"I know how to abound."
There are many who know "how to be abased" who have not learned "how to abound." When they are set upon the top of a pinnacle their heads grow dizzy, and they are ready to fall. The Christian far oftener disgraces his profession in prosperity than in adversity. It is a dangerous thing to be prosperous. The crucible of adversity is a less severe trial to the Christian than the refining pot of prosperity. Oh, what leanness of soul and neglect of spiritual things have been brought on through the very mercies and bounties of God! Yet this is not a matter of necessity, for the apostle tells us that he knew how to abound. When he had much he knew how to use it. Abundant grace enabled him to bear abundant prosperity. When he had a full sail he was loaded with much ballast, and so floated safely. It needs more than human skill to carry the brimming cup of mortal joy with a steady hand, yet Paul had learned that skill, for he declares, "In all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry." It is a divine lesson to know how to be full, for the Israelites were full once, but while the flesh was yet in their mouth, the wrath of God came upon them. Many have asked for mercies that they might satisfy their own hearts' lust. Fulness of bread has often made fulness of blood, and that has brought on wantonness of spirit. When we have much of God's providential mercies, it often happens that we have but little of God's grace, and little gratitude for the bounties we have received. We are full and we forget God: satisfied with earth, we are content to do without heaven. Rest assured it is harder to know how to be full than it is to know how to be hungry--so desperate is the tendency of human nature to pride and forgetfulness of God. Take care that you ask in your prayers that God would teach you "how to be full."
"Let not the gifts thy love bestows
Estrange our hearts from thee."
"I have blotted out, as a thick cloud, thy transgressions, and, as a cloud, thy sins: return unto me; for I have redeemed thee."
Attentively observe the instructive similitude: our sins are like a cloud. As clouds are of many shapes and shades, so are our transgressions. As clouds obscure the light of the sun, and darken the landscape beneath, so do our sins hide from us the light of Jehovah's face, and cause us to sit in the shadow of death. They are earth-born things, and rise from the miry places of our nature; and when so collected that their measure is full, they threaten us with storm and tempest. Alas! that, unlike clouds, our sins yield us no genial showers, but rather threaten to deluge us with a fiery flood of destruction. O ye black clouds of sin, how can it be fair weather with our souls while ye remain?
Let our joyful eye dwell upon the notable act of divine mercy--"blotting out." God himself appears upon the scene, and in divine benignity, instead of manifesting his anger, reveals his grace: he at once and forever effectually removes the mischief, not by blowing away the cloud, but by blotting it out from existence once for all. Against the justified man no sin remains, the great transaction of the cross has eternally removed his transgressions from him. On Calvary's summit the great deed, by which the sin of all the chosen was forever put away, was completely and effectually performed.
Practically let us obey the gracious command, "return unto me." Why should pardoned sinners live at a distance from their God? If we have been forgiven all our sins, let no legal fear withhold us from the boldest access to our Lord. Let backslidings be bemoaned, but let us not persevere in them. To the greatest possible nearness of communion with the Lord, let us, in the power of the Holy Spirit, strive mightily to return. O Lord, this night restore us!
Today's reading: Leviticus 8-10, Matthew 25:31-46 (NIV)View today's reading on Bible Gateway
The Ordination of Aaron and His Sons
1 The LORD said to Moses, 2 “Bring Aaron and his sons, their garments, the anointing oil, the bull for the sin offering, the two rams and the basket containing bread made without yeast,3 and gather the entire assembly at the entrance to the tent of meeting.” 4 Moses did as the LORD commanded him, and the assembly gathered at the entrance to the tent of meeting.
5 Moses said to the assembly, “This is what the LORD has commanded to be done.” 6 Then Moses brought Aaron and his sons forward and washed them with water. 7 He put the tunic on Aaron, tied the sash around him, clothed him with the robe and put the ephod on him. He also fastened the ephod with a decorative waistband, which he tied around him. 8 He placed the breastpiece on him and put the Urim and Thummim in the breastpiece. 9 Then he placed the turban on Aaron’s head and set the gold plate, the sacred emblem, on the front of it, as the LORD commanded Moses.
