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  • Samuel at Gilgal

    This year I will be sharing brief excerpts from the articles, sermons, and books I am currently reading. My posts will not follow a regular schedule but will be published as I find well-written thoughts that should be of interest to maturing Christian readers. Whenever possible, I encourage you to go to the source and read the complete work of the author.

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The Promise is Yours

Charles H. SpurgeonCharles H. Spurgeon:

“The land whereon thou liest, to thee will I give it.” (Genesis 28:13)

No promise is of private interpretation: it belongs not to one saint, but to all believers. If, my brother, thou canst in faith lie down upon a promise, and take thy rest thereon, it is thine. Where Jacob “lighted,” and tarried, and rested, there he took possession. Stretching his weary length upon the ground, with the stones of that place for his pillows, he little fancied that he was thus entering into ownership of the land; and yet so it was. He saw in his dream that wondrous ladder which for all true believers unites earth and heaven; and surely where the foot of the ladder stood he must have a right to the soil, for otherwise he could not reach the divine stairway. All the promises of God are Yea and Amen in Christ Jesus; and as He is ours, every promise is ours if we will but lie down upon it in restful faith.

Come, weary one, use thy Lord’s words as thy pillows. Lie down in peace. Dream only of Him. Jesus is thy ladder of light. See the angels coming and going upon Him between thy soul and thy God; and be sure that the promise is thine own God-given portion, and that it will not be robbery for thee to take it to thyself, as spoken specially to thee. (Faith’s Checkbook)

God’s Love

Arthur W. PinkAW Pink:

In the final analysis, the exercise of God’s love must he traced back to His Sovereignty or, otherwise, He would love by rule; and if He loved by rule, then is He under a law of love, and if He is under a law of love then is He not supreme, but is Himself ruled by law. “But,” it may be asked, “Surely you do not deny that God loves the entire human family?” We reply, it is written, “Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated” (Rom. 9:13). If then God loved Jacob and hated Esau, and that before they were born or had done either good or evil, then the reason for His love was not in them, but in Himself. (The Sovereignty of God)

Saving Faith

William GuthrieThe grace of faith in God is firm and steadfast. It is like a growing tree that cannot be shaken or removed. This grace of faith is supernatural. It is wholly of God and has none of our own power in it. It is the gift of God. William Guthrie writes:

Therefore, I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. (Mark 11:24 ESV)

Saving faith is one of the main, choice and principal graces peculiar to the elect, and is the very root of all other graces. It in a manner, the kernel and life of all the rest, it being the only grace that closes with Christ. “Add to your faith virtue; and to your virtue, knowledge.” It is the first ground stone, and then add to it all the rest. All that folk go about, all the moral duties that some professed Christians perform, are but mere shadows for want of this.

This grace is one in all the elect, but not in a like measure in all. … it is not one in the elect as to the measure of it; for some may have a less, and some a greater degree of faith. But in this respect, it is one as to its closing with Christ, and embracing of Him as offered unto them in the gospel. It is the very self-same faith in all the elect. It was the self-same faith that was in Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, that is in all the believers after them. . . .

This grace of faith … ought to increase in the saints of God. … It is a sin and a shame for Christians to be and continue at the same degree that [they were at first]. Where it is sound and real, it grows. And oh, but the Lord’ s people should endeavor much for the increase of faith, that they be not as children, ever doubting and staggering, so that they cannot live without sensible manifestations of God’s favorable presence unto them.

Ye should know that, as it ought to grow, so sometimes it may come under decay … though there cannot be a decay of it as to its foundation. . . .

The grace of faith is that which renders all that ye do acceptable unto God, “For without faith it is impossible to please God.” This grace of faith hath always with it obedience, and the bringing forth of good fruit to the glory of God and the edification of others, which fruit is called “the obedience of faith.” Wherever it is, it leads still to sincere endeavors to keep up all the commandments of God. By this, folk may know whether they have this grace or not.

Traditions of the Patriarchs Verified

Edward J. Young shares with us more information on the Nuzi Tablets below:

We should note also the importance of the patriarchal blessing in the Genesis narratives. This blessing was considered as binding. One of the Nuzi tablets reads: “My father, Huya, was sick and lying in bed, and my father seized my hand and spoke thus to me: My other older sons have taken wives but thou hast not taken a wife and I give Zuluishtar to thee as a wife.” It may be noted that like the patriarchal blessings, this one also is oral; it is made by a dying father to a son and possesses legal validity.

One additional point may be mentioned. Jacob claims, “I did not eat the rams of thy flocks” (Genesis 31:38). In the light of some of the difficulties that are reflected upon the tablets of Nuzi this claim takes on peculiar significance. Apparently the shepherds would frequently slaughter lambs and eat mutton at the owner’s expense. Several legal cases in the Nuzi tablets cover this particular matter. Tehiptilla, for example, won at least two cases in law against one of his shepherds who had been slaughtering sheep clandestinely. Jacob, whatever his faults may have been, in this respect at least was guiltless.

