Year 2 Day 222
Read - Genesis 15
Message - Scott Woodburn
The promise of God to Abram was extraordinary. In him all the nations of the world would be blessed and his descendants would be more numerous than the dust of the earth. There was one small problem though…Abram had no heir. If the situation continued then Eliezer of Damascus would stand in line to receive the blessing of God (v2).
Yet the Lord was clear. Eliezer would not be Abram’s heir, instead Abram would have a son (v4). Once more the Lord took Abram outside and showed him the stars. “So shall your offspring be.” Said the Lord (v5). At this bold statement Abram believed the Lord and it was counted to him as righteousness (v6). Here in Genesis we see Abram’s saving faith. He believed God and it was credited or counted to him as righteousness. We are familiar with the term “imputation” aren’t we? When we believe the Gospel, Christ’s righteousness is credited or imputed to our account. We see the exact thing here with Abram. He trusted the Lord and was declared righteous with a righteousness that was not his own.
But Abram wanted to be sure to be sure. The Lord would give Abram the land but Abram enquired “O Lord God, how am I to know that I shall possess it?” (v8) Father Abram is exactly like you and I. We like to be sure. We like to see something in stone. We want the promise in writing. Thankfully and graciously the Lord blesses us with signs of His covenant promises.
Abram was to gather various animals and cut them in half (v9-11). With the work complete he fell into a deep sleep of great darkness. As Abram slept the Lord revealed to him that his descendants would be wanderers in land that wasn’t their own. They would be servants in that land and would be there for 400 years (v13). Eventually the Lord would bring them from that land to the land promised to Abram (v16).
As a sign of the truthfulness of His Word the Lord appeared as a smoking fire pot and a flaming torch and passed between the divided bodies of the animals (v17). What did this mean? The Lord was telling Abram “May I be cut in two like these animals if I don’t keep my promise”.
Once more Scripture interprets Scripture. In Hebrews 6 we are told that because there is no one greater than God, He swore by Himself that He would keep His promise (Hebrews 6v13). God was showing Abram (and us) convincingly that He does not change and He will not abandon His promises or His people. God cannot lie. God cannot fail. He will do all that He has said.
Abram would die at a good old age (v15) but the promise made to him continues to be fulfilled all these years later. Brothers and sisters I urge you to take heart today. Our prayers can sometimes seem unanswered and life can often be incredibly tough but the Lord remains faithful.
It is impossible for God to lie, therefore we “have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us. We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.” (Hebrews 6v18-20)
Q100 What doth the preface of the Lord’s Prayer teach us? The preface of the Lord’s Prayer, which is, Our Father which art in heaven,” teacheth us to draw near to God with all holy reverence and confidence, as children to a father, able and ready to help us; and that we should pray with and for others.
Year 2 Day 221
Read - 1 Samuel 4:12-22 and Jeremiah 7:12-15
Message - Alan Burke
The Glory of the Lord had departed from his people, what hope was there left for them, for his departure leaves their future in doubt and Eli and Ichabod’s mother knew this! Historical records of the time as well as archaeological evidence suggest that after the battle, Shiloh was destroyed at the hands of the Philistines. In Jeremiah the people were invited to journey to Shiloh to see for themselves what the Lord Had done; “Go now to the place in Shiloh where I first made a dwelling for my Name, and see what I did to it because of the wickedness of my people Israel” (Jer 7:12).
“See what I did to it” says the Lord, all because of their faithlessness, because of Eli, his sons, because of the people themselves, their wickedness. Lord God did not allow his people to continue on unchecked, he dealt with their sin and their rebellion. After all what kind of God would he be if he said “do what ever you like”, what kind of God would he be if he allowed sin to go unchecked! But the Lord is gracious and compassionate, and to those who fear him showing his mercy from generation to generation.
Shiloh had become a monument to how the Glory of the Lord had departed. It was a monument to the faithlessness of the people of God, it was a monument to how his people and his leaders had turned from the Lord and his word, a monument that served as a reminder for generations to the people. But it was also a monument to God’s grace, for he dealt with the sin of his people and was bringing forth a new leader a faithful priest.
