Thanksgiving — even when the foundations are being destroyed

Rejoice always,  pray without ceasing,  in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
Do not quench the Spirit. —Do not despise prophecies. Test all things; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil.—1 Thessalonians 5:16-
22

2 Thessalonians 2:13-17

But we are bound to give thanks to God always for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God from the beginning chose you for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth, 14to which He called you by our gospel, for the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. 15Therefore, brethren, stand fast and hold the traditions which you were taught, whether by word or our epistle.

16Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and our God and Father, who has loved us and given us everlasting consolation and good hope by grace, 17comfort your hearts and establish you in every good word and work.


Faith in the Lord’s Righteousness
To the Chief Musician. A Psalm of David.

Psalm 11:1-5

In the Lord I put my trust;
How can you say to my soul,
“Flee as a bird to your mountain”?
2
For look! The wicked bend their bow,
They make ready their arrow on the string,
That they may shoot secretly at the upright in heart.
3
If the foundations are destroyed,
What can the righteous do?
4
The Lord is in His holy temple,
The Lord’s throne is in heaven;
His eyes behold,
His eyelids test the sons of men.
5
The Lord tests the righteous,
But the wicked and the one who loves violence His soul hates.


Psalm 118

Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good!
For His mercy endures forever.
2
Let Israel now say,
“His mercy endures forever.”
3
Let the house of Aaron now say,
“His mercy endures forever.”
4
Let those who fear the Lord now say,
“His mercy endures forever.”
5
I called on the Lord in distress;
The Lord answered me and set me in a broad place.
6
The Lord is on my side;
I will not fear.
What can man do to me?

7
The Lord is for me among those who help me;
Therefore I shall see my desire on those who hate me.
8
It is better to trust in the Lord
Than to put confidence in man.
9
It is better to trust in the Lord
Than to put confidence in princes.
10
All nations surrounded me,
But in the name of the Lord I will destroy them.
11
They surrounded me,
Yes, they surrounded me;
But in the name of the Lord I will destroy them.

12
They surrounded me like bees;
They were quenched like a fire of thorns;
For in the name of the Lord I will destroy them.
13
You pushed me violently, that I might fall,
But the Lord helped me.
14
The Lord is my strength and song,
And He has become my salvation.
15
The voice of rejoicing and salvation
Is in the tents of the righteous;
The right hand of the Lord does valiantly.
16
The right hand of the Lord is exalted;
The right hand of the Lord does valiantly.
17
I shall not die, but live,

And declare the works of the Lord.
18
The Lord has chastened me severely,
But He has not given me over to death.
19
Open to me the gates of righteousness;
I will go through them,
And I will praise the Lord.
20
This is the gate of the Lord,
Through which the righteous shall enter.
21
I will praise You,
For You have answered me,
And have become my salvation.

22
The stone which the builders rejected
Has become the chief cornerstone.
23
This was the Lord’s doing;
It is marvelous in our eyes.
24
This is the day the Lord has made;
We will rejoice and be glad in it.
25
Save now, I pray, O Lord;
O Lord, I pray, send now prosperity.
26

Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!
We have blessed you from the house of the Lord.
27
God is the Lord,
And He has given us light;
Bind the sacrifice with cords to the horns of the altar.
28
You are my God, and I will praise You;
You are my God, I will exalt You.
29
Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good!
For His mercy endures forever.

Photo credits: Thessalonians: No Matter What by Live to Bloom

Not many wise, not many mighty, not many noble are called

But to what shall I liken this generation? It is like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling to their companions, and saying:

‘We played the flute for you,
And you did not dance;
We mourned to you,And you did not lament.’”

—Matthew 11:16-17

Job 12:16-25

With Him [God] are strength and prudence.
The deceived and the deceiver are His.
He leads counselors away plundered,
And makes fools of the judges.
He loosens the bonds of kings,
And binds their waist with a belt.
He leads princes away plundered,
And overthrows the mighty.
He deprives the trusted ones of speech,
And takes away the discernment of the elders.
He pours contempt on princes,
And disarms the mighty.
He uncovers deep things out of darkness,
And brings the shadow of death to light.
He makes nations great, and destroys them;
He enlarges nations, and guides them.
He takes away the understanding of the chiefs of the people of the earth,
And makes them wander in a pathless wilderness.
They grope in the dark without light,

And He makes them stagger as drunken man.

—-

Matthew 11: 1-24

Now it came to pass, when Jesus finished commanding His twelve disciples, that He departed from there to teach and to preach in their cities.

2And when John had heard in prison about the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples 3and said to Him, “Are You the Coming One, or do we look for another?”
4Jesus answered and said to them, “Go and tell John the things which you hear and see: 5The blind see and the lame walk; the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear; the dead are raised up and the poor have the gospel preached to them. 6And blessed is he who is not offended because of Me.”

7As they departed, Jesus began to say to the multitudes concerning John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind? 8But what did you go out to see? A man clothed in soft garments? Indeed, those who wear soft clothing are in kings’ houses. 9But what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I say to you, and more than a prophet. 10For this is he of whom it is written:

‘Behold, I send My messenger before Your face,
Who will prepare Your way before You.’

11“Assuredly, I say to you, among those born of women there has not risen one greater than John the Baptist; but he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. 12And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force. 13For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John. 14And if you are willing to receive it, he is Elijah who is to come.

15He who has ears to hear, let him hear!

16“But to what shall I liken this generation? It is like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling to their companions, 17and saying:

‘We played the flute for you,
And you did not dance;
We mourned to you,
And you did not lament.’

18For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon.’ 19The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look, a glutton and a winebibber, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ But wisdom is justified by her children.”

Woe to the Impenitent Cities

20Then He began to rebuke the cities in which most of His mighty works had been done, because they did not repent: 21“Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works which were done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. 22But I say to you, it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon in the day of judgment than for you. 23And you, Capernaum, who are exalted to heaven, will be brought down to Hades; for if the mighty works which were done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. 24But I say to you that it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment than for you.”

Jesus Gives True Rest

25 At that time Jesus answered and said, “I thank You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and have revealed them to babes. 26 Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in Your sight. 27 All things have been delivered to Me by My Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father. Nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and the one to whom the Son wills to reveal Him. 28 Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”






1 Corinthians 1:18-31

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19For it is written:

“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise,
And bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.”

20Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? 21For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. 22For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom; 23but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness, 24but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.

Glory Only in the Lord

26For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. 27But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; 28and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, 29that no flesh should glory in His presence. 30But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God—and righteousness and sanctification and redemption— 31that, as it is written, “He who glories, let him glory in the Lord.”

Artwork: Salome with the head of John The Baptist by Carivaggio

Broken cisterns, and untempered walls

Broken cisterns that hold no water and untempered walls like a breach ready to fall…”For My people have committed two evils: They have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters, And hewn themselves cisterns—broken cisterns that can hold no water.” Jeremiah 2:14


You shall break them with a rod of iron;
You shall dash them to pieces like a potter’s vessel.

