follow where he goes;

“Hinder me not,” shall be my cry,

Though earth and hell oppose.

 

My spirit looks to God alone;

My rock and refuge is his throne;

In all my fears, in all my straits,

My soul on his salvation waits.

Trust him, ye saints, in all your ways,

Pour out your hearts before his face;

When helpers fail, and foes invade,

God is our all-sufficient aid.

January 20.—Evening. [Or February 9.]
“Love not the world.”

Hebrews 11:8–19

THE portion of Scripture we shall now read gives us a retrospect of our former reading, and shows us what it was which sustained the patriarchs in their wandering and separated life.

By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went. (Faith is a better guide than mere reason, if it be faith in God, Our knowledge is partial and may mislead us, but trust in the omniscient Lord gives us an infallible guide.)

By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise:

10 For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.

His eye saw into the far off future, and his hope was set upon eternal things. Are we also looking beyond this world for our portion? Shame will one day cover our faces if it be not so, for all the things which are seen will melt away like the mist of the morning. Heaven has a foundation, earth has none, for Job tells us concerning the Great Creator, “he hangeth the world upon nothing.”

11 Through faith also Sara herself received strength to conceive seed, and was delivered of a child when she was past age, because she judged him faithful who had promised.

12 Therefore sprang there even of one, and him as good as dead, so many as the stars of the sky in multitude, and as the sand which is by the sea shore innumerable. (Abraham himself was so aged as to be long past the years in which children could naturally be born to him; and therefore his body was as dead. Yet the father of the faithful staggered not at the promise of the Almighty God.

There is no exaggeration in the description of the patriarch’s descendants, for not only the Jews, but all believers, are reckoned as the seed of Abraham. The spiritual seed are countless and glorious as the stars; and the natural or earthly seed are a great host like the sand of the sea shore.)

13 These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.

14 For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country. (Even thus at this day we are here as strangers and foreigners, and we seek a city out of sight. “Jerusalem the golden” is the desire of our hearts, but here we have no continuing city. This is to walk by faith.)

15 And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned.

Correspondence with the old country was easy, and the temptation to seek their fatherland was a strong one, but they persevered in the pilgrim life, and so must we. Opportunities to return to sin are legion, but we must by the power of the Holy Spirit continue to walk with God.

16 But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city.

17 By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son,

18 Of whom it was said, That in Isaac shall thy seed be called:

19 Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure. (Isaac lived as if he had been raised from the dead, for he was dead in Abraham’s intent and expectation. In this way he became to the patriarch a living type of the resurrection.

The faith of Abraham was tried in many fires, and so must ours be. Will it stand the test? Are we resting upon the faithfulness and omnipotence of God? Any pillars less strong than these will give way beneath us. The faith of God’s elect, which is the gift of God, and the work of the Holy Spirit, will endure and overcome and land us safely in the promised inheritance. Have we this faith or no? May the Lord grant us this most precious grace.)

My rest is in heaven, my rest is not here,

Then why should I tremble when trials are near?

Be hush’d my dark spirit, the worst that can come

But shortens thy journey, and hastens thee home.

It is not for me to be seeking my bliss,

Or building my hopes in a region like this;

I look for a city that hands have not piled,

I pant for a country by sin undefiled.[1]

 

[1] Spurgeon, C. H. (1964). The Interpreter: Spurgeon’s Devotional Bible (pp. 39–40). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.

January 19 The Interpreter: Spurgeon’s Devotional Bible

January 19.—Morning. [Or February 6.]
“Thy dead men shall live.”

AS the last lesson brought us to Machpelah with the weeping train who buried Sarah, it may be a fitting season for a “meditation among the tombs.”

Job 14:1–15

Man that is born of a woman is of few days, and full of trouble. (Our life is not short and sweet, but brief and bitter. Its only fulness is fulness of trouble. Sin has done all this.)

He cometh forth like a flower, and is cut down: he fleeth also as a shadow, and continueth not. (The flower is not always allowed to flourish till it withers, but is cut down by the scythe while yet in its glory; and so is man full often taken away in the midst of his days.)

And dost thou open thine eyes upon such an one, and bringest me into judgment with thee? (Job wonders that the Lord should think upon so frail a creature as mortal man.)

Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? not one. (The length of our troubles and the shortness of our lives are both caused by the impurity of our nature; and that is a matter of inheritance, for from unclean flesh there cannot come a pure posterity. A poisonous plant bears poisonous seed. A fallen man becomes the father of fallen children.)

Seeing his days are determined, the number of his months are with thee, thou hast appointed his bounds that he cannot pass;

Turn from him, that he may rest, till he shall accomplish, as an hireling, his day.

We have a day and a work appointed us, and we are immortal till these are ended.

For there is hope of a tree, if it be cut down, that it will sprout again, and that the tender branch thereof will not cease.

Though the root thereof wax old in the earth, and the stock thereof die in the ground;

Yet through the scent of water it will bud, and bring forth boughs like a plant.

10 But man dieth, and wasteth away: yea, man giveth up the ghost, and where is he?

So far as this visible world is concerned, man at death is gone never to return. For him there is no second budding and sprouting into another mortal life. The ancients chose the cypress as the symbol of death, because when once cut down it puts forth no shoots, but dies altogether. As regards this earthly existence their choice was wise and instructive. Let us then live while we live.

11 As the waters fail from the sea, and the flood decayeth and drieth up:

12 So man lieth down, and riseth not: till the heavens be no more, they shall not awake, nor be raised out of their sleep. (Job had seen lakes or inland seas evaporated, and torrent-beds left dry, and he compares them to man’s decay. But as rain from heaven can refill the pools and cause the torrents to rush with boundless strength, so will the Lord restore life to the dead. When the heavens are no more, but shall have passed away with a great noise, the graves shall yield up their charge, and men shall rise again.)

13 O that thou wouldest hide me in the grave, (Hide me as a treasure, kept by its possessor), that thou wouldest keep me secret, until thy wrath be past, that thou wouldest appoint me a set time, and remember me! (The sufferer begged for rest, he petitioned for pity, he prayed the Lord to remember him; but, indeed, the Lord never forgets his servants.)

14 If a man die, shall he live again? all the days of my appointed time will I wait, till my change come.

15 Thou shalt call, and I will answer thee: thou wilt have a desire to the work of thine hands. (When the waking morn shall come, the saints shall answer to their Creator’s resurrection-call, and rise to eternal life. In order to share in this blessedness we must have personal faith in the risen Saviour. Is this the case with all in our family? Is there an unsaved one among us? If so, since we may die to-day, may God arouse us that we may at once seek salvation through faith in the Lord Jesus, who is always ready to save.)

God my Redeemer lives,

And often from the skies

Looks down, and watches all my dust,

Till he shall bid it rise.

Array’d in glorious grace

Shall these vile bodies shine:

And every shape and every face,

Look heavenly and divine.

These lively hopes we owe

To Jesus’ dying love:

We would adore his grace below,

And sing his power above.

January 19.—Evening. [Or February 7.]
“The Lord shall guide thee continually.”

Genesis 24:1–4; 10–31

AND Abraham was old, and well stricken in age: and the Lord had blessed Abraham in all things. (This is the summing-up of his life. Yet the former chapters record many and painful afflictions; and, doubtless, the Lord had made these also to be blessings.)

2, 3, 4 And Abraham said unto his eldest servant of his house, that ruled over all that he had, Put, I pray thee, thy hand under my thigh: And I will make thee swear by the Lord, the God of heaven, and the God of the earth, that thou shalt not take a wife unto my son of the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I dwell: But thou shalt go unto my country, and to my kindred, and take a wife unto my son Isaac. (The godly seed must be kept separate. It is not fit for believers to be joined in marriage with the unregenerate.)

10, 11, 12, 13, 14 And the servant took ten camels of the camels of his master, and departed; for all the goods of his master were in his hand: and he arose, and went to Mesopotamia, unto the city of Nahor. And he made his camels to kneel down without the city by a well of water at the time of the evening, even the time that women go out to draw water. And he said, O Lord God of my master Abraham, I pray thee, send me good speed this day, and shew kindness unto my master Abraham. Behold, I stand here by the well of water; and the daughters of the men of the city come out to draw water: And let it come to pass, that the damsel to whom I shall say, Let down thy pitcher, I pray thee, that I may drink; and she shall say, Drink, and I will give thy camels drink also: let the same be she that thou hast appointed for thy servant Isaac; and thereby shall I know that thou hast shewed kindness unto my master. (That business will be sure to speed which is carried on in the spirit of prayer. All matters concerning marriage should especially be prayed over.)

15 ¶ And it came to pass, before he had done speaking, that, behold, Rebekah came out, who was born to Bethuel, son of Milcah, the wife of Nahor, Abraham’s brother, with her pitcher upon her shoulder. (Here was the hand of Providence. Observe it in your own lives also.)

16, 17 And the damsel was very fair to look upon, a virgin, neither had any man known her: and she went down to the well, and filled her pitcher, and came up. And the servant ran to meet her, and said, Let me, I pray thee, drink a little water of thy pitcher.

18, 19 And she said, Drink, my lord: and she hasted, and let down her pitcher upon her hand, and gave him drink. And when she had done giving him drink, she said, I will draw water for thy camels also, until they have done drinking.

21 And the man wondering at her held his peace, to wit (or know) whether the Lord had made his journey prosperous or not.

22 And it came to pass, as the camels had done drinking, that the man took a golden earring of half a shekel weight, and two bracelets for her hands of ten shekels weight of gold;

23 And said, Whose daughter art thou? tell me, I pray thee: is there room in thy father’s house for us to lodge in?

24, 25 And she said unto him, I am the daughter of Bethuel the son of Milcah, which she bare unto Nahor. She said moreover unto him, We have both straw and provender enough, and room to lodge in.

26 And the man bowed down his head, and worshipped the Lord.

27 And he said, Blessed be the Lord God of my master Abraham, who hath not left destitute my master of his mercy and his truth: I being in the way, the Lord led me to the house of my master’s brethren. (Answered prayer should be thankfully acknowledged unto God.)

28 And the damsel ran, and told them of her mother’s house these things.

29 ¶ And Rebekah had a brother, and his name was Laban: and Laban ran out unto the man, unto the well.

30 And it came to pass, when he saw the earring and bracelets upon his sister’s hands, and when he heard the words of Rebekah his sister, saying, Thus spake the man unto me; that he came unto the man; and, behold, he stood by the camels at the well.

31 And he said, Come in, thou blessed of the Lord; wherefore standest thou without? for I have prepared the house, and room for the camels. (All difficulties vanished, everything was as he could wish it. It may not be thus with us; but if any course of conduct can make it so, it is that which begins and ends with prayer.)[1]

 

[1] Spurgeon, C. H. (1964). The Interpreter: Spurgeon’s Devotional Bible (pp. 37–38). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.

January 18 The Interpreter: Spurgeon’s Devotional Bible

January 18.—Morning. [Or February 4.]
“The just shall live by faith.”

Galatians 3:6–18

IN this passage the apostle shows that Abraham’s righteousness was gained by his faith; that the covenant made with him was upon the tenure of faith; and that by the way of faith alone we who are sinners of the Gentiles are made partakers of covenant blessings.

Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.

Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham.

Not the trusters in works and boasters in circumcision; these, even among the Jews, are but his children by the power of nature, to whom no more belongs than to Ishmael. Abraham was the father of the faithful, or believing. In his grandest aspect he is not the sire of a rebellious nation, but of the believing seed.

And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed.

So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham.

For in no other way can all nations share in the blessing, since they neither inherit it by descent, nor obtain it by circumcision, nor earn it by merit.

10 For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them. (Let us learn this verse well, and may it ring the death knell of all legal hopes. All that the law can do for sinners is to judge them, condemn them, and curse them. Let us flee from the vain hope of ignorant and proud men, and look to another way of salvation; which, indeed, is the only one.)

11 But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith. (The only just men before God are the men of faith, and these do not live by their works, but by believing; hence it is clear that the law has nothing to do with their righteousness.)

12 And the law is not of faith: but, The man that doeth them shall live in them. (Hence we cannot be saved partly by faith and partly by works. The roads are distinct. We must keep the whole law if we would be saved by it. Our only hope is in the righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ received by faith.)

13, 14 Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree: That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith. (His the curse, that ours might be the blessing. By the gate of Substitution all blessings come to us, and even that best of blessings—the Holy Spirit.)

15 Brethren, I speak after the manner of men; Though it be but a man’s covenant, yet if it be confirmed, no man disannulled, or addeth thereto.

Once made, a covenant cannot be justly altered by an afterthought, or affected by an unforeseen event. What consolation is here!

16 Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ. (Mark how the apostle believed in verbal inspiration, for he finds a meaning in so small a matter as the use of a singular word instead of a plural.)

17 And this I say, that the covenant, that was confirmed before of God in Christ, the law, which was four hundred and thirty years after, cannot disannul, that it should make the promise of none effect. (Sinai and Leviticus cannot supersede the covenant of grace. Notwithstanding the law, the believer is secure in faith.)

18 For if the inheritance be of the law, it is no more of promise: but God gave it to Abraham by promise. (And we by faith grasping the promise are made partakers of it, not at all by our doings, but by the simple act of reliance upon the Lord Jesus Christ.)

In vain we ask God’s righteous law

To justify us now;

Since to convince and to condemn,

Is all the law can do.

Jesus, how glorious is thy grace!

When in thy name we trust,

Our faith receives a righteousness

That makes the sinner just.

January 18.—Evening. [Or February 5.]
“Be ye also ready.”

Genesis 23

AND Sarah was an hundred and seven and twenty years old: these were the years of the life of Sarah.

And Sarah died in Kirjath-arba; the same is Hebron in the land of Canaan: and Abraham came to mourn for Sarah, and to weep for her.

Into the holiest and happiest households death will come, but faith learns how to make him welcome.

¶ And Abraham stood up from before his dead, and spake unto the sons of Heth, saying,

I am a stranger and a sojourner with you: give me a possession of a burying-place with you, that I may bury my dead out of my sight.

Dear as our beloved ones maybe in life, we cannot endure to look upon their dead bodies, but affection itself demands that we hide them in the dust. What an instructive expression is that,—“the possessiòn of a burial place;” it is often the only landed estate the godly possess.

And the children of Heth answered Abraham, saying unto him,

Hear us, my lord: thou art a mighty prince among us: in the choice of our sepulchres bury thy dead; none of us shall withhold from thee his sepulchre, but that thou mayest bury thy dead. (But this would not be after Abraham’s mind. He would not wish to sleep in the same grave with those from whom lie was separated in life. He would maintain his separateness unto God even to the end.)

