"I pray not that thou shouldst take them out of the world."
It is a sweet and blessed event which will occur to all believers in God's own time--the going home to be with Jesus. In a few more years the Lord's soldiers, who are now fighting "the good fight of faith" will have done with conflict, and have entered into the joy of their Lord. But although Christ prays that his people may eventually be with him where he is, he does not ask that they may be taken at once away from this world to heaven. He wishes them to stay here. Yet how frequently does the wearied pilgrim put up the prayer, "O that I had wings like a dove! for then would I fly away and be at rest;" but Christ does not pray like that, he leaves us in his Father's hands, until, like shocks of corn fully ripe, we shall each be gathered into our Master's garner. Jesus does not plead for our instant removal by death, for to abide in the flesh is needful for others if not profitable for ourselves. He asks that we may be kept from evil, but he never asks for us to be admitted to the inheritance in glory till we are of full age. Christians often want to die when they have any trouble. Ask them why, and they tell you, "Because we would be with the Lord." We fear it is not so much because they are longing to be with the Lord, as because they desire to get rid of their troubles; else they would feel the same wish to die at other times when not under the pressure of trial. They want to go home, not so much for the Saviour's company, as to be at rest. Now it is quite right to desire to depart if we can do it in the same spirit that Paul did, because to be with Christ is far better, but the wish to escape from trouble is a selfish one. Rather let your care and wish be to glorify God by your life here as long as he pleases, even though it be in the midst of toil, and conflict, and suffering, and leave him to say when "it is enough."
"These all died in faith."
Behold the epitaph of all those blessed saints who fell asleep before the coming of our Lord! It matters nothing how else they died, whether of old age, or by violent means; this one point, in which they all agree, is the most worthy of record, "they all died in faith." In faith they lived--it was their comfort, their guide, their motive and their support; and in the same spiritual grace they died, ending their life-song in the sweet strain in which they had so long continued. They did not die resting in the flesh or upon their own attainments; they made no advance from their first way of acceptance with God, but held to the way of faith to the end. Faith is as precious to die by as to live by.
Dying in faith has distinct reference to the past. They believed the promises which had gone before, and were assured that their sins were blotted out through the mercy of God. Dying in faith has to do with the present. These saints were confident of their acceptance with God, they enjoyed the beams of his love, and rested in his faithfulness. Dying in faith looks into the future. They fell asleep, affirming that the Messiah would surely come, and that when he would in the last days appear upon the earth, they would rise from their graves to behold him. To them the pains of death were but the birth-pangs of a better state. Take courage, my soul, as thou readest this epitaph. Thy course, through grace, is one of faith, and sight seldom cheers thee; this has also been the pathway of the brightest and the best. Faith was the orbit in which these stars of the first magnitude moved all the time of their shining here; and happy art thou that it is thine. Look anew tonight to Jesus, the author and finisher of thy faith, and thank Him for giving thee like precious faith with souls now in glory.
The Woman Whose Dancing Meant Death
Name Meaning-Salome is the feminine form of Solomon, and according to Wilkinson, is the Greek form in shalom meaning "peace." Cruden, however, says that Salome implies, "very shady," which is truer of the debased character of the daughter of Herodias-which was indeed shady, morally. The New Testament does not name her. It is Josephus the Jewish historian who identifies her as Salome.
Family Connections-She was the daughter of Herodias by her first husband, Herod Philip, a son of Herod the Great. Josephus tells us that Salome was married first to Philip the tetrarch, and afterward to Aristobulus, king of Chalcis, the grandson of Herod, and brother of Agrippa.
For King Herod's birthday, Salome entertained him and his friends with a dance. Her dance was far from demure, though. To please her stepfather, she slipped into something slinky and weaved her way around the men. Kitto, the eminent expositor tells us that, "In the age of Herod, dancing was exceedingly rare and almost unheard of, and therefore the condescension of Salome, who volunteered to honour that monarch's birthday by exhibiting her handsome person as she led the mazy dance in the saloons of Machaerus, felt it to be a compliment that merited the highest reward."
Made happy by her dance, the king offered to indulge Salome and grant her one request. Salome, on her own, may have wished for any number of things-perhaps a feather bed or a new pair of sandals or a easel and a set of paints. But with her scheming mother Herodias at her side, Salome asked for something terrible. Herodias, aware of the king's naïve generosity, suggested to Salome that she ask for the head of John the Baptist on a platter. A adolescent girl would surely have recoiled at the thought, and yet she approached the king with this request. Regretting his offer, the king, who was fond of John, kept his promise and had the prophet executed.
Though Salome's participation in this wickedness was perhaps at first unwitting, by the end she too was complicit. Her story reminds us that it is easy to acquiesce to evil when we're not vigilant. Had she even been wrapped up in herself and selfishly asked for a new summer dress, neither would John have been killed nor would Herod have lost his kingdom. We must be alert to the casualness with which evil enters and to guard against it. In this case, the honorable act is not to "honor" one's mother. We ought to honor authority by doing what is faithful and good
[Jēhoi'a kĭm] - jehovah sets up. The name given by Pharaoh-nechoh to Eliakim son of Josiah, king of Judah, whom he made king instead of Jehoahaz. His reign of eleven years is not favorably viewed by Jeremiah (2 Kings 23:34-36; 24:1-6, 19; 1 Chron. 3:15, 16; 2 Chron. 36:4-8; Jer. 1:3; 22:18, 24).
The Man Who Was a Frivolous Egotist
Jehoiakim lacked moral sense and religious appreciation and was a man after the mold of his grandfather Manasseh. He took no interest in the reforms for which his father had worked. With his approval many heathen practices of Manasseh's reign were resumed.
The burning of the roll containing the sacred Word of God was the most remarkable scene in the history of this evil king who had no regard for God and no respect for the rights of others. He severely oppressed the people of Judah in order to maintain the pomp and extravagance of his court. Such a flagrant rejection of all that was godly and just brought Jeremiah out into the open, and he addressed the king in no uncertain terms. The king's doom was predicted. At last he was put to death by Nebuchadnezzar, and his body was left to decay, unburied, beyond the gates of Jerusalem. When we come to the line of our Saviour's ancestors there is a blank where a name should have been. "Josias," so we read (Matt. 1:11), (not Jehoiakim) begat Jechonias. The name is gone - taken out of the book of generations.
Today's reading: 1 Kings 12-13, Luke 22:1-30 (NIV)View today's reading on Bible Gateway
Today's Old Testament reading: 1 Kings 12-13
Israel Rebels Against Rehoboam
1 Rehoboam went to Shechem, for all Israel had gone there to make him king. 2 When Jeroboam son of Nebat heard this (he was still in Egypt, where he had fled from King Solomon), he returned from Egypt. 3 So they sent for Jeroboam, and he and the whole assembly of Israel went to Rehoboam and said to him: 4 "Your father put a heavy yoke on us, but now lighten the harsh labor and the heavy yoke he put on us, and we will serve you...."
Today's New Testament reading: Luke 22:1-30
Judas Agrees to Betray Jesus
1 Now the Festival of Unleavened Bread, called the Passover, was approaching, 2 and the chief priests and the teachers of the law were looking for some way to get rid of Jesus, for they were afraid of the people. 3 Then Satan entered Judas, called Iscariot, one of the Twelve. 4 And Judas went to the chief priests and the officers of the temple guard and discussed with them how he might betray Jesus. 5 They were delighted and agreed to give him money. 6 He consented, and watched for an opportunity to hand Jesus over to them when no crowd was present....