10 Then Moses took the anointing oil and anointed the tabernacle and everything in it, and so consecrated them. 11 He sprinkled some of the oil on the altar seven times, anointing the altar and all its utensils and the basin with its stand, to consecrate them. 12 He poured some of the anointing oil on Aaron’s head and anointed him to consecrate him. 13 Then he brought Aaron’s sons forward, put tunics on them, tied sashes around them and fastened caps on them, as the LORD commanded Moses.
14 He then presented the bull for the sin offering, and Aaron and his sons laid their hands on its head. 15 Moses slaughtered the bull and took some of the blood, and with his finger he put it on all the horns of the altar to purify the altar. He poured out the rest of the blood at the base of the altar. So he consecrated it to make atonement for it. 16 Moses also took all the fat around the internal organs, the long lobe of the liver, and both kidneys and their fat, and burned it on the altar. 17 But the bull with its hide and its flesh and its intestines he burned up outside the camp, as the LORD commanded Moses.
18 He then presented the ram for the burnt offering, and Aaron and his sons laid their hands on its head. 19 Then Moses slaughtered the ram and splashed the blood against the sides of the altar. 20 He cut the ram into pieces and burned the head, the pieces and the fat. 21 He washed the internal organs and the legs with water and burned the whole ram on the altar. It was a burnt offering, a pleasing aroma, a food offering presented to the LORD, as the LORD commanded Moses.
22 He then presented the other ram, the ram for the ordination, and Aaron and his sons laid their hands on its head.23 Moses slaughtered the ram and took some of its blood and put it on the lobe of Aaron’s right ear, on the thumb of his right hand and on the big toe of his right foot. 24 Moses also brought Aaron’s sons forward and put some of the blood on the lobes of their right ears, on the thumbs of their right hands and on the big toes of their right feet. Then he splashed blood against the sides of the altar. 25 After that, he took the fat, the fat tail, all the fat around the internal organs, the long lobe of the liver, both kidneys and their fat and the right thigh. 26 And from the basket of bread made without yeast, which was before the LORD, he took one thick loaf, one thick loaf with olive oil mixed in, and one thin loaf, and he put these on the fat portions and on the right thigh. 27 He put all these in the hands of Aaron and his sons, and they waved them before the LORD as a wave offering. 28 Then Moses took them from their hands and burned them on the altar on top of the burnt offering as an ordination offering, a pleasing aroma, a food offering presented to the LORD. 29 Moses also took the breast, which was his share of the ordination ram, and waved it before the LORD as a wave offering, as the LORD commanded Moses.
30 Then Moses took some of the anointing oil and some of the blood from the altar and sprinkled them on Aaron and his garments and on his sons and their garments. So he consecrated Aaron and his garments and his sons and their garments.
31 Moses then said to Aaron and his sons, “Cook the meat at the entrance to the tent of meeting and eat it there with the bread from the basket of ordination offerings, as I was commanded: ‘Aaron and his sons are to eat it.’ 32 Then burn up the rest of the meat and the bread. 33 Do not leave the entrance to the tent of meeting for seven days, until the days of your ordination are completed, for your ordination will last seven days. 34 What has been done today was commanded by the LORD to make atonement for you. 35 You must stay at the entrance to the tent of meeting day and night for seven days and do what the LORD requires, so you will not die; for that is what I have been commanded.”
36 So Aaron and his sons did everything the LORD commanded through Moses.
The Priests Begin Their Ministry
1 On the eighth day Moses summoned Aaron and his sons and the elders of Israel. 2 He said to Aaron, “Take a bull calf for your sin offering and a ram for your burnt offering, both without defect, and present them before the LORD. 3 Then say to the Israelites: ‘Take a male goat for a sin offering, a calf and a lamb—both a year old and without defect—for a burnt offering,4 and an ox and a ram for a fellowship offering to sacrifice before the LORD, together with a grain offering mixed with olive oil. For today the LORD will appear to you.’”