And Abraham stood up, and bowed himself to the people of the land, even to the children of Heth. (Courtesy is due even to the ungodly. A believer should not be any the less gentle in manners because gracious in heart.)

8, 9 And he communed with them saying, If it be your mind that I should bury my dead out of my sight; hear me, and intreat for me to Ephron the son of Zohar, That he may give me the cave of Machpelah, which he hath, which is in the end of his field; for as much money as it is worth he shall give it me for a possession of a buryingplace amongst you.

10, 11 And Ephron dwelt among the children of Heth: and Ephron the Hittite answered Abraham in the audience of the children of Heth, even of all that went in at the gate of his city, saying, Nay, my lord, hear me: the field give I thee, and the cave that is therein, I give it thee; in the presence of the sons of my people give I it thee: bury thy dead.

12 And Abraham bowed down himself before the people of the land. (This is a second time mentioned. The truly noble are conciliatory and courteous. A believer is not a bear.)

13 And he spake unto Ephron in the audience of the people of the land, saying, But if thou wilt give it, I pray thee, hear me: I will give thee money for the field; take it of me, and I will bury my dead there.

14, 15, 16 And Ephron answered Abraham, saying unto him, My lord, hearken unto me: the land is worth four hundred shekels of silver; what is that betwixt me and thee? bury therefore thy dead. And Abraham hearkened unto Ephron; and Abraham weighed to Ephron the silver, which he had named in the audience of the sons of Heth, four hundred shekels of silver, current money with the merchant. (Abraham would not put himself under obligation to idolaters. True faith produces an independent spirit.)

17 ¶ And the field of Ephron, which was in Machpelah, which was before Mamre, the field, and the cave which was therein, and all the trees that were in the field, that were in all the borders round about, were made sure

18 Unto Abraham for a possession in the presence of the children of Heth, before all that went in at the gate of his city. (This is as precise as a legal document. Faith does not make a man less business-like in his transactions.)

19 And after this, Abraham buried Sarah his wife in the cave of the field of Machpelah before Mamre: the same is Hebron in the land of Canaan. (In firm faith that the land would one day be all his own he laid down the bones of his beloved spouse in the promised soil, and so, as it were, took possession of the country till the set time should come for entering upon it.)

What though this goodly mortal frame

Sink to the dust, from whence it came;

Though buried in the silent tomb,

Worms shall my skin and flesh consume;

Yet on that happy rising morn,

New life this body shall adorn;

These active powers refined shall be,

And God my Saviour, I shall see.[1]

 

[1] Spurgeon, C. H. (1964). The Interpreter: Spurgeon’s Devotional Bible (pp. 35–36). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.

January 17 The Interpreter: Spurgeon’s Devotional Bible

January 17.—Morning. [Or February 2.]
“Not as I will, but as Thou wilt.”

Genesis 22:1–19

AND it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham, and said unto him, Abraham: and he said, Behold, here I am. (This was at once the patriarch’s crowning trial and grandest victory, and it came after he had obtained the choicest blessing of his life. Great privileges involve great trial.)

And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of.

¶ And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and saddled his ass, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son, and clave the wood for the burnt offering, and rose up, and went unto the place of which God had told him. (His obedience was speedy, unhesitating, and complete. Think of that early hour, and the task of cleaving the wood for such a sacrifice. Could we thus obey the Lord?)

Then on the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes, and saw the place afar off. (Those days of deliberation must have severely tried him. We can do in a hurry what we should shrink from if we weighed it calmly.)

And Abraham said unto his young men, Abide ye here with the ass; and I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you. (Perhaps he feared lest the servants should interpose to prevent his obedient act.)

And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering, and laid it upon Isaac his son; and he took the fire in his hand, and a knife; and they went both of them together.

And Isaac spake unto Abraham his father, and said, My father: and he said, Here am I, my son. And he said, Behold the fire and the wood: but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?

A touching question, but Abraham would not allow his feelings to master his faith.

And Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering: (These were grandly prophetic words, and have been divinely fulfilled;) so they went both of them together.

And they came to the place which God had told him of; and Abraham built an altar there, and laid the wood in order, and bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar upon the wood.

10 And Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son.

11 And the angel of the Lord called unto him out of heaven, and said, Abraham, Abraham: and he said, Here am I.

12 And he said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me.

13 And Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold behind him a ram caught in a thicket by his horns: and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering in the stead of his son.

14 And Abraham called the name of that place Jehovah-jireh (or the Lord will provide); as it is said to this day, In the mount of the Lord it shall be seen.

15 ¶ And the angel of the Lord called unto Abraham out of heaven the second time,

16 And said, By myself have I sworn, saith the Lord, for because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son:

17 That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies;

18 And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice. (Thus was the covenant renewed in full, in connection with this great intended act of sacrifice: it is sweet to see the covenant of grace confirmed in the actual offering up of Jesus, the Only Begotten of the Father. O for grace to be in covenant with God in Christ Jesus.)

19 So Abraham returned unto his young men, and they rose up and went together to Beer-sheba; and Abraham dwelt at Beer-sheba.

My God and Father! while I stray

Far from my home, in life’s rough way,

Oh! teach me from my heart to say,

“Thy will be done!” “Thy will be done!”

If thou shouldst call me to resign

What most I prize—it ne’er was mine;

I only yield thee what was thine:

“Thy will be done!”

January 17.—Evening. [Or February 3.]
“He shall see of the travail of His soul.”

THE sacrifice of Isaac reminds us of the Divine Father, who spared not his own Son, but freely delivered him up for us all. Let us read Isaiah’s account of the sufferings of the Great Son of God.

Isaiah 53

Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?

None believe the gospel, but those who are wrought upon by the power of God.

For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.

He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. (The Eternal Father out of love to man sent forth his Son to be thus dishonoured, and shamefully entreated among men. Herein is love!)

¶ Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.

But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. (Four words are used to describe the pains of the Lord Jesus—“wounded,” “bruised,” “chastisement,” “stripes.” How many, how varied, and how acute were his pains none of us can tell.)

All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.

Here is the essence of the gospel—sin was laid on Jesus, and lies no longer on his people. Jehovah himself made the transfer, and therefore none dare question the lawfulness of it.

He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.

He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken.

And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth.

10 Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him; (Jehovah took pleasure in the atoning sacrifice. So great was his love that he bruised the Son of his love to save rebellious sinners;) he hath put him to grief: (Yes, Jehovah himself put his own Son to grief. In this God commendeth his love towards us, and we ought to give our whole souls to him in return.) when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.

11 He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.

12 Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.

Those who unfeignedly trust in the Lord Jesus may rest assured that their sins have ceased to be, for Jesus has fully discharged their debt: they may also rejoice that the prevalent plea of the exalted Intercessor secures them from all harm. Let us draw near to the cross of Jesus, and rest our souls beneath the shadow of the Crucified. God has provided himself a Lamb for a burnt-offering, the victim is slain, the covenant is established, believers are secure. For this let the Eternal Father be evermore adored.

Nature with open volume stands,

To spread her Maker’s praise abroad;

And every labour of his hands

Shows something worthy of a God.

But in the grace that rescued man

His brightest form of glory shines;

Here, on the cross, ’tis fairest drawn

In precious blood and crimson lines.

Here I behold his inmost heart,

Where grace and vengeance strangely join,

Piercing his Son with sharpest smart,

To make the purchased pleasures mine.[1]

 

[1] Spurgeon, C. H. (1964). The Interpreter: Spurgeon’s Devotional Bible (pp. 33–34). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.

January 16 The Interpreter: Spurgeon’s Devotional Bible

January 16.—Morning. [Or January 31.]
“Thy testimonies are very sure.”

Genesis 21:1–21

AND the Lord visited Sarah as he had said, and the Lord did unto Sarah as he had spoken.

For Sarah conceived, and bare Abraham a son in his old age, at the set time of which God had spoken to him. (The Lord’s promises are always fulfilled to the hour.)

And Abraham called the name of his son that was born unto him, whom Sarah bare to him, Isaac. (Or laughter, for both parents had laughed for joy. The best laughing in all the world is that which arises from fulfilled promises; then is our mouth filled with laughter, and our tongue with singing.)

And Abraham circumcised his son Isaac, being eight days old, as God had commanded him. (Abraham’s laughter was no worldly merriment, but a joy which led him to be obedient to the Lord’s will. This is solid pleasure.)

And Abraham was an hundred years old, when his son Isaac was born unto him.

¶ And Sarah said, God hath made me to laugh, so that all that hear will laugh with me.

When the promise is realised by any of us, others ought to share our joy. Let us tell the saints what the Lord has done for us, that they may rejoice also.

And she said, Who would have said unto Abraham, that Sarah should have given children suck? for I have born him a son in his old age.

And the child grew, and was weaned: and Abraham made a great feast the same day that Isaac was weaned.

¶ And Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, which she had born unto Abraham, mocking. (Children are too apt to do this; but how wrong it is for the elder to tease and grieve the younger. God notices it and is displeased.)

10 Wherefore she said unto Abraham, Cast out this bondwoman and her son: for the son of this bondwoman shall not be heir with my son, even with Isaac.

11 And the thing was very grievous in Abraham’s sight because of his son.

12 ¶ And God said unto Abraham, Let it not be grievous in thy sight because of the lad, and because of thy bondwoman; in all that Sarah hath said unto thee, hearken unto her voice; for in Isaac shall thy seed be called.

13 And also of the son of the bondwoman will I make a nation, because he is thy seed.

It was hard for Ishmael to be sent from home, but God ordered it for the best, even for him.

14 And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and took bread, and a bottle of water, and gave it unto Hagar, putting it on her shoulder, and the child, and sent her away: and she departed, and wandered in the wilderness of Beer-sheba.

15 And the water was spent in the bottle, and she cast the child under one of the shrubs.

16 And she went, and sat her down over against him a good way off, as it were a bowshot: for she said, Let me not see the death of the child. And she sat over against him, and lift up her voice, and wept. (Had she forgotten the Lord who appeared to her before? So it seems. Our forgetfulness of former mercy is the root of present despair.)

17 And God heard the voice of the lad; and the angel of God called to Hagar out of heaven, and said unto her, What aileth thee, Hagar? fear not; for God hath heard the voice of the lad where he is.

God takes pity on boys and girls, and hears their little prayers as well as those of their fathers and mothers. Dear children, do you pray?

18 Arise, lift up the lad, and hold him in thine hand; for I will make him a great nation.

19 And God opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water; and she went, and filled the bottle with water, and gave the lad drink.

20 And God was with the lad; and he grew, and dwelt in the wilderness, and became an archer.

21 And he dwelt in the wilderness of Paran: and his mother took him a wife out of the land of Egypt. (Thus God who ordered Hagar and her son to be sent away, took good care of them in the desert: he will therefore watch over us if we commit ourselves to his care.)

Our Lord is rich and merciful,

Our God is very kind;

O come to him, come now to him,

With a believing mind.

The Lord is great and full of might,

Our God is ever nigh:

O trust in him, trust now in him,

And have security.

January 16.—Evening. [Or February 1.]
“We are the children of promise.”

PAUL teaches us how to gather instruction from the ancient story of Ishmael and Isaac. Writing to those who were anxious to introduce Jewish ceremonialism into the Christian church, he says in—

Galatians 4:21–31

21 Tell me, ye that desire to be under the law, do ye not hear the law?

Are ye not able to see a meaning in the incidents it records? Will ye only learn one part of its teaching, and shut your ears to the rest?

22 For it is written, that Abraham had two sons, the one by a bondmaid, the other by a freewoman.

23 But he who was of the bondwoman was born after the flesh; but he of the freewoman was by promise.

24 Which things are an allegory: for these are the two covenants; the one from the mount Sinai, which gendereth to bondage, which is Agar.

25 For this Agar is mount Sinai in Arabia, and answereth to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children.

26 But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all.

27 For it is written, Rejoice, thou barren that bearest not; break forth and cry, thou that travailest not: for the desolate hath many more children than she which hath an husband.

28 Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise. (We were not made sons of God by the energy of nature, but by the power of divine grace.)

29 But as then he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, even so it is now. (Pharisees and self-righteous persons display great enmity towards those who depend upon the grace of God in Christ Jesus. They call them presumptuous, and revile their doctrine as tending to licentiousness.)

30 Nevertheless what saith the scripture? Cast out the bondwoman and her son: for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman.

The system of salvation by works must be banished if grace is to reign; you cannot mix the two systems. The power and energy of self must also be no longer our trust if we desire to be saved through the promise. Human merit, the child of the flesh, will never agree with faith, the offspring of the promise.

31 So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman, but of the free.

Galatians 5:1–6

Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.

Do not go back to legal hopes, and ceremonial observances. You are free-born; do not submit to the yoke of bondage.

Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing.

For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law.

Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace. (If a man could be justified by the law he would have left the system of grace altogether, for the two are diametrically opposed. Thanks be to God, we dare not even hope for a legal righteousness, and if we never fall from grace till we have become justified by the law, that evil will never befall us.)

For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith. (Our confidence is in the promise and grace of God; thus we are true Isaacs, born of the promise of God.)

For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love. (The outward is disregarded and the inward becomes all-important. The flesh, like Ishmael, is sent away, and the newborn nature abides with the father, and inherits the covenant promises. All believers understand this riddle: can all of us in this household interpret it?)

Once all my servile works were done

A righteousness to raise;

Now, freely chosen in the Son,

I freely choose his ways.

“What shall I do,” was then the word,

“That I may worthier grow?”

“What shall I render to the Lord?”

Is my enquiry now.[1]

 

[1] Spurgeon, C. H. (1964). The Interpreter: Spurgeon’s Devotional Bible (pp. 31–32). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.

January 15 The Interpreter: Spurgeon’s Devotional Bible

January 15.—Morning. [Or January 29.]
“I have prayed for thee.”

WE must not suffer the intercession of Abraham to pass away from our thoughts till it has reminded us of the yet more powerful advocacy of our Blessed Lord Jesus. We see him in one of his own parables describing himself as preserving the sinful by his pleadings, and the passage is a fit sequel to our yesterday’s reading.

Luke 13:1–9

There were present at that season some that told him of the Galilæans, whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices.

And Jesus answering said unto them, Suppose ye that these Galilæans were sinners above all the Galilæans, because they suffered such things?

