February 2: Morning
"Without the shedding of blood is no remission." - Hebrews 9:22
This is the voice of unalterable truth. In none of the Jewish ceremonies were sins, even typically, removed without blood-shedding. In no case, by no means can sin be pardoned without atonement. It is clear, then, that there is no hope for me out of Christ; for there is no other blood-shedding which is worth a thought as an atonement for sin. Am I, then, believing in him? Is the blood of his atonement truly applied to my soul? All men are on a level as to their need of him. If we be never so moral, generous, amiable, or patriotic, the rule will not be altered to make an exception for us. Sin will yield to nothing less potent than the blood of him whom God hath set forth as a propitiation. What a blessing that there is the one way of pardon! Why should we seek another?
Persons of merely formal religion cannot understand how we can rejoice that all our sins are forgiven us for Christ's sake. Their works, and prayers, and ceremonies, give them very poor comfort; and well may they be uneasy, for they are neglecting the one great salvation, and endeavouring to get remission without blood. My soul, sit down, and behold the justice of God as bound to punish sin; see that punishment all executed upon thy Lord Jesus, and fall down in humble joy, and kiss the dear feet of him whose blood has made atonement for thee. It is in vain when conscience is aroused to fly to feelings and evidences for comfort: this is a habit which we learned in the Egypt of our legal bondage. The only restorative for a guilty conscience is a sight of Jesus suffering on the cross. "The blood is the life thereof," says the Levitical law, and let us rest assured that it is the life of faith and joy and every other holy grace.
"Oh! how sweet to view the flowing
Of my Saviour's precious blood;
With divine assurance knowing
He has made my peace with God."
"And these are ancient things." - 1 Chronicles 4:22
Yet not so ancient as those precious things which are the delight of our souls. Let us for a moment recount them, telling them over as misers count their gold. The sovereign choice of the Father, by which he elected us unto eternal life, or ever the earth was, is a matter of vast antiquity, since no date can be conceived for it by the mind of man. We were chosen from before the foundations of the world. Everlasting love went with the choice, for it was not a bare act of divine will by which we were set apart, but the divine affections were concerned. The Father loved us in and from the beginning. Here is a theme for daily contemplation. The eternal purpose to redeem us from our foreseen ruin, to cleanse and sanctify us, and at last to glorify us, was of infinite antiquity, and runs side by side with immutable love and absolute sovereignty. The covenant is always described as being everlasting, and Jesus, the second party in it, had his goings forth of old; he struck hands in sacred suretyship long ere the first of the stars began to shine, and it was in him that the elect were ordained unto eternal life. Thus in the divine purpose a most blessed covenant union was established between the Son of God and his elect people, which will remain as the foundation of their safety when time shall be no more. Is it not well to be conversant with these ancient things? Is it not shameful that they should be so much neglected and even rejected by the bulk of professors? If they knew more of their own sin, would they not be more ready to adore distinguishing grace? Let us both admire and adore tonight, as we sing--
"A monument of grace,
A sinner saved by blood;
The streams of love I trace
Up to the Fountain, God;
And in his sacred bosom see
Eternal thoughts of Love to me."
[Ĕlī'shă] - god is saviour.
The Man Who Was a Model Leader
There is a striking difference between Elijah and Elisha, both of whom labored in the Northern Kingdom. Elijah's name means, Jehovah my God and suggests the Law while Elisha's name speaks of grace - Jehovah my Saviour.
Elisha left a peaceful occupation to become a model spiritual leader. Elijah prepared Elisha for his commission (2 Kings 2:1-14), and the two became devoted to each other. Elisha's character is marked by mercy (2 Kings 2:21), disinterestedness (2 Kings 5) and toleration (2 Kings 5:19). He earned a wonderful posthumous influence (2 Kings 13:20, 21 ). What a victorious death was his (2 Kings 13:14-19)! Summarizing the life of this prophet who spoke with the authority of an oracle of God (2 Kings 3:16, 17), we see him etched as:
A man of swift action (2 Kings 2:12-18).
A man of spiritual power (2 Kings 2:19-22).
A man of dauntless courage (2 Kings 3).
A man of deep sympathy (2 Kings 4:1-7).
A man of God (2 Kings 4:8-37).
A man of willing help (2 Kings 4:38-41).
A man who merited blessing (2 Kings 4:42-44).
A man of clear understanding (2 Kings 5:1-19).
A man of force and might (2 Kings 6:1-7).
A man who knew secrets (2 Kings 6:8-23).
A man of remarkable foresight (2 Kings 6:24-33; 7).
A man of unerring counsel (2 Kings 8:1-6).
A man of tears and sorrow (2 Kings 8:7-15).
Elisha suggests the ministry of Christ. On the whole, Elijah's work was destructive - he was the prophet of fire. Elisha's task was more merciful and beneficial. He had double the power of Elijah (2 Kings 2:8-9, 15), and consequently performed twice as many miracles as his former master. The following contrasts between these two prophets can be noted:
Elijah was a prophet of the wilderness; Elisha was a prince of the court.
Elijah had no settled home; Elisha enjoyed the peace of a home.
Elijah was known by his long hair and shaggy mantle; Elisha by his staff and bald head.
Elijah was mainly prophetical; Elisha's work was mainly miraculous.
Elijah's ministry was one of stern denunciation; Elisha's task was that of teaching and winning.
Elijah was a rebuker of kings; Elisha was a friend and admirer.
Elijah was a messenger of vengeance; Elisha was a messenger of mercy.
Elijah represented exclusiveness; Elisha stood for comprehension.
Elijah was fierce, fiery, energetic; Elisha was gentle, sympathetic, simple.
Elijah was a solitary figure; Elisha was more social.
Elijah had an extraordinary disappearance from earth; Elisha's death was ordinary.
Today's reading: Exodus 29-30, Matthew 21:23-46 (NIV)View today's reading on Bible Gateway
Today's Old Testament reading: Exodus 29-30
Consecration of the Priests1 "This is what you are to do to consecrate them, so they may serve me as priests: Take a young bull and two rams without defect. 2 And from the finest wheat flour make round loaves without yeast, thick loaves without yeast and with olive oil mixed in, and thin loaves without yeast and brushed with olive oil. 3 Put them in a basket and present them along with the bull and the two rams. 4 Then bring Aaron and his sons to the entrance to the tent of meeting and wash them with water....
Today's New Testament reading: Matthew 21:23-46
The Authority of Jesus Questioned
23 Jesus entered the temple courts, and, while he was teaching, the chief priests and the elders of the people came to him. "By what authority are you doing these things?" they asked. "And who gave you this authority?"
24 Jesus replied, "I will also ask you one question. If you answer me, I will tell you by what authority I am doing these things. 25 John's baptism--where did it come from? Was it from heaven, or of human origin?"