What multitudes of prayers we have put up from the first moment when we learned to pray. Our first prayer was a prayer for ourselves; we asked that God would have mercy upon us, and blot out our sin. He heard us. But when he had blotted out our sins like a cloud, then we had more prayers for ourselves. We have had to pray for sanctifying grace, for constraining and restraining grace; we have been led to crave for a fresh assurance of faith, for the comfortable application of the promise, for deliverance in the hour of temptation, for help in the time of duty, and for succour in the day of trial. We have been compelled to go to God for our souls, as constant beggars asking for everything. Bear witness, children of God, you have never been able to get anything for your souls elsewhere. All the bread your soul has eaten has come down from heaven, and all the water of which it has drank has flowed from the living rock--Christ Jesus the Lord. Your soul has never grown rich in itself; it has always been a pensioner upon the daily bounty of God; and hence your prayers have ascended to heaven for a range of spiritual mercies all but infinite. Your wants were innumerable, and therefore the supplies have been infinitely great, and your prayers have been as varied as the mercies have been countless. Then have you not cause to say, "I love the Lord, because he hath heard the voice of my supplication"? For as your prayers have been many, so also have been God's answers to them. He has heard you in the day of trouble, has strengthened you, and helped you, even when you dishonoured him by trembling and doubting at the mercy-seat. Remember this, and let it fill your heart with gratitude to God, who has thus graciously heard your poor weak prayers. "Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits."
"Pray one for another."
As an encouragement cheerfully to offer intercessory prayer, remember that such prayer is the sweetest God ever hears, for the prayer of Christ is of this character. In all the incense which our Great High Priest now puts into the golden censer, there is not a single grain for himself. His intercession must be the most acceptable of all supplications--and the more like our prayer is to Christ's, the sweeter it will be; thus while petitions for ourselves will be accepted, our pleadings for others, having in them more of the fruits of the Spirit, more love, more faith, more brotherly kindness, will be, through the precious merits of Jesus, the sweetest oblation that we can offer to God, the very fat of our sacrifice. Remember, again, that intercessory prayer is exceedingly prevalent. What wonders it has wrought! The Word of God teems with its marvellous deeds. Believer, thou hast a mighty engine in thy hand, use it well, use it constantly, use it with faith, and thou shalt surely be a benefactor to thy brethren. When thou hast the King's ear, speak to him for the suffering members of his body. When thou art favoured to draw very near to his throne, and the King saith to thee, "Ask, and I will give thee what thou wilt," let thy petitions be, not for thyself alone, but for the many who need his aid. If thou hast grace at all, and art not an intercessor, that grace must be small as a grain of mustard seed. Thou hast just enough grace to float thy soul clear from the quicksand, but thou hast no deep floods of grace, or else thou wouldst carry in thy joyous bark a weighty cargo of the wants of others, and thou wouldst bring back from thy Lord, for them, rich blessings which but for thee they might not have obtained:--
"Oh, let my hands forget their skill,
My tongue be silent, cold, and still,
This bounding heart forget to beat,
If I forget the mercy-seat!"
Today's reading: Exodus 39-40, Matthew 23:23-39 (NIV)View today's reading on Bible Gateway
The Priestly Garments
1 From the blue, purple and scarlet yarn they made woven garments for ministering in the sanctuary. They also made sacred garments for Aaron, as the LORD commanded Moses.
2 They made the ephod of gold, and of blue, purple and scarlet yarn, and of finely twisted linen. 3 They hammered out thin sheets of gold and cut strands to be worked into the blue, purple and scarlet yarn and fine linen—the work of skilled hands. 4 They made shoulder pieces for the ephod, which were attached to two of its corners, so it could be fastened. 5 Its skillfully woven waistband was like it—of one piece with the ephod and made with gold, and with blue, purple and scarlet yarn, and with finely twisted linen, as the LORD commanded Moses.
6 They mounted the onyx stones in gold filigree settings and engraved them like a seal with the names of the sons of Israel.7 Then they fastened them on the shoulder pieces of the ephod as memorial stones for the sons of Israel, as the LORD commanded Moses.
