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Hebrews 3:12

“Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God.”

This charge by the writer of the book of Hebrews comes after a lesson from the history of the Israelites. Verses 7 through 11 are a quote from Psalm 95, and speak of a specific event in the travels of Israel from Egypt to the Promised Land.

It is recorded in Numbers chapters 13 and 14. A few months after they left Egypt, after the LORD had fought for them against Egypt, and even dried the Red Sea for their travel convenience, Israel arrived at Kadesh Barnea, in the south of the Promised Land. Twelve spies were sent search it out and see what kind of a land it was.

The spies reported that the land was fruitful, even bringing back a cluster of grapes that was so big that it was carried by two men using a pole. But ten of the spies reported that there were giants in the land, and they that were not able to take the land that God had promised to them. Because of their report, the people rebelled against Moses, and against the LORD, and decided to return to Egypt.

The other two spies tried to turn the hearts of the people back to the task at hand. The LORD had told Israel that He would give them the land. He had told them that He would fight for them. All of them had seen Him do that before in Egypt and at the Red Sea. All of them had heard God’s voice tell them His ten commandments from mount Horeb and they saw His glory and His power. They now faced the unknown with God’s promise that He would take care of them. And they did not believe Him. They tried to go back.

As the story continued, because of their disbelief, God told them that they would wander in the wilderness for forty years. The army that came to Kadesh Barnea and refused to go into the land would die in the wilderness, and their children would come into the Promised Land.

After hearing God’s judgment, the army decided that they would go into the Promised Land. Previously they showed disbelief in God by refusing to go into the land. Now they were showing disbelief in God by trying to go into the land, after He had told them to wander in the wilderness. Their unbelief in God was revealed in both situations. He told them to go into the land, and they refused. He told them to go into the wilderness, and they refused. Would they ever listen to what He said?

Parents know about this. They tell their children what is expected of them, and when they are young they generally do what they are told, though they still steal cookies and put keys into electrical outlets. As they get older, the likelihood that they will obey their parent’s word reduces. For the parents this is a source of anguish because they want what is best for their children. They want them to not make the same mistakes that they had made. Almighty God knows what is best for His creatures, and gives commands with only their best in mind.

The story of Israel at the edge of the Promised Land was an example of unbelief, from which the writer of Hebrews wanted his readers to learn. He wanted them to avoid the same error. The Israelites were frightened by the prospect of war against giants, and concluded there was nothing they could do except go back to Egypt. Even the good advice of the two spies, and the promises of God didn’t stop them from succumbing to their fears. Life brings us into contact with difficulties that bring fear.

In Matthew 6:31-33 Jesus said, “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.” Jesus is saying that the most fundamental of our needs, food, drink, clothing, and shelter are not things about which we should fear. The Father knows that we need them. Do we believe Him? Or do we fear.

In Hebrews 13:5 we read, “Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” Every situation in life is another opportunity for us to determine to believe God. Do we believe that He knows what we need? Do we believe that He will never forsake us? Do we go forward and trust Him? The writer of Hebrews warns his readers away from an evil heart of unbelief, turning away from the living God.

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


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.


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


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)

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.”

The beginning of this verse suggests that Micah was in an uncomfortable situation. He identifies the source as God’s hand; His indignation. He also stated the reason for this: he had sinned against the LORD. Micah stated that because of this he would bear the situation, he would endure it. This is a crucial point to which every person needs to come.

It carries two important realizations. The first is that he was a sinner; he had sinned against the LORD. This means that Micah realized personal responsibility for the situation he was in. It suggests that Micah knew what sin was. And this was information he got from knowing what God required of him. At the time of this event, he had God’s law. The ten commandments, and the many other requirements that God had, were given in the books of Exodus and Leviticus. Initially, the ten commandments were spoken by God Himself into the ears of the people of Israel.

The second realization Micah must have had was that God had the right to make laws, and to expect that they were to be obeyed. Further, He had the right to administer justice to those who failed to keep His laws. To this day He maintains that right.

These two realizations are why it is crucial that everyone comes to the point of seeing how they stand before God. God created us, and He told us what He requires of us. He has the right to expect that we obey Him: not because He is demanding, but that He desires our allegiance. He wants us to see that He loves us and wants nothing but the best for us. And that is why He set up the laws that He did.

Consider what Micah said next, “until He plead my cause…” Micah fully expected that God’s indignation would end. It would not last forever. He was willing to endure until the time that God took action on his behalf. And this is one of the wonders of Who God is. He had established the law. He has the right to administer justice for disobedience. When He sees that we are trusting Him in the trial He has sent because of our disobedience, He takes action to set things right between us and Him. It is said of Jesus that, “He ever lives to make intercession for His people…” (Hebrews 7:25)

Micah goes on to say that he expected that God would execute judgment for him. Here, the word judgment means justice. Micah expected that God would give him justice. His sin against the LORD did bring judgment, but God is also just. God is moved by humility and trust in Him. Connected with the previous statement, one can imagine a courtroom. Jesus interceding for His people, and the Judge executing justice on the basis of Jesus’ appeal.