From this point on, the focus of religious life then moves to Samuel’s home town at Ramah (1:19; 2:11; 7:17). The generations that followed understood the significance of what happened at Shiloh, how the glory of the Lord had departed, once it was central to the worship of the Lord but it then stood as a symbol for how the Lord’s grace and favour are based on the obedience and submission to his will.
God had dealt with these faithless people, they had showed their contempt and scorn for him, they had all the vestiges of religion but no relationship with him and they were unrepentant. Now God had Gone. But the Lord was in control in each and every part of what took place as redemptive history unfolded. In all that was happening, God was at work and he was brining about a new leader of his people, a leader who would as the Lord had promised to be a faithful priest, who would do according to what is in his heart and mind (2:35), for in judgement there was hope and as we learn in the coming chapter the Lord himself will achieve his purposes.
God was at work then and God is at work today, he has brought salvation to us through his Son the Lord Jesus Christ. In is to the Lord God through Jesus Christ that we must turn to in the midst of this fallen sinful world, that we might we saved and escape the judgement of God that is due to each one of us. This is good news indeed, for all who repent and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Q99 What rule hath God given for our direction in prayer?
The whole Word of God is of use to direct us in prayer; (1 John 5:14) but the special rule of direction is that form of prayer which Christ taught his disciples, commonly called The Lord’ s prayer. (Matt. 6:9–13, Luke 11:2–4)
Year 2 Day 219
Read - 1 Samuel 4:19-22
Message - Alan Burke
From a human perspective what is going on here in chapter four keeps getting worse and worse. Israel had been defeated, thirty four thousand lay dead, including Eli’s sons, the ark of the Lord was captured and Eli had been dethroned and lay dead. Now we are told of the daughter in law of Eli who was the wife of Phinehas who was pregnant. The shock of the news of what had happened sent her into labour. Notice though that it is not the news of either the death of her father in law or her husband that induces this labour, it is the loss of the ark.
This is a heart wrenching scene, as we are told she was so overcome by her labour pains that she was dying. The women with her were trying to give her comfort in the midst of it all tell her that it is a son, but she didn’t pay any attention to it. Even though the birth of a son would normally have been a time of great rejoicing but this isn’t a time for rejoicing, how could it be, she’s a widow, there is no family left, she would have been destitute as a result and her son was an orphan.
And she named the son Ichabod, saying the Glory has departed from Israel. Just so we do not miss what is really going on, so we don’t think that it is the loss of her husband or her father in law, just so we don’t think her distress is because she is a widow leaving an orphan, we are told twice the reason, she named her son Ichabod for the Glory of the Lord had departed from Israel for the ark was captured.
This woman grief is great, it is hard for us to understand the significance of what had happened, in the midst of her loss, as she was dying it was the Loss of the ark of the Lord that was what grieved and worried this woman most. The Glory of the Lord had departed from Israel, this doesn’t mean that the Lord was no longer present in any sense, after all God is Spirit (Jn 4:24) and there is no place that he is not, he is omnipresent, he is the one who sustains all that there is, there is no place that he is absent from in his creation (Ps 139:7-12).
Yes symbolically the Lord had left Israel, but that does not mean that he had left everyone in the covenant community, he was there with his faithful people who knew and loved him, he remained with the faithful remnant, even though the nation as a whole had turned from him there was still the likes of Elkanah, Hannah, Samuel and many others who aren’t mentioned (Ps 23:4). Rather as we are told that the Glory of the Lord had departed, it is that he had taken his blessing from them, no longer would he protect them from harm, they had ceased to obey him.
This warning also comes to us in the letters to the churches in the book of Revelation (2-3), for there the Lord had threatened to remove their lamp stand, the warning went out… “If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lamp stand from it’s place” (Rev 2:5). It is a warning that the Lord would remove his glory, it is a warning to us, to every place that claims to be a church of Christ.
If the church of Jesus Christ ceases to obey God’s word, if it begins to tolerate sin and error, if it allows the behaviour of the people to go unchecked, it if turns the worship of God into a circus, then the Lord will remove his lamp stand if they do not repent!
Q97 What is required to the worthy receiving of the Lord’ s supper?
