All posts by Herman

Mark 6:48

“And he saw them toiling in rowing; for the wind was contrary unto them: and about the fourth watch of the night he cometh unto them, walking upon the sea, and would have passed by them.”

This is one of six instances in the book of Mark where people were afraid at Jesus’ presence. Each one was a revelation of Jesus’ might, and of Who He is.

The first is in Mark 4 at which time the Lord Jesus calmed the sea. Jesus and His disciples were on a boat, He was asleep in the stern. A storm arose that frightened even the fishermen. They woke Jesus, and He rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, “Peace, be still.” Mark 4:41 reveals that His followers feared exceedingly and said to one another, What manner of man is this that even the wind and the sea obey Him? This showed His power over nature.

The next is in Mark 5:15 where we read, “And they come to Jesus, and see him that was possessed with the devil, and had the legion, sitting, and clothed, and in his right mind: and they were afraid.” Jesus healed a man who was possessed by two thousand demons. The beginning of the story tells that the man was uncontrolled, and uncontrollable. The people tried to chain him, but with no success. He was always crying aloud and cutting himself with stones. But, Jesus healed him. This showed His power over the supernatural.

Then there was the woman with the issue of blood. Mark says that she had this health problem for twelve years. And, she consulted physicians, and had spent all she had, and grew worse. Upon touching Jesus’ clothing, she was healed. In Mark 5:33 we read, “But the woman fearing and trembling, knowing what was done in her, came and fell down before him, and told him all the truth.” She told the whole story in the hearing of the crowd. This showed His power over physical ailments.

What brought Jesus down the road that day is shown in Mark 5:22 and 23. Jairus came to Him to appeal for the health of his twelve-year-old daughter, who was at the point of death. As soon as the woman was healed, people came from Jairus’ home and reported that his daughter had died. Why, they said, trouble the Master any further? Jesus told Jairus, “Be not afraid, only believe.” (Mark 5:36) It is certain that upon hearing this news Jairus’ first response would have been to fear. Though she had died, Jesus raised the girl from the dead. He showed His power over death.

In the verse above, Jesus walked on the water. Again, the disciples were on a boat on the sea, but this time Jesus was not with them. He was on a mountain praying. Having finished His time with His Father, Jesus walked to them on the sea. In the account we are told that they cried out, supposing they saw a spirit (Mark 6:49). Verse 50 tells us, “For they all saw him, and were troubled. And immediately he talked with them, and saith unto them, Be of good cheer: it is I; be not afraid.” This He showed His power over physical laws.

God’s power over physical laws is seen elsewhere in scripture. In Joshua 10:12, 13 we read, “Then spake Joshua to the LORD in the day when the LORD delivered up the Amorites before the children of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel, Sun, stand thou still upon Gibeon; and thou, Moon, in the valley of Ajalon. And the sun stood still, and the moon stayed, until the people had avenged themselves upon their enemies. Is not this written in the book of Jasher? So the sun stood still in the midst of heaven, and hasted not to go down about a whole day.”

In Mark 9:6 Peter, James and John saw Jesus transfigured. Moses and Elijah, we are told, appeared and spoke with Jesus. Peter offered to build three tabernacles, one for Jesus, one for Elijah, and one for Moses, for, Peter didn’t know what to say, because they were sore afraid. Then a voice from heaven declared, “This is my beloved Son: hear Him.” In his telling of this story, Matthew revealed in Matthew 17:7 that after the voice, “… Jesus came and touched them, and said, Arise, and be not afraid.” The apostles feared because they were in God’s presence! Jesus revealed to them His Divine Self; His power as God Himself.

In these six events Jesus showed His might over nature, the spiritual realm, physical ailments, death, physical laws, and ultimately, His authority as Almighty God. In each case, upon seeing His might, people feared. For believers, all of this might works on their behalf. Of what should we be afraid? Romans 8:28-30 says, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified. What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?”

A mind at perfect peace with God,
Oh! what a word is this!
A sinner reconciled through blood;
This, this indeed is peace!

By nature and by practice far,
How very far from God!
Yet now by grace brought nigh to Him,
Through faith in Jesus’ blood.

So near, so very near to God,
I cannot nearer be;
Yet in the person of His Son
I am as near as He.

So dear, so very dear to God,
More dear I cannot be;
The love where with He loves the Son:
Such is His love to me!

Why should I ever careful be,
Since such a God is mine?
He watches o’er me night and day,
And tells me Mine is thine. (Horatius Bonar)

The Valley of Achor

The valley of Achor is mentioned three particular times in scripture. The first time involved a man named Achan who was in the army of Israel that attacked Jericho. In spite of the clear directions that the LORD had given to the contrary, Achan took some of the spoils of Jericho. The next battle was against Ai. Israel lost, and thirty-six men lost their lives. That battle was lost because of Achan’s disobedience of the LORD’s command.

With God’s help, Achan was found out. Joshua 7:20, 21 records Achan’s admission, “And Achan answered Joshua, and said, Indeed I have sinned against the LORD God of Israel, and thus and thus have I done: when I saw among the spoils a goodly Babylonish garment, and two hundred shekels of silver, and a wedge of gold of fifty shekels weight, then I coveted them, and took them; and, behold, they are hid in the earth in the midst of my tent, and the silver under it.” God’s command was that they were not to touch the spoils of Jericho.

