"Arise, and depart."
The hour is approaching when the message will come to us, as it comes to all--"Arise, and go forth from the home in which thou hast dwelt, from the city in which thou hast done thy business, from thy family, from thy friends. Arise, and take thy last journey." And what know we of the journey? And what know we of the country to which we are bound? A little we have read thereof, and somewhat has been revealed to us by the Spirit; but how little do we know of the realms of the future! We know that there is a black and stormy river called "Death." God bids us cross it, promising to be with us. And, after death, what cometh? What wonder-world will open upon our astonished sight? What scene of glory will be unfolded to our view? No traveller has ever returned to tell. But we know enough of the heavenly land to make us welcome our summons thither with joy and gladness. The journey of death may be dark, but we may go forth on it fearlessly, knowing that God is with us as we walk through the gloomy valley, and therefore we need fear no evil. We shall be departing from all we have known and loved here, but we shall be going to our Father's house--to our Father's home, where Jesus is--to that royal "city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God." This shall be our last removal, to dwell forever with him we love, in the midst of his people, in the presence of God. Christian, meditate much on heaven, it will help thee to press on, and to forget the toil of the way. This vale of tears is but the pathway to the better country: this world of woe is but the stepping-stone to a world of bliss.
"Prepare us, Lord, by grace divine,
For thy bright courts on high;
Then bid our spirits rise, and join
The chorus of the sky."
"And they heard a great voice from heaven saying unto them, Come up hither."
Without considering these words in their prophetical connection, let us regard them as the invitation of our great Forerunner to his sanctified people. In due time there shall be heard "a great voice from heaven" to every believer, saying, "Come up hither." This should be to the saints the subject of joyful anticipation. Instead of dreading the time when we shall leave this world to go unto the Father, we should be panting for the hour of our emancipation. Our song should be--
"My heart is with him on his throne,
And ill can brook delay;
Each moment listening for the voice,
Rise up and come away.'"
We are not called down to the grave, but up to the skies. Our heaven-born spirits should long for their native air. Yet should the celestial summons be the object of patient waiting. Our God knows best when to bid us "Come up hither." We must not wish to antedate the period of our departure. I know that strong love will make us cry,
"O Lord of Hosts, the waves divide,
And land us all in heaven;"
but patience must have her perfect work. God ordains with accurate wisdom the most fitting time for the redeemed to abide below. Surely, if there could be regrets in heaven, the saints might mourn that they did not live longer here to do more good. Oh, for more sheaves for my Lord's garner! more jewels for his crown! But how, unless there be more work? True, there is the other side of it, that, living so briefly, our sins are the fewer; but oh! when we are fully serving God, and he is giving us to scatter precious seed, and reap a hundredfold, we would even say it is well for us to abide where we are. Whether our Master shall say "go," or "stay," let us be equally well pleased so long as he indulges us with his presence.
Today's reading: Leviticus 1-3, Matthew 24:1-28 (NIV)View today's reading on Bible Gateway
The Burnt Offering
1 The LORD called to Moses and spoke to him from the tent of meeting. He said, 2 “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘When anyone among you brings an offering to the LORD, bring as your offering an animal from either the herd or the flock.
3 “‘If the offering is a burnt offering from the herd, you are to offer a male without defect. You must present it at the entrance to the tent of meeting so that it will be acceptable to the LORD.4 You are to lay your hand on the head of the burnt offering, and it will be accepted on your behalf to make atonement for you. 5 You are to slaughter the young bull before the LORD, and then Aaron’s sons the priests shall bring the blood and splash it against the sides of the altar at the entrance to the tent of meeting. 6 You are to skin the burnt offering and cut it into pieces. 7 The sons of Aaron the priest are to put fire on the altar and arrange wood on the fire. 8 Then Aaron’s sons the priests shall arrange the pieces, including the head and the fat, on the wood that is burning on the altar. 9 You are to wash the internal organs and the legs with water, and the priest is to burn all of it on the altar. It is a burnt offering, a food offering, an aroma pleasing to the LORD.
10 “‘If the offering is a burnt offering from the flock, from either the sheep or the goats, you are to offer a male without defect. 11 You are to slaughter it at the north side of the altar before the LORD, and Aaron’s sons the priests shall splash its blood against the sides of the altar. 12 You are to cut it into pieces, and the priest shall arrange them, including the head and the fat, on the wood that is burning on the altar. 13 You are to wash the internal organs and the legs with water, and the priest is to bring all of them and burn them on the altar. It is a burnt offering, a food offering, an aroma pleasing to the LORD.