It is required of them that would worthily partake of the Lord’ s supper, that they examine themselves of their knowledge to discern the Lord’ s body, (1 Cor. 11:28–29) of their faith to feed upon him, (2 Cor. 13:5) of their repentance, (1 Cor. 11:31) love, (1 Cor. 10:16–17) and new obedience; (1 Cor. 5:7–8) lest, coming unworthily, they eat and drink judgment to themselves. (1 Cor. 11:28–29)
Year 2 Day 220
Read - Genesis 14
Message - Scott Woodburn
Abram had done all that he could to avoid conflict with his nephew Lot but sometimes those who want peace have war thrust upon them regardless. Genesis 14 tells of the kings of Jordan who served king Chedorlaomer for twelve years (v4). In the thirteenth year they rebelled against him and in the fourteenth year Chedorlaomer swept down upon the rebels.
His campaign was a success and we are told that he took all the possessions of Sodom and Gomorrah, all their provisions and even Abram’s nephew Lot was carried off as one of the spoils of war. It’s interesting to note that by this stage Lot had swapped his tent outside Sodom for life inside the city (v12). We should never underestimate the attraction and pull of sin. As John Owen famously said “be killing sin or it be killing you.”.
Thankfully for Lot, news reached Abram who immediately gathered his 318 trained men and set off after Chedorlaomer (v14). Abram’s pursuit was a success, he defeated and chased his enemies and soon brought back everything that they had carried off (v16).
As Abram returned victorious he was met by two thankful kings. The king of Sodom only wanted his people back and offered all the recaptured goods as Abram’s reward (v21). But while such an offer may have seemed tempting, Abram wanted nothing to do with it. Sodom was already known for its wickedness and so Abram rejected anything from the king of Sodom’s hand. The victory would not be tarnished by the king of Sodom saying “I have made Abram rich” (v23) The victory belonged to God.
The other king couldn’t have been more different. His name was Melchizedek which means “my king is righteous” and he was king of Salem which we will later call Jerusalem. Melchizedek is described as the “priest of God most high” (v18) and so in Melchizedek we see the combination of the roles of priest and king. Melchizedek blessed Abram by declaring “Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth; and blessed be God Most High, who has delivered your enemies into your hand!” And in response Abram gave him a tenth (a tithe) of the spoils of war.
What are we to make of Melchizedek? Scripture interprets Scripture. In Hebrews 7 we are told that Melchizedek had no father or mother or genealogy nor beginning of days or end of life (v3). In this way says the Apostle, Melchizedek resembled Christ who would later come in the order of Melchizedek.
Melchizedek was a priest long before the Levitical priesthood and yet Abram gave him with a tithe. In Hebrews 7v7 we are reminded that the inferior is blessed by the superior and so when we consider Abram meeting Melchizedek we come to the conclusion that Abram met a type of Christ who pronounced a blessing upon him. In later years Jesus would come, He was the true Melchizedek, a priest forever who remains over the household and family of God. Jesus is the one who combines the role of priest and king perfectly and Jesus is the true King of righteousness.
As Abram returned from war he refused the wickedness and glory of Sodom and instead, in type and shadow, he caught a glimpse of the Christ. Abram saw what David understood “The Lord says to my Lord: ‘Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool.’ The Lord sends forth from Zion your mighty scepter. Rule in the midst of your enemies! Your people will offer themselves freely on the day of your power, in holy garments; from the womb of the morning, the dew of your youth will be yours. The Lord has sworn and will not change his mind, ‘You are a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.’" (Psalm 110v1-4)
Q98 What is prayer? Prayer is an offering up of our desires unto God, for things agreeable to his will, in the name of Christ, with confession of our sins, and thankful acknowledgment of his mercies.
Year 2 Day 218
Read - Genesis 13
Message - Scott Woodburn
A favourite cry of many in our land is “no surrender”, it promises not to give an inch, never to retreat, never to give up. However as we read Genesis 13 we notice that the words “no surrender” never leave Abram’s lips.
