Saturday, November 14, 2009

Thanksgiving Verses - Part 14

The next thanksgiving verse is found among three calls to hearken to the people of God in Isaiah 51. The first call mentions the joy and thanksgiving to which the people of God will be called, calling to mind the origins of men. The second call mentions the coming judgment and contrasts it with the salvation appointed for the people of God. The third call calls the people of God to patience in enduring the tribulations of this life, with a reminder that our persecutors will themselves one day perish.

Isaiah 51:1-8

Hearken to me, ye that follow after righteousness, ye that seek the LORD: look unto the rock whence ye are hewn, and to the hole of the pit whence ye are digged. Look unto Abraham your father, and unto Sarah that bare you: for I called him alone, and blessed him, and increased him. For the LORD shall comfort Zion: he will comfort all her waste places; and he will make her wilderness like Eden, and her desert like the garden of the LORD; joy and gladness shall be found therein, thanksgiving, and the voice of melody.

Hearken unto me, my people; and give ear unto me, O my nation: for a law shall proceed from me, and I will make my judgment to rest for a light of the people. My righteousness is near; my salvation is gone forth, and mine arms shall judge the people; the isles shall wait upon me, and on mine arm shall they trust. Lift up your eyes to the heavens, and look upon the earth beneath: for the heavens shall vanish away like smoke, and the earth shall wax old like a garment, and they that dwell therein shall die in like manner: but my salvation shall be for ever, and my righteousness shall not be abolished.

Hearken unto me, ye that know righteousness, the people in whose heart is my law; fear ye not the reproach of men, neither be ye afraid of their revilings. For the moth shall eat them up like a garment, and the worm shall eat them like wool: but my righteousness shall be for ever, and my salvation from generation to generation.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Open Question for Michael Horton

Dear Prof. Horton,

In view of your article "Can We Be Confessional and Catholic?" and in view of your recent blurb for a book on the theology of Benedict XVI by Roman Catholic apologist Scott Hahn, we are wondering: Do you agree or disagree that Trent declared the Gospel of Christ to be Anathema and that Benedict XVI is the chief shepherd of another gospel?


UPDATE: A reader named ruberad provided the following quotation:

"As the gavel came down to close the final session of the council of Trent in 1563, Rome had officially, and according to her own commitment down to the present moment irreversibly declared that the gospel announced by the prophets, revealed in and by Christ, and proclaimed by the apostles, was anathema. The most relevant canons are the following..."

(source - 12'54" of this mp3)


That seems to answer the issue of Horton's orthodoxy, although I'm still disappointed that he has decided to help Hahn sell that particular book. I'll "close" this question if I get any direct answer from Horton.

Irenaeus on Eisegesis

Eisegesis is not something that Roman Catholicism invented. It has been around almost since the beginning, having been practiced by the Valentinians:
Such, then, is their system, which neither the prophets announced, nor the Lord taught, nor the apostles delivered, but of which they boast that beyond all others they have a perfect knowledge. They gather their views from other sources than the Scriptures; [FN: Literally, “reading from things unwritten.”] and, to use a common proverb, they strive to weave ropes of sand, while they endeavour to adapt with an air of probability to their own peculiar assertions the parables of the Lord, the sayings of the prophets, and the words of the apostles, in order that their scheme may not seem altogether without support. In doing so, however, they disregard the order and the connection of the Scriptures, and so far as in them lies, dismember and destroy the truth. By transferring passages, and dressing them up anew, and making one thing out of another, they succeed in deluding many through their wicked art in adapting the oracles of the Lord to their opinions. Their manner of acting is just as if one, when a beautiful image of a king has been constructed by some skilful artist out of precious jewels, should then take this likeness of the man all to pieces, should rearrange the gems, and so fit them together as to make them into the form of a dog or of a fox, and even that but poorly executed; and should then maintain and declare that this was the beautiful image of the king which the skilful artist constructed, pointing to the jewels which had been admirably fitted together by the first artist to form the image of the king, but have been with bad effect transferred by the latter one to the shape of a dog, and by thus exhibiting the jewels, should deceive the ignorant who had no conception what a king’s form was like, and persuade them that that miserable likeness of the fox was, in fact, the beautiful image of the king. In like manner do these persons patch together old wives’ fables, and then endeavour, by violently drawing away from their proper connection, words, expressions, and parables whenever found, to adapt the oracles of God to their baseless fictions. We have already stated how far they proceed in this way with respect to the interior of the Pleroma.
- Irenaeus, Against Heresies, Book 1, Chapter 8, Section 1

An Eastern Orthodox reader of this blog, Lucian, ironically pointed this quotation out to me (link) while omitting the first two sentences, especially that troubling comment "They gather their views from other sources than the Scriptures ...."

Michael Horton did What now?

I am surprised and disappointed by this report regarding Michael Horton (link).

Thanksgiving Verses - Part 13

In this section we'll look at a number of verses in the psalms that mention thanks, although that is not necessarily the theme of the whole psalm. The first group of psalms are psalms where the primary request is one of mercy, restoration, help, salvation, or deliverance.

In Psalm 6, in the context of asking for mercy, the Psalmist pleads with God on the ground that if he lives he can thank God:

Psalm 6:4-5
Return, O LORD, deliver my soul: oh save me for thy mercies' sake. For in death there is no remembrance of thee: in the grave who shall give thee thanks?

Psalm 79 seems to be a psalm of the captivity. It speaks of the heathen defiling the temple. It mentions thanks and praise as the natural consequence of receiving forgiveness, help, and mercy from God.

Psalm 79:8-13

O remember not against us former iniquities: let thy tender mercies speedily prevent us: for we are brought very low. Help us, O God of our salvation, for the glory of thy name: and deliver us, and purge away our sins, for thy name's sake. Wherefore should the heathen say, Where is their God? let him be known among the heathen in our sight by the revenging of the blood of thy servants which is shed. Let the sighing of the prisoner come before thee; according to the greatness of thy power preserve thou those that are appointed to die; and render unto our neighbours sevenfold into their bosom their reproach, wherewith they have reproached thee, O Lord. So we thy people and sheep of thy pasture will give thee thanks for ever: we will shew forth thy praise to all generations.

Psalm 35 similarly mentions thanks as the natural response to rescue from danger and destruction.

Psalm 35:17-18
Lord, how long wilt thou look on? rescue my soul from their destructions, my darling from the lions. I will give thee thanks in the great congregation: I will praise thee among much people.

Psalm 69 mentions thanks in a similar context as well, namely salvation from poverty and sorrow.

Psalm 69:29-31
But I am poor and sorrowful: let thy salvation, O God, set me up on high. I will praise the name of God with a song, and will magnify him with thanksgiving. This also shall please the LORD better than an ox or bullock that hath horns and hoofs.

In Psalm 140, David asks for deliverance from God. This psalm has a slightly more justice-oriented theme. The persecution of the wicked is unjust and the persecuted person is asking for justice to be done. This is a bit different from some of the previous instances where the Psalmist is simply asking for mercy. The outcome is the same, though: the righteous give thanks to the name of the Lord. Notice as well David's request: "redeem me, and be merciful unto me."

Psalm 140:12-13
I know that the LORD will maintain the cause of the afflicted, and the right of the poor. Surely the righteous shall give thanks unto thy name: the upright shall dwell in thy presence.

Psalm 26 is a bit like Psalm 140, in that the context is thanksgiving for the righteous judgment of God. Psalm 26 takes things a bit further and suggests that David himself is just in God's sight. How so? By faith: "I have trusted also in the LORD; therefore I shall not slide." At some points in the psalm it sounds like David is asking to be judged based on his works. But when you look more carefully, you note David asking that he not be gathered with sinners or bloody man. Recall that David's sins are highlighted in Scripture.

Psalm 26
< A Psalm of David.>
Judge me, O LORD; for I have walked in mine integrity: I have trusted also in the LORD; therefore I shall not slide. Examine me, O LORD, and prove me; try my reins and my heart. For thy lovingkindness is before mine eyes: and I have walked in thy truth. I have not sat with vain persons, neither will I go in with dissemblers. I have hated the congregation of evil doers; and will not sit with the wicked.

I will wash mine hands in innocency: so will I compass thine altar, O LORD: that I may publish with the voice of thanksgiving, and tell of all thy wondrous works. LORD, I have loved the habitation of thy house, and the place where thine honour dwelleth. Gather not my soul with sinners, nor my life with bloody men: in whose hands is mischief, and their right hand is full of bribes.

But as for me, I will walk in mine integrity: redeem me, and be merciful unto me. My foot standeth in an even place: in the congregations will I bless the LORD.


The last two examples are thanksgiving in the context simply of magnifying God. This sets them apart from some of the previous examples, which is why I've placed them last.

In Psalm 50, there are several different sections. One section outlines the message God has for his people, the immediately following passage outlines God's message for the wicked. In fact, while this psalm is not itself a call for deliverance, it does reference the fact that the thanksgiving may come after the deliverance.

Psalm 50:7-15
Hear, O my people, and I will speak; O Israel, and I will testify against thee: I am God, even thy God. I will not reprove thee for thy sacrifices or thy burnt offerings, to have been continually before me. I will take no bullock out of thy house, nor he goats out of thy folds. For every beast of the forest is mine, and the cattle upon a thousand hills. I know all the fowls of the mountains: and the wild beasts of the field are mine. If I were hungry, I would not tell thee: for the world is mine, and the fulness thereof. Will I eat the flesh of bulls, or drink the blood of goats? Offer unto God thanksgiving; and pay thy vows unto the most High: and call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me.

Psalm 119, the longest psalm, has one verse that explicitly mentions thanks. The psalm as a whole is a marvelous praise of the law of God. You will notice, however, that the thanksgiving is given at least somewhat in the context of mercy. The singer has been robbed, but he gets up at midnight to thank God and praises God as filling the earth with mercy.

Psa 119:57-64
Thou art my portion, O LORD: I have said that I would keep thy words. I intreated thy favour with my whole heart: be merciful unto me according to thy word. I thought on my ways, and turned my feet unto thy testimonies. I made haste, and delayed not to keep thy commandments. The bands of the wicked have robbed me: but I have not forgotten thy law. At midnight I will rise to give thanks unto thee because of thy righteous judgments. I am a companion of all them that fear thee, and of them that keep thy precepts. The earth, O LORD, is full of thy mercy: teach me thy statutes.