I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish. (See the need of repentance. Philip Henry once said, “Some people do not like to hear much of repentance; but I think it so necessary that if I were to die in the pulpit, I should desire to die preaching repentance, and if I should die out of the pulpit I hope to die practising it.”)

Or those eighteen, upon whom the tower in Siloam fell, and slew them, think ye that they were sinners above all men that dwelt in Jerusalem?

I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.

When we hear or read of terrible judgments upon sinners, such as these here recorded, and that which befell Sodom of old, we ought not to congratulate ourselves as though we were exempted because of our innocence, but rather we should regard these events as warnings to ourselves; since, if we fall into the same sins, sooner or later a doom equally overwhelming will come upon us. If any enquire why it has not come already, let them pay special attention to the parable which follows. There has been an intercessor at work, or we should have perished long ere this.

¶ He spake also this parable; A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came and sought fruit thereon, and found none. (It was in good soil, and under the gardener’s care; it would therefore yield fruit, or prove itself to be good for nothing.)

Then said he unto the dresser of his vineyard, Behold, these three years I come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and find none: cut it down; why cumbereth it the ground?

Three years was long enough for a test: there might have been two bad seasons to account for the absence of fruit, but when a third time the tree was fruitless the fault must be in the tree itself. God gives us time enough for trial. All of us have been borne with quite long enough to prove us, and perhaps at this moment the Lord is saying, “Cut it down.” How very like are some of us to the barren tree! In itself it is of no use, it fills the place of a good tree, it draws the goodness from the soil, and hurts others near it. It is thus that men live useless lives, and meanwhile are occupying wastefully positions in which others would bring glory to God.

And he answering said unto him, Lord, let it alone this year also, till I shall dig about it, and dung it. (It is the voice of Jesus the Intercessor. He is unwilling to see the axe uplifted, for he is full of compassion. See how unconverted men owe their lives to Jesus. They are not preserved by their own worth or worthiness, but they live upon sufferance, and will die as soon as the voice of Jesus ceases to plead for them.)

And if it bear fruit, well: and if not, then after that thou shalt cut it down.

May we who have been without grace till now hear the word of God at this hour and live; for this may be our last year of grace, and when it is over we may be cast into the fire of hell. Jesus has pleaded that we may be tried once more; but there is a limit to his pleadings. Note the two ifs, “And if,” “and if not.” Upon these two ifs hang eternity. The Lord grant that none of us may be cut down and cast into the eternal burnings.

See how the fruitless fig-tree stands,

Beneath its owner’s frown:

The axe is lifted in his hands,

To cut the cumberer down.

“Year after year, I come,” he cries,

“And still no fruit is shown;

Nothing but empty leaves arise,

Then cut the cumberer down.”

Sinner, beware! the axe of death

Is rais’d and aimed at thee:

Awhile thy Maker spares thy breath,

Beware, O barren tree!

January 15.—Evening. [Or January 30.]
“Remember Lot’s wife.”

Genesis 19:1–3; 15–26

AND there came two angels to Sodom at even; and Lot sat in the gate of Sodom: and Lot seeing them rose up to meet them; and he bowed himself with his face toward the ground;

And he said, Behold now, my lords, turn in, I pray you, into your servant’s house, and tarry all night, and wash your feet, and ye shall rise up early, and go on your ways. (Bad as his neighbours were, Lot had not forgotten to be hospitable. Grace does not flourish in bad companionship, but still it lives.) And they said, Nay; but we will abide in the street all night.

And he pressed upon them greatly; and they turned in unto him, and entered into his house; and he made them a feast, and did bake unleavened bread, and they did eat.

Then at nightfall followed a horrible scene in which the angels saw for themselves that Sodom was filthy, cruel, malicious, and abominable. Those holy beings, therefore, shut to the door, and waited till the morning to execute the sentence of God upon the city. It was time that such a den of abominations should be swept away. Meanwhile, Lot went to his sons-in-law, and urged them to fly with him, but they thought him mad, and refused.

15 ¶ And when the morning arose, then the angels hastened Lot, saying, Arise, take thy wife, and thy two daughters, which are here; lest thou be consumed in the iniquity of the city.

It is true kindness to men to warn them earnestly of their danger; and we cannot be too pressing in urging them to escape.

16 And while he lingered, the men laid hold upon his hand, and upon the hand of his wife, and upon the hand of his two daughters; the Lord being merciful unto him: and they brought him forth, and set him without the city.

We must repeat our warnings, and use holy violence with sinners. At the same time let us beware of lingering ourselves. We are never safe a single moment till we have fled to Jesus.

17 ¶ And it came to pass, when they had brought them forth abroad, that he said, Escape for thy life; look not behind thee, neither stay thou in all the plain; escape to the mountain, lest thou be consumed.

18, 19 And Lot said unto them, Oh, not so, my Lord: Behold now, thy servant hath found grace in thy sight, and thou hast magnified thy mercy, which thou hast shewed unto me in saving my life; and I cannot escape to the mountain, lest some evil take me, and I die:

20 Behold now, this city is near to flee unto, and it is a little one: Oh, let me escape thither, (is it not a little one?) and my soul shall live.

21 And he said unto him, See, I have accepted thee concerning this thing also, that I will not overthrow this city, for the which thou hast spoken.

22 Haste thee, escape thither; for I cannot do any thing till thou be come thither. Therefore the name of the city was called Zoar.

Though Lot was not such a believer as Abraham, yet being a good man his prayer was heard, and at his request a little city was saved. Was not this also an answer to Abraham’s prayer?

23 ¶ The sun was risen upon the earth when Lot entered into Zoar.

24 Then the Lord rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the Lord out of heaven;

25 And he overthrew those cities, and all the plain, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and that which grew upon the ground.

26 ¶ But his wife looked back from behind him, and she became a pillar of salt. (Lot’s prayer saved Zoar, but could not save his wife. A minister may bring thousands to Jesus, and yet his own household may perish. The Scripture says, “Remember Lot’s wife.” Remember that she was Lot’s wife, and yet was destroyed. She was half way to Zoar and out of Sodom, and yet escaped not, and all because her heart was still with sinners, and she could not leave them. She started to escape, but she started aside. O for grace to persevere.

Remember Lot’s wife, and beware of even a desire to return to old sins, lest we prove ourselves unworthy of eternal life. This terrible chapter should make us tremble if we have not reached the mountain of atoning love. Let us not delay, but flee to Jesus now, and put our trust in him.

Hasten, sinner, to be blest,

Stay not for the morrow’s sun,

Lest perdition thee arrest

Ere the morrow is begun.

Lord, do thou the sinner turn!

Rouse him from his senseless state;

Let him not thy counsel spurn,

Rue his fatal choice too late![1]

 

[1] Spurgeon, C. H. (1964). The Interpreter: Spurgeon’s Devotional Bible (pp. 29–30). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.

January 14 The Interpreter: Spurgeon’s Devotional Bible

January 14.—Morning. [Or January 27.]
“Is anything too hard for the Lord?”

Genesis 18:1–15

AND the Lord appeared unto Abraham in the plains of Mamre: and he sat in the tent door in the heat of the day;

And he lift up his eyes and looked, and, lo, three men stood by him: and when he saw them, he ran to meet them from the tent door, and bowed himself toward the ground,

3, 4, 5 And said, My Lord, if now I have found favour in thy sight, pass not away, I pray thee, from thy servant: Let a little water, I pray you, be fetched, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree: And I will fetch a morsel of bread, and comfort ye your hearts; after that ye shall pass on: for therefore are ye come to your servant. And they said, So do, as thou hast said.

Abraham here became an example of hospitality, and thereby entertained angels unawares. He ran to meet the strangers, he saluted them respectfully, welcomed them heartily, and even made a favour to himself of their resting near his tent. Ungenerous spirits who never entertain either God’s servants or the poor, miss many a blessing. May we never be a churlish household.

And Abraham hastened into the tent unto Sarah, and said, Make ready quickly three measures of fine meal, knead it, and make cakes upon the hearth.

And Abraham ran unto the herd, and fetcht a calf tender and good, and gave it unto a young man; and he hasted to dress it.

And he took butter, and milk, and the calf which he had dressed, and set it before them; and he stood by them under the tree, and they did eat. (The noble old man waited with pleasure upon the strangers. He spoke of a morsel of bread, but he made a feast. He was all kindness, goodness, and humbleness of mind: at once a true nobleman and a believer in God. Such are the fruits of elevated piety. Would to God we saw them in all professors.)

¶ And they said unto him, Where is Sarah thy wife? And he said, Behold, in the tent.

Where she should be. She was a worthy wife of her worthy husband, and therefore cheerfully aided him in providing for the guests. She was at that moment busy with household duties. We are in the way of blessing when we are in the way of duty. Abraham must have wondered how the chief one of the three strangers knew the name of his wife.

10 And he said, I will certainly return unto thee according to the time of life; and, lo, Sarah thy wife shall have a son. And Sarah heard it in the tent door, which was behind him.

11 Now Abraham and Sarah were old and well stricken in age.

12 Therefore Sarah laughed within herself, saying, After I am waxed old shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also? (Here was unbelief, which can express itself as much in a laugh as in a cry.)

13 And the Lord said unto Abraham, Wherefore did Sarah laugh, saying, Shall I of a surety bear a child, which am old?

14 Is any thing too hard for the Lord? At the time appointed I will return unto thee, according to the time of life, and Sarah shall have a son (What an encouraging question is that. “Is anything too hard for the Lord?” Our family troubles, cares, and needs are not beyond the power and wisdom of our heavenly Father. Let us not despair, but in faith cast our burden upon him.)

15 Then Sarah denied, saying, I laughed not; for she was afraid. And he said, Nay; but thou didst laugh.

He who discerns all hearts could not be deceived. See how honest Holy Scripture is, for it records the faults even of the best of the saints; and yet how tender is the Spirit of God, for in the New Testament Sarah’s fault is not mentioned, for it had been forgiven and blotted out, but the fact that she called her husband “lord” is recorded to her honour. We serve a gracious God who, when our hearts are right, commends our good fruit, and leaves the untimely figs to drop out of notice. Let us be careful not to mar the joy of his promises and his grace by any unseemly expressions or actions. It would be a sad remembrance for us amid the recollections of divine love, to have to confess that we laughed at the promise.

The thing surpasses all my thought;

But faithful is my Lord;

Through unbelief I stagger not,

For God hath spoke the word.

Faith, mighty faith, the promise sees,

And looks to that alone;

Laughs at impossibilities,

And cries, “It shall be done!”

January 14.—Evening. [Or January 28.]
“Pray without ceasing.”

Genesis 18:16, 17; 22–33

AND the men rose up from thence, and looked toward Sodom: and Abraham went with them to bring them on the way.

17 And the Lord said, Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do? (One of the three was the Lord himself, who for the time had taken upon him a human form. It may be that Jesus, who was one day to be born a man, thus anticipated his incarnation. Truly, “his goings forth were of old.” What condescension was this on Jehovah’s part that he would make Abraham his confidential friend! He is willing to do the same with us, for even now “the secret of the Lord is with them that fear him.”)

22 And the men turned their faces from thence, and went toward Sodom: but Abraham stood yet before the Lord.

Two angels went to Sodom, but the third, the Lord of angels, staid to commune with Abraham, his friend.

23 ¶ And Abraham drew near, and said, Wilt thou also destroy the righteous with the wicked?

24 Peradventure there be fifty righteous within the city: wilt thou also destroy and not spare the place for the fifty righteous that are therein?

25 That be far from thee to do after this manner, to slay the righteous with the wicked: and that the righteous should be as the wicked, that be far from thee: Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right? (When we are favoured with close access to God we should use it for intercession on the behalf of others. Note the arguments the patriarch used. We also should bring forth our strong reasons when we plead. The Lord is moved with pleas like those of Abraham. Undoubtedly he saves wicked nations for the sake of the saints who dwell among them, and, indeed, all the saved are forgiven not for their own sakes but for Jesus’ sake.)

26 And the Lord said, If I find in Sodom fifty righteous within the city, then I will spare all the place for their sakes.

27 And Abraham answered and said, Behold now, I have taken upon me to speak unto the Lord, which am but dust and ashes.

In our boldest pleadings we must not forget what poor creatures we are, and how condescending it is on the Lord’s part to let us plead with him.

28 Peradventure there shall lack five of the fifty righteous: wilt thou destroy all the city for lack of five? And he said, If I find there forty and five, I will not destroy it. (The Lord kept pace with his servant, being quite as willing to answer as he was to ask.)

29 And he spake unto him yet again, and said, Peradventure there shall be forty found there. And he said, I will not do it for forty’s sake.

30 And he said unto him, Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak: Peradventure there shall thirty be found there. And he said, I will not do it, if I find thirty there.

31 And he said, Behold now, I have taken upon me to speak unto the Lord: Peradventure there shall be twenty found there. And he said, I will not destroy it for twenty’s sake.

32 And he said, Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak yet but this once: Peradventure ten shall be found there. And he said, I will not destroy it for ten’s sake.

There is a time to keep silent as well as a time to speak. Abraham had gone as far as the Spirit of the Lord guided him, and he did not attempt to go further.

33 And the Lord went his way, as soon as he had left communing with Abraham: and Abraham returned unto his place.

Had there been but the small remnant of ten, Sodom and Gomorrah would have escaped. See then how precious the saints are to a nation. They may be unknown or despised, but they are the salt which preserves the whole. May our family be a part of that good salt; parents, children, and servants, all being through divine grace numbered with the righteous. But we must first have salt in ourselves by possessing a living faith in the Lord Jesus; otherwise we cannot benefit others, for we are not even saved ourselves.

Our guilt might draw thy vengeance down

On every shore, on every town:

But view us, Lord, with pitying eye,

And lay thy lifted thunder by.

Forgive the follies of our times,

And purge our land from all its crimes:

Reform’d and deck’d with grace divine,

Let Britain yet arise and shine.[1]

 

[1] Spurgeon, C. H. (1964). The Interpreter: Spurgeon’s Devotional Bible (pp. 27–28). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.

January 13 The Interpreter: Spurgeon’s Devotional Bible

January 13.—Morning. [Or January 25.]
“Thou God seest me.”
Genesis 16

NOW Sarai Abram’s wife bare him no children: and she had an handmaid, an Egyptian, whose name was Hagar. (Sarai therefore proposed to Abram that Hagar should become his secondary wife. This was a very usual custom in those days, but it was not a commendable one, and it was an unbelieving act on Sarai’s part to propose it.

It is not always easy to patiently wait the Lord’s time. We are all too apt to run to expedients of our own; as if the Lord needed our help to fulfil his promises.)