5 They took the things Moses commanded to the front of the tent of meeting, and the entire assembly came near and stood before the LORD. 6 Then Moses said, “This is what the LORD has commanded you to do, so that the glory of the LORD may appear to you.”
7 Moses said to Aaron, “Come to the altar and sacrifice your sin offering and your burnt offering and make atonement for yourself and the people; sacrifice the offering that is for the people and make atonement for them, as the LORD has commanded.”
8 So Aaron came to the altar and slaughtered the calf as a sin offering for himself. 9 His sons brought the blood to him, and he dipped his finger into the blood and put it on the horns of the altar; the rest of the blood he poured out at the base of the altar. 10 On the altar he burned the fat, the kidneys and the long lobe of the liver from the sin offering, as the LORD commanded Moses; 11 the flesh and the hide he burned up outside the camp.
12 Then he slaughtered the burnt offering. His sons handed him the blood, and he splashed it against the sides of the altar.13 They handed him the burnt offering piece by piece, including the head, and he burned them on the altar. 14 He washed the internal organs and the legs and burned them on top of the burnt offering on the altar.
15 Aaron then brought the offering that was for the people. He took the goat for the people’s sin offering and slaughtered it and offered it for a sin offering as he did with the first one.
16 He brought the burnt offering and offered it in the prescribed way. 17 He also brought the grain offering, took a handful of it and burned it on the altar in addition to the morning’s burnt offering.
18 He slaughtered the ox and the ram as the fellowship offering for the people. His sons handed him the blood, and he splashed it against the sides of the altar. 19 But the fat portions of the ox and the ram—the fat tail, the layer of fat, the kidneys and the long lobe of the liver— 20 these they laid on the breasts, and then Aaron burned the fat on the altar. 21 Aaron waved the breasts and the right thigh before the LORD as a wave offering, as Moses commanded.
22 Then Aaron lifted his hands toward the people and blessed them. And having sacrificed the sin offering, the burnt offering and the fellowship offering, he stepped down.
23 Moses and Aaron then went into the tent of meeting. When they came out, they blessed the people; and the glory of the LORD appeared to all the people. 24 Fire came out from the presence of the LORD and consumed the burnt offering and the fat portions on the altar. And when all the people saw it, they shouted for joy and fell facedown.
The Death of Nadab and Abihu
1 Aaron’s sons Nadab and Abihu took their censers, put fire in them and added incense; and they offered unauthorized fire before the LORD, contrary to his command. 2 So fire came out from the presence of the LORD and consumed them, and they died before the LORD. 3 Moses then said to Aaron, “This is what the LORD spoke of when he said:
“‘Among those who approach me
I will be proved holy;
in the sight of all the people
I will be honored.’”
Aaron remained silent.
4 Moses summoned Mishael and Elzaphan, sons of Aaron’s uncle Uzziel, and said to them, “Come here; carry your cousins outside the camp, away from the front of the sanctuary.” 5 So they came and carried them, still in their tunics, outside the camp, as Moses ordered.
6 Then Moses said to Aaron and his sons Eleazar and Ithamar, “Do not let your hair become unkempt and do not tear your clothes, or you will die and the LORD will be angry with the whole community. But your relatives, all the Israelites, may mourn for those the LORD has destroyed by fire. 7 Do not leave the entrance to the tent of meeting or you will die, because the LORD’s anointing oil is on you.” So they did as Moses said.
8 Then the LORD said to Aaron, 9 “You and your sons are not to drink wine or other fermented drink whenever you go into the tent of meeting, or you will die. This is a lasting ordinance for the generations to come, 10 so that you can distinguish between the holy and the common, between the unclean and the clean, 11 and so you can teach the Israelites all the decrees the LORD has given them through Moses.”
