All posts by Herman

Amos 8:11, 12

“Behold, the days come, saith the Lord GOD, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD: and they shall wander from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east, they shall run to and fro to seek the word of the LORD, and shall not find it.”

Famine is a lack of necessary things. When we think of famine, we usually think of a lack of food or drink, as this verse suggests. But God here promises a famine of His Word. What a loss that would be, far more significant than the loss of food or drink.

In Deuteronomy 8:1-3, Moses told the Israelites, “All the commandments which I command thee this day shall ye observe to do, that ye may live, and multiply, and go in and possess the land which the LORD sware unto your fathers. And thou shalt remember all the way which the LORD thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee, and to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep his commandments, or no. And he humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know; that he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the LORD doth man live.”

The LORD’s intention was to teach the Israelites that they were entirely dependent on Him. His commandments were their life. As Moses told Israel, all of mankind lives not only by bread, but by the Word of God. As Israel wandered in the desert, God provided them with the bread that they ate and the water they drank, by which they lived physically. He guided them in the way they travelled. And, He gave them His law, by which they would live spiritually, if they were obedient to it.

In Matthew 6:25-33 Jesus said, “Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature? And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: and yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”

As God’s children we should be entirely dependent upon Him and His provision, just like Israel was. And, praise His name, He knows what we need, just as He knew what the Israelites needed. He made us, after all. But from God’s perspective, our biggest need is to firstly seek Him and His ways. He will add to us the things that we need.

Notice what the LORD further said in Amos. They would wander over the whole country trying to find God’s word, and they would not find it. They would seek His Word, to no avail. The context reveals that this judgment would be because Israel had taken up with idolatry, turning their back on the One True God. A judgment like above would be awful indeed. Imagine desiring, wanting, aching to hear from God, and hearing nothing. Imagine searching far and wide to hear from Him, and He has sent a famine of hearing Him. What recourse could there possibly be?

Praise the LORD that we have His written Word. His Word is that by which we must and can live. He knows our physical needs, and meets them. He also knows our spiritual needs, and He tells us to listen to His Word. As Job put it in Job 23:8-10, “Behold, I go forward, but he is not there; and backward, but I cannot perceive him: on the left hand, where he doth work, but I cannot behold him: he hideth himself on the right hand, that I cannot see him:…” Were God to hide Himself, we would be done. His Word is that important. Job goes on to say, “…but he knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold.”

How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord,
Is laid for your faith in His excellent Word!
What more can He say than to you He hath said,
You, who unto Jesus for refuge have fled?

Fear not, I am with thee, O be not dismayed,
For I am thy God and will still give thee aid;
I’ll strengthen and help thee, and cause thee to stand
Upheld by My righteous, omnipotent hand.

When through the deep waters I call thee to go,
The rivers of woe shall not thee overflow;
For I will be with thee, thy troubles to bless,
And sanctify to thee thy deepest distress.

The soul that on Jesus has leaned for repose,
I will not, I will not desert to its foes;
That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,
I’ll never, no never, no never forsake. (John Rippon)

Luke 5:8

“When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord.”

Sooner or later we come to a point where we see how weak or small we are. The evidences are myriad and can range from breathtaking natural vistas, such as the Grand Canyon in the US, the Outback of Australia, or the Alps of Europe to an immense invention of man, such as the Empire State Building, the Eifel Tower, or the Petronas Twin Towers.

As recorded by Luke, Peter was one day confronted with the awesome power of God. The touch of the LORD came to the place in Peter’s life where he felt he was strongest: his profession of fishing. He and his fellow fishermen, including James and John, had just spent the night working. The night proved to be fruitless. In the morning, they put away their tools and cleaned the nets. Perhaps the next night would be better.

Jesus selected Peter’s boat as the place from which He taught the crowd about the things of God. After teaching, He told Peter to let down his nets for a draught. Peter replied, perhaps reluctantly, that he would let down a net. Regardless of his half-hearted obedience, the LORD Jesus provided a catch of fish that was so large that the net broke, and two ships were filled almost to sinking.

This is where the above verse comes in. When he saw the size of the catch, Peter was astonished. And his response was to fall down at Jesus’ knees. And, he requested that Jesus depart from him. The reason for his reaction and request was Peter realized that he was a sinful man, and not worthy to be in the presence of Jesus. At that moment Peter realized how small, weak and sinful he was.

Isaiah, too, had an encounter with God. In Isaiah 6:1-5 we read, “In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple. Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly. And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory. And the posts of the door moved at the voice of him that cried, and the house was filled with smoke. Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.” His reaction was similar to Peter’s. He realized his sinfulness, and declared himself to be undone.