2 And Abram hearkened to the voice of Sarai. (Thus those we love best may be the means of leading us astray. The father of mankind sinned by hearkening to his wife, and now the father of the faithful follows his example.)

3 And Sarai Abram’s wife took Hagar her maid the Egyptian, after Abram had dwelt ten years in the land of Canaan, and gave her to her husband Abram to be his wife.

4 ¶ And when Hagar saw that she had conceived, her mistress was despised in her eyes.

5 And Sarai said unto Abram, My wrong be upon thee: I have given my maid into thy bosom; and when she saw that she had conceived, I was despised in her eyes: the Lord judge between me and thee. (It was Sarai who proposed the arrangement, and now she upbraids her husband for it. It is of no use to lay the blame of our faults upon others, for if we step out of the straight path we shall be sure personally to smart for it.)

6 But Abram said unto Sarai, Behold, thy maid is in thy hand; do to her as it pleaseth thee. And when Sarai dealt hardly with her, she fled from her face.

Thus Sarai was first unbelieving to God, next unkind to her husband, and then cruel to her servant; so one wrong step leads to others. Unbelief sins, and produces other sins. Even this holy woman was not without infirmity. “There is none good, save one, that is God.”

7 ¶ And the angel of the Lord found her by a fountain of water in the wilderness, by the fountain in the way to Shur.

8 And he said, Hagar, Sarai’s maid, whence camest thou? and whither wilt thou go? And she said, I flee from the face of my mistress Sarai. (She did not say where she was going, for she did not know. Let each of us ask himself. “Whither am I going?”)

9 And the angel of the Lord said unto her, Return to thy mistress, and submit thyself under her hands.

10 And the angel of the Lord said unto her, I will multiply thy seed exceedingly, that it shall not be numbered for multitude. (No one could use such language as this but the Angel of the Covenant. Here is a proof of the inspired declaration, “My delights were with the sons of men.”)

11 And the angel of the Lord said unto her, Behold, thou art with child, and shalt bear a son, and shalt call his name Ishmael; because the Lord hath heard thy affliction.

12 And he will be a wild man; his hand will be against every man, and every man’s hand against him; and he shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren.

13 And she called the name of the Lord that spake unto her, Thou God seest me: for she said, Have I also here looked after him that seeth me? (First, God sees us; and then, by his gracious visitations, he leads us to look after himself.)

14 Wherefore the well was called Beer-lahairoi; (The well of the living One, my Seer;) behold, it is between Kadesh and Bered.

15 ¶ And Hagar bare Abram a son: and Abram called his son’s name, which Hagar bare, Ishmael. (But this was not, as he had hoped, the promised heir; on the contrary, he became the occasion of much trial to the family. When we call in legality to help grace, or sight to assist faith, we miss our object, and ensure for ourselves no little sorrow. The whole scene is a painful one, and should warn us that even in a gracious household sin may sow dissension, and cause heart-burnings and distress.)

Quick as the apple of an eye,

O God, my conscience make!

Awake my soul, when sin is nigh,

And keep it still awake.

Oh may the least omission pain

My well-instructed soul;

And drive me to the blood again,

Which makes the wounded whole!

January 13.—Evening. [Or January 26.]
“Search me, O God.”
HAGAR in the desert learned the omniscience of God, and exclaimed, “Thou God seest me:” it will profit us if we meditate at this time upon that solemn truth, as we find it written out at large in—

Psalm 139

1, 2, 3 O Lord, thou hast searched me, and known me. Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, thou understandest my thought afar off. Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways.

Rising or resting, God beholds me. Awake or asleep, his eye is upon me!

4 For there is not a word in my tongue, but, lo, O Lord, thou knowest it altogether. (Not only the words on my tongue which have been uttered, but those in my tongue which as yet have not been sounded. The words I mean to speak he knows.)

5 Thou hast beset me behind and before, and laid thine hand upon me.

6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it.

7 Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence?

8 If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there.

9 If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea;

10 Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me.

11 If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me; even the night shall be light about me.

12 Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to thee.

13 For thou hast possessed my reins: (The most secret parts of my being thou dost penetrate with a glance:) thou hast covered me in my mother’s womb.

14 I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.

15 My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. (Our bodily frame is like a very skilful piece of embroidery, “curiously wrought;” its nerves, veins, and muscles are fashioned with divine art. At our first formation the wisdom of the Lord was present, working all things with benevolent design. He who made the watch understands it, and even thus the Creator knows all the secret workings of our souls.)

16 Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them.

17 How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum of them!

18 If I should count them, they are more in number than the sand: when I awake, I am still with thee. (The omniscient eye is not that of an enemy, but an eye which watches over us to do us good. The Lord’s heart is never removed from his people: he thinks upon them to bless them.)

19 Surely thou wilt slay the wicked, O God: depart from me therefore, ye bloody men.

Since the Lord sees and punishes the wicked, we should not be found in their company, lest we share in their doom.

20 For they speak against thee wickedly, and thine enemies take thy name in vain. (And this they do in the Lord’s own presence, thus provoking him to his face.)

21 Do not I hate them, O Lord, that hate thee? and am not I grieved with those that rise up against thee?

22 I hate them with perfect hatred: I count them mine enemies. (A faithful servant of God has the same interests, the same friends, and the same enemies as his Master.)

23 Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts:

24 And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

This is the way in which to derive gracious advantage from that attribute of God which to the sinner is full of terror. Since the Lord will pardon all the sins of believers in Jesus, we are glad that he should see them all, so that he may completely and effectually remove them.

Lord, thou hast search’d and seen me through;

Thine eye commands with piercing view

My rising and my resting hours,

My heart and flesh, with all their powers.

Within thy circling power I stand;

On every side I find thy hand;

Awake, asleep, at home, abroad,

I am surrounded still with God.[1]

 

[1] Spurgeon, C. H. (1964). The Interpreter: Spurgeon’s Devotional Bible (pp. 25–26). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.

January 12 The Interpreter: Spurgeon’s Devotional Bible

January 12.—Morning. [Or January 23.]
“I am thy shield.”

Genesis 15:1–18

AFTER these things the word of the Lord came unto Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram. I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward. (Let those fear who touch the Lord’s anointed, but as for those who trust in the living God they have no cause for alarm. Five kings or fifty kings may come against them, but while Jehovah defends them they are secure. Perhaps the Lord saw a rising fear in Abram’s mind, and therefore came to him with this word of comfort: God is not willing that his servants should be in bondage to fear.)

2, 3 And Abram said, Lord God, what wilt thou give me, seeing I go childless, and the steward of my house is this Eliezer of Damascus? And Abram said, Behold, to me thou hast given no seed: and, lo, one born in my house is mine heir.

And, behold, the word of the Lord came unto him, saying, This shall not be thine heir; but he that shall come forth out of thine own bowels shall be thine heir. (The strongest faith has its conflicts. Abram’s heart was set upon being the progenitor of the Messiah, and he believed in the promise of God that he should be so, but still it appeared impossible, for he had no son, nor did it appear likely that he would ever have one. It is wise always to spread our doubts before the Lord, for he can meet them for us.)

And he brought him forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be.

And he believed in the Lord; and he counted it to him for righteousness. (Over the head of every difficulty and physical impossibility he believed in God; and therefore he stood accepted as righteous before the Lord.)

7, 8, 9, 10, 11 And he said unto him, I am the Lord that brought thee out of Ur of the Chaldees, to give thee this land to inherit it. And he said, Lord God, whereby shall I know that I shall inherit it? And he said unto him, Take me an heifer of three years old, and a she goat of three years old, and a ram of three years old, and a turtle dove, and a young pigeon. And he took unto him all these, and divided them in the midst, and laid each piece one against another: but the birds divided he not. And when the fowls came down upon the carcases, Abram drove them away. (The sacrifice ratifying the covenant is the most satisfying food for faith. Let us see Jesus confirming the promises and we are content. True, a few distracting questions like these ravenous birds will molest us, but by faith we chase them away. When the Lord covenanted with his servant over the bodies of the beasts slain in sacrifice, he gave him the strongest possible confirmation; and in the death of Jesus we have solid assurance that the promises shall all be fulfilled.)

12 And when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram; and, lo, an horror of great darkness fell upon him.

13, 14, 15, 16 And he said unto Abram, Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not their’s, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years; And also that nation, whom they shall serve, will I judge: and afterward shall they come out with great substance. And thou shalt go to thy fathers in peace; thou shalt be buried in a good old age. But in the fourth generation they shall come hither again: for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full.

17 And it came to pass, that, when the sun went down, and it was dark, behold a smoking furnace, and a burning lamp that passed between those pieces. (This symbolised the history of the chosen seed: the furnace of affliction, with its darkening smoke is often theirs, but the lamp of God’s salvation is never removed from them.)

18 In the same day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying, Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates. (Thus was the fear of Abram cured by the covenant: let us ever resort to the same remedy.)

’Tis mine the covenant of grace,

And every promise mine;

All flowing from eternal love,

And sealed by blood divine.

On my unworthy, favour’d head,

Its blessings all unite;

Blessings more numerous than the stars,

More lasting and more bright.

That covenant the last accent claims

Of this poor faltering tongue;

And that shall the first notes employ

Of my celestial song.

January 12.—Evening. [Or January 24.]
“Christ is all.”

Romans 4:1–25

PAUL was moved by the Spirit to explain to us the bearings of the solemn transaction which we considered in our last reading. Let us hear his exposition.

What shall we say then that Abraham our father, as pertaining to the flesh, hath found?

For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God.

3, 4, 5 For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness. Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.

6, 7, 8 Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works, Saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.

9, 10 Cometh this blessedness then upon the circumcision only, or upon the uncircumcision also? for we say that faith was reckoned to Abraham for righteousness. How was it then reckoned? when he was in circumcision, or in uncircumcision? Not in circumcision, but in uncircumcision.

11 And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had yet being uncircumcised: that he might be the father of all them that believe, though they be not circumcised; that righteousness might be imputed unto them also:

12 And the father of circumcision to them who are not of the circumcision only, but who also walk in the steps of that faith of our father Abraham, which he had being yet uncircumcised.

13 For the promise, that he should be the heir of the world, was not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of faith.

14, 15 For if they which are of the law be heirs, faith is made void, and the promise made of none effect: Because the law worketh wrath: for where no law is, there is no transgression.

16 Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham; who is the father of us all,

17 (As it is written, I have made thee a father of many nations,) before him whom he believed, even God, who quickeneth the dead, and calleth those things which be not as though they were.

18, 19, 20, 21, 22 Who against hope believed in hope, that he might become the father of many nations, according to that which was spoken, So shall thy seed be. And being not weak in faith, he considered not his own body now dead, when he was about an hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sarah’s womb: He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform. And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness.

23, 24, 25 Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him; But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification. (The argument is very clear and conclusive. Abraham was justified by faith, therefore by grace; and this justification was not given to him as a circumcised man, for he was not circumcised till years after; therefore the covenant blessings are not given in connection with the law and its work, but in connection with faith and grace. The covenant promise was made to a seed to be born not after the flesh but according to promise, and in that promise all nations had an interest, for out of them would come a blessed people whose badge should be faith, and not the deeds of the law. Jesus is the promised seed, and those believing in him are Abraham’s seed. Are we all in this family believers in Jesus? Who is there among us unsaved? Pass the solemn question round.)

No more, my God, I boast no more

Of all the duties I have done;

I quit the hopes I held before,

To trust the merits of thy Son.

The best obedience of my hands

Dares not appear before thy throne;

But faith can answer thy demands,

By pleading what my Lord has done.[1]

 

[1] Spurgeon, C. H. (1964). The Interpreter: Spurgeon’s Devotional Bible (pp. 23–24). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.

January 11 The Interpreter: Spurgeon’s Devotional Bible

January 11.—Morning. [Or January 21.]
“He teacheth my hands to war.”

Genesis 14:1–3; 10–24

AND it came to pass in the days of Amraphel king of Shinar, Arioch king of Ellasar, Chedorlaomer king of Elam, and Tidal king of nations; that these made war with Bera king of Sodom, and with Birsha king of Gomorrah, Shinab king of Admah, and Shemeber king of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela, which is Zoar.

All these were joined together in the vale of Siddim, which is the salt sea.

10, 11, 12 And the vale of Siddim was full of slimepits; and the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah fled, and fell there; and they that remained fled to the mountain. And they took all the goods of Sodom and Gomorrah, and all their victuals, and went their way. And they took Lot, Abram’s brother’s son, who dwelt in Sodom, and his goods, and departed. (All is not gold that glitters. Lot had made a poor choice after all. Those believers who conform to the world must expect to suffer for it. For the sake of gain Lot went to Sodom, and now he loses all at a blow: if we are too careful to grow rich, the Lord can soon impoverish us.)

14 And when Abram heard that his brother was taken captive, he armed his trained servants, born in his own house, three hundred and eighteen, and pursued them unto Dan. (If our relatives desert us we must not desert them. Lot left Abram but Abram did not forget Lot.)

15 And he divided himself against them, he and his servants, by night, and smote them, and pursued them unto Hobah, which is on the left hand of Damascus.

16 And he brought back all the goods, and also brought again his brother Lot, and his goods, and the women also, and the people.

Thus whether in peace or war faith made Abram the victor; but, alas for poor Lot, his worldly conformity was not cured by his trouble, for he went back again to Sodom to reside in it. He was vexed by the sins of the city, but he loved the ease of its settled life.

17, 18 And the king of Sodom went out to meet him after his return from the slaughter of Chedorlaomer, and of the kings that were with him, at the valley of Shaveh, which is the king’s dale. And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God. (When we are weary with fighting the Lord’s battles, we may expect that Jesus will appear to our refreshment.)

19 And he blessed him, and said, Blessed be Abram of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth: (The Lord Jesus never meets his people without blessing them: his lips are like lilies dropping sweet-smelling myrrh.)

20 And blessed be the most high God, which hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand. And he gave him tithes of all. (To our great Melchizedek we cheerfully offer of our substance. Melchizedek was rightly a receiver of Abram’s temporals, since Abram had received of his spirituals.)

21 And the king of Sodom said unto Abram, Give me the persons, and take the goods to thyself. (He felt no interest in what was passing between Abram and Melchizedek, but broke in upon their holy intercourse with his secular business.)