By this stage of Abram’s story he had become very rich in livestock, silver and gold (v2). His nephew Lot had done well for himself too (v5) so much so that the land couldn’t support both men living in the same country together. It had become so tense that the herdsmen of both Abram and Lot had begun to fight and argue. Who would win out?
Perhaps in your own life at this stage you’d cry “no surrender”. Your needs come above those of anyone else and so you must have the best, you must have the victory. I suspect we’ve all acted in such a fashion more times than we would like to admit. We know that Abram was no perfect man but in this instance he chose the path of wisdom.
He tells Lot that the last thing he wants is for their family to be at war (v8). The whole land lies in front of Lot and so Abram gives him the first choice. If Lot goes right then Abram will go left. Abram acts with wisdom and grace and doesn’t put his needs first. As Lot lifted his eyes he saw the plush Jordan valley and decided that he would have that for his possession (v11). In the eyes of many it was a good choice but ominously we are told that Lot moved as far as Sodom where “the men…were wicked, great sinners against the Lord” (v13).
Yet Abram wasn’t hard done by. He had taken the path of grace and whilst in the eyes of the world it might have seemed like he had missed out, in the eyes of the Lord he had acted wisely. God spoke covenantally again to Abram and said “Lift up your eyes and look from the place where you are, northward and southward and eastward and westward, for all the land that you see I will give to you and to your offspring forever. I will make your offspring as the dust of the earth, so that if one can count the dust of the earth, your offspring also can be counted. Arise, walk through the length and the breadth of the land, for I will give it to you.” (v14-17)
The Lord had promised Abram an inheritance of land but also an inheritance of faith. Abram’s descendants would be as numerous as the dust of the earth. Lot may have claimed the Jordan valley by sight, but Abram’s claim would be won by faith. Let’s remember again that this story in Genesis 13 is our story for if we belong to Jesus then we are spiritual descendants of Abram (Galatians 3v29).
Brothers and sisters our cry doesn’t need to be “no surrender”. We don’t need to fight every battle. We don’t need to win every victory. We don’t have to rub our neighbours face in the dirt at every opportunity. Instead as we come to saving faith in Jesus we “know surrender”. The old has gone and the new has come. In this life we walk by faith and not by sight and so our enemies may always seem to claim the Jordan valley from under our nose but we rest easy regardless. Our inheritance is in heaven, kept for us by Jesus and it is one that will never perish, spoil or fade. It is as Samuel Rutherford once said “they lose nothing who gain Christ.”
Q96 What is the Lord’s Supper? The Lord’s Supper is a Sacrament, wherein, by giving and receiving bread and wine, according to Christ’s appointment, his death is showed forth; and the worthy receivers are, not after a corporal and carnal manner, but by faith, made partakers of his body and blood, with all his benefits, to their spiritual nourishment and growth in grace.
Year 2 Day 217
Read - 1 Samuel 4:12-18
Message - Alan Burke
It is hard for us to grasp the significance of the outcome of the battle of Ebenezer (4:1-11). There the Israelites had been defeated, thirty four thousand lay dead, Eli’s sons were dead and the ark of the Lord was captured. Yes they had known and understood at least in some way that this was the Lord’s doing (4:3), but happened now shows the true horror of all of this for the Israelites. So with the battle over, a Benjamite ran from the battle front and went to Shiloh, his clothes torn with dust on his head. The picture that we are given is of a man in distress, running to give a report of the horror that he had witnessed. Look at what we are told of Eli, he’s sitting on his chair at the side of the road, he’s there waiting because he was afraid for the ark.
Eli was there, he was watching metaphorically speaking because if you look down to verse 14 we are told he was blind, so rather he was waiting expectantly for news from the battle and the reason is simple, he feared for the ark of God. Again were presented with the seemingly contradictory image of Eli, there fearing for the ark, after all he was the Priest of God’s people, he was their leader, so why on earth did he allow his sons to leave with the ark?
The man enters the town, a cry goes up (13), what had just happened wasn’t lost on them, all the while Eli’s just sitting there, fearing what he would here. Then the man told Eli the reality of what had happened and he sits there listening. When the news comes that he had been dreading that the ark had been captured he fell back of his chair, his neck was broken and he died (18).
