"I will help thee, saith the Lord."
This morning let us hear the Lord Jesus speak to each one of us: "I will help thee." "It is but a small thing for me, thy God, to help thee. Consider what I have done already. What! not help thee? Why, I bought thee with my blood. What! not help thee? I have died for thee; and if I have done the greater, will I not do the less? Help thee! It is the least thing I will ever do for thee; I have done more, and will do more. Before the world began I chose thee. I made the covenant for thee. I laid aside my glory and became a man for thee; I gave up my life for thee; and if I did all this, I will surely help thee now. In helping thee, I am giving thee what I have bought for thee already. If thou hadst need of a thousand times as much help, I would give it thee; thou requirest little compared with what I am ready to give. 'Tis much for thee to need, but it is nothing for me to bestow. Help thee?' Fear not! If there were an ant at the door of thy granary asking for help, it would not ruin thee to give him a handful of thy wheat; and thou art nothing but a tiny insect at the door of my all-sufficiency. I will help thee.'"
O my soul, is not this enough? Dost thou need more strength than the omnipotence of the United Trinity? Dost thou want more wisdom than exists in the Father, more love than displays itself in the Son, or more power than is manifest in the influences of the Spirit? Bring hither thine empty pitcher! Surely this well will fill it. Haste, gather up thy wants, and bring them here--thine emptiness, thy woes, thy needs. Behold, this river of God is full for thy supply; what canst thou desire beside? Go forth, my soul, in this thy might. The Eternal God is thine helper!
"Fear not, I am with thee, oh, be not dismay'd!
I, I am thy God, and will still give thee aid."
"The Messiah shall be cut off, but not for himself."
Blessed be his name, there was no cause of death in him. Neither original nor actual sin had defiled him, and therefore death had no claim upon him. No man could have taken his life from him justly, for he had done no man wrong, and no man could even have lain him by force unless he had been pleased to yield himself to die. But lo, one sins and another suffers. Justice was offended by us, but found its satisfaction in him. Rivers of tears, mountains of offerings, seas of the blood of bullocks, and hills of frankincense, could not have availed for the removal of sin; but Jesus was cut off for us, and the cause of wrath was cut off at once, for sin was put away forever. Herein is wisdom, whereby substitution, the sure and speedy way of atonement, was devised! Herein is condescension, which brought Messiah, the Prince, to wear a crown of thorns, and die upon the cross! Herein is love, which led the Redeemer to lay down his life for his enemies!
It is not enough, however, to admire the spectacle of the innocent bleeding for the guilty, we must make sure of our interest therein. The special object of the Messiah's death was the salvation of his church; have we a part and a lot among those for whom he gave his life a ransom? Did the Lord Jesus stand as our representative? Are we healed by his stripes? It will be a terrible thing indeed if we should come short of a portion in his sacrifice; it were better for us that we had never been born. Solemn as the question is, it is a joyful circumstance that it is one which may be answered clearly and without mistake. To all who believe on him the Lord Jesus is a present Saviour, and upon them all the blood of reconciliation has been sprinkled. Let all who trust in the merit of Messiah's death be joyful at every remembrance of him, and let their holy gratitude lead them to the fullest consecration to his cause.
Today's reading: Genesis 39-40, Matthew 11 (NIV)View today's reading on Bible Gateway
Joseph and Potiphar’s Wife
1 Now Joseph had been taken down to Egypt. Potiphar, an Egyptian who was one of Pharaoh’s officials, the captain of the guard, bought him from the Ishmaelites who had taken him there.
2 The LORD was with Joseph so that he prospered, and he lived in the house of his Egyptian master. 3 When his master saw that the LORD was with him and that the LORD gave him success in everything he did, 4 Joseph found favor in his eyes and became his attendant. Potiphar put him in charge of his household, and he entrusted to his care everything he owned. 5From the time he put him in charge of his household and of all that he owned, the LORD blessed the household of the Egyptian because of Joseph. The blessing of the LORD was on everything Potiphar had, both in the house and in the field. 6 So Potiphar left everything he had in Joseph’s care; with Joseph in charge, he did not concern himself with anything except the food he ate.