Then, Micah said, “He will bring me forth to the light”. This he said of God, and it is interesting to consider. The One under Whose indignation Micah found himself because of his own sin, which he said he would endure, Micah said would bring him forth to the light. It would be an event of God’s doing. He would bring Micah into the light. Micah means that he would be brought into God’s presence. Scripture says that God is light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. (1 John 1:5)

Finally, Micah’s hope was “I shall behold his righteousness.” This was his hope in the sense that he fully expected that he would see God’s righteousness. This goes along with the being brought forth to the light. Being in God’s presence, Micah would also see His righteousness. In Exodus 33:20 Moses was told, “And he said, Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live.” But, in Revelation 22:3, 4 we are told, “And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him: and they shall see his face; and his name shall be in their foreheads.” This is what Micah was expecting and looking forward to. It was his hope.

Job expected a similar time for himself. He said in Job 19:25-27, “For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: and though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God: Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another; though my reins be consumed within me.”

Between the lifetimes of Job and Micah and the vision of Revelation was the birth, death, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. Through His sacrifice a way was provided that mankind was reconciled to the Father. Through His sacrifice eternal life is promised to God’s people. Job and Micah anticipated the day of seeing God in person, based entirely on knowing Who God is, and trusting Him. Jesus made the way.

I know that my Redeemer liveth,
And on the earth again shall stand;
I know eternal life He giveth,
That grace and power are in His hand.


I know, I know, that Jesus liveth,
And on the earth again shall stand;
I know, I know, that life He giveth,
That grace and power are in His hand.

I know His promise never faileth,
The Word He speaks, it cannot die;
Though cruel death my flesh assaileth,
Yet I shall see Him by and by.


I know my mansion He prepareth,
That where He is there I may be;
O wondrous thought, for me He careth,
And He at last will come for me.

Refrain (Jessie B. Pounds)

Psalm 150:2

“Praise him for his mighty acts: praise him according to his excellent greatness.”

“Praise him for his mighty acts: praise him according to his excellent greatness.”

Psalm 150 is the last of the psalms. It is an appeal to every thing that has breath to praise the Lord. It speaks of praise to the Lord on many kinds of instruments. What a fanfare! And the Lord is worthy of all honor and praise. Verse 2 gives two bases for praising the Lord: His mighty works and His excellent greatness.

The Bible is full God’s mighty acts. In the first chapter of Genesis the story of creation is told. The original of everything we see around us was created by God by His word: God said, “Let there be…” and there was. Just this simple statement by Him was enough to bring into being angels and animals and plants and fish and water and land and light and air and earth and heaven itself! And all in proper order. Man was formed out of the dust of the earth, and the woman was formed from a rib from the man. This makes the creation of mankind unique! John 1 states that Jesus was the creator. While we might think that creation was done by the Father, Jesus, too, was the creator.

Another of God’s mighty acts was the Great Flood. Genesis 6:5-8 tells us, “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. And the LORD said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them. But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD.” God gave to Noah the task of building an ark in which God would preserve life. One hundred years later the flood came and it covered the earth. After the rain stopped, it took nearly a year for the earth to dry. Then Noah and his family and all of the animals left the ark. Flooding the whole earth certainly reveals God’s might!

A third example of God’s mighty acts was bringing Israel out of Egypt and into the Promised Land. In that one event many mighty deeds took place. The plagues on Egypt, the drying of the Red sea so the people went through on dry ground, the parting of the Jordan river at flood stage, (and the people went over on dry ground then, too), the manna, water supplied from a rock, shoes and clothes that did not wear out for forty years, and many more. God’s might was always on display for His people as they went to the Promised Land. He led them using a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night.

The psalmist gives a second reason to praise the LORD, “praise him according to his excellent greatness.” God’s greatness can be seen in the examples just considered. These were displays of His might. But the psalmist says that we should praise Him according to His excellent greatness. That is, to the extent of His excellent greatness. This is other than His might.

In Numbers 14:19, Moses said, “Pardon, I beseech thee, the iniquity of this people according unto the greatness of thy mercy, and as thou hast forgiven this people, from Egypt even until now.” Israel had sinned against the LORD from the time that they left Egypt. Here, they had just come to the edge of the Promised Land in the wilderness of Paran in the south. Ten of twelve spies came back with a bad report of the land, and the people decided to appoint a different leader and return to Egypt. They even accused God of bringing them to the Promised Land to kill them! For this Moses appealed to the LORD to forgive them according to the greatness of His mercy.

How great is God’s mercy? Psalm 36:5 says, “Thy mercy, O LORD, is in the heavens; and thy faithfulness reacheth unto the clouds.” and Psalm 103:11 says, “For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him.”

Toward the end of time, in Revelation 15:3, 4, God is praised in heaven, “And they sing the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, Great and marvellous are thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints. Who shall not fear thee, O Lord, and glorify thy name? for thou only art holy: for all nations shall come and worship before thee; for thy judgments are made manifest.” His holiness and His ways are great, and are the basis for praise in this future day. His ways are just and true; He only is holy.