Now therefore, be wise, O kings; Be instructed, you judges of the earth.—Psalm 2:9-10

Isaiah 30:8-14

Now go, write it before them on a tablet,
And note it on a scroll,
That it may be for time to come,
Forever and ever:
That this is a rebellious people,
Lying children,
Children who will not hear the law of the Lord;
Who say to the seers, “Do not see,”
And to the prophets, “Do not prophesy to us right things;
Speak to us smooth things, prophesy deceits.
11Get out of the way,
Turn aside from the path,
Cause the Holy One of Israel
To cease from before us.”

Therefore thus says the Holy One of Israel:

“Because you despise this word,
And trust in oppression and perversity,
And rely on them,
Therefore this iniquity shall be to you
Like a breach ready to fall,
A bulge in a high wall,
Whose breaking comes suddenly, in an instant.
And He shall break it like the breaking of the potter’s vessel,
Which is broken in pieces;
He shall not spare.
So there shall not be found among its fragments
A shard to take fire from the hearth,
Or to take water from the cistern.”
—-

Ezekiel 13:3-14

Thus says the Lord God: “Woe to the foolish prophets, who follow their own spirit and have seen nothing! O Israel, your prophets are like foxes in the deserts. You have not gone up into the gaps to build a wall for the house of Israel to stand in battle on the day of the Lord. They have envisioned futility and false divination, saying, ‘Thus says the Lord!’ But the Lord has not sent them; yet they hope that the word may be confirmed. Have you not seen a futile vision, and have you not spoken false divination? You say,

‘The Lord says,’ but I have not spoken.”

Therefore thus says the Lord God: “Because you have spoken nonsense and envisioned lies, therefore I am indeed against you,” says the Lord God. “My hand will be against the prophets who envision futility and who divine lies; they shall not be in the assembly of My people, nor be written in the record of the house of Israel, nor shall they enter into the land of Israel. Then you shall know that I am the Lord God.

“Because, indeed, because they have seduced My people, saying, ‘Peace!’ when there is no peace—and one builds a wall, and they plaster it with untempered mortar—say to those who plaster it with untempered mortar, that it will fall. There will be flooding rain, and you, O great hailstones, shall fall; and a stormy wind shall tear it down. Surely, when the wall has fallen, will it not be said to you, ‘Where is the mortar with which you plastered it?’”

Therefore thus says the Lord God: “I will cause a stormy wind to break forth in My fury; and there shall be a flooding rain in My anger, and great hailstones in fury to consume it. So I will break down the wall you have plastered with untempered mortar, and bring it down to the ground, so that its foundation will be uncovered; it will fall, and you shall be consumed in the midst of it. Then you shall know that I am the Lord.

Isaiah 28:14-19

Therefore hear the word of the Lord, you scornful men,Who rule this people who are in Jerusalem,Because you have said, “We have made a covenant with death,And with Sheol we are in agreement.When the overflowing scourge passes through,It will not come to us,For we have made lies our refuge,And under falsehood we have hidden ourselves.”

A Cornerstone in Zion

Therefore thus says the Lord God: “Behold, I lay in Zion a stone for a foundation, A tried stone, a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation; Whoever believes will not act hastily. Also I will make justice the measuring line, And righteousness the plummet; The hail will sweep away the refuge of lies, And the waters will overflow the hiding place. Your covenant with death will be annulled, And your agreement with Sheol will not stand; When the overflowing scourge passes through, Then you will be trampled down by it. As often as it goes out it will take you; For morning by morning it will pass over,)And by day and by night; It will be a terror just to understand the report.”

—-

Matthew 7:24-28

Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock.

“But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall.”

And so it was, when Jesus had ended these sayings, that the people were astonished at His teaching, for He taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.

—-

Mark 6:1-6

Then He went out from there and came to His own country, and His disciples followed Him. 2And when the Sabbath had come, He began to teach in the synagogue. And many hearing Him were astonished, saying, “Where did this Man get these things? And what wisdom is this which is given to Him, that such mighty works are performed by His hands! 3Is this not the carpenter, the Son of Mary, and brother of James, Joses, Judas, and Simon? And are not His sisters here with us?” So they were offended at Him.

4But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own country, among his own relatives, and in his own house.” 5Now He could do no mighty work there, except that He laid His hands on a few sick people and healed them. 6And He marveled because of their unbelief. Then He went about the villages in a circuit, teaching.

Revelation 19:11-16

Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war. 12His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns. He had a name written that no one knew except Himself. 13He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. 14And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses. 15Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron. He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. 16And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written:

KING OF KINGS AND
LORD OF LORDS.

—-

Artwork: The Three Judges c.1936 Georges Rouault 1871-1958 Bequeathed by Montague Shearman through the Contemporary Art Society 1940 http://www.tate.org.uk/art/work/N05146

A lovely song ― of poet, apostle and prophet

What is a poet? An unhappy man who hides deep anguish in his heart, but whose lips are so formed that when the sigh and cry pass through them, it sounds like lovely music…. And people flock around the poet and say: ‘Sing again soon’ – that is, ‘May new sufferings torment your soul but your lips be fashioned as before, for the cry would only frighten us, but the music, that is blissful.
― Soren Kierkegaard,

I have not sent these prophets, yet they ran.

I have not spoken to them, yet they prophesied.

22 But if they had stood in My counsel,

And had caused My people to hear My words,

Then they would have turned them from their evil way

And from the evil of their doings. (Jeremiah 23:21-22)

Ezekiel 33:30-33

“As for you, son of man, the children of your people are talking about you beside the walls and in the doors of the houses; and they speak to one another, everyone saying to his brother, ‘Please come and hear what the word is that comes from the Lord.’ 31 So they come to you as people do, they sit before you as My people, and they hear your words, but they do not do them; for with their mouth they show much love, but their hearts pursue their own gain. 32 Indeed you are to them as a very lovely song of one who has a pleasant voice and can play well on an instrument; for they hear your words, but they do not do them. 33 And when this comes to pass—surely it will come—then they will know that a prophet has been among them.”

James 1:22-24

But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; 24 for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. 25 But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.




—–

Such words as love, truth, beauty, goodness, sincerity, grace, reconciliation, righteousness, “words which imply an almost total indifference to contrasts of value have come more often from their [the surrealists’] pens” as Simone Weil writes, “than words which contain a reference to good and evil.” Moreover, she adds, “this latter class of words has become degraded, especially those which refer to the good, as Valéry remarked some years ago. Words like virtue , nobility , honor , honesty , generosity , have become almost impossible to use or else they have acquired bastard meanings; language is no longer equipped for legitimately praising a man’s character.”