And John saw the LORD, as recorded in Revelation 1:12-17. “And I turned to see the voice that spake with me. And being turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks; and in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle. His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire; and his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and his voice as the sound of many waters. And he had in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth went a sharp twoedged sword: and his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength. And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not…” John fell at His feet as dead. He, too, realized his smallness, weakness, and sinfulness before Almighty God. And, Jesus told him not to fear!

On these occasions John, Isaiah, and Peter were overwhelmed by the vision of God they were given. Thankfully for Peter, Jesus didn’t depart. He rather told Peter, “… Fear not; from henceforth thou shalt catch men.” (Luke 5:10). The rest of the New Testament speaks often of Peter and what he did for the Lord. He even wrote two of the books in the New Testament. In fact, in each case the Lord gave them something to do for Him. Isaiah brought a message to Israel, recorded in the book with his name. And John reported the details of the end of the age.

When we are confronted with our smallness, weakness, and sinfulness the LORD tells us to not fear. And in it we should look to Him for what He would have us to do for Him. Like Isaiah said after his vision, “Here am I; send me.”

Jesus! what a Friend for sinners!
Jesus! Lover of my soul;
Friends may fail me, foes assail me,
He, my Savior, makes me whole.

Refrain

Hallelujah! what a Savior!
Hallelujah! what a friend!
Saving, helping, keeping, loving,
He is with me to the end.

Jesus! what a strength in weakness!
Let me hide myself in Him.
Tempted, tried, and sometimes failing,
He, my strength, my victory wins.

Refrain

Jesus! what a help in sorrow!
While the billows over me roll,
Even when my heart is breaking,
He, my comfort, helps my soul.

Refrain

Jesus! what a guide and keeper!
While the tempest still is high,
Storms about me, night overtakes me,
He, my pilot, hears my cry.

Refrain

Jesus! I do now receive Him,
More than all in Him I find.
He hath granted me forgiveness,
I am His, and He is mine.

Refrain (J. Wilbur Chapman)

Song of Solomon 5:16

“His mouth is most sweet: yea, he is altogether lovely. This is my beloved, and this is my friend, O daughters of Jerusalem.”

Song of Solomon is one of the more mysterious books in the Bible. Some wonder why it is even in the Bible. But God in His wisdom has included it, so there is surely much that can be learned from it. One theme is married love. Parts of the book relate conversation between the husband and wife, while other parts are things they said about each other. She called him her beloved. Every time the word “beloved” is used in this book, the woman is speaking of her husband.

The Bible teaches that the church is the bride of Christ. In his teaching about marriage in Ephesians 5:32, Paul said, “This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.” The marriage relationship is a picture of the relationship between Christ and the church. So, the verse above provides things that the church, the bride, should say about her husband, who is Christ.

First, she said that his mouth is most sweet. That is to say, the things that come out of His mouth are sweet. For His bride, the Husband has nothing but kind and sweet words. He is not against her in what He says, but for her. And, His mouth is full of praise for His bride. This is how the Lord Jesus Christ speaks about His bride. As the bride perceived that her husband’s mouth is sweet, so the church can say the same about Jesus. He has paid the price of His life to win her. His love for her is unending. Not only are His words sweet towards her, they are sweet, or good, for her. Quoting from Deuteronomy 8:3, Jesus said in Luke 4:4, “…It is written, That man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.” His mouth is sweet and kind, and what He says is good for us. It is life to us.

The bride said that her Husband is altogether lovely. It could also be translated that she saw him as all delights. What a wonderful view she had of her husband. How much she adored him and loved him. Song of Solomon reveals her devotion to him, even searching for him in the city in which they lived. So it should be with the church for her Husband. His unparalleled sacrifice for the church puts Him at the pinnacle of loveliness. His love and care in that one event is glorious. He also promises to never leave us nor forsake us. The great occupation of the church ought to be in seeking out her Husband, desiring to be with Him at all times. He never leaves us, but our hearts often stray to other attractions. He is the only thing that really is altogether lovely.

In the verse above, the bride said that her beloved is her friend. In John 15:14, 15 Jesus said, “Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you. Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you.” As Proverbs 18:24 says, “…there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.” Again, Proverbs 17:17 says, “A friend loveth at all times…” And, Jesus said in John 15:13, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” As the song goes, Jesus is the friend of sinners. And what greater friend could anyone have?