Eli was literally dethroned. The judgement of God had come upon his sons and now had come to him. The Lord had promised that his sons dying on the same day would be a sign to him that his word was true and now as the Lord had dethroned Eli. The Lord’s judgement had come, because for Eli blood was thicker than theology. For Eli the bonds of his family was more important, they were stronger than his theology, stronger than his belief in God and what God had done. All of this, the judgement upon Eli and his sons had come about for that very reason, because to Eli, blood was thicker than theology.
Love for our family is good, but when we put family, siblings, cousins, parents, children, any of those things before God then we fail to love the Lord our God with all our heart. We fail to live as we should, instead of making it clear that God has our allegiance, we are making God just a tag along, an accessory to our life and often the consequences are seen. Eli’s love for his sons was more important than his theology, his love for his sons was more important than his God and he paid the consequences, and his sons paid the consequences, his family paid the consequences, the generations that followed paid the consequences.
Q95 To whom is baptism to be administered?
Baptism is not to be administered to any that are out of the visible church, till they profess their faith in Christ, and obedience to him; (Acts 8:36–38, Acts 2:38) but the infants of such as are members of the visible church are to be baptized. (Acts 2:38–39, Gen. 17:10, Col. 2:11–12, 1 Cor. 7:14)
Year 2 Day 219
Year 2 Day 215
Read - Genesis 12
Message - Scott Woodburn
Genesis is barely over ten chapters old and already Moses has introduced us to multiple major Biblical figures. There is Adam the first man and the federal head of humanity. Quickly we meet Noah who receives the promise that never again will the Lord destroy the earth by flood. Then by the end of chapter eleven we are introduced to another descendant of Shem called Abram.
If you are familiar with the Scriptures then you know that Abram is a major Biblical figure. Later in the book of Galatians Paul outlines his importance. Paul writes “Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham. And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, ‘In you shall all the nations be blessed.’ So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.” (Galatians 3v7-9)
Did you catch that? Paul states that those who have placed their faith in Christ are spiritual descendants of Abraham. We don’t look into Genesis 12 to see Abram saving himself by works. Instead the Lord preached the Gospel to Abram saying “in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” (v3) The Gospel would come first to the Jew but then it would make its way to the Gentile. In Abram all the nations of the world would be blessed because the Gospel would be declared to the ends of the earth and salvation is by faith alone. No wonder Paul calls Abraham “the man of faith.”
It was by faith that Abram went out from his own country (v4) and it was by faith that Abram believed that the Lord would give his descendants the land (v7). Yet we would be wrong to believe Abram to be the perfect man. As he travelled to Egypt he came up with a scheme to protect himself regardless of what trouble it might cause his wife.
Abram’s wife Sarai was beautiful and Abram feared that the Egyptians would kill him to claim Sarai for themselves (v11-13). His solution was to urge her to pretend to be Abram’s sister rather than his wife. The scheme backfired terribly when Pharaoh took Sarai into his house believing her to be a single woman. But quickly Pharaoh understood Abram’s deceit as the Lord afflicted Pharaoh’s house with plagues (v17).
So as chapter twelve comes to a close we have received a whirlwind introduction to Abram who was both a man of faith and a man of faults. His name looms large over Genesis and indeed the whole Bible. He believed God and it was credited to him as righteousness and as Paul reminds us “if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's offspring, heirs according to promise.” (Galatians 3v29)
In response take some time tonight to stand and look at the stars. Long ago our God promised Abram he would have descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky. The simple fact that you have received the Gospel and believed it shows that the Lord continues to keep His covenant promises. So tonight in gardens all across Ballynahinch let’s sing a wee song of joy…altogether now…”Father Abraham had many sons…many sons had father Abraham…I am one of them and so are you…so let’s all praise the Lord!”
Q94 What is Baptism? Baptism is a Sacrament, wherein the washing with water, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, doth signify and seal our ingrafting into Christ, and partaking of the benefits of the covenant of grace, and our engagement to be the Lord’s.