In Joshua 7:24 we read, “And Joshua, and all Israel with him, took Achan the son of Zerah, and the silver, and the garment, and the wedge of gold, and his sons, and his daughters, and his oxen, and his asses, and his sheep, and his tent, and all that he had: and they brought them unto the valley of Achor.” The account continues in verse 26, “And they raised over him a great heap of stones unto this day. So the LORD turned from the fierceness of his anger. Wherefore the name of that place was called, The valley of Achor, unto this day.”

So, the valley of Achor was a place of judgment in the days of Joshua. Achan’s disobedience resulted in the death of himself and his family, and all of his animals. He lost everything. Somewhere there is a pile of stones that stands as a monument to Achan’s sin, and God’s judgment upon it.

In Hosea 2 the LORD referred to Israel as His wife. He also told of His great provision for her. He then told of how Israel had turned her back on Him Who had blessed so greatly. He spoke of Israel committing adultery against Him. In scripture, adultery is a picture of idolatry; it is spiritual adultery. He then told that He would judge them for their idolatry. But, in Hosea 2:7 God told what would be the result of His judgment, “… then shall she say, I will go and return to my first husband; for then was it better for me than now.” His judgment would bring repentance.

Then God spoke of restoring Israel to Himself. Hosea 2:14, 15 says, “Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak comfortably unto her. And I will give her her vineyards from thence, and the valley of Achor for a door of hope: and she shall sing there, as in the days of her youth, and as in the day when she came up out of the land of Egypt.” Notice God’s kindness and tenderness toward His people!

Here, the valley of Achor is called a door of hope. The judgment Israel endured, as described in Hosea 2, was because of their idolatry. They turned their back to God, Who had faithfully removed them from Egypt and brought them to the land He had promised to give to them. God’s promise was that He would allure her and speak comfortably to her and the valley of Achor would be a place of hope.

Then, in Isaiah 65:6, 7, we read, “Behold, it is written before me: I will not keep silence, but will recompense, even recompense into their bosom, your iniquities, and the iniquities of your fathers together, saith the LORD, which have burned incense upon the mountains, and blasphemed me upon the hills: therefore will I measure their former work into their bosom.” This is a description of idolatry. While Israel was guilty, so is everyone who worships something other than the LORD. The first of the ten commandments is, “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” (Exodus 20:3) God’s feelings about idolatry are clear not only in this verse, but in many, many others. This was the essence of Achan’s sin against the LORD, too, not to mention the problem that God revealed in Hosea 2.

But, in Isaiah 65:9 we read, “And I will bring forth a seed out of Jacob, and out of Judah an inheritor of my mountains: and mine elect shall inherit it, and my servants shall dwell there.” In spite of the idolatry of which they were guilty, God promised a blessing, even an inheritance from Him. These were people that sought Him, instead of idols. Jeremiah 29:13 says, “And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.”

This is a turn from idolatry to the Living God and His ways. Further, Isaiah 65:10 tells us, “And Sharon shall be a fold of flocks, and the valley of Achor a place for the herds to lie down in, for my people that have sought me.” The LORD called the valley of Achor a place for herds to lie down in. Animals do not lie down, they do not rest, where they do not feel safe. So, the place of judgment described in the book of Joshua is now a place of rest; a place of safety.

What a picture of the cross of the LORD Jesus Christ! Like the valley of Achor, the cross stands as a monument to mankind’s sin, and God’s judgment against it which fell on the LORD Jesus Christ. That place of judgment, where the Bearer of it had nothing for which to be judged, now stands as a door of hope to anyone that enters. That place of judgment now stands as a place of eternal rest and safety for everyone that comes to Him. Any other place is a place of idolatry and rejection of God. Once the judgment was complete, and God’s justice satisfied, the place of judgment was transformed into a place of hope, rest, and safety.

Beneath the cross of Jesus
I fain would take my stand,
The shadow of a mighty rock
Within a weary land;
A home within the wilderness,
A rest upon the way,
From the burning of the noontide heat,
And the burden of the day.

O safe and happy shelter,
O refuge tried and sweet,
O trysting place where Heaven’s love
And Heaven’s justice meet!
As to the holy patriarch
That wondrous dream was giv’n,
So seems my Savior’s cross to me,
A ladder up to Heav’n.

Upon that cross of Jesus
Mine eye at times can see
The very dying form of One
Who suffered there for me;
And from my stricken heart with tears
Two wonders I confess;
The wonders of redeeming love
And my unworthiness.

I take, O cross, thy shadow
For my abiding place;
I ask no other sunshine
Than the sunshine of His face;
Content to let the world go by,
To know no gain or loss,
My sinful self my only shame,
My glory all the cross. (Elizabeth C. Clephane)

2 Samuel 19:30

2 Samuel 19:30

“And Mephibosheth said unto the king, Yea, let him take all, forasmuch as my lord the king is come again in peace unto his own house.”

Mephibosheth was the son of Jonathan, who was the son of Saul, who was king before David. His father and grandfather were killed in battle. As the family fled the palace, Mephibosheth was dropped by his nurse. So, he was lame on his feet. David had promised Jonathan that he would take care of Jonathan when he became king. But Jonathan died, so David kept his promise with Mephibosheth. Mephibosheth was always at David’s table. David also gave to Mephibosheth the lands and servants of his grandfather, Saul, including a man named Ziba and his sons. Ziba and his family were told by David to take care of the lands of Mephibosheth. So, Mephibosheth was blessed by David.