Another evidence God’s greatness is His great humility, as described in Philippians 2:5-11, “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: 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.” For the sake of mankind, Jesus obeyed His Father, came as a man, and died under God’s wrath against the sins of mankind. For this He certainly deserves praise.

“Praise him for his mighty acts: praise him according to his excellent greatness.”

Praise Him, praise Him—
Jesus, our blessèd Redeemer,
Sing, O earth, His wonderful love proclaim.
Hail Him! hail Him! highest archangels in glory;
Strength and honor give to His holy name!
Like a shepherd, Jesus will guard His children,
In His arms He carries them all day long:
O ye saints that dwell on the mountain of Zion,
Praise Him, praise Him ever in joyful song.

Praise Him, praise Him—
Jesus, our blessèd Redeemer,
For our sins He suffered, and bled, and died;
He our rock, our hope of eternal salvation,
Hail Him, hail Him, Jesus the Crucified.
Loving Savior, meekly enduring sorrow,
Crowned with thorns that cruelly pierced His brow;
Once for us rejected, despised and forsaken,
Prince of Glory, He is triumphant now.

Praise Him, praise Him—
Jesus, our blessèd Redeemer,
Heav’nly portals loud with hosannas ring,
Jesus, Savior, reigneth forever and ever.
Crown Him! Crown Him—
Prophet, and Priest, and King!
Death is vanquished! Tell it with joy, ye faithful.
Where is now thy victory, boasting grave?
Jesus lives! No longer thy portals are cheerless;
Jesus lives, the mighty and strong to save. (Fanny Crosby)

John 6:47

“Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life.”

     The LORD Jesus Christ said this to the multitudes the day after He had fed five thousand men using five loaves and two small fishes. From that meal was gathered twelve baskets of leftovers. After, Jesus went up into a mountain alone, and His disciples took ship to cross the sea of Galilee. Later, Jesus walked to His disciples on the sea. The next day, the people whom He had fed took ships and followed Him, looking for more.

     They confronted Him on the other side of the sea. Jesus used the opportunity to point their thinking in a different direction. In John 6:26, 27 we read, “Jesus answered them and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled. Labor not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed.” What Jesus meant was they were not following Him for the right reason. They were following Him because of the food He gave them, not because of His miracles. Jesus’ miracles proved that He is God. While food sustains this life, Jesus said that that food will perish.

The crowd saw what Jesus meant. In verse 28 we read, “Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God?” or, to put it another way, “What does God want of us?” In verse 29, “Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on Him whom He hath sent.” Then, in verse 30, we read, “They said therefore unto him, What sign shewest thou then, that we may see, and believe thee? what dost thou work?” Not even twenty-four hours before they had eaten what Jesus had provided. He fed them using only five loaves and two fishes. What more of a sign did they want? The significance of what He had done seems to have been lost on them. Or, like the “What have you done for me lately?” philosophy, they were not satisfied with the sign He had given. This was why Jesus was teaching them. He wanted to turn their thinking away from food and to Himself.

Then the conversation turned to manna. The people remembered that their fathers had eaten manna in the desert, just like they had eaten the bread that Jesus supplied in the desert. But Jesus reminded them that their fathers died, even though they had eaten the manna. Scripture tells us that a day came when the manna stopped. So, what Jesus said in verse 27, telling them to not labor for “meat which perisheth”, was true even of the manna. Jesus said that He was the bread of life, and that He was the bread from heaven. So, the next thing He said in verse 27, that there is “meat which endureth unto everlasting life.”, was a reference to Himself. He was telling them that they should be seeking Him.

So, Verse 47, above, repeats the concept He stated in verse 29. Everlasting life, and the source of it, is what He had been teaching to the crowd. It is what He was offering to those who would listen and believe Him. Reading the story through reveals that the people doubted, didn’t believe, what He was saying. Some knew His family, and wondered how He could say such things. Afterward even some of His disciples abandoned Him.

Through this Jesus’ point was that mankind’s focus needs to be turned from that which is temporary, to the eternal. Eternal life is available to all that believe in Jesus. Continuing focus on the temporal, while ignoring Jesus, brings eternal death, or separation from God. As Paul wrote in Romans 6:23, “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Eternal life is freely given by believing in Jesus. How much more important is that than temporary food?

Hear ye the glad good news from Heav’n?
Life to a death-doomed race is giv’n!
Christ on the cross for you and me
Purchased a pardon full and free.


He that believeth, he that believeth,
He that believeth hath everlasting life;
He that believeth, he that believeth,
He that believeth hath everlasting life.

When we were lost, the Son of God
Made an atonement by His blood:
When we the glad good news believe,
Then the atonement we receive.


Why not believe the glad good news?
Why still the voice of God refuse?
Why not believe, when God hath said,
All, all our guilt on Him was laid.

Refrain (Philip P. Bliss)

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.


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!


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.


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.


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.


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


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


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.


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.


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


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)