Now Joseph was well-built and handsome, 7 and after a while his master’s wife took notice of Joseph and said, “Come to bed with me!”
8 But he refused. “With me in charge,” he told her, “my master does not concern himself with anything in the house; everything he owns he has entrusted to my care. 9 No one is greater in this house than I am. My master has withheld nothing from me except you, because you are his wife. How then could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God?” 10 And though she spoke to Joseph day after day, he refused to go to bed with her or even be with her.
11 One day he went into the house to attend to his duties, and none of the household servants was inside. 12 She caught him by his cloak and said, “Come to bed with me!” But he left his cloak in her hand and ran out of the house.
13 When she saw that he had left his cloak in her hand and had run out of the house, 14 she called her household servants. “Look,” she said to them, “this Hebrew has been brought to us to make sport of us! He came in here to sleep with me, but I screamed. 15 When he heard me scream for help, he left his cloak beside me and ran out of the house.”
16 She kept his cloak beside her until his master came home.17 Then she told him this story: “That Hebrew slave you brought us came to me to make sport of me. 18 But as soon as I screamed for help, he left his cloak beside me and ran out of the house.”
19 When his master heard the story his wife told him, saying, “This is how your slave treated me,” he burned with anger. 20Joseph’s master took him and put him in prison, the place where the king’s prisoners were confined.
But while Joseph was there in the prison, 21 the LORD was with him; he showed him kindness and granted him favor in the eyes of the prison warden. 22 So the warden put Joseph in charge of all those held in the prison, and he was made responsible for all that was done there. 23 The warden paid no attention to anything under Joseph’s care, because the LORD was with Joseph and gave him success in whatever he did.
The Cupbearer and the Baker
1 Some time later, the cupbearer and the baker of the king of Egypt offended their master, the king of Egypt. 2 Pharaoh was angry with his two officials, the chief cupbearer and the chief baker, 3 and put them in custody in the house of the captain of the guard, in the same prison where Joseph was confined. 4The captain of the guard assigned them to Joseph, and he attended them.
After they had been in custody for some time, 5 each of the two men—the cupbearer and the baker of the king of Egypt, who were being held in prison—had a dream the same night, and each dream had a meaning of its own.
6 When Joseph came to them the next morning, he saw that they were dejected. 7 So he asked Pharaoh’s officials who were in custody with him in his master’s house, “Why do you look so sad today?”
8 “We both had dreams,” they answered, “but there is no one to interpret them.”
Then Joseph said to them, “Do not interpretations belong to God? Tell me your dreams.”
9 So the chief cupbearer told Joseph his dream. He said to him, “In my dream I saw a vine in front of me, 10 and on the vine were three branches. As soon as it budded, it blossomed, and its clusters ripened into grapes. 11 Pharaoh’s cup was in my hand, and I took the grapes, squeezed them into Pharaoh’s cup and put the cup in his hand.”
12 “This is what it means,” Joseph said to him. “The three branches are three days. 13 Within three days Pharaoh will lift up your head and restore you to your position, and you will put Pharaoh’s cup in his hand, just as you used to do when you were his cupbearer. 14 But when all goes well with you, remember me and show me kindness; mention me to Pharaoh and get me out of this prison. 15 I was forcibly carried off from the land of the Hebrews, and even here I have done nothing to deserve being put in a dungeon.”
16 When the chief baker saw that Joseph had given a favorable interpretation, he said to Joseph, “I too had a dream: On my head were three baskets of bread. 17 In the top basket were all kinds of baked goods for Pharaoh, but the birds were eating them out of the basket on my head.”
18 “This is what it means,” Joseph said. “The three baskets are three days. 19 Within three days Pharaoh will lift off your head and impale your body on a pole. And the birds will eat away your flesh.”