Similarly, as Christians we ought to refrain from pimping sacred words that constitute the nomenclature of historic Christianity out to the world, as if they were merely some kind of Lyotardian language game, or perhaps rather more egregiously, some sort of bromidereligion as the opium of the masses. One may have gathered a sense of late, that everything is up for sale, but press pause for a moment, and let us consider our ways. After all, as Dylan reminds us, “you don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.” Perhaps the tables that are being flipped, and the merchants who are being chased out of the temple by the Masters whip are not over there, but rather, they are over here—on the wrong side of history? Jeremiah carried the same burden as Jesus, as he warned the people of God, that they should not trust in the deceptions of those who cry: “The temple of the LORD, The temple of the LORD, The temple of the LORD, are these…Has this house, which is called by my name, become a den of robbers in your eyes? Behold, even I have seen it, says the LORD.” (Jeremiah 7:4; 11; Matthew 21:13 ).


We need shepherds, not sophists. We need Pastors, not pundits. We need evangelists, not star-struck entertainers. We need the ministration of the Holy Spirit, not sorcery and divination. We need Christ-like leaders, not politically expedient clowns. We need spiritual fathers, not fools (though fools for Christ are in short supply). We need the full gospel, not a discombobulated or reconfigured gospel, which is really no gospel at all. Can you not see this world is fading away? Why are Christians so desperate for the approval of fallen men and women, in a world that is dying? We lament without understanding what it means to be in Lamentations (1:19): “I called for my lovers, But they deceived me; My priests and my elders Breathed their last in the city, While they sought food To restore their life.” We are in the midst of a spiritual famine ― not of bread and thirst for water, but a famine of hearing the Word of the LORD. And it shall be, like priest, like people (Amos 8:11; Hosea 4:11). We still arrogantly refuse Jesus’ words as he rebukes the accuser of those who continue to faithfully keep the commandments of God: “…It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. (Matthew 4:4)

We are called to judge ourselves first, so that we are not judged with the world. Have you not seen, have you not heard, Judgment begins in the house of God?

Try to be pure at heart, they arrest you for robbery
Mistake your shyness for aloofness, your shyness for snobbery
Got the message this morning, the one that was sent to me
About the madness of becoming what one was never meant to be

Don’t know what I can say about Claudette wouldn’t come back to haunt me
Finally had to give her up about the time she began to want me
But I know God has mercy on them who are slandered and humiliated
I’d a-done anything for that woman if she’d only make me feel obligated

I’m gonna set my affections on things above

and let nothing stand in the way of love

not even the Rock of Gibraltar

if you see her on Fenton street

tell her that I still think she’s neat
and the groom’s still waiting at the altar

We are in the world, not of it. A ‘church’ [ekklesia] that is merely a mirror image of the world, is not a sanctified bride without spot or wrinkle―but rather it is a shadow (a simulacrum), having a form of godliness but denying the power of God (see 2 Timothy 3:5). It is a social club, and In fact, that’s putting it in socially acceptable terms; the Bible tells us that a church seeking friendship with the world, consists of an adulterous people and ultimately, is a “harlot” (see James 4:4; Revelation 2-3, 17-18; Ezekiel 16). This is the outworking of a ‘church’ cravenly seeking validation from the world. It is not of God, the Father of all spirits, and the Father of lights from whom every good and perfect gift emanates, and in whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.

Cities on fire, phones out of order
They’re killing nuns and soldiers, there’s fighting on the border
What can I say about Claudette?
Ain’t seen her since January
She could be respectfully married or running a whorehouse in Buenos Aires

I’m gonna set my affections on things above

and let nothing stand in the way of love

not even the Rock of Gibraltar

if you see her on Fenton street

tell her I still think she’s neat

and the groom’s still waiting at the altar―Bob Dylan


All of this fainting couch finger-wagging, at the speck in the eye of some arbitrary straw man, in lieu of removing the plank from ones own, seems more reminiscent of filthy rags righteousness than imitation of the ONLY Wise God. We do not need puerile (or racialized) false dichotomies, we need men and women like the children of Issachar, who understood the times and knew what to tell Israel [the church] to do. Let us not cunningly conflate the issues besetting us, in this politically charged moment. The distinction is not subtle here, it is made plain:

But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a revller, or a drunkard, or an extortioner—not even to eat with such a person. For what have I to do with judging those also who are outside? Do you not judge those who are inside?” (1 Corinthians 5:11-12).

“Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world will be judged by you, are you unworthy to judge the smallest matters? Do you not know that we shall judge angels? How much more, things that pertain to this life? If then you have judgments concerning things pertaining to this life, do you appoint those who are least esteemed by the church to judge? I say this to your shame. Is it so, that there is not a wise man among you, not even one, who will be able to judge between his brethren? But brother goes to law against brother, and that before unbelievers.” (1 Corinthians 6:1-6)




No doubt, you noisy shepherds—you are the people, and wisdom shall die with you.

Nevertheless, this also remains true for those sealed in the Beloved, in the spirit of Elijah, he will return the hearts of the children to their fathers and the hearts of the fathers to their children, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse;.and turn the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord. (Luke 1:17; Malachi 4:5)

—-
Not just in commerce but in the world of ideas too our age is putting on a veritable clearance sale. Everything can be had so dirt cheap that one begins to wonder whether in the end anyone will want to make a bid. What our age lacks is not reflection, but passion.

What we call worldliness simply consists of such people who, if one may so express it, pawn themselves to the world.― Søren Kierkegaard

—-
Photo Credits: Georges Rouault, “Christ’s Apostles”

Reference: Simone Weil, “The responsibility of writers”, p.168

For in Him we live and move and have our being

For in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are also His offspring.’ Therefore, since we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, something shaped by art and man’s devising.―Acts 17:28-29

Justice being taken away, then, what are kingdoms but great robberies? For what are robberies themselves, but little kingdoms? The band itself is made up of men; it is ruled by the authority of a prince, it is knit together by the pact of the confederacy; the booty is divided by the law agreed on. If, by the admittance of abandoned men, this evil increases to such a degree that it holds places, fixes abodes, takes possession of cities, and subdues peoples, it assumes the more plainly the name of a kingdom, because the reality is now manifestly conferred on it, not by the removal of covetousness, but by the addition of impunity. Indeed, that was an apt and true reply which was given to Alexander the Great by a pirate who had been seized. For when that king had asked the man what he meant by keeping hostile possession of the sea, he answered with bold pride, “What thou meanest by seizing the whole earth; but because I do it with a petty ship, I am called a robber, whilst thou who dost it with a great fleet art styled emperor.―St. Augustine

In Pilate’s Court

John 18:28-40



28 Then they led Jesus from Caiaphas to the Praetorium, and it was early morning. But they themselves did not go into the Praetorium, lest they should be defiled, but that they might eat the Passover. 29 Pilate then went out to them and said, “What accusation do you bring against this Man?”

30 They answered and said to him, “If He were not an evildoer, we would not have delivered Him up to you.”

31 Then Pilate said to them, “You take Him and judge Him according to your law.”
Therefore the Jews said to him, “It is not lawful for us to put anyone to death,” 32 that the saying of Jesus might be fulfilled which He spoke, signifying by what death He would die.