22, 23, 24 And Abram said to the king of Sodom, I have lift up mine hand unto the Lord, the most high God, the possessor of heaven and earth, that I will not take from a thread even to a shoelatchet, and that I will not take any thing that is thine, lest thou shouldest say, I have made Abram rich: Save only that which the young men have eaten, and the portion of the men which went with me, Aner, Eshcol, and Mamre; let them take their portion. (What the king of Sodom offered was Abram’s due by the laws of war, but he would not take it. Sometimes it is right to waive our rights. Abram felt that God could give him all he needed without his being beholden to the king of Sodom. Faith is royally independent of man. She will not give the world an opportunity to stop her glorying in the Lord. Jehovah All-sufficient is enough for us without our leaning upon an arm of flesh.)

King of Salem, bless my soul!

Make a wounded sinner whole!

King of righteousness and peace,

Let not thy sweet visits cease!

Come, refresh this soul of mine

With thy sacred bread and wine!

All thy love to me unfold,

Half of which can not be told.

Hail, Melchizedek divine;

Great High-Priest, thou shalt be mine;

All my powers before thee fall;

Take not tithe, but take them all.

January 11.—Evening. [Or January 22.]
“He ever liveth to make intercession.”

IT would be unwise to pass by the story of Melchizedek without noticing its typical meaning. This is fully expounded to us in—

Hebrews 7:1–25

1, 2, 3 For this Melchisedec, king of Salem, priest of the most high God, who met Abram returning from the slaughter of the kings, and blessed him; To whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all; first being by interpretation King of righteousness, and after that also King of Salem, which is, King of peace; Without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life; but made like unto the Son of God; abideth a priest continually. (No ancestors, or predecessors, or successors to Melchisedec are mentioned, and the apostle finds a meaning in the silence of Scripture. Some will not learn from what the Bible plainly says; but the apostle could learn even from what it does not say. In Melchisedec the regal and priestly offices were united, and he received his priesthood not by inheritance, but by an immediate divine ordination. In these things he was eminently a type of our Lord Jesus.)

Now consider how great this man was, unto whom even the patriarch Abraham gave the tenth of the spoils.

And verily they that are of the sons of Levi, who receive the office of the priesthood, have a commandment to take tithes of the people according to the law, that is, of their brethren, though they come out of the loins of Abraham:

6, 7 But he whose descent is not counted from them received tithes of Abraham, and blessed him that had the promises. And without all contradiction the less is blessed of the better.

8, 9, 10 And here men that die receive tithes; but there he receiveth them, of whom it is witnessed that he liveth. And as I may so say, Levi also, who receiveth tithes, payed tithes in Abraham. For he was yet in the loins of his father, when Melchisedec met him.

11 If therefore perfection were by the Levitical priesthood, (for under it the people received the law,) what further need was there that another priest should rise after the order of Melchisedec, and not be called after the order of Aaron?

12 For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law.

13, 14 For he of whom these things are spoken pertaineth to another tribe, of which no man gave attendance at the altar. For it is evident that our Lord sprang out of Juda; of which tribe Moses spake nothing concerning priesthood. (Therefore our Lord did not receive the priesthood by descent, but, like Melchisedec, his ordination was direct from God.)

15, 16, 17 And it is yet far more evident: for that after the similitude of Melchisedec there ariseth another priest, Who is made, not after the law of a carnal commandment, but after the power of an endless life. For he testifieth, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec. (This is the inspired testimony of David in Psalm 110, where he speaks of the Lord Jesus as his Lord, and salutes him as king and priest.)

20, 21, 22 And inasmuch as not without an oath he was made priest: (For those priests were made without an oath; but this with an oath by him that said unto him, The Lord sware and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec:) By so much was Jesus made a surety of a better testament. (The priesthood of Jesus therefore deals with sure things which cannot pass away or change, since the oath of God confirms them.)

23, 24, 25 And they truly were many priests, because they were not suffered to continue by reason of death: But this man, because he continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood. Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.

Jesus resembles Melchisedec in being both king and priest, in having no predecessor or successor in office, and in being greater than the Levitical Priesthood. He is a priest for ever by the oath of God, and we who trust in him have this sweet consolation that our Great High Priest ever lives, is always in power, is always accessible, and always ready to perform his office on our behalf.

Thou dear Redeemer, dying Lamb,

We love to hear of thee;

No music’s like thy charming name,

Nor half so sweet can be.

Oh may we ever hear thy voice,

In mercy to us speak;

And in our Priest we will rejoice,

Thou great Melchizedek.[1]

 

[1] Spurgeon, C. H. (1964). The Interpreter: Spurgeon’s Devotional Bible (pp. 21–22). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.

January 10 The Interpreter: Spurgeon’s Devotional Bible

January 10.—Morning. [Or January 19.]
“Lie not one to another.”

Genesis 12:10–20

AND there was a famine in the land: and Abram went down into Egypt to sojourn there; for the famine was grievous in the land.

11, 12 And it came to pass, when he was come near to enter into Egypt, that he said unto Sarai his wife, Behold now, I know that thou art a fair woman to look upon: therefore it shall come to pass, when the Egyptians shall see thee, that they shall say, This is his wife: and they will kill me, but they will save thee alive.

13 Say, I pray thee, thou art my sister: that it may be well with me for thy sake; and my soul shall live because of thee. (To say that she was his sister was part of the truth, but the intention was to deceive. Whether what we say be true or not, if our object be to mislead others, we are guilty of falsehood. Let us pray for grace to be strictly truthful.)

14 ¶ And it came to pass, that, when Abram was come into Egypt, the Egyptians beheld the woman that she was very fair.

15 The princes also of Pharaoh saw her, and commended her before Pharaoh: and the woman was taken into Pharaoh’s house.

16 And he entreated Abram well for her sake: and he had sheep, and oxen, and he asses, and menservants, and maidservants, and she asses, and camels. (Yet surely these gifts must have given Abram but little pleasure; he must have felt mean in spirit and sick at heart.)

17 And the Lord plagued Pharaoh and his house with great plagues because of Sarai Abram’s wife.

18 And Pharaoh called Abram, and said, What is this that thou hast done unto me? why didst thou not tell me that she was thy wife?

19 Why saidst thou, She is my sister? so I might have taken her to me to wife: now therefore behold thy wife, take her, and go thy way. (It must have been very humbling to the man of God to be rebuked by a heathen. It is sad indeed when the worldling shames the believer; yet it is too often the case.)

20 And Pharaoh commanded his men concerning him: and they sent him away, and his wife, and all that he had.

From this Scripture we learn that the best of men, though in the path of duty, will nevertheless have their trials. It is Abram, he is a pilgrim according to God’s command, and yet he is afflicted by the famine which falls upon the land in which he dwells. Trials find out the weak places in good men, and even the holy patriarch had some blemishes. He went into Egypt, into a land where he had no right to be: he was out of the path of duty, and therefore out of the place of safety. On the devil’s ground he was in slippery places, and found it hard to maintain his uprightness. He equivocated, in order to save himself and Sarai; he deceived Pharaoh by telling him only half the truth, and he exposed his wife to great peril: all this arose out of the unbelief which marred even the mighty faith of the father of the faithful. The best of men are but men at the best, and this record suffices to show us that even the chief of the patriarchs was a man of like passions with ourselves. Why can we not have Abram’s faith, since Abram had our infirmities? The same Spirit can work in us also a majestic faith, and lead us to triumph by its power.

Genesis 13:1–4

AND Abram went up out of Egypt, he, and his wife, and all that he had, and Lot with him, into the south. (He did not feel safe till he had returned to his separated condition. Association with the world is not good for the believer’s soul. The more he is a sojourner with his God, and a separatist from sinners, the better.)

2, 3, 4 And Abram was very rich in cattle, in silver, and in gold. And he went on his journeys from the south even to Beth-el, unto the place where his tent had been at the beginning, between Beth-el and Hai; unto the place of the altar, which he had made there at the first: and there Abram called on the name of the Lord. (Doubtless he confessed his sinful weakness, and renewed the allegiance of his faith in God. If we have erred or backslidden, let us also return to our first love, to that Bethel where first we set up an altar unto the Lord.)

Oh send thy Spirit down, to write

Thy law upon my heart!

Nor let my tongue indulge deceit,

Nor act the liar’s part.

Order my footsteps by thy word,

And make my heart sincere;

Let sin have no dominion, Lord,

But keep my conscience clear.

January 10.—Evening. [Or January 20.]
“All things are yours.”

Genesis 13:5–18

AND Lot also, which went with Abram, had flocks, and herds, and tents. And the land was not able to bear them, that they might dwell together: for their substance was great, so that they could not dwell together.

And there was a strife between the herd men of Abram’s cattle and the herdmen of Lot’s cattle. (Rich men may be godly, and godly men may be rich, but riches are the sure source of trial. In this case abundance did not bring peace, but became the source of discomfort. Good men cannot rule their servants’ tempers, even though they control their own. When relatives dwell together they must be very careful, lest they be made to disagree through their servants. It is a rare thing for relations in the second degree to live in the same house without strife; and it becomes every inmate of such a household to watch against suspicions, envies, and bickerings.) And the Canaanite and the Perizzite dwelled then in the land. (The presence of such powerful enemies ought to have made these good men cautious how they disagreed. Since the eyes of the world are upon us we must be careful how we act. Let not a Christian household make sport for worldlings by internal disagreements.)

And Abram said unto Lot, Let there be no strife, I pray thee, between me and thee, and between my herdmen and thy herdmen; for we be brethren.

Is not the whole land before thee? separate thyself, I pray thee, from me: if thou wilt take the left hand, then I will go to the right; or if thou depart to the right hand, then I will go to the left. (Abram was the older, the greater, the richer, and the better man, yet he gave way to his nephew. In all differences it becomes the more powerful to be the first to yield. By so doing he will prove himself to be of the nobler disposition. Abram’s faith brought forth in this case the fruit of a noble, generous, yielding spirit. All true faith is thus fruitful.)

10, 11 And Lot lifted up his eyes, and beheld all the plain of Jordan, that it was well watered every where, before the Lord destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, even as the garden of the Lord, like the land of Egypt, as thou comest unto Zoar. Then Lot chose him all the plain of Jordan; and Lot journeyed east: and they separated themselves the one from the other.

12 Abram dwelled in the land of Canaan, and Lot dwelled in the cities of the plain, and pitched his tent toward Sodom.

13 But the men of Sodom were wicked and sinners before the Lord exceedingly.

This was a grave fault on Lot’s part. He looked only to the richness of the country, and not to the character of the people. He walked by sight not by faith; he looked at temporal advantage, and did not seek first the kingdom of God. Hence he became worldly himself, and gave up the separated life of faith to go and dwell in a city; thus he forfeited all claim to the promised inheritance, and pierced himself through with many sorrows. In the end, he who sought this world lost it, and he who was willing to give up anything for the honour of God found it.

When friends leave us we may look for renewed visits from the Lord to sustain and console us, for when Lot was gone the Lord appeared again to Abram.

14 ¶ And the Lord said unto Abram, after that Lot was separated from him, Lift up now thine eyes, and look from the place where thou art northward, and southward, and eastward, and westward:

15 For all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed for ever.

16 And I will make thy seed as the dust of the earth: so that if a man can number the dust of the earth, then shall thy seed also be numbered.

17 Arise, walk through the land in the length of it and in the breadth of it; for I will give it unto thee. (He was bidden to survey his possessions and walk abroad like an owner in his own grounds: even thus may our faith behold the covenant blessings which are ours in Christ Jesus, and we may rejoice in them with joy unspeakable.)

18 Then Abram removed his tent, and came and dwelt in the plain of Mamre, which is in Hebron, and built there an altar unto the Lord.

So let our lips and lives express

The holy gospel we profess;

So let our works and virtues shine,

To prove the doctrine all divine.

Thus shall we best proclaim abroad

The honours of our Saviour God,

When his salvation reigns within,

And grace subdues the power of sin.[1]

 

[1] Spurgeon, C. H. (1964). The Interpreter: Spurgeon’s Devotional Bible (pp. 19–20). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.

January 9 The Interpreter: Spurgeon’s Devotional Bible

January 9.—Morning. [Or January 17.]
“The Lord reigneth.”

Genesis 11:1–9

AND the whole earth was of one language, and of one speech.

2, 3 And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar; and they dwelt there. And they said one to another, Go to, let us make brick, and burn them throughly. And they had brick for stone, and slime had they for morter.

And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth. (They would found a universal monarchy of which this tower should be the centre. They planned the tower that they might not be scattered, and they thus forgot the command to replenish the earth. Ambition was at the bottom of the plan; by centralising all mankind they hoped to build up an empire, which, like their tower, should defy heaven itself.)

And the Lord came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of men builded.

To him their huge tower was a mere nothing; he is said, after the manner of men, to come down from heaven in order to see such a trifle.

6, 7 And the Lord said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do. Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech.

So the Lord scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of all the earth: and they left off to build the city. (How easily can God thwart our plans, and bring to pass his own purposes, despite all opposition. The scene has been very graphically sketched by Bishop Hall. “One calls for brick, the other looks him in the face, and wonders what he commands, and how and why he speaks such words as were never heard, and instead thereof brings him mortar, returning him an answer as little understood; each chides with other, expressing his choler, so as he only can understand himself. From heat they fall to quiet entreaties, but still with the same success. At first every man thinks his fellow mocks him; but now perceiving this serious confusion, their only answer was silence, and ceasing: they could not come together, for no man could call them to be understood; and if they had assembled, nothing could be determined, because one could never attain to the other’s purpose.”)

Therefore is the name of it called Babel; because the Lord did there confound the language of all the earth: and from thence did the Lord scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth.

AS a fit comment on the transaction at Babel we will read a part of

Psalm 33:10–22

10 The Lord bringeth the counsel of the heathen to nought: he maketh the devices of the people of none effect.

11 The counsel of the Lord standeth for ever, the thoughts of his heart to all generations.

12 Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord; and the people whom he hath chosen for his own inheritance.

13, 14, 15 The Lord looketh from heaven; he beholdeth all the sons of men. From the place of his habitation he looketh upon all the inhabitants of the earth. He fashioneth their hearts alike; he considereth all their works.

16 There is no king saved by the multitude of an host: a mighty man is not delivered by much strength.

17 An horse is a vain thing for safety: neither shall he deliver any by his great strength.

18 Behold, the eye of the Lord is upon them that fear him, upon them that hope in his mercy;

19 To deliver their soul from death, and to keep them alive in famine.

20, 21 Our soul waiteth for the Lord: he is our help and our shield. For our heart shall rejoice in him, because we have trusted in his holy name.