The real Francis Turretin on: Insufficiency of Human Merit

Joshua189 has provided a short but sweet quotation from the real Francis Turretin explaining why mere human merit can never be enough to serve as a ground for justification (link)



Thursday, November 12, 2009

Misquoting Matthew 23:37 or Luke 13:34

The following texts get misquoted amazingly often. First, here are the texts.

Matthew 23:37 O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!

Luke 13:34 O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, which killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee; how often would I have gathered thy children together, as a hen doth gather her brood under her wings, and ye would not!

Notice how in both cases, the text states: "would I have gathered thy children together," not "gathered thee" or "gathered you." But it gets misquoted many many times.

I have collected some examples. I leave Spurgeon at the top of the list, not just because he is so famous and yet so prolific in making this error, but because people routinely don't believe me when I say he is one of the folks who misquote this passage. Some of the other examples, will be less surprising, Wesley, Arminius, and Finney all have an axe to grind. Matthew Henry misquotes it too, very briefly and obliquely. That leaves Tillotson, who many readers will not recognize, but who was a noted Anglican preacher and Archbishop of Cantebury toward the end of the 17th Century.

We have no eyes now like the eyes of the Saviour, which could weep over Jerusalem; we have few voices like that earnest impassioned voice which seemed perpetually to cry, "Come unto me, and I will give you rest." "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, how often would I have gathered thee as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, but ye would not." If ministers of the gospel were more hearty in their work of preaching; if, instead of giving lectures and devoting a large part of their time to literary and political pursuits, they would preach the Word of God, and preach it as if they were pleading for their own lives, ah! then, my brethren, we might expect great success; but we cannot expect it while we go about our work in a half-hearted way, and have not that zeal, that earnestness, that deep purpose which characterized those men of old.
(Spurgeon, Sermon 76)

And now, dropping the similitude while the clock shall tick but a few times more, let us put the matter thus—Sinner, thou art as yet without God and without Christ; thou art liable to death every hour. Thou canst not tell but that thou mayest be in the flames of hell before the clock shall strike ONE to-day. Thou art to-day “condemned already,” because thou believest not in the Son of God. And Jesus Christ saith to thee this day, “Oh, that thou wouldest consider thy latter end!” He cries to thee this morning, “How often would I have gathered thee as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, but ye would not.” I entreat you, consider your ways. If it be worth while to make your bed in hell do it. If the pleasures of this world are worth being damned to all eternity for enjoying them, if heaven be a cheat and hell a delusion, go on in your sins. But, if there be hell for sinners and heaven for repenting ones, and if thou must dwell a whole eternity in one place or the other, without similitude, I put a plain question to thee—Art thou wise in living as thou dost, without thought,—careless, and godless? Wouldest thou ask now the way of salvation? It is simply this—“Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved.” He died; he rose again; thou art to believe him to be thine. Thou art to believe that he is able to save unto the uttermost them that come unto God by him. But, more than that, believing that to be a fact, thou art to cast thy soul upon that fact and trust to him, sink or swim. Spirit of God! help us each to do this and by similitude, or by providence, or by thy prophets, bring us each to thyself and save us eternally, and unto thee shall be the glory.
(Spurgeon, Sermon 206)

Secondly,—We have further proof of human depravity from the aversion of sinners to come to Christ. They are invited to come, persuaded to come, and are assured that they shall find pardon, acceptance, and salvation. But they cannot be induced to come to him; and why will they not come? Is it because he is not willing to receive them, or because there is anything in him to prevent them? No, but it is because of the deep-rooted depravity in their hearts. The heart is averse to all that is good, and therefore rejects the Saviour and turns away from him. Hence he complained when in our world, “How often would I have gathered you, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not.” “Ye will not come to me, that ye might have life.” What more needed to be added? Man turns away in proud disdain from all the blessings of the gospel, and the glories of heaven brought before him, and rushes on with steady purpose to damnation. “Light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds are evil.” Oh, to how many in this land may it be said, “They hate knowledge and did not choose the fear of the Lord; they would none of his counsel, they despised all his reproof.”
(Evan Probert, among Spurgeon's Sermons, Sermon 386)

But, now, I am sorry to be so brief, but I must conclude by speaking, of THE IMPORTANCE THAT FAITH SHOULD COME TO US BY HEARING. I will let my words drop rapidly without any ornament, and remind you, dear friend, that if you have been a hearer and faith has not come to you, you are, this moment, in the gall of bitterness and in the bonds of iniquity. You believe not in Christ, and you make God a liar, because ye have not believed in his only-begotten Son. The wrath of God abideth on you. You are dead while you live. Without God, without Christ, and strangers to the covenant of promise. My soul pities you—will you not pity yourselves? Hearers only; faithless, graceless, Christless! Christ died, but you have no part in his death. His blood cleanses from sin, but your sin remains upon you. Christ has risen, and he pleads before the throne,—you have no part in that intercession. He is preparing a place for his people, but that place is not for you. Oh, unhappy soul! oh, wretched soul! out of favor with God, at enmity with eternal love, destitute of eternal life! Truly, if Jesus were here he would weep over you, as he did over Jerusalem, and say, “How often would I have gathered you as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not.”
(Spurgeon, Sermon 1031)

We may observe likewise, hence, how great a sin they are guilty of who persecute the righteous, and how terrible a vengeance from God waits on them. Particular examples of this have been in all ages: but as the guilt of this sin never went higher than at this time foretold by our Saviour, when God sent to the Jews such “prophets, and wise men, and scribes,” and such a number of them as never upon any occasion were sent into the world, and they used them in that bloody and barbarous manner; no wonder, if the vengeance that came upon them was such as never had been before; and if, after they had filled up the measure of their sins, by crucifying the Lord Jesus, and persecuting his apostles, and stoning and killing all the prophets that were sent unto them, “the wrath of God came upon them to the utmost,” and such a terrible destruction from the Lord, as never befel any people; insomuch that our Saviour, upon the foresight and mention of it, forty years before it happened, could not but weep over them, and express himself in those compassion ate words, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem: thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thee as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings; but ye would not! Behold your house is left unto you desolate.”
(Dr. John Tillotson, Sermon 80)

And it is, likewise, contrary to the constant tenor of the Bible, which supposeth that men do very frequently resist the grace and Holy Spirit of God. It is said of the pharisees, by our Saviour, (Luke vii. 30.) that “they rejected the counsel of God against themselves;” that is, the merciful design of God for their salvation. And of the Jews, (Acts vii. 51.) that “they always resisted the Holy Ghost. So that some operations of God’s grace and Holy Spirit 374are resistible, and such as, if men did not resist them, would be effectual to bring them to faith and repentance, else why are the pharisees said to reject “the counsel of God against themselves,” that is, to their own ruin? implying, that if they had not rejected it, they might have been saved; and if they had, it had been without irresistible grace; for that which was offered to them, was actually resisted by them. Other texts plainly shew, that the reason of men’s impenitency and unbelief is not any thing wanting on God’s part, but on theirs; as those known texts, wherein our Saviour laments the case of Jerusalem, because they obstinately brought destruction upon themselves: (Luke xix. 42.) “Jf thou hadst known in this thy day, the things that belong to thy peace:” intimating, that they might have known them, so as to have prevented that desolation which was coming upon them, and was a forerunner of their eternal ruin: “but now they are hid from thine eyes;” intimating, that then God gave them up to their own blindness and obstinacy; but the time was, when they might have “known the things of their peace;” which cannot be upon the supposition of the necessity of an irresistible act of God’s grace to their conversion and repentance; because then without that they could not have repented, and if that had been afforded to them, they had infallibly repented. So likewise, in that other text, (Matt. xxiii. 37.) “Oh! Jerusalem, Jerusalem, how often would I have gathered thee, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and you would not.” And, in John, v. 40. “Ye will not come unto me that ye might have life.” He “would have gathered them,” and they “would not;” he would have given them life, but they would not come to him. Are these serious and compassionate expostulations and declarations of our Saviour’s gracious intention towards them, any ways consistent with an impossibility of their repentance? which yet must be said, if irresistible grace be necessary thereto; for then repentance is impossible without it, and that it was not afforded to them is plain, because they did not repent. The same may be said of that solemn declaration of God, (Ezek. xxxiii. 11.) “As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live.” Can it be said that God hath no pleasure in the death of sinners, and yet be true, that he denies, to the greatest part of them, that grace which is necessary to their repentance? Upon this supposition, how can it be true, that, “if the mighty works that were done in Chorazin and Bethsaida had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented,” (Matt. xi. 21.) since irresistible grace did not accompany those miracles? for if it had, Chorazin and Bethsaida had repented, and without it Tyre and Sidon could not repent.
(Dr. John Tillotson, Sermon 106)

Consider that the patience of God will have an end. Though God suffers long, he will not suffer always; we may provoke God so long, until he can forbear no longer without injury and dishonour to his wisdom, and justice, and holiness; and God will not suffer one attribute to wrong the rest: his wisdom will determine the length of his patience; and when his patience is to no purpose, when there is no hopes of our amendment, his wisdom will then put a period to it; then the patience of his mercy will determine. “How often would I have gathered you, and you would not? therefore your house is left unto you desolate.” And the patience of God’s judgments will then determine. “Why should they be smitten any more? they will revolt more and more.” Yea, patience itself, after a long and fruitless expectation, will expire. A sinner may continue so long impenitent, till the patience of God, as I may say, grows impenitent, and then our ruin will make haste, and destruction “will come upon us in a moment.” If men will not come to repentance, “the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night,” as it follows in the next verse after the text; the judgment of God will suddenly surprise those who will not be gained by his patience.
(Dr. John Tillotson, Sermon 149)

That God doth really and heartily desire the happiness of men, and to prevent their misery and ruin. To express this to us, God doth put on the vehemency of a human passion: “Oh that they were wise!” &c. The laws of God are a clear evidence of this; because the observance of them tends to our happiness. There is no good prince makes laws with any other design, than to promote the public welfare and happiness of his people: and with much more reason may we imagine, that the infinite good God does by all his laws design the happiness of his creatures. And the exhortations of Scripture, by which he enforceth his laws, are yet a greater evidence how earnestly he desires the happiness of his creatures. For it shews that he is concerned for us, when he useth so many arguments to persuade us to our duty, and when he expostulates so vehemently with us for our neglect of it, saying to sinners, “Turn ye, turn ye, why will you die, O house of Israel?” “Ye will not come unto me, that ye might have life,” says our blessed Saviour, with great trouble to see men so obstinately set against their own happiness; and again, “How often would I have gathered you, as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!” and to satisfy us yet further, that it is his real desire, by our obedience to his laws, to prevent our ruin, God doth frequently in Scripture put on the passions of men, and use all sorts of vehement expressions to this purpose: (Deut. v. 29.) “Oh that there were such a heart in them, that they would fear me, and keep all my commandments always, that it might be well with them, and with their children for ever!” And, (Psal. lxxxi. 13.) “Oh that my people had hearkened unto me, and Israel had walked in my ways! I should soon have subdued their enemies, and turned my hand against their adversaries.” (Jer. xiii. 27.) “O Israel! wilt thou not be made clean? when shall it once be?” And, to name but one text more, when our blessed .Saviour wept over Jerusalem, how passionately does he wish that “she had known in that her day the things that belonged to her peace!”