20 Now the third day was Pharaoh’s birthday, and he gave a feast for all his officials. He lifted up the heads of the chief cupbearer and the chief baker in the presence of his officials:21 He restored the chief cupbearer to his position, so that he once again put the cup into Pharaoh’s hand— 22 but he impaled the chief baker, just as Joseph had said to them in his interpretation.
23 The chief cupbearer, however, did not remember Joseph; he forgot him.
Jesus and John the Baptist
1 After Jesus had finished instructing his twelve disciples, he went on from there to teach and preach in the towns of Galilee.
2 When John, who was in prison, heard about the deeds of the Messiah, he sent his disciples 3 to ask him, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?”
4 Jesus replied, “Go back and report to John what you hear and see: 5 The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor. 6 Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me.”
7 As John’s disciples were leaving, Jesus began to speak to the crowd about John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed swayed by the wind? 8 If not, what did you go out to see? A man dressed in fine clothes? No, those who wear fine clothes are in kings’ palaces. 9 Then what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. 10This is the one about whom it is written:
“‘I will send my messenger ahead of you,
who will prepare your way before you.’
11 Truly I tell you, among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet whoever is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. 12 From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been subjected to violence, and violent people have been raiding it. 13 For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John. 14 And if you are willing to accept it, he is the Elijah who was to come. 15 Whoever has ears, let them hear.
16 “To what can I compare this generation? They are like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling out to others:
17 “‘We played the pipe for you,
and you did not dance;
we sang a dirge,
and you did not mourn.’
18 For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon.’ 19 The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’ But wisdom is proved right by her deeds.”
Woe on Unrepentant Towns
20 Then Jesus began to denounce the towns in which most of his miracles had been performed, because they did not repent. 21 “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. 22 But I tell you, it will be more bearable for Tyre and Sidon on the day of judgment than for you. 23 And you, Capernaum, will you be lifted to the heavens? No, you will go down to Hades. For if the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Sodom, it would have remained to this day. 24 But I tell you that it will be more bearable for Sodom on the day of judgment than for you.”
The Father Revealed in the Son
25 At that time Jesus said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. 26Yes, Father, for this is what you were pleased to do.
27 “All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.
28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
When Abraham heard that his nephew, Lot, had been taken captive by the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah, he pursued the enemies and freed Lot, and “the women, and the people.” Who the women were, Scripture does not say. They may have been Lot’s wife and daughters, or Sodomite female servants. The first direct reference we have of Lot’s unnamed wife is when the angels came to hasten the family out of doomed Sodom (Genesis 19:15 ). Who she was, of what race and family, of what life and character, by what name she was known, the Bible is silent. All the information we have about her is packed into one short verse, “His wife looked back from behind him, and she became a pillar of salt.” Yet we must give attention to her for it is written in burning words by the finger of God—
“Remember Lot’s wife.”
Some dozen words in the Old Testament, and three words in the New Testament, then, are all we have of this female character.
When, because of strife, Abraham and his nephew, Lot, came to part, Abraham gave Lot the pick of the land before them. Lot selfishly chose the best stretch of the country, “well watered everywhere ... even as the garden of the Lord” (13:10). But such a greedy choice had dire consequences. Lot pitched his tent toward Sodom, and before long was in Sodom where its inhabitants “were wicked and sinners before the Lordexceedingly” (13:13 ). Lot became a citizen of Sodom, sat at its gate as the city’s mayor, and was treated with honor and reverence as a relative of the mighty Abraham who had delivered Sodom from the Elamite invasion. While Peter speaks of Lot as being just and of having a righteous soul vexed with the filthy lives of the Sodomites (2 Peter 2:7-9), he yet somehow closed his eyes to the wickedness of the people, married a woman of Sodom and consented for his two daughters born in Sodom to marry Sodomites.
Sodom was such a cesspool of iniquity that God said He would destroy it. But because of Lot’s presence in the city Abraham interceded for its preservation. If only there had been ten righteous people in it God said the city would be spared. The only apparent righteous person in it—whose righteousness had been made ineffective through compromise—was Lot. So the two angels came to deliver Lot and his family from the terrible judgment about to fall on Sodom. They were entertained overnight, and Lot’s wife doubtless shared in the hospitality shown. Early the next morning the angels sought to hasten Lot and his family out of the city, but they lingered. They were loathe to leave the luxury, pleasure, and sin of Sodom, so the angelic deliverers had to remove them forcibly from the city and compel them to escape for their life.