Consider what it is Jesus has done for His people. Philippians 2:6-11 tells us, “Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: but made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” God has and will again exalt the Lord Jesus Christ, above all.

Isn’t the LORD Jesus Christ altogether lovely? Is His mouth sweet to us? Are we His friend?

Altogether lovely,
He is altogether lovely,
And the fairest of ten thousand,
This wonderful Friend divine;
He gave Himself to save me,
Now He lives in heav’n to keep me,
He is altogether lovely,
Is this wonderful Savior of mine. (Wendell P. Loveless)

Isaiah 8:11-13

“For the LORD spake thus to me with a strong hand, and instructed me that I should not walk in the way of this people, saying, Say ye not, A confederacy, to all them to whom this people shall say, A confederacy; neither fear ye their fear, nor be afraid. Sanctify the LORD of hosts himself; and let him be your fear, and let him be your dread.”

A few verses before this the LORD had promised that He would send the king of Assyria against Judah. Much had happened politically. The nation of Israel had been taken away by the Assyrians or would soon be. The people in Judah saw what was going on.

Now, the LORD spoke directly to Isaiah. God commanded him to not see things the way the people saw them. Herd mentality had overtaken the people in Judah, and they concluded, “a confederacy.” This word could be translated alliance, or conspiracy. The people in Judah saw everything going against them. The nations around them had fallen. Nations came from far away and carried away nations. Perhaps they had a sense that they were next.

The LORD told Isaiah that He was going to bring their enemies to Jerusalem. But God had a different perspective. Isaiah was told to not follow the people: he was not to say, “a confederacy”, as they did. He was told not to fear like the people feared. Isaiah was to see God in the events of life, no matter the political clouds. Verse 13 of this passage was the focus that Isaiah was to have: “Sanctify the LORD of hosts himself; and let him be your fear, and let him be your dread.”

To sanctify the LORD is to hold Him up, to hallow Him in our thinking, to purify Him in our heart. That is, to think nothing but the best of Him. When fearful events come upon us, we think to blame God, if not out loud, at least in our hearts. We rightly understand Him to be Almighty, and we also rightly understand that all matters are under His control. With these two proper concepts of God in mind, we jump to the wrong conclusion that difficulties should not happen to us. When they do, we wonder if either we have done something terribly wrong, or if God missed something. This is when and where sanctifying Him should happen.

An equally important aspect of God’s character is that He is good. No matter our situation, if we must remind ourselves every second of God’s goodness, we must do it. In Nahum 1:7 we read, “The LORD is good, a strong hold in the day of trouble: and He knoweth them that trust in Him.” Jesus told the rich young ruler, “Why callest thou me good? None is good, save one, that is, God.” (Luke 18:19). After Job endured great losses, losing all of his wealth and children in one day, in Job 1:20-22 we read, “Then Job arose, and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down upon the ground, and worshipped, and said, Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD. In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly.” Job sanctified the LORD in his heart. Though he was in great sorrow, he did not blame God for his losses. It would have been foolish to do so.

Isaiah was told by God that he should “…let Him be your fear, and let Him be your dread.” In the turmoil of his time, Isaiah was told by God to hold to Him. He was to trust God no matter what were the events, no matter what his eyes could see, no matter what the people were saying. God was in control, and He is Almighty.

The fear of God is the beginning of knowledge (Proverbs 1:7) and the beginning of wisdom (Proverbs 9:10). In Psalm 46:1-3 the author states, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof.” In other words, the author would trust God, he would not fear, though the world around him collapsed. “…let Him be your fear, and let Him be your dread.”

Everyone that belongs to the LORD must sanctify the LORD. In Matthew 6:34, Jesus said, “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.”

The world is filled with fear over health and divisions. But we are not to think like the world, neither are we to talk like them. Believers on the LORD Jesus Christ are to let God be their fear, and let Him be our dread. When Jerusalem fell, Jeremiah said, in Lamentations 3:57, “Thou drewest near in the day that I called upon thee: thou saidst, Fear not.”

How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord,
Is laid for your faith in His excellent Word!
What more can He say than to you He hath said,
You, who unto Jesus for refuge have fled?

Fear not, I am with thee, O be not dismayed,
For I am thy God and will still give thee aid;
I’ll strengthen and help thee, and cause thee to stand
Upheld by My righteous, omnipotent hand.

When through the deep waters I call thee to go,
The rivers of woe shall not thee overflow;
For I will be with thee, thy troubles to bless,
And sanctify to thee thy deepest distress.

The soul that on Jesus has leaned for repose,
I will not, I will not desert to its foes;
That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,
I’ll never, no never, no never forsake. (John Rippon)

Matthew 6:31, 32

“Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.”