And if, after all this, we can doubt whether the faithful God means as he says, he hath for our farther assurance, and to put the matter out of all doubt, confirmed his word by an oath: (Ezek. xxxiii. 11.) “As I live, saith the Lord, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his ways and live. Turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel?” So that if words can be any declaration of a hearty and sincere desire, we have no reason to doubt, but that God does really desire the happiness of men, and would gladly prevent their ruin and destruction.

If any now ask, Why then are not all men happy? Why do they not escape ruin and destruction? And particularly, why the people of Israel, for whom God here makes this wish, did not escape those judgments which were threatened? the prophet shall answer for me, (Hos. xiii. 9.) “O Israel! thou hast destroyed thyself,” And David, (Psal. lxxxi. 11.) “My people would not hearken to my voice, Israel would none of me.” And our blessed Saviour, (Matt. xxiii. 37.) “How often would I have gathered thee, as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!” and, (John v. 40.) “Ye will not come unto me, that ye might have life.” You see what account the Scripture plainly gives of this matter; it rests upon the wills of men, and God hath not thought fit to force happiness upon men, and to make them wise and good whether they will or no. He presents men with such motives, and offers such arguments to their consideration, as are fit to prevail with reasonable men, and is ready to afford them all necessary assistance, if they be not wanting to themselves; but if they will not be wise and consider, if they will stand out against all the arguments that God can offer, if they will “receive the grace of God in vain, and resist his blessed Spirit, and reject the counsel of God against themselves,” God hath not, in this case, engaged himself to provide any remedy against the obstinacy and perverseness of men, but “their destruction is of themselves,” and “their blood shall be upon their own heads.” And there is no nicety and intricacy in this matter; but if men will consider Scripture and reason impartially, they will find this to be the plain resolution of the case.
(Dr. John Tillotson, Sermon 171)

Our Saviour’s general prediction of the siege of Jerusalem, and of the total destruction of the city. This our Saviour foretells, (Luke xix. 41-44.) “And when he was come near, he beheld the city, and wept over it, saying, If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes. For the days shall come upon thee, that thine enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round, and keep thee in on every side; and shall lay thee even with the ground, and thy children within thee: and they shall not leave in thee one stone upon another; because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation.” So Josephus tells, lib. vi. that Titus raised a wall round about Jerusalem, and kept them in on every side; so that none could come out, though many thousands were famished with hunger; which was so sad and dismal a calamity, that our Saviour, though he knew how just a cause there was for it, yet, out of very humanity and tenderness of nature, he could not but, upon the foresight of so sad a destruction, weep over it. He, indeed, expresseth his vehement desire that this might have been prevented; (Matt. xxiii. 37.) “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee; how often would I have gathered thee, as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!” Therefore, having brought this ruin wilfully upon themselves, he pronounceth the sentence of their desolation, (verse 38.) “Behold, your house is left unto you desolate!” And at the beginning of the next chapter, when the disciples were shewing him the beautiful structure of the temple, he foretells, that “there should not one stone be left upon another, which should not be thrown down.”
(Dr. John Tillotson, Sermon 287)

This is an exclamation of disappointment; of thwarted love. The good which He purposed has been missed by man’s fault, and He regards the faulty Israel with sorrow and pity as a would-be benefactor balked of a kind intention might do. O Jerusalem! ‘how often would I have gathered thee.’ ‘If thou hadst known . . . the things that belong unto thy peace!’
(Alexander MacLaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture: Isaiah and Jeremiah, at Isaiah 48:18)

37. O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, &c.—How ineffably grand and melting is this apostrophe! It is the very heart of God pouring itself forth through human flesh and speech. It is this incarnation of the innermost life and love of Deity, pleading with men, bleeding for them, and ascending only to open His arms to them and win them back by the power of this story of matchless love, that has conquered the world, that will yet "draw all men unto Him," and beautify and ennoble Humanity itself! "Jerusalem" here does not mean the mere city or its inhabitants; nor is it to be viewed merely as the metropolis of the nation, but as the center of their religious life—"the city of their solemnities, whither the tribes went up, to give thanks unto the name of the Lord"; and at this moment it was full of them. It is the whole family of God, then, which is here apostrophized by a name dear to every Jew, recalling to him all that was distinctive and precious in his religion. The intense feeling that sought vent in this utterance comes out first in the redoubling of the opening word—"Jerusalem, Jerusalem!" but, next, in the picture of it which He draws—"that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee!"—not content with spurning God's messages of mercy, that canst not suffer even the messengers to live! When He adds, "How often would I have gathered thee!" He refers surely to something beyond the six or seven times that He visited and taught in Jerusalem while on earth. No doubt it points to "the prophets," whom they "killed," to "them that were sent unto her," whom they "stoned." But whom would He have gathered so often? "Thee," truth-hating, mercy-spurning, prophet-killing Jerusalem—how often would I have gathered thee! Compare with this that affecting clause in the great ministerial commission, "that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem!" (Lu 24:47). What encouragement to the heartbroken at their own long-continued and obstinate rebellion! But we have not yet got at the whole heart of this outburst. I would have gathered thee, He says, "even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings." Was ever imagery so homely invested with such grace and such sublimity as this, at our Lord's touch? And yet how exquisite the figure itself—of protection, rest, warmth, and all manner of conscious well-being in those poor, defenseless, dependent little creatures, as they creep under and feel themselves overshadowed by the capacious and kindly wing of the mother bird! If, wandering beyond hearing of her peculiar call, they are overtaken by a storm or attacked by an enemy, what can they do but in the one case droop and die, and in the other submit to be torn in pieces? But if they can reach in time their place of safety, under the mother's wing, in vain will any enemy try to drag them thence. For rising into strength, kindling into fury, and forgetting herself entirely in her young, she will let the last drop of her blood be shed out and perish in defense of her precious charge, rather than yield them to an enemy's talons. How significant all this of what Jesus is and does for men! Under His great Mediatorial wing would He have "gathered" Israel. For the figure, see De 32:10-12; Ru 2:12; Ps 17:8; 36:7; 61:4; 63:7; 91:4; Isa 31:5; Mal 4:2. The ancient rabbins had a beautiful expression for proselytes from the heathen—that they had "come under the wings of the Shekinah." For this last word, see on Mt 23:38. But what was the result of all this tender and mighty love? The answer is, "And ye would not." O mysterious word! mysterious the resistance of such patient Love—mysterious the liberty of self-undoing! The awful dignity of the will, as here expressed, might make the ears to tingle.
(Jamieson, Brown, and Fausset, Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible, at Matthew 23:37)

Sixthly, you say that the foundation being destroyed, the edifice falls. But the foundation of that opinion in reference to the antecedent will, which desires the salvation of all men and of each, is the passage in 1 Timothy ch. 2, which has been already discussed by us, and that is incorrectly understood by Damascenus. I reply, first; -- Not only that passage, but many others, most clearly sustain that distinction of the will into antecedent and consequent. "How often would I have gathered you together," is an example of antecedent, and "your house is left unto you desolate" of consequent will (Matt. xxiii. 37-38). "And sent forth his servants to call them that were bidden to the wedding," is a case of antecedent will, "they which were bidden were not worthy" and were destroyed, of consequent will. He, also, was invited, according to antecedent will, who, being afterwards found, not having on a wedding garment, was cast out, according to consequent will (Matt. xxii. 3, 7, 8, 12 and 13). According to antecedent will, the lord commanded his servants to reckon their talents, and to use them for gain for their master; by consequent will, the talent, which he had received, was taken from the wicked and slothful servant (Matt. 25). By antecedent will, the word of God was first offered to the Jews; by consequent will, the same word was taken from them and sent to others (Acts 13). The same distinction is proved by a consideration of the attributes of God; for since God is good and just, He can not will eternal death to His own creature, made in His image, without reference to sin; He can not but will eternal salvation to His creature. The immutability of God necessarily requires the same thing. For since His providence has given to all His creatures means, necessary and sufficient, by which they can attain their designed end, but the designed end of man, made in the image of God, is eternal life, it hence follows that all men are loved by God unto eternal life by antecedent will; nor can God, without a change of His own arrangement, deny eternal life unto men, without reference to sin; which denial, being consequent on the act of man, pertains to consequent will.
(Arminius, Works, Volume 3, Allegation 4)

If you ask, “Why then are not all men saved?” the whole law and the testimony answer, First, Not because of any decree of God; not because it is his pleasure they should die; for, As I live, saith the Lord God,” I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth.” (Ezek. 18:3, 32.) Whatever be the cause of their perishing, it cannot be his will, if the oracles of God are true; for they declare, “He is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance;” (2 Pet. 3:9; ) “He willeth that all men should be saved.” And they, Secondly, declare what is the cause why all men are not saved, namely, that they will not be saved: So our Lord expressly, “Ye will not come unto me that ye may have life.” (John 5:40.) “The power of the Lord is present to heal” them, but they will not be healed. “They reject the counsel,” the merciful counsel, “of God against themselves,” as did their stiff-necked forefathers. And therefore are they without excuse; because God would save them, but they will not be saved: This is the condemnation, “How often would I have gathered you together, and ye would not!” (Matt. 23:37.)
(John Wesley, Sermon 128)