Through a series of events, David was forced to leave Jerusalem. His son, Absalom, turned the hearts of the people away from David. As David left, Ziba arrived with mules to ride and food. 2 Samuel 16:3 relates, “…the king said, And where is thy master’s son? And Ziba said unto the king, Behold, he abideth at Jerusalem: for he said, To day shall the house of Israel restore me the kingdom of my father.” He told David that Mephibosheth had stayed in Jerusalem in hopes of gaining the kingdom. Because of Ziba’s seeming loyalty to David, and Mephibosheth’s apparent lack of loyalty, David gave everything to Ziba. In 2 Samuel 16:4 we read, “Then said the king to Ziba, Behold, thine are all that pertained unto Mephibosheth. And Ziba said, I humbly beseech thee that I may find grace in thy sight, my lord, O king.”

In time, David returned to Jerusalem. Upon his return he was met by Mephibosheth. In 2 Samuel 19:24-28 we read, “And Mephibosheth the son of Saul came down to meet the king, and had neither dressed his feet, nor trimmed his beard, nor washed his clothes, from the day the king departed until the day he came again in peace. And it came to pass, when he was come to Jerusalem to meet the king, that the king said unto him, Wherefore wentest not thou with me, Mephibosheth? And he answered, My lord, O king, my servant deceived me: for thy servant said, I will saddle me an ass, that I may ride thereon, and go to the king; because thy servant is lame. And he hath slandered thy servant unto my lord the king; but my lord the king is as an angel of God: do therefore what is good in thine eyes.” Mephibosheth made it clear where he saw himself before King David. He threw himself on David’s mercy. He had intended to go with David out of Jerusalem. But Ziba left him behind, and lied to David about Mephibosheth’s intentions. As noted before, because of the untruths that Ziba had told, David had given to him and his sons the things that he had given to Mephibosheth.

Upon hearing what Mephibosheth said, David said, in 2 Samuel 19:29, “…Why speakest thou any more of thy matters? I have said, Thou and Ziba divide the land.” Realizing how things were, and seeing Mephibosheth’s real mind regarding the kingdom, David offered to divide Saul’s goods and servants between the two men.

Verse 30, above, is Mephibosheth’s response. His only desire was that David be restored to his kingdom. All the while that David was gone, Mephibosheth neglected his personal hygiene, awaiting David’s return. Even the offer of material gain didn’t affect him. He said let Ziba have it all. He only wanted David back on the throne.

One day, Jesus will return to reign on earth. In Daniel 7:14 Daniel was told, “…there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.” In John 14:2, 3, Jesus told His disciples, “In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” In Revelation 22:20, John wrote, “He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.” John’s desire, the desire of all believers, parallels that of Mephibosheth: that Jesus will return to His kingdom, and reign on earth.

Lift up your heads, pilgrims aweary,
See day’s approach now crimson the sky;
Night shadows flee, and your Belovèd,
Awaited with longing, at last draweth nigh.

Refrain

He is coming again, He is coming again,
The very same Jesus, rejected of men;
He is coming again, He is coming again,
With power and great glory, He is coming again!

Dark was the night, sin warred against us;
Heavy the load of sorrow we bore;
But now we see signs of His coming;
Our hearts glow within us, joy’s cup runneth o’er!

Refrain

O blessèd hope! O blissful promise!
Filling our hearts with rapture divine;
O day of days! Hail Thy appearing!
Thy transcendent glory forever shall shine.

Refrain

Even so, come, precious Lord Jesus;
Creation waits redemption to see;
Caught up in clouds, soon we shall meet Thee;
O blessèd assurance, forever with Thee!

Refrain (Mabel Johnston Camp)

Joshua 2:10, 11

“For we have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red sea for you, when ye came out of Egypt; and what ye did unto the two kings of the Amorites, that were on the other side Jordan, Sihon and Og, whom ye utterly destroyed. And as soon as we had heard these things, our hearts did melt, neither did there remain any more courage in any man, because of you: for the LORD your God, he is God in heaven above, and in earth beneath.”

At God’s direction, Joshua was about to lead the Israelites over Jordan. He sent two spies to Jericho. They ended up at the home of Rahab, the harlot. The king of Jericho heard that the spies were there, and sent men to take them. Rahab told them that while the spies had been there, they had left the city just before the gate was closed. But she had hid the spies on the roof of her house, with the flax that she had set out for drying. The words above were part of her conversation with the spies. After this she appealed to the spies for the safety of herself and her family.

She told the spies that the people in Jericho had heard about what God had done for Israel. She mentioned two events: God drying up the Red Sea, and the defeat of Og and Bashan who were kings of the lands on the east side of the Jordan. One could understand their having heard of this event, for these kings were their neighbors, only just over the river. And, the victories over them by Israel had happened within a few weeks prior to the spies coming to Jericho. But the drying up of the Red Sea had happened at least forty years before the spies arrived. And it was hundreds of miles away in Egypt.