In this portion, part of what is known as the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus was teaching His disciples, and those that overheard. Consider His words; “take no thought” means “don’t be anxious”. Jesus told them that there are things about which we should not be anxious. He told them to not worry about food, drink, or clothing; things about which we worry most! It seems unreasonable to not be anxious about them because we are in need of them. Without any one of these we would not survive.

But the One that was talking was the One Who created mankind. He knows what we need. He made us that way. Moses, Elijah, and Jesus Himself all went for 40 days without food or water. The Israelites wandered 40 years in the desert, and their clothes did not wear out. And they received water out of a rock at least twice. God is also well able to provide.

Just prior to saying this, Jesus told them, “Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature? And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: and yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?” (Matthew 6:26-30).

This puts a further perspective on the matter. Lesser things such as fowls and lilies receive blessing, feeding, and clothing from God. If He provides for them, how could we conclude that He doesn’t care about us? He feeds the birds, He clothes the lilies, which last only a day. How much better are we than they?  Shall He not much more clothe us?

The most important concept in the verses above is that our heavenly Father knows that we need all of these things. Again, He made us, and He made us to need the things we need. Our needs are intended by Him to be an opportunity to learn to trust Him more, even with the littlest things, even with our needs.

Similarly, in Matthew 6:7, 8 we read, “But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.” The ending thought is the same as above.

But these verses touch on the matter of prayer. Some think that if they pray long enough and hard enough about a matter of concern, then God will answer. The unknown is how much is enough. The heathen think that long, even mindless, praying turns God’s ear. Quantity is the key, they think. In some cultures, wheels are set up that, when they are spinning, are supposedly sending prayers heavenward on behalf of the person that has started them spinning. All vain repetition. God promises us that He hears our praying. The often-asked question, “Does God answer prayer?” can be answered with a resounding, “Yes!”

Often, that question is asked out of disappointment over what seems to be a lack of an answer. A situation hasn’t changed, or a need has not been met. We are not to be like the heathen, who think that our much speaking impresses God. Faith, or trust in Him, is what pleases Him. The answer we await to our praying could be no, or it could be wait, or it could be yes. If we are trusting Him, then we conclude that He knows better. His timing, His will, His purposes are important. No matter the answer, or lack of answer, the bottom line is, He knows what we need before we ask!

Here is how we learn to trust Him. What do we need? Clothes? He knows. Water? He knows. Food? He knows. Money? He knows. Friendship? He knows. Health? He knows. ___________? He knows. We certainly should pray about these things; we should persist in our praying, for scripture tells us to. But it is not our much speaking that makes any difference. Our requests come to a Caring Person Who knows what we need before we ask.

Why should I feel discouraged,
Why should the shadows come,
Why should my heart be lonely,
And long for Heav’n and home,
When Jesus is my portion?
My constant friend is He:
His eye is on the sparrow,
And I know He watches me;
His eye is on the sparrow,
And I know He watches me.

Refrain

I sing because I’m happy,
I sing because I’m free,
For His eye is on the sparrow,
And I know He watches me.

Let not your heart be troubled,
His tender word I hear,
And resting on His goodness,
I lose my doubts and fears;
Though by the path He leadeth,
But one step I may see;
His eye is on the sparrow,
And I know He watches me;
His eye is on the sparrow,
And I know He watches me.

Refrain

Whenever I am tempted,
Whenever clouds arise,
When songs give place to sighing,
When hope within me dies,
I draw the closer to Him,
From care He sets me free;
His eye is on the sparrow,
And I know He watches me;
His eye is on the sparrow,
And I know He watches me.

Refrain (Civilla D. Martin)

John 12:43

“For they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.”

Context wise, this verse comes at the end of a description of certain leaders at Jesus’ time. John 12:42 says, “Nevertheless among the chief rulers also many believed on Him; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue…” We would hope that such a thing would not be said of us. Many scriptures speak about the folly of seeking glory from men, and fearing men.

But the interesting part of this verse is the idea of the praise of God. Note that it is set in opposition to the praise of men. They are mutually exclusive. Desire for the praise of men puts us in the position of missing the praise of God. It also reveals short-sightedness, because the praise of men is temporal, while the praise of God is eternal.

There are some persons in the Bible who have received praise of God. One example is Abraham. James 2:23 states, “And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God.” In his prayer recorded in 2 Chronicles 20:7 King Jehoshaphat asked, “Art not thou our God, who didst drive out the inhabitants of this land before thy people Israel, and gavest it to the seed of Abraham thy friend for ever?” Imagine hearing that said! Imagine being called the friend of God! That is praise of God.