What will you say? I’ll go on still in my sins? Again all we can say is that the bowels of divine love are deeply moved for you—that God has done all to save you that He wisely can do. God’s people have felt a deep and agonizing interest in you and are ready now to cry, How can we give them up? But what more can we do—what more can even God do? With bleeding heart and quivering lip has Mercy followed you. Jesus Himself said, “How often would I have gathered you— O Jerusalem, Jerusalem! How often I would have saved you, but ye would not!” Shall Jesus behold and weep over you, and say, “O that thou hadst known, even thou in this thy day—but now it is hidden from thine eyes?” What, O dying sinner, will you say? Shall not your response be, “It is enough—I have dashed away salvation’s cup long and wickedly enough; you need not say another word, O that bleeding hand! those weeping eyes! Is it possible that I have withstood a Saviour’s love so long? I am ready to beg for mercy now; and I rejoice to hear that our God has a father’s heart.”
(Finney, Sermon 8, Remarks)

Here, I. God sends Moses the second time to Pharaoh (v. 11) upon the same errand as before, to command him, at his peril, that he let the children of Israel go. Note, God repeats his precepts before he begins his punishments. Those that have often been called in vain to leave their sins must yet be called again and again, whether they will hear or whether they will forbear, Ezek. iii. 11. God is said to hew sinners by his prophets (Hos. vi. 5), which denotes the repetition of the strokes. How often would I have gathered you?
(Matthew Henry, Commentary on the Whole Bible, at Exodus 6:10-13)

Creature-Worship in Islam

Islam does not attempt to make likenesses of Allah. Nevertheless, there is something akin to idolatry in Islam, namely the worship of Hajar Aswad, the black stone. The black stone is the cornerstone of the Kaaba in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. The Kaaba is the black cubic building that is central to a number of aspects of Islam. On Hajj, the Kaaba is the point around which the pilgrims must walk a certain number of times. For their five daily prayers, Muslims are required to pray toward the Kaaba.

The black stone itself is kissed. Some Muslims take this to be an important aspect of Hajj. Given the huge crowds during Hajj, however, it becomes difficult for people to get to the black stone and actually kiss it. Thus, one finds Muslim "how-to" guides for getting to the stone (like this one: "Pucker Up! How To Kiss the Black Stone Every Time")

This may remind one of the superstitious idolatry found in Roman Catholicism and the kissing of the toe of the statue of Peter in Rome. But it gets worse. The Hadith provide the following comments on the black stone:
It was narrated that Ibn ‘Abbaas said: The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said concerning the Stone: “By Allaah, Allaah will bring it forth on the Day of Resurrection, and it will have two eyes with which it will see and a tongue with which it will speak, and it will testify in favour of those who touched it in sincerity.”

Narrated by al-Tirmidhi, 961; Ibn Maajah, 2944

This hadeeth was classed as hasan by al-Tirmidhi, and as qawiy by al-Haafiz ibn Hajar in Fath al-Baari, 3/462
And again:
It was narrated that Ibn ‘Umar said: I heard the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) say: “Touching them both [the Black Stone and al-Rukn al-Yamani] is an expiation for sins.”

(Narrated by al-Tirmidhi, 959. This hadeeth was classed as hasan by al-Tirmidhi and as saheeh by al-Haakim (1/664). Al-Dhahabi agreed with him).
Finally, the somewhat contradictory testimony:
Narrated 'Abis bin Rabia:

'Umar came near the Black Stone and kissed it and said "No doubt, I know that you are a stone and can neither benefit anyone nor harm anyone. Had I not seen Allah's Apostle kissing you I would not have kissed you."
And I'll just leave it at that. There is an odd religious veneration of the black stone in Islam, though they do not consider it a "god" yet they give it an extraordinary amount of attention.


Thanksgiving Verses - Part 12

We come now to a first discussion of some of the thanks given in the book of Psalms, aka the Psalter. We have already reviewed Psalm 18 (in Part 3 of this series), Psalms 105, 96, and 106 (Part 4), Psalms 39, 62, and 77 (Part 6), Psalms 107, 118, and 136 (Part 8), Psalms 146 and 147 (Part 10), and Psalms 51 and 122 (Part 11). Not all of those Psalms are primarily Psalms of thanksgiving, some only mention thanksgiving in passing - or don't mention thanksgiving directly at all. Nevertheless, since they've already been discussed above, I won't discuss them again here. Instead focus on some other psalms in this post.

Specifically, in this section I'll be addressing those Psalms of Thanksgiving that haven't already been mentioned. The first Psalm I'll mention is Psalm 116 - it is a Psalm of thanksgiving for salvation. One tradition has it that this psalm was commemorative of the time when David hid in a cave and God saved him even though Saul himself entered the cave. In any event, Psalm 116 is an appropriate psalm for any occasion when we recognize that the hand of God has preserved us, but especially when it was a very serious danger. The comfort to be found in the expression, "Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints," makes this an especially suitable psalm when one has been given escape from death.

Psalm 95 is a more general psalm of thanksgiving. It mentions the rock (the only one) in which we trust. Psalm 95 is also interesting because it commends the psalms for the purpose of giving thanksgiving, something we've seen repeatedly in the historical narratives as well as in the law. It calls to mind God's deeds of old, but also reminds the singer and the hearer that today is the day of salvation. The author of Hebrew, after all, reminds us that this psalm sets a time limit: "to day." For when we are dead, it will be too late to hear the voice of God and repent. The psalm emphasizes God's right to be worshiped by virtue of being our creator, something that should remind us that the doctrine of Creation is a central Christian doctrine. This psalm may be especially good in the context of praising God with one's young children, both because it is short and because it affords an opportunity to speak of the importance of repenting today. The psalm may also be useful in other evangelical contexts, such as accompanying a wedding. It starts with thanksgiving, but ends on warning.

Psalm 92 is specifically designated as a song for the Sabbath day. For Christians, we observe the Sabbath on the first day of the week in commemoration of the resurrection of Christ who delivered us from the bondage of sin and created us anew. The Sabbath reminds us of our heavenly rest to come: a rest that will be full of songs of thanksgiving and praise to our Almighty God.

Psalm 92, like several of the other psalms we've seen reminds us that our rock is God. It mentions as well the suitability of giving thanks to God in song. Psalm 92 is a more uniformly joyful song than Psalm 95, but it does contain some warning in the center of the psalm - a reminder that those who are enemies of God will perish. Calvinists will be quick to notice that Psalm even explains that this is the reason that the wicked flourish, namely so that they will be cut off.

Psalm 75 is a psalm of Asaph. It has some similar themes to those found in Psalm 92, although it has more of a focus on the judgment of God. It may be a suitable song of thanksgiving to accompany a serious message on sin. It also serves to remind us of our evangelical duty to tell those whom Scripture describes as "fools" not to deal foolishly. Thus, it may be a good psalm to sing either at the opening or closing of an evangelistic outreach.

Psalm 30 was written on the occasion of the dedication of the house of David. It's not clear whether this is a reference to the coronation of his son Solomon, or the building of the temple, or perhaps more literally the completion of David's Jerusalem palace. In the absence of evidence, we're inclined to assume the latter. It is a suitable song of thanksgiving for such an occasion, when we have built or bought a new home.

Psalm 30 in some ways resembles Psalm 116, in that it is an expression of thanksgiving for salvation. One interesting aspect of Psalm 30 is the explanation it provides regarding the purpose of salvation: salvation is not an end in itself but a means to an end. The person is not simply saved from death but saved to rejoice and give praise to God. Thus, this psalm helps to serve as an antidote to man-centered religion that views "getting saved" as the ultimate good, rather than focusing on the worship and praise of our glorious God. Like Psalm 92, this psalm emphasizes that God has a purpose for the wicked.

Psalm 97 has similar themes to Psalm 95. There is an emphasis on thanksgiving, but there is a warning to the sinners. Our Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic friends will be unhappy to see that those who worship representations will be confounded, but let them take heart that they are called to worship the true and living God who is not worshiped by the works of men's hands.

Psalm 100 is a short and sweet psalm. It's title, "A Psalm of Praise" accurately describes it. It is suitable for any occasion of joy, and particular for those occasions when we are corporately gathered as a church. We Christians from among the lands can take special joy in this psalm, seeing that by singing it we fulfill its demand.

Psalm 116

I love the LORD, because he hath heard my voice and my supplications. Because he hath inclined his ear unto me, therefore will I call upon him as long as I live. The sorrows of death compassed me, and the pains of hell gat hold upon me: I found trouble and sorrow.

Then called I upon the name of the LORD; O LORD, I beseech thee, deliver my soul.

Gracious is the LORD, and righteous; yea, our God is merciful. The LORD preserveth the simple: I was brought low, and he helped me. Return unto thy rest, O my soul; for the LORD hath dealt bountifully with thee.

For thou hast delivered my soul from death, mine eyes from tears, and my feet from falling. I will walk before the LORD in the land of the living. I believed, therefore have I spoken: I was greatly afflicted: I said in my haste, All men are liars.

What shall I render unto the LORD for all his benefits toward me? I will take the cup of salvation, and call upon the name of the LORD. I will pay my vows unto the LORD now in the presence of all his people.

Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints. O LORD, truly I am thy servant; I am thy servant, and the son of thine handmaid: thou hast loosed my bonds. I will offer to thee the sacrifice of thanksgiving, and will call upon the name of the LORD. I will pay my vows unto the LORD now in the presence of all his people, in the courts of the LORD'S house, in the midst of thee, O Jerusalem. Praise ye the LORD.

Psalm 95

O come, let us sing unto the LORD: let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation. Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving, and make a joyful noise unto him with psalms.

For the LORD is a great God, and a great King above all gods. In his hand are the deep places of the earth: the strength of the hills is his also. The sea is his, and he made it: and his hands formed the dry land.

O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the LORD our maker. For he is our God; and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand. To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your heart, as in the provocation, and as in the day of temptation in the wilderness: when your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my work. Forty years long was I grieved with this generation, and said, It is a people that do err in their heart, and they have not known my ways: unto whom I sware in my wrath that they should not enter into my rest.

Psalm 92
< A Psalm or Song for the sabbath day.>

It is a good thing to give thanks unto the LORD, and to sing praises unto thy name, O most High: to shew forth thy lovingkindness in the morning, and thy faithfulness every night, upon an instrument of ten strings, and upon the psaltery; upon the harp with a solemn sound.

For thou, LORD, hast made me glad through thy work: I will triumph in the works of thy hands. O LORD, how great are thy works! and thy thoughts are very deep.