8 They fashioned the breastpiece—the work of a skilled craftsman. They made it like the ephod: of gold, and of blue, purple and scarlet yarn, and of finely twisted linen. 9 It was square—a span long and a span wide—and folded double. 10Then they mounted four rows of precious stones on it. The first row was carnelian, chrysolite and beryl; 11 the second row was turquoise, lapis lazuli and emerald; 12 the third row was jacinth, agate and amethyst; 13 the fourth row was topaz, onyx and jasper. They were mounted in gold filigree settings. 14 There were twelve stones, one for each of the names of the sons of Israel, each engraved like a seal with the name of one of the twelve tribes.
15 For the breastpiece they made braided chains of pure gold, like a rope. 16 They made two gold filigree settings and two gold rings, and fastened the rings to two of the corners of the breastpiece. 17 They fastened the two gold chains to the rings at the corners of the breastpiece, 18 and the other ends of the chains to the two settings, attaching them to the shoulder pieces of the ephod at the front. 19 They made two gold rings and attached them to the other two corners of the breastpiece on the inside edge next to the ephod. 20 Then they made two more gold rings and attached them to the bottom of the shoulder pieces on the front of the ephod, close to the seam just above the waistband of the ephod. 21 They tied the rings of the breastpiece to the rings of the ephod with blue cord, connecting it to the waistband so that the breastpiece would not swing out from the ephod—as the LORD commanded Moses.
Other Priestly Garments
22 They made the robe of the ephod entirely of blue cloth—the work of a weaver— 23 with an opening in the center of the robe like the opening of a collar, and a band around this opening, so that it would not tear. 24 They made pomegranates of blue, purple and scarlet yarn and finely twisted linen around the hem of the robe. 25 And they made bells of pure gold and attached them around the hem between the pomegranates. 26The bells and pomegranates alternated around the hem of the robe to be worn for ministering, as the LORD commanded Moses.
27 For Aaron and his sons, they made tunics of fine linen—the work of a weaver— 28 and the turban of fine linen, the linen caps and the undergarments of finely twisted linen. 29 The sash was made of finely twisted linen and blue, purple and scarlet yarn—the work of an embroiderer—as the LORD commanded Moses.
30 They made the plate, the sacred emblem, out of pure gold and engraved on it, like an inscription on a seal: HOLY TO THE LORD. 31 Then they fastened a blue cord to it to attach it to the turban, as the LORD commanded Moses.
Moses Inspects the Tabernacle
32 So all the work on the tabernacle, the tent of meeting, was completed. The Israelites did everything just as the LORD commanded Moses. 33 Then they brought the tabernacle to Moses: the tent and all its furnishings, its clasps, frames, crossbars, posts and bases; 34 the covering of ram skins dyed red and the covering of another durable leather and the shielding curtain; 35 the ark of the covenant law with its poles and the atonement cover; 36 the table with all its articles and the bread of the Presence; 37 the pure gold lampstand with its row of lamps and all its accessories, and the olive oil for the light; 38 the gold altar, the anointing oil, the fragrant incense, and the curtain for the entrance to the tent; 39 the bronze altar with its bronze grating, its poles and all its utensils; the basin with its stand; 40 the curtains of the courtyard with its posts and bases, and the curtain for the entrance to the courtyard; the ropes and tent pegs for the courtyard; all the furnishings for the tabernacle, the tent of meeting; 41 and the woven garments worn for ministering in the sanctuary, both the sacred garments for Aaron the priest and the garments for his sons when serving as priests.
42 The Israelites had done all the work just as the LORD had commanded Moses. 43 Moses inspected the work and saw that they had done it just as the LORD had commanded. So Moses blessed them.
Setting Up the Tabernacle
1 Then the LORD said to Moses: 2 “Set up the tabernacle, the tent of meeting, on the first day of the first month. 3 Place the ark of the covenant law in it and shield the ark with the curtain. 4 Bring in the table and set out what belongs on it. Then bring in the lampstand and set up its lamps. 5 Place the gold altar of incense in front of the ark of the covenant law and put the curtain at the entrance to the tabernacle.
6 “Place the altar of burnt offering in front of the entrance to the tabernacle, the tent of meeting; 7 place the basin between the tent of meeting and the altar and put water in it. 8 Set up the courtyard around it and put the curtain at the entrance to the courtyard.