12 Moses said to Aaron and his remaining sons, Eleazar and Ithamar, “Take the grain offering left over from the food offerings prepared without yeast and presented to the LORD and eat it beside the altar, for it is most holy. 13 Eat it in the sanctuary area, because it is your share and your sons’ share of the food offerings presented to the LORD; for so I have been commanded. 14 But you and your sons and your daughters may eat the breast that was waved and the thigh that was presented. Eat them in a ceremonially clean place; they have been given to you and your children as your share of the Israelites’ fellowship offerings. 15 The thigh that was presented and the breast that was waved must be brought with the fat portions of the food offerings, to be waved before the LORD as a wave offering. This will be the perpetual share for you and your children, as the LORD has commanded.”
16 When Moses inquired about the goat of the sin offering and found that it had been burned up, he was angry with Eleazar and Ithamar, Aaron’s remaining sons, and asked, 17“Why didn’t you eat the sin offering in the sanctuary area? It is most holy; it was given to you to take away the guilt of the community by making atonement for them before the LORD. 18Since its blood was not taken into the Holy Place, you should have eaten the goat in the sanctuary area, as I commanded.”
19 Aaron replied to Moses, “Today they sacrificed their sin offering and their burnt offering before the LORD, but such things as this have happened to me. Would the LORD have been pleased if I had eaten the sin offering today?” 20 When Moses heard this, he was satisfied.
The Sheep and the Goats
31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’
44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’
45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’
46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”
Eli [Ē'lī]—jehovah is high or my god.The high priest and judge of Israel of the family of Ithamar (1 Sam. 1-4;14:3).
The Man Who Lacked Parental Authority
There are few Bible men in whose character we cannot find some great and glaring fault. There is usually a dead fly in the ointment, a rent in the garment, a spot on the whitest sheet. Eli was a good man whose life was pure. He loved and delighted in God’s service, but was faulty in one point. He failed to exercise the proper authority of a parent over his children.
Eli belonged to the tribe of Levi, and for years acted as a judge and as High Priest in Israel. He lived at Shiloh in a dwelling adjoining the Temple for the greater portion of his life. We know little about him until he was well advanced in age. The first mention of him is when Hannah came to pour out her heart.
Eli’s fault which brought sorrow upon his declining years was the conduct of his own two sons, Phinehas and Hophni, who, although lacking their father’s character and qualities, were yet put into the priest’s office. Their conduct disgraced their high calling and shocked the people so much that they “abhorred the offering of the Lord.” While Eli warned them of their shameful ways, he did not rebuke them with the severity their evil deeds merited. He should have exercised the stern authority of a father and rebuked them as a judge. Instead Eli only mildly reasoned with his sons saying: “Why do ye such things?” But the sons disregarded such a weak and useless protest for their hearts were cold and callous and so they no longer heeded their father’s feelings.
Although Eli had no power to change the hearts of his sons, he could have prevented their ministry before the Lord, but he “restrained them not.” He wanted to be kind to them but it was a false and mistaken kindness. A seasonable correction would have saved them from ruin. Eli had no need to be harsh and severe, only firm and decided in the matter of obedience. Eli was twice warned that judgment would overtake him and his sons, but such warning was lost upon him. He dearly loved his sons and could not take action against them.
What a pitiable spectacle Eli presents! An old man of ninety, almost blind, waited to hear the result of the grim battle between the Israelites and the Philistines. How he trembled for his nation, his sons and also for the Ark of God which would be dishonored if it fell into enemy hands! Then the messenger came with news of the slaughter of his sinful sons and of the taking of the Ark. As Eli heard mention of the latter he fell off his seat by the side of a gate and died of a broken neck, yes, and of a broken heart! As is often the case, children bring down their father’s gray hairs with sorrow to the grave.