A brutish man knoweth not; neither doth a fool understand this. When the wicked spring as the grass, and when all the workers of iniquity do flourish; it is that they shall be destroyed for ever: but thou, LORD, art most high for evermore. For, lo, thine enemies, O LORD, for, lo, thine enemies shall perish; all the workers of iniquity shall be scattered.

But my horn shalt thou exalt like the horn of an unicorn: I shall be anointed with fresh oil. Mine eye also shall see my desire on mine enemies, and mine ears shall hear my desire of the wicked that rise up against me.

The righteous shall flourish like the palm tree: he shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon. Those that be planted in the house of the LORD shall flourish in the courts of our God. They shall still bring forth fruit in old age; they shall be fat and flourishing; to shew that the LORD is upright: he is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in him.

Psalm 75

Unto thee, O God, do we give thanks, unto thee do we give thanks: for that thy name is near thy wondrous works declare. When I shall receive the congregation I will judge uprightly. The earth and all the inhabitants thereof are dissolved: I bear up the pillars of it. Selah.

I said unto the fools, Deal not foolishly: and to the wicked, Lift not up the horn: lift not up your horn on high: speak not with a stiff neck. For promotion cometh neither from the east, nor from the west, nor from the south.

But God is the judge: he putteth down one, and setteth up another. For in the hand of the LORD there is a cup, and the wine is red; it is full of mixture; and he poureth out of the same: but the dregs thereof, all the wicked of the earth shall wring them out, and drink them.

But I will declare for ever; I will sing praises to the God of Jacob. All the horns of the wicked also will I cut off; but the horns of the righteous shall be exalted.

Psalm 30

< A Psalm and Song at the dedication of the house of David.>

I will extol thee, O LORD; for thou hast lifted me up, and hast not made my foes to rejoice over me.

O LORD my God, I cried unto thee, and thou hast healed me. O LORD, thou hast brought up my soul from the grave: thou hast kept me alive, that I should not go down to the pit.

Sing unto the LORD, O ye saints of his, and give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness. For his anger endureth but a moment; in his favour is life: weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.

And in my prosperity I said, I shall never be moved. LORD, by thy favour thou hast made my mountain to stand strong: thou didst hide thy face, and I was troubled. I cried to thee, O LORD; and unto the LORD I made supplication. What profit is there in my blood, when I go down to the pit? Shall the dust praise thee? shall it declare thy truth?

Hear, O LORD, and have mercy upon me: LORD, be thou my helper. Thou hast turned for me my mourning into dancing: thou hast put off my sackcloth, and girded me with gladness; to the end that my glory may sing praise to thee, and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give thanks unto thee for ever.

Psalm 97

The LORD reigneth; let the earth rejoice; let the multitude of isles be glad thereof.

Clouds and darkness are round about him: righteousness and judgment are the habitation of his throne. A fire goeth before him, and burneth up his enemies round about. His lightnings enlightened the world: the earth saw, and trembled. The hills melted like wax at the presence of the LORD, at the presence of the Lord of the whole earth. The heavens declare his righteousness, and all the people see his glory. Confounded be all they that serve graven images, that boast themselves of idols: worship him, all ye gods.

Zion heard, and was glad; and the daughters of Judah rejoiced because of thy judgments, O LORD. For thou, LORD, art high above all the earth: thou art exalted far above all gods.

Ye that love the LORD, hate evil: he preserveth the souls of his saints; he delivereth them out of the hand of the wicked. Light is sown for the righteous, and gladness for the upright in heart. Rejoice in the LORD, ye righteous; and give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness.

Psa 100

< A Psalm of praise.>

Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all ye lands. Serve the LORD with gladness: come before his presence with singing. Know ye that the LORD he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.

Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name. For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Religious Pluralism and the Christian Magistrate

I like R. Scott Clark. He's a good guy, and smart guy. I don't know why he is so fond of what appears to be a practically Lutheran version of Two Kingdoms. It comes across pretty clearly in this post of his today (link to his post).

RSC writes:
If the real “problem” for the critics is religious pluralism then their real agenda would seem to be more profound than they have hitherto admitted: one-church theocracy (i.e. state advocacy of one church and enforcement of the first three commandments, as numbered by the Reformed churches).
I'm not sure what RSC has precisely in mind (or why he stops at 3). I think, though, that what a lot of folks in the more traditional Reformed ranks think would be proper would be a civil magistrate that does not treat anti-christian religions with equal dignity to the Christian faith. Yes, that's not very pluralistic. That doesn't mean that "king" (or whatever mode the magistrate might take) would have to permit only a single denomination, but it does mean that you wouldn't be letting folks set up mosques in your land, to take a "for instance."

It doesn't mean that the king could force anyone to love God, but it does mean that he could use the FCC (to select the American example) to stop folks from breaking the 3rd commandment by profaning Jesus' name on the airwaves. It does mean that religious idols could be destroyed throughout the land to help folks abide by the second commandment. And, yes, it means that the king might want to consider whether the general equity of "thou shalt not suffer a witch to live" is pretty much to shut down palm readers, fortune tellers, and so forth in keeping with the first commandment.

I don't know why any of this should shock RSC. Yet I get the distinct feeling that it does shock him - perhaps because he associates that kind of zeal not with Joshua or Gideon but with certain Muslims. Perhaps it is because he wouldn't like to be under a non-pluralistic non-Christian regime. But those aren't logical or Scriptural reasons for having a negative reaction to the rejection of religious pluralism.

Thanksgiving Verses - Part 11

The first passage below provides a list of the Levites who dwelt at Jerusalem in the time of Nehemiah. One will note that Mattaniah is the leader of thanksgiving in prayer and that the second prominent Levite of the sons of Asaph was Bakbukiah. Meanwhile, the other prominent Levite is Abda. Using a hop-skip genealogy, we're informed that Mattaniah (and Bakbukiah as well) is the descendent of Asaph (we should not take the list Asaph => Zabdi => Micha => Mattaniah has being the entire genealogy) and that Abda is the descendant of Jeduthun (again, Jeduthun => Galal => Shammua => Abda is a hop-skip genealogy, not a complete one). Notice that the singers were given a daily portion to sing every day. Remarkably, it appears that this portion came from king Darius.

The second passage provides a more detailed account of the priests and Levites. There, it appears that a more detailed genealogy was provided to trace the priests and Levites back through the captivity to the pre-captivity period. In the passage we again see reference to the Levites giving thanks, and that this was done according to David's appointment.

The third passage begins with the Levites purifying themselves and the wall of Jerusalem. The third passage then continues with the dedication of the wall of Jerusalem. On this joyous occasion, again we have the Levites and singers giving thanks to God in song according to David's appointment. However, we will note that Nehemiah also had the "princes of Judah" give thanks in song in companies. These "princes of Judah" are those we would call the elders, not sons of the king.

But it was not just the elders on the walls and the priests and Levites with their trumpets and other musical instruments, but even the wives and children joined in the jubilation.

The time of thanksgiving was also a time of offering, and the people at this time gave so much that they were able to, again using the modern terminology, fund the porters (those who kept the doors) and singers for the house of the Lord, and the Levites set apart the sons of Aaron as priests. Thus, the dedication of the walls of Jerusalem also marked the occasion of the more complete restoration of the priestly function in Israel.

We are not told which Psalms were sung on this occasion, but it is natural to suppose that Psalm 51 was one of the choices. It speaks of the building of the walls of Jerusalem and the restoration of the worship of God.

That Psalm would also have been apt as Judah recalled her former sin, confessed it to God, and praised God for His mercy in song. I cannot help but think that those believers in the captivity clung to this song and made it their prayer for the restoration of the kingdom and for the restoration of the sacrifices and burnt offerings which were cut off during the captivity.

Another Psalm that may have been selected would be Psalm 122. It speaks of the walls of Jerusalem and of the peace of those who dwell within its walls. Spiritually, this signifies for us the kingdom of heaven: within its walls are true and everlasting peace and prosperity, and consequently we should rejoice that the walls of spiritual Jerusalem are being built through the conversion of sinners and on the foundation of the Rock, Christ Jesus the Righteous.

Nehemiah 11:15-23

Also of the Levites:

- Shemaiah the son of Hashub, the son of Azrikam, the son of Hashabiah, the son of Bunni; and Shabbethai and Jozabad, of the chief of the Levites, had the oversight of the outward business of the house of God.

- And Mattaniah the son of Micha, the son of Zabdi, the son of Asaph, was the principal to begin the thanksgiving in prayer: and Bakbukiah the second among his brethren, and Abda the son of Shammua, the son of Galal, the son of Jeduthun.

All the Levites in the holy city were two hundred fourscore and four. Moreover the porters, Akkub, Talmon, and their brethren that kept the gates, were an hundred seventy and two. And the residue of Israel, of the priests, and the Levites, were in all the cities of Judah, every one in his inheritance. But the Nethinims dwelt in Ophel: and Ziha and Gispa were over the Nethinims. The overseer also of the Levites at Jerusalem was Uzzi the son of Bani, the son of Hashabiah, the son of Mattaniah, the son of Micha. Of the sons of Asaph, the singers were over the business of the house of God. For it was the king's commandment concerning them, that a certain portion should be for the singers, due for every day.

Nehemiah 12:1-26

Now these are the priests and the Levites that went up with Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and Jeshua: Seraiah, Jeremiah, Ezra, Amariah, Malluch, Hattush, Shechaniah, Rehum, Meremoth, Iddo, Ginnetho, Abijah, Miamin, Maadiah, Bilgah, Shemaiah, and Joiarib, Jedaiah, Sallu, Amok, Hilkiah, Jedaiah. These were the chief of the priests and of their brethren in the days of Jeshua.

Moreover the Levites: Jeshua, Binnui, Kadmiel, Sherebiah, Judah, and Mattaniah, which was over the thanksgiving, he and his brethren. Also Bakbukiah and Unni, their brethren, were over against them in the watches.

And Jeshua begat Joiakim, Joiakim also begat Eliashib, and Eliashib begat Joiada, And Joiada begat Jonathan, and Jonathan begat Jaddua. And in the days of Joiakim were priests, the chief of the fathers:
of Seraiah, Meraiah;
of Jeremiah, Hananiah;
Of Ezra, Meshullam;
of Amariah, Jehohanan;
Of Melicu, Jonathan;
of Shebaniah, Joseph;
Of Harim, Adna;
of Meraioth, Helkai;
Of Iddo, Zechariah;
of Ginnethon, Meshullam;
Of Abijah, Zichri;
of Miniamin, of Moadiah, Piltai;
Of Bilgah, Shammua;
of Shemaiah, Jehonathan;

And of Joiarib, Mattenai;
of Jedaiah, Uzzi;
Of Sallai, Kallai;
of Amok, Eber;
Of Hilkiah, Hashabiah;
of Jedaiah, Nethaneel.