Year 2 Day 214
Read - 1 Samuel 4:4-11 and 1 Pet 3:12
Message - Alan Burke
Pragmatism reigns! It clearly did here as the elders send for the ark and as it is brought to the battle front. Notice who brings it though, it’s the wicked sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas. The holiest artefact of God’s people was brought by wicked men who had scorned the sacrifices and the offerings of the Lord (2:12). The tragedy of this shouldn’t be lost on us. Here’s a question, would you really expect the Lord God to bless his people, to do something amazing among them, when they despise him, when treat his offerings with scorn? Of course not! As long as the sin of his people and his priests continues the Lord wasn’t going to bless his people, he wasn’t going to give them the victory, he had promised judgment against them because of their sin, these wicked sons of Eli, their presence with the ark is incompatible with the presence of the Lord.
Then as the ark arrives (5), the shout from the people of God was so loud the earth shook, gone are the memories of their earlier defeat. Their hope was in the ark as a good luck charm, but it was miss-founded. Their confidence was not in the Lord but in superstitious religion, they had the vestiges of religion, and their hope was in that not in the Lord.
Initially the reaction of the Philistines was that of total shock, they knew that the God of Israel or rather gods that they speak of are more powerful than anything they have ever experienced. This fear and alarm though is soon dispelled as they are challenged to be men and fight (9) and the Israelites were defeated, the ark was lost. Thirty thousand foot soldiers had died, the defeat at the hands of the Philistines was enormous. Things were so bad that the Israelites fled.
The presence of the ark of the covenant had done nothing, because the people had not sought the Lord, they had not repented from their sins, pragmatism reigned among them. Before they had asked “why did the Lord bring defeat upon us today”, now there is nothing, notice the change though there between verse three, four and now verse eleven. Before they had called it the ark of the Lord’s covenant, and the ark of the covenant, now they simply call it the ark of God. The covenant keeping God and not met their expectations, in their minds he was the one who let them down, but they had throughout in their superstitious religion been led not by principles but pragmatism.
Finally we are told of the death of Hophni and Phinehas. The whole thing was a disaster, things couldn’t have gone any worse, the people were defeated, thirty-four thousand men dead, the remaining army scattered, the priests of the Lord dead, the ark of the covenant that symbolised the presence of God among them was gone.
I want as we close to take you to 1 Peter, there the Lord though him uses Psalm 34, to reminds us…“For the eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous, And His ears attend to their prayer, But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.” (1 Pet 3:12). The Lord is against those who do evil, we are either in the Lord and are his righteous through Jesus Christ or we are those who do evil. Hophni and Phinehas were those who did evil, how could the Lord bless what his people were doing when they despised the Holy, when in all of this it is not principle but pragmatism that reigns, it was superstitious religion not relationship. What God calls us to is relationship not religion, he calls us to faithfulness not pragmatism, he calls us to have faith in him though the Lord Jesus Christ and honour him.
Q93 Which are the sacraments of the New Testament?The sacraments of the New Testament are, Baptism, (Matt. 28:19) and the Lord’ s supper. (Matt. 26:26–28)
Year 2 Day 213
Read - Genesis 11
Message - Scott Woodburn
It is said that Alexander the Great wept because there were no more worlds to conquer. Yet even as tears were running down his cheeks, Alexander founded multiple cities called…wait for it…wait for it…Alexandria! Alexander the Great certainly believed that he was special and worth remembering but he wasn’t the first man who believed his own hype.
In Genesis 10 we meet someone called Nimrod who the Scriptures describe as a mighty man and a mighty hunter. Nimrod was also a builder of cities and both Nineveh and Babel could trace their roots back to Nimrod. Nimrod isn’t held up as a hero in the Bible. He is a descendent of Ham and soon the city of Babel will unite in an attempt to overthrow God.
In those ancient days the whole earth shared the same language (v1) and despite the Lord’s command for mankind to multiply across the face of the earth, humanity did the opposite. With one tongue the peoples said “Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth.” (v4)
This was an act of rebellion and a declaration of war. Humanity was once again shaking an angry fist at the Lord and seeking His removal. Despite mankind’s arrogance the Lord brought His swift judgement to bear. Mankind would seek to use their unity to wage war against the Lord’s people and so the Lord confused their speech (v7) and scattered humanity throughout the world (v8). To this day we speak of the tower of Babel as the place where the Lord confused human speech. No one wants to be a babbler!