22 Let thy mercy, O Lord, be upon us, according as we hope in thee. (We have done with self-confidence which is but a vain tower of Babel, and we fly unto the Lord our God who is a tower of defence to save us.)

In his providential reign,

Oh, what various wisdom shines!

He confounds the pride of man,

Blasts the people’s vain designs;

Brings their counsels all to nought;

Only his abideth sure;

What the gracious Lord has thought

Shall from age to age endure.

January 9.—Evening. [Or January 18.]
“I am a stranger with Thee.”

Genesis 12:1–8

NOW the Lord had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee:

And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing:

And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.

God had elected Abram, and therefore in due time he called him, and so separated him unto himself. All the chosen seed must in this be conformed to the father of the faithful.

So Abram departed, as the Lord had spoken unto him; and Lot went with him: and Abram was seventy and five years old when he departed out of Haran. (The grace which chose him made him obedient, and he left all at the divine command. Only in the separated life could he inherit the blessing, and therefore he cheerfully forsook all to follow his Lord.)

And Abram took Sarai his wife, and Lot his brother’s son, and all their substance that they had gathered, and the souls that they had gotten in Haran; and they went forth to go into the land of Canaan; and into the land of Canaan they came. (It is not enough to set out, we must persevere to the end.)

¶ And Abram passed through the land unto the place of Sichem, unto the plain of Moreh. And the Canaanite was then in the land. (Though the land was given to the patriarch by promise, yet he did not actually possess a single foot of it. Unbelief would have reckoned this to be a very shadowy inheritance; but faith is the substance of things hoped for, and makes us content to wait. The Canaanite is still in the land, yet we rightly reckon that all things are ours.)

And the Lord appeared unto Abram, and said, Unto thy seed will I give this land: and there builded he an altar unto the Lord, who appeared unto him.

And he removed from thence unto a mountain on the east of Beth-el: and there he builded an altar unto the Lord, and called upon the name of the Lord. (The patriarch was careful to maintain the worship of God wherever he might be placed. Go where we may, let us not forget to render devotion and obedience to God.)

THE secret of Abram’s prompt action may be seen in—

Hebrews 11:8–10

By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went.

By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise:

10 For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.

Abram had to come out from idolatrous Chaldea, and so must we be separate from the world which lieth in the wicked one. He became a pilgrim and a sojourner, and so must we. This is not our rest, ours is a pilgrim’s life, we are wanderers till we reach the city which hath foundations. He pitched his tent and wandered up and down in the land as a stranger, but he was no Canaanite: here we have no continuing city, but we seek one to come. He who finds a rest here has none in heaven.

2 Corinthians 6:14–18

14, 15 Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?

16 And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.

17 Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you,

18 And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty. (Oh, that the Lord may make us, as a family, separated unto himself.)

We’ve no abiding city here;

Then let us live as pilgrims do:

Let not the world our rest appear,

But let us haste from all below.

We’ve no abiding city here;

We seek a city out of sight:

Zion’s its name—the Lord is there;

It shines with everlasting light.[1]

 

[1] Spurgeon, C. H. (1964). The Interpreter: Spurgeon’s Devotional Bible (pp. 17–18). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.

January 8 The Interpreter: Spurgeon’s Devotional Bible

January 8.—Morning. [Or January 15.]
“Return unto thy rest, O my soul.”

Genesis 8

AND God remembered Noah, and every living thing, and all the cattle that was with him in the ark: (The Lord did not forget the saved ones. He thought on Noah first, and then on those with him, and even thus he remembers his dear Son, and us for his sake.) and God made a wind to pass over the earth, and the waters asswaged;

The fountains also of the deep and the windows of heaven were stopped, and the rain from heaven was restrained; (How readily are all things ordered by the Lord’s providence. Winds and waters move at his bidding, as well for the deliverance of his people as for the destruction of his foes.)

And the waters returned from off the earth continually: and after the end of the hundred and fifty days the waters were abated.

And the ark rested in the seventh month, on the seventeenth day of the month, upon the mountains of Ararat.

And the waters decreased continually until the tenth month: in the tenth month, on the first day of the month, were the tops of the mountains seen.

¶ And it came to pass at the end of forty days, that Noah opened the window of the ark which he had made:

And he sent forth a raven, which went forth to and fro, until the waters were dried up from off the earth. (This foul bird could light on carrion; just as wicked men find delight in sin.)

Also he sent forth a dove from him, to see if the waters were abated from off the face of the ground;

But the dove found no rest for the sole of her foot, and she returned unto him into the ark, for the waters were on the face of the whole earth: then he put forth his hand, and took her, and pulled her in unto him in the ark. (Even thus our weary souls when renewed by grace find no rest in polluted things, but return unto Jesus their rest; and he graciously draws us in to himself when we are too faint to come.)

10 And he stayed yet other seven days; and again he sent forth the dove out of the ark;

11 And the dove came in to him in the evening; and, lo, in her mouth was an olive leaf pluckt off: so Noah knew that the waters were abated from off the earth.

12 And he stayed yet other seven days; and sent forth the dove; which returned not again unto him any more. (In the new and renovated world the dove could live at liberty, as regenerated souls dwell amid holy things.)

15 ¶ And God spake unto Noah, saying,

16 Go forth of the ark, thou, and thy wife, and thy sons, and thy sons’ wives with thee.

17 Bring forth with thee every living thing that is with thee, of all flesh, both of fowl, and of cattle, and of every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth; that they may breed abundantly in the earth, and be fruitful, and multiply upon the earth.

18 And Noah went forth, and his sons, and his wife, and his sons’ wives with him:

He did not come forth till he was bidden to do so by the same voice which called him into the ark. The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord.

19 Every beast, every creeping thing, and every fowl, and whatsoever creepeth upon the earth, after their kinds, went forth out of the ark.

20 ¶ And Noah builded an altar unto the Lord; and took of every clean beast, and of every clean fowl, and offered burnt offerings on the altar. (Before he built a house he built an altar. God must be first worshipped in all things.)

21 And the Lord smelled a sweet savour; and the Lord said in his heart, I will not again curse the ground any more for man’s sake; for the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth; neither will I again smite any more every thing living, as I have done.

22 While the earth remaineth, seed-time and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease.

Thus Noah’s sacrifice was pleasing to the Lord and the ground of a new covenant; and so the offering of the Lord Jesus is evermore a sweet savour, and for his sake the covenant of grace is made with all the saved ones. Have all of us an interest in it?

O Jesus, Saviour of the lost,

Our ark and hiding place,

By storms of sin and sorrow toss’d,

We seek thy sheltering grace.

Forgive our wandering and our sin,

We wish no more to roam;

Open the ark and take us in,

Our soul’s eternal home.

January 8.—Evening. [Or January 16.]
“He will ever be mindful of His covenant.”

IN this portion we have fuller particulars of the gracious covenant made with Noah and his seed.

Genesis 9:8–17

¶ And God spake unto Noah, and to his sons with him, saying,

And I, behold, I establish my covenant with you, and with your seed after you;

10 And with every living creature that is with you, of the fowl, of the cattle, and of every beast of the earth with you; from all that go out of the ark, to every beast of the earth.

11 And I will establish my covenant with you; neither shall all flesh be cut off any more by the waters of a flood; neither shall there any more be a flood to destroy the earth.

To those who have been saved in Christ no future destruction is possible. They are for ever secure from the floods of wrath.

12 And God said, This is the token of the covenant which I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations:

13 I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth.

14 And it shall come to pass, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow shall be seen in the cloud: (The covenant sign is seen in cloudy times when faith most requires a seal of the Lord’s faithfulness. No cloud, no bow. It is worth while to have a cloud to have a rainbow painted upon it.)

15 And I will remember my covenant, which is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall no more become a flood to destroy all flesh.

16 And the bow shall be in the cloud; and I will look upon it, (This is better than man’s looking upon it, for He will never gaze with forgetful eye.) that I may remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is upon the earth. (The word everlasting has heavenly music in it. A temporary covenant is of small value, but an everlasting covenant is a wellspring of delight.)

17 And God said unto Noah, This is the token of the covenant, which I have established between me and all flesh that is upon the earth.

The rainbow is thus made the lovely symbol of God’s truth. A bow unstrung, for war is over; a bow without a string never to be used against us; a bow turned upward, that we may direct our thoughts and prayers thither; a bow of bright colours, for joy and peace are signified by it. Blessed arch of beauty, be thou to us ever the Lord’s preacher.

We will now turn to a passage in the prophets where the covenant of divine grace is linked with this bow.

Isaiah 54:4–10

Fear not; for thou shalt not be ashamed: neither be thou confounded; for thou shalt not be put to shame: for thou shalt forget the shame of thy youth, and shalt not remember the reproach of thy widowhood any more.

For thy Maker is thine husband; the Lord of hosts is his name; and thy Redeemer the Holy One of Israel; The God of the whole earth shall he be called.

For the Lord hath called thee as a woman forsaken and grieved in spirit, and a wife of youth, when thou wast refused, saith thy God.

For a small moment have I forsaken thee; but with great mercies will I gather thee.

In a little wrath I hid my face from thee for a moment; but with everlasting kindness will I have mercy on thee, saith the Lord thy Redeemer.

For this is as the waters of Noah unto me: for as I have sworn that the waters of Noah should no more go over the earth; so have I sworn that I would not be wroth with thee, nor rebuke thee.

10 For the mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed; but my kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed, saith the Lord that hath mercy on thee. (Let us henceforth be ashamed to doubt the Lord. These steadfast signs should create in us unstaggering confidence in the faithfulness of our immutable God. Only let us make sure that we are exercising true faith in Him.)

The warm affections of his breast

Towards his chosen burn;

And in his love he’ll ever rest,

Nor from his oath return.

Still to confirm his oath of old,

See in the heavens his bow;

No fierce rebukes, but joys untold

Await his children now.[1]

 

[1] Spurgeon, C. H. (1964). The Interpreter: Spurgeon’s Devotional Bible (pp. 15–16). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.

January 7 The Interpreter: Spurgeon’s Devotional Bible

January 7.—Morning. [Or January 13.]
“I give unto my sheep eternal life.”

Genesis 7

AND the Lord said unto Noah, Come thou and all thy house into the ark; for thee have I seen righteous before me in this generation. (When the Lord said, “Come,” it was a gracious intimation that he was already in the ark, and meant to be there with his servant. It is also a type of the gospel invitation, “the Spirit and the bride say, Come.”)

Of every clean beast thou shalt take to thee by sevens, the male and his female: and of beasts that are not clean by two, the male and his female.

Of fowls also of the air by sevens, the male and the female; to keep seed alive upon the face of all the earth. (In Christ, the ark of our salvation, the unclean shall be sheltered as well as the clean. Noah was to bring them in, and such is the privilege of every believer; he is to labour for the saving of the souls of others.)

For yet seven days, and I will cause it to rain upon the earth forty days and forty nights; and every living substance that I have made will I destroy from off the face of the earth.

And Noah did according unto all that the Lord commanded him.

11, 12, 13, 14 In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, the seventeenth day of the month, the same day were all the fountains of the great deep broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened. And the rain was upon the earth forty days and forty nights. In the selfsame day entered Noah, and Shem, and Ham, and Japheth, the sons of Noah, and Noah’s wife, and the three wives of his sons with them, into the ark; They, and every beast after his kind, and all the cattle after their kind, and every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind, and every fowl after his kind, every bird of every sort. (It was wonderful that all these creatures should willingly enter the ark; and it is even more wonderful that sinners of all kinds should be led-by sovereign grace to find refuge in the Lord Jesus. They must come when grace calls.)

15 And they went in unto Noah into the ark, two and two of all flesh, wherein is the breath of life.

16 And they that went in, went in male and female of all flesh, as God had commanded him: and the Lord shut him in. (What a blessed thing for Noah. Those whom God brings into Christ, he takes care to shut in, so that they shall go no more out. God did not shut Adam in Paradise, and so he threw himself out; and we should every one of us get out of Christ, if the Lord had not in mercy closed the door.)

17 And the flood was forty days upon the earth; and the waters increased, and bare up the ark, and it was lift up above the earth.

18 And the waters prevailed, and were increased greatly upon the earth; and the ark went upon the face of the waters.

19 And the waters prevailed exceedingly upon the earth; and all the high hills, that were under the whole heaven, were covered.

20 Fifteen cubits upward did the waters prevail; and the mountains were covered. (It was then too late to look to the ark. Dear friends, may we never put off faith in Jesus until it is too late. It will be an awful thing to find ourselves lost in a flood of wrath, with no eye to pity and no arm to save. Yet so it must be if we neglect the great salvation.)

21 And all flesh died that moved upon the earth, both of fowl, and of cattle, and of beast, and of every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth, and every man:

22 All in whose nostrils was the breath of life, of all that was in the dry land, died.

23 And every living substance was destroyed which was upon the face of the ground, both man, and cattle, and the creeping things, and the fowl of the heaven; and they were destroyed from the earth: and Noah only remained alive, and they that were with him in the ark. (As there was no safety out of the ark, so is there no salvation out of Christ. The Lord grant that every member of this family may flee to Jesus at once, and be saved by faith in him.)

Come to the ark, come to the ark,

To Jesus come away:

The floods of wrath are bursting forth,

O haste to Christ, to-day.

Come to the ark, all, all that weep

Beneath the sense of sin:

Without, deep calleth unto deep;

But all is peace within.

Come to the ark, ere yet the flood

Your lingering steps oppose;

Come, for the door which open stood

Is now about to close.

January 7.—Evening. [Or January 14.]
“My God, in Him will I trust.”

OUR last reading showed us Noah saved from amidst a drowning world. This may well lead us to consider the special protection which the Lord grants to his own people, of which the psalmist sings so sweetly in—

Psalm 91

He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. (When through the blood of Jesus a soul is brought into sweet fellowship with God, its real dangers are all over: it is, and must be, for ever safe. Noah was secure the moment he entered the ark, and so are we so soon as we are in Christ.)

I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust.

Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence.

He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler. (What a tender picture. We, like the little birds, hide beneath the wings of God.)

Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day;

Nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday. (As from apparent dangers so from concealed evils God’s people are preserved. There are heresies which would, if it were possible, deceive even the very elect; but they shall not be deceived, for the Lord is their keeper.)

A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee.

Only with thine eyes shalt thou behold and see the reward of the wicked.

Noah saw the utter ruin of the ungodly world, and this, no doubt, led him the more devoutly to bless the grace which had rescued him from the like sin and doom.