The Levites in the days of Eliashib, Joiada, and Johanan, and Jaddua, were recorded chief of the fathers: also the priests, to the reign of Darius the Persian. The sons of Levi, the chief of the fathers, were written in the book of the chronicles, even until the days of Johanan the son of Eliashib.

And the chief of the Levites: Hashabiah, Sherebiah, and Jeshua the son of Kadmiel, with their brethren over against them, to praise and to give thanks, according to the commandment of David the man of God, ward over against ward. Mattaniah, and Bakbukiah, Obadiah, Meshullam, Talmon, Akkub, were porters keeping the ward at the thresholds of the gates.

These were in the days of Joiakim the son of Jeshua, the son of Jozadak, and in the days of Nehemiah the governor, and of Ezra the priest, the scribe.

Nehemiah 12:27-47

And at the dedication of the wall of Jerusalem they sought the Levites out of all their places, to bring them to Jerusalem, to keep the dedication with gladness, both with thanksgivings, and with singing, with cymbals, psalteries, and with harps. And the sons of the singers gathered themselves together, both out of the plain country round about Jerusalem, and from the villages of Netophathi; also from the house of Gilgal, and out of the fields of Geba and Azmaveth: for the singers had builded them villages round about Jerusalem. And the priests and the Levites purified themselves, and purified the people, and the gates, and the wall.

Then I brought up the princes of Judah upon the wall, and appointed two great companies of them that gave thanks, whereof one went on the right hand upon the wall toward the dung gate: and after them went Hoshaiah, and half of the princes of Judah, and Azariah, Ezra, and Meshullam, Judah, and Benjamin, and Shemaiah, and Jeremiah, and certain of the priests' sons with trumpets; namely, Zechariah the son of Jonathan, the son of Shemaiah, the son of Mattaniah, the son of Michaiah, the son of Zaccur, the son of Asaph: and his brethren, Shemaiah, and Azarael, Milalai, Gilalai, Maai, Nethaneel, and Judah, Hanani, with the musical instruments of David the man of God, and Ezra the scribe before them. And at the fountain gate, which was over against them, they went up by the stairs of the city of David, at the going up of the wall, above the house of David, even unto the water gate eastward.

And the other company of them that gave thanks went over against them, and I after them, and the half of the people upon the wall, from beyond the tower of the furnaces even unto the broad wall; and from above the gate of Ephraim, and above the old gate, and above the fish gate, and the tower of Hananeel, and the tower of Meah, even unto the sheep gate: and they stood still in the prison gate.

So stood the two companies of them that gave thanks in the house of God, and I, and the half of the rulers with me: and the priests; Eliakim, Maaseiah, Miniamin, Michaiah, Elioenai, Zechariah, and Hananiah, with trumpets; and Maaseiah, and Shemaiah, and Eleazar, and Uzzi, and Jehohanan, and Malchijah, and Elam, and Ezer. And the singers sang loud, with Jezrahiah their overseer.

Also that day they offered great sacrifices, and rejoiced: for God had made them rejoice with great joy: the wives also and the children rejoiced: so that the joy of Jerusalem was heard even afar off. And at that time were some appointed over the chambers for the treasures, for the offerings, for the firstfruits, and for the tithes, to gather into them out of the fields of the cities the portions of the law for the priests and Levites: for Judah rejoiced for the priests and for the Levites that waited. And both the singers and the porters kept the ward of their God, and the ward of the purification, according to the commandment of David, and of Solomon his son. For in the days of David and Asaph of old there were chief of the singers, and songs of praise and thanksgiving unto God.

And all Israel in the days of Zerubbabel, and in the days of Nehemiah, gave the portions of the singers and the porters, every day his portion: and they sanctified holy things unto the Levites; and the Levites sanctified them unto the children of Aaron.

Psalm 51

Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions. Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me. Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest. Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.

Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom. Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Make me to hear joy and gladness; that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice. Hide thy face from my sins, and blot out all mine iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me. Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit.

Then will I teach transgressors thy ways; and sinners shall be converted unto thee. Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, thou God of my salvation: and my tongue shall sing aloud of thy righteousness. O Lord, open thou my lips; and my mouth shall shew forth thy praise.

For thou desirest not sacrifice; else would I give it: thou delightest not in burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.

Do good in thy good pleasure unto Zion: build thou the walls of Jerusalem. Then shalt thou be pleased with the sacrifices of righteousness, with burnt offering and whole burnt offering: then shall they offer bullocks upon thine altar.

Psalm 122

< A Song of degrees of David.>
I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the LORD. Our feet shall stand within thy gates, O Jerusalem.

Jerusalem is builded as a city that is compact together: whither the tribes go up, the tribes of the LORD, unto the testimony of Israel, to give thanks unto the name of the LORD. For there are set thrones of judgment, the thrones of the house of David.

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: they shall prosper that love thee. Peace be within thy walls, and prosperity within thy palaces. For my brethren and companions' sakes, I will now say, Peace be within thee. Because of the house of the LORD our God I will seek thy good.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Thanksgiving Verses - Part 10

In this passage, we have another temple-related thanksgiving. Again, the Levites are at the center of it, and again, the Psalms are being sung. They may have picked that Psalm (or those Psalms - several Psalms fit that description, as we've noted previously) simply because it is a Psalm of thanksgiving, but perhaps alternatively because it called to mind the dedication of the temple of Solomon (that passage is reproduced following our main passage).

It is interesting to note that the ancient men - men who had survived the captivity and who remembered Solomon's temple from before the captivity - saw the foundation restored again, some wept. The may have sung as well Psalm 147, which speaks of the rebuilding of Jerusalem. Jewish tradition lumps Psalms 146 and 147 together as being psalms of the exile. They are reproduced below, as well.

In Psalm 146 we see a song of praise and of confidence in God alone for salvation. In Psalm 147 we see a psalm of thanksgiving for the rebuilding of Jerusalem but more than that for the mercy of God. Notice the comment, "He hath not dealt so with any nation: and as for his judgments, they have not known them." But now the nations have received the salvation of God, they have known His commandments and followed after them according to His mercy. This ought to make the Jews jealous - that their God has turned to us, and made us his people - taught us his law - and given redemption to us.

Ezra 3:8-13

Now in the second year of their coming unto the house of God at Jerusalem, in the second month, began Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and Jeshua the son of Jozadak, and the remnant of their brethren the priests and the Levites, and all they that were come out of the captivity unto Jerusalem; and appointed the Levites, from twenty years old and upward, to set forward the work of the house of the LORD.

Then stood Jeshua with his sons and his brethren, Kadmiel and his sons, the sons of Judah, together, to set forward the workmen in the house of God: the sons of Henadad, with their sons and their brethren the Levites. And when the builders laid the foundation of the temple of the LORD, they set the priests in their apparel with trumpets, and the Levites the sons of Asaph with cymbals, to praise the LORD, after the ordinance of David king of Israel.

And they sang together by course in praising and giving thanks unto the LORD; because he is good, for his mercy endureth for ever toward Israel. And all the people shouted with a great shout, when they praised the LORD, because the foundation of the house of the LORD was laid.

But many of the priests and Levites and chief of the fathers, who were ancient men, that had seen the first house, when the foundation of this house was laid before their eyes, wept with a loud voice; and many shouted aloud for joy: so that the people could not discern the noise of the shout of joy from the noise of the weeping of the people: for the people shouted with a loud shout, and the noise was heard afar off.

2 Chronicles 7:1-4

Now when Solomon had made an end of praying, the fire came down from heaven, and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices; and the glory of the LORD filled the house. And the priests could not enter into the house of the LORD, because the glory of the LORD had filled the LORD'S house.

And when all the children of Israel saw how the fire came down, and the glory of the LORD upon the house, they bowed themselves with their faces to the ground upon the pavement, and worshipped, and praised the LORD, saying, For he is good; for his mercy endureth for ever.

Then the king and all the people offered sacrifices before the LORD.

Psalm 146

Praise ye the LORD. Praise the LORD, O my soul. While I live will I praise the LORD: I will sing praises unto my God while I have any being.

Put not your trust in princes, nor in the son of man, in whom there is no help. His breath goeth forth, he returneth to his earth; in that very day his thoughts perish. Happy is he that hath the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the LORD his God: which made heaven, and earth, the sea, and all that therein is: which keepeth truth for ever: which executeth judgment for the oppressed: which giveth food to the hungry.

The LORD looseth the prisoners: the LORD openeth the eyes of the blind: the LORD raiseth them that are bowed down: the LORD loveth the righteous: the LORD preserveth the strangers; he relieveth the fatherless and widow: but the way of the wicked he turneth upside down.

The LORD shall reign for ever, even thy God, O Zion, unto all generations. Praise ye the LORD.

Psalm 147

Praise ye the LORD: for it is good to sing praises unto our God; for it is pleasant; and praise is comely.

The LORD doth build up Jerusalem: he gathereth together the outcasts of Israel. He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds. He telleth the number of the stars; he calleth them all by their names. Great is our Lord, and of great power: his understanding is infinite.

The LORD lifteth up the meek: he casteth the wicked down to the ground. Sing unto the LORD with thanksgiving; sing praise upon the harp unto our God: who covereth the heaven with clouds, who prepareth rain for the earth, who maketh grass to grow upon the mountains. He giveth to the beast his food, and to the young ravens which cry. He delighteth not in the strength of the horse: he taketh not pleasure in the legs of a man.

The LORD taketh pleasure in them that fear him, in those that hope in his mercy.

Praise the LORD, O Jerusalem; praise thy God, O Zion. For he hath strengthened the bars of thy gates; he hath blessed thy children within thee. He maketh peace in thy borders, and filleth thee with the finest of the wheat. He sendeth forth his commandment upon earth: his word runneth very swiftly. He giveth snow like wool: he scattereth the hoarfrost like ashes. He casteth forth his ice like morsels: who can stand before his cold? He sendeth out his word, and melteth them: he causeth his wind to blow, and the waters flow.