33 Then Pilate entered the Praetorium again, called Jesus, and said to Him, “Are You the King of the Jews?”

34 Jesus answered him, “Are you speaking for yourself about this, or did others tell you this concerning Me?”

35 Pilate answered, “Am I a Jew? Your own nation and the chief priests have delivered You to me. What have You done?”

36 Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here.”

37 Pilate therefore said to Him, “Are You a king then?”

Jesus answered, “You say rightly that I am a king. For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.”

38 Pilate said to Him, “What is truth?” And when he had said this, he went out again to the Jews, and said to them, “I find no fault in Him at all.

Taking the Place of Barabbas

39 “But you have a custom that I should release someone to you at the Passover. Do you therefore want me to release to you the King of the Jews?”
40 Then they all cried again, saying, “Not this Man, but Barabbas!” Now Barabbas was a robber.


The Philosophers at Athens

Acts 17:16-34

16 Now while Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was provoked within him when he saw that the city was given over to idols. 17 Therefore he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and with the Gentile worshipers, and in the marketplace daily with those who happened to be there. 18 Then certain Epicurean and Stoic philosophers encountered him. And some said, “What does this babbler want to say?”

Others said, “He seems to be a proclaimer of foreign gods,” because he preached to them Jesus and the resurrection.

19 And they took him and brought him to the Areopagus, saying, “May we know what this new doctrine is of which you speak? 20 For you are bringing some strange things to our ears. Therefore we want to know what these things mean.” 21 For all the Athenians and the foreigners who were there spent their time in nothing else but either to tell or to hear some new thing.

Addressing the Areopagus

22 Then Paul stood in the midst of the Areopagus and said, “Men of Athens, I perceive that in all things you are very religious; 23 for as I was passing through and considering the objects of your worship, I even found an altar with this inscription:

TO THE UNKNOWN GOD.

Therefore, the One whom you worship without knowing, Him I proclaim to you: 24 God, who made the world and everything in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands. 25 Nor is He worshiped with men’s hands, as though He needed anything, since He gives to all life, breath, and all things. 26 And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings, 27 so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; 28 for in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are also His offspring.’ 29 Therefore, since we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, something shaped by art and man’s devising. 30 Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, 31 because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.”

32 And when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked, while others said, “We will hear you again on this matter.” 33 So Paul departed from among them. 34 However, some men joined him and believed, among them Dionysius the Areopagite, a woman named Damaris, and others with them.



Idolatry is never a culturally specific phenomenon, but rather universally diverse in all of its particular expressions. Under the banner of Christendom and its expansionist excesses of colonialism, various forms of [Western] cultural imperialism amplified the ethnic and racial specificity of the pagan ‘other’, while surreptitiously masking the paganism of its own. However, Yahweh, since the time of our father Abraham until this present day, is calling a people of every tribe, tongue, and nation out of national and familial attachments to paganism. Simultaneously―being no respecter of persons―God is also calling his people out from thraldoms of cultural Christianity, where ever it has broken yokes of wood and replaced them with yokes of iron.

Ultimately, despite our present reality, God’s true church (the bride) will not serve as a brothel for profane culture, no matter how we might dress it up and call it ‘Christianity’. Our Kinsman Redeemer―Jesus Christ― is redeeming for himself a bride without spot or wrinkle, holy and without blame.

—-

Isaiah 5:18-23

Woe to those who draw iniquity with cords of [k]vanity,
And sin as if with a cart rope;
19 That say, “Let Him make speed and hasten His work,
That we may see it;
And let the counsel of the Holy One of Israel draw near and come,
That we may know it.”

2Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil;
Who put darkness for light, and light for darkness;
Who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!

21 Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes,
And prudent in their own sight!

22 Woe to men mighty at drinking wine,
Woe to men valiant for mixing intoxicating drink,
23 Who justify the wicked for a bribe,
And take away justice from the righteous man!

Artwork: Georges Rouault “Jesus in Pilates Court”



He was despised and rejected

He has no form or comeliness;
And when we see Him,
There is no beauty that we should desire Him.
 He is despised and rejected by men,
A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.
And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him;
He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. .―Isaiah 53:2-3

Who has believed our report?
And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?

For He shall grow up before Him as a tender plant,
And as a root out of dry ground.
He has no form or comeliness;
And when we see Him,
There is no beauty that we should desire Him.

He is despised and rejected by men,
A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.
And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him
;
He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. (Isaiah 53:1-3)
—-

John 12:37-43

But although He had done so many signs before them, they did not believe in Him, that the word of Isaiah the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spoke:
“Lord, who has believed our report?
And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?”
Therefore they could not believe, because Isaiah said again:

“He has blinded their eyes and hardened their hearts,
Lest they should see with their eyes,
Lest they should understand with their hearts and turn,
So that I should heal them.”
These things Isaiah said when he saw His glory and spoke of Him.

Walk in the Light

Nevertheless even among the rulers many believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.


—-

John 15:18-25

“If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also. But all these things they will do to you for My name’s sake, because they do not know Him who sent Me. If I had not come and spoken to them, they would have no sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. He who hates Me hates My Father also. If I had not done among them the works which no one else did, they would have no sin; but now they have seen and also hated both Me and My Father. But this happened that the word might be fulfilled which is written in their law, ‘They hated Me without a cause.

—-

Psalm 22:12-21

Many bulls have surrounded Me;
Strong bulls of Bashan have encircled Me.
13 They gape at Me with their mouths,
Like a raging and roaring lion.

14 I am poured out like water,
And all My bones are out of joint;
My heart is like wax;
It has melted within Me.
15 My strength is dried up like a potsherd,
And My tongue clings to My jaws;

You have brought Me to the dust of death.

16 For dogs have surrounded Me;
The congregation of the wicked has enclosed Me.
They pierced My hands and My feet;
17 I can count all My bones.
They look and stare at Me.
18 They divide My garments among them,
And for My clothing they cast lots.

19 But You, O Lord, do not be far from Me;
O My Strength, hasten to help Me!
20 Deliver Me from the sword,
My precious life from the power of the dog.
21 Save Me from the lion’s mouth

And from the horns of the wild oxen!

—-

Ezekiel 22:23-31

Israel’s Wicked Leaders

23 And the word of the Lord came to me, saying, 24 “Son of man, say to her: ‘You are a land that is not [d]cleansed or rained on in the day of indignation.’ 25 The conspiracy of her prophets in her midst is like a roaring lion tearing the prey; they have devoured people; they have taken treasure and precious things; they have made many widows in her midst. 26 Her priests have violated My law and profaned My holy things; they have not distinguished between the holy and unholy, nor have they made known the difference between the unclean and the clean; and they have hidden their eyes from My Sabbaths, so that I am profaned among them. 27 Her princes in her midst are like wolves tearing the prey, to shed blood, to destroy people, and to get dishonest gain. 28 Her prophets plastered them with untempered mortar, seeing false visions, and divining lies for them, saying, ‘Thus says the Lord God,’ when the Lord had not spoken. 29 The people of the land have used oppressions, committed robbery, and mistreated the poor and needy; and they wrongfully oppress the stranger. 30 So I sought for a man among them who would make a wall, and stand in the gap before Me on behalf of the land, that I should not destroy it; but I found no one.