Or David. Speaking of him, Paul said in Acts 13:22, “And when he had removed him (Saul), he raised up unto them David to be their king; to whom also he gave testimony, and said, I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after mine own heart, which shall fulfil all my will.” In 1 Samuel 13:14, the LORD told Samuel to tell King Saul, “But now thy kingdom shall not continue: the LORD hath sought him a man after his own heart, and the LORD hath commanded him to be captain over his people, because thou hast not kept that which the LORD commanded thee.” In 1 Samuel 16, David was anointed to be the next king of Israel. Here is another thing we could wish God might say about us, that we are someone after His heart.

A parable that Jesus spoke, recorded in Matthew 25:14-30 suggests another instance of the praise of God. A master going to a far country called his servants and gave them his goods for their care. The master later returned and called his servants to see how they had done. From the master’s response, it is apparent that his expectation was that they would handle his goods as he would handle them. In both Matthew 25:21 and 23 we read, “His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.”

Imagine being told “Well done” by the Maker of the Universe. This is especially surprising when we take clear-minded stock of our lives and find what Romans 3:23 tells us is true of us, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God…”. All, of course, means all. Not only that, but every day we fall short of His ways in some fashion. Ours is not a case of occasional sin, but of continual falling short. And, if we are honest, we must admit that there are even times, perhaps daily, when we would rather do what we want, instead of what we know God wants. With this in mind, can we ever imagine hearing God say, “Well done” to us?

But He sees our heart. And everything that we do for Him, He sees. It is also by His enabling that we are able do anything for Him. He supplies His power as we do His work. And then, He is so gracious, and humble, that when He sees us doing His work, He says, “Well done.” And one day, when we see Him, He will say to us, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.” It is no wonder that the Bible tells us that we will cast our crowns at His feet, for He is deserving of all glory, not us.

The world refuses to believe Jesus. They will endure God’s wrath; they will not receive praise of God. Believers in the LORD Jesus Christ will see Him forever, and give Him the glory He deserves. In this life, let us turn away from the praise of men, and seek to honor God.

Some day the silver cord will break,
And I no more as now shall sing;
But oh, the joy when I shall wake
Within the palace of the King!

Refrain

And I shall see Him face to face,
And tell the story—Saved by grace;
And I shall see Him face to face,
And tell the story—Saved by grace.

Some day my earthly house will fall.
I cannot tell how soon ’twill be;
But this I know—my All in All
Has now a place in Heav’n for me.

Refrain

Some day, when fades the golden sun
Beneath the rosy tinted west,
My blessèd Lord will say, Well done!
And I shall enter into rest.

Refrain

Some day: till then I’ll watch and wait,
My lamp all trimmed and burning bright,
That when my Savior opens the gate,
My soul to Him may take its flight.

Refrain (Fanny Crosby)

JOB 34:10

“Therefore hearken unto me, ye men of understanding: far be it from God, that he should do wickedness; and from the Almighty, that he should commit iniquity.”

Job’s three friends had gathered to comfort him after his great losses, described in Job 1 and 2. He had lost all of his material wealth, his children, and his health. After all of this, his wife told him to curse God and die.

Job’s initial reaction to his trial is recorded in Job 1:20-22. “… Job arose, and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down upon the ground, and worshipped, and said, Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD. In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly.” To accuse God of sin or iniquity because of events of life is to charge Him foolishly. God cannot commit iniquity. Job did not charge God foolishly.

The greater part of the book of Job records what Job and his friends said as they sought to find answers to Job’s situation. Ultimately, they arrived at no conclusion about why these things had happened. The reason he suffered these great losses is revealed in the first two chapters of the book. But neither Job nor his friends knew anything about that. Neither is there any indication regarding what God’s intentions were.

Then Elihu spoke. The verse above is part of what he said: “Far be it from God that He should do wickedness.” He was saying that God certainly was not playing some awful trick on Job. God is God and God is good. He would never do anything wicked. Throughout the history of mankind, many have falsely accused God of wickedness, charging God foolishly. Every event that takes lives or is of a great magnitude, not under man’s control, is cited as evidence that God is not in control. Because of these things, some have concluded that God has done wickedness. But that is false. And that is Elihu’s point. Far be it from God that He should do wickedness.