He sheweth his word unto Jacob, his statutes and his judgments unto Israel. He hath not dealt so with any nation: and as for his judgments, they have not known them. Praise ye the LORD.

Clerical Celibacy Rebuttal - Extremely Short Form

Proverbs 18:22 Whoso findeth a wife findeth a good thing, and obtaineth favour of the LORD.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Response to Heschmeyer's Purgatory Thought Experiments

Joe Heschmeyer at Shameless Popery has provided some "thought experiments" regarding purgatory (link to his post).

Heschmeyer has two similar experiments - in both cases an object is dropped and broken. Heschmeyer asks whether the object's owner can forgive the breaker of the object and still demand that the person who broke it clean up the consequent mess. Secondarily, Heschmeyer asks whether someone can pay for the value of the broken item and still demand that the person clean up the wreckage.

There a few critical problems with the experiment.

1) Fairness vs. Forgiveness
Heschmeyer relies throughout on what is "fair" but is simultaneously posing questions in which there is an assumption that forgiveness is taking place. Forgiveness is mercy - it runs in the opposite direction of "fair."

Even if the breaker is really sorry for having broken the item, fairness still demands that the breaker make the breakee whole, restoring what belonged to the breakee and cleaning up the mess resulting from the breakage.

2) Conflation of Dignity and Physical Categories

In fact, whether or not the breaker is really sorry is relevant only to the dignity offense against the breakee. If you spit on someone's shoe, you are doing more than ruining the leather, you are insulting the person. The same occurs (to a lesser extent) when one is negligent with the goods of another. One is showing that one lacks the proper regard for that person and also for God who set your duty to be careful of the goods of others.

When someone apologizes sincerely for harming another, he is attempting to terminate the offense against the dignity of the person whom he has offended. After all, if you break someone's car and then don't apologize, the dignity of the person continues to be harmed by your continued disdain for them as evidence by your lack of contrition.

Another reason to apologize is attempt to bring about reconciliation. In other words, we may apologize in order to attempt to restore friendship between us and the person whom we have offended. If they accept our apology, we can be friends again, otherwise they may continue to be aggrieved at us for the offense we caused.

3) Imposition of Divine Command for Forgiveness on Fairness Structure

We have a divine command that requires us to forgive others. That is our duty toward God, however, not our duty toward the person who has offended us. A person who offends us has no right to demand that we accept their apology. When we apologize to another person, we should do so not insisting that they accept our apology as a matter of our right.

Instead, we are commanded to forgive others as a duty toward God in gratitude of the forgiveness he has given to us. God does not have a similar reciprocal duty. God is not required by any higher power to forgive and man has no right to demand forgiveness from God for sin.

This actually gets us back to the fairness versus forgiveness issue that we started the article with. Heschmeyer's discussion seems to assume that fairness requires that we forgive those who apologize but that fairness also requires that the person who broke the item pay for it, clean up the mess, etc.

4) Human Friendship conflated with Divine Justice (or Full versus Partial Forgiveness)

Related to the above conflations, Heschmeyer appears to conflate the issues of human friendship with divine justice. When Hechmeyer speaks of a person accepting an apology he is speaking primarily in terms of the person no longer being angry at the breaker. The anger of the breakee has been set aside and, to some degree at least, human friendship has been restored.

Nevertheless, a person can stop being angry with the breakee and still expect payment for the item and a clean-up of the mess. Or can forgive payment but still expect clean-up of the mess.

Divine justice, however, is not satisfied when forgiveness is only partial. Being forgiven of part of your wrong-doing may lessen your guilt under divine justice, but it does not remove your guilt.

In terms of human friendship, we may view this sort of partial friendship as acceptable, but in terms of divine justice the same partial forgiveness is not enough. It is enough to have partial forgiveness from a friend because we can pay for the broken item and clean up the mess. It is not enough to have partial forgiveness from God because we cannot atone for our sins, even in part.

These mistakes seem to sum up the problems with Heschmeyer's thought experiments. But after the experiments he attempts to make an argument from Scripture. In doing so, he makes a further mistake.

5) Chastisement versus Penalty

Heschmeyer considers the account of David's sin against Uriah, his plotting the death of Uriah to cover the sin of David's adultery with Uriah's wife Bathsheba. Nathan the prophet comes to David and rebukes David for this sin, and David repents. God spares David's life but takes the life of David's son. Heschmeyer puts it this way:
David is forgiven. No matter how you read it. But his son still dies. Anti-Purgatory logic falls apart here: if he's forgiven, how can he still be penalized? If he's penalized, how can he be forgiven?
But Heschmeyer has made a two very fundamental mistakes. The first mistake is the mistake of confusing chastisement with penalty. David is being disciplined in the eyes of the nations for his sin against God. It is a chastisement, not a punishment. It is discipline to help David learn, not punishment that expiates sin.

The second mistake is to overlook the typological significance of this event. David's son dies instead of David. For David's sin, David's son dies. Who bears the wrath of God for David's sin? Not principally David, though he feels great sorrow at the death of his son, but the son instead. This is an illustration for us of the Son of David who died for all of David's sins. Christ is the son of David, as the scribes testified:

Matthew 22:42 Saying, What think ye of Christ? whose son is he? They say unto him, The Son of David.

And not only do we have the genealogies of Jesus, but the very children of Jerusalem testified that Jesus was the Son of David:

Matthew 21:15 And when the chief priests and scribes saw the wonderful things that he did, and the children crying in the temple, and saying, Hosanna to the Son of David; they were sore displeased,

As did the Canaanite woman:

Matthew 15:22 And, behold, a woman of Canaan came out of the same coasts, and cried unto him, saying, Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou Son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil.

And the two blind men:

Matthew 20:30-31
And, behold, two blind men sitting by the way side, when they heard that Jesus passed by, cried out, saying, Have mercy on us, O Lord, thou Son of David. And the multitude rebuked them, because they should hold their peace: but they cried the more, saying, Have mercy on us, O Lord, thou Son of David.

But the truly blind were those who did not see that the Son of David was the Lord of David:

Matthew 22:43-46

He saith unto them, "How then doth David in spirit call him Lord, saying, 'The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool'? If David then call him Lord, how is he his son?" And no man was able to answer him a word, neither durst any man from that day forth ask him any more questions.

Christ took on himself the punishment not only for David's sins, not only for the sins of the Jewish believers, but for the sins of the whole world. David's bastard son by Bathsheba died on account of David's sins, and took the punishment for them in his person - much more so did Christ the double son of David: first legally through Solomon's line by Joseph's adoption (see Matthew 1:1-23) and second by blood through his mother Mary and grandfather Heli, by the line of David's immediate son Nathan (see Luke 3:23-38).

God forgave David but punished David's son instead. David received chastisement only, and not punishment.

There is certainly much more that could be said on the topic of purgatory, but this may serve to answer a few of the points raised by Heschmeyer's article.


Thanksgiving Verses - Part 9

By the time of Hezekiah, the worship of God had fallen into disrepair. Hezekiah began to reign at 25 years old, and he had a passion for the restoration of God's worship. The following passage relates his re-opening of the temple, including thanksgiving to God. It is interesting to note that the singing selected by Hezekiah are the words of David and Asaph: perhaps the very Psalms we've already discussed in previous segments.

After the re-opening of the temple, Hezekiah next embarked on celebrating the passover, something that hadn't been done for a long time. Hezekiah even invited the remnant of the ten tribes to come and celebrate Passover with Judah and exhorted them to repent and follow after Jehovah and find mercy. The messengers of Hezekiah got mocked in many places, but in Asher, Manasseh, and Zebulun some humbled themselves and answered the call.

Some of those who came to the Passover, particularly from the ten tribes areas did not properly prepare themselves for the Passover according to the ceremonial law. Hezekiah prayed for God show them mercy, to as many as had prepared their hearts. God heard Hezekiah's prayer, thereby demonstrating that it is the heart with which God is principally concerned and not the outward rites (either of the Old or New Testaments).

After the feast of the Passover, the people of Israel also kept the feast of unleavened bread, which came right on its heels. When that was through, they extended the feast by another seven days, and greatly rejoiced in Jerusalem - happiness unseen since the time of Solomon.

When that was through, Israel was reformed. Even the ten tribes area, which had followed the idolatry of the golden calf rather than the invisible glory of the Almighty God, purged itself of its idols.

Hezekiah also reorganized (as in, organized again) the Levites according to what David had appointed. As one would expect, one of those priestly duties was two twice daily offer thanks.

Furthermore, Hezekiah personally gave to the Lord's house and encouraged those in Jerusalem and throughout Israel to do the same, and soon there were heaps of provisions, so that the house of the Lord was, to use modern terminology, fully funded.

2 Chronicles 29-31

[Re-opening of the Temple]

Hezekiah began to reign when he was five and twenty years old, and he reigned nine and twenty years in Jerusalem. And his mother's name was Abijah, the daughter of Zechariah. And he did that which was right in the sight of the LORD, according to all that David his father had done.

He in the first year of his reign, in the first month, opened the doors of the house of the LORD, and repaired them. And he brought in the priests and the Levites, and gathered them together into the east street, and said unto them,

Hear me, ye Levites, sanctify now yourselves, and sanctify the house of the LORD God of your fathers, and carry forth the filthiness out of the holy place. For our fathers have trespassed, and done that which was evil in the eyes of the LORD our God, and have forsaken him, and have turned away their faces from the habitation of the LORD, and turned their backs. Also they have shut up the doors of the porch, and put out the lamps, and have not burned incense nor offered burnt offerings in the holy place unto the God of Israel.

Wherefore the wrath of the LORD was upon Judah and Jerusalem, and he hath delivered them to trouble, to astonishment, and to hissing, as ye see with your eyes. For, lo, our fathers have fallen by the sword, and our sons and our daughters and our wives are in captivity for this.

Now it is in mine heart to make a covenant with the LORD God of Israel, that his fierce wrath may turn away from us. My sons, be not now negligent: for the LORD hath chosen you to stand before him, to serve him, and that ye should minister unto him, and burn incense.

Then the Levites arose, Mahath the son of Amasai, and Joel the son of Azariah, of the sons of the Kohathites: and of the sons of Merari, Kish the son of Abdi, and Azariah the son of Jehalelel: and of the Gershonites; Joah the son of Zimmah, and Eden the son of Joah: and of the sons of Elizaphan; Shimri, and Jeiel: and of the sons of Asaph; Zechariah, and Mattaniah: and of the sons of Heman; Jehiel, and Shimei: and of the sons of Jeduthun; Shemaiah, and Uzziel.