31 Therefore I have poured out My indignation on them; I have consumed them with the fire of My wrath; and I have recompensed their deeds on their own heads,” says the Lord God.

—-

Pilate Seeks Jesus’ Release

Luke 23:13-25

13 Pilate summoned the chief priests and the rulers and the people, 14 and said to them, “You brought this man before me as one who corrupts and incites the people to rebellion. After examining Him before you, I have found no guilt in this Man regarding the charges which you make against Him. 15 No, nor has Herod, for he sent Him back to us; and indeed, He has done nothing to deserve death. 16 Therefore I will punish Him [to teach Him a lesson] and release Him.” 17 [Now he was obligated to release to them one prisoner at the Feast.]

18 But they [loudly] shouted out all together, saying, “Away with this Man, and release Barabbas to us!” 19 (He was one who had been thrown into prison for an insurrection that happened in the city, and for murder.) 20 Pilate addressed them again, wanting to release Jesus, 21 but they kept shouting out, “Crucify, crucify Him!” 22 A third time he said to them, “Why, what wrong has He done? I have found no guilt [no crime, no offense] in Him demanding death; therefore I will punish Him [to teach Him a lesson] and release Him.” 23 But they were insistent and unrelenting, demanding with loud voices that Jesus be crucified. And their voices began to prevail and accomplish their purpose. 24 Pilate pronounced sentence that their demand be granted. 25 And he released the man they were asking for who had been thrown into prison for insurrection and murder, but he handed over Jesus to their will.

—-

Artwork: “Jesus Despised” by Georges Rouault

Immanuel – God With Us

Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.―Isaiah 7:14

So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying: 23“Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.” ―Matthew 1:22-23

“I will declare Your name to My brethren;
In the midst of the assembly I will sing praise to You.”

And again:

“I will put My trust in Him.”
And again:

“Here am I and the children whom God has given Me.”

Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.―Hebrews 2:12-15






Isaiah 8:6-21

The Lord also spoke to me again, saying:
6
“Inasmuch as these people refused
The waters of Shiloah that flow softly,
And rejoice in Rezin and in Remaliah’s son;
7
Now therefore, behold, the Lord brings up over them
The waters of the River, strong and mighty—
The king of Assyria and all his glory;
He will go up over all his channels
And go over all his banks.
8
He will pass through Judah,
He will overflow and pass over,
He will reach up to the neck;
And the stretching out of his wings
Will fill the breadth of Your land, O Immanuel.
9
“Be shattered, O you peoples, and be broken in pieces!
Give ear, all you from far countries.
Gird yourselves, but be broken in pieces;
Gird yourselves, but be broken in pieces.
10
Take counsel together, but it will come to nothing;
Speak the word, but it will not stand,
For God is with us.”
Fear God, Heed His Word

11 For the Lord spoke thus to me with a strong hand, and instructed me that I should not walk in the way of this people, saying:
12
“Do not say, ‘A conspiracy,’
Concerning all that this people call a conspiracy,
Nor be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled.
13
The Lord of hosts, Him you shall hallow;
Let Him be your fear,
And let Him be your dread.
14
He will be as a sanctuary,
But a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense
To both the houses of Israel,
As a trap and a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem.
15
And many among them shall stumble;
They shall fall and be broken,
Be snared and taken.”
16
Bind up the testimony,
Seal the law among my disciples.
17
And I will wait on the Lord,
Who hides His face from the house of Jacob;
And I will hope in Him.
18
Here am I and the children whom the Lord has given me!
We are for signs and wonders in Israel
From the Lord of hosts,
Who dwells in Mount Zion.

19 And when they say to you, “Seek those who are mediums and wizards, who whisper and mutter,” should not a people seek their God? Should they seek the dead on behalf of the living? 20 To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.

21 They will pass through it hard-pressed and hungry; and it shall happen, when they are hungry, that they will be enraged and curse their king and their God, and look upward. 22 Then they will look to the earth, and see trouble and darkness, gloom of anguish; and they will be driven into darkness.


Isaiah 9:1-7

Nevertheless the gloom will not be upon her who is distressed,
As when at first He lightly esteemed
The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali,
And afterward more heavily oppressed her,
By the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan,
In Galilee of the Gentiles.
2
The people who walked in darkness
Have seen a great light;
Those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death,
Upon them a light has shined.
3
You have multiplied the nation
And increased its joy;
They rejoice before You
According to the joy of harvest,
As men rejoice when they divide the spoil.
4
For You have broken the yoke of his burden
And the staff of his shoulder,
The rod of his oppressor,
As in the day of Midian.
5
For every warrior’s sandal from the noisy battle,
And garments rolled in blood,
Will be used for burning and fuel of fire.
6
For unto us a Child is born,
Unto us a Son is given;
And the government will be upon His shoulder.
And His name will be called
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
7
Of the increase of His government and peace
There will be no end,
Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom,
To order it and establish it with judgment and justice
From that time forward, even forever.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.

—-

Psalm 46

God the refuge of His People and Conqueror of the Nations

To the Chief Musician> A Psalm of the sons of Korah. A song for Alamoth

God is our refuge and strength,
A very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear,
Even though the earth be removed,
And though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;
Though its waters roar and be troubled,
Though the mountains shake with its swelling. Selah

4 There is a river whose streams shall make glad the city of God,
The holy place of the tabernacle of the Most High.
God is in the midst of her, she shall not be moved;

The Lord of hosts is with us;
The God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah

8 Come, behold the works of the Lord,
Who has made desolations in the earth.
He makes wars cease to the end of the earth;
He breaks the bow and cuts the spear in two;
He burns the chariot in the fire.

10 Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!

11 The Lord of hosts is with us;
The God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah

Bless The Lord, O My Soul

But to you who fear My name
The Sun of Righteousness shall arise
With healing in His wings;
And you shall go out
And grow fat like stall-fed calves.
You shall trample the wicked,
For they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet
―Malachi 4:2-3

He sent His word and healed them,

And delivered them from their destructions.

For I will restore health to you
And heal you of your wounds,’ says the Lord,
‘Because they called you an outcast saying:
“This is Zion;
No one seeks her.” (Psalm 107:20; Jeremiah 30:17)

Psalm 103

Bless the Lord, O my soul;
And all that is within me, bless His holy name!

Bless the Lord, O my soul,
And forget not all His benefits:

Who forgives all your iniquities,
Who heals all your diseases,

Who redeems your life from destruction,

Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies,

Who satisfies your mouth with good things,
So that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

The Lord executes righteousness
And justice for all who are oppressed.