Similar parallels might be multiplied. They are indeed both interesting and instructive. But what is of utmost importance is the fact that these parallels in the Nuzi tablets demonstrate quite clearly that the patriarchal background which is presented in the book of Genesis is perfectly accurate. Instead of mirroring a late age, as Wellhausen erroneously claimed, Genesis correctly sets forth the background of the very age in which the patriarchs themselves lived.

Most scholars today, whatever their personal theological beliefs may be, are beginning to acknowledge that Genesis does correctly set forth the background of the patriarchs. This of course is to be expected. On the other hand, they tell us that these discoveries do not prove the existence of the patriarchs themselves. And so the assault has shifted and a new hammer has been forged. But we have the New Testament to convince us of their historicity. As we consider the remarkable support which archaeology has given to our belief that the book of Genesis is accurate, we may well give thanks to God. Such support, of course, is what we should expect archaeology to give, for the book of Genesis is holy, infallible Scripture. May we read it with trusting, believing hearts, ready to hear what it says and to believe in the Redeemer of whom it speaks. (The Accuracy of Genesis)

Jacob and Laban

The Nuzi Tablets were found shortly before WWII, just to the east of Mari and the Euphrates River. These are several thousand cuneiform tablets (dating back to 1500 BC) which confirm many customs that are mentioned in the Bible. Edward J. Young writes:

In the light of the texts from Nuzi we may now understand much in the account of Jacob and Laban that formerly was obscure. One of the tablets may be translated as follows:

“The adoption tablet of Nashwi the son of Puhishenni. As long as Nashwi is alive, Wullu shall give to him food and clothing. When Nashwi dies, then Wullu shall become the heir. If Nashwi begets a son, he shall divide equally with Wullu but only Nashwi’s son shall take Nashwi’s gods. If there be no son of Nashwi, then Wullu shall take the gods of Nashwi. And Nashwi has given his daughter Nuhuya as wife to Wullu. And if Wullu takes another wife he forfeits the land and buildings of Nashwi. Whoever breaks the contract shall pay one mina of silver and one mina of gold.”

When Jacob first appears before Laban, Laban agrees to give his daughter to Jacob, and it would seem that Jacob’s joining the household of Laban was actually the equivalent of an act of adoption on Laban’s part. It is of interest to note that in the tablet the legitimate heir is to receive Nashwi’s gods. We read in the Bible of Rachel taking the Teraphim and sitting upon them in the tent. In Genesis 31:30, 32 the Teraphim are called gods, as is the case also in the Nuzi texts. The possession of these gods, it seems, implied a position of leadership in the household. By this time Laban had sons of his own and hence we may understand his question, “And now you have gone away because you longed greatly for your father’s house, but why did you steal my gods?” (Genesis 31:30 ESV) Laban’s indignation, in the light of this tablet, apparently was justifiable. On the other hand, Jacob and Rachel were not going to abide by custom. Jacob evidently did not want any secondary position in the household. It would seem that the birth of Laban’s sons proved to be a hindrance to Jacob’s desires (and Jacob was a man who got what he wanted).

Laban did regard Jacob as his adopted son, for he says, “The daughters are my daughters, the children are my children, the flocks are my flocks, and all that you see is mine.” (Genesis 31:43 ESV) Hence, it appears that Jacob’s plan of running away was in violation of the current customs. If Jacob was to be regarded as an adopted son, all that he had was really Laban’s, and in seeking to run away, Jacob was violating custom.

The Lord, therefore, was gracious in his revelation to Laban. “It is in my power to do you harm. But the God of your father spoke to me last night, saying, ‘Be careful not to say anything to Jacob, either good or bad.’” (Genesis 31:29 ESV)

But Laban also apparently violated custom for his daughters complain to him, “Is there any portion or inheritance left to us in our father’s house? Are we not regarded by him as foreigners? For he has sold us, and he has indeed devoured our money.” (Genesis 31:14-16 ESV) According to the Nuzi tablets there is a sharp distinction to be made between the native women (the daughters of the city Arraphka) and foreign women. These latter occupy a lower social position, but the native women must not be subjected to mistreatment. Apparently Rachel and Leah believed that Laban had treated them as though they were foreign women. (The Accuracy of Genesis, pp. 23-26)

Egypt and the Famine

Archaeology and the Bible:

The Beni Hasan Tomb from the Abrahamic period, depicts Asiatics coming to Egypt during a famine, corresponding with the Biblical account of the plight of the sons of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob’.