The account of the tragedy is briefly related. As fire and brimstone out of heaven fell upon Sodom, Lot’s wife looked back from behind her husband. In oriental countries it was the rule for the wife to walk some distance behind her husband, but as Lot’s wife lingered and looked back she was overtaken by sulphurous vapors, and, encrusted with salt, perished where she stood. Entombed as a pillar, she became “as a monument of an unbelieving soul” in a desolate region, “of whose wickedness even to this day the waste land that smoketh is a testimony” ( Wisdom 10:7). The wife of Lot looked back upon her own city with regrets at having to part with its sinful pleasures. She had been compelled to leave Sodom as a city, but all that Sodom represented was very much in her heart.
All the while Lot’s wife was in Sodom, its “filthy communications” soaked into her soul, so much so that when the angel of mercy sought to save her from the angel of judgment, she could not be saved. In the look back to Sodom was regret for all she was leaving for an unknown life before her, and as she sighed the salt air whitened her body into marble, and “nature made for her at once a grave and a monument.” “She became a pillar of salt,” and in that word we have a symbol of character as well as a monument of destiny . A pillar of salt is the picture of many a society woman today. All the sweet blood of a true woman’s heart has become brackish by the life she leads. Instead of a woman, you have only a pillar of salt. In Sodom, Lot’s wife lived in pleasure but was dead as she lived. As the wife of a righteous man, she had a name to live, but the gay life of Sodom asphyxiated her soul. Thus when the warning voice of God sounded in her ear, she may have heard it but did not heed it. Sodom with its society and sin had been her whole life.
When dealing with the truth of His Second Advent, our Lord used the overthrow of Sodom and Gomorrah and Lot’s deliverance from their destruction as an illustration of His emancipation of His own from the catastrophe to overtake a godless world, and warns believers to remember Lot’s wife and not linger, look, and be lost. As those who wait His coming we are not to look back nor draw back, but look up for our redemption draweth nigh. How arrestive is Christ’s exhortation! “Remember Lot’s wife.” Mary’s one act of piety in breaking her alabaster box of precious spikenard brought her a perpetual memorial, and in like manner the one tragic act of Lot’s wife brought her a different kind of remembrance. For all who preach the Gospel what an appeal for immediate decision there is in the urgent summons of the angels to Lot and his family, “Escape for thy life, look not behind thee ... lest thou be consumed.” That stirring evangelistic hymn has led many a sinner to escape to the arms of the Saviour—
The Gospel bells give warning,
As they sound from day to day,
Of the fate which doth await them
Who forever will delay—
Escape thou for thy life;
Tarry not in all the plain.
Nor behind thee look, oh, never,
Lest thou be consumed in pain.
Barabbas [Bārăb'bas]—son of a father or son of return. The notable prisoner, committed to prison for robbery and murder, but preferred to Christ (Matt. 27:16-26).
The Man Who Had a Substitute
Barabbas should have died for his crimes but Jesus occupied his cross, along with the two other thieves. What a night Barabbas must have spent before Christ was selected in his place! The thief and murderer had visions of a terrible death. All the torture of crucifixion came up before him. Then as the light of morning looked in through the bars of his prison he hears the march of soldiers coming to take him out to his horrible death.
Can we not imagine how stupefied he must have been when he heard the officer of the guard say, “Barabbas you are free. Another is to die in your stead”? When Barabbas came to himself and realized how true the news was, out he went, grateful to the One condemned to die as his substitute. A just and holy Man to die in the place of a thief and murderer? Yes, Barabbas was saved at such a cost. What a picture of divine grace this substitutionary death presents! Thereafter, whenever Barabbas thought of Christ, he could say, “He died for me.”