"Have mercy upon me, O God."
When Dr. Carey was suffering from a dangerous illness, the enquiry was made, "If this sickness should prove fatal, what passage would you select as the text for your funeral sermon?" He replied, "Oh, I feel that such a poor sinful creature is unworthy to have anything said about him; but if a funeral sermon must be preached, let it be from the words, Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness; according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions.'" In the same spirit of humility he directed in his will that the following inscription and nothing more should be cut on his gravestone:--
William Carey, Born August 17th, 1761: Died - -
"A wretched, poor, and helpless worm
On thy kind arms I fall."
Only on the footing of free grace can the most experienced and most honoured of the saints approach their God. The best of men are conscious above all others that they are men at the best. Empty boats float high, but heavily laden vessels are low in the water; mere professors can boast, but true children of God cry for mercy upon their unprofitableness. We have need that the Lord should have mercy upon our good works, our prayers, our preachings, our alms-givings, and our holiest things. The blood was not only sprinkled upon the doorposts of Israel's dwelling houses, but upon the sanctuary, the mercy-seat, and the altar, because as sin intrudes into our holiest things, the blood of Jesus is needed to purify them from defilement. If mercy be needed to be exercised towards our duties, what shall be said of our sins? How sweet the remembrance that inexhaustible mercy is waiting to be gracious to us, to restore our backslidings, and make our broken bones rejoice!
"All the days of his separation shall he eat nothing that is made of the vine tree, from the kernels even to the husk."
Nazarites had taken, among other vows, one which debarred them from the use of wine. In order that they might not violate the obligation, they were forbidden to drink the vinegar of wine or strong liquors, and to make the rule still more clear, they were not to touch the unfermented juice of grapes, nor even to eat the fruit either fresh or dried. In order, altogether, to secure the integrity of the vow, they were not even allowed anything that had to do with the vine; they were, in fact, to avoid the appearance of evil. Surely this is a lesson to the Lord's separated ones, teaching them to come away from sin in every form, to avoid not merely its grosser shapes, but even its spirit and similitude. Strict walking is much despised in these days, but rest assured, dear reader, it is both the safest and the happiest. He who yields a point or two to the world is in fearful peril; he who eats the grapes of Sodom will soon drink the wine of Gomorrah. A little crevice in the sea-bank in Holland lets in the sea, and the gap speedily swells till a province is drowned. Worldly conformity, in any degree, is a snare to the soul, and makes it more and more liable to presumptuous sins. Moreover, as the Nazarite who drank grape juice could not be quite sure whether it might not have endured a degree of fermentation, and consequently could not be clear in heart that his vow was intact, so the yielding, temporizing Christian cannot wear a conscience void of offence, but must feel that the inward monitor is in doubt of him. Things doubtful we need not doubt about; they are wrong to us. Things tempting we must not dally with, but flee from them with speed. Better be sneered at as a Puritan than be despised as a hypocrite. Careful walking may involve much self-denial, but it has pleasures of its own which are more than a sufficient recompense.
Today's reading: Psalm 126-128, 1 Corinthians 10:19-33 (NIV)View today's reading on Bible Gateway
Today's Old Testament reading: Psalm 126-128
A song of ascents.
1 When the LORD restored the fortunes of Zion,
we were like those who dreamed.
2 Our mouths were filled with laughter,
our tongues with songs of joy.
Then it was said among the nations,
"The LORD has done great things for them."
3 The LORD has done great things for us,
and we are filled with joy.
4 Restore our fortunes, LORD,
like streams in the Negev.
5 Those who sow with tears
will reap with songs of joy.
6 Those who go out weeping,
carrying seed to sow,
will return with songs of joy,
carrying sheaves with them.
Today's New Testament reading: 1 Corinthians 10:19-3319 Do I mean then that food sacrificed to an idol is anything, or that an idol is anything? 20 No, but the sacrifices of pagans are offered to demons, not to God, and I do not want you to be participants with demons. 21 You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons too; you cannot have a part in both the Lord's table and the table of demons. 22 Are we trying to arouse the Lord's jealousy? Are we stronger than he?
The Believer's Freedom
23 "I have the right to do anything," you say-but not everything is beneficial. "I have the right to do anything"-but not everything is constructive. 24 No one should seek their own good, but the good of others....
[Īzā'iah,Ī za'ias] - jehovah is helper orsalvation is of the lord. The name of the greatest of the Assyrian group of prophets is synonymous with Joshua or Jesus and symbolic of his message. Little is known of this gospel prophet, often severe in tone. He is described as the son of Amoz, not Amos the prophet (Isa. 1:1; 2:1; 6:1; 7:3; 13:1 ). Some scholars suggest that Amoz was the uncle of Uzziah which, if true, would make Isaiah the king's cousin. Evidently Isaiah was of good family and education.
The Man of Many Parts
Isaiah's home and the scene of his labors was Jerusalem. His wife was a prophetess (Isa. 8:3) and bore the prophet two sons, whose names were symbolic of those aspects of the nation's history which Isaiah enforced in his prophecies:
Shear-jashub, meaning, "a remnant shall return" (Isa. 7:3).
Maher-shalal-hash-baz , implying, "Haste ye, speed to the spoil" (Isa. 8:1-4). Often names were given for signs and wonders in Israel.
Isaiah's original call to service is unrecorded, but in chapter six we have his vision and commission. A prophet of Judah, Isaiah ministered during the reign of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahab and Hezekiah, kings of Judah. He comes before us as a man of many parts - a man eminently gifted and called of God as the first and chief of Israel's prophets and poets.
I. The Writer. Isaiah wrote a history of the reign of Uzziah and Ahaz (2 Chron. 26:22; 32:32 ). No other Old Testament writer uses so many beautiful and picturesque illustrations, epigrams and metaphors as Isaiah, who was also a poet of no mean order (Isa. 1:13; 5:18; 12:1-6; 13:3).
