"And David enquired of the Lord."
2 Samuel 5:23
When David made this enquiry he had just fought the Philistines, and gained a signal victory. The Philistines came up in great hosts, but, by the help of God, David had easily put them to flight. Note, however, that when they came a second time, David did not go up to fight them without enquiring of the Lord. Once he had been victorious, and he might have said, as many have in other cases, "I shall be victorious again; I may rest quite sure that if I have conquered once I shall triumph yet again. Wherefore should I tarry to seek at the Lord's hands?" Not so, David. He had gained one battle by the strength of the Lord; he would not venture upon another until he had ensured the same. He enquired, "Shall I go up against them?" He waited until God's sign was given. Learn from David to take no step without God. Christian, if thou wouldst know the path of duty, take God for thy compass; if thou wouldst steer thy ship through the dark billows, put the tiller into the hand of the Almighty. Many a rock might be escaped, if we would let our Father take the helm; many a shoal or quicksand we might well avoid, if we would leave to his sovereign will to choose and to command. The Puritan said, "As sure as ever a Christian carves for himself, he'll cut his own fingers;" this is a great truth. Said another old divine, "He that goes before the cloud of God's providence goes on a fool's errand;" and so he does. We must mark God's providence leading us; and if providence tarries, tarry till providence comes. He who goes before providence, will be very glad to run back again. "I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go," is God's promise to his people. Let us, then, take all our perplexities to him, and say, "Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?" Leave not thy chamber this morning without enquiring of the Lord.
"Lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil [or, the evil one]."
What we are taught to seek or shun in prayer, we should equally pursue or avoid in action. Very earnestly, therefore, should we avoid temptation, seeking to walk so guardedly in the path of obedience, that we may never tempt the devil to tempt us. We are not to enter the thicket in search of the lion. Dearly might we pay for such presumption. This lion may cross our path or leap upon us from the thicket, but we have nothing to do with hunting him. He that meeteth with him, even though he winneth the day, will find it a stern struggle. Let the Christian pray that he may be spared the encounter. Our Saviour, who had experience of what temptation meant, thus earnestly admonished his disciples--"Pray that ye enter not into temptation."
But let us do as we will, we shall be tempted; hence the prayer "deliver us from evil." God had one Son without sin; but he has no son without temptation. The natural man is born to trouble as the sparks fly upwards, and the Christian man is born to temptation just as certainly. We must be always on our watch against Satan, because, like a thief, he gives no intimation of his approach. Believers who have had experience of the ways of Satan, know that there are certain seasons when he will most probably make an attack, just as at certain seasons bleak winds may be expected; thus the Christian is put on a double guard by fear of danger, and the danger is averted by preparing to meet it. Prevention is better than cure: it is better to be so well armed that the devil will not attack you, than to endure the perils of the fight, even though you come off a conqueror. Pray this evening first that you may not be tempted, and next that if temptation be permitted, you may be delivered from the evil one.
Today's reading: Leviticus 6-7, Matthew 25:1-30 (NIV)View today's reading on Bible Gateway
1 The LORD said to Moses: 2 “If anyone sins and is unfaithful to the LORD by deceiving a neighbor about something entrusted to them or left in their care or about something stolen, or if they cheat their neighbor, 3 or if they find lost property and lie about it, or if they swear falsely about any such sin that people may commit— 4 when they sin in any of these ways and realize their guilt, they must return what they have stolen or taken by extortion, or what was entrusted to them, or the lost property they found, 5 or whatever it was they swore falsely about. They must make restitution in full, add a fifth of the value to it and give it all to the owner on the day they present their guilt offering. 6 And as a penalty they must bring to the priest, that is, to the LORD, their guilt offering, a ram from the flock, one without defect and of the proper value.7 In this way the priest will make atonement for them before the LORD, and they will be forgiven for any of the things they did that made them guilty.”