Humility is a Grace

The following is by J. C. Ryle:

Humility may well be called the queen of the Christian graces. To know our own sinfulness and weakness and to feel our need of Christ is the start of saving religion.

Humility is a grace which has always been a distinguishing feature in the character of the holiest saints in every age. Abraham and Moses and Job and David and Daniel and Paul were all eminently humble men.

Above all, humility is a grace within the reach of every true Christian. All converted people should work to adorn with humility the doctrine they profess. If they can do nothing else, they can strive to be humble.

Do you want to know the root and spring of humility? One word describes it. The root of humility is right knowledge. The person who really knows himself and his own heart, who knows God and his infinite majesty, and holiness, who knows Christ and the price at which he was redeemed, that person will never be a proud person.

He will count himself, like Jacob, unworthy of the least of all God’s mercies. He will say of himself, like Job, “I am unworthy.” He will cry, like Paul, “I am the worst of sinners” He will consider others better than himself. (Philippians 2:3)

Ignorance–nothing but sheer ignorance, ignorance of self, of God, and of Christ–is the real secret of pride. From that miserable self-ignorance may we daily pray to be delivered. The wise person knows himself and will find nothing within to make him proud.

A Sovereign Love

John MacDuff

From the pen of John MacDuff, 1864:

“I have loved you with an everlasting love! Therefore with loving-kindness have I drawn you!” (Jeremiah 31:3)

Here we have an everlasting thought of God, “in the beginning, before ever the earth was.” Believer, travel back in imagination to the ages of the past. Before the trance of eternity was broken by any visible manifestation of power — before one temple was erected in space, before one angel waved his wing, or one note was heard of seraph’s song — when God inhabited alone, these sublime solitudes — then there was a thought of you — and that thought was — Love!

Think of the sovereignty of that love. He says not, ‘You have loved Me with your poor earthly love — therefore have I drawn you.’ No, no! It is from nothing in you — no foreseen goodness on your part. Grace is the reason for all He has done, “God who is rich in mercy for His great love with which He loved us.” “I will have mercy,” is His own declaration — on whom I will have mercy!” “Jacob,” (that cunning, scheming, crafty youth) “Jacob I loved — but Esau I hated!”

Manasseh, (that miserable man who has defiled his crown, dishonored his throne, and deluged Jerusalem with blood) “I have loved.” That dying thief — fresh from a life of infamy, breathing out his blasphemies on a felon’s cross, “I have loved.” And why, let each of us ask, am I not a Cain or a Judas? Why am I not a wrecked and stranded vessel, like thousands before me? Here is the reason; “Yes, I have loved you.” Before you had one thought of Me, yes, when your thoughts were those of hatred, rebellion, and enmity — My thoughts towards you were thoughts of love!

And that Sovereign love, as it is from everlasting, so is it to everlasting — endless in duration — enduring as eternity. The love of the creature is but of yesterday — it may be gone tomorrow — dried like a summer-brook when most needed. But the love of God is fed from the glacier summits — the everlasting hills. We may estimate its intensity, when the Savior could utter regarding it such a prayer as this, “That the love with which You have loved Me — may be in them.”

Oh, amid the often misgivings of my own doubting heart, with its frames and feelings as vacillating as the shifting sand, let me delight to ponder this precious thought — the long line of unbroken love — every link love — connecting the eternity that is past with the eternity to come — God thinking of me before the birth of time — even then mapping out all my future happiness and heavenly bliss — and standing now, with the hoarded love of that eternity in His heart, seeking therewith to “draw” me!

It is “the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness towards us through Christ Jesus” — which is the moral gravitation-power of the cross, by which His true people have ever been drawn. “I, if I be lifted up from the earth — will draw all men unto Myself!” Draw me, Lord — and I will run after You. Show me Your loving-kindness thus enshrined and manifested in Your dear Son. Constrain me to love You in Him, because You have first loved, and so loved, me! “How priceless is Your unfailing love! Both high and low among men find refuge in the shadow of Your wings.”

The Gospel In Your Heart

Charles H. Spurgeon

Quoting Charles H. Spurgeon

The Word will make your heart rich with truth, rich with understanding, and then your conversation, when it flows from your mouth, will be like your heart– rich, soothing, and sweet. Make your heart full of rich, generous love, and then the stream that flows from your hand will be just as rich and generous as your heart.

Above all, get Jesus to live in your heart, and then out of your heart shall flow rivers of living water, more rich, more satisfying than the water of the well of Sychar of which Jacob drank. Oh! go, Christian, to the great mine of riches, and cry to the Holy Spirit to make your heart rich unto salvation. So shall your life and conversations be a boon to your fellow man; and when they see you, your face will be like an angel of God. Wise men will stand up when they see you, and men will give you reverence.

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