He made known His ways to Moses,
His acts to the children of Israel.

The Lord is merciful and gracious,
Slow to anger, and abounding in mercy.

He will not always strive with us,
Nor will He keep His anger forever.

He has not dealt with us according to our sins,
Nor punished us according to our iniquities.

For as the heavens are high above the earth,
So great is His mercy toward those who fear Him;

As far as the east is from the west,
So far has He removed our transgressions from us.

As a father pities his children,

So the Lord pities those who fear Him.

For He knows our frame;
He remembers that we are dust.

As for man, his days are like grass;
As a flower of the field, so he flourishes.

For the wind passes over it, and it is gone,
And its place remembers it no more.

But the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting

On those who fear Him,
And His righteousness to children’s children,

To such as keep His covenant,
And to those who remember His commandments to do them
.

The Lord has established His throne in heaven,

And His kingdom rules over all.

Bless the Lord, you His angels,
Who excel in strength, who do His word,
Heeding the voice of His word.

Bless the Lord, all you His hosts,
You ministers of His, who do His pleasure.

Bless the Lord, all His works,
In all places of His dominion.
Bless the Lord, O my soul!

Ezekiel 34:26-30

I will make them and the places all around My hill a blessing; and I will cause showers to come down in their season; there shall be showers of blessing. 27 Then the trees of the field shall yield their fruit, and the earth shall yield her increase. They shall be safe in their land; and they shall know that I am the Lord, when I have broken the bands of their yoke and delivered them from the hand of those who enslaved them. 28 And they shall no longer be a prey for the nations, nor shall beasts of the land devour them; but they shall dwell safely, and no one shall make them afraid. 29 I will raise up for them a garden of renown, and they shall no longer be consumed with hunger in the land, nor bear the shame of the Gentiles anymore. 30 Thus they shall know that I, the Lord their God, am with them, and they, the house of Israel, are My people,” says the Lord God.’

Can you draw out Leviathan with a hook…

They take up all of them with a hook,
They catch them in their net,
And gather them in their dragnet.
Therefore they rejoice and are glad.
Therefore they sacrifice to their net,
And burn incense to their dragnet;
Because by them their share is sumptuous
And their food plentiful.
Shall they therefore empty their net,
And continue to slay nations without pity?― Habakkuk 1:15-17

Are You not from everlasting,

O Lord my God, my Holy One?

We shall not die.

O Lord, You have appointed them for judgment;

O Rock, You have marked them for correction.

You are of purer eyes than to behold evil,

And cannot look on wickedness.

Why do You look on those who deal treacherously,

And hold Your tongue when the wicked devours

A person more righteous than he?

14Why do You make men like fish of the sea,

Like creeping things that have no ruler over them?

They take up all of them with a hook,
They catch them in their net,
And gather them in their dragnet.
Therefore they rejoice and are glad.
Therefore they sacrifice to their net,
And burn incense to their dragnet;
Because by them their share is sumptuous
And their food plentiful.
Shall they therefore empty their net,
And continue to slay nations without pity?―Habakkuk 1:12-17

—-

In that day the Lord with His severe sword, great and strong,
Will punish Leviathan the fleeing serpent,
Leviathan that twisted serpent;
And He will slay the reptile that is in the sea.

In that day sing to her,
“A vineyard of red wine!

I, the Lord, keep it,
I water it every moment;
Lest any hurt it,
I keep it night and day.


Fury is not in Me.
Who would set briers and thorns
Against Me in battle?
I would go through them,
I would burn them together.


Or let him take hold of My strength,
That he may make peace with Me;
And he shall make peace with Me.”― Isaiah 27:1-5

—-

Job 41:1-34

Can you draw out Leviathan with a hook,
Or snare his tongue with a line which you lower?
Can you put a reed through his nose,
Or pierce his jaw with a hook?
Will he make many supplications to you?
Will he speak softly to you?
Will he make a covenant with you?
Will you take him as a servant forever?
Will you play with him as with a bird,
Or will you leash him for your maidens?
Will your companions make a banquet of him?
Will they apportion him among the merchants?

Can you fill his skin with harpoons,
Or his head with fishing spears?
Lay your hand on him;
Remember the battle—
Never do it again!
Indeed, any hope of overcoming him is false;
Shall one not be overwhelmed at the sight of him?
No one is so fierce that he would dare stir him up.
Who then is able to stand against Me?
Who has preceded Me, that I should pay him?

Everything under heaven is Mine.
“I will not conceal his limbs,
His mighty power, or his graceful proportions.
Who can remove his outer coat?
Who can approach him with a double bridle?
Who can open the doors of his face,
With his terrible teeth all around?
His rows of scales are his pride,

Shut up tightly as with a seal;
One is so near another
That no air can come between them;
They are joined one to another,

They stick together and cannot be parted.
His sneezings flash forth light,
And his eyes are like the eyelids of the morning.
Out of his mouth go burning lights;
Sparks of fire shoot out.

Smoke goes out of his nostrils,
As from a boiling pot and burning rushes.
His breath kindles coals,
And a flame goes out of his mouth.
Strength dwells in his neck,
And sorrow dances before him.
The folds of his flesh are joined together;
They are firm on him and cannot be moved.
His heart is as hard as stone,
Even as hard as the lower millstone.
When he raises himself up, the mighty are afraid;
Because of his crashings they are beside themselves.

Though the sword reaches him, it cannot avail;
Nor does spear, dart, or javelin.
He regards iron as straw,
And bronze as rotten wood.
The arrow cannot make him flee;
Slingstones become like stubble to him.
Darts are regarded as straw;
He laughs at the threat of javelins.
His undersides are like sharp potsherds;
He spreads pointed marks in the mire.
He makes the deep boil like a pot;

He makes the sea like a pot of ointment.
He leaves a shining wake behind him;
One would think the deep had white hair.
On earth there is nothing like him,
Which is made without fear.
He beholds every high thing;
He is king over all the children of pride.”

—-

You broke the heads of Leviathan in pieces, And gave him as food to the people inhabiting the wilderness.―Psalm 74:14



—-

Habakkuk 2: 1-14

I will stand upon my watch, and set me upon the tower, and will watch to see what he will say unto me, and what I shall answer when I am reproved.

2And the LORD answered me, and said, Write the vision, and make it plain upon tables, that he may run that readeth it.

3For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry.

4Behold, his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him: but the just shall live by his faith.
5Yea also, because he transgresseth by wine, he is a proud man, neither keepeth at home, who enlargeth his desire as hell, and is as death, and cannot be satisfied, but gathereth unto him all nations, and heapeth unto him all people:

Shall not all these take up a parable against him, and a taunting proverb against him, and say, Woe to him that increaseth that which is not his! how long? and to him that ladeth himself with thick clay!