Elihu also said, “Far be it that the Almighty should commit iniquity.” God’s laws are not for us only, but they are for Him. He will never violate His own laws, He cannot violate His own laws, neither does He even think about doing so. We are capable of iniquity and sin and we continually violate God’s laws. When someone does something that we don’t like, we conclude that they are committing iniquity; acting out of a sinful nature. Saying that God has violated His laws is to charge Him foolishly. God cannot do that. Far be it that He should commit iniquity. For example, He commands us to not bear false witness. It is certain that He will never lie. Scripture tells us it is impossible for God to lie (Hebrews 6:18).

At the end of the book, Job’s three friends were rebuked by God for their observations about Himself. “And it was so, that after the LORD had spoken these words unto Job, the LORD said to Eliphaz the Temanite, My wrath is kindled against thee, and against thy two friends: for ye have not spoken of me the thing that is right, as my servant Job hath.” (Job 42:7) Job and Elihu were not rebuked by God. The verse above, and the whole of what Elihu said about God, shows a clear understanding of His character. He told the truth about God, unlike the other three. To summarize, Elihu said, “Listen to me, men of understanding, God is Almighty, glorious, all knowing, merciful, gracious, kind, and good, neither does He do wickedness, nor commit iniquity.”

May we never charge Him foolishly.

God is good! I will not fear
The trials that await me here;
His promises are true and sure;
His Word forever must endure.

Refrain

O blessèd hope, O joy indeed,
His mercy covers all my need!
God is good! His love to me
Is broad and boundless as the sea.

God is good! His hand supplies;
I cannot need what He denies.
I’ll trust His love from day to day,
And follow where He leads the way.

Refrain

God is good! He will not fail,
Tho’ Satan’s fiery darts assail;
I trust His grace from hour to hour,
And do not fear the tempter’s power.

Refrain (Charles H. Gabriel)

Jeremiah 32:27

“Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh: is there any thing too hard for me?”

As recorded in Jeremiah 32, King Zedekiah asked Jeremiah why he was prophesying that Jerusalem would be destroyed. So, Jeremiah related to him what the LORD had said and done. Context-wise this verse comes when God had told Jeremiah to purchase a plot of land, to which he had right of redemption. The LORD told him to make it a public transaction, in the gate of the city. And, He told Jeremiah to take steps to preserve the documentation of the sale.

At the same time, Nebuchadnezzar and his army surrounded the city. Jerusalem was under siege. In about three years the city would be taken and destroyed. This was in keeping with the prophecies that the LORD had given to Jeremiah for the people of Jerusalem and King Zedekiah. Just prior to the verse above Jeremiah asked the LORD, “Behold the mounts, they are come unto the city to take it; and the city is given into the hand of the Chaldeans, … and what thou hast spoken is come to pass; and, behold, thou seest it. And thou hast said unto me, O Lord GOD, Buy thee the field for money, and take witnesses; for the city is given into the hand of the Chaldeans.” (Jeremiah 32:24, 25) Jeremiah wondered about God’s command.

It seemed foolhardy to buy land and document and secure the purchase when the city and the land were soon to be given to invaders, according to God’s Word. Why would He give this direction to Jeremiah?

Through Jeremiah’s answer to Zedekiah’s question, the LORD wanted Zedekiah to know that He is God, and that He would turn events according to His will. In Daniel 4:25 the same Nebuchadnezzar told about learning that God sets over every kingdom leaders of His choosing. For now, because of the idolatry of the people of Jerusalem, they would be under the rule of Nebuchadnezzar. This was God’s will because of Israel’s sin against Him.

It is recorded three times in the book of Jeremiah that the LORD promised that captivity would last seventy years (Jeremiah 25:11, 12, and 29:10). In Jeremiah 29:10 we read, “For thus saith the LORD, That after seventy years be accomplished at Babylon I will visit you, and perform my good word toward you, in causing you to return to this place.” Not only would the end of their captivity come, but God promises a return to their land, and His blessing in it. We read in Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.” His presence and blessing were promised.

In Daniel 9:1, 2, Daniel wrote, “In the first year of Darius the son of Ahasuerus, of the seed of the Medes, which was made king over the realm of the Chaldeans; in the first year of his reign I Daniel understood by books the number of the years, whereof the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah the prophet, that he would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem.” He realized that the seventy years had finished, and he began praying to the LORD to do what He had promised.

In the verse above, Jeremiah was graciously told that God can do anything, “…is any thing too hard for me?” May it never be! Nothing is outside of His might. It didn’t matter what Nebuchadnezzar was doing. God promised that the time would come that the land of Israel would be restored, and the Israelites would again own land. Jeremiah was given foreknowledge against the day when they would be back. He would be the first one with real estate, even though he endured the siege with the rest of the residents of the city.