The effect of what they had heard was reported by Rahab; “As soon as we heard it our hearts did melt…” We can relate to events that cause us to fear. But do forty-year-old events still have an impact? The attack on the World Trade Center has not yet been forty years ago. Does that still melt our hearts? The people of Jericho were moved by the might which God displayed when He dried up the Red Sea. To them it was unmistakable evidence of God’s hand upon Israel. There was no doubt that He had dried up the Red Sea. And He was keeping it fresh in their minds. Then the more recent event, across the river from Jericho, took place. Just as God worked on Israel’s behalf at the Red Sea, so He took up the battle against these two powerful kings. The land they were inhabiting was part of the land that God had promised to give Israel.

So, these two events added up to, “our hearts did melt…”, as Rahab said. She then said the thing that perhaps cheered the spies the most, “…neither did there remain any more courage in any man, because of you…” Imagine an army finding out that they were not going to face a fight!

Rahab’s last statement was the most revealing about where her heart was, “…for the LORD your God, he is God in heaven above, and in earth beneath.” She knew that Israel was special because she realized that Israel’s God is special. He was, and is, not like the idols of Jericho, or any other place. He was, and is, the true God. He is God of heaven above and earth beneath. Rahab realized that she needed to throw herself on the mercy of the God who the spies served, and the nation they represented, in order to survive the coming siege. In the next few verses, she appealed for the safety of her house and her family. Later, we are told that she and her family were safely taken out of the city as the attack happened. The spies were assigned to bring them out.

There were some Gentiles mentioned in the Old Testament that were blessed by God’s mercy. Though they were not part of Israel they were blessed by God for their faith in Him. Their stories are given, and stand as a testimony to God’s great grace, and mercy. They realized that they needed the God of heaven above and earth beneath. They saw that He was their only hope. Ruth was one, and Rahab was another. And, both of them are mentioned in the genealogy of Jesus, as recorded in Matthew 1:5.

Rahab’s faith in God is what proved to be her salvation. As the Word says, “Without faith it is impossible to please Him.” (Hebrews 11:6). And, as Peter told his readers in 1 Peter 5:6, 7, “Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.”

I know not why God’s wondrous grace
To me He hath made known,
Nor why, unworthy, Christ in love
Redeemed me for His own.

Refrain

But I know whom I have believèd,
And am persuaded that He is able
To keep that which I’ve committed
Unto Him against that day.

I know not how this saving faith
To me He did impart,
Nor how believing in His Word
Wrought peace within my heart.

Refrain

I know not how the Spirit moves,
Convincing us of sin,
Revealing Jesus through the Word,
Creating faith in Him.

Refrain

I know not what of good or ill
May be reserved for me,
Of weary ways or golden days,
Before His face I see.

Refrain

I know not when my Lord may come,
At night or noonday fair,
Nor if I walk the vale with Him,
Or meet Him in the air.

Refrain (Daniel W. Whittle)

Mark 15:37, 38

“And Jesus cried with a loud voice, and gave up the ghost. And the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom.”

John 19:30 reveals Jesus’ cry: “It is finished!” Then He died of His own volition. And as Mark tells above, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom.

The veil in the temple was likely modeled after the veil of the tabernacle, which was a curtain of many layers of heavy, thick material. It was made according to God’s direction, as spelled out in Exodus 26. God told Moses that everything was to be made according to the pattern that he had seen in the mount. The veil was hung at the entrance to the Holy of Holies, the place of God’s presence. When the tabernacle was replaced with the temple, a veil was included. The temple that Solomon built had one, and so did the temple at Jesus’ time. The builders of those temples knew that a veil was needed, because the Holy of Holies was the place of God’s presence among them.

Going into God’s presence was not something that just anyone could do. According to God’s direction, only the high priest was allowed to enter through the veil. Neither could it be at any time. He was only allowed to go in once a year. God told Moses, in Exodus 33:20, that no man can see Him and live. The veil and the rules concerning entry, prevented incidental or uncaring entry into God’s presence. What a great mercy on God’s part! He made it impossible for that to happen to anyone, and gave the high priest rules by which he could safely enter His presence.

Upon Jesus’ death, that veil was torn. It was torn from the top. God did it! Jesus’ death opened the way into God’s presence.

In the book of Hebrews, it is revealed that the tabernacle was a pattern or model of things in heaven; God’s throne room. That includes the veil. In Hebrews 10:19-22 we read, “Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; and having an high priest over the house of God; let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.” The writer of the book of Hebrews speaks of a veil through which entry into God’s presence is still to be made. With Jesus’ death, the pattern of heavenly things no longer had a veil. But, the heavenly things themselves still have a veil. Hebrews 10:20 states that the veil is the Lord Jesus Christ.

Consider these two veils. The veil of the tabernacle was made at God’s direction. But it was made by the hands of men, who are defiled by sin. God’s direction about how to make the veil could not remove that stain. That was the veil that was torn by God when Jesus died. That was the veil before the pattern of God’s throne room.

The veil that is Christ’s flesh is the true veil of the true tabernacle. That veil was torn by man, but was placed by God. Revelation 13:8 calls Jesus the Lamb that was slain before the foundation of the world. His place as veil at the entrance of the throne room of God was His place in eternity past, before creation, and continues to be His place.

There are still ones that can enter, and ones that cannot. For some, Jesus is a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense, as 1 Peter 2:8 puts it. They refuse to believe in Him. They refuse to believe that they need Him. And as Jesus put it in John 15:23, “He that hateth me hateth my Father also.” For these ones Jesus is a veil that prevents entry into God’s presence. For them there is no going in and going out. Until they see Jesus as their Savior, their way to God is blocked.