7Shall they not rise up suddenly that shall bite thee, and awake that shall vex thee, and thou shalt be for booties unto them?
8Because thou hast spoiled many nations, all the remnant of the people shall spoil thee; because of men’s blood, and for the violence of the land, of the city, and of all that dwell therein.

9Woe to him that coveteth an evil covetousness to his house, that he may set his nest on high, that he may be delivered from the power of evil!

10Thou hast consulted shame to thy house by cutting off many people, and hast sinned against thy soul.

11For the stone shall cry out of the wall, and the beam out of the timber shall answer it.

12Woe to him that buildeth a town with blood, and stablisheth a city by iniquity!

13Behold, is it not of the LORD of hosts that the people shall labour in the very fire, and the people shall weary themselves for very vanity?

14For the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.

—-

The Vision of Perpetua

I saw a ladder of tremendous height made of bronze, reaching all the way to the heavens, but it was so narrow that only one person could climb up it at a time. To the sides of the ladder were attached all sorts of metal weapons: there were swords, spears, hooks, daggers, and spikes; so that if anyone tried to climb up carelessly or without paying attention, he would be mangled, and his flesh would adhere to the weapons.

At the foot of the ladder lay a dragon of enormous size, and it would attack those who tried to climb up and try to terrify them from doing so. And Saturus [Perpetua’s instructor in the Christian faith] was the first to go up, he who was later to give himself up of his own accord. He had been the builder of our strength, although he was not present when we were arrested. And he arrived at the top of the staircase, and he looked back and said to me: “Perpetua, I am waiting for you. But take care; do not let the dragon bite you.”

“He will not harm me,” I said, “in the name of Christ Jesus.”

Slowly, as though he were afraid of me, the dragon stuck his head out from underneath the ladder. Then, using it as my first step, I trod on his head and went up.

Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you. (Jesus―Luke 10:19)

And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ. (Revelation 12:17)

With Reference to: From the Archives: Perpetua & Polycarp: Two Heroic Martyrs, Christian History Institute


The Seven Eyes of God

For who hath despised the day of small things? for they shall rejoice, and shall see the plummet in the hand of Zerubbabel with those seven; they are the eyes of the Lord, which run to and fro through the whole earth.. (Zechariah 4:10)

For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him. Herein thou hast done foolishly: therefore from henceforth thou shalt have wars. (2 Chronicles 16:9)




And he shewed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right hand to resist him.

2 And the Lord said unto Satan, The Lord rebuke thee, O Satan; even the Lord that hath chosen Jerusalem rebuke thee: is not this a brand plucked out of the fire?

3 Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments, and stood before the angel.

4 And he answered and spake unto those that stood before him, saying, Take away the filthy garments from him. And unto him he said, Behold, I have caused thine iniquity to pass from thee, and I will clothe thee with change of raiment.

5 And I said, Let them set a fair mitre upon his head. So they set a fair mitre upon his head, and clothed him with garments. And the angel of the Lord stood by.

6 And the angel of the Lord protested unto Joshua, saying,

7 Thus saith the Lord of hosts; If thou wilt walk in my ways, and if thou wilt keep my charge, then thou shalt also judge my house, and shalt also keep my courts, and I will give thee places to walk among these that stand by.

8 Hear now, O Joshua the high priest, thou, and thy fellows that sit before thee: for they are men wondered at: for, behold, I will bring forth my servant the Branch.

9 For behold the stone that I have laid before Joshua; upon one stone shall be seven eyes: behold, I will engrave the graving thereof, saith the Lord of hosts, and I will remove the iniquity of that land in one day.

10 In that day, saith the Lord of hosts, shall ye call every man his neighbour under the vine and under the fig tree. (Zechariah 3:1-10)

—-

For men verily swear by the greater: and an oath for confirmation is to them an end of all strife.

1Wherein God, willing more abundantly to shew unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it by an oath:

18 That by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us:

19 Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast, and which entereth into that within the veil;

2Whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made an high priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.





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And I saw in the right hand of him that sat on the throne a book written within and on the backside, sealed with seven seals.

2 And I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, Who is worthy to open the book, and to loose the seals thereof?

3 And no man in heaven, nor in earth, neither under the earth, was able to open the book, neither to look thereon.

4 And I wept much, because no man was found worthy to open and to read the book, neither to look thereon.

5 And one of the elders saith unto me, Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof.

6 And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth. (Revelation 5:1-6)

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Solomon was great as a builder. For this, perhaps, he is best known among us. ’Twas a mighty deed to bring the towering cedars of Lebanon, all fashioned and prepared, to Jerusalem to make a house for the Lord—to hew from the quarries in the mountains great stones, and goodly ones, all squared, and each one fitted, and made ready for its place, so that there might be no sound of hammer, nor lifting up of chisel in the building of the house. Happy were the eyes that looked upon the temple of Solomon!

Even at this very day, when the explorers come upon what they suppose to be the temple, they are astounded at the masses of stone which they find there. Our Lord said that one stone should not be left upon another, but that all should be cast down, but even as they lie in the places where they were cast down, they are wonderful. Even modern engineers have marveled how they could ever have been brought and put into their places—they are of such enormous size, and yet so well squared and prepared for the building.

Besides this, Solomon built a house of the forest of Lebanon, of which we have a descriptive account in the pages of inspiration, and which seems to have been a marvelous work also. In addition to that, he was great in the erection of works for the carrying of water. He made pools in Zion—the upper and the nether pools. He seems to have carried aqueducts where they were never heard of before his time, and it is possible that many of the great discoveries of modern days were well known to Solomon, even all those years ago.

He seems to have built an ascent to the house of the Lord, which particularly struck the Queen of Sheba as being a most wonderful piece of masonry. Besides this, he was the builder of treasure cities. He also built Gezer, Bethhoron, Baalath, Tadmor in the wilderness, and so on. Solomon was a great master builder—none could excel him as a piler of huge stones, one upon another.

Ah! but my brethren, a greater than Solomon is the Lord Jesus. It is easy enough to build with stones, and granite, and bricks, and cedar. These are dead, coarse things, that you can hew and cut as you will. Get enough sawing and cutting power, and you can make what you will of these things. It is only brute mechanical force that is wanted, with judgment here and there to direct and guide it. Get strength enough and as Archimedes said, you might move the world with a lever—it is only one physical force pitted against another.

But what shall we say of Christ, who has built a house that is made of living, immortal souls, built of what Peter, taught of the Spirit, calls, “living stones”? You do not cut these, nor polish them quite so easily. Men with strong, stubborn wills, men with diseased imaginations, men with perverse affections, men altogether gone from original righteousness—our Lord Jesus Christ has taken these, and He has prepared them to make a temple, in which there shall be nothing but holiness and perfection.

I trust that some of us have been prepared to be built into “a living temple, for an habitation of God through the Spirit.” But if the Lord Jesus Christ shall ever make tens of thousands, and thousands of thousands, of once guilty men all perfect, and shall build these altogether, fitting each one into its place, and making each one willing to maintain and keep in its place—this will be such a thing as a thousand Solomons could not have attempted.