As we look at our immediate circumstances, we may conclude that there is no way through. It may look as if God cannot, or will not, do anything about them. Will things ever get back to how they should be? Do we hear a strange request from Him? Do we think He is leading in an incredible direction? Our part is to obey God’s Word, no matter how it may seem in our circumstances.

Though it was a promise to Israel, Jeremiah 29:11 can be taken by the church, because God is unchanging, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.” He is good for His word, He can be trusted. Remember God’s word to Jeremiah, “Behold, I am the LORD,… is there any thing too hard for me?”

Nothing is too hard for Jesus,

He the roughest road hath trod;

He can aid us in our trials,

Safely bring us home to God.

 

Refrain

 

Nothing is too hard for Jesus,

Tell the news all around;

Quickly spread the joyful message,

Wheresoever man is found.

 

Nothing is too hard for Jesus;

Tempted one and sorely tried,

Satan hath no power to conquer,

If in Christ thou dost abide.

 

Refrain

 

Nothing is too hard for Jesus;

Friend, the Savior speaks to thee,

I will give thee life supernal,

Lasting as eternity.

Refrain (Charles W. McCrossan)

Matthew 20:15

“Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own? Is thine eye evil, because I am good?”

In His parable, Jesus told of a house holder who went to the marketplace to hire workers to labor in his vineyard. He said that the kingdom of heaven is like this.

The house holder went to the market in the morning, then at the third hour, at the sixth hour, at the ninth hour, and at the eleventh hour, and hired workers. With the first group, hired at his first visit to the marketplace, he agreed on a wage; a penny, which at that time was a sustenance wage. The others were told they would receive what was right.

When the time came to be paid, at the house holder’s direction, the ones that were hired last were paid first, and those who were hired first were paid last. And, everyone was paid a penny. Seeing that the last hires were paid a penny, those that were hired first thought that they would receive more, because they had done the most work, and had born the heat of the day. But, when they received the wage they had agreed to, they were upset. The verse above is part of the conversation the house holder had with one of those workers.

The first question he asked emphasized his position. What he had was his to manage at his own will. Nobody else had control over or claim on his things. This is as it should be. He and the first group of workers had agreed to a specific amount. To the rest, he promised he would pay what was right. There are many things he could have done, such as prorate their pay based on the time they worked. But He chose to pay them all the same.

That was appropriate because all of the workers had what they needed to get through the day. Had he not paid all of the workers a penny, some would have not been able to meet their daily family obligations. Anything less would have been to the workers’ detriment. What the house holder did was kind, and right.

When it comes to salvation, it is not what an individual has done or endured that matters. It depends solely on the generosity of the House Holder. He is free to do as He pleases with what is His, including who may come into His presence. Blessings are gained from His hand only in accordance with His will and ways. He is very generous, good, and kind. But just like any house holder, there are things that simply cannot be brought into His home. For example, speaking of the LORD, Habakkuk 1:13 states, “Thou art of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity…”. Speaking of mankind as a whole, Romans 3:23 says, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God…” Nothing of sin will be allowed into His eternal presence, and we all fall far short of His glory.

The second question summarizes the parable; “Is thine eye evil, because I am good?” The first-hired workers concluded that the house holder was being unkind to them. They worked the whole day while others worked only one hour. Yet he paid them all the same amount. So, they grumbled at him. They were not thankful for what he did give them, which was according to the agreement that they had made in the first place. Rather, they accused him and thought evil of him because he was being generous.

This exposes the human heart, as does the first question. In mankind, there is an expectation that God will just hand out whatever we demand of Him. We think that our view of matters is correct, and our solutions are right. And if He doesn’t deliver, then He is not worthy of our attention, much less our affection. We accuse Him of being ungenerous, unkind, and uncaring.

God does want to have fellowship with mankind. But, in order for that to happen the problem of the sin of mankind must be addressed. As noted above, there is nothing we can do to solve that problem. But, God took matters into His own hands, solving the problem through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. In our place Jesus took God’s wrath, which we deserve, for our sin. And through His sacrifice, mankind has a legal way to gain eternal blessings from the House Holder. How much more generous does He need to be? Are we angry with Him because of His generosity? May it never be!

Great God of wonders! all Thy ways
Display Thine attributes divine;
But the bright glories of thy grace
Above Thine other wonders shine:

CHORUS
Who is a pardoning God like Thee?
Or who has grace so rich and free?
Who is a pardoning God like Thee?
Or who has grace so rich and free?