14 “‘If the offering to the LORD is a burnt offering of birds, you are to offer a dove or a young pigeon. 15 The priest shall bring it to the altar, wring off the head and burn it on the altar; its blood shall be drained out on the side of the altar. 16 He is to remove the crop and the feathers and throw them down east of the altar where the ashes are. 17 He shall tear it open by the wings, not dividing it completely, and then the priest shall burn it on the wood that is burning on the altar. It is a burnt offering, a food offering, an aroma pleasing to the LORD.
The Grain Offering
1 “‘When anyone brings a grain offering to the LORD, their offering is to be of the finest flour. They are to pour olive oil on it, put incense on it 2 and take it to Aaron’s sons the priests. The priest shall take a handful of the flour and oil, together with all the incense, and burn this as a memorial portion on the altar, a food offering, an aroma pleasing to the LORD. 3 The rest of the grain offering belongs to Aaron and his sons; it is a most holy part of the food offerings presented to the LORD.
4 “‘If you bring a grain offering baked in an oven, it is to consist of the finest flour: either thick loaves made without yeast and with olive oil mixed in or thin loaves made without yeast and brushed with olive oil. 5 If your grain offering is prepared on a griddle, it is to be made of the finest flour mixed with oil, and without yeast. 6 Crumble it and pour oil on it; it is a grain offering. 7 If your grain offering is cooked in a pan, it is to be made of the finest flour and some olive oil. 8 Bring the grain offering made of these things to the LORD; present it to the priest, who shall take it to the altar. 9 He shall take out the memorial portion from the grain offering and burn it on the altar as a food offering, an aroma pleasing to the LORD. 10 The rest of the grain offering belongs to Aaron and his sons; it is a most holy part of the food offerings presented to the LORD.
11 “‘Every grain offering you bring to the LORD must be made without yeast, for you are not to burn any yeast or honey in a food offering presented to the LORD. 12 You may bring them to the LORD as an offering of the firstfruits, but they are not to be offered on the altar as a pleasing aroma. 13 Season all your grain offerings with salt. Do not leave the salt of the covenant of your God out of your grain offerings; add salt to all your offerings.
14 “‘If you bring a grain offering of firstfruits to the LORD, offer crushed heads of new grain roasted in the fire. 15 Put oil and incense on it; it is a grain offering. 16 The priest shall burn the memorial portion of the crushed grain and the oil, together with all the incense, as a food offering presented to the LORD.
The Fellowship Offering
1 “‘If your offering is a fellowship offering, and you offer an animal from the herd, whether male or female, you are to present before the LORD an animal without defect. 2 You are to lay your hand on the head of your offering and slaughter it at the entrance to the tent of meeting. Then Aaron’s sons the priests shall splash the blood against the sides of the altar. 3From the fellowship offering you are to bring a food offering to the LORD: the internal organs and all the fat that is connected to them, 4 both kidneys with the fat on them near the loins, and the long lobe of the liver, which you will remove with the kidneys. 5 Then Aaron’s sons are to burn it on the altar on top of the burnt offering that is lying on the burning wood; it is a food offering, an aroma pleasing to the LORD.
6 “‘If you offer an animal from the flock as a fellowship offering to the LORD, you are to offer a male or female without defect. 7 If you offer a lamb, you are to present it before the LORD, 8 lay your hand on its head and slaughter it in front of the tent of meeting. Then Aaron’s sons shall splash its blood against the sides of the altar. 9 From the fellowship offering you are to bring a food offering to the LORD: its fat, the entire fat tail cut off close to the backbone, the internal organs and all the fat that is connected to them, 10 both kidneys with the fat on them near the loins, and the long lobe of the liver, which you will remove with the kidneys. 11 The priest shall burn them on the altar as a food offering presented to the LORD.
12 “‘If your offering is a goat, you are to present it before the LORD, 13 lay your hand on its head and slaughter it in front of the tent of meeting. Then Aaron’s sons shall splash its blood against the sides of the altar. 14 From what you offer you are to present this food offering to the LORD: the internal organs and all the fat that is connected to them, 15 both kidneys with the fat on them near the loins, and the long lobe of the liver, which you will remove with the kidneys. 16 The priest shall burn them on the altar as a food offering, a pleasing aroma. All the fat is the LORD’s.
17 “‘This is a lasting ordinance for the generations to come, wherever you live: You must not eat any fat or any blood.’”
The Destruction of the Temple and Signs of the End Times
1 Jesus left the temple and was walking away when his disciples came up to him to call his attention to its buildings. 2“Do you see all these things?” he asked. “Truly I tell you, not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.”
3 As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately. “Tell us,” they said, “when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?”