Others have taken Jesus as their Savior. They have believed in Him and on Him. For them, the veil is a place of entry into God’s presence. Those that are allowed to enter can do so boldly, as Hebrews 10 says. Like the high priest that entered once a year with the blood of sacrifice, so now entry is by Jesus’ blood. Unlike the priest, there is for them continual access to God’s presence.

The veil of the tabernacle and temple prevented access to God. That veil was torn by God. The veil on the throne room of the King of the Universe is the Lord Jesus Christ. Through Him whosoever will come to Him has free and bold access to God. Without Him there is still no access, there is no hope.

Through Thy precious body broken
Inside the veil;
O what words to sinners spoken
Inside the veil!
Precious as the blood that bought us,
Perfect as the love that sought us,
Holy as the Lamb that brought us
Inside the veil!

When we see Thy love unshaken
Outside the camp;
Scorned by man, by God forsaken,
Outside the camp;
Thy loved cross alone can charm us,
Shame need now no more alarm us,
Glad we follow, naught can harm us
Outside the camp.

Lamb of God, through Thee we enter
Inside the veil;
Cleansed by Thee, we boldly venture
Inside the veil;
Not a stain; a new creation;
Ours is such a full salvation;
Low we bow in adoration
Inside the veil.

Unto Thee, the homeless stranger
Outside the camp,
Forth we hasten, fear no danger
Outside the camp.
Thy reproach, far richer treasure
Than all Egypt’s boasted pleasure;
Drawn by love that knows no measure,
Outside the camp.

Soon Thy saints shall all be gathered
Inside the veil;
All at home, no more be scattered,
Inside the veil.
Naught from Thee our hearts shall sever;
We shall see Thee, grieve Thee never;
Praise the Lamb! shall sound for ever
Inside the veil! (Elizabeth Dark)

Matthew 21:21

“Jesus answered and said unto them, Verily I say unto you, If ye have faith, and doubt not, ye shall not only do this which is done to the fig tree, but also if ye shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; it shall be done.”

In the verses just before this, Matthew reported that Jesus went to a fig tree looking for fruit on it. Finding none, He cursed the tree, and it dried up from its roots. Matthew said that His disciples marveled at how the tree dried up so soon. The verses above were Jesus’ response. In his telling of the same story, Mark added the detail, in Mark 11:22, that Jesus told His disciples to, “…Have faith in God.”

It is important to think about Who cursed the tree and how He lived His life. Concerning Jesus, Paul wrote in Philippians 2:6-8, “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.”

Paul said that Jesus is God, and that He came in the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men. He did this intentionally. Paul also wrote that Jesus was obedient unto death. Obedience requires someone to be obeyed. Jesus was obedient to His Father. As Hebrews 5:8 puts it, “…Though He were a Son, yet learned He obedience by the things which he suffered…” Jesus is God, but He became a man and endured even death in obedience to His Father’s will.

Proof is seen in the garden of Gethsemane. Mark 14:35, 36 says, “And (Jesus) went forward a little, and fell on the ground, and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him. And he said, Abba, Father, all things are possible unto thee; take away this cup from me: nevertheless not what I will, but what thou wilt.” Then, as He was being taken by the crowd, Jesus said that He could ask His Father for more than twelve legions of angels, and He would send them. But Jesus set His will aside and chose what His Father wanted. He knew what lie before Him, and sweat, as it were, great drops of blood. His agonies in the garden were met by His choice to do His Father’s will.

Would it diminish Jesus to think that He only did that which His Father willed, in complete faith in His Father? Could it be that His Father directed in every matter, and Jesus did not take one step without His Father’s direction? Do we see the Father’s hand leading Jesus to that fig tree? Being God, Jesus knew that it was barren. But, didn’t His Father direct? On that day would we have heard Jesus say, not My will, but Thine be done?

The reason the Father sent Jesus to that fig tree is seen in what followed. It provided Jesus an opportunity to teach His disciples. Jesus told them that the thing that He had done they would also be able to do. Not only that, but He told them that they could command a mountain to be moved into the sea, and it would obey them. This must have added to their marvel. It was amazing enough to think that they could cause a tree to shrivel. In Matthew 17:20 Jesus said, “…If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.” Believers may wonder if they have even that much faith. Has there ever been a case of a moving mountain? But even Jesus Himself didn’t do that. He certainly had enough faith. He didn’t move a mountain because His Father did not will it. Any ability to do anything is given by the One in Whom is our faith. God Almighty is certainly well able to cast a mountain into the sea. God’s purpose in all miracles is to bring glory to Himself.

Jesus’ teaching about shriveling trees and moving mountains must be understood in the light of His life of dependance on His Father. Before Philippians 2:6-8, discussed above, Paul wrote in verse 5, “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus…” He told the Philippians that Jesus emptied Himself, and told them to do the same; “You think the way He did.” Romans 8:29 says, “For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.” Believers are being conformed to the image of Jesus. One way in which we are being conformed is in learning to live life depending on God, just as Jesus did. When we do, we do what He tells us. If He asks us to move a mountain, it will happen because of His might, not because of the measure of our faith. And doing so will glorify God, not us.

Psalm 46:1-3 reveals a day when mountains will be cast into the sea, “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.” This reminds of the coming day of judgment upon the earth. God is well able to move mountains. To His glory will these things happen. And we will have no reason to fear. We are to obey Him, and trust Him, and leave the rest to Him, just as Jesus did.