9 “Take the anointing oil and anoint the tabernacle and everything in it; consecrate it and all its furnishings, and it will be holy. 10 Then anoint the altar of burnt offering and all its utensils; consecrate the altar, and it will be most holy. 11Anoint the basin and its stand and consecrate them.
12 “Bring Aaron and his sons to the entrance to the tent of meeting and wash them with water. 13 Then dress Aaron in the sacred garments, anoint him and consecrate him so he may serve me as priest. 14 Bring his sons and dress them in tunics.15 Anoint them just as you anointed their father, so they may serve me as priests. Their anointing will be to a priesthood that will continue throughout their generations.” 16 Moses did everything just as the LORD commanded him.
17 So the tabernacle was set up on the first day of the first month in the second year. 18 When Moses set up the tabernacle, he put the bases in place, erected the frames, inserted the crossbars and set up the posts. 19 Then he spread the tent over the tabernacle and put the covering over the tent, as the LORD commanded him.
20 He took the tablets of the covenant law and placed them in the ark, attached the poles to the ark and put the atonement cover over it. 21 Then he brought the ark into the tabernacle and hung the shielding curtain and shielded the ark of the covenant law, as the LORD commanded him.
22 Moses placed the table in the tent of meeting on the north side of the tabernacle outside the curtain 23 and set out the bread on it before the LORD, as the LORD commanded him.
24 He placed the lampstand in the tent of meeting opposite the table on the south side of the tabernacle 25 and set up the lamps before the LORD, as the LORD commanded him.
26 Moses placed the gold altar in the tent of meeting in front of the curtain 27 and burned fragrant incense on it, as the LORD commanded him.
28 Then he put up the curtain at the entrance to the tabernacle. 29 He set the altar of burnt offering near the entrance to the tabernacle, the tent of meeting, and offered on it burnt offerings and grain offerings, as the LORD commanded him.
30 He placed the basin between the tent of meeting and the altar and put water in it for washing, 31 and Moses and Aaron and his sons used it to wash their hands and feet. 32 They washed whenever they entered the tent of meeting or approached the altar, as the LORD commanded Moses.
33 Then Moses set up the courtyard around the tabernacle and altar and put up the curtain at the entrance to the courtyard. And so Moses finished the work.
The Glory of the LORD
34 Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. 35 Moses could not enter the tent of meeting because the cloud had settled on it, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle.
36 In all the travels of the Israelites, whenever the cloud lifted from above the tabernacle, they would set out; 37 but if the cloud did not lift, they did not set out—until the day it lifted. 38So the cloud of the LORD was over the tabernacle by day, and fire was in the cloud by night, in the sight of all the Israelites during all their travels.
23 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former. 24 You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel.
25 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. 26 Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.
27 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean. 28 In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.
29 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You build tombs for the prophets and decorate the graves of the righteous. 30 And you say, ‘If we had lived in the days of our ancestors, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’ 31 So you testify against yourselves that you are the descendants of those who murdered the prophets. 32 Go ahead, then, and complete what your ancestors started!
33 “You snakes! You brood of vipers! How will you escape being condemned to hell? 34 Therefore I am sending you prophets and sages and teachers. Some of them you will kill and crucify; others you will flog in your synagogues and pursue from town to town. 35 And so upon you will come all the righteous blood that has been shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah son of Berekiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. 36 Truly I tell you, all this will come on this generation.
37 “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing. 38 Look, your house is left to you desolate. 39 For I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’”
The Woman Whose Sightseeing Had Fatal Results
Scripture Reference—Genesis 34
Name Meaning—Dinah means “justice” or “one who judges,” and was doubtless given her as a token of her parents' belief in divine justice.
Family Connections—She was a daughter of Jacob and Leah, and as a member of a family under covenant blessing should have been more careful regarding her personal obligation in maintaining the honor of her home and nation.
Dinah’s love for sight-seeing set off a train of tragic consequences. Young and daring, and curious to know something of the world outside, she stole away one day from the drab tents of her father, to see how the girls in their gorgeous Oriental trappings fared in nearby Shechem. Roaming around, the eyes of Prince Shechem, son of Hamor lighted upon her. He saw her means he lusted after her (see Job 31:1), and then as the record puts it, “he took her, lay with her, and defiled her” ( Genesis 34:2). Although Dinah’s vanity was flattered at Shechem’s attention so that she went to his palace, she never meant to go so far. Took her implies he forced her, and although she may have resisted his advances, resistance was futile and she was seduced.