The Genesis 11 account of ancient humanity is bleak but the story does not end there. Many years later Jews from every nation under heaven returned to Jerusalem for the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2). It was there that the Apostles began to speak and amazingly despite the multitude of languages represented, everyone heard the mighty works of God in their own tongue.
As the inhabitant’s of Nimrod’s city reached arrogantly towards heaven, the Lord confused their speech and scattered them throughout the earth. At Pentecost the curse of Babel was reversed. Humanity's confused speech was put in order as the Spirit worked and many heard the Gospel. The prophecy of Joel 2v28-32 was being fulfilled on the day of Pentecost. The Lord's promise to gather a people from the nations was being fulfilled and the Gospel was leaving the boundaries of national Israel.
We may not be able to order a meal in Thailand and we might struggle to ask directions in Peru but the Gospel is the same in every language. Christ Jesus died for sinners and all who receive Him will be saved. Paul tells us of Pentecost's significance in Ephesians. "Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called 'the uncircumcision' by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands— remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ." (Ephesians 2v11-13)
In Christ your nationality is irrelevant and the language you speak is not a factor. The curse of Babel has been reversed and one day with united voice the church of Christ will sing His name forever.
Q92 What is a Sacrament? A Sacrament is a holy ordinance instituted by Christ; wherein, by sensible signs, Christ and the benefits of the new covenant are represented, sealed, and applied to believers.
Year 2 Day 212
Read - 1 Samuel 4:3b
Message - Alan Burke
Defeat had come upon the Israelites and that defeat had come according to the plans and purposes of God by his providence. Their elders had understood that as they exclaimed “why did the Lord bring defeat upon us today?” (3a), but what happens next reveals more to us about the situation among the people of God. They had asked the question aware of God’s providence, that God is governing all his creatures and their actions from beginning to end, yet instead of taking time to reflect, taking time to seek the Lord, to pray, to worship, to ask questions of themselves, they make a decision in the heat of the moment.
Without hesitation, the elders of the people of God, “ah you know what we need, we need the ark of the covenant, that will sort it out” (me paraphrasing v3b). It is not principles, it is not the fundamental truth of who God is and ever more shall be that motivates them, it is pragmatism plain and simple.
The ark itself served as the place of the presence of God. You take the ark with you then symbolically you take God with you, you loose the ark symbolically you loose God. This is pragmatism at its worst. Had nobody thought about the implications, the risk in what they were doing! They thought they could use the ark of the covenant as some magic wand, but they failed to understand in their question of why the Lord had brought defeat on them that unless the Lord was on their side, ark or not they would not have the victory.
They thought, “surely God would come through for them now”, “surely God doesn’t want to be on the loosing side in all of this”. They had tried to twist God’s arm, they tried to manipulate him, it’s not principle but pragmatism. Here’s the thing, God’s people are to seek his kingdom first and his righteousness, seek him first, him first, not doing first, not pragmatism. They were more interested in the Lord doing their will rather than seeking his will.
Sometimes those things are the same, but the question for us is are we seeking the Lord to do our will or are we seeking to do his will. We have to be careful that we aren’t trying to twist God’s arm, to use him like the elders where trying to use the ark of the covenant here. Because sadly, whether we like to admit it or not, we have all tried to twist God’s arm, in our own lives and in church life, and we see that when a special time of prayer is called, a special week thinking that those things in some way will get the Lord God to move, when what is more important is that we are faithful in prayer, faithful as people, but then we all get more excited by the special rather than the ordinary. Do we take the time do look to the Lord, this may be in our lives or in the church. Do we seriously take stock, seek the Lord’s will from his word or do we do it over and over again like a monkey with a miniature symbol.
Q 91 How do the sacraments become effectual means of salvation?The sacraments become effectual means of salvation, not from any virtue in them, or in him that doth administer them; but only by the blessing of Christ, (1 Pet. 3:21, Matt. 3:11, 1 Cor. 3:6–7) and the working of his Spirit in them that by faith receive them. (1 Cor. 12:13)