Simply trusting every day,
Trusting through a stormy way;
Even when my faith is small,
Trusting Jesus, that is all.

Refrain

Trusting as the moments fly,
Trusting as the days go by;
Trusting Him whate’er befall,
Trusting Jesus, that is all.

Brightly does His Spirit shine
Into this poor heart of mine;
While He leads I cannot fall;
Trusting Jesus, that is all.

Refrain

Singing if my way is clear,
Praying if the path be drear;
If in danger for Him call;
Trusting Jesus, that is all.

Refrain

Trusting Him while life shall last,
Trusting Him till earth be past;
Till within the jasper wall,
Trusting Jesus, that is all.

Refrain (Edgar P. Stites)

Revelation 21:3,4

“And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.”

The vision given to John in the verses above comes near the end of the book of Revelation. It reveals in part what will be the eternal state for mankind. John said in Revelation 21:1, “And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea.” Many more wonderful things are revealed in Revelation 21 and 22.

We are told that John heard a great voice from heaven that said that the tabernacle of God is with men, and He shall dwell with them. This is how God Himself has wanted it to be since the creation. In Genesis 3:8 we read that God was walking in the garden in the cool of the day. Up until their disobedience, Adam and Eve enjoyed God’s presence and Person. After they sinned, in Genesis 3:9 we read of God seeking them and calling for them. He knew full well where they were and what they had done. He wanted to be with them. But they hid themselves.

In Exodus 25:8,9 the LORD told Moses, “…let them make me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them. According to all that I shew thee, after the pattern of the tabernacle, and the pattern of all the instruments thereof, even so shall ye make it.” One purpose for the tabernacle was that God could dwell among the Israelites. Other scriptures tell us that God wanted the tabernacle to be set up in the midst of the camp. All of the Israelites were camped around it in a pattern that God commanded. He told Moses that He wanted everything made just like He had shown him when he was on the mountain. The things that the LORD told Moses to make were a pattern of His own presence. The tabernacle was a model of His throne room. And where He wanted the model to be placed was in their midst.

The great voice out of heaven also said that they shall be His people and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. His desire to dwell among them had a further aspect to it: He would be with them and He would be their God. In the verse above, those among whom the Lord would dwell are called His people. He promises this closer relationship with them; to be their God. Ever since the disobedience of Adam and Eve mankind has been God’s enemy. Romans 5:8-10 tells us, “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.”

History is full of the sins of mankind, and the Bible does not spare the details. To this day mankind in general continues to rebel against His rule. But He is not our enemy. He wants to dwell with us and be our God, and that is astounding. We would desire to avoid our enemies. In Leviticus 26:11, 12, God told Israel, “And I will set my tabernacle among you: and my soul shall not abhor you. And I will walk among you, and will be your God, and ye shall be my people.” He wants to be our God and one day He will be exactly that to His people.

Then, the great voice out of heaven said that “God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.” All of these things characterize this life. We know all about tears and sorrow and death and crying and pain. But the day will come when they will all be done away by God Himself. There will be a new heaven and a new earth. God shall wipe the tears from our eyes. Sorrow will be ended. Pain will be no more. Death will be swallowed up in victory! As the verse above says, those things will all be passed away; they will be past. What a comforting thought! The One against Whom we have sinned will one day dwell among us, will be our God, and will be our Comforter.

When God is seen with men to dwell,
And all creation makes anew,
What tongues can half the wonders tell,
What eye the dazzling glories view?

Celestial streams shall gently flow,
The wilderness shall joyful be;
On parchèd ground shall lilies grow
And gladness spring on every tree;

The weak be strong, the fearful bold,
The deaf shall hear, the dumb shall sing,
The lame shall walk, the blind behold,
And joy through all the earth shall ring. (Hosea Ballou)

Micah 6:6-8

“Wherewith shall I come before the LORD, and bow myself before the high God? shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves of a year old? Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams, or with ten thousands of rivers of oil? shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?”

In the first five verses of Micah 6, the LORD challenged the Israelites about their situation. In verses 6 and 7 Micah wondered about how he could come before the LORD, and bow before Him? What would he bring? He mentioned his transgression and sin which stood between him and God. This is the point of Micah’s question. Would the sacrifice of his firstborn remedy that? How could he approach God? We have the same problem. Our own transgressions and sins stand between us and God.

Micah pondered the extremes of what he might do. “Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams, or with ten thousands of rivers of oil? shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?” What an expense this would have been to Micah, beyond what he was able to spend. Thousands of rams? Ten thousand rivers of oil? His own child? By which of these would he be able to gain access to the LORD? In asking is revealed the answer. All of that would not be enough. It would not gain him access to God.

In verse 8 the LORD said, “He has shewed thee, O man, what is good.” God had revealed to Micah the answer to his question, just as He has revealed to us what He wants us to know about Himself. If He chose not to reveal Himself, we would be without hope. Hebrews 1:1,2 tells us, “God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds…” The revelation of God had been through His prophets. But now He is revealed through His firstborn son, Jesus, Who was given for our transgression and sin. God told Israel, Micah, and us what He wants us to know.