4 Jesus answered: “Watch out that no one deceives you. 5For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and will deceive many. 6 You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. 7 Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. 8 All these are the beginning of birth pains.
9 “Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. 10At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, 11 and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. 12 Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, 13 but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. 14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.
15 “So when you see standing in the holy place ‘the abomination that causes desolation,’ spoken of through the prophet Daniel—let the reader understand— 16 then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. 17 Let no one on the housetop go down to take anything out of the house. 18 Let no one in the field go back to get their cloak. 19 How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! 20Pray that your flight will not take place in winter or on the Sabbath. 21 For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now—and never to be equaled again.
22 “If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened. 23 At that time if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Messiah!’ or, ‘There he is!’ do not believe it. 24 For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. 25See, I have told you ahead of time.
26 “So if anyone tells you, ‘There he is, out in the wilderness,’ do not go out; or, ‘Here he is, in the inner rooms,’ do not believe it. 27 For as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 28Wherever there is a carcass, there the vultures will gather.
Nahum [Nā'hum]—compassionate, comforter or full of comfort.
1. The prophet who was born at Elkosh in Galilee, and who prophesied against Nineveh (Nah. 1:1).
The Man Who Preached Doom
Nothing is known of this Minor Prophet outside of what we find in the opening of his small yet strong book. He was born at Elkosh, a village of Palestine. But although Nahum is among the notable unknown of the Bible, he was a student of the history of his time and was raised up to comfort God’s people. He prophesied against Nineveh about 150 years after Jonah’s revival there. At that time the city was still at the height of its glory (Nah. 3:16,17). The empire was extremely cruel. The people gloated that “space failed for corpses of their enemies.” They made “pyramids of human heads.” Pillars were covered with the flayed skins of their rivals.
Nahum’s mission was to declare the terrible doom of Nineveh and one hundred years later it fell. So great was the destruction of the city of the most ferocious, sensual, diabolically atrocious race of men that ever lived, that Alexander the Great marched by and did not know that a great city was under his feet. Lucian wrote, “Nineveh is perished and there is no trace left where once it was.” Nahum, convinced that God was slow to anger but would yet take vengeance on His adversaries, “focusses the light of God’s moral government upon wicked Nineveh and chants the death and dirge of the world’s greatest oppressor.”
The leading lessons to be gleaned from the Book of Nahum are encouraging to faith:
I. The goodness and unchangeableness of Jehovah.
II. The limits of divine forbearance.
III. Right prevails in the end.
IV. Darkness comes before the dawn.
V. The universality of God’s government, its gracious purpose: its retributive character.
VI. Man’s extremity is faith’s hour and God’s opportunity.
2. Another Nahum. In the A. V. Naum is mentioned as an ancestor of Jesus Christ (Luke 3:25).
THE PERSONHOOD OF GOD
What is a person? You are a person; a stone isn't. You have self-awareness; a tree doesn't. You can be moral; electricity is amoral. You are alive; a corpse is not. "Person" usually refers to a living human being, although from a Christian point of view "person" also refers to God, and we assume that we are persons with personalities because it was a personal God who created us.
Some do acknowledge that God is absolute, mighty, and rational, but more a supernatural force than a divine person. But the God of the Bible is a person. He is intelligent, creative, and moral. He speaks of himself as "I."
Indeed, the idea that God speaks at all assumes that he is a personal being. God plans; God acts; God intends. He has will and wisdom. He has many names. He wants us to know him. If God were not personal, we could not pray, and we would not worship. If God were merely a force, we would have no guidance, no comfort, no discipline.
One of the defining characteristics of a person is the ability to engage in relationships. Rocks don't have relationships. Persons talk to each other, they seek to understand each other, they make choices that shape their relationships with each other. Persons (from persona, "mask") have faces, or public presentations of themselves. Unlike stars or water or trees, there is a dynamic interaction between persons. Persons know other persons-not just know about, or store information on, but comprehend, care for, and commit to.
I have to admit that when our children were born, I probably didn't really see them as persons. They appeared to be little creatures whom we served by putting food in one end and getting by-products out the other. My wife, of course, saw this as a wonderful relationship, but I was really waiting for the first ball game or the first swim in the lake. But it didn't take that long. All it took for me was the day the first responsive smile spread across that small face-eyes wide open, a gutteral "g-aaaaa," which meant something-or-other. See a smile, and the first thing you think is, there's a person in there! And I want to know what's behind the smile.
[Mel expands on all this, including explanations of how Christianity is different from Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, and other world religions in his book I Want to Believe: Finding Your Way in an Age of Many Faiths.You can get this book free today when you order a copy of Patterns: Ways to Develop a God-Filled Life. OrderHERE.]
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