Such deep transgressions to forgive!
Such guilty sinners thus to spare!
This is Thy grand prerogative,
And in this honor none shall share:
CHORUS

Pardon, from an offended God!
Pardon, for sins of deepest dye!
Pardon, bestowed through Jesus? blood!
Pardon, that brings the rebel nigh!
CHORUS (Samuel Davies)

Genesis 6:5, 6

“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. And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart.”

These verses include a word regarding the LORD that may strike us as odd. According to them, God saw the wickedness of men, and He repented that He had made man on the earth! We might wonder, God repented? As we see it, repentance is turning away; to go the opposite direction; to change the mind. Is this what God is saying in these verses? Not only in this verse, but in the Old Testament, the word repent, or related, is used 45 times. In all but eight, the context shows that it is the LORD that is repenting, or is being asked to repent. Did He decide that He made a mistake when He made men on the earth? Can an omniscient God make mistakes? Can He change His mind?

The Hebrew word translated “repented” can be translated “sigh”. All parents can think of instances when they gave direction to their children. Then, in childishness or rebellion, they went a different way, and ended up in trouble. When that happens, every parent can only shake their head and sigh. They are disappointed. They see how the child’s actions brought about their trial, and they know they told them differently. Parents may even be put in a position where there is nothing they can do to help their children. The children are forced to deal with the consequences themselves. And parents sigh. They know that if the children had listened, their situation would be much different.

When the LORD saw the direction that His creatures had taken, and the results of their actions, He repented; that is, He sighed, and was grieved. It didn’t surprise Him. He had given them rules. But they refused to listen. Their situation was of their own making. He was not surprised because He is omniscient, knowing all.

But God must also be true to His character. To ignore their transgressions would have violated God’s own laws. And, it would not have been good for the people. It was because of God’s justice and the people’s sin, that the flood fell on creation. Their behavior put men and women at odds with God. There is no telling how awful things would have gotten if mankind had not been stopped. But it surely would have gotten worse. So, in that sense, God was being merciful.

There are only two realms in which mankind lives: physical and spiritual. Scriptures teach that the physical is temporary and the spiritual is eternal. After living in the physical, every human being goes into the spiritual realm for eternity. Via the flood, every one of those people were ushered into the spiritual realm. They were stopped in their rebellion against God’s commands, and stood before the Lord. Then they were judged for their behavior. Death was not their judgment. According to Hebrews 9:27, after death comes judgment, “… it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment…”.

We are also told that the behavior of people grieved God’s heart. Again, He wasn’t surprised. He wasn’t wondering about what Plan “B” would be. Because they want nothing but the best for them, parents are grieved at the behavior of their wayward children. So was God grieved at His wayward creatures. A parent’s desire is to see their children succeed and do well. So is God’s heart for His creatures. The behavior of those people before the flood was against God; only evil continually, as the verse above notes.

The word that is translated “repent” in Genesis 6:6 can also be translated console or comfort. For example, after the first child that was born to David and Bathsheba died, scriptures tell us that David comforted his wife, and in time Solomon was born. (2 Samuel 12:24). In the physical sense, it is impossible to see comfort in the events that brought about the flood, or in the flood itself. But spiritually, God had a plan from before He created all things. By His plan, He would reconcile mankind to Himself. That plan involved Him coming to earth as a man and enduring God’s wrath against mankind’s sin in their place. In that way, God’s justice would be satisfied, and mankind would have a way to spend eternity in His presence. Jesus came to earth for that very reason. The Father sees in Him the comfort of a way to reconcile mankind to Himself. “This is my beloved Son in Whom I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:17)

Though He sighed and was grieved, God was not taken aback. He had devised a plan by which mankind would be able to spend eternity with Him, and He with them. As dark as the flood was in the history of mankind, and in spite of the wicked wandering hearts that are in the breasts of mankind to this very day, so bright is God’s plan of salvation. “Their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more.” (Hebrews 8:12)

Not all the blood of beasts
On Jewish altars slain,
Could give the guilty conscience peace
Or wash away the stain.

But Christ the heav’nly Lamb,
Takes all our sins away;
A sacrifice of nobler name,
And richer blood than they.

My faith would lay her hand
On that dear head of Thine;
While like a penitent I stand,
And there confess my sin.

My soul looks back to see
The burdens Thou didst bear,
When hanging on the cursèd tree,
And hopes her guilt was there.

Believing, we rejoice
To see the curse remove;
We bless the Lamb with cheerful voice,
And sing His bleeding love. (Isaac Watts)