“…and what does the LORD require of thee but…” to do justly. God is just, and to do justly is to act like Him. In John 8 the religious leaders brought a woman to Jesus who had been caught in adultery. The leaders said that the law said she should be stoned. But what the law said is that both should be stoned. The leaders did not represent the law rightly. Jesus stooped and wrote on the ground. He then arose and said that he that was without sin should be the first to cast a stone at her. We read in verses 9-11, “And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst. When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee? She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.” He did justly because both partners were condemned under the law, not one over the other.

“…and what does the LORD require of thee but…” to love mercy. Quoting from Jeremiah 33:8, the writer of Hebrews told his readers in Hebrews 8:12 that God says, “For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more.” This is how He shows mercy. He doesn’t short circuit justice. But His justice was satisfied by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Now He is able to be merciful. We can be hurt or offended by others, and we are inclined to hold this against them. But, in Matthew 18 Peter asked Jesus how many times he should forgive. In verses 21 and 22 we read, “Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.” God doesn’t expect more of us than He does of Himself. He loves mercy.

“…and what does the LORD require of thee but…” to walk humbly with thy God. Many scriptures speak of the value of humility. Philippians 2:7,8 says of Jesus, “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.” Micah expressed humility in Micah 7:9, “I will bear the indignation of the LORD, because I have sinned against him, until he plead my cause, and execute judgment for me: he will bring me forth to the light, and I shall behold his righteousness.” He expressed his situation before God, leaving the end of it to the Lord. It is better to walk humbly with Him now. Jesus humbled Himself under His Father’s hand to reconcile us with the Father.

These things please God. They were fulfilled in the Lord Jesus Christ, who said, “I do always those things that please (the Father).” (John 8:29). God’s justice was appeased by His sacrifice. On the cross, for them who were crucifying Him He mercifully said, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34) And, He walked humbly on this earth and before God. Jesus did what Micah was told. Believers on Jesus, are indwelt by His Holy Spirit, and they are enabled to do justly, to love mercy, and walk humbly with their God. And, we are being made to be like Him, “For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. (Romans 8:29)

God told Micah the things that please Him. It is obedience to God that honors and glorifies Him, not sacrifice. This is true for all of mankind. God told us to believe on Jesus.

O To Be Like Thee! – Thomas O. Chisholm

O to be like Thee! blessèd Redeemer,
This is my constant longing and prayer;
Gladly I’ll forfeit all of earth’s treasures,
Jesus, Thy perfect likeness to wear.

Refrain

O to be like Thee! O to be like Thee,
Blessèd Redeemer, pure as Thou art;
Come in Thy sweetness, come in Thy fullness;
Stamp Thine own image deep on my heart.

O to be like Thee! full of compassion,
Loving, forgiving, tender and kind,
Helping the helpless, cheering the fainting,
Seeking the wandering sinner to find.

Refrain

O to be like Thee! lowly in spirit,
Holy and harmless, patient and brave;
Meekly enduring cruel reproaches,
Willing to suffer others to save.

Refrain

Exodus 16:4

“Then said the LORD unto Moses, Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you; and the people shall go out and gather a certain rate every day, that I may prove them, whether they will walk in my law, or no.”

Exodus 16 talks about when God started the supply of manna to His people. About two months after leaving Egypt, the Israelites were led by God to the wilderness of Sin. They had left Egypt in a hurry. Now they had eaten all of the food that they had brought with them. And, they complained about the lack of food, and talked about going back to Egypt.

God knew that they needed food. He was not going to starve them. What would the nations think about Him if He did? He had promised Israel that He would bring them to the Promised Land. He had led them this far, and He would lead them to the end of their journey. At the end of the chapter, we are told that they ate manna for the forty years that they wandered in the wilderness. So great was God’s provision of food.

The verse above gives an insight into God’s intentions. He had rules about the collection of the manna, as He told Moses, “…that I may prove them, whether they will walk in my law, or no.” He described how His provision was to be collected. The Israelites were to gather an homer per person per day. For five days of the week, they were to collect only enough for the day. On the sixth day they were to collect enough for two days, because the manna would not be provided on the Sabbath. These seem like simple rules. They were not ambiguous. The amount was prescribed and when it was to be collected. All that was necessary was for them to obey God’s rules. This is what the Lord said in the verse above; whether they will walk in God’s law, or no.

But we read of people who collected more than they should have, against God’s command. We are told that the extra bred worms and stank. Then, on the day that they were supposed to collect two measures because of the Sabbath, some did not. They went out on the Sabbath morning to collect their daily amount, but none had been provided, just like God said. They were rebuked for disobeying the command.

The simplicity of God’s command is reminiscent of the case of Adam and Eve in Genesis 2 and 3. In Genesis 2:16, 17 we read, “And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: 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.” In Genesis 3:3 the command was changed, but not by God, “…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.”

Note the difference between the two versions. Something was added to God’s command, and something was taken away. The addition was that they could not touch the tree. That is not what God said. He only said that they couldn’t eat from it. What was taken away was the severity of the consequence. The consequence in God’s command was strong, “thou shalt surely die.” In Genesis 3 it was expressed as “lest ye die”, changing it from dire to potential. But God said what He meant. And the enemy told Adam and Eve, “Ye shall not surely die.”

As minor as these changes may seem to our reasoning, in God’s eyes they are the difference between life and death. The real point is, Who is in charge? Is it us or God?