The Burnt Offering
8 The LORD said to Moses: 9 “Give Aaron and his sons this command: ‘These are the regulations for the burnt offering: The burnt offering is to remain on the altar hearth throughout the night, till morning, and the fire must be kept burning on the altar. 10 The priest shall then put on his linen clothes, with linen undergarments next to his body, and shall remove the ashes of the burnt offering that the fire has consumed on the altar and place them beside the altar. 11 Then he is to take off these clothes and put on others, and carry the ashes outside the camp to a place that is ceremonially clean. 12 The fire on the altar must be kept burning; it must not go out. Every morning the priest is to add firewood and arrange the burnt offering on the fire and burn the fat of the fellowship offerings on it. 13 The fire must be kept burning on the altar continuously; it must not go out.
The Grain Offering
14 “‘These are the regulations for the grain offering: Aaron’s sons are to bring it before the LORD, in front of the altar. 15 The priest is to take a handful of the finest flour and some olive oil, together with all the incense on the grain offering, and burn the memorial portion on the altar as an aroma pleasing to the LORD. 16 Aaron and his sons shall eat the rest of it, but it is to be eaten without yeast in the sanctuary area; they are to eat it in the courtyard of the tent of meeting. 17 It must not be baked with yeast; I have given it as their share of the food offerings presented to me. Like the sin offering and the guilt offering, it is most holy. 18 Any male descendant of Aaron may eat it. For all generations to come it is his perpetual share of the food offerings presented to the LORD. Whatever touches them will become holy.’”
19 The LORD also said to Moses, 20 “This is the offering Aaron and his sons are to bring to the LORD on the day he is anointed: a tenth of an ephah of the finest flour as a regular grain offering, half of it in the morning and half in the evening.21 It must be prepared with oil on a griddle; bring it well-mixed and present the grain offering broken in pieces as an aroma pleasing to the LORD. 22 The son who is to succeed him as anointed priest shall prepare it. It is the LORD’s perpetual share and is to be burned completely. 23 Every grain offering of a priest shall be burned completely; it must not be eaten.”
The Sin Offering
24 The LORD said to Moses, 25 “Say to Aaron and his sons: ‘These are the regulations for the sin offering: The sin offering is to be slaughtered before the LORD in the place the burnt offering is slaughtered; it is most holy. 26 The priest who offers it shall eat it; it is to be eaten in the sanctuary area, in the courtyard of the tent of meeting. 27 Whatever touches any of the flesh will become holy, and if any of the blood is spattered on a garment, you must wash it in the sanctuary area. 28 The clay pot the meat is cooked in must be broken; but if it is cooked in a bronze pot, the pot is to be scoured and rinsed with water. 29 Any male in a priest’s family may eat it; it is most holy. 30 But any sin offering whose blood is brought into the tent of meeting to make atonement in the Holy Place must not be eaten; it must be burned up.
The Guilt Offering
1 “‘These are the regulations for the guilt offering, which is most holy: 2 The guilt offering is to be slaughtered in the place where the burnt offering is slaughtered, and its blood is to be splashed against the sides of the altar. 3 All its fat shall be offered: the fat tail and the fat that covers the internal organs, 4both kidneys with the fat on them near the loins, and the long lobe of the liver, which is to be removed with the kidneys. 5 The priest shall burn them on the altar as a food offering presented to the LORD. It is a guilt offering. 6 Any male in a priest’s family may eat it, but it must be eaten in the sanctuary area; it is most holy.
7 “‘The same law applies to both the sin offering and the guilt offering: They belong to the priest who makes atonement with them. 8 The priest who offers a burnt offering for anyone may keep its hide for himself. 9 Every grain offering baked in an oven or cooked in a pan or on a griddle belongs to the priest who offers it, 10 and every grain offering, whether mixed with olive oil or dry, belongs equally to all the sons of Aaron.
The Fellowship Offering
11 “‘These are the regulations for the fellowship offering anyone may present to the LORD:
12 “‘If they offer it as an expression of thankfulness, then along with this thank offering they are to offer thick loaves made without yeast and with olive oil mixed in, thin loaves made without yeast and brushed with oil, and thick loaves of the finest flour well-kneaded and with oil mixed in. 13 Along with their fellowship offering of thanksgiving they are to present an offering with thick loaves of bread made with yeast. 14 They are to bring one of each kind as an offering, a contribution to the LORD; it belongs to the priest who splashes the blood of the fellowship offering against the altar. 15 The meat of their fellowship offering of thanksgiving must be eaten on the day it is offered; they must leave none of it till morning.