Had Dinah been content to remain a “keeper at home” (Titus 2:5), a terrible massacre would have been averted, but her desire for novelty and forbidden company spelled disaster. Josephus tells us that Dinah went to the Canaanite annual festival of nature worship (Numbers 25:2)—a forbidden association for an Israelite. Sin, shame and death came to Dinah and Shechem through the windows of their eyes and ears (see Genesis 39:7). The young prince offered the usual reparation for his seduction of Dinah—marriage and a payment to her father which was sufficient according to Hebrew law (Deuteronomy 22:28, 29 ). Evidently there was more than lustful desire on the part of Shechem, for we read—“His soul clave unto Dinah the daughter of Jacob, and he loved the damsel, and spake kindly unto her.” When Hamor went to Jacob and his sons to discuss the matter of marriage between his son and Dinah, he said, “The soul of my son Shechem longeth for your daughter. I pray you give her him to wife.”
The sons of Jacob, angry over the shame brought to their sister and nation, said that such a thing “ought not to be done.” By what Dinah had become—a seduced woman—she caused her father to be a “stink among the inhabitants of the land.”
Seeming to acquiesce in Hamor’s suggestion that his son and Dinah should marry and that there should be established a friendlier association between the Israelites and Shechemites, the sons of Jacob, particularly Simeon and Levi, said that they would agree to Hamor’s proposition on one condition. The condition was that all the male Shechemites submit to the rite of circumcision—an act of priestly consecration. When the pain of the operation was at its height and movement was difficult, on the third day, Simeon and Levi attacked and slew all the males in the city, including young Shechem himself. For centuries, among the Arabs, seduction was punishable by death, the judgment being generally inflicted by the brothers of the one seduced. For their crime, Simeon and Levi received a curse instead of a blessing from Jacob their father, as he came to die.
One salutary effect of this tragedy was the reconsecration of Jacob who had lapsed somewhat as the result of his settlement near Shechem (Genesis 33:17-20 ). Remembering his vow to make an altar at Bethel to God who had appeared to him while fleeing from Esau years before, his family surrendered their strange gods and purified themselves, and at Bethel the forgotten covenant was fulfilled. In this way God overruled evil for good (Genesis 35:1-5).
How many young Dinahs there are today captivated by the glitter and glamor of the world, and, tired of life at home, leave without warning, and become lost in the whirl of a large city. There is an alarming increase in the numbers of girls who, anxious for change and wanting to see something of the world, turn aside from the shelter of a good home and are never heard of again. Many of them end up in sin, crime and degradation. May we never cease to pray for those who try to seek out and restore the lost, young womanhood of our day!
The Man Who Is Always Linked with His Wife
A characteristic feature of Aquila and Priscilla is that their names are always mentioned together. In the truest sense they were “no more twain but one.” They were one in their common interest in Christ, and all they accomplished together in the name of the Lord was the result of that perfect unity of spiritual nature, of purpose and of aim.
I. By occupation they were tent-makers. Perhaps it was because Paul followed the same trade that he was attracted to them when he went to Corinth from Athens.
II. By their oneness in spiritual things they were hospitable. Being in full sympathy with Paul’s message they willingly received him unto their house, and he remained with them for a year and a half. What blessed times of fellowship the three of them must have had!
III. By their faithfulness they encouraged the saints. Paul tells us that these two devoted people were willing to “lay down their own necks” for the apostle. What they did for Paul earned the gratitude of all the churches.
IV. By their spiritual insight, Apollos and many other saints were helped. They had a “church in their house” and because of their spiritual quality and knowledge of Scripture many were blessed.
A fact that cannot escape our notice is that Priscilla is usually named first in the references to Aquila and herself. Perhaps this most “noble Roman lady” became a Christian before her husband. Maybe she was a more active worker than her husband! Chrysostom says that it was Priscilla’s careful expositions of the way of God that proved so helpful to Apollos. Together, Aquila and Priscilla are a pertinent example for Christian husbands and wives.