This is no work of brute force, of mechanical power, my brethren. This is the power of the Holy Ghost Himself—a spiritual power, a power which comes from God, who is a Spirit, and who will have those that worship Him worship Him in spirit and in truth. Can you conceive of this temple? My soul seems to rise upon the wings of imagination at the very thought of it—a temple all alive, a living temple—each stone a priceless soul, glittering with immortality.

John tells us of a city, the foundations whereof were of precious stones, and he tells us of the “new Jerusalem coming down out of heaven,” and I know not what besides. That was but a faint picture of the living temple of Jesus, where each soul shall be more precious than the whole world, even though all the world were one pearl of the purest water—a temple built by Himself, for Himself, to His own praise. Moreover, our Lord Jesus Christ, as the great Master Builder, has built many a pool and aqueduct. We sang about one just now, such as Solomon never knew—

“There is a fountain filled with blood, Drawn from Immanuel’s veins; And sinners plunged beneath that flood, Lose all their guilty stains.”


More glorious this than the pool of Gihon, the upper and the nether pool! Moreover, Solomon brought a river into Jerusalem that the multitude might drink, but it was not like this—“The water that I shall give you, shall be in thee a well of water, springing up into everlasting life.” Beloved, we have said that Solomon built treasure cities, but our Lord has given us promises that hold richer treasures than Tadmor ever knew—a covenant—oh! the grandeur of that word covenant—a covenant stored with all the fullness of God, for in Christ “dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily”.

I shall lose myself if I attempt to extol my Master as a builder! I only pray that you and I may be built upon His foundation—that we may come to the fountain which He has opened and may be cleansed therein—that we may come to His treasure city and be enriched, all our necessities being removed. And may we dwell with Him in the palace which shall never be taken down! A greater than Solomon, then, is Christ as a builder.

“Now consider how great this man was.“—Hebrews 7:4

CONSIDER how great Melchizedek was. There is something majestic about every movement of that dimly-revealed figure. His one and only appearance is thus fitly described in the Book of Genesis,—”And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God. And he blessed him, and said, Blessed be Abram of the most high God, which hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand. And he gave him tithes of all.” We see but little of him, yet we see nothing little in him. He is here and gone, as far as the historic page is concerned, yet is he “a priest for ever,” and “it is witnessed that he liveth.” Everything about him is on a scale majestic and sublime.

“Consider how great this man was” in the combination of his offices. He was duly appointed both priest and king: king of righteousness and peace, and at the same time priest of the Most High God. It may be said of him that he sat as a priest upon his throne. He exercised the double office to the great blessedness of those who were with him; for his one act towards Abraham would seem to be typical of his whole life; he blessed him in the name of the Most High God. “Consider how great this man was” that he not only ruled his people with righteousness and brought them peace, but he was their representative towards God and God’s representative to them; and in each character distributed divine blessings.

“Consider how great this man was” in the power of his benedictions. Abraham had already been greatly blessed so much so that he is described as “he that received the promises.” Yet a receiver of promises so great, a man with whom God had entered into solemn covenant, was yet blessed by Melchizedek, and without all contradiction the less is blessed of the better. This great man yet further blessed the blessed Abraham, and the father of the faithful was glad to receive benediction at his hands. No small man this: no priest of second rank; but one who overtops the sons of men by more than head and shoulders, and acts a superior’s part among the greatest of them.

“Consider how great this man was” in supremacy over all around him. He met Abraham when he was returning as a conqueror from the overthrow of the robber kings; and the victorious patriarch bowed before him and gave him tithes of the best of the spoil. Without a moment’s hesitation the man of God recognized the priest of God, and paid to him the tribute of a subject to the officer of a great king. In Abraham’s bowing all the line of Aaronic priesthood did homage unto Melchizedek; for as the apostle saith, “Levi also, who receiveth tithes, paid tithes in Abraham, for he was yet in the loins of his father when Melchizedek met him.” So that all kings in Abraham, and all priests in Abraham, did homage unto this man, who, as king and priest, was owned to be supreme. “Consider how great this man was” when Paul had once proved that Melchizedek was greater than all other, at least to the Hebrews; for the seed of Abraham can recognize none greater than Abraham; and since Abraham by paying tithes acknowledges his subordination to Melchizedek, it is clear that the priest of the Most High God was the greatest of men.

“Consider how great this man was” as to the singularity of his person, “without father, without mother, without descent”: that is to say, we know nothing as to his birth, his origin, or his history. Even this explanation hardly answers to the words, especially when it is added, “Having neither beginning of days, nor end of life.” So mysterious is Melchizedek that many deeply-taught expositors think that he was veritably an appearance of our Lord Jesus Christ. They are inclined to believe that he was not a king of some city in Canaan, as the most of us suppose, but that he was a manifestation of the Son of God, such as were the angels that appeared to Abraham on the plains of Mamre, and that divine being who appeared to Joshua by Jericho, and to the three holy ones in the furnace. At any rate, you may well consider how great this man was when you observe how veiled in cloud is everything about his coming and going—veiled because intended to impress us with the depth of the sacred meanings which were shadowed forth in him. How much more shall this be said of him of whom we ask—

“Thy generation who can tell,

Or count the number of thy years?”

“Consider how great this man was” in the specialty of his office. He had no predecessor in his priesthood, and he had no successor. He was not one who took a holy office and then laid it down; but as far as the historic page of Scripture is concerned we have no note of his quitting this mortal scene; he disappears, but we read nothing of his death any more than of his birth. His office was perpetual, and passed not from sire to son; for he was the type of “One who is made not after the law of a carnal commandment, but after the power of an endless life.”

“Consider how great this man was” in his being altogether unique. There is another “after the order of Melchizedek,” the glorious Antitype in whom Melchizedek himself is absorbed; but apart from him Melchizedek is unique. Who can equal this strange, mysterious priest, prophet, king, sent of the Most High God to bless the father of the faithful? He is altogether alone: he receives no commission from the hands of men, nor from God by men; and he does not transmit to a successor what he had not received from a predecessor. Melchizedek stands alone: one mighty crag, rising out of the plain; a long Alp, whose brow is swathed in cloud sublime. “Consider how great this man was” but think not to measure that greatness.






Note: shebaʻ, sheh’-bah; or (masculine) (שִׁבְעָה shibʻâh); from H7650; a primitive cardinal number; seven (as the sacred full one); also (adverbially) seven times; by implication, a week; by extension, an indefinite number:(+ by) seven(-fold),-s, (-teen, -teenth), -th, times).


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With reference: The Queen of Sheba NO. 3351

A sermon published on Thursday, April 24, 1913 delivered by C.H. Spurgeon at the Metropolitan Tabernacle Newington on Lord’s evening, December 8, 1867

The Man T he Christ: A Sermon (No. 1835)

Delivered on Lord’s Day Morning, April 12th, 1885, by

C. H. SPURGEON,