16 “‘If, however, their offering is the result of a vow or is a freewill offering, the sacrifice shall be eaten on the day they offer it, but anything left over may be eaten on the next day. 17Any meat of the sacrifice left over till the third day must be burned up. 18 If any meat of the fellowship offering is eaten on the third day, the one who offered it will not be accepted. It will not be reckoned to their credit, for it has become impure; the person who eats any of it will be held responsible.
19 “‘Meat that touches anything ceremonially unclean must not be eaten; it must be burned up. As for other meat, anyone ceremonially clean may eat it. 20 But if anyone who is unclean eats any meat of the fellowship offering belonging to the LORD, they must be cut off from their people. 21 Anyone who touches something unclean—whether human uncleanness or an unclean animal or any unclean creature that moves along the ground—and then eats any of the meat of the fellowship offering belonging to the LORD must be cut off from their people.’”
Eating Fat and Blood Forbidden
22 The LORD said to Moses, 23 “Say to the Israelites: ‘Do not eat any of the fat of cattle, sheep or goats. 24 The fat of an animal found dead or torn by wild animals may be used for any other purpose, but you must not eat it. 25 Anyone who eats the fat of an animal from which a food offering may be presented to the LORD must be cut off from their people. 26 And wherever you live, you must not eat the blood of any bird or animal. 27Anyone who eats blood must be cut off from their people.’”
The Priests’ Share
28 The LORD said to Moses, 29 “Say to the Israelites: ‘Anyone who brings a fellowship offering to the LORD is to bring part of it as their sacrifice to the LORD. 30 With their own hands they are to present the food offering to the LORD; they are to bring the fat, together with the breast, and wave the breast before the LORD as a wave offering. 31 The priest shall burn the fat on the altar, but the breast belongs to Aaron and his sons. 32 You are to give the right thigh of your fellowship offerings to the priest as a contribution. 33 The son of Aaron who offers the blood and the fat of the fellowship offering shall have the right thigh as his share. 34 From the fellowship offerings of the Israelites, I have taken the breast that is waved and the thigh that is presented and have given them to Aaron the priest and his sons as their perpetual share from the Israelites.’”
35 This is the portion of the food offerings presented to the LORD that were allotted to Aaron and his sons on the day they were presented to serve the LORD as priests. 36 On the day they were anointed, the LORD commanded that the Israelites give this to them as their perpetual share for the generations to come.
37 These, then, are the regulations for the burnt offering, the grain offering, the sin offering, the guilt offering, the ordination offering and the fellowship offering, 38 which the LORD gave Moses at Mount Sinai in the Desert of Sinai on the day he commanded the Israelites to bring their offerings to the LORD.
The Parable of the Ten Virgins
1 “At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. 2Five of them were foolish and five were wise. 3 The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. 4 The wise ones, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps. 5The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep.
6 “At midnight the cry rang out: ‘Here’s the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’
7 “Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps. 8The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.’
9 “‘No,’ they replied, ‘there may not be enough for both us and you. Instead, go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.’
10 “But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut.
11 “Later the others also came. ‘Lord, Lord,’ they said, ‘open the door for us!’
12 “But he replied, ‘Truly I tell you, I don’t know you.’
13 “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.
The Parable of the Bags of Gold
14 “Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his wealth to them. 15 To one he gave five bags of gold, to another two bags, and to another one bag, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey.16 The man who had received five bags of gold went at once and put his money to work and gained five bags more. 17 So also, the one with two bags of gold gained two more. 18 But the man who had received one bag went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.
19 “After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them. 20 The man who had received five bags of gold brought the other five. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with five bags of gold. See, I have gained five more.’
21 “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’
22 “The man with two bags of gold also came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with two bags of gold; see, I have gained two more.’
23 “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’
24 “Then the man who had received one bag of gold came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. 25 So I was afraid and went out and hid your gold in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.’
26 “His master replied, ‘You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed? 27 Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest.