Perhaps Adam, Eve and the Israelites tried to make God’s simple commands make sense to them. Or maybe they thought they needed to add safeguards to avoid disobeying. We may try to add human reasoning to God’s laws. But that clouds the issue because then we think that if we keep the changes we have made to His law, we are obeying Him. This is why Jesus rebuked the Pharisees. They lived by the changes and not by God’s law. In Matthew 15:3-6 Jesus revealed an example, “But he answered and said unto them, Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition? For God commanded, saying, Honor thy father and mother: and, He that curseth father or mother, let him die the death. But ye say, Whosoever shall say to his father or his mother, It is a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me; and honor not his father or his mother, he shall be free. Thus, have ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition.”

From these stories two points can be seen. The first is it is clear that mankind is unable, or unwilling, to obey God. The simplest command will stumble us, just like Adam and Eve, and the Israelites gathering manna. Romans 3:23 says that all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. The death that Adam and Eve died on the day they disobeyed was certain, and it was spiritual. And, spiritual deadness has passed on to all of mankind. The second is that God says precisely what He means and means precisely what He says.

This reveals a problem. God, being God, requires complete obedience not only in what we do, but in what we say and think: and always. As noted in the first point, we cannot do this. To the glory of His name, God planned a way for mankind to be reconciled to Himself. This was through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, Who walked in God’s law His whole life. Through His sacrifice mankind was reconciled to God. Those for whom Jesus is Savior are made spiritually alive by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. By His enabling, we are able, willing, and even desiring to obey God. Then we are well able to walk in His law.

Simply trusting every day,
Trusting through a stormy way;
Even when my faith is small,
Trusting Jesus, that is all.

Refrain

Trusting as the moments fly,
Trusting as the days go by;
Trusting Him whate’er befall,
Trusting Jesus, that is all.

Brightly does His Spirit shine
Into this poor heart of mine;
While He leads I cannot fall;
Trusting Jesus, that is all.

Refrain

Singing if my way is clear,
Praying if the path be drear;
If in danger for Him call;
Trusting Jesus, that is all.

Refrain

Trusting Him while life shall last,
Trusting Him till earth be past;
Till within the jasper wall,
Trusting Jesus, that is all.

Refrain (Edgar P. Stites)

Mark 15:31

“Likewise also the chief priests mocking said among themselves with the scribes, He saved others; himself he cannot save.”

There were few times when the chief priests got it right. But at this moment, though meant as mockery, they put their finger on a deep truth; Himself He cannot save.

Consider His encounter with His Father at Gethsemane. Luke 22:41-44 relates, “And he was withdrawn from them about a stone’s cast, and kneeled down, and prayed, Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done. And there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him. And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground.”

His prayer was that if His Father would will it, that the cup would pass from Him. In so saying He was indicating an aspect of His work that we don’t often consider. He left the whole matter in His Father’s hands. Philippians 2:6-8 says, “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.”

Jesus came to earth in obedience to His Father. He, being God, made Himself of no reputation, came in the form of a servant, took upon Him the likeness of men, humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death. The use of the word obedient implies that there was someone to whom He was obedient. This One was His Father. His prayer above reveals that. He prayed to give His Father the opportunity to stop things. But, being obedient, He left it to His Father.

Just as the chief priests mocked, He cannot save Himself, so because of His obedience to His Father, He could not save Himself.

Matthew 26:51-54 says, “And, behold, one of them which were with Jesus stretched out his hand, and drew his sword, and struck a servant of the high priest’s, and smote off his ear. Then said Jesus unto him, Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword. Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels? But how then shall the scriptures be fulfilled, that thus it must be?”

As Jesus was being taken by the crowd, Peter determined to act on Jesus’ behalf and cut off Malchus’ ear. Jesus healed the man’s ear, and then told Peter that if He asked, the Father would send twelve legions of angels. One angel would certainly do the trick. But Jesus said He could get 12,000 angels. He said further, “How then can the scriptures be fulfilled?” God’s Word will stand for eternity. Jesus’ sacrifice was according to God’s Word.

Hebrews 12:2 says we should be, “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” In enduring the cross Jesus looked ahead to something joyful. What that is exactly we cannot specifically say from scripture. But we do know what were the results of His having endured the cross. Because of His obedience to His Father in enduring the cross, untold numbers of people have been reconciled to the Father. They have been promised that they will be eternally with Him, praising His name.

That scene is shown in Revelation 5:9-14, “And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; and hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth. And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne and the beasts and the elders: and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands; saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing. And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever. And the four beasts said, Amen. And the four and twenty elders fell down and worshipped him that liveth for ever and ever.” What a great joy this day will be to the Lord Jesus Christ!

He cannot save Himself, He could not save Himself, because He determined to obey His Father, and He would not save Himself, because He knew what would be the result: an innumerable company of believers praising His name for eternity. Had He saved Himself, this simply would not be so.

Others He saved, Himself He could not save,
So scoffed the priests, and upward rolled the wave
Of blasphemy against the dying Lord,
Until it broke upon the throne of God.

Others He saved, Himself He did not save,
So sighed the mourners round the Savior’s grave;
Their grief embittered by the mystery
Why He, who Lazarus raised, Himself need die.

Others He saved, Himself He would not save,
There rests the truth, His life for us He gave:
O ruined heart! thy Savior had to choose,
If He should die, or thou salvation lose. (John C. Blissard)