Because thou hast made the Lord, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation;

10 There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling.

11 For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways.

12 They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone.

13 Thou shalt tread upon the lion and adder: the young lion and the dragon shalt thou trample under feet. (Those who sought our destruction shall themselves be overthrown. Their power and subtlety shall not avail them.)

14 Because he hath set his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him: I will set him on high, because he hath known my name.

15 He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honour him. (Trouble we must experience, there is no immunity from that, but prayer meets every case, and brings suitable succours under all dangers. Conquered trials honour the Lord who helps us through them, but they also put the honours of experience upon those who have been exercised by them.)

16 With long life will I satisfy him, and shew him my salvation.

The years of the righteous may be few, and yet they may live long, for men’s lives are not to be measured by the years through which they breathe, but by the good they accomplish, the favour of God which they enjoy.

Let us, as a family, thank God that our lives have been preserved from infectious diseases, from sudden death, and from fatal accidents. God’s providence is our inheritance. The throne of grace and a promise of being accepted when we approach it are among our choicest treasures. If we be indeed God’s children, angel guards are hovering over us at this hour; and we may rest assured that whatever ills may be abroad, we are safe beneath the wings of God. We ought, therefore, as Christians, to be very calm in troublous times, and show by our holy courage that we have a sure ground of confidence.

Parents, store this Psalm in your hearts, and ye children and young people treasure it in your memories; it is more precious than the much fine gold.

He that hath made his refuge God

Shall find a most secure abode,

Shall walk all day beneath his shade,

And there at night shall rest his head.

Then will I say, “My God, thy power

Shall be my fortress and my tower:

I, that am form’d of feeble dust,

Make thine almighty arm my trust.[1]

 

[1] Spurgeon, C. H. (1964). The Interpreter: Spurgeon’s Devotional Bible (pp. 13–14). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.

January 6 The Interpreter: Spurgeon’s Devotional Bible

January 6.—Morning. [Or January 11.]
“Abide in me.”

Genesis 5:21–24

OUR reading leads us to think upon that eminent saint of the antediluvian church, Enoch, the seventh from Adam.

21, 22, 23, 24 And Enoch lived sixty and five years, and begat Methuselah: And Enoch walked with God after he begat Methuselah three hundred years, and begat sons and daughters: And all the days of Enoch were three hundred sixty and five years: And Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him.

Here it is worthy of notice that the sacred writer says once that Enoch “lived;” but he changes the word and writes Enoch “walked with God;” thus teaching us that communion with God was Enoch’s life, and truly so it ought to be ours. He was not a mere talker about God, but a walker with God. This holy patriarch lived in unbroken intercourse with the Lord for three hundred years, not now and then visiting with God, but habitually walking with him. This is a point of great difficulty. To draw near to God is comparatively easy; but to remain in undivided fellowship, “this is the work, this is the labour.” Yet the Holy Spirit can enable us to accomplish even this. Continued communion is what we should aim at, and we should not be content with anything short of it.

Some excuse themselves from seeking after unbroken fellowship with God because of their calling, their circumstances, and their numerous engagements. Enoch had the cares of a family upon him, and he was also a public preacher, and yet he kept up his walk with God: no business or household cares should make us forget our God. Society with God is the safety of saints, it is their solace and delight, it is their honour and crown. More to be desired is it than gold, yea, than much fine gold. Happy was Enoch to enjoy it so sweetly, and so continuously. The long intercourse of this good man with his God ended in his being borne away from earth without death to that place where faith is lost in sight. He did not live like others, and therefore he did not die like others.

Paul tells us a little more concerning this holy man, and we will gather up the fragments of his history which remain on record, that nothing may be lost.

Hebrews 11:5, 6

5, 6 By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God. But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

Faith was the spring from which his communion was derived. Works do not make us walk with God; but faith brings us into his presence, and keeps us there. It is very likely that Enoch’s pious conversation did not please men, but that little mattered since it pleased God.

FROM Jude we learn that Enoch had an eye to the coming of Christ. The pure in heart who see God are the seers of their age, and look far ahead of others. What Enoch saw he told forth for the warning of others, and it is our duty to do the same, that sinners may be led to flee from the wrath to come.

Jude 14, 15

14 And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints,

15 To execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him.

How important is the doctrine of the advent of the Lord from heaven, since so early in the world’s history one of the holiest of prophets proclaimed it. There must surely be some very powerful influence in this truth, since the greatest teachers of it mentioned in Scripture were also among the most eminent for close fellowship with heaven. Enoch “walked with God,” Daniel was a “man greatly beloved,” and John was “that disciple whom Jesus loved.” O Lord, if the expectation of thy coming will make us walk with thee, be pleased to fill us with it.

Sun of my soul, thou Saviour dear,

It is not night if thou be near,

Oh! may no earth-born cloud arise

To hide thee from thy servant’s eyes.

Abide with me from morn till eve,

For without thee I cannot live;

Abide with me when night is nigh,

For without thee I dare not die.

January 6.—Evening. [Or January 12.]
“The end of all things is at hand.”

AT first men lived for hundreds of years, but a few generations of long-lived men sufficed to make the race very wicked; and, when the holy seed of Seth intermarried with the graceless race of Cain, the people of God degenerated, the salt lost its savour, and the whole earth became corrupt.

Genesis 6:5–22

¶ And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. (What a charge against man, and it is true of us all still.)

6, 7 And it repented the Lord that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart. And the Lord said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them.

But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord. (What a blessed but was that. In the midst of wrath the Lord remembered mercy; even as in punishing sin he remembers Christ and all those who are of his family. The distinction made was the fruit of grace. It is not said that Noah deserved preservation, but Noah found grace.)

¶ These are the generations of Noah: Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God. (In this he was a worthy descendant of Enoch.)

10 And Noah begat three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth.

11 The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence. (Those who are corrupt towards God are sure to be violent towards men.)

12, 13 And God looked upon the earth, and, behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth. And God said unto Noah, The end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth.

14 ¶ Make thee an ark of gopher wood; rooms shalt thou make in the ark, and shalt pitch it within and without with pitch.

15 And this is the fashion which thou shalt make it of: The length of the ark shall be three hundred cubits, the breadth of it fifty cubits, and the height of it thirty cubits. (In all our actions we must follow the divine rule. If our religious observances have not this inscription upon them—“Thus saith the Lord” they will profit us nothing.)

16 A window shalt thou make to the ark, and in a cubit shalt thou finish it above; and the door of the ark shalt thou set in the side thereof; with lower, second, and third stories shalt thou make it. (Noah must make the ark after God’s plan, and those who expect to be saved must receive salvation in God’s way. Not our whims but God’s word must guide us.)

17 And, behold, I, even I, do bring a flood of waters upon the earth, to destroy all flesh, wherein is the breath of life, from under heaven; and every thing that is in the earth shall die.

18, 19, 20 But with thee will I establish my covenant; and thou shalt come into the ark, thou, and thy sons, and thy wife, and thy sons’ wives with thee. And of every living thing of all flesh, two of every sort shalt thou bring into the ark, to keep them alive with thee; they shall be male and female. Of fowls after their kind, and of cattle after their kind, of every creeping thing of the earth after his kind, two of every sort shall come unto thee, to keep them alive. (As Noah was the preserver of life so is Jesus; and as he became the new head of the saved race, so our Lord is the Head of his church, which is the seed saved out of the world.)

21 And take thou unto thee of all food that is eaten, and thou shalt gather it to thee; and it shall be for food for thee, and for them.

22 Thus did Noah; according to all that God commanded him, so did he. (Noah’s faith led him to obedience. If we would be saved from the destruction which is coming upon the world, we must submit ourselves without reserve to the commands of our Lord Jesus. We shall not be saved for keeping the commands of God, but if we have true faith we shall prove it by following the Lord’s directions.)

O Lord, we praise thy sovereign grace,

Grace o’er the raging flood supreme.

How well didst thou secure the race

Thou hadst determined to redeem.

They in the ark serenely housed,

Smiled on the universal wreck.

Fierce were the waves by vengeance roused,

But mercy held them all in check.[1]

 

[1] Spurgeon, C. H. (1964). The Interpreter: Spurgeon’s Devotional Bible (pp. 11–12). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.

January 5 The Interpreter: Spurgeon’s Devotional Bible

January 5.—Morning. [Or January 9.]
“Lord, save me.”

HAVING by our last reading been taught our own connection with Adam’s fall, we will now attentively consider a passage of Scripture which shows the consequent corruption of human nature in all times and places. Let us read:

Romans 3:9–26

In this portion Paul quotes the words of several Old Testament authors, puts them all together, and presents them to us as a terrible, but truthful, description of fallen man. Of the boastful Jews the apostle asks the question—

What then? are we better than they? No, in no wise: for we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin; (As an old divine puts it, “whole evil is in man, and whole man in evil.”)

10 As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: (What the prophet said of one is here applied to the whole race, for the nature of man is in all cases the same. Note how strong are the three negatives here, how they quench all hope of finding a natural righteousness in man.)

11 There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.

12 They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.

13 Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips:

14 Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness:

15 Their feet are swift to shed blood:

16 Destruction and misery are in their ways:

17 And the way of peace have they not known:

18 There is no fear of God before their eyes.

See how in character and nature, without and within, in every faculty, in mouth, feet, heart, and eyes, the disease of sin has affected us. We may not actually have committed all the evils here mentioned, but they are all in our nature. Circumstances and education prevent our being so bad in practice as we are in heart, but as the poison is in the viper even when it stings not, so is sin always within us.

What crimson sins are these which defile us! How divinely powerful must that medicine be which can purge us from such deadly diseases.

After this indictment of human nature there follows a declaration that by the works of the law none can be saved, since all are already guilty, and the book of the law itself contains the evidence of their guilt and condemnation.

19 Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.

20 Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin. (We use the law rightly when it convinces us of sin and drives us to the Saviour, but we altogether abuse and pervert it if we look to be saved by obedience to it.)

21 But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets;

22 Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference.

There is no difference in the fact of guilt, in the impossibility of salvation by merit, and in the plain and open way of justification by faith.

23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;

24 Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:

25 Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;

26 To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.

What a precious gospel verse. May every member of this family understand it, and be a partaker in the substitution of the Lord Jesus. We are all fallen; may every one of us be justified freely by God’s grace through faith in the blood of the Lord Jesus. Let us earnestly pray to be cleansed by the atoning death of him who bore for his people all the curse of the law.

To the dear fountain of thy blood,

Incarnate God, I fly;

Here let me wash my spotted soul

From crimes of deepest dye.

A guilty, weak, and helpless worm,

On thy kind arms I fall;

Be thou my strength and righteousness,

My Jesus, and my all.

January 5.—Evening. [Or January 10.]
“Love is of God.”

Genesis 4:1–15

AND Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain, and said, I have gotten a man from the Lord. (She probably hoped that this was the Messiah. Alas! how often are parents’ hopes deceived. It was not “a man—the Lord” who had come to Eve’s bosom, but a man of sin, a child of the wicked one.)

And she again bare his brother Abel. (Her second child she called “Vanity,” and yet he was precious in the sight of the Lord. What mistakes we make about our children.) And Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground.

And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the Lord.

And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the Lord had respect unto Abel and to his offering:

But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. (Cain had no faith, and he had no eye to the blood of atonement: Abel had both. These should be main points in all our religious duties.) And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell. (Wroth not with himself as he ought to have been, but with his brother and with God.)

And the Lord said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen?

If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. (It is sin which blocks the way.)

8, 9 And Cain talked with Abel his brother: and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him. And the Lord said unto Cain, Where is Abel thy brother? And he said, I know not: Am I my brother’s keeper? (We shall either be our brother’s keeper or our brother’s murderer. If we do not labour to save others, we shall be guilty of their blood.)

10, 11, 12 And he said, What hast thou done? the voice of thy brother’s blood crieth unto me from the ground. And now art thou cursed from the earth, which hath opened her mouth to receive thy brother’s blood from thy hand; When thou tillest the ground, it shall not henceforth yield unto thee her strength; a fugitive and a vagabond shalt thou be in the earth.

13 And Cain said unto the Lord, My punishment is greater than I can bear. (He makes no confession of his sin, but only murmurs at his punishment. We know many whose minds are in a similar state. They cavil at hell, but they persevere in sin.)

14, 15 Behold, thou hast driven me out this day from the face of the earth; and from thy face shall I be hid; and I shall be a fugitive and a vagabond in the earth; and it shall come to pass, that every one that findeth me shall slay me. And the Lord said unto him, Therefore whosoever slayeth Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold. And the Lord set a mark upon Cain, lest any finding him should kill him.

This ancient record of the first murder is used by John as a picture of the action of the unregenerate in all time. Love marks the children of God, and hate is the sure ensign of the heirs of wrath. Thus writes the beloved apostle:—

1 John 3:10–15

10 In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother.

11 For this is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that we should love one another.

12 Not as Cain, who was of that wicked one, and slew his brother. And wherefore slew he him? Because his own works were evil, and his brother’s righteous.

13, 14 Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you. We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death.

15 Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him.

O for grace to purge our hearts of all anger, envy, malice, and bitterness of every kind, that like Jesus we may be full of love and gentleness.

Lord, from anger purge my heart,

Bid all enmity depart;

New-created from above,

Let my very life be love.

Quench in me each evil fire,

Envious thought or fierce desire.

Flame from heaven upon me fall!

Love of God be all in all.[1]

 

[1] Spurgeon, C. H. (1964). The Interpreter: Spurgeon’s Devotional Bible (pp. 9–10). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.

January 4 – The Interpreter: Spurgeon’s Devotional Bible

January 4.—Morning. [Or January 7.]
“The wages of sin is death.”

THE present portion of Scripture contains the sad record of the Fall, in which through our first parents we all fell.

Genesis 3:1–19

Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? (The devil often begins as if he were an enquirer.)

And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden:

But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die. (She should have been more precise. God did not say, “lest ye die,” but “ye shall surely die.” Error commences in little departures from truth.)

And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die:

For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil. (He cruelly slanders God. He hints that God was afraid that man would grow too great.)

And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat. (See the progress of sin, she listened, she saw, she took, she gave to Adam. She had been wiser if she had turned away at first.)

And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.

And they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God amongst the trees of the garden.

And the Lord God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou?

10 And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.

11 And he said, Who told thee that thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat?

12 And the man said, The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat. (He throws the blame on God for giving him a wife. Alas! what wretched ingratitude.)

13 And the Lord God said unto the woman, What is this that thou hast done? And the woman said, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat. (Sinners are ready with excuses, and yet they have never a good one. Open confession of our wrong-doing is far better.)