28 “‘So take the bag of gold from him and give it to the one who has ten bags. 29 For whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them. 30 And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’
Nehemiah [Nēhe mī'ah]—jehovah hath consoled.
- A chief man who returned from exile (Ezra 2:2; Neh. 7:7).
- The son of Hachaliah and cup-bearer to king Artaxerxes (Neh. 1:1).
The Man Who Had a Mind to Work
Nehemiah and Hanani were the sons of Hachaliah (Neh. 1:1; 2:5; 7:2 ), and the references suggest that the family belonged to the capital. Nehemiah, although born in exile, grew up in the faith of Israel’s God. Nehemiah’s name appears as a prince, not as a priest (Neh. 9:38; 10:1), and he was perhaps the chief man who returned from Babylon with Zerubbabel ( Ezra 2:2; Neh. 7:7). As the king’s cup-bearer, he held a high place of honor in the palace of Shushan (Neh. 1:11), having confidential access to the king. His Persian name was Sheshbazzar ( Ezra 1:8). He was one of the princes who signed the covenant (Neh. 9:38; 10:1). He became Governor of Jerusalem (Neh. 10:1 ). Josephus says that Nehemiah died of old age and that the repaired walls of the city constituted his best and most enduring monument.
For his patriotic task (Neh. 1:1-4 ), Nehemiah was well qualified. As a true Israelite, he labored for the purity of public worship, the integrity of family life, the sanctity of the sabbath. Ezra was the student and preacher; Nehemiah, the soldier and statesman. He was courageous and God-fearing, and brought to his labors a noble disinterestedness, and unblemished rectitude, a dauntless spirit and unswerving loyalty to God. Alexander Whyte in his helpful essay of Nehemiah speaks of him:
As a self-contained man. A man of his own counsel. A man with the counsel of God alone in his mind and in his heart. A reserved and resolute man. A man to take command of other men. A man who will see things with his own eyes, and without all eyes seeing him. A man in no haste or hurry. He will not begin till he has counted the cost. And then he will not stop till he has finished the work.
While we are compelled to pass over a full exposition of the book of this patriotic Jew whose heart was stirred with sorrow over the derelict condition of Jerusalem, we must linger over some of its important aspects.
I. He illustrates the strength which comes from an inspiring purpose and definite aim. Open opposition and underhanded wiles had to be faced, but undauntedly Nehemiah persisted in his task (Neh. 6:3). Among the hostile methods directed against his noble mission were:
Guile ( Neh. 6:2-4). Nehemiah knew that conferences were useless, and so shunned them.
False accusation (Neh. 6:5-9). This patriot had no selfish motives behind his endeavors.
Temptation to tempt God (Neh. 6:10-13). Nehemiah refused to hide himself in the Temple as if he was doing wrong.
Corruption of friends and associates ( Neh. 6:17-19). This was the meanest act of Nehemiah’s foes.
II. He sets forth the strength that comes from humble dependence upon God. True to God and his principles, Nehemiah surmounted all his enemies and obstacles. His sterling character stood the acid test, for he was a man of dependence upon God (Neh. 1:5-11 ), single-hearted in his devotion to God and his work, wise in taking proper precautions against surprise attacks, ever encouraging to those who labored with him. Making his prayer to God, Nehemiah knew that God would fight for him (Neh. 4:9, 20).
III. He manifested the strength which comes from the sense of union and of fellowship. All classes of people, even the daughters, were ready to take their place around the damaged walls. High and low worked together for the accomplishment of a God-inspired task (Neh. 3:12). With scorn, Nehemiah rebuked the pride and negligence of the nobles “who put not their necks to the work of their Lord” (Neh. 3:5 ). Fulfilling their obligation by repairing “every man over against his house,” the willing-heart with one mind to work illustrates the chain of living Christian fellowship set forth in Ecclesiastes 4:9. See 1 Corinthians 12:4-7.
3. A son of Azbuk and ruler of half the district of Jerusalen who repaired part of the wall—a common-sense enthusiast even as his illustrious namesake ( Neh. 3:16).
Join us in praying for our nation, that God will heal our land.