The book bearing his name is made up of sixty-six chapters, and is a miniature Bible with its sixty-six books.
II. The Statesman. Isaiah was an ardent patriot, loving God and his nation. He was a bold, true statesman, seeking no court favor. How strongly he denounced all foreign alliances, (Isa. 7:5; 37:22 )! It is Isaiah who gives us the earliest recorded vision of world-wide peace (Isa. 2:1-4).
III. The reformer. Like Noah, Isaiah was also a preacher of righteousness, and exposed formalism as a bad substitute for spiritual life and conduct (Isa. 36-39). Yet, like all the greatest contributors to moral uplift, Isaiah, amid all his rebukes and denunciations of evil, was truly optimistic.
IV. The Prophet. In no uncertain language Isaiah foretold the future of Israel and Judah, and the downfall of Gentile nations. Many of his predictions in regard to ancient nations have been fulfilled. Then Isaiah was The Christ-Harbinger, prophesying the coming of the Messianic King and Suffering Saviour. Chapter fifty-three of his prophecy drips with the ruby blood of the Redeemer. No wonder Jerome described Isaiah as "The Evangelical Prophet."
V. The Teacher. To perpetuate his message and influence, Isaiah formed a group of disciples to whose teaching and training he devoted himself when his public ministry seemed useless. He was not only a counselor of kings and princes, but an instructor of those who were eager for his vision. He was an orator without peer - Jerome likened him to Demosthenes. This trait must have made an impact upon those he sought to train.
VI. The Theologian. This dreamer and poet, architect and builder, prophet and statesman was also a theologian able to discourse upon the sovereignty and holiness of God with utmost clarity. What an artist with words Isaiah was! Every word from him stirs and strikes, as he expounds the lordship of Jehovah - the need of all men for cleansing - the forgiving grace of God. The prophet insisted upon reverence for God whose usual title he gave as "The Holy One of Israel." Sometimes stern in tone, he could also be tender and compassionate (Isa. 15:5; 16:9).
The time of his death is unknown. Legend has it that he was placed inside a hollow tree and sawn asunder at the command of Manasseh (Heb. 11:37).
The Woman Who Killed a Man While He Slept
Scripture References-Judges 4:17-22; 5:6, 24-27
Name Meaning-Jael means “wild or mountain goat” or “gazelle,” and as Dean Stanley expresses it, “a fit name for a Bedouin’s wife-especially for one whose family had come from the rocks of Engedi, the spring of the wild goat or chamois.”
Family Connections-The only association given of this woman who sprang from obscurity by a single deed which, because of its nature, hardly deserved fame, is that she was the wife of Heber, the Kenite. In those days everything connected with a tent was a woman’s job and the women became expert in all the phases of making, pitching and striking tents. This was why Jael was able to turn her skill to good account, as with a tent pin in one hand and with a maul in the other, she drove the pin home through the skull of Sisera as he slept-a deed not allotted to divine leading although the victory over Sisera was ( Judges 5:10).
How can we explain or justify such an act deemed treacherous according to the morals of Jael’s own time? “Hospitality was one of the most strictly adhered to, of all desert obligations, and was a matter of honor among the Hebrews,” says Mary Hallet. “In betraying Sisera, Jael broke this code of hers; but to us that is more easily understood than the revolting cruelty of her method of murder!” “So Sisera died”-and Jael’s treachery was forgotten in the more important fact of her courage. The circumstances occasioning such an act have already been touched upon. Israel chafed under the severe rule of Jabin, king of the Canaanites, and Deborah arose and with Barak went out against the armed force of Jabin. God intervened, and unleashing the powers of nature completely disorganized Jabin’s army. Sisera, captain of the host, and Israel’s cruel oppressor escaped and fell into the hands of a woman (4:9).
Sisera fled to the tent of Heber the Kenite, whose wife Jael met Sisera and urged him not to be afraid but to turn in and rest. Seeing how worn and weary Sisera was, Jael covered him with a mantle, and when he asked for water to slake his thirst she opened a bottle of milk for him to drink. Then, assuring him that she would shield him from any searchers, she watched him as he fell asleep. Going softly to his side, Jael drove the tent nail through his head and pinned it to the ground. Shakespeare says of woman that “she can smile and smile and be a villain.” Jael was not a crude or coarse woman, or a tiger of a woman. But with a husband who had allied himself with the enemy, she was caught in the politics of Israel and felt that she had to defend herself She resorted to trickery, for although she met Sisera with a beaming face, there was murder in her heart. Had Sisera attempted to rape Jael, and in defense of her honor she had killed him, that would have been another matter, but to kill him as an assassin kills a victim was something different. Her murder of Sisera reminds us of Judith of Behulia, who drove a sword through Olopernes' throat as he slept.
While divine judgment fell upon Sisera, Jael erred in that she did not allow God to designate the means of punishment. Perhaps she felt an irresistible impulse to slay the persistent enemy of God’s people, but she remains forever censurable for the cruel way she killed Sisera, even though Deborah gloated over the act and praised it in poetic form. When Deborah said, “Blessed above women shall be Jael,” perhaps she was only praising her faith and not her treachery. Any woman killing the country’s enemy must be the friend of Israel, and so the method of Sisera’s death mattered little to Deborah who doubtless thought that all was fair in time of war. What atrocious crimes have been committed in the name of patriotism! Jael had no conception that she was the one person at the opportune moment to render “stern justice on an enemy of God.” Knowing that the tide of battle had turned against the Canaanites she realized that Sisera would be captured and killed, therefore she acted as the executioner herself, thereby cementing a friendship with Deborah, the conqueror, who thought Jael worthy of praise because of her love for Israel.