14 And the Lord God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life:

15 And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel. (Here a blessed promise lies like a pearl in a shell. The serpent’s curse is for us a blessing, for Jesus our Saviour is therein foretold.)

16 Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.

17 And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life. (See how obliquely the curse falls. It glances rather on the ground than on man. Wondrous is God’s mercy.)

18 Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field;

19 In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return. (Thus sin when it is finished bringeth forth death.)

Yet, mighty God, thy wondrous love

Can make our nature clean,

While Christ and grace prevail above

The tempter, death, and sin.

The second Adam shall restore

The ruins of the first,

Hosanna to the sovereign power

That new creates our dust.

January 4.—Evening. [Or January 8.]
“The Lord our righteousness.”

THE New Testament is the key to the Old. There we find an explanation of the position of Adam in reference to the race of man. He represented us all, and we all share the sad effects of his transgression. He was the door through which both sin and death entered into our world. So the apostle Paul teaches us in

Romans 5:12–21

12 Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned: (All men sinned in Adam who stood as representative for them all, and therefore all men die.)

13 For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law.

14 Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, (It is clear that there was sin in the world before the law because men died; that sin came in through the fall,) even over them that had not sinned, after the similitude of Adam’s transgression, (even infants die through Adam’s sin, though without personal guilt,) who is the figure of him that was to come. (For Jesus is the second head of the race, the second representative man. As we fell by our union with Adam, so if we are in Christ we shall rise by virtue of our union with the Lord Jesus, who is here intended by the term, “him that was to come.” But he is the Head and Leader of a believing people: the great question is, are we believers in him?)

15 But not as the offence, so also is the free gift. For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many. (Note that salvation is not the reward of merit, but a free gift; and mark how God’s grace outruns human sin. The apostle speaks of “much more,” as if he meant, more likely, more easily, more abundantly. It was God’s strange work when he condemned the race for Adam’s sin; but it is his delight to accept men far the sake of his dear Son.)

16 And not as it was by one that sinned, so is the gift: for the judgment was by one to condemnation, but the free gift is of many offences unto justification. (One sin destroyed us, but grace blots out many sins.)

17 For if by one man’s offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ. (Ruined by one man’s sin, restored by one man’s righteousness. The rise will be greater than the fall.)

18 Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.

All in Adam fell by Adam, all in Christ are restored by Christ.

19 For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.

This is the fundamental doctrine of the gospel; Jesus makes us righteous in his righteousness. We are accepted in the Beloved.

20 Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. (The law of Moses makes us conscious of sin, it probes our wounds, it brings out into action the evil which lurks in our hearts, and so by the blessing of the Holy Spirit it drives us from self-dependence, and compels us to look to the grace of God in Christ Jesus.) But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound: (The floods of grace prevail above the mountains of our sins. Almighty love paints a rainbow on the blackest clouds of human transgression.)

21 That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.

Happy are those in whom reigning grace has implanted spiritual life, for the same grace will sustain, increase, and perfect that life till it melts into glory. Are all the members of this family saved in Christ Jesus? Endeavour every one of you to answer the question. Let us not be divided, but let us together seek the Lord, and may we all meet in heaven.

We were lost, but we are found,

Dead, but now alive are we;

We were sore in bondage bound,

But our Jesus sets us free.

Strangers, and he takes us in,

Naked, he becomes our dress,

Sick, and he from stain of sin

Cleanses with his righteousness.

Therefore will we sing his praise

Who his lost ones hath restored,

Hearts and voices both shall raise

Hallelujahs to the Lord.[1]

 

[1] Spurgeon, C. H. (1964). The Interpreter: Spurgeon’s Devotional Bible (pp. 7–8). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.

January 3 – The Interpreter: Spurgeon’s Devotional Bible

January 3.—Morning. [Or January 5.]
“Jesus Christ is Lord.”

OUR last reading showed us man fresh from the hand of his Maker. It will be well to pause and consider the Lord’s goodness to our race. We cannot find a fitter assistance for our meditation than David’s joyful vintage hymn.

Psalm 8

O Lord our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth! who hast set thy glory above the heavens.

Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings hast thou ordained strength because of thine enemies, that thou mightest still the enemy and the avenger. (It is a part of the excellence and glory of God that he magnifies himself by means of insignificant creatures. Though his name is excellent in all the earth yet babes may praise it, and though his glory be above the heavens sucklings may proclaim it. It needs a great orator to win men’s admiration for a doubtful character; but so surpassingly glorious is the Lord, that even a child’s tongue suffices to baffle his foes, and charm his friends.)

When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained;

What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him? (The heavens are so vast and he so small; the moon so bright and he so mean; the stars so glorious and he so grovelling; Lord, how canst thou stoop from the sublimities of heaven to visit such a nothing as man? The study of astronomy is calculated to humble the mind as well as to enlarge it: and at the same time it excites adoring gratitude when we see the Lord lavishing his love upon creatures so insignificant as ourselves.)

For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour.

Since he is mortal and angels are immortal, man is a little lower than they; yet it is but for a little time and then man’s coronation with glory and honour shall have come. Then shall it be seen that angels are but servants to the saints, and that all creatures work for their benefit.

Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet:

All sheep and oxen, yea, and the beasts of the field;

The fowl of the air, and the fish of the sea, and whatsoever passeth through the paths of the seas. (All these creatures he either tames to his hand, or slays for his use. His fear and dread are on them all. Marred as man’s dominion is, he still walks among the inferior animals with something of that awe, which, as a poet saith, “doth hedge a king.” In Adam’s innocence man’s rule of the lower races was no doubt complete and delightful; one imagines him leaning upon a tawny lion, while a fawn frisks at the side of Eve. In the Lord Jesus, however, we see man most eminently in the place of honour, exalted in the highest. We know that the position of our Lord Jesus is a representative one for all his people, for the numbers are like the Head. In Jesus man is indeed “crowned with glory and honour.” It is both our duty and our privilege to rise superior to all the things of earth. We must take care to keep the world under our feet, and the creatures in their proper place. Let none of us permit the possession of any earthly creatures to be a snare unto us; we are to reign over them, and must not permit them to reign over us.)

O Lord our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth!

Lord, what is man, or all his race,

Who dwell so far below,

That thou shouldst visit him with grace,

And love his nature so?

That thine eternal Son should bear

To take a mortal form,

Made lower than his angels are,

To save a dying worm?

Let him be crown’d with majesty

Who bow’d his head to death;

And be his honours sounded high

By all things that have breath.

 

We raise our shouts, O God, to thee,

And send them to thy throne;

All glory to the united Three,

The undivided One.

’Twas he, and we’ll adore his name,

That form’d us by a word;

’Tis he restores our ruin’d frame:

Salvation to the Lord!

January 3.—Evening. [Or January 6.]
“Rest in the Lord.”

WE have grouped together a few of the texts which refer to the Sabbath, in order that at one reading we may have the subject before us. In the history of the creation, we have the institution of the sacred day of rest.

Genesis 2:1–3

Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them.

And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made.

And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made.

This primitive institution was confirmed at the giving of the Law upon Sinai; and is therefore surrounded by as solemn sanctions as any other precept of the Decalogue.

Exodus 20:8–11

Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.

Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work:

10 But the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates:

11 For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.

WE are not, however, to regard this law as forbidding the doing of works of piety, charity, or necessity, for our Lord Jesus has awarded us full liberty on these points. He corrected Jewish misconceptions, and taught us not to make a bondage of the day of rest.

Mark 2:23–28

23 And it came to pass, that he went through the corn fields on the sabbath day; and his disciples began, as they went, to pluck the ears of corn.

24 And the Pharisees said unto him, Behold, why do they on the sabbath day that which is not lawful?

25 And he said unto them, Have ye never read what David did, when he had need, and was an hungred, he, and they that were with him?

26 How he went into the house of God in the days of Abiathar the high priest, and did eat the shewbread, which is not lawful to eat but for the priests, and gave also to them which were with him?

27 And he said unto them, The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath:

28 Therefore the Son of man is Lord also of the sabbath.

OUR Lord performed many of his noblest cures on the Sabbath, as if to show that the day was ordained to glorify God by yielding benefit to man. If at one time more than another the healing virtue flows freely from our Lord, it is on that one day in seven which is reserved for holy uses, and is called “the Lord’s Day.” In the passage which we are about to read he shows how suitable it is that a holy day should be crowned with holy deeds of mercy and love.

Luke 14:1–5

And it came to pass, as he went into the house of one of the chief Pharisees to eat bread on the sabbath day, that they watched him.

And, behold, there was a certain man before him which had the dropsy.

And Jesus answering spake unto the lawyers and Pharisees, saying, Is it lawful to heal on the sabbath day?

And they held their peace. And he took him, and healed him, and let him go;

And answered them, saying, Which of you shall have an ass or an ox fallen into a pit, and will not straightway pull him out on the sabbath day?

O day of rest and gladness,

O day of joy and light,

O balm of care and sadness,

Most beautiful, most bright!

Thou art a cooling fountain

In life’s dry, dreary sand;

From thee, like Pisgah’s mountain,

We view our promised land.

May we, new graces gaining

From this our day of rest,

Attain the rest remaining

To spirits of the blest;

And there our voice upraising

To Father and to Son,

And Holy Ghost, be praising

Ever the Three in One.[1]

 

[1] Spurgeon, C. H. (1964). The Interpreter: Spurgeon’s Devotional Bible (pp. 5–6). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.

January 2 The Interpreter: Spurgeon’s Devotional Bible

January 2.—Morning. [Or January 3.]
“Praise ye the Lord.”

Genesis 1:14–23

AND God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years: and let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth: and it was so. (There was light before the appearance of sun or moon; but God made these the bearers thereof, that they might declare his glory. He could have done without them, but he did not please so to do. He could enlighten men’s minds without his ministers or his church; but, if he chooses to use them as lights in the world, let us be thankful for them, and pray for them.)

16 And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also.

Thus a chaos of light was reduced to order. Order is a law of God. Families are unhappy without it.

17 And God set them in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth,

18 And to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness: and God saw that it was good.

The delightful alternation of the day so suitable for labour, and the night so proper for rest, is certainly “good” for us in many ways, and we ought to adore the goodness of God therein.

19 And the evening and the morning were the fourth day.

20 And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven.

Thus the Lord’s work of creation advanced to higher stages each day, and we shall find it so in grace; he will yet reveal choicer mercies to us.

21, 22 And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good. And God blessed them, saying, Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let fowl multiply in the earth.

23 And the evening and the morning were the fifth day. (The inconceivable numbers of fish and fowl in the earth show how potent was this primeval blessing. Let but the Lord bless his church in the same manner, and her converts shall be as the stars of heaven for multitude. Such wonders of creation ought not to be rehearsed without a song of praise: let us therefore turn to—

Psalm 148

Praise ye the Lord. Praise ye the Lord from the heavens: praise him in the heights.

Praise ye him, all his angels: praise ye him, all his hosts.

Praise ye him, sun and moon; praise him, all ye stars of light.

Praise him, ye heavens of heavens, and ye waters that be above the heavens.

Let them praise the name of the Lord: for he commanded, and they were created.

He hath also stablished them for ever and ever: he hath made a decree which shall not pass.

Praise the Lord from the earth, ye dragons, and all deeps:

Fire, and hail; snow, and vapours; stormy wind fulfilling his word:

Mountains, and all hills; fruitful trees, and all cedars:

10 Beasts, and all cattle; creeping things, and flying fowl:

11 Kings of the earth, and all people; princes, and all judges of the earth:

12 Both young men, and maidens; old men, and children:

13 Let them praise the name of the Lord: for his name alone is excellent; his glory is above the earth and heaven.

14 He also exalteth the horn of his people, the praise of all his saints; even of the children of Israel, a people near unto him. Praise ye the Lord. (All this day let us praise God with our hearts, words, and actions; for he has dealt very kindly with us as a family. Blessed be his name.)

Praise him, ye gladdening smiles of mom;

Praise him, O silent night;

Tell forth his glory all the earth;

Praise him, ye stars of light!

Praise him, ye stormy winds, that rise

Obedient to his word;

Mountains, and hills, and fruitful trees,

Join ye and praise the Lord!

Praise him, ye heavenly hosts, for ye

With purer lips, can sing—

Glory and honour, praise and power

To him, the Eternal King!

January 2.—Evening. [Or January 4.]
“Thy Maker is thine husband.”

Genesis 1:26–31

THE Lord first prepared the world for man, and then placed him in it. He fitted up the house before he made the tenant. This is an instance of his thoughtful care for our race.

26 ¶ And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.

Note the words, “Let us make.” The three divine persons hold a council; let us learn to adore Father, Son, and Spirit, as the One God. Man was the highest work of the six days’ creation, and was not fashioned without special consideration. He was made to be lord of the world; and if now the beasts rebel against him, it is only because he also has rebelled against his God.

27 So God created man in his own image; in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.

29 ¶ And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it’ shall be for meat. (Before he sinned man did not kill animals, but lived on fruits; every meal of flesh should remind us of our fall.)

31 And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.

Genesis 2:7–25

AND the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.

¶ And the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed.

And out of the ground made the Lord God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil.

10 And a river went out of Eden to water the garden; and from thence it was parted, and became into four heads.

Thus there was abundance of food and drink, and a pleasant variety of prospect: the garden was a paradise of comfort. “No herb, no flower, no tree was wanting there that might be of ornament or use; whether for sight, or for scent, or for taste. The bounty of God wrought further than to necessity, it provided for comfort and recreation.”

15 And the Lord God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it. (Some occupation is necessary to happiness. Lazy people would not enjoy even Eden itself. A perfect man is a working man.)

16 And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat:

17 But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.

This was an easy yoke. Only one tree out of thousands was denied him as a test of his obedience. The Lord’s commandments are not grievous.

18 ¶ And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.

Before Adam knew that he wanted a companion, his tender Creator knew it, and resolved to find him one. Thus with gracious foresight does the Lord supply our needs.

21 And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof;

22 And the rib, which the Lord God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man.

23 And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.

We ought dearly to love mother, and wife, and sister, and aunt. These dear friends greatly minister to our happiness; and boys and young men should always treat them with tender respect.

24 Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.

25 And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.

We ought never to be proud of our clothes, for our weakness makes us need them; and they prove that we are sinful, since until we are covered we are ashamed to be seen. May Jesus cover us with his glorious righteousness.[1]

 

[1] Spurgeon, C. H. (1964). The Interpreter: Spurgeon’s Devotional Bible (pp. 3–4). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.