And they gathered their brethren, and sanctified themselves, and came, according to the commandment of the king, by the words of the LORD, to cleanse the house of the LORD. And the priests went into the inner part of the house of the LORD, to cleanse it, and brought out all the uncleanness that they found in the temple of the LORD into the court of the house of the LORD. And the Levites took it, to carry it out abroad into the brook Kidron.

Now they began on the first day of the first month to sanctify, and on the eighth day of the month came they to the porch of the LORD: so they sanctified the house of the LORD in eight days; and in the sixteenth day of the first month they made an end. Then they went in to Hezekiah the king, and said, We have cleansed all the house of the LORD, and the altar of burnt offering, with all the vessels thereof, and the shewbread table, with all the vessels thereof. Moreover all the vessels, which king Ahaz in his reign did cast away in his transgression, have we prepared and sanctified, and, behold, they are before the altar of the LORD.

Then Hezekiah the king rose early, and gathered the rulers of the city, and went up to the house of the LORD. And they brought seven bullocks, and seven rams, and seven lambs, and seven he goats, for a sin offering for the kingdom, and for the sanctuary, and for Judah. And he commanded the priests the sons of Aaron to offer them on the altar of the LORD.

So they killed the bullocks, and the priests received the blood, and sprinkled it on the altar: likewise, when they had killed the rams, they sprinkled the blood upon the altar: they killed also the lambs, and they sprinkled the blood upon the altar. And they brought forth the he goats for the sin offering before the king and the congregation; and they laid their hands upon them: and the priests killed them, and they made reconciliation with their blood upon the altar, to make an atonement for all Israel: for the king commanded that the burnt offering and the sin offering should be made for all Israel.

And he set the Levites in the house of the LORD with cymbals, with psalteries, and with harps, according to the commandment of David, and of Gad the king's seer, and Nathan the prophet: for so was the commandment of the LORD by his prophets. And the Levites stood with the instruments of David, and the priests with the trumpets. And Hezekiah commanded to offer the burnt offering upon the altar. And when the burnt offering began, the song of the LORD began also with the trumpets, and with the instruments ordained by David king of Israel. And all the congregation worshipped, and the singers sang, and the trumpeters sounded: and all this continued until the burnt offering was finished.

And when they had made an end of offering, the king and all that were present with him bowed themselves, and worshipped. Moreover Hezekiah the king and the princes commanded the Levites to sing praise unto the LORD with the words of David, and of Asaph the seer. And they sang praises with gladness, and they bowed their heads and worshipped.

Then Hezekiah answered and said, Now ye have consecrated yourselves unto the LORD, come near and bring sacrifices and thank offerings into the house of the LORD. And the congregation brought in sacrifices and thank offerings; and as many as were of a free heart burnt offerings. And the number of the burnt offerings, which the congregation brought, was threescore and ten bullocks, an hundred rams, and two hundred lambs: all these were for a burnt offering to the LORD.

[Calling to Celebrate the Passover]

And Hezekiah sent to all Israel and Judah, and wrote letters also to Ephraim and Manasseh, that they should come to the house of the LORD at Jerusalem, to keep the passover unto the LORD God of Israel. For the king had taken counsel, and his princes, and all the congregation in Jerusalem, to keep the passover in the second month. For they could not keep it at that time, because the priests had not sanctified themselves sufficiently, neither had the people gathered themselves together to Jerusalem.

And the thing pleased the king and all the congregation. So they established a decree to make proclamation throughout all Israel, from Beersheba even to Dan, that they should come to keep the passover unto the LORD God of Israel at Jerusalem: for they had not done it of a long time in such sort as it was written.

So the posts went with the letters from the king and his princes throughout all Israel and Judah, and according to the commandment of the king, saying,

Ye children of Israel, turn again unto the LORD God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, and he will return to the remnant of you, that are escaped out of the hand of the kings of Assyria. And be not ye like your fathers, and like your brethren, which trespassed against the LORD God of their fathers, who therefore gave them up to desolation, as ye see. Now be ye not stiffnecked, as your fathers were, but yield yourselves unto the LORD, and enter into his sanctuary, which he hath sanctified for ever: and serve the LORD your God, that the fierceness of his wrath may turn away from you. For if ye turn again unto the LORD, your brethren and your children shall find compassion before them that lead them captive, so that they shall come again into this land: for the LORD your God is gracious and merciful, and will not turn away his face from you, if ye return unto him.

So the posts passed from city to city through the country of Ephraim and Manasseh even unto Zebulun: but they laughed them to scorn, and mocked them. Nevertheless divers of Asher and Manasseh and of Zebulun humbled themselves, and came to Jerusalem.

Also in Judah the hand of God was to give them one heart to do the commandment of the king and of the princes, by the word of the LORD. And there assembled at Jerusalem much people to keep the feast of unleavened bread in the second month, a very great congregation. And they arose and took away the altars that were in Jerusalem, and all the altars for incense took they away, and cast them into the brook Kidron.

Then they killed the passover on the fourteenth day of the second month: and the priests and the Levites were ashamed, and sanctified themselves, and brought in the burnt offerings into the house of the LORD. And they stood in their place after their manner, according to the law of Moses the man of God: the priests sprinkled the blood, which they received of the hand of the Levites. For there were many in the congregation that were not sanctified: therefore the Levites had the charge of the killing of the passovers for every one that was not clean, to sanctify them unto the LORD.

For a multitude of the people, even many of Ephraim, and Manasseh, Issachar, and Zebulun, had not cleansed themselves, yet did they eat the passover otherwise than it was written. But Hezekiah prayed for them, saying, The good LORD pardon every one that prepareth his heart to seek God, the LORD God of his fathers, though he be not cleansed according to the purification of the sanctuary. And the LORD hearkened to Hezekiah, and healed the people.

And the children of Israel that were present at Jerusalem kept the feast of unleavened bread seven days with great gladness: and the Levites and the priests praised the LORD day by day, singing with loud instruments unto the LORD. And Hezekiah spake comfortably unto all the Levites that taught the good knowledge of the LORD: and they did eat throughout the feast seven days, offering peace offerings, and making confession to the LORD God of their fathers. And the whole assembly took counsel to keep other seven days: and they kept other seven days with gladness. For Hezekiah king of Judah did give to the congregation a thousand bullocks and seven thousand sheep; and the princes gave to the congregation a thousand bullocks and ten thousand sheep: and a great number of priests sanctified themselves.

And all the congregation of Judah, with the priests and the Levites, and all the congregation that came out of Israel, and the strangers that came out of the land of Israel, and that dwelt in Judah, rejoiced. So there was great joy in Jerusalem: for since the time of Solomon the son of David king of Israel there was not the like in Jerusalem. Then the priests the Levites arose and blessed the people: and their voice was heard, and their prayer came up to his holy dwelling place, even unto heaven.

[Reformation of Israel]

Now when all this was finished, all Israel that were present went out to the cities of Judah, and brake the images in pieces, and cut down the groves, and threw down the high places and the altars out of all Judah and Benjamin, in Ephraim also and Manasseh, until they had utterly destroyed them all. Then all the children of Israel returned, every man to his possession, into their own cities.

And Hezekiah appointed the courses of the priests and the Levites after their courses, every man according to his service, the priests and Levites for burnt offerings and for peace offerings, to minister, and to give thanks, and to praise in the gates of the tents of the LORD. He appointed also the king's portion of his substance for the burnt offerings, to wit, for the morning and evening burnt offerings, and the burnt offerings for the sabbaths, and for the new moons, and for the set feasts, as it is written in the law of the LORD.

Moreover he commanded the people that dwelt in Jerusalem to give the portion of the priests and the Levites, that they might be encouraged in the law of the LORD. And as soon as the commandment came abroad, the children of Israel brought in abundance the firstfruits of corn, wine, and oil, and honey, and of all the increase of the field; and the tithe of all things brought they in abundantly.

And concerning the children of Israel and Judah, that dwelt in the cities of Judah, they also brought in the tithe of oxen and sheep, and the tithe of holy things which were consecrated unto the LORD their God, and laid them by heaps. In the third month they began to lay the foundation of the heaps, and finished them in the seventh month. And when Hezekiah and the princes came and saw the heaps, they blessed the LORD, and his people Israel. Then Hezekiah questioned with the priests and the Levites concerning the heaps.

And Azariah the chief priest of the house of Zadok answered him, and said, Since the people began to bring the offerings into the house of the LORD, we have had enough to eat, and have left plenty: for the LORD hath blessed his people; and that which is left is this great store.

Then Hezekiah commanded to prepare chambers in the house of the LORD; and they prepared them, and brought in the offerings and the tithes and the dedicated things faithfully: over which Cononiah the Levite was ruler, and Shimei his brother was the next. And Jehiel, and Azaziah, and Nahath, and Asahel, and Jerimoth, and Jozabad, and Eliel, and Ismachiah, and Mahath, and Benaiah, were overseers under the hand of Cononiah and Shimei his brother, at the commandment of Hezekiah the king, and Azariah the ruler of the house of God. And Kore the son of Imnah the Levite, the porter toward the east, was over the freewill offerings of God, to distribute the oblations of the LORD, and the most holy things. And next him were Eden, and Miniamin, and Jeshua, and Shemaiah, Amariah, and Shecaniah, in the cities of the priests, in their set office, to give to their brethren by courses, as well to the great as to the small: beside their genealogy of males, from three years old and upward, even unto every one that entereth into the house of the LORD, his daily portion for their service in their charges according to their courses; both to the genealogy of the priests by the house of their fathers, and the Levites from twenty years old and upward, in their charges by their courses; and to the genealogy of all their little ones, their wives, and their sons, and their daughters, through all the congregation: for in their set office they sanctified themselves in holiness: also of the sons of Aaron the priests, which were in the fields of the suburbs of their cities, in every several city, the men that were expressed by name, to give portions to all the males among the priests, and to all that were reckoned by genealogies among the Levites.

And thus did Hezekiah throughout all Judah, and wrought that which was good and right and truth before the LORD his God. And in every work that he began in the service of the house of God, and in the law, and in the commandments, to seek his God, he